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QotW: When/How do you decide to take the next big jump, and change things around about your work?

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As there were no new questions in the pool, and as I have been going through a bit of change of late. .  . I will ask: When/How do you decide to take the next big jump, and change things around about your work?

I have gone through about 5 variations in my work that I would call major. First when I started out, I was doing cone 10 redux, and using college glazes . When I started teaching, we were using ^06 glazes, and white clay from Amaco. A year later I took over the class and moved to ^6 with commercial glazes. A little after this, I started working at home as I had finished my 36 credits for permanent certification in PA. I bought a kiln (L&L) a used Amaco motorized kick and started firing ^6 with my own white glaze that was a dipped Bristol, with atomized textures from stains over top, brush strokes, and sgraffito. This lasted for a few years until I realized a couple of things, first in my area, I did not have enough pots doing part time to do good shows, and bad shows were not worth the time. At the same time I got a Summer two week job as an Interim Professor at a local college, said job paid me more than I could make at Penn State after 5 months of hard work after school and weekends. 

Lately however, my main concern was integrity vs sales.  Finding that in most cases one begets the other. If you make good pots, and no one else has the same, you can sell well. However, as I am now 68 nearly 69 I really don't want to do the show route anymore, and neither does my wife. . . .big no there! Now my changes have been about form and style,  actual texture has become major, and durability of glazes certainly has improved. I have gotten rid of the atomizer mostly in favor of a spray gun, I dip another white much more durable than the Bristol, and work with glazes I have mixed from research formulas or Insight, over the white sprayed on as in In-glaze.

Change has come slowly at times, and in other cases very quickly. My new direction may last a few years, but then part of the fun is getting there. . . . wherever that may be.





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Having to approach the question from a different angle as a relative (a little over 3 yrs now as a home potter, not counting the odd college clay class or two in the past) -newbie. My problem is I'm sick of trying this, that, and the other. I think I'm done testing and meditating on what I want to do most, and the most practical from a monetary standpoint. I've tried several things, and I've no shortage of ideas, some probably original, and many many  variations of derivative that all sound great when they first occur to me.

I seem pretty good at making stuff out of clay, but I can't say I've enjoyed the process of making certain types of work. For example, my main focus was on ceramic jewelry focals and beads for almost half of the time I've been into clay. Why? because I've had an ebay business in the past and shipping is a pain. Also for the money VS the tiny amount of materials spent, it's pretty cost effective. Not to mention kiln space and other things related to diminutiveness. Unfortunately, this seemed such a great idea that I think I was in denial about the fact it gave me very little satisfaction. What I wanted to do was still hazy. 

At some point recently I started losing interest in clay and realized, at last, that the jewelry wasn't working for me. I had to bite the bullet, load it all into plastic shoeboxes and stick it out of sight. Overnight I went from forcing myself to spend about 6 hrs a week fiddling with bead making, to a few hours most days making slab vessels. In the same amount of time and effort to form a half dozen artsy beads -probably less- I can form a single big *** bowl with attractive decoration. They are more satisfying both to make, look at, and hopefully sell. Instead of worrying about shipping costs I intend to take the opposite approach, make a fairly low number of big and bigger things and drive them around myself. This coincides with my move last year to the Oregon coast and the fact there are venues for this up and down the coastal highways. I'm no longer trapped in a small conservative city with only a couple galleries, 600 m away from everything artistic. I don't intend to do shows or fairs, just approach store owners like I used to do with my oil paintings and see if they're interested. 

As far as sculpture goes, I'm still meditating on it. Even if I was working on any at this time I'm not ready to re-enter the fine art market. I get my fine art needs met through drawing and painting at the moment, it's a nice break whenever I'm feeling burnt out on clay, which has only been once in the past 3 years. 

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Forms come and some go-its the sales that drives this change to some degree. For example if I get 100 requests for a form I will start working thru the design and fine tune it to the finish stages. French butterdishes started this way for me in Arizona sales.Then offer it to customers. If an item is slow in sales like soup Tureens are now I stop making them.

The other side is I like a form and produce it and see if others do to. Sponge holder came to be this way for me.

Ga;sea are always a change and I like to add new ones.

Forms change over time as do glazes with material changes-you may not see this change unless you make your own glazes for decades.

As I age I'm getting more picky about what and where I want to sell and how much I want to produce.I have zero tolerance for bad business these days. I like happy connections and trust.

I also need more time away from the production side these days.Seeing my work over the sat 40 plus years has shown a lot of refinements -in form and glazing and what works everyday.

Edited by Mark C.

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I am too new to clay to think in terms of big shifts.  I am still figuring out things I can do that are satisfying as a first step, in terms of the clay, the shape, and the types of glazes.

In my first class about two years ago the teacher asked which clay we wanted for the session and I chose a dark brown, not realizing it was very coarse on the hands and that none of the glazes in the studio would show up on it. They were all dipping glazes.

I decided then to try doing hand-building at home and thought I would try to be as spare as possible in terms of what I needed to buy and store, particularly of glazes since I don't have room for lots of glaze buckets. So I bought some porcelain and thought I would use that and underglaze and then just have one glaze-clear. It was all about simplicity and economy.

Then two things happened.  I signed up a year ago for my first wheel class in which we worked in red clay or in a blend of red and porcelain recycle. It felt wonderful on the hands and looked beautiful glazed and fired. At the same at home I discovered the Potters Choice line of glazes that are simple to use and store and not that expensive if one isn't making large numbers of pieces.

I cannot see myself ever mixing my own glazes, as I am just too messy for it to be a safe process. 

I still use the porcelain when I am making a plate for a friend with a painting of her dog lying in front of her houseboat, but otherwise I am focused on the red clay and am trying to build my skills and settle on the glaze combinations I prefer.

I know what my goal is, but my throwing skills have a long way to go.  Until I get there, the question of the next goal is moot.

I have no commercial interest, so market issues do not have a role.

Edited by Gabby

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