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I took pottery one year in public school at the age of 15, I'm now 46, was really surprised how much musle memory is involved. It really is like riding a bike. These forms as good or better than the stuff I did in high school, except that 1st bowl, it looks excactly like every other "1st pot" that has ever been thrown. The glaze though, that was a disaster, I can't remember anything about glazes except it sucked, I don't even remember glazing a single piece. All I remember is wearing a mask and making our own glazes, we were required to use a recipe book and make our own, and most of them turned out brown or muted colors, cobalt was the only thing I remember giving any real color. We really just "played" alot with some manual kick wheels trying to see who could spin the fastest or try to use the most clay, all one type, chuck it in the pug mill when done so no concern for waste, blew up a lot of pots and other student's pots in the kiln.

 Anyway I really like it and had a propensity for it. Fast forward 30 years and my low level corporate job has slowly robbed me of all joy and meaning in my life. My other hobby (Astrophotography) is about as much fun as driving a spike through your skull, 98% failure rate, very rewarding that 2% but maddeningly difficult. I need some zen action in my life and my wife pushed me back to pottery. (It also has the potential to pay for itself, astronomy is a bottemless money pit)

I was gonna take a class but they are all booked out 2 months so the studio owner said I could just pay the studio rental and practice so thats' what I did. Watched 60 hours of youtube videos and 3/15 I went in Thursday night, centered and threw cylinders for 3 hours and cut them all cross section to see how they looked and then threw all day on Saturday. These are the results. The purple and sea colored are low fire clay/paint on glaze and the bowl and other vase are regular white stoneware. I have been going on Thursday afternoons and Saturdays (the only 2 days available to me at the studio unless I quit my day job) and making some good progress but I have zero intrest in producing mediocre work and would have thrown these all away but my wife thinks she can get at least 20 bucks from them at her consignment shop and that would cover a day of studio time so she took them.

I need more time on the wheel and thinking I may get one for home so I can practice. I want to become an actual potter, but one day and and afternoon each week isn't going to cut it, I'll be dead long before the 10,000 hour mark.

All advice or comments welcomed, thanks

 

pots2.jpg

pots1.jpg

pot2.jpg

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I think they look very nice for first pots in thirty years. You'll only get better from here.

I always think it is a shame to throw something away that someone might actually use, but I totally understand your not wanting your worst work to be in circulation when you are thinking of becoming a potter who sells high quality work.

A solution for you might be not to sign your warm-up pots. Then if your wife sells them for $10 or $20, it won't matter for your professional reputation.

 

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Thanks! I was surprised for sure, thought it would be a month or so before getting anything like that.  I thought that too about throwing them out but every thrift store everywhere is full of these things, because no one is using them, so I don't feel very bad. It is so hard to NOT keep everything that doesn't collapse. There is this weird psychological "every ball of clay is precious" thing when you are a beginner thrower and it actually have something half decent, makes it hard to just cut it in half or keep going until it collapses. It's more like golf, you don't learn by following around all the terrible shots you make, you get a bucket of balls and keep swinging. 

 I only kept these because I figure I need to be practicing glazing too or everything I've thrown so far would have been cut in half and put  in my recycle bucket. 

I threw some bigish 5lb planters for my wife's shop last night and was able to keep 2 out of 5. The folks in the studio were commenting  about the size and how tall I was throwing,  gasps when I cut a 15" cylinder in half and threw it in the bucket. I'm pretty sure no one there is  even remotely as serious about this as I am and won't throw  a whole 25lb bag of clay to fail on purpose on every try just to see how tall and how thin you can go.

If I were a teacher, the 1st day I'd make everyone wedge up 3 balls, go sit down at the wheel, and throw the 1st 2 on the floor. :D

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You are making reasonable looking pots for where you are right now. Are they good, bad, excellent, terrible?  ... you are too new at this to have that judgement say anything about your potential.

That said ... remember what you said about needing the ‘zen’ part? Relaxation, meditation, looking inward?  Try to enjoy this phase of learning. Throw with the intention of pleasing yourself by pushing your boundaries and seeing what happens. Forget about the glazing ... you can learn that next. Throw, split, appraise, recycle, throw again until you look at a pot and know it is good ... not just good enough to sell, unsigned, to someone.

There is NO replacement for the time spent on the seat of your pants throwing pots ... enjoy!

