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Member Since 08 Apr 2010
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#69997 New Potter: Advice Appreciated!

Posted by GEP on 16 November 2014 - 09:09 AM

Welcome to the non-lurking side. Nice to have you here!


Your post is very thoughtfully organized and well-written, and that bodes well for what you're trying to do.


I agree with everything bciske said. Especially that you need to give yourself more time than next August to figure this out. Even if you can net $10K by then, that is not relevant for the long-term. It doesn't indicate whether you can sustain those sales, or sustain the physical grind of full-time pottery (both the pot-making and the shows). Plan to keep the other job for 5 to 10 more years. Possibly you can switch that to a part-time job, or a work-at-home job, along the way as part of a gradual shift.


I say 5 to 10 more years because your work is not "full-time living" quality yet. If you have been throwing for one year, it shows a great deal of natural ability and promise. But still it needs a lot more development. And I've seen those glazes all over the place.


Tweaking your booth setup: All I see is the light tablecloth in the middle. The dark pots on dark shelves disappear, especially because they are not facing the front of the booth. I would rearrange the layout so some of the shelving is facing the front of the booth. Make the table in the middle less prominent. You can have dark pots on dark shelves with proper lighting. You'll need lights for some of the better quality shows.


The Trimline is technically a better tent than the Light Dome, but only if you can handle the weight. The Light Dome requires much less effort. This is important if you're doing lots of shows. However, if you've grossed $3-$4K this year, and just bought a new kiln, this is not the right time drop $1000 on the tent. There are plenty of pop-ups at good-quality shows, make do until you can easily afford a nicer tent.


Apparently it's very trendy for restaurants to use tableware that looks rustic and handmade, but they have no interest in paying for handmade. We've had some discussions about this idea on this forum, it doesn't appear to be a viable idea.


$36K net per year is a doable benchmark, but again not until you've had 5 to 10 years more of development.


A pottery career is not a sprint. It's not even a marathon. It is an uphill hike that doesn't end. If you're in a hurry to get there, then it might not be the right choice for you.

#69896 What Gets You In The Studio Faster?

Posted by GEP on 14 November 2014 - 09:27 AM

It wasn't too long ago (maybe 7 years) that I made really bad handles, and I hated making them. I've put a lot of effort and practice into making them better and easier. I credit a lot of my growth to Tony Clennell's dvd on handle pulling.

#69876 Question On Show Arrangement, By Item, By Color Or By Sets ?

Posted by GEP on 13 November 2014 - 10:13 PM

If you are bringing multiples of the same item, it's more important to group like items together than like glazes. Then display one example of each set you had in mind, to suggest to customers how the items can be put together, but without making them feel like buying the set is required.

#69835 What Gets You In The Studio Faster?

Posted by GEP on 13 November 2014 - 10:10 AM

All of my work is driven by deadlines. I don't think I ever make anything that isn't "due" soon. Yesterday I finished trimming my last two wholesale orders of the year, due on 11/24. And now I need to finish one last big cycle of work for my December shows, about $6000 worth of pots, for a show on 12/7 and for my open studio the following weekend. This doesn't mean I never experiment on new designs, but when I do I have a show date in mind for when I'm going to finish the project (or scrap it). I came from a long career as a designer, so deadlines are normal to me. If anyone thinks my answer takes the romance out of the idea of professional pottery, I'd say "who said it was romantic?" Fulfilling on a deeper level? Yes, there are many moments of euphoria/pride/satisfaction that result from this work. But in order to have that, the day-to-day life is about a high-rate productivity, and deadlines.

#69223 Hw Do You Cope With Aches And Pains?

Posted by GEP on 03 November 2014 - 09:53 AM

I am an avid runner, therefore my body is tuned to use my core and my legs for support.

Proper wheel height and throwing stool height. For me, my wheel head is as high as my belly button. This has just about eliminated lower back pain. And I propped up my wheel a few inches, which keeps my legs a bit straighter, if I don't do that my knees will hurt.

I throw clay that is very soft. If I don't, my neck, shoulders and wrists get sore.

I do all my handbuilding standing up. I have bad feet, bunions and such. Good shoes that support my feet while not bothering my bunions are essential. For me the best studio shoes are Crocs. I like that they are cheap, last for years, and can be hosed off when dirty.

Everything heavy in the studio is on wheels.

I still experience aches and pains on occasion, especially in my wrists and shoulders. When possible, I will give myself some days off to rest.

Thinking long-term, I'm 43 now and I am planning to retire from full-studio pottery by age 60. I'd like to spend those years with a healthy body and more free time. So I'm working on a financial plan that will allow me to do that.

#69120 Wholesale Q & A

Posted by GEP on 01 November 2014 - 06:52 PM

For me there are only two PROS: Some of my wholesale accounts are reputable enough that they increase my credibility. I am proud to say "you can find my work at .... " And some of my gallery accounts are in areas that are too far for me to travel for a show, therefore they reach audiences that I can't reach myself.

The CON of doing wholesale is that it's less profitable. I used to do 50% wholesale and 50% retail. After I did my year-long analysis of my hourly earnings, and figured out how much more I was earning at art festivals, I changed that ratio to 20% wholesale and 80% retail. I increased my income by 40% (as of last year, this year will improve on that) while also decreasing my work hours.

#68958 Cash Deposits Seized By Irs

Posted by GEP on 30 October 2014 - 05:51 PM

So based on the lack of details in both of the articles, and their alarmist-sounding tone, I ran them past my accountant asking if this was even possible. Turns out the IRS and Treasury Department DO have the authority to seize your bank account if your banking activity contains certain suspicious patterns. He also said that legitimate small businesses have nothing to worry about. These laws exist to combat the drug trade.

Specifically, the behavior is called "structuring" which means you routinely make bank deposits that are slightly less than $10,000. When you make deposits of $10,000 or more, banks are required to report that to the Treasury Dept. So making routine deposits of just under $10,000 looks like you are trying to avoid IRS detection.

Does your pottery business behave like this? If not, then don't worry about this.

Is it possible for legitimate small businesses to behave like this by accident? Of course, and it's too bad if this happened to innocent people. This is another reason why it pays to have a good accountant. Hypothetically, if I landed a huge wholesale account that involved a $9,800 order every quarter, I'm confident my accountant would notice it and say "let me explain structuring to you, and why you should renegotiate this order."

#68481 Well Said

Posted by GEP on 23 October 2014 - 09:13 PM

I guess we can all interpret this our own way. When I read this, I did not detect anyone saying "poor me." I detected a person who was dedicated and proud of himself/herself.

#68389 Well Said

Posted by GEP on 22 October 2014 - 05:37 PM

As I said above, I don't expect my customers in general to live by the above statement. I think I need to impress them with quality and design, not with sentimentalism. But that doesn't mean the above statement is impossible. Sometimes the handmade story makes a big difference for a buyer. I got this note today from a complete stranger:

"I have fallen in love. At [local store] your pottery is displayed right as you walk in and it caught my eye and wouldn't let go. I bought a mug to see if I'd like it as much at home. I do. My new mug and reading about you and your work on your website sparked a change of heart for me. You see, a recent renovation of my house has been a source of some pretty serious bad moods and for the first time in a year, I'm optimistic, hopeful, enthused, and inspired. Funny how that works, but thanks."

#68279 Well Said

Posted by GEP on 21 October 2014 - 10:01 AM

I think the statement is true, but in a wholly internal way. I don't expect or need my customers to feel this way about things, but every time I sell a pot, I feel like I've earned more time to keep making