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Member Since 19 Apr 2012
Offline Last Active Jul 04 2015 09:33 AM

#69765 For Christmas.

Posted by Mesi on 12 November 2014 - 03:03 AM

So... Many.... Egg separators....

Closely followed by spoon rests.

Third runner up are (oddly specific )mugs with trees on them. Any kind of mug. Any kind of tree. People around here have been losing their minds for all three of these items lately.

#57705 Building A Basement Studio

Posted by Mesi on 01 May 2014 - 01:40 PM

I've tried a LOT of mops and I find that the replaceable sponge mops are the best.  They hold up well and clean out easily.  The rope mop was a clay-caked disaster.  I got the floor squeegee from Home Depot or Lowes.  18 inch squeegee head on like a mop handle.

#57507 Building A Basement Studio

Posted by Mesi on 28 April 2014 - 09:55 AM

1.   What type of utility sink will be sufficient-will "plastic" hold up?


Mine's plastic and it holds up fine.  I've got a trap in there as well to catch all the clay goobers.



3.  About how much room should I leave around the kiln in a separate room for stacking, maintenance, etc.


18 inches I think is what most manufacturers recommend.  Due to space constraints my kiln is in the same room as the studio itself, i just close the door and stay out when firing.


4.  I'm building a 4x8 studio table.  Any suggestion as to a material for the top?  I am considering hardboard.  But would a Formica-like product be better.  I am concerned about moisture and warping.


hardboard is probably going to absorb water and deteriorate.  I've got an ancient formica-top dining table right now, and its fabulously easy to clean.  I took and covered 4x4 drywall sheets in canvas duck for when we're doing clay work (take them off and lean them against the wall when we're glazing so we can just wipe off the formica).


5.  Cleaning floors:  I know damp mopping is best but should I vacuum up the dust first with a shop vac?  If not, wouldn't I just be pushing around mud even if I rinse frequently?


 You'll regret shop vac-ing.  Sooo much dust in the air.  We throw water on the floor (concrete with epoxy over) and scrub with a mop, squeegie it into a puddle and soak up the puddle.  Our studio gets FILTHY (My business partner says my carving has a "blast radius") and even at its worst 2 or 3 rinse and squeegie sessions get it sparkling.


6.  I plan on painting the concrete floor with appropriate paint.  Should I leave the kiln area unpainted?  


Ours is painted and it's been fine.

#35791 Amaco "Potter's choice" glazes

Posted by Mesi on 24 May 2013 - 08:06 AM

I adore my potters choice glazes. I've got tons of them. You have to apply THICK. I've never seen any of them go on too thick, but its easy to go too thin. I fire mine to cone 6 and they turn out great. Under-fired they look muddy, and I once had a load get over-fired (guessing about cone 7) and they all looked muddy and had a brownish tint to them.

I've got:
-Olive speckle
-sienna speckle
-iron lustre
-blue rutile
-midnight blue
-indigo float
-frosted melon
-deep firebrick

maybe some others I've forgotten. I'm a glaze impulse buyer. You get some suprising results by layering, and in my experience, nto always what the amaco test pages show.

And I second layering with other glazes. My all-time favorite glaze is now a layer of amaco sahara oatmeal over ironstone. Looks like ancient jasper, but it turns out right every time ;)

#35419 Another "my first show" thread (sorry)

Posted by Mesi on 20 May 2013 - 07:35 PM

That's why I keep posting this. I don't figure most people aren't terribly interested, but for posterity sake, it's good to hear these things. I know I appreciate show wisdom from people.

This past weekend I did a larger market the next town over, and know what? I made out almost exactly the same as the weekend before when no one showed up and it snowed! (except, of course, that I paid 4 times as much to get in). Basically, I spent all day getting snubbed by a really big crowd instead of a small to moderate crowd. ;) The lesson? Definitely scope out a venue before committing to it. It was totally not my key demographic (who wears stilettos to a farmers market, honestly?!)

But the good news is that the next day when I went to grab some groceries at the farmers market I had been at previously, I was stopped by a bunch of people who recognized me and were disappointed I wasn't there with a booth. Maybe there is something to be said for just getting people used to seeing you.

My layout was better this time around though, I think I'll try this setup again. I put 2 6ft tables out in the very front of my tent half shelves on top of them and with my chairs behind. Inside the tent was just for me and my partner, and a third banquet table that we had setup with all of our packaging materials. I hung all my windchimes and hanging pots on the front of the tent too, and mostly just stood behind. I feel like it created enough separation between us and the marketgoers, so they didn't feel trapped, but we were present to answer questions. It also put all the shiny pretty glazes out in the light where they are best viewed.

So, lots learned once again. I've got a 2 week hiatus now before my next show, thank goodness. All the early mornings and loading, unloading, and setup are brutal.
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#34512 Another "my first show" thread (sorry)

Posted by Mesi on 10 May 2013 - 09:26 AM

Don't put all of any one price level out front put an assortment of items so people looking for inexpensive items can see something to interest them and someone looking for a special item can see something to draw them in you don't want anyone assuming you only have one type of item. As for standing out front that is a good way to engage people BUT you might scare away some people afraid of getting "grabbed" by you and made to feel like they have to purchase something. So be there but kind of look like you are busy but friendly rather than waiting to pounce. It's kind of hard to explain but you'll get the hang of being friendly but not intimidating or pushy as you do more shows.