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they look good to me for anyone who admits to hating glazing.  the pinholes are something you can fix.  lots of old posts here about that common problem.  

if you decide to keep some of the bowl shapes, there is probably an "empty bowl" event somewhere nearby.  check with your fellow students and the clay supply house that you use.  bowls are great for feeling good.  there are so many ways to make them and decorate them as or after you make them.  cut a lot in half but once you get the hang of it, keep some for this purpose.

one thing you might do is make deeper feet so you can wax and glaze them more easily.  deeper feet can also have a neat surprise inside for the person who looks at the bottom.  making that and imagining the surprised and happy viewer is another "feel good" experience.

welcome back to the creative life of a potter from a former big, BIG corporation retiree.

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Thanks Chris! I am really enjoying it, just centering and pulling a basic cylinder is very zen for me right now.     Your website is awesome , very nicely done.

Thanks OL, it did not even occur to me the pinholes could be fixed, my wife thought I did it on purpose. That low fire clay and glaze was a fluke, when asked what kind of clay I wanted, I said it didn't matter and was given that. Iv'e since moved on to Bmix5 and will be sticking with that for a while and using the big bins of liquid glaze.  We are involved with a charity through my wife's store and the studio does benefits as well, so there is ample opportunity for 2nd's. I agree about the feet and the last ones are much deeper, the glazing went "somewhat" better, but I tried too much too fast, should have just dipped them all in one  color and focused on smooth, even coat but I could not resist. The planters will be one color using tongs to dip the whole thing.

Curious though why there seems to be some aversion to low fire at the studio, those brush on glazes had not been used in a long time from what I could tell, but they are much brighter and vibrant than the dipping glazes.

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some of them might go higher.  if they are that old the label may not say so but you can always test them at cone 5 or 6 if that is where your clay matures.  reds will probably disappear, though.

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I started two years ago, taking a class one day a week. I really loved it so I bought a wheel to throw at home and then glazed during class time. I have a part-time pottery business and a full-time job in an unrelated field, and built my pottery biz just working one day a week and the odd hour here and there before or after work. With the skill level you already have, you can definitely progress quickly working one day a week.  If this is something you want to do full time, do what you can now and build a following and customer base until you are ready to make this your main occupation. It can be done! :) 

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Adding my encouragement, now might be a good time to start researching wheels. There's good information and opinion here in threads on "first wheel". Reading is good; testing is better. Hunt around for various wheels you can test-throw on. 

Best of luck, nice beginning!

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Keep practicing throwing-no need to keep it all -throw some back into the bag. Learn glaze making while sharpening the throwing skills. Each takes lots of time

Good luck

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Thanks guys!

 The studio has like 15 wheels, all different and I used the Shimpo (non-whisper) today, I like it! I was centering and throwing 10lbs with no issues, slowed down a bit and maybe took a bit longer to center than the Skutts might have but the slow speed pedal response was better for me. I think I threw around 40lbs today and was able to pull cylinders to 16" and 17", almost kept the 16" long necked vase, I like the form, but it wan't part of the plan for today so it was cut and inspected. I remembered tons of things and felt like I was getting a pretty good feel for this clay. No collapses and 4 forms over 15", that felt great!

2nd batch of glazed stuff was ready too, got a better idea of that, stupid pinholes and had to grind a little glaze off the foot of the tallest one but overall they are tons better than the 1st batch.

 

2ndbatch.jpg

Edited by shawnhar

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Hey PotterPutter, how do you transport your greenware for glazing?

I am pretty much right where you are and want a wheel for home, currently eyeballing the Skutt revolution. I could throw another 10hrs a week at least if I had my own wheel.

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I have a kiln at home now, but for the first year I took greenware to the arts center where I took classes. I wrapped them in bubble wrap and boxed them. No mishaps, but it was definitely nice to stop doing that. 

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Welcome to the board and congrads on your new work! Hey 10,000 hours is not the mark, 1-10,000 is. just take it an hour at a time.

Look at it this way if you want to go pro you will need about $10,000 in inventory to start turning over and your pay check comes from the selling part. I would suggest when you have a couple hundred  good/great pots start doing a show here and there, they don't go bad so just toss the bad ones and accumulate the good ones.   

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Thanks Stephen!

 Thanks for the tip on 10 grand in inventory, I had wondered how much was needed to actually "take the plunge". Even that seems low to me since I was thinking I'd need to gross around 5 grand a month to survive. Starting to look more like an open studio/classes is a more viable option but I am getting  waaaaaaay ahead of myself here, lol. It will be a while before I have the 1st piece I consider a keeper.

