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management of your teaching studio

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clay lover    133

This is an off shoot from another thread that developed a different direction due to comments about someone having problems selling work from their college studio and 'policies'. Trina suggested a new thread on this and related issues and I agree, so here it it.

 

 

I teach from my home studio and also do my own work there and It would be great to know how others are doing this and managing the different things that come up. Such as;

Pricing of class time

management of student personalities

Separating your work , glazes, materials from student's work,

Use of space available

 

 

My first question, one I am trying to answer for myself,.

My students always want to do bigger and more complex pieces that they are really ready for. How do I rein them in without discouraging them?

In the studio shelving, they see large forms, moulds, that I use for my sale pieces and want to use them. Problem is, the pieces are to big for them to manage, and I also don't want to make everything I use for my sales line to be used by my students to produces pieces that would be similar but not so well done as the one's I make for the local market. Same form, same glaze, ect. I don't have room to separate everything and still be able to do my work in the same studio.

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teardrop    2

Comments from a >student<.

 

The instructor who teaches my class is also a working artist. She has many molds that she uses for her work....many of which are in the studio/under the bench where other molds are kept.

 

I personally wouldn't think of using them for my own "work"...mainly because I think they are kinda ugly (LOL) and from my unexperienced perspective... making something from a mold isn't putting yourself out there as an artist (IMO)...it's more like making "ceramics" like my grandma used to do when she'd buy greenware and then paint it. Yawn...stretch. It definetely isn't where >I< want to go with my creations/mind.....FWIW.

 

But even so..leaving this kinda stuff...or your personal tools/glazes >accessible< to others in the studio doesn't seem like a good idea. For one thing, it gives away HOW you create....which to me...should have at least a BIT of mystery involved in it. When i saw that this artist's peices were made from molds I felt like it was a bit of trickery...but that is just me. I sure wouldn't pay $1200 for a vase with a molded figure on top...but to each their own. I know she sells this stuff to >someone<....and for a good price as well.

 

And when things get broke..or go missing.....WHO is to blame? I know there was an issue about something missing a few months ago...maybe some glazes/etc... but hey...if it is IN the studio and the studio is OPEN and you didn't LOCK it......the only person to blame is the person who owns it and took such poor care of it....or who expected others to care for it as they would.

 

Student personalities should also be a fun topic. Just in the few classes I've taken I've seen a myriad of folks with highly different skill levels, desires, and talents.

 

I'll shut up now. Lookin forward to hearing the perspectives of those who have been at this for awhile and how they appproach these topics!

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Guest HerbNorriss   
Guest HerbNorriss

'And when things get broke..or go missing.....WHO is to blame? I know there was an issue about something missing a few months ago...maybe some glazes/etc... but hey...if it is IN the studio and the studio is OPEN and you didn't LOCK it......the only person to blame is the person who owns it and took such poor care of it....or who expected others to care for it as they would.'

 

Please do us all a favor - reveal your real name and where you take classes - so that we can be sure to lock everything up all the time.

Frightening.

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Chris Campbell    1,088

People don't naturally know what you expect from them. It is up to you to set the boundaries, establish rules of studio behavior.

YOU do this by having a discussion about your studio policies before they can use it ... don't wait for problems to arise.

YOU also have these policies and rules posted in visible places in the studio. For example you would have clean up rules near the sinks, glaze rules near the glazes.

YOU set the boundaries of what they can use and what they can't. What shelves are for them and which ones are not.

YOU decide when they are ready to move up to larger forms. You can cite the need to manage kiln space fairly as a reason not to fill it with big stuff.

 

For some this advice might seem heavy handed, but rules give people enormous freedom to explore within boundaries. They know what they can and can't do, so they can relax and do their own work without worrying about what is acceptable. Of course they will always push at the boundaries, but it is still your studio they want to use.

 

I also want to comment on teardrops post .... with a smile, not to offend ...:)

 

" making something from a mold isn't putting yourself out there as an artist (IMO)...it's more like making "ceramics" like my grandma used to do when she'd buy greenware and then paint it. Yawn...stretch."

 

Everyone should get familiar with mold making and the extremely talented people who create their work from original molds. It is a very difficult technique to master and time consuming to do right. Some absolutely amazing work is done from molds.

 

Also, those greenware places deserve our gratitude for demanding and getting improved underglazes and clear firing glazes. In the old days, before them, underglazes did not even look like the final color ... you just had to know that the ugly color you were painting on was going to turn green or blue or whatever. It was impossible to paint and remember what colors you had where.

 

"the only person to blame is the person who owns it and took such poor care of it....or who expected others to care for it as they would."