I would also bring your table forward a bit and like others have said give yourself space to store packaging, bags, extra stock etc since a lot of shows don't allow you to go outside your 10x10 space. Im not sure on the width of your tables but you you might even consider a T-shaped layout with the table going up the center of the both thereby giving you 2 sides to display from and allowing people to see more ware up close and not having to reach over other pieces to see the ones further back on the table. I did art festivals for 15 years, not with pottery, high end fine art instead, and you learn to put yourself out there every time you set up your tent and you also learn not every venue is alike you will learn to read the crowd and know what type salesmanship will work with each kind.

Pricing is ALWAYS hard but don't under price your stuff either if people perceive it as too cheap they might think its not worth buying if they feel that you don't feel it's worth pricing higher. Not sure I am explaining that well. Basically when I started out many eons ago my lowest priced item was $20 sold okay but not great, raised my lowest price to $40 and suddenly people started paying attention to what now because of the price they perceived as worthy art. Pricing also will vary according to venue somewhat as well, something thought of as too expensive at a farmers market will be dirt cheap at a formal art festival so you kind of have to decide where and how you plan to sell and price accordingly so clients will get to know you, your product and your prices and what to expect if they see you at a variety of locations. Don't shock them by selling something for $10 one weekend and the next weekend asking $30 for the same item, that will shock and possibly insult them sending them away feeling like they can't trust the prices in your tent. You want to develop repeat buyers, especially locally that is where your money is at, someone that buys a small item the first time they see you but decides they like it so much that the next time they add to their collection another piece and then another and another and you'll have a following. I had people buy stuff every year at a festival they knew I would be at for 15 years. Another good idea is to have a sheet for people to put their email address down so as you do more you can send them an email letting them know where you will be. Depending on the show I would even have a line in the SIMPLE email about if they brought the email to the show with them they would get something like 10 percent off their purchase. Some venues don't allow "coupons" but I found it a good way to see if anyone out there was reading the emails and always got a goodly amount of them used when I offered them.

There's tons more but you have time to figure it out just be kind to yourself. Schlepping a ton of equipment around every weekend for 15 years can take a toll on your body. I had to stop festivals when I fractured my back and had 2 back surgeries to try and stabilize it, now can't lift, carry, stand all day etc. that was kind of a down note so I'll end with.... Have fun it's exciting to have people look at your art and want to talk to you about your work and to know your creations are going out into the world to live the life they were meant to.

Lots to think about Posted Image, but good advice. I never considered a T shape, that's something I'll definitely try too.

As for pricing, since last weekend was my first show, maybe I'll keep the pricing static this weekend (same venue) and I think next weekend too (different art and farmer's market the next town over, slightly deeper pockets in that crowd). If people are still hesitant about things maybe I'll reconsider how my prices are set. That way I'll at least get a larger sampling of reactions. There's another potter in the area who way undercharges for her work, and she sells her stuff like hotcakes, so I guess I'm a little insecure about that. We sell very different work, so I'm not worried about "competing" per say, but if the crowd I'm selling to is used to very low priced ceramics, I'm afraid of putting them off. I guess we'll see. Most expensive item in my booth is $40 (14" Flower pot with a sculpted gargoyle face), so its not like I'm asking astronomical amounts. Most of my stuff is around $20-25.

#34175 Another "my first show" thread (sorry)

Posted by Mesi on 06 May 2013 - 11:08 AM

Good for you! No need to apologize for the thread as summer is coming up and many will be heading off to their first shows and could use input.

Yes to opening up your entryway so people can wander in .... Yes to rotating your stock to discover best placement each week.
You being outside of the booth will also help with people coming in so buy a hat and sunblock! The only reason to be in there is to take payment and wrap things.

My one table is placed at the far back of my 10x10 tent, and I was standing behind it. I have another table extending in front of it to form an L. Do you think scooching the back table forward a foot or 18" will detract too much from the arrangement? It just eats up some of the dead interior space of my booth, and since there are no sides to it, I don't think it'll be too crowded. I will totally slather up and wear my dorky sunhat though (and I have a pretty phenomenally dorky sunhat ;) ) if you guys think it would be a bad move to eat up my booth interior. Thoughts?

#34170 Another "my first show" thread (sorry)

Posted by Mesi on 06 May 2013 - 09:43 AM

So I had my public ceramics debut this weekend at my local farm and craft market!

I was far from selling out, but that's not terribly surprising. I had no idea how large my body of work was until I laid it all out on my deck to price it last week. (if I never had to decide prices for things again, it would be too soon. I HATE pricing).

The public received my work well, and I was invited to several more local venues, and I even met some local potters and scheduled some clay play dates Posted Image.

