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About DirtRoads

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  • Birthday June 1

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  1. I'm not sure people here are being critical enough. Based on my experience, that group photo with the sponge and spoon would not be acceptable in most juried shows and should be deleted. Depends on the caliber of show you are submitting to, but from what I know you should just spend the money and get a professional. I know when I was considering applying to the Mississippi Arts and Craftsman Guild, the person guiding me was insistent about professional photographs. (I never applied) Another person I know was encouraging me to submit to a particular juried show and they also, were insistent about really good photography (this shows wanted slides). As said, it depends on the caliber of show you are applying to. If they aren't very good shows, this type of photography might be okay. If really competitive, I think judges might notice these photographs. They look fine here and okay for face book or a website or even a low level juried show. But they don't look "professional". With a photo light box and some work, you could improve the quality. https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-business/tips-juried-shows/ Note: 2. Consider hiring a professional photographer The advent of digital photography has made it tempting for artists to shoot their own slides and digital images for juried shows. But according to Gregg Hertzlieb, director of the Brauer Museum of Art in Valparaiso, Indiana, this can backfire. “For example,” says Hertzlieb, “because of inexperience, someone may position the camera too far away from the piece of art, and so the countertop (or whatever the piece is sitting on) will show in the photograph, distracting from the artwork.” Hertzlieb warns that these types of easy-to-make amateur mistakes are red flags to a jury that the artist may not be at top of his or her game.
  2. What is the best way? Some clay is just too wet. I've currently ordering #7 hardness. I was told Laguna clay is normally 6.0 to 6.5 hardness. The #7 is still too wet. My April order will be 7.5. But .. .need to use up some of this wet clay. We keep pushing the wetter clay back ..... Do you just open bag and dry straight up or laying sideways? Do you turn the blocks of clay? Or do you slice the clay to let it dry? (we slice a 25 lb block in 3 long pieces) We dry on sheet rock or hobby board or a slab mat. Currently we use about 500 pounds a week. Running it through the pug mill to "dry it out" isn't an option I wish to pursue. I want to know what is the best way to evenly dry blocks of clay. We've tried all ways but I'm not really sure which gives the most even drying?
  3. KonMarie influence ... they discard clothing before there's a chance to lose a button. I hear customers mention frequently they don't want "dust catchers". BTW, what is the retail price on that piece?
  4. Looked at my AliExpress account and I've placed 95 orders with various sellers. I was a platinum buyer last year. You basically escrow your money until you get the product and give feedback. I've only had one order that wasn't what I ordered (it was just a mistake) and they replaced it promptly. I don't see any risks at all ordering here. Actually I use my bank debit card. You can use pay pal (at least with some vendors) but it costs more. I use the Ali pay, that holds your money until you rate the transaction
  5. Really good production here. Lack of production is the failure I see most often in pottery businesses. Second is not getting the distribution right. How much do your shows cut into your production? I have 3 electric kilns (10.2 cubic feet each) and have a pretty good pottery business. I have one full time employee in the pottery side of my business and another full time employee that makes jewelry and runs the show room. "Making a living" means different things to different people. I support myself, 4 dogs and 27 cats from this business. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance ($730) a month and have funded a couple building projects from the business. I consider it a profitable business. I will NOT live hand to mouth and don't scrape by. I never do without anything. And neither do the animals that live here, including medical care when they need it. I don't like pottery enough to stay in it if it wasn't profitable. I do like the pottery business pretty well (not as much as most people here do) but it's profitable and it was a really easy business to build (consider I've built other retail businesses). Also, to add to my profitability I have a jewelry business in the same location. Between the 2, it's more than enough to make what I consider "a good living" which includes giving nice gifts to people in my family and donating to make the world a better place for animals.
  6. I had the trailer from a previous business. But would buy one if I didn't. I look at opportunity cost of loading the trailer vs doing something that produces revenue. I'm at full production, not willing to make any more pottery than my current production. If I had to load the trailer, I would have to be out there the whole time it was being loaded. It would take me at least 2 days to load that trailer plus 2 workers. 2 days to load a 20 x 30 foot booth (the jewelry racks would take most of the time .. probably 6 hours to load just pottery fixtures and inventory) . And the work is timed right before the show, a time where if I'm not making pottery, I would rather be doing very little. One of the workers does full time pottery, so instead of just costing me $15 Hour/8 hours for 2 days ($240) plus a minimum net loss of pottery production $1500. (pottery still has to be fired & glazed ... profit of at least 50% ... opportunity cost $750) The other worker would be pulled off jewelry production plus waiting on customers ($240 plus $2K net loss of jewelry production) You can see the math here. It would cost me in production to pull these workers away and have them load. Now I could always use this college student that works here $10/hour to help me load for 2 days (it would actually take 3 days with just us 2 loading $240). But he's not usually around at convenient times. And that would insure that I do a lot of the work. My time is worth at least $500/day. (that's the very minimum it's worth in terms of working to bring in revenue for the business) So just on this, loading this trailer 2 times a year would cost me $2K plus loading labor. In 2 years, it would pay for itself, only doing 2 shows a year.
