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hitchmss

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Everything posted by hitchmss

  1. hitchmss

    Choosing Glazes

    For me, and likely many others, a set of glazes is something that has developed over years of use and experimentation. In the beginning it was more a shotgun approach; see a glaze, or a fancy name, and try to reproduce it, which normally led to poor results. Once I got over trying to "find" all the "best" glazes I focused more on finding ones that worked in the basic sense (fit and surface), and using bases to run line blends/triaxials, etc to alter surface, color, fit, etc. Being a full time potter I dont have enough time (that I'd like) to test new glazes and experiment; Ive got a palette of 9 glazes, and many days I think that's 8 too many. Anymore I come across recipes here and there that pique my interest and try them out; out of the few dozen of those from the last few years, none of those made it past tests. When I do test glazes I do a little different tile than most. I make them from slabs, cut out a 4"x6" slab, put two big holes in the corners (for hanging afterwards), and I texture the bottom half of the tile with a tool. I make the slabs from a average grey colored stoneware, dip one end in a porcelain slip, and the other in a brown stoneware slip. When I apply my tests I dip/brush in layers with the thickest being over the textured area to see the greatest amount of variance. For each test glaze I make 4 tiles; one for ox, one for redux, one for wood, and one for soda. I fire Ox and redux regularly, but no longer have my own soda kiln so I toss them in to the universities loads when they fire, and the wood ones into a friends kiln. The only piece of info the tile doesnt provide, since they are fired flat is the glazes propensity to melt. A small piece of extruded tube is also dipped and fired alongside the tiles. I teach students to simplify their palettes and work with no more than 5 glazes, but find ways to achieve 10/20/30 surfaces/colors with those 5 glazes, whether it be by using slips underneath, varying thicknesses, layering, altering application methods, firing cycles, atmospheres, etc...... The way I test layers is by making a large slab, maybe 2'x2', and I make 1-2" wide strokes with a brush, each glaze in a column and row, so I can see what each looks like under/over each other. If I find something that looks interesting, then I take it to a vertical surface and test further.
  2. First time buyers pay 50% down, remainder COD. Orders over $2k are 50% down always, remainder COD or NET 30. This serves as a unspoken contract; no payment, no product. The uncommitted will back out when they see that. For an order with a retailer (that isnt a craft/art gallery), especially a very big one(thinking thousands of units) I might consider putting together a contract regarding liability; as in, the retailer has taken over ownership of the product and when it left my hands was in perfect working order. If a customer of their's were to come back claiming a suit then its no longer your issue. Contracts mean little without attorneys to write them, and a notary to sign them. Still could be broken in a court case, but better than nothing. Insurance only goes so far, and Im maybe a little paranoid, but worry about the what-ifs.
  3. hitchmss