I have a feeling this whole show/fair/ farmer's market thing is going to be quite the learning experience. I already know a few pricing changes I'm going to make, and I'm going to arrange my booth differently next weekend. I put some of my flashier stuff out toward the front, but I feel like it sticker-shocked people and prevented them from coming in where I had all my little impulse buys. Will swap the arrangement for next time. I also had my tables in sort of an L-shaped arrangement, which prevented people from seeing a large portion of my work when just passing by, because it was blocked by other things. Not sure what to do about that though, due to space constraints.

I think the final change I would make, is to make space for myself INSIDE my booth. I thought, oh, the market is shady, I'll be fine without sunblock. Well, I am one crispy critter now!

Anyway, I just wanted to post, because I am very proud that I had the guts to get out there and actually do this, it was very empowering.
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#33631 My weird kiln won't reach temp

Posted by Mesi on 26 April 2013 - 08:48 AM

Now, I know there are a number of troubleshooting threads on here about kilns not reaching temperature, but my problem is a little more complicated. See, I have an old Nova 18 kiln. Its a ceramic fiber kiln where the elements are embedded in the walls.

I'm trying to fire to cone 6, and have successfully done so many times before, but this time (probably because I have a show the first week in May, and hey, what could stress me out more?) it will. not. reach. temp. And it is SO CLOSE. The kiln color and look of the pieces leads me to believe its hovering around cone 5. Maybe even ^5.5. Its very close but my touchier glazes aren't there yet. I've tried 3 times to get it to temp and every time it's timing out before hitting temp. And I'm being more than generous with the time. I had some suspicions that something might be going last time I fired. I took the cone out of the sitter and it wasn't quite to 90 degrees. Bent certainly, but a little under where it usually is. Had I been smart I would have put witness cone packs on all my shelves and checked it out further, but I didn't. Live and learn.

The specs:

-Nova 18 model KL-21830 Series 218
-6120 Watts, 240 V, 1 phase

-Interior size is about 18" deep by 18" in diameter

-Kiln sitter model LT-3K

Breakers are fine, plug is fine, I know the electrical going to it is good, I had a master electrician install it specifically for this kiln. Fires to lower temps within a normal time range, the last firing had the cone barely under-fired looking. Generally a glaze fire takes me about 7 hours, 1 on low, 1 on medium, then I turn it up to high. I've reliably used this glaze firing schedule on all my previous firings. This time I did the same, one hour on low, 1 on medium, turn to high. I checked it at the end of the time, and it had timed out but the latch on my sitter had not dropped. I immediately reset the timer for 5 more hours (figuring I would just keep checking on it) and restarted it. Again, it timed out and didn't reach temp. I started it AGAIN, and it just hovered there, looking like it was about cone 5. 4.5 more hours and I just turned it off. I let it cool yesterday evening and last night and peered into it this morning, and things just look kinda under fired. It was still too hot to open up and check the cone. I'll do that tonight when I get home from work. I'll also turn it on high with the lid open and see if I can see the elements glowing through the walls. It's really hard to see though, as the ceramic fiber all just glows when heated up.

Something I did notice last night was the lack of noise from the sitter. Generally it hums on and off, punctuated every once in a while by little popping noises. Now, I'm not sure if this is normal sitter behavior, but it's normal for mine. I don't know much about the nuts n bolts of kiln controls, so I'm at a little but of a loss here, but do you think there's any chance that it could be something in there that's going?

#31617 What bisque firing schedule do you use?

Posted by Mesi on 26 March 2013 - 08:15 AM

I have lots of pottery books but none of them really talk about the firing process in any detail so I got most of what I know from the manual with my kiln. I have been following this schedule for over 10 years and have never had a problem.

I would LOVE for someone to write a detailed guide on firing. As a potter who is fairly new to firing my own work, it's been a tough road trying to figure out what I'm doing. And I, like the OP, have a kiln with a sitter and only the vaguest idea what the cryptic knobs equate to. Its difficult to translate that into a ramp of x degrees per hour, if you don't know what each knob setting does. So far I've just had to wing it, and have had passable results.

#28685 Success - what is it?

Posted by Mesi on 30 January 2013 - 02:47 PM

I have been dabbling in pottery off and on for many years. Only recently have I begun working with clay in earnest, and it has consumed me. it has become the full time job on top of my real full time job. The difference is that one of these I love, and I'll give you a hint, it isn't the one where I wear a suit.

To me, there are two different milestones of what I would consider success:

The first, and more lofty in my opinion, is being able to make the ends meet without my soulless day job. I'm not asking for much, just the ends meeting. I'll even live on a diet of all $0.12 instant ramen noodles, and I would consider myself successful.

The second, and maybe more realistic marker of success is a little harder to define. I would consider myself a successful potter when I feel as though my soul is nourished by what I do. Whether I ever gain recognition, or have my work in a gallery, or quit my day job, or make a dime, I consider clay work to be a successful endeavor if I feel rewarded doing it.

I often grapple about which of these markers I strive for more, or should strive for. Do I really try to make the ends meet? Or do I find solace in "real life" by just being able to work with clay? It's difficult to decide. But, for what my two newb cents are worth, the above is how I would define success.
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