  7. This advantage might be over looked. At one time I did 20 shows a year (not in pottery). I could not have done this many shows without this trailer. Currently I have a 20 x 7 Cargo trailer that stays loaded year round. I keep pottery fixtures in it but NO POTTERY. I preload the jewelry racks and haul them to the 2 shows that I currently do. I would NOT be able to put all this jewelry out if I had to unload and hang it. I leave everything associated with the shows in this trailer (as seen in pictures). And if I think of something, I go get it and put in trailer. This gives me weeks to get ready for this show. As jewelry is made, I hang it in the trailer. I carry the pottery in a cargo van, in a Yukon and some in the Silverado cab truck that pulls the trailer. We leave everything in this trailer. Consider this option if you need storage and have a place to put a trailer. The money would not be an obstacle to me and if I didn't already have it, I would buy one. Also consider this can be a single expensed tax deduction. Here it is. Sitting here full of stuff that never leaves the trailer. You could put everything in the trailer except the pottery. Might do with a bit smaller trailer but then the extra storage is good. I don't even have to think about "packing" for my 2 shows. NOTE: The loading ramp door, a feature that has proved invaluable. We can pop stuff on hand trucks and just whisk things to the space or load on a dolly inside trailer. Would I use it if I only had pottery? Yes, because I would have to store my fixtures, tent, bags, wrapping paper, etc. somewhere. A smaller trailer but it would save so much time and wear and tear not having to unload things.
  8. My business is located in a rural area with only 2 pr 3 building codes in place. You can't run raw sewage on the ground. Land sites with no existing septic tank have to be at least 2 acres. They have tried to put some building code restrictions in place but failed. Locating AWAY from city building codes is a MUST, if you can do it. Sounds like you've found a good location. I'll try to find my expansion post. I have a free standing retail location. I think you could make this work. The fire marshal always gave us a really hard time in places like Birmingham, AL, Memphis TN, etc. I can't imagine getting my current situation up to code. Very smart in looking at this BEFORE you purchase. Your work is fabulous and production way more than what I need for profitability. You could make it in free standing I believe. Biggest mistake I made was not putting everything together. I'm currently looking at a small expansion, which will join my studio (an old house) with my show rooms. I have my own "village" here. Some businesses in near by towns resent my lack of restrictions.
  9. Just a thought ... I once "lost" a rack in the mall and a really expensive moving dolly at a show. The rack was "found" in a store and the dolly "found" in another vendors booth. Both excuses "Oh I thought you were throwing it away". This past Canton flea market we had a chair in front of the booth .. someone got it. I'll make a scoop around booths in the spring and see if it turns up .... (I'll take a video if I find it lol) So check in other stores? Sorry for your loss.
  10. Up 34% over last year. I have no desire to push numbers higher. I'm at max with current number of employees and buildings.
  11. ^ LOL I don't ship pottery but I do ship jewelry. I exclusively use Priority Mail Small Box Flat Rate Costs $7.2. 99% of my orders fit in the small flat box and if under $50, I charge $7.95 for shipping. The medium box is $13.65. I get constant shipping updates. I used Priority Mail in my previous internet business that did over $500K a year with no problems. I think we had one package come up missing. One advantage of using Priority Mail are the free boxes. You get online and have cases delivered to you for free.
  12. Nice video. Makes sense to replace the wires. A small cost for the added benefits. I'm thinking I will get an electrician to replace all of mine. I've got 1177 firings on my first L&L and 500 on the 2nd one. I've replaced wires once on first L&L and replaced a the wires to elements last week. But putting lower gauge wires and better connections would seem to solve a lot of problems. I am going to put a better relay on my Paragon bisque kiln. This is my 3rd Paragon ... when they start giving too much trouble I just buy another one. Sometimes I notice a correlation between a burnt out element and replacing a relay on that kiln.
  13. How often do these usually need replacing? My Paragon bisque kiln will go through 2 relay switches a year. L&L kilns .. maybe 1 a year. This electrical engineer that works & designs power welding machines (really expensive & high tech ones) suggested getting a 50 amp relay instead of a 30 amp one. Not rushing out to do it but ... would this help? He said this one company had some heat problems and they went from a 50 to 70 amp and it cleared up the problems.
  14. 78% increase in sales on Black Friday. Already past last November's sales and today has started out really strong. Don't really think I can top December 2017 sales but .. might be possible. My production is a little lower than last year but increased prices is off setting. Running a 43% increase for the year. I can't really see making this work without my holiday sales increases.
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