    Selling Large Work vs Small Work

    In regards to approaching the gallery; speaking with firsthand knowledge (wife is a gallery manager, and has worked in galleries for 20 years now, friends are gallery owners, on and on), galleries utterly hate it when you show up unexpectedly to try and "sell" them something. They are put in the spot of either offending you, or carrying your work, and more likely than not, they'll turn you down just because of unprofessional nature of your approach. The way to approach a gallery about carrying your work (small or large) is to call or hand write a letter asking how they prefer submissions for review and follow their instructions to the letter. If they turn you down, hand write a note thanking them for their time. The art gallery world is relatively small; making highly professional, friendly connections goes a long way. In regards to selling big pots; I make pots that go from $6 to over $6k. I have some friends who sell $2-5k pots at shows quite regularly, but for me I dont. My gleaning from the entire experience is that your big pots wont be valued as much when they are on the same table, or same booth as your $15 sponge holder. So, if you want to sell big pots, create and display a refined booth that features big vessels only, and attracts the customers you want, not the looky loo's who touch everything, and buy nothing. I dont lug my truly large work (48" vessels) to shows just because of the hassle and risk of damaging them, but I do take 24-36" work with me and sell a dozen or two every year in the $500-$1k price range. Often a lot of the customers who do buy those pieces saw me the year before, loved it, but needed the year to realize they should have bought it last year. The truly big work gets sold, typically privately, through connections made and fostered at other events. Galleries, especially smaller craft galleries, dont want to carry big work like that because it takes a while to sell, and takes up a lot of real estate. However, just today, one of my galleries sold a bigger $600 bowl, so they do sell. Big pots do impress the patrons and will sell the smaller pots better. Ive only been in the full time game for 7 years now, and producing 8 or so tons of small pots and doing 22 shows a year is taking its toll on my hands and joints. Long term game plan is to ween off the small pots (either volume, or production method) and focus on making bigger pots. I see some potters who just up their prices on their small stuff as they get older, but then I do see them with the same $60 mug at each show too..... Someone else mentioned the design shows; I have some friends who have gone the route of displaying/selling at the large residential or commercial design/decoration shows. Some have received contracts to put big pots in every room of their 200 room hotels, or a sink in every new condo in the 1,000 unit development. Going this route can pay off, but can be for cash flow. A macro crystalline friend just received a $2 million offer to do a few thousand of his wall sconces for a lighting design retailer; picked up the connection at an art show on the street.
  4. hitchmss

    Best Tent For Craft Show?

    Crafthuts are tanks, but heavy and bulky like one too. Ez-ups=ez-downs too (not in the good way either). There are some pop up style canopies which are beefier and worth using, but in general, if its under $2/3/400 its not worth the risk for your work, or the liability, should it blow away. That's not to say that I dont own one, and use it on occasion (esp. one day shows where setup is crunched), but when I do Im conscientious of the weather and make sure to secure it with proper weights, or anchors into the earth when possible. My go to tent is a Light Dome; it's withstood pretty serious weather, but I have lost one at VA Beach. However, at that show so did another 40+ booths, of all makes and models. I prefer it over the trimline as the number of parts is simplified, and easier to assemble. Pound for pound, id say the light dome is stronger. Another thing many folks dont consider much when it comes to their canopy is how it looks, and how it will hold up/look over 2-20 seasons of shows. A lot of the pop up canopy tops are waterproof, but more fabric than plastic. They stain more easily (also easier to clean, still a pain though). The goal of being at the show is to sell work, and professionals (who LOOK professional) sell better than the rag tag canopy that's barely standing up.
  5. hitchmss

    No Swiping

    In regards to the theft of these digital transactions; Had a friend who made copper wind art who logged into a wifi network at the show. The title of the network was something he thought the show put up like "artintheparkfreewifi". He processed a few thousand dollars worth of transactions all weekend to only come home on Monday to find out NONE of it went to him. The network was fake (not a new tactic). PCI compliance requires you to use your own network when processing transactions. Since it was also mentioned in this thread; the offline mode in square works well. When you dont have signal, it will try to process like normal, and after unsuccessfully processing it will ask to enter offline mode. Perform the rest of your day's transactions and then get to signal within 24 hours, because after that the data that was saved is erased and your out money.
  6. hitchmss

    Glaze Disposal

    Glad to hear that the drop offs will take it (hopefully my area will too!).
  7. hitchmss

    Averting kiln disasters

    I pack my oval tight as I can when I bisque. I normally put a hold of 5-15 min (depending on tightness of pack) to ensure that the core has reached same temp. If you have wetter pots, dont put them towards the center &/or bottom where it takes longer for heat to reach. Learn how to stack pots that the weight isnt being supported on the rims; pass the weight through the bottom of the pots, and consequently to bottom of kiln. Too much weight will crack rims. Also, dont pack it that pots cant move at all. As they expand, if they dont have a little room they will break themselves. Tumble stacking is what I do and there are some tricks to it. Better to fire pots than furniture. In my glaze loads I leave no more than 1/4" in between pots when possible. I like to fill the kiln as tightly as possible with the idea that the radiant heat among all the work will help even out small zones of cooler temps.
  8. hitchmss

    Will my kiln be happy outside?