 

Wow! I don't even know how to comment on this ... a BIG reason why I would never open my studio up to others! I expect people who use my things to take care of them. But then I readily admit to be an 'old school' person.

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Pyewackette    1

 

And when things get broke..or go missing.....WHO is to blame? I know there was an issue about something missing a few months ago...maybe some glazes/etc... but hey...if it is IN the studio and the studio is OPEN and you didn't LOCK it......the only person to blame is the person who owns it and took such poor care of it....or who expected others to care for it as they would.

 

 

I'm sorry, but if something is stolen or broken, the person who did it is still responsible for their actions. That's not to say, from a practical standpoint, that a studio owner shouldn't take appropriate precautions to protect their own things; but taking a class from someone and having temporary access to a workspace doesn't give one free rein to have their way with everything in the studio. The person to "blame" is the person who takes the (reprehensible) action of theft, or is careless and breaks something. Just make sure you have policies in place that are clear about expectations, e.g. no tools or equipment are to be removed from the studio, etc.

 

As regards tools and equipment the owner doesn't want used for class - just make that part of the class policy. There are tools and equipment that are for classes, and all other stuff in the studio is Off Limits, period paragraph. I don't know of anyone who teaches who allows unsupervised access to their studio space, and would recommend against that sort of access in general, especially if you can't have a class space separate from your usual workspace. Clearly label and identify what the student does and does not have access to and then just enforce that. Make sure students are supervised during classes, as well as during any open studio hours you might choose to provide.

 

Opening studio space up to students for classes doesn't mean you've given up all property rights and decisions about the dispensation of your stuff. It's unfortunate that we cannot, by and large, rely on people to be responsible on their own, but it's a fact that we can't, so you do have to be specific and clear about rules and boundaries. But if someone insists on stealing something (and stuff disappears from the community studios where I've worked every single class session), it's not the studio owners fault for having provided access to students for classes. It's because some people steal, are careless, and do not respect the rights of others. THEY are the ones at fault.

 

Speaking as a student myself...

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trina    20

Hi there,

 

 

 

I think this is going to be a very interesting topic.... I have a rather large studio (not in my home) where I work and teach from. It is a business and I constantly need to remind myself to run it as such.

 

I know my fixed costs, wear and tear on kiln and fittings, ect. But I love ceramics and I love teaching and inspiring others to enjoy working with this medium as well. I run my studio so that the costs are more or less covered my the students. Meaning I don't profit from them in a financial way. They pay and it gives them a place to be creative, and it gives me a place as well.

 

I never ever worry about giving away my 'secrets' if you want to call it that. No person has the same imagination or want to do the same things or the skill to do those things that takes years of practise. It made me kinda chuckle with teardrops comment about trickery, all art is some kinda trickery, just depends on how good your slight of hand is. I take lumps of mud and make wonderful things just through skill and trickery but I guess that is another topic hahaha....

 

I personally feel the same way as claylover, if i have a special glaze or mold I won't let students use it. I will teach them how to make their own molds in an extra class ect. It is hard but when students want to go past their skill, let them, and don't get involved. Don't jump in when things start to slump and don't take responsiblity for their work, let them have a few failures and they generally start working smaller again going back to their level. Reining them in without dampening spirts can be done though constructed lessons where they actually learn how to make an item from start to finish ie 4 tiles that have a matching theme or a teapot from a paper pattern.

 

Most students don't realise the amount of work it is to run a studio and most think that I charge the clay double so I must be making loads of money off them. They don't understand the amount of time and cost everything else is. I always try and do my best to help and please students, however it is also like a restuarant there are always going to be those people who think they can order hot water and lemon for free and use their own teabag! Trina

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teardrop    2

Please do us all a favor - reveal your real name and where you take classes - so that we can be sure to lock everything up all the time.

Frightening.

 

 

I was speaking in general to what I SEE happening around me. IMO, your comment is a slam to my character...of which you know absolutely >nada< about.

 

As far as revealing my name/school/etc. Sorry bro...but it could be ANY studio where folks are careless and stupid and then whine when things go wrong/are broken.

 

To clarify on a personal note (for those who jump the gun at every comment....)

 

I buy my own tools. I had no idea if I'd be hooked on clay but I spent over $100 on trimming tools, paddles, etc...etc..etc.. Before I walked into the studio because I don't feel comfortable using other people's stuff 99.9% of the time. It's just not something I do for many reasons.

 

Nor do I want you to snake something out of my tool box...especially without asking....but if I leave it unlocked....I believe I am to blame if something goes missing/comes up broken.

 

Case in point: My instructor left 6 of her peices on a shelf in a locked closet...but it is THE closet where the key to the clay locker is...so it MUST be accessible (In my selfish opinion....LOL).

