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Chad, from Up in Smoke Pottery state a new question for us recently:

For those who don't solely support themselves from pottery, what is your full / part time profession? If you reached the point self supporting in pottery, what jobs did you do along the way to fill the gaps?

I know that there are those of you who do make a living at pottery, and some of you are doing quite well in my opinion. I am not in that group, and have never been. My Bachelors and Masters degrees are in Art Education. It one of the best decisions of my life, that really came because I was interested in a girl, who ended up in a college that had education degrees. I had originally been interested in Industrial Design, but very few schools near my area back then and few I could afford. So I studied art education, got a job teaching, and was very happy.
 
However, I found in the later years in undergrad school a love for Ceramics, particularly the potters wheel. I also realized early on that to be a good teacher of art, I needed broad studio experiences knowing that a failed demonstration would often mean the loss of class confidence in the teacher. I studied Drawing, Painting, Watercolor, Metalcraft(Jewelry), Printmaking, Sculpture, and some Weaving. When doing grad work I chose to degree at a school that believed as I did: studio over pedagogy. I started teaching the Ceramics courses the second year at the HS, and did for 36 years.
 
My main job was as an Art teacher. and over the years I acquired my own wheel(Amaco motorized kick), an L&L kiln, and a garage to use to make pots. It was not until the 90's that I started to sell pieces eventually doing 7 years at Penn State festival. . . just over the hill. However, as I was working late at night in the Spring, and most Summer long, when an alternative form of supplementary income came up. . . teaching college classes in computer technology for advance degree education students, I jumped at it. 
I still make pots, sell some to groups, and have taken orders for pottery from companies on the east coast. I hope to continue with pottery until I can no longer. . . one way or the other.
 
Oh, yeah, the girl, we just celebrated our 45 anniversary on a Southern Caribbean cruise.
 
best,
Pres 

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Thanks Pres for sharing.

After spending numerous years as a restaurant manager (14), I decided to a change of pace was needed to see and spend time with my family.  I ended up as a 911 operator,  which has given me not only job security, but the 40 hour weeks have given me  time for family and a little time to throw pots .

 

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My fill in jobs along my path where

Kiln building 70s

Worked for US geological service -summer job while in collage-water samples in very remote  hard acess areas-in soon to be Redwood National Park

Electrician-early 80's-winter months after my season of clay ended. My best friend had an electrical company

Plumber-also the 80's a few odd jobs helping a close plumber friend in the business. when not making pottery.

House building  partner 1992. I did all the mechanical/plumbing/electrical-some framing and general wood work on a 3 partner spec house -Made $7.05 an hour when all said and done.Nuff said on that project -lesson learned- never build a house for sale with other artists.

dive master later 80's-a few trips in Channel Islands working a boat with 40 divers. This really cost more to get certified and trained than any income I got back.

underwater photography -83-to 2010-sold a few photos since then-The money was great for about 20 years before digital.I had a good run with calenders. Now its all low pay stuff now that photos are free on the net.

commercial diver-odd jobs spread out 25 years now last big job was 7 years ago.Working for water departments ,NOAA, Chevron and Coast Guard.My commercial diver friend got these all these jobs and needed me as the third man in the crew.He needed divers who can feel comfortable in Zero Visibility. I have used my proton Magnetometer to find a few items for captions who lost big stuff on my own as well.This is great pay speciality work often dangerous and not for the weak of heart.

I have many interests and life on this planet is short-clay is one of many for me.Its paid the bills way more than any of these odd jobs over time.

Many of these jobs have aided in my ceramics-electrical and plumbing where the biggest.

I still consider myself a full time production potter since 1976 since really that income has always been the sustaining one , The other income has helped but really was just a bonus.

Edited by Mark C.

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I decided to make a " late in life" career change. After 42 years of building houses, developing subdivisions: and teen years plowing, planting, and milking cows: thought it was time. My new profession included being a couch tater, laziness, and  idleness in general. So far my new profession has not panned out; people keep calling me to build stuff. 

Nerd

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Programmer, tried to go full time pottery for a couple of years and ran out of money so back to part time pottery and full time programming, Not a bad life though and now that I scratched the itch have a better understanding of the snail pace pottery should probably go for me.  

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My situation now is retired. I used to make pots to have some extra cash for vacations, and a little fun. It has come to the point where pottery is my drug, and my fix is self sustaining with a little extra for fun. My wife says I can't live without it, and she kicks me into the shop whenever I get to much like an old goat. Oh well, on and on.

 

best,

Pres

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I dropped out of grad school for a year and worked in Cambridge, Mass at Master Charge researching  errors in Billing and developed a check list for 18 locations where these mistakes could occur while also helping Mud Flats design a kiln for a building with multiple fire codes. Then went to upstate New York to work as a caretaker for a religious estate and built a pottery studio in a building with 2 dutch doors,  and kiln for the estate.. then I returned to grad. school  , finished, spent a year applying for jobs and working in my own studio with my potter husband until we both landed jobs.  After retiring from teaching, I was an interim director of an Art Museum in Texas, taught many workshops in US and Europe,  and taught at two more Universities before completely working in the studio. 

