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Public Studio Vs. Lone Ranger


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#1 JustPeachy

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 12:51 PM

I just finished my first and possibly last pottery class. I picked up my glazed pieces yesterday and although I'm ok with most of them, several pieces were wrecked because of carelessness on the part of other students, improper kiln loading etc. etc. Circumstances way beyond my control and disappointing really.

 

Before class ended I had decided that I just don't play well with others. I mean it's nice to see different pieces and occasionally chit-chat, but seriously, it drove me nuts to have someone else slam my stuff on the wet shelves, greenware shelves, finished tables. People only care about their own stuff and I guess I'm no exception, but have some common courtesy. When I explained it to my hubby he said it sounded like a locker room and I think that's fair description. 

 

This whole experience has made me more determined to carve out a spot at home to have some peace and quiet so I can concentrate on what I'm doing and if I wreck a piece then it's my own fault and mine alone.

 

Do you play well with others or is pottery a solitary sport for you?



#2 emptynester

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 01:07 PM

I took an Adult Ed class at the local Community College for 3 years. I enjoyed seeing other people's ideas. Things were good until the college work study kids began to load the kilns, then there were a lot of problems. The adult ed students are now in the process of opening our own group studio and I can't wait. We will have 24/7 access so I will still be able to have some alone time.



#3 JustPeachy

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 01:49 PM

24/7 access would be ideal. My problem is that I'm a morning person and open studio at the school was always in the afternoon or at night. Same for the only other public studio in town. No, I don't think clearly from 5-10pm and I don't want to drive so far in the middle of the night either.



#4 JustPeachy

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 04:08 PM

Excellent points Norm, thank you. I can certainly see both sides. Perhaps it's a very different situation in a place where people actually want to be there, instead of racking up required course credits. This being my first experience, all I can say it that it hasn't been stellar. It's disheartening to have pieces wrecked that you've spent literally hours on by carelessness. I wasn't raised to disregard someones property. I guess I'm old school in that respect. Mistakes and accidents will always happen of course. I will say that if a mistake is costly to me, you better believe that lesson is remembered, and remembered well, more so than anything someone else did.



#5 Denice

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 06:17 PM

I think it depends on why you are taking classes?  Are you there to learn or just to produce some work.  My first two throwing class in college we were only allowed to keep three small pieces the rest were cut up to see how we were doing. The small pieces were kept for learning how to glaze,  we were told in the beginning that we probably wouldn't have any good work at the end of the semester that was worth keeping.  One semester most of the work was stolen after it was unloaded from the kilns, the teachers were having to grade the work before it was glazed.  I don't get to attached to my work, I like the process of making it, if it survives and looks good great but then I move on.   Denice



#6 Chantay

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 06:27 PM

Just peachy,  I have taken classes at a community college and a community studio.  So, there.  As my skills progressed I experienced the disappointment of have your 'best piece ever' bumped or moved and ruined as you wait for it to dry.  The last class I took had a paid studio manager who did most of the firing and glaze making.  There nothing like having 24/7 access to a studio.  Work when the mood strikes and no one else is messing with your work. 


- chantay

#7 JustPeachy

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 07:51 PM

Just peachy,  I have taken classes at a community college and a community studio.  So, there.  As my skills progressed I experienced the disappointment of have your 'best piece ever' bumped or moved and ruined as you wait for it to dry.  The last class I took had a paid studio manager who did most of the firing and glaze making.  There nothing like having 24/7 access to a studio.  Work when the mood strikes and no one else is messing with your work. 

 

Thank you for summoning it up for me. This is exactly why I am working towards my own studio!

 

I think it depends on why you are taking classes?  Are you there to learn or just to produce some work.  My first two throwing class in college we were only allowed to keep three small pieces the rest were cut up to see how we were doing. The small pieces were kept for learning how to glaze,  we were told in the beginning that we probably wouldn't have any good work at the end of the semester that was worth keeping.  One semester most of the work was stolen after it was unloaded from the kilns, the teachers were having to grade the work before it was glazed.  I don't get to attached to my work, I like the process of making it, if it survives and looks good great but then I move on.   Denice

 

I'm sorry, but I don't even understand this. Why does anyone take classes??? To learn, of course! And how can I not get emotionally invested in all of my hours of work, really? Especially given the amount of time and effort that are poured into learning, developing and then to have everything ruined by carelessness? Seriously?