 

sure enough...."**** happened"......and the shelf came down and all of the work was broken. $2500 i'm told....

 

The same thing will probably happen to those molds she used to make the same work that are tossed under the workstation used by 4 classes of people.....

 

who is to blame?

 

All I know is that it isn't (wasn't) me. However...the finger was pointed my way because I had used the studio the same weekend...which >>>I<<< did NOT appreciate and let that be known. I felt sorry for her (both the artist/teacher and the lady who happened to be unlucky enough to walk in when it fell) but I also thought "Pretty stupid to leave yer "valuable" Art ANYWHERE it could get broken by someone else...." but hey... that's just me and my thing about the lack of personal responsibility I see happening far too often these days... It's so much easier to blame others, know what i mean?

 

Re "molds". sorry...i recieved enough "ceramics" as a kid from Grandma that I can't even use the term in relation to "pottery". when folks say 'Oh, yer taking ceramics?" ...I say NO..I'm taking a pottery class.... LOL. I just never liked that paintable greenware stuff...though I DO still have what she made me cus it was made with Love. To each their own though.....

 

just bein' honest folks.... (thanks for the PMs, BTW)

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Pyewackette    1

Please do us all a favor - reveal your real name and where you take classes - so that we can be sure to lock everything up all the time.

Frightening.

 

 

I was speaking in general to what I SEE happening around me. IMO, your comment is a slam to my character...of which you know absolutely >nada< about.

 

....

 

Case in point: My instructor left 6 of her peices on a shelf in a locked closet...but it is THE closet where the key to the clay locker is...so it MUST be accessible (In my selfish opinion....LOL).

 

sure enough...."**** happened"......and the shelf came down and all of the work was broken. $2500 i'm told....

 

....

 

who is to blame?

 

All I know is that it isn't (wasn't) me. However...the finger was pointed my way because I had used the studio the same weekend...which >>>I<<< did NOT appreciate and let that be known. I felt sorry for her (both the artist/teacher and the lady who happened to be unlucky enough to walk in when it fell) but I also thought "Pretty stupid to leave yer "valuable" Art ANYWHERE it could get broken by someone else...." but hey... that's just me and my thing about the lack of personal responsibility I see happening far too often these days... It's so much easier to blame others, know what i mean?

 

 

 

LOL! "Who is to blame" - whoever broke the stuff, that's who! And if you're thinking "pretty stupid..." etc, then you did NOT feel sorry for anyone. And yes, it clearly is much easier to blame others. I think it's hilarious that you don't see that in yourself, given that you have repeatedly shifted blame from the doer to the owner who "didn't lock things up" or "let (people) into the studio" in every statement you've made thus far.

 

Maybe you don't intend to come off sounding like some kind of Ayn Rand clone, but you do. As far as having the finger of blame pointed at you - given your rather over the top statements here in this thread, I wonder if you haven't expressed these opinions equally vehemently in person, which might lead one to wonder if you were involved in such incidents. You've made it pretty clear, if someone breaks something, it's not their fault, it's the fault of the person who didn't lock it up. That sort of blame shifting does tend to make people suspicious, rightly or wrongly. I'm not saying it WAS your fault; but this is not the way responsible people normally talk in our culture. It's probably not fair that expressing your opinions this way might lead to suspicion when something does go missing or gets broken, but it's predictable.

 

Hope you continue to find clay happiness, but I can't agree with your ideas about culpability and responsibility.

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Please do us all a favor - reveal your real name and where you take classes - so that we can be sure to lock everything up all the time.

Frightening.

 

 

I was speaking in general to what I SEE happening around me. IMO, your comment is a slam to my character...of which you know absolutely >nada< about.

 

....

 

Case in point: My instructor left 6 of her peices on a shelf in a locked closet...but it is THE closet where the key to the clay locker is...so it MUST be accessible (In my selfish opinion....LOL).

 

sure enough...."**** happened"......and the shelf came down and all of the work was broken. $2500 i'm told....

 

....

 

who is to blame?

 

All I know is that it isn't (wasn't) me. However...the finger was pointed my way because I had used the studio the same weekend...which >>>I<<< did NOT appreciate and let that be known. I felt sorry for her (both the artist/teacher and the lady who happened to be unlucky enough to walk in when it fell) but I also thought "Pretty stupid to leave yer "valuable" Art ANYWHERE it could get broken by someone else...." but hey... that's just me and my thing about the lack of personal responsibility I see happening far too often these days... It's so much easier to blame others, know what i mean?