Marcia

 

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I owned a wallpaper paint for 20 years never made much money.  When the economy slowed down I closed the store and started to just decorate.  Finally the bottom dropped out and I closed my decorating business.    My mother had just died of ALS  and I found out that I had a 50 percent chance of having ALS or MS.   My husband and I decided we had enough money to live on and I should concentrate on my clay.   There was a chance I wouldn't live to retirement age.  I did, I just turned 65 but I do have MS,  my younger sister just died of ALS she was 62.   I am happily potting away in my studio  what more can I ask for.    Denice

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Programmer for the last 34 years. Before that was a carpenter, framing, outside trim, decks. Me and 2 other carpenters were in business together. The carpentry quit when I cut off half of my Left thumb. Back to school to get a degree. Have been programming from home since 1995.

So many days I wish for being a full time potter...maybe in 3-4 more years upon retirement.

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I have taught for a very long time, including three universities and secondary school, sometimes in traditional formats but for the last decade usually in experimental formats,  

I am mostly retired, teaching only the Summer quarter at the state university- math.

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I come from a family of artists and craftsman, so naturally I was drawn to all forms of art, and was quickly discouraged by teachers who insisted that thing had to be done "inside the lines".   In middle school I did a drawing of a swan that earned me an "F" for failing to follow the project instructions.  My mother framed it, put it with some of her paintings at a local gallery where it promptly sold for $220.  I was done with art education.  I also had great interest in science, so naturally I got a degree in.... Law.  After 20 years of practice I became a County Judge.   My grandmother had a couple of different ceramic shops during her life, the last one was where, as a young teenager I learned about ceramics.  After several decades of various extra curricular activities I am just now getting back into clay.  I am also trying to expose my family to as much of the art/craft world as I can.  Pottery is something that seems to have sparked a common interest in my wife and children.    I might never earn a dime, but who knows, maybe a future member of my family will find the joy and the success that others here have shared. 

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Mining exploration geologist & Mom.  Retired now & going crazy at home- who knows I may dabble in it again. 

Pottery is interesting & I still get to play in the mud but I miss seeing all the great scenery & places we visited.

 

 

Edited by terrim8

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My college degree is in graphic design. That’s what I did for 20 years, and became a potter on the side along the way. After I launched a part-time pottery business, I did both until the pottery business starting providing a livable income. Lots of crossover skills between design and pottery. 

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After graduating college I worked construction on a pipe laying crew for a few years.  Loved the job, was outside and though the work was hard I was in good shape and earned the respect of the other guys on the crew.  In 1990 I was asked to work for the family business (poultry processing) and for the past 8 years (from mid January through mid May), I get up at 130 am and check 4 barns of pregnant cows for calves/problems before going to work in the family business. So you could say I "moooonlight" for half of the year. Though I wish I had more time in the studio, I have never gained the courage to take the leap of faith in myself to do clay as my business/lifestyle.  I am thankful that I have returned to my clay and have had the financial security to start/maintain my studio.  It is my escape, my love, my sanity, my sanctuary.  

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I notice ppl who are pretty set in life usually ask this question:huh:. I was a CNA until I was diagnosed with leukemia a little over two years ago. I've been on social security ever since. If there had been health care for the poor (I was sick for about 3 yrs prior to finally walking into an emergency room) I wouldn't have the short life expectancy I've been given, at least that's what they tell me, because my disease was very advanced. Fortunately there are some chemo drugs that treat it, but I've already been through two of them which stopped working after about a year, just about to switch to a third. Not many options after that. 

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23 minutes ago, yappystudent said:

I notice ppl who are pretty set in life usually ask this question:huh:. I was a CNA until I was diagnosed with leukemia a little over two years ago. I've been on social security ever since. If there had been health care for the poor (I was sick for about 3 yrs prior to finally walking into an emergency room) I wouldn't have the short life expectancy I've been given, at least that's what they tell me, because my disease was very advanced. Fortunately there are some chemo drugs that treat it, but I've already been through two of them which stopped working after about a year, just about to switch to a third. Not many options after that. 

:(

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I have a varied employment history, stemming from the fact that I didn't know I had ADHD until I was 37.  I kept picking things that were uniquely unsuitable for me because they were jobs I thought anyone (ha!) should be able to do, and an art degree in ceramics doesn't make you obviously employable for bloody much. It turns out being self employed plays to my strengths a lot more than being "respectably" employed by someone else. 

Since graduation, I have:

-worked at a scented candle wholesaler in ordering/customer service

-run Dean Stark tests on tar sand samples

-worked as a security guard for a friend's company for about 6 months

-worked as a cashier supervisor at a health food store 

-packed organic groceries for an online delivery service

-worked at Canadian Tire part time for a bit, post first baby

-receptionist/physio assistant at a physio clinic

-worked at a bespoke glass design work shop doing all kinds of things 

 

(Keep in mind, I graduated at 23, and I'm 41 now.)

