Jump to content


Member Since 08 Apr 2010
Online Last Active Today, 10:22 PM

#105979 Etsy Sale Confusion

Posted by GEP on 30 April 2016 - 09:53 AM

Joseph said "IMO mugs are cheap to make and 20$ is a cheap learning experience."

I echo this advice. To me, being a good business owner means having a hyper sense of responsibility, accepting more than your fair share. There was some room for misinterpretation in your listing, therefore this situation could have been prevented, therefore this is 100% your responsibility.

The people who are advising you to seek justice for yourself aren't wrong, it's just that this advice assumes that you are dealing with a reasonably intelligent person. So far your customer appears to be dimwitted and clueless about handmade pottery. Mark C. said "This sounds like 7 or 8 emails and still will not be right" and in my experience this is correct. Not worth your time! And really the mistake here is that you assumed that all customers read carefully and have common sense. But now you know better, so spend your effort on things you can control, such as making sure your future listings have no room for misinterpretation.

If it were me, I would apologize for the confusion, refund her money, and let her keep the mugs. I would not bother having her ship them back, because chances are she won't pack them correctly and you'll get broken mugs. Again, this was not an expensive lesson.

#105758 Mea Is In The Smithsonian Craft Show!

Posted by GEP on 26 April 2016 - 09:21 PM

My head might explode.

#105716 Mea Is In The Smithsonian Craft Show!

Posted by GEP on 25 April 2016 - 09:02 PM

It's way too soon to think about what I would do differently, because there is no expectation of getting into this show again anytime soon. The jurying is really competitive, and the organizers try hard to have lots of turnover. I don't want to jinx myself by talking about the next one :-)

#105690 Mea Is In The Smithsonian Craft Show!

Posted by GEP on 25 April 2016 - 12:25 PM

For those who wanted to know how the show went, this was my booth at the end of the show. And I started with a solid minivanful (yes that is a real unit of measurement in my world) of pots. I set a new personal record for highest grossing event.


Attached File  scs-booth-after.jpg   84.57KB   2 downloads



The show was even longer than last year. They added another night of evening shopping, marketed towards younger shoppers. This is one of the few high-end shows that is doing a good job of attracting younger buyers, without abandoning their older fan base. I wasn't the only exhibitor whose booth was nearly empty at the end. 

#105640 Catenary Wood Fire Kiln Stalling? Eveness?

Posted by GEP on 24 April 2016 - 08:32 AM

"I read elsewhere @ stall to give more air and more frequent smaller stokes"

I agree with this. The flames coming out from the around the stoking door indicate that you are overloading with wood per stoke. All of the flame should be drawn towards the chimney, rather than blowing backwards out the door.

With my (somewhat limited) experience with wood firing, the hot top/cool bottom issue is a stacking issue. Kilns are stacked from the bottom up, so it's natural to pack it tight at first, then start running out of pots near the top. The bottom shelves should be tall and fairly loose.

#105525 Where To Advertise Sale Of Business

Posted by GEP on 22 April 2016 - 07:45 AM

I would also look up all of the other PYOP shops within a few hundred miles, and contact them directly. Your equipment and supplies are geared towards them. Who knows, someone might be trying to open a second location. 

#104776 I Got Asked If I "wholesale" And If I Wanted To Do A "pop Up"

Posted by GEP on 05 April 2016 - 09:00 PM

If your current market price for the yunomi is $15, then the wholesale price would be $7.50. But first, go visit this boutique and see what they are charging for similar items. $15 sounds a little low to me, so do your research before you lock yourself in to that number. If you don't feel comfortable "spying" on them yourself, send a friend.

My wholesale prices for the following items were:

small trinket dish $6
dessert dish $12
mug $17

These prices were mostly for the mid-atlantic and northeast, and some midwest. Note that my mug prices are high for the wholesale market. Most craft resellers expect mugs to be closer to $12 wholesale.

Also, the buzzwords may have been important. It's important to understand exactly what your customer expects, and to be able to communicate with them in their language on their playing field. Do you remember what was discussed?

EDIT: Not to imply that discussing your processes was unimportant. Buyers need to speak your language too, and the good ones do. But not all of them can, so it's important to flesh that out.

Congrats and good luck!

#104703 Booth Curtains

Posted by GEP on 04 April 2016 - 08:00 PM

My curtains are some kind of synthetic fabric that doesn't wrinkle too badly. I try to fold them carefully at the end of every show, so when I unpack them again I can see rectangular fold lines, but they don't bother me.

I've seen lots of artists with handheld fabric steamers at fancy shows. Hang all your curtains then steam the wrinkles out. They work great. I've looked into these myself, you can get a small one for about $20.

#104454 Mea Is In The Smithsonian Craft Show!

Posted by GEP on 30 March 2016 - 03:01 PM

Thanks for the nice wishes everybody! I will report back when it's over. Yes I was there last year too, Joseph. It was wonderful. It is a long show, four days plus a preview night, so that adds up to a lot of people.

(ps, currently in Florida for some R and R. Already finished all of my pots for the show.)

#104249 Retirement Plan?

Posted by GEP on 26 March 2016 - 10:45 AM

Mudslinger, it sounds like a lovely idea. I used to teach adult classes at a community center, but had to give it up because it didn't make sense timewise and moneywise given the demands of my studio business. But I often miss it, and someday when I retire or start scaling back my studio business, I would love to return to a teaching situation.

I have often thought about how I would administer a community studio. These thoughts are not based on first-hand experience, so assign them with a "theoretical" value only.

1. Members would pay a monthly membership fee, for unlimited access to the studio. Membership fee would cover the rent (or mortgage) on the studio. Members would provide a credit card number, that would be automatically charged every month. That way, I don't have to remind anyone to pay their fee.