Perhaps my ultimate lesson in all of this was to remember that no one really gives a crap about what you do or how much effort you put into something in a college atmosphere? Mighty expensive @ 6 classes for $250. It makes me gun-shy about spending more towards a community studio. I'd rather sink those bucks into my own Oasis out in the backyard shed where I have total control over the outcome of my hard earned efforts.

 

And what is the point of making pottery anyway? Yes, I want to "produce" but what that means is very different to anyone you ask. I want to make functional things for my friends and family. If I want to ultimately sell my work, so what? Does it really matter if I am taking classes to learn something? I think not.



#8 JBaymore

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 09:35 PM

I'm sorry, but I don't even understand this. Why does anyone take classes??? To learn, of course!

 

Actually at the three colleges I have taught at, in the Continuing Ed (also called adult ed) classes, we often have had a problem with people who are there simply to use the studio space as their own cheap production place.  All they really want is equipment and heated/cooled space, and maybe a bathroom.  They could care less about the learning potential or interacting in a positive way with the others working there.  So it does happen. 

 

And this is something that all three places I've taught totally discouraged.  Most school studios are not set up for "production" type situations.  That is not wehy there are there.  We are there to provide a learning environment. The reason the classes exist is education.  The reason the facility exists is education.

 

Community rental studios exist for the folks that just want some studio space so that they can do whatever it is that they are planning on doing. 

 

Sorry you had such a poor experience.  Not ALL college studios are like that.

 

best,

 

..................john


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Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#9 clay lover

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 09:37 PM

I LOVE working at home, for exactly the same reasons you have brought up. If I want company in my studio, I teach a class or invite a potter who works the same way I do, for the same reasons, to come pot for a day or 2. I love that it is all right behind my house, it's mine, good or bad, and if there is a problem, it is of my making, not from someone else.
I take workshops and talk with other potters often, so I'm no lonely for pot company.

#10 Roberta12

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 09:56 PM

Just Peachy, I also started at a Community College studio.  It was a great place to get started.  I learned a lot!   However, just as you are experiencing, not everyone wants to be part of the community, or is respectful of other work.  Contaminated glazes, poor firings, too many people with access to the kiln (opening the kiln at say...oh  800 degrees) broken pieces....all these things contributed to my move to set up a small studio at my home.   I sincerely miss the interaction between potters.  The easy flow of ideas, the collaboration that can occur.  So, I create my own opportunities for that.  Empty Bowl fundraisers, workshops, and I love Clay Lovers idea of working with a friend for a day or two.   It can be done!   I also applaud Norm's efforts  to create a well run studio for many!   But Just Peachy?   You might be happier at a place where you can have time to explore your own path.  Or at least until you can find a facility that better meets your needs.

 

Roberta



#11 clay lover

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 08:45 AM

Sounds like Just Peachy might look for 1 other potter with extra room and in need of some $$$ help. Might be a partner in their studio. One other like minded person would be do able. I have 1 student that I sell studio time to, she is able to work independently of me and is very respectful, asks a question rather than assuming she knows something she doesn't. In other words, the perfect student. After the holidays, I'm going to offer her a longer space of time at my place. I enjoy the company and it pays a few bills in the down time for me. I don't want to teach or do production like work in Jan-Feb. That is think, invent and repair time for me.

#12 Pugaboo

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 10:56 AM

I started out in a group studio. I took 2 class sessions at $175 each and then with the studio directors approval was allowed to join the studio for $30 I think and I have a monthly membership fee of $30 which covers the glazes and kiln firing. It also gives me continued access to the director and other more experienced potters knowledge. I do have to buy my clay through them which is a bit more expensive than if I were to buy it on my own but again the extra cost goes towards the group studios running costs. It's nice at times to hang out and chat, learn, help the other potters. I like the comradery of being around the others but some can at times think you are there to help them with their project not work on your own. I realize some of the issues with the group studio are MY issues and that they don't bother anybody else. It's a great studio and depending on the type potter you are would be a great environment. When I started out I volunteered for everything cleaning, mixing, maintenance, kiln loading and unloading and it was invaluable to learn with more experienced potters how and why things are done.