It has been the longest, weirdest journey towards owning my own business, and I can't really recommend it as an efficient learning experience. But everything I did before taught me things that I need now, like bookkeeping and cash outs, how to do custom and bespoke orders and make money doing it, how to cope with working 10-12 hour days, the difference between good and bad customer service, how wholesale works, how net 30/60/90 works, trade shows, dealing with shippers, and that's just what I can think of off the top of my head.

 

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Oh the days of working your way through college, the twists and turns to take. I started out working three jobs: press man and layout/negative cleanup for a Penny Saver, farm hand in the mornings, soda ######## at a local drive in theater at night. Then I was a silo construction "ground pounder" carrying 75# concrete staves and 125# concrete door frames to build farm silos. Worked as a vegetable man for the local Weis Market for one semester where I was chased around once by a Banana Spider!  From there I was a fabricator of parts for an aircraft factory even carried a union card for the AFL-CIO. Then until I got married I worked for a bank at nights running liability ledgers and doing trouble shooting for ledger areas or when a branch could not prove out. After getting married I worked at a small local chain convenience store. Until I landed a job teaching at a HS near where my wife got her job as a teacher. Ever since, Summer and part time work involved teaching or Ceramics. I worked Summer camps teaching Ceramics, taught tech classes at night for a VoTech: Photoshop, Corel Draw, Illustrator, Gimp. Taught advanced degree courses for local college in tech use in the classroom. Watercolor classes for a community college. 

We came to realize after my son was born that I had ADHD, but who knew back then. One of the reasons I think I get along with computers. . . they help organize and focus me. Also one of the reasons I can work surrounded by chaos, desk, shop etc.:o

Yeah, most of us go through a lot of jobs before we "fit in", but that is part of the process. How do you know what you like unless you try it?

 

best,

Pres

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After graduating college with a degree in secondary education, I got married to a man who became a professor in Cleveland, OH.  I became a stay-at-home mom and doting wife.  During that time, I worked as chef, home decorator, family financial expert, travel planner, yard care worker, delivery service, art gallery administrator, newsletter editor, and school volunteer for 22 years

In addition to my other responsibilities, I started taking pottery classes one morning a week.  This was just the beginning of my new career.  I bought a wheel and kiln and started working from home while the kids were in school.  A women’s group opened an art gallery which I helped manage for 18 years. This gallery provided an outlet for my work and an excuse to make more pots.

When our youngest child was in high school, my volunteer work included helping the art teacher with her ceramics classes.  When our son graduated, I wasn’t sure what I would do with my time. 

Conveniently, a  friend asked me if I could teach pottery to residents of a retirement home.  I was pretty sure I could, and decided to give it a try.   It went well.  Other facilities heard about my classes and at one time I was teaching five classes at four different retirement communities.  I was actually making money being a teacher putting my college education to good use (finally),

I’ve been at the first facility for 27 years and now teach three classes per week at two different homes. I started my career in pottery when I was 50 years old and now am as old as some of my students.  I can’t imagine retiring, but when I do, I’ll just slip in to work one day with my suitcase and no one will notice I’ve moved in.

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On February 23, 2018 at 7:49 AM, Pres said:

 Worked as a vegetable man for the local Weis Market for one semester where I was chased around once by a Banana Spider! 

Those things are seriously gross!!

with the organic ones, you get a pretty interesting variety of bugs. We called the zoo once to offer up specimens for study. 

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For years my family helped out when the Shrine Circus came to town.  From the time that I could drive I was charged with transporting our stock truck full of daily material out to our farm and dumping it in the coolie.  The smell of the mixture of elephant, lion, tiger and bear stuff was... incredible, even maybe gross.  On more than one cool morning a passing driver would wave at me and report that my truck was on fire.  Nope, but it was fermenting at a hell of a rate.   

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Started out in graphic art: worked in various print shops; box die designers; artist for a Teamsters Union;   was a "spotter", using a 000 brush/ink to fill in tiny imperfections on high quality prints work for NYC museum exhibits-got to work on some famous prints by famous  photogs-loved it); assistant to my advertising photographer husband (ex);  occasional ceramics instructor for summer camp/middle school, and then; art school/ceramics BFA in my  late 30's. Veered off into a Master 's  degree for treatment of addiction w/ a 20 year career in that field, then 10 in public mental health.  The latter  'bout drove me crazy (the gov't culture, not the consumers).  The minute I retired I took my winnings and bought everything needed for a small home-based studio, at age 67. Medical issues render me going low and slow, like it takes for good barbeque, but I am going to launch my online store fairly soon and my work is getting better & better, if I do say so myself.   Not a potter per se, and very little wheel work (at this time)-mostly hand building clay art and "sculpturally functional" home and office items. My favorite temp jobs along the way included working in the New York Public Library doing secret manual research that enabled Esso/Standard Oil to emerge as Exxon in the early '70s, and working in a big bank's ATM Operations Center, where I was introduced to my best friend ever, the computer.  All that aside, my full time profession is just being me, and learning to like it.

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