    Neil nailed all the points regarding the kiln. From experience on a different project, if you're gonna have larger (over 2-3') hinged sections of this building to open up, put a castor on the suspended end. Unless you use beefy hinges, anchored into super solid beams, then the doors will sag, and eventually not close. A castor helps bear the weight of the door. Needs to be on a flat surface to work; if not on concrete, use a pneumatic tire at least 6" in dia. If wheels on doors wont work, then use a beefy piano hinge for extra large doors. One other thing not mentioned, maybe thought about though. You're gonna be running electric there anyways, so put in at least one extra 15-20 amp circuit for at least one(id do a couple of fluoro housings, or leds if budget-able) overhead light (god knows you'll be loading the kiln in the middle of the night at some point in your life), and if you need power tools to work on kiln shelves, pots, etc.
  9. One thing I picked up regarding kiln wash; from kiln master at homer laughlin factory. To keep wash popping loose from shelf and flying around their turbulent kiln (and consequently when handled in/out, etc) he would add enough G200 to the wash mix that it was hard enough after firing that his finger nail would no longer dent the surface, but a key/nail would scratch it still. For me in my cone 12 kiln I would use 1.75% G200. I second Marks recipe; 25% Calcined EPK helps keep it from shrinking too much and flaking off. Before I got my advancer shelves my cordierites had a build up of maybe 3/8" thickness of kiln wash; when glazes ran they rarely made it through the layer to stick to the shelf. Touched them up between firings. I didnt flip my shelves; no amount of flipping will keep shelves flat at cone 12+, but if needed to, a drywall knife, or angle grinder with a wire brush attached could remove the fired wash easy enough. Do this outside, with plenty of ventilation, wear a mask, and make sure your and your neighbors windows are closed first!
  10. I have two electric kilns(oval 2728, and 1027), and one gas kiln (65 cu ft downdraft shuttle/car). Takes me about a week-two to get work made, bisqued, glazed and loaded to fire. My firing cycles for glaze firings, once I do have a mountain (500-1000# of pots) are one per day. I glaze fire about 60 times per year. Depending on what I am making that day its anywhere from 20-200 pots per day. My baseline is that whatever I am making that day, whenever I sit down to throw, I want to make $1000 of pots at that session. If thats (50) $20 mugs, or (10) $100 bowls. More often than not an avg day produces around $2k in pots(not finished, but made). Last two weeks Ive made $17k in pots. An associate of mine, when thinking about becoming a full time potter, called a bunch of potters inquiring about the money making side of the process. One potter told him he needed to make $1000 per week. That was a couple decades ago; For me, I shoot to make at least $1000 per day in the studio making. Not every day is spent making; about 1/3'rd of the year is though. I make between 10-12 thousand pots a year (including all the small stuffs); use 8-10 tons a year, a few hundred gallons of glaze, and maybe 1500-2000 gallons propane. Ideally new studio will have 130 cu/foot shuttle/car kiln, along with 65; two ovals running bisque, and soda kiln for when I want to play.
  11. hitchmss