All that said I have gone ahead and set up my own studio at my house. Working exclusively at the group studio just doesn't work for me for several reasons. I have a disabled husband so being on the premises when he needs me, which is often, means I would only get a day or 2 up at the group studio whereas here at home I can work every day and still be here for him. I like to do smaller items and the group seems to prefer making larger pieces and they don't quite seem to know what to do with my little bits and pieces. I even bought a couple bead racks for the studio for everyone to use but I am not sure if they ever use them at all. I like the peace and quiet of working in my own studio with limited distractions. I also have a severely messed up back and the group has awful chairs and the tables are the wrong height for me. Here at home I have installed everything to allow me to work at heights and in positions that don't hurt. I also tend to be a bit of a stickler (aka freak) when it comes to organization and it irritated me to no end to spend 15 minutes at the group looking for a tool I needed at home I have everything organized, separated and labeled so I know exactly where everything with out wasting time hunting. I am also a bit of a control freak when it comes to my work up at the group studio I never knew when something went wrong if it was something I did or something else that happened when I wasn't there along the pieces journey. I bought a small kiln to fire my little pieces in but as a member of the studio still have access to a larger kiln if I need to fire something bigger than will fit in mine. For me it's a good compromise.

A final thing and I'll sign off... I just got a wheel for Christmas and plan to take another class at the groups studio to study JUST wheel work. Most of what goes into the wheel I am picking up by myself with YouTube videos and books but there are a lot of things that having someone show you in person in a hands on way how it's done can really help. Having someone there to see how I do something and suggest a simple change can make the difference in struggling longer or getting a technique faster. Also there are a lot of things other than centering and shaping that I need to get a handle on. Stuff like trimming and such that I am hoping once I see it and can have the tactile interface of someone making sure I am doing it right will take my wheel work to the next level.

So all in all I think group studios are wonderful but they do take a commitment on everyone's part to make work and keep a cohesive pleasant learning environment and most groups studios don't seem to be about doing just your thing but about learning and helping each other so that everyone benefits. I would recommend anyone at a group studio that is not working for them to maybe try a new studio or maybe even get together with several other potters and start up their own. Here in our small town the city has been invaluable in supporting and making ours possible so maybe looking for someone in your own town that might be able to donate or give a great rental rate on a building would be a way to start. We also do fund raisers and give back to the city by helping them out in other ways. Just ideas to maybe help get a new studio started even if there isn't a lot of funds to be add by you personally.

Sorry didn't mean for it to get so long I just really appreciate the group studio I started at for opening the door to clay for me and hope that everyone can have such a positive experience.

Terry
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#13 Mart

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 11:13 AM

If you have the the money and you have no crazy ideas about earning a living with this hobby, do it alone. It will be awesome!

If this is your future business, you probably need a studio mate or 2. Why? Because 40-50% of your time will be wasted on all sorts management bs. You need someone responsible who can take care of his/her part of those tasks. Make them invest same amount of money and time or they will be freeriding on your back.

Do not forget that humans become selfish scum when they grow up. Your smiling, happy, friendly studio mates will screw each other over eventually. Including you. Do not worry about it in advance, it will change nothing. Relax and enjoy the ride.

#14 JustPeachy

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 04:16 PM

Thank you for all the replies! Definitely lots to think about. I may try a class at the community studio (Not the college!) at a later point and see what that is like. Maybe it is different there with adults and people that want to be there. In the interim, I'm going to start setting up my work space in a little barn in my backyard. I already have a Skutt 181 older model kiln that my husband is going to refurbish for me. He even mentioned designing a controller for it. He also purchased me a new wheel that will be delivered tomorrow at some point by UPS for my birthday last week.

 

I'm self-taught in a lot of things and pottery was always something that I knew in the back of my mind that I could do if I got my hands in it. I just want the luxury of being able to play around and see what I can come up with, on my own schedule, at my own pace, in my own space. I play well by myself and if I manage to blow up my little barn, well then, I did it all by myself!  :lol:   



#15 JustPeachy

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 05:11 PM

Thanks Norm! My husband is a German Engineer. We have our own company and he designs medical devices. He doesn't seem to think a controller for a kiln is going to be a problem but I will certainly show these to him so he can get an idea of bells and whistles that would be user friendly for his lovely wife! ^_^



#16 Chris Campbell

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 05:59 PM

Your problem right now is that you have only had one session of pottery so you will have to find a balance ... some community place where you can learn, then happily work away the rest of the time in your studio. It does not have to be one or the other.