 

 

 

LOL! "Who is to blame" - whoever broke the stuff, that's who! And if you're thinking "pretty stupid..." etc, then you did NOT feel sorry for anyone. And yes, it clearly is much easier to blame others. I think it's hilarious that you don't see that in yourself, given that you have repeatedly shifted blame from the doer to the owner who "didn't lock things up" or "let (people) into the studio" in every statement you've made thus far.

 

Maybe you don't intend to come off sounding like some kind of Ayn Rand clone, but you do. As far as having the finger of blame pointed at you - given your rather over the top statements here in this thread, I wonder if you haven't expressed these opinions equally vehemently in person, which might lead one to wonder if you were involved in such incidents. You've made it pretty clear, if someone breaks something, it's not their fault, it's the fault of the person who didn't lock it up. That sort of blame shifting does tend to make people suspicious, rightly or wrongly. I'm not saying it WAS your fault; but this is not the way responsible people normally talk in our culture. It's probably not fair that expressing your opinions this way might lead to suspicion when something does go missing or gets broken, but it's predictable.

 

Hope you continue to find clay happiness, but I can't agree with your ideas about culpability and responsibility.

 

 

This thread is getting ugly and unhappy. Can it stop, please?

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trina    20

Please do us all a favor - reveal your real name and where you take classes - so that we can be sure to lock everything up all the time.

Frightening.

 

 

I was speaking in general to what I SEE happening around me. IMO, your comment is a slam to my character...of which you know absolutely >nada< about.

 

....

 

Case in point: My instructor left 6 of her peices on a shelf in a locked closet...but it is THE closet where the key to the clay locker is...so it MUST be accessible (In my selfish opinion....LOL).

 

sure enough...."**** happened"......and the shelf came down and all of the work was broken. $2500 i'm told....

 

....

 

who is to blame?

 

All I know is that it isn't (wasn't) me. However...the finger was pointed my way because I had used the studio the same weekend...which >>>I<<< did NOT appreciate and let that be known. I felt sorry for her (both the artist/teacher and the lady who happened to be unlucky enough to walk in when it fell) but I also thought "Pretty stupid to leave yer "valuable" Art ANYWHERE it could get broken by someone else...." but hey... that's just me and my thing about the lack of personal responsibility I see happening far too often these days... It's so much easier to blame others, know what i mean?

 

 

 

LOL! "Who is to blame" - whoever broke the stuff, that's who! And if you're thinking "pretty stupid..." etc, then you did NOT feel sorry for anyone. And yes, it clearly is much easier to blame others. I think it's hilarious that you don't see that in yourself, given that you have repeatedly shifted blame from the doer to the owner who "didn't lock things up" or "let (people) into the studio" in every statement you've made thus far.

 

Maybe you don't intend to come off sounding like some kind of Ayn Rand clone, but you do. As far as having the finger of blame pointed at you - given your rather over the top statements here in this thread, I wonder if you haven't expressed these opinions equally vehemently in person, which might lead one to wonder if you were involved in such incidents. You've made it pretty clear, if someone breaks something, it's not their fault, it's the fault of the person who didn't lock it up. That sort of blame shifting does tend to make people suspicious, rightly or wrongly. I'm not saying it WAS your fault; but this is not the way responsible people normally talk in our culture. It's probably not fair that expressing your opinions this way might lead to suspicion when something does go missing or gets broken, but it's predictable.

 

Hope you continue to find clay happiness, but I can't agree with your ideas about culpability and responsibility.

 

 

This thread is getting ugly and unhappy. Can it stop, please?

 

 

agreed! Trina

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Pyewackette    1

This is an off shoot from another thread that developed a different direction due to comments about someone having problems selling work from their college studio and 'policies'. Trina suggested a new thread on this and related issues and I agree, so here it it.

 

 

 

Regarding the original issue, which was rules about production using class facilities.

 

This has always been the rule in every class situation I've ever been involved in - not that you can't make anything at all for sale, but that you shouldn't be doing full production (multiple pieces in a short period of time intended for sale).

 

However, it's actually only ever been a real ISSUE in places where they have open studio hours. You just can't do much "production" in a 3 hour, once a week class.

 

I have mixed feelings about the rule itself, but given that it exists, it should be enforced, and as the OP noted, it seems often to be the case that it's only enforced selectively. He cited the instructor who uses school property for her production - but I'm not sure that's a problem so much as a perk. After all, as a teacher of ceramic arts, it's reasonable to expect her to produce. I don't know, it just strikes me that way.

 

Then there's the case of a local community studio. They have the "no production" rule, but it's routinely broken by at least 4 different people who use the studio, and none of them are paying a penny for studio use because they're all "volunteers" who monitor open studio hours once a week for about 3 hours.