    Glaze Disposal

    Depending on what the fluxes/feldspars are in your glazes, the point at which melt begins can vary greatly. All your recipes may be cone 10 recipes, but some fluxes may begin to melt at cone 7, and others may not begin until 9. Unless all, or predominately all your waste is the same recipe/flux, it would be difficult, without testing, to determine just how much heat is enough. I agree, no need to fire to maturation. Enough to enter melt is all you need; a couple/few cones shy of maturation is probably a safe bet. Aside from stressing the vessel with more heat, the combination of numerous fluxes/oxides can drastically alter the melt point. There are ceramic surfaces (decals etc) which get fired to temperatures at/around quartz inversion (1064 F), but not many glazes do(some lustres, etc). 1064 would be around a cone 023/024. Quartz inversion is the state in which quartz particles go from an Alpha to Beta state (reverse upon cooling), and has little to nothing to do with glaze maturation. Ceramicists are concerned with the phase mainly in relation to the expansion/contraction which occurs at this state. Yes the cylinder would be more stressed filled with glaze rather than just coating the surfaces, but just coating a cylinder wont use a whole lot of glaze. Disposing of glaze doesnt accomplish anything for my other than cleaning up the studio and saving me paying someone else to do it; the less time invested the better.
  12. Im 20 years in (8 full time, 5 years of school, 2 years of teaching at a university, and many tens of thousands of pots), and still have only learned a drop in the bucket (metaphorically). Take it one (baby) step at a time! Enthusiasm is good, but can get you under water quickly. Get some good books(lark books are good!) on specific processes you want to learn and start there. Take classes where offered, and get a good handle on one process before jumping into the next. Searching the forum, and google for your specific areas of interest are good places to start too. Happy you can explore the wonderful world of ceramics!
  13. hitchmss

    Bisque temp for raku

    Denice, that info is contrary to everything I have ever been taught and experienced with raku wares. Are you saying you would glaze it immediately after making, as in, still plastic clay? How were you getting glazes to adhere to wet work? I teach my students, tell my customers, and personally would never use any raku ware for utilitarian purposes, mainly because raku clay (in my experience) is never vitrified enough, and the glaze surfaces are not food safe. Not only are raku glazes designed for rapid heating/cooling (thermal shock), but they typically contain high percentages of oxides, which combined with the poor glaze chemistry, are way out of acceptable additions. Lastly, most raku glazes craze due to the thermal shock they undergo; combined with a porous clay body, there's just a timer set until the glaze/clay interface fails and becomes part of your digestive system. Maybe I'm overly cautious and "preachy" when it comes to "raku pottery", but ever since I saw an inept (inept because she was told not to) beginner selling mugs through a coffee shop (with a clueless owner) and had to inform both of the law suits they were asking for, I make a point of informing. If Im wrong, Id love to know. Everything Ive been taught and learned contradicts though.
  14. hitchmss

    Using Elements and Element Pins in

    At what point do they become brittle....well define brittle. So brittle any bending while cold will snap, or more brittle that brand new? Out of the package they can be manipulated without breaking, however after the first firing they develop an oxide layer on the surface which helps protect and extend the life of the wire. Hence why they are shiny when new, and black/grey/crusty after firing. This oxidization continues to occur throughout each firing, and while dormant. After the first firing I wont bend an element wire without heating it to a dull orange/red color with a torch, and bending while hot (pliers) to avoid breaking it (doing this to bring wire back into channels). Without any definitive testing I would have no idea, how long is too brittle. If you're making jewelry Id use new so the wire has the most integrity and surface as possible. For sculpture any state is fine, just might need to heat to bend. If you put the wire into very thin pieces of clay it will crack it as the clay shrinks around the metal during firing, so some testing will tell you how thin/small is too small.
  15. Shawnhar; I hope my constructive criticism didnt come across as aggressive; sounds like you want honesty and not hollow compliments anyways. Best advice I ever received was some of the most difficult to swallow at the moment. Compliments dont create fortitude! Im assuming you mean that these planters had drainage holes you put in the base? I always put any holes into my pots when it is leather hard. I use a drill and bit, but the hole cutters, or piece of pipe work just fine too. The push through type require softer clay to avoid cracking, so that may be the cause of your cracks post bisque; might have been there when going into bisque as it may have cracked while/after pushing the hole cutters through (assuming thats how you made the holes). Any standard twist drill bits work wonderfully well for making holes in leather hard, or even semi bone dry pots (the drier, the slower you go with pressure, speed is ok). If you have very large holes (over 1/2") Ive used forstner style bits to make the holes, go slow with pressure on bigger holes; more surface area, more tension/torque. Heres a tea pot of mine with larger (and smaller holes too) all drilled at leather hard; biggest holes are about 1 1/2" in dia. Cracks could be related to number of other issues though; too thick/thin of floors, lack of compression (cracks "S" shaped?), too much water left in bottom after throwing, stress during trimming/hole making....Sorry to hear they suffered flaws....good glaze tests now, plus, if they're just planters a little extra drainage wont hurt anything. Keep on cranking the pots out; Its my belief you wont make good pots until you've made a lot of bad ones. Your goal of 300 sounds great! Every session you're working in the studio shoot for another 1,2,3....5....10....20.... pots per session. Dont sacrifice technique for speed, cut out excess steps, and focus on the process. Often I get in a rhythm when making work and count in my head what step I'm on. Most of my pots have 6 steps; center, open, pull 1, pull 2, rib, finish, repeat....Of course there's a bunch of little steps along the way too, but the gist of it is that I keep my mind in what Im doing, and not thinking about the leaking faucet. Turn and Burn!
  16. hitchmss