I too got very tired of worrying about my work in the community studio. Even in the best run places, no one can be vigilant 24/7 and some people think the rules only apply to others.


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#17 jrgpots

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 07:34 PM

I agree with Chris. I'm building up my home studio right now. I plan to continue using the community studio. There is a quote I like:

How sweet, how passing sweet is solitude.
But grant me a friend in my retreat
To whom I may whisper, 'solitude is sweet.'

Independence is great, but so is the ability to share.

#18 weeble

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 09:37 PM

It might be I'm the odd duck here, but I'm actually the one who 'manages' the kiln and pottery group at our local art center.  For the most part I make sure everyone knows the few rules we have and I load, fire, and unload the kiln.   I used to let others load and unload, but after a few... incidents... I finally said nobody does it without me being there!  We have the classroom space 2 afternoons a week, and a limited amount of drying and storage room -  JUST enough room to dry a load at a time. Because of our limited space and the fact that we're a 2 hour drive from the nearest ceramics supply place, we've decided to go with just a few clay choices and commercial glazes.  So I keep about 4 hundred pounds on hand, and people buy clay at a price that lets me pick up whatever glazes we need next time I make a run for clay.  I've trained a few others in how to RTFM so they can fire, and there's a cheat-sheet with all the important info, just in case.

 

We don't have room for wheels, so all our work is handbuilt.  That really keeps the hard core production people out.  I fire about one cycle a month, sometimes more, and for the most part our peeps are hobbyists working on their own projects.  There are a few of us doing work at home that might be described as production work, but its still handbuilt and basically just enough to keep firing regularly!  Its a good group and the dynamics work well.  I occasionally get someone who's interested in joining but has no pottery experience, so I run them through a quick and dirty class I call the 'Don't Blow Up The Kiln!' class, and those of us in the group with more experience are always helping out those with less experience.  I'm usually working on something 'fun' or maybe even a showy piece while at the center, as long as I can keep an eye on what's going on.  I'm sort of the facilitator, I guess!

 

At home I'm doing more production work, more complicated stuff that I can't set aside while I help someone figure out how to get that side to STAY or what color glaze works on that clay.  I don't have a kiln at home, and my space is just a small area of an old barn that I've hung plastic walls around to attempt to keep some heat in.  If I run the space heater for a couple hours, its almost civilized, but dang the clay stays COLD!

 

I guess the whole point is, I take advantage of both a public studio and my home work space.  I really like the ideas that get bounced around the public studio, and I may be insane, but I like helping others where they need it.  The time around others really helps make the time I work alone better!  

 

I just wish my own space was WARM this time of year!  :)


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#19 clay lover

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 09:01 AM

My guess would be , the more skilled and knowledgeable you become, the less you will enjoy the community studio. If all are beginners, they stumble along together, if one knows much more, that 1 becomes the instructor, worker for the rest. Usually they rest is happy to have it that way. They will spend less time and $$$ getting what the 1 has spent much time and $$$$ getting and passed on to them. Usually with very little gratitude and return info. JMHO.

#20 Darla

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 11:40 AM

I've been throwing, as a hobby.... selling at one or two shows a year, for 15 years.  I built my home "studio", slowly.  I had a junky old wheel, and a junky, firetrap, old kiln.  Then moved up.  I bought a new wheel, and a better used kiln.  Then I bought a 10 x 16 barn... insulated it, then a new computer controlled kiln.   One 'major' purchase every few years.    Pottery is my art therapy....  I'm looking to have fun, and maybe to support my habit.

 

I toss in a community arts center class to learn new techniques and meet new people every few years.    Go into it with the assumption that you are there for the Ideas and the people.... And any pieces you actually make there, and actually get home?   gravy.     

 

I like to take my own bats, and take the wet pieces home, to trim and dry.   I drive an old junky suv... flip those seats down and haul tons of stuff.  In all the classes I've taken, driving 35 minutes home, with 8 or more wet pieces on bats in the back?   I've lost something like 3 pieces.   This also makes attaching handles, altering, and stacking, easier than going back to the studio.   I can bisque at home, but the art center I take classes at, fires to cone 10/gas, so I do depend on them to glaze fire.

 

I am lucky to live close to Brackers.... they have a once a month demonstration by different artists, and everyone knows to not ask me for anything on "Second Saturday"!






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