 

Wish I could get a deal like that, LOL!

 

On the other hand, none of the 4 are real "production" potters in the sense that *I* think of production potters. They turn out a LOT of work compared to other studio attendees, but really nowhere near what an actual potter who makes a living at it would be doing. These folks are making pocket change at best. But honestly, I don't think they do it for the money so much as for the right to think of themselves as "real", professional, master potters.

 

I'm kind of torn between the thought that if you HAVE a rule, you should enforce it evenhandedly, and the thought that this kind of small-time "production" really doesn't make any serious difference in what resources are available to the rest of us.

 

Yeah, that's kind of wishy washy I suppose. I suppose they have to have the rule so you don't get somebody coming in and filling the kiln up and crowding out others, but that's not really what's going on, so where's the harm?

 

On the other hand, a student in a professional (as compared to a community) setting shouldn't be discouraged from learning about the commercial aspects of pottery - pottery as a business as opposed to pottery as a craft. It's not clear to me from the description given later by the OP that that was what was actually going on, but it did certainly sound like the instructor was at least skirting the line if not crossing it. Students have to turn out a certain amount of work as part of the class requirements; the work also has to meet some quality requirements, as well as requirements for design and originality. If some of that required work ends up getting sold, then I say hurrah for the student; as long as we're not talking quantities outside the bounds of what reasonably needs to be done to meet class expectations, then there's no harm. It's only when you slip over that line between "have to do this anyway" and "I've got a kiln load to be fired and sold and none of these pieces will be submitted for a grade" that a problem would, or should, exist.

 

If that makes any sense ...

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Chris Campbell    1,088

In the first two community studios I worked in they did enforce the "no production potters" rule. This could be because some of them were quite bold about demanding their work be in the next load etc., and never offered to help load, unload or shelve work. Or if they did help load it was their work that got in first.

That gets old pretty quick for the instructors and other students.

Working potters also resent them working from tax payer supported studios since they usually sell their work so cheaply ... they have no real costs apart from clay, which is nothing compared to a business overhead. If you have no real costs you cannot learn about being in business.

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GEP    863

 

Clay lover, I am also thinking of having students in my home studio, though right now I simply don't have the space, it's something I am considering for the future. So I've given some thought to your questions, and I think this is how I would handle them:

 

Pricing of class time

I think this would depend on the going rate for pottery classes in your area. Figure out your local average tuition per hour per student. The classes I currently teach at a community center can have 10 students at a time. In my studio I could maybe fit 4 at a time, therefore my tuition wold be higher, because the students would get more attention.

management of student personalities

In my studio, I would keep this very simple: if I don't like somebody, they must go. Especially if the studio is in your home, you absolutely have the right to decide who is welcome. Any rational person will understand and respect your right to do this.

Separating your work, glazes, materials from student's work, and use of space available

I really like the way the community center manages this ... every registered student gets a shelf space, roughly 3 ft wide and 2 ft tall, where they store all their clay, tools, and works in progress. I think this prevents folks from overusing a shared space, by limiting the amount of space their things can occupy. And everyone's things are kept separate.

As for clay, I would have the students use my clay, that way there is only one clay going through the pug mill. They would be allowed to use a different clay if they are willing to recycle it by hand, and if their recycling operation fits on their shelf.

As for glazes, I would provide a decent glaze selection for my students, all cone 6 only. Some of them would be shared from my own personal glazes, while some of my personal glazes I would keep to myself, because they are too integral to the "look" of my professional line. If anyone has a problem with that, see above policy about managing personalities.

I would definitely provide some open studio time outside of class hours. I think that's really important to learning, to have time to practice on your own. But since the studio in in my house, it would have to be limited, maybe 10am to 5pm on Saturdays. First come first served.

I have lots of molds in my studio too, students would not be allowed to use them. Period. I would gladly teach them how to make their own, then hopefully they will understand why mine are off limits.

Overall, whatever parameters you decide to set, I agree with Chris that it's up to you to enforce them. You can't expect people to see your boundaries unless you state them on a regular basis. I've seen inside of several group studios, the ones that have no rules and are poorly managed are not very nice places to work. The ones where the boundaries are clear, and somebody is willing to enforce them are much happier places to work. Even if occasionally someone gets confronted sternly about studio policies, this leads to everyone having a respectful attitude for the studio and their studio mates.

Can you share with us how you currently deal with these issues? I'm definitely curious.

Mea

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SShirley    9

Comments from a >student<.