    Choosing clay types

    Glad I could help; with the vast amount of variables ceramic artists face, eliminating excess is a great way to produce solid work. Good Luck!
  17. hitchmss

    Cone 7 Gas Reduction Claybody

    I fire bmix 10 at ^12 (bottom is a smidge hotter, fireboxes closer to 14), and have some issues here and there, but overall(96%) its just fine. I however would not fire mid range bodies a number of cones over recommended. More, and different feldpsars are used in mid range/low fire clay bodies than high fire. They usually are less happy with being over fired.
  18. hitchmss

    Making ash

    More "glass" or flint/silica/quartz doesnt always mean more runny. Its a relationship between flux and flint that produces the runs. Silica melts at 3000 deg +; we dont fire that hot. Feldspars/fluxes aid in lowering the melting point of silica. More silica in a runny glaze actually stiffens it; contradictory to thought, but more glass means less flux to make it melt. There was a wonderful article in either CM or PMI which showed the difference in ash from different tree species, harvested at different times of year, and from different portions of the tree. Had great images and documentation. Dont remember which issue, or who the author, so maybe someone else does? I use ash which is all mixed hardwoods; burnt in my woodstove in the winter and turned into glaze in the summer. I screen, and wash my ash (put into bucket of water, blunge, let settle, siphon off top layer, and repeat/continue to do this until water no longer feels soapy or smells). Takes a lot of ash for me to produce a little glaze, and it takes a lot of wood/material to produce a little ash. For small amounts Id throw it into a bisque bowl and fire it with your bisque loads; make sure kiln area has plenty of ventilation (smoke.!!)
  19. Thanks Mark. They are much better now that they arent crushing themselves to death. You may or may not remember my seeking advice when they were; had a COE issue which I had overlooked. Problem solved! Thanks to the community in post!
  20. hitchmss

    Can I refire a gas kiln?

    Also, now that your pots have vitrified they will be more prone to thermal shock, so go up/down through quartz inversion a little more slowly; doesnt need to be snails pace, but not rocketing either. The only glazes that to my experience which do not get better with a second firing are copper reds, especially if you failed to produce proper color on the first firing. Such a small amount of colorant in the glaze, and since it volatilizes at such a low temp, if you miss proper redux, you wont get color as you burned off what you needed to make color. And yea, Mark is spot on about glazes running. Watch out for the runs.
  21. hitchmss