2. Door would have a key-code access lock, so members can let themselves in anytime. Key-code would be changed anytime somebody's membership ends.

3. Whenever a glaze firing is unloaded, pots would be sorted by potter, then weighed. Members will be charged a firing fee that is based on the weight of the pots they produced. The fee would cover clay, glaze, utility costs. This way, heavy users will cover the costs of their resources used, while light users don't have to pay for resources they don't use. Members will pay for their monthly accumulated firing fees at the same time they pay their membership fee (again, automatically by credit card).

4. Every member will get a designated amount of shelf space, to store their tools, clay, and pots in progress. This will be strictly enforced. I think storage space is the biggest potential problem with group studios. If there is no oversight of this, a few potters will spread their belongings across the studio, without consideration of their fellow potters. In the studio where I taught, they used the designated shelf space system, and it was very effective.

5. One ot two nights a week will be "class night" for those who want instruction or a social gathering. I would also try to organize weekend workshops with visiting instructors, maybe once a year.

6. I'd have some strict cleaniness standards, and I would enforce them. I'd make it my own responsibility to keep the floor clean.

Again, these are just my theories, based on working and teaching in various studios, and seeing what works and what doesn't work. I know it sounds like I plan to be a dictator, but I don't see it that way. I think that these boundaries and expectations need to be firmly established, then they will exist quietly in the background. Creativity and freedom are much greater in an environment where conflict is kept to a minimum, and "respect for the studio" is the baseline expectation.

#104103 Qotw: What Is Your Excuse For Not Getting Into The Studio, Or Not Getting Out...

Posted by GEP on 24 March 2016 - 08:54 AM

I guess I'm lucky that I can keep my studio warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. My problem is when the weather outside is spectacular (um, like today) and the idea of spending the whole day in the basement seems like a shame.

It's hard to leave the studio when I'm listening to a great audiobook. Currently enamored of the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child. I'll be sad when I finish them all.

The real truth is that there aren't many other activities that I enjoy more than making pots. Some people think I'm really disciplined but I suspect I might just be boring.

#103769 New Tent/canopy

Posted by GEP on 18 March 2016 - 07:23 PM

I have a Light Dome and recommend it highly. Don't worry about the basic website. When you are ready to call them, they are easy to work with. You can get all the features you want from them, except for the curtains.

I got a nice fabric banner with my logo printed at http://bestdecal.com.

For 10 x 7ft curtain walls, I found the best way was to buy the fabric and sew them myself. You can find very wide fabrics at http://rosebrand.com. RoseBrand is a theatre supply house, therefore many of their products are flame-retardant. Some indoor show venues require flame retardant booths.

#102641 New Business (What Would You Tell Yourself When You Started Doing Ceramics Fu...

Posted by GEP on 26 February 2016 - 10:38 AM

1. What would be your first step after graduation if you had the choice to do it over again?

If I had the chance to do it again, I would do exactly the same thing. I did not study ceramics in college. I studied graphic design, therefore I was supporting myself financially from day 1. When I got interested in ceramics shortly thereafter, I had the means to develop myself as a potter, without any time pressure or financial pressure. How I would apply this advice to you is that you and your wife need to set yourselves up to withstand the next few years of her development, both psychologically and financially, during which she will probably not be turning much of a profit. Can you afford, are you willing, to be the sole breadwinner for a few years?

2. What would be your first step in starting your business?

Setting up her own studio with her own equipment, with 24/7 access and complete control over the process.

​3. Where is the best place to go to get more exposure to her craft?

I'm not sure I understand this question. Are you looking for ways to gain exposure for her work, or is she looking to learn more about the wide world of ceramics?

4. Is there anywhere that gives Ceramic business discounts to run their business? (Wholesale clay etc...)

I don't know of any suppliers that distiguish between professional customers and recreational customers, except that buying large quantities usual lowers the unit price (buying clay by the ton is slightly cheaper than buying clay by the box. Buying glaze materials in 50# bags is marginally cheaper). The good news is that pottery materials are generally pretty cheap. When it comes to expensive things like equipment, different retailers offer varying prices, it pays to shop around.

When it comes to studio space (which is a major expense for pottery businesses) there are pottery institutions that offer residencies, akin to a "business incubator" for potters. They offer cheap studio space, fully equipped, where a potter can gain some business traction before investing in all the equipment themselves. Residencies generally last for 1 to 3 years.

#102523 Music In Open Workshops (Not Dedicated Courses Labs)

Posted by GEP on 23 February 2016 - 12:55 PM

I vote for earbuds too. Everybody has different tastes in music or noise level, and many people won't feel comfortable speaking up if they don't like somthing. The most considerate approach is to not put others in a potentially uncomfortable situation.

#101963 L&l Easy18-3 E-2 Error

Posted by GEP on 14 February 2016 - 11:53 AM

The first time I had to stretch new elements, I could not get them to change lengths. They are stubborn when they're new. So I asked L&L and the advice they gave me was "give it a few hard yanks." This is unquantifiable advice, and I overstretched the first one.

Here's my way of doing it safely:

I do this on my dining room/living room floor, because this floor in my studio is way too dirty, and I don't have a table big enough.

Clamp one end to the dining room table leg.

Put a tape measure next to the element, opened out to ten feet. (This is for a 23 inch kiln. This length will be different for different diameter kilns.)

Grab the loose end of the element, and walk backwards slowly until the element reaches ten feet. Count to five slowly. Walk forward again until you can put the element down. Every time I do this it stretches about one inch.

Repeat until it reaches the correct length. It doesn't take much time or effort, and there's no danger or overdoing it.