 

And when things get broke..or go missing.....WHO is to blame? I know there was an issue about something missing a few months ago...maybe some glazes/etc... but hey...if it is IN the studio and the studio is OPEN and you didn't LOCK it......the only person to blame is the person who owns it and took such poor care of it....or who expected others to care for it as they would.

 

 

 

Let me get this straight...

 

Let's get away from the studio aspect for just a moment. If a person goes into someone else's home and goes into their cupboards and breaks their dishes, it's the HOST'S fault for not putting a lock on the cabinet? They are taking poor care of their stuff by not locking it up in their own space? In a studio situation sometimes it's just not practical to put everything under lock and key but common decency should say that if it's not yours - you have no business touching it. I think they teach that in kindergarten, don't they?

 

I have had a lot of people ask about working in my space and after reading this thread I'm not sure I ever want to do that.

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Pyewackette    1

In the first two community studios I worked in they did enforce the "no production potters" rule. This could be because some of them were quite bold about demanding their work be in the next load etc., and never offered to help load, unload or shelve work. Or if they did help load it was their work that got in first.

That gets old pretty quick for the instructors and other students.

Working potters also resent them working from tax payer supported studios since they usually sell their work so cheaply ... they have no real costs apart from clay, which is nothing compared to a business overhead. If you have no real costs you cannot learn about being in business.

 

 

Yeah, I see what you're saying, and truth be told since these folks are the ones loading the kilns, their stuff DOES get in first. But I don't think their output is high enough to make a noticeable difference in when my stuff got fired. That sort of behavior would be over the line.

 

I also get what you're saying about free facilities affecting people's livelihoods. But honestly, these folks (while pretty good and generally still better than me at this point) are NOT turning out really professional level work, no matter what they think. They all use the same studio glazes, they use the same techniques, their stuff all looks pretty much the same, not in anyway unusual or unique. Technically adequate. Generally functional. Narrow in scope but acceptable within that purview. Still better than what I can reliably turn out; nevertheless, this is strictly small-time, hobby stuff, and not enough of it to have a serious impact on the real professional stuff.

 

There's another community studio in a nearby town where you can rent studio space and do all the production you want, but that's the intent of that set-up, so no harm no foul there. These guys, they're definitely skirting the line, and I'd be willing to bet that as soon as one of them crosses it the whole lot of them will be reigned in. But given that one of the "guilty" parties, if you will, is also the only paid staff member for the studio, I'm thinking the transgression would have to be pretty egregious for that to happen, LOL!

 

At THIS point, in THIS situation, it strikes me as a non-issue; but I can certainly see where it could become an issue.

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lynny    5

Hi all,

 

I have had a home based studio for 25 years and for 20 of those years it was my place of business ie I taught adults, children, tourists and community groups.

It fed my family and paid the bills -it was my 'real' job.

I could write a book here about all the comments, but am on my way out to purchase a new mobile phone rolleyes.gif

Humans are complex beings and dealing with groups of personalities is an art form in itself. Just because someone is a great artist/tradesperson etc does not mean they can also 'teach'. Passing on skills and knowledge of a trade is a whole other skill in itself. I've found over the years some people are great teachers, but lack high skills in the 'doing' part of what they're teaching- others are great trades people but are shocking teachers.

My bit to the convo, I'm off to buy my phone and will re visit here today

Hope comments dont get too negative and degenerate

cheers Lyn

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clay lover    133

Mea and Chris and others with constructive info to add, thanks!

 

I have many years of teaching and 3 M Ed's and consider teaching one of my better skills. It is the management of space and fees that is bogging me down right now.

 

I can have 6 students at a time. and have been doing 'topic oriented' groups of lessons with a defined and limited number of days, say we have a set of 5 days , every other day,3 hour blocks of time , dealing with a particular aspect of pottery. We make green ware pieces, a short break to get them dried and bisqued, then we get back together for glazing. I glaze fire and we all meet at the studio at my house to see what came out.. From beginning day until the last day is about 10 days usually.

 

It has worked well except scheduling is a nightmare. Some of my students work flexible days, some travel, I lose $$ with less than 4 students because that is time I would be making my own work. The classes become profitable for me at the 5the student, and good for me at 6 students. Finding the 5 days that will work for 6 people is awful.

When the glaze firing is over and people have their finished pieces, there are no more classes until I'm ready to do another set of lesson days. I need the break and get my work done during that time.

 

I'm thinking of changing to more open studio, guided free time approach to get around the scheduling nightmare. Offering a month of days, 3 options a week, I would be in the studio, but I would not be doing lesson plans or providing prepped clay or planned topics. I can't figure out how to make it profitable for me, since I can't keep my eyes on 6 people all doing different things at different times.