    "dangerous" glaze ingredients

    I think thats like asking for an encyclopedia. every material we use in our clays and glazes has an MSDS sheet which will list practically all the information you mentioned. Another good source for information is digitalfire.com Tony does a killer writeup on all the materials and is a very knowledgeable guy! Potter's Encyclopedia is another good source of info. I essentially tell my students and others to consider ALL the materials we use in a ceramics studio as hazardous, many of the materials in the glaze lab as toxic, and others as lethal. All that we use is bad for our lungs (mainly silica), all the colorants are in forms and concentrations that we are not used to (even though our water pipes are Cu, and Fe is in just about everything we eat, etc, its not in the form (Carbonates), and concentrations are WAYY above normal levels) and shouldnt be handled without masks, and gloves when possible. Lastly there are materials which are just downright lethal; not commonly used any more, but historically arsenic, mercury, uranium lead.......were all common glaze ingredients (ive found this and worse in numerous studios Ive worked in). yes, some materials need to be absorbed through our mucous membranes, and not just our skin, to be harmful, but why make exceptions. Treat everything with care and caution and prevent accidents. Ventilation should always be used whenever possible, especially when handling colorants/oxides, and dusty materials, but even when in your studio walking/working. I have an air filter which runs whenever I am in the studio, even when not making any work. Granted there are times when Ive got my bare handed skin in a bucket of glaze, but when possible I avoid. Safety first folks!
  22. hitchmss

    Choosing clay types

    Pick a clay body not based solely on color, but on its handling characteristics. If you only handbuild, then a super plastic body may not be the best for you. If you like the tooth and grog, then go that way. If you're making utilitarian work, then it needs to vitrify properly. If you already have glazes you use, make sure its a good fit on whichever clay you want to use. Use the same clay body for everything and if you want a different color surface then just spray/dip/brush a colored slip on your pots. Otherwise you'll have 3-4 scrap buckets for reclaim, etc. I tell students when they start glazing to focus on a palette of 4-6 glazes and learn how to exploit those to produce a range of 20-30 colors. Same principle here; you're making more headache for yourself than its worth. Short answer, pick the mid range, "grey body", with little-no grog. Easier to color a grey pot with black/white slip, than it is to color a black pot with white slip.
  23. hitchmss

    Bisque temp for raku

    Benzine; true a vitrified stoneware/porcelain will have a crystalline matrix which has developed inside the clay body at maturation, but most stonewares/porcelains mature/vitrify at least at mid range, or usually high fire temps. At a bisque ^04 a stoneware/raku clay would both be "underfired". Raku clay is essentially a stoneware clay body with fluxes designed for proper melt at low fire temps lower amounts of flint, and added fillers to deal with thermal shock. Additions of fire clays, grogs, sands, pyrophillite, etc all help with this process. You can go through the hassle of wedging in materials into your clay, lots of hassle; a pugmill makes shorter and better work of this. If you're doing just a few pots then making your own is a good experience; if you're making a lot, just buy it. The hassle of mixing/dust isnt worth it. Typical bisque temps are anything between^ 08-04; at this point the clay will no longer slake back into mud if wetted, but still maintains porosity (keeps glazes stuck to the pots). I dont do a bunch of raku, so there may be some benefits for different "alternative" firing techniques similar to raku (horsehair, alcohol reduction, saggar, naked raku......), but in my experience I bisque at 04, glaze, and then glaze fire to ^04. If your process requires the glaze/surface to be fired to a lower temperature (08 instead of 04), then I would bisque to that lower temp as well.
  24. hitchmss