Went back on Sunday and threw that tall thin necked shape I liked from Saturday, of course, it wouldn't fit in my shelf, too tall, but it was pretty awesome feeling to be able to recreate what I did before.  That thing is heavy like a bowling pin though, haha.

Hopefully the glazing of some planters went better than the 1st couple of batches since I just used a shino and no trying any fancy layering. Fingers crossed I can get 10/15 bucks out of them and start recouping some of my clay costs. Wife already sold that terrible 1st bowl for 5 bucks and the smaller cream vase for 10 and is saying "where's my planters?" Little early to be taking orders there buddy, only been to the studio 8 times. 

 

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4 hours ago, shawnhar said:

That thing is heavy like a bowling pin though, haha.

yeah, I spent my first 6 months throwing just cutting pots in half. One thing I would mention is to consider resisting trimming to shape. Try to throw to shape and weight. Took me forever to really get that. I took the plunge a few years ago and failed in less than a year and went back to the day job but one thing I really got from the experience was that to run a pottery business you needed to have a good production routine. I got to where my pots just needed  a moment or two of clean-up. Beyond that I felt like I was just trying to correct throwing errors and save a bad pot. The need to push a couple of kiln loads through a week continuously for a while really helped me get better at stuff like that. Not enough to make a living thoughB)  

have fun! 

Edited by Stephen

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What you need to make it every month is different for every person in every situation.

The better questions are do you own your house outright? Mortgage payments?

debt ?children?-these will make that 5 k a month seem like sand in a sieve .

I cannot say this enough making pottery for living is more work than most can imagine. You need discipline and lots of it. A work ethic that is beyond most also helps.

I wrote a few tips on this in The Ceramics Monthly Feb 2018 issue if you want to pursue this more.

Mark 

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13 hours ago, Stephen said:

yeah, I spent my first 6 months throwing just cutting pots in half. One thing I would mention is to consider resisting trimming to shape. Try to throw to shape and weight. Took me forever to really get that. I took the plunge a few years ago and failed in less than a year and went back to the day job but one thing I really got from the experience was that to run a pottery business you needed to have a good production routine. I got to where my pots just needed  a moment or two of clean-up. Beyond that I felt like I was just trying to correct throwing errors and save a bad pot. The need to push a couple of kiln loads through a week continuously for a while really helped me get better at stuff like that. Not enough to make a living thoughB)  

have fun! 

Great advice,  I certainly would "like" to throw to shape but that's a bit beyond my skill level at this point.  That is actually my next practice item, 1lb of clay, small cylinders with perfectly straight walls and bottoms, thin, no throw marks, no trimming. Plan to use some of these for glaze testing as well. 

 Sorry to hear about your setback with the pottery biz, but I really appreciate you sharing your experience. Do you think production volume was your biggest personal challenge to making a living at it?  

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13 hours ago, Mark C. said:

What you need to make it every month is different for every person in every situation.

The better questions are do you own your house outright? Mortgage payments?

debt ?children?-these will make that 5 k a month seem like sand in a sieve .

I cannot say this enough making pottery for living is more work than most can imagine. You need discipline and lots of it. A work ethic that is beyond most also helps.

I wrote a few tips on this in The Ceramics Monthly Feb 2018 issue if you want to pursue this more.

Mark 

Agreed, gross sales will be wildly variable per person. We have a mortgage but have been making triple payments and will be paid off in 3 years, this would not even be a consideration until then. No kids and zero debt, we live a pretty frugal life, never pay interest and have perfect credit. I'm used to working 60 hrs a week years at a time and have no problem going 8am to midnight to meet a deadline. I know I will work twice as hard to have my own business (or more)

Baby steps though, small measurable, attainable goals. I can't throw "a" mug yet, much less 50 a day.

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Welcome to the come back kid genre Shawn. I too started again after I tool a day job for 30 years. Pots look very good.

Looking at some of my 'first' ones 7 years later, I can say I have more focus and mental freedom.

Keep at it. The process and results will improve.

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Thanks Rex, I can't believe it's only been a month. The most common comments in the studio are now "nice pot" and "I hate you" (sarcastic of course).

Iv'e been able to consistently reach my daily goals and the progress is much faster than I thought it would be. 

Attached pics of my last 2 glazed pots and last 3 thrown, drying on my shelf in the studio. Very happy with  progress to date.

 

0417181903.jpg

0415182012.jpg

0417181904.jpg

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