 

I have thought about offering it to the 3 most capable students and telling them they would need to select from the list of things they have attended classes on. We have had instruction on many topics, lots of choices that could be developed in a different way or improved on without branching out into something they have never tackled. I would have to charge less per session, but could do my work on the wheel while they are hand building at other stations. or do something else, being available for questions if someone got stuck.

 

Chris, I totally get having clear rules. They are CLEARLY written out in e-mail and reviewed at the start of each class, also written on the wall. It is amazing, however, the extent to which grown women are willing to go to ignore the rules, even when they are at MY studio !! I have expelled one woman from class, handing her the check back in front of other students and showing her the door. Another I simply ignore when setting up the next class?" question. Childish, grabby, ' more special than you are." I did not expect poorly behaved adults but I sure got them dry.gif

 

I enjoy teaching, but am ready for a different way to do it.

Right now, I'm painting the studio inside, so it will be a while before I'm back at it.

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lynny    5

Hi Claylover

I agree totally with your class numbers- 6-8 is great to have booked in and I find it so frustrating with 1-2 being 'no shows' as then, as you say it, doesnt cover your costs. For a long time I ran my classes as you are with set series of lessons on a certain topic. But after a few years I got tired of that and i found class bookings were getting really hard to fill, and a huge job to coordinate a time that suited everyone. Mind you I live in a very small town and I think the part of the population keen on art classes just got depleted.

so I then changed it to 'open' lessons as you called them where everyone did a topic of their own choice, and I just opened the studio 2 x mornings and 2 x evenings a week. That then was really challenging, because giving one on one attention through the room was hard on my brain blink.gif jumping from topic to topic.

Costing can usually be made by observing other simialer classes and their pricing structure and creating a system that works for you. With the set topics I charged a 'workshop' fee that covered the series. 50% on day 1 then a payment plan for the rest of the classes. For the open studio classes I just had a set fee per lesson with use of certain materials + a firing fee based on the weight of the object.

Generally people were respectful of my work space and asked before using something of mine, but as you say it is a shock to the system to see adults behaving badly. I too have had to 'speak' to people about the studio rules, although they are clearly explained at the beginning and bullet point sheets were mounted at each work station. I've only had to decline 2 adults and its not a good feeling having to resort to that.

Having a shelf space for each student helped me with storage.

Teaching is a great employment role and I met some of my closest friends via classes. Another rule I made in my studio and had to enforce it regularly was 'no gossip'.

You may think me crazy for it, but I just couldnt deal with all the stories about other people not in the room. I reminded people that the person they were gossiping about may be a good friend or relative of other class members.

enjoy your classes and I'm sure with your attention to detail, and thoughts on how to be make things even better, they will be awesome.

cheers, Lyn

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Guest HerbNorriss   
Guest HerbNorriss

I want to apologise to the various readers of this thread and forum, for my rather pointed reaction to the statement which I have quoted in my previous post. It has caused quite an argy-bargy, and has caused a distraction from the topic

of the thread.

I also apologise to teardrop for appearing to call their (his?, her?) character into question. Perhaps subsequent posts will reveal teardrops character more fully, and in a truer light, than just the posts above.

Until that time, happy potting to all!

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clay lover    133

Thanks, Lynny, sounds like we have been in the same place and tried some of the same things.

 

 

When you changed from set topic groups of lessons to open studio, did you keep the same # of students? I could not do that because one of my workstations for hand building is my wedging table and another is a rolling table that I put over my wheel for some to work on. The most I could have at one time is 3 and would have to charge less that the workshop sessions.

 

One thought, I have been supplying ALL tools, materials and rolling big slabs of clay to dry some the night before classes. I would not do that, they would be learning to roll their own clay, managing drying, covering, in other words, learning all that I have been doing for them. So I would be doing less and they would be learning just as much.

 

I have been advised to sell them clay at double the cost to me and let that cover firing fees and glaze costs, rather than getting involved with a lot of record keeping and measurement. Do you guys think that would cover it?

I have also thought about giving them X amount of space in the kiln and if they go over that to add a fee for larger work.

 

I want to try this open approach for say a month to see how we all feel about it. At the end of the month, what would I do with the unfinished work they would have, since everybody would be going in a different direction at a different pace? The workshop approach took care of that since they were all moving along together.

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teardrop    2

No apology needed, herb. Just don't whine incessantly when yer favorite tool comes up missin that you left out irresponsibly and we will be cool.

 

As far as studio rules in the studio I am in.... none are posted. The only rules I've heard are that you cannot be in the studio during another classes formal class time...that studio hours are set with the hours the front desk keeps (usually 8 AM -9PM), that no alcohol is allowed in the studio...and now I hear...no production work is allowed. Open studio hours are usually unsupervised and you are responsible for cleaning up your own mess. It was also mentioned that you should always ASK to use other people's things. Just because they are there doesn't mean they are yours to borrow when you are in studio.