    Earthenware Vs Stoneware

    Functional pots, can be made from earthenware, but they require special use and construction. Even if you glaze the interior/exterior of the pots, but leave the foot unglazed (commonly we all do this) then that is the spot water/soap/detergent will absorb into the clay body. This will weaken the pots over time/use, eventually leading to their failure. Also, how many of us have someone come in complaining about the handle on their mug being RIDICULOUSLY hot from the microwave and the handle fell off......porous pots get hot as hell. Some earthenware vessels are lovely to cook/use with; think tagine, or evaporative cooler (wine chillers). One of the benefits of unglazed earthenware cookware is that it handles thermal shock better than vitrified stoneware, and so for some vessels is the better choice. However, the vast majority of pots you and your customer is going to want need to be stoneware/porcelain. Now if the whole point of seeking an earthenware for you is based on color/texture, just alter the clays in your clay body to reflect your desires, but try to steer away from going to a true earthenware. I dont find much difference in throwability between most clay bodies, but if anything I prefer a smoother clay body than a groggy one; semi contradictory to what most people preach; being that more grog/tooth the bigger/thinner you can throw. I throw 4' tall, 2' diameter vessels from Bmix and other semi porcelaineous clay bodies. Finding the right balance of grog and other plastic clays where the body is still tight during throwing can be a challenge among commercial producers. Mixing your own you can vary the size and amounts of filler clays (grogs/fireclays/stoneware clays) to achieve that perfect throwing experience, but commercial you're stuck with what they make. IMO I dont see any benefit in going to an earthenware; the cost savings as some have mentioned are pretty negligible. I bisque my 2728 for about $10, and cone 12 glaze fire 60 cu feet for about $60 in propane. I dont electric fire to mid range, but would guess costs to be about $20-30/firing. Saving $20 a firing, and maybe a set of elements each year/every other doesnt seem to be enough of a cost savings for the hassle of making utilitarian pots from earthenware.
  25. hitchmss

    First Year Art Teacher and Need Help!

    Another good reason to fire when students arent present, is that most middle/high school ceramics programs have a lack of funding, which means a lack of proper safety setups. Ill just make the assumption that you dont have a good ventilation system installed, and without it you'd be doing damage to both yourself, and the students by firing while present. Firing overnight (with window/ door open) when no students are present eliminates one issue, but necessitates you to be present to make sure risk of fire is controlled (assuming you have a computer controlled kiln). An option is to run the kiln overnight through water smoking/burn off and into quartz inversion, and then let it finish during the day when you are present to make sure it shuts off. That's fine for bisque, but glaze firing, your glazes are going to be off gassing throughout the entire firing and, without proper ventilation, shouldnt have yourself or students hanging out nearby. Ive seen/discussed this similar issue numerous times. A school will bring in a teacher who may/may not know how to operate a ceramics studio and expect them to run something which has usually been set up (on a budget mind you, oftentimes a pitiful one) by someone prior (who may or may not know a thing). You as the teacher are put into a bad position; if there is no experience, you're expected to learn a skill set which takes LOTS (i mean LOTS) of time, in a short period and operate a studio, or if you do have experience, maybe the studio is inadequate and you're forced to recommend the school spending thousands (sometimes more) to improve its situation and cease use until its done. Often these experiences happen a the beginning of your employment and create a very uneasy situation to begin with. I fully support the teaching of ceramics to youth (I learned in 7th grade, and full time professional 20 years later), but it needs to be done safely. Read up and learn about the dangers of ceramics (lots to read), and evaluate the studio situation, and before you start using the equipment, make sure you FULLY understand how to operate it. Whats worse? Not operating a ceramics course for a semester, year...., or damaging a piece of equip, yourself, the students, or the facilities? Dont rush into doing something because someone tells you (without knowing your comfort level or knowledge) that "you can do it, it's easy". My suggestion, find someone (knowledgeable, preferably a professional) who can come to your studio and work with you to learn about the tools and equip you have, and evaluate what you need to make it better/safer/easier to use. Approach the school to allot for a budget to pay this professional (tell them its cheaper than a case with OSHA), or if they wont, kiss ass, beg, barter and ply yourself to get the help you need. I was the head of a university ceramics department which had horrendous safety measures installed (of course, had been that way for decades, so who cares....). I brought up the issue to head of department who told me that if we tried to push the budgeting through, likely the university would just shut the program down rather than fix it (cheaper, and their arts program wasnt the golden goose). OSHA wouldnt have approved any of the operations which were in place there, and I was forced with tough decision, wreck the department, or keep quiet. I chose not to be a part of the university (this, among other reasons) and left my recommendations with my boss. Point of my story, do everything you can to keep yourself, and your students safe. Take your time, learn before you do, and preach safety. If you cant operate the studio safely, then change what you teach. Use air dry clays and acrylic paints....
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