 

As far as things coming up missing...it's a college, folks. We were told to lock our finished work up (or take it home, duh) right before Christmas because, I'm told, in years past some students did a bit of "Christmas shopping" out of the studio via work from the last Semester. That is why I keep my tools in a locked box....dopey me. Still have em all too...LOL.

 

And no, I didn't take the stuff. (explicitive with clown implications deleted)

 

FWIW, I'm a guy.....53.

 

I hope you find a workable approach for your studio, clay lover.

 

teardrop

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trina    20

Hi,

 

My studio is open only two mornings a week to potters (and one morning to painters) I charge the potters a monthly fee and let them come any 4 times in the month. I figure the same thing happens in a fitness studio or other group that charges by the month whether you come or not. It also means that at the beginning of each month I know where I stand. I only allow my very regular students to pay per time if they are travelling or have some other reason why they cannot attend. However then I charge more pro rata. If you aren't sure about your costs and what to charge, you must must and I mean it in the nicest way must figure it out. You cannot subsidize no shows and people who are not as committed as others. If that scares you because you think that you will lose people, well maybe you will but if you treat it like a business then you need to advertise and you will get others. No shows and empty seats cost, not only that they don't come but they take up shelve space and impead the regs. I also charge for extra other classes, mold making ect unless the group decides that they all want to learn one thing in a lesson.

 

The most important thing to figure out is what your intention is. Do you want a school? Do you want enough students so you can spend the rest of your time producing for yourself? Do you want to share space with one or more other artists and not teach? Do you only want to work for yourself? Are you good enough to? Ect ect

 

I would be more than happy to share all my mistakes with you. It is a hard battle so at least know what you want.

 

Trina

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Chris Campbell    1,088

Our local crafts center sells the clay to students at double the listed catalogue price. This covers the cost of glaze and firing ... also, I have to hope they are buying in large enough volumes to be getting a much lower price ... so making a bit more.

I don't teach from my studio but if I did I think I would go with the "monthly fee gets you x open sessions that month". It's up to them to show up and use it, just like a gym. No carry overs. That is the only way I can see to predict your income without having to be everyone's monitor. This would not include any set lessons from me, but I would be there to answer questions, offer advice and prevent mayhem. A four week themed class by me or a guest would be extra.

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Pres    896

This is an off shoot from another thread that developed a different direction due to comments about someone having problems selling work from their college studio and 'policies'. Trina suggested a new thread on this and related issues and I agree, so here it it.

 

 

I teach from my home studio and also do my own work there and It would be great to know how others are doing this and managing the different things that come up. Such as;

Pricing of class time

management of student personalities

Separating your work , glazes, materials from student's work,

Use of space available

 

 

My first question, one I am trying to answer for myself,.

My students always want to do bigger and more complex pieces that they are really ready for. How do I rein them in without discouraging them?

In the studio shelving, they see large forms, moulds, that I use for my sale pieces and want to use them. Problem is, the pieces are to big for them to manage, and I also don't want to make everything I use for my sales line to be used by my students to produces pieces that would be similar but not so well done as the one's I make for the local market. Same form, same glaze, ect. I don't have room to separate everything and still be able to do my work in the same studio.

 

 

In reply to your original thread here. I taught in a hs for 30+ years, working with all sorts of students from physically handicapped kids to intelligent well coordinated adults. Over the years many of these would want to do something bigger, more outrageous or off the wall than others in the class might want to attempt. I never discouraged them, and always mad certain that their experience was as rich and successful as possible. I would keep constant watch that they were doing thing right, handling things well, and were successful in creating what they wanted. I did this for several reasons-first I was and am a teacher-I teach, its me! Secondly, the energy and exploration they would have would rub off on others-raising the overall experience and energy level of the entire class. In the end, it was always a win/win for me and the students. There were tools, and clays, and items that I would keep aside-locked away, hidden in drawers no one knew about etc. These were things that got pulled out when a special problem or need came about-helping me to solve the problem. Over the years the one to benefit the most form all of the student exploration, or wishing to work outside of the box was me. I usually had to research some form, technique, or process that I had not done before. This would lead me to make special tools or dies, create new glaze colors, fire at different temperatures for things like lusters and multiple firings, come up with joining process for odd shapes, and a slew of other unnamable skills and knowledge.

 

I would love to have a studio large enough to hold classes, and immerse myself in the problems of student work again, but alas don't think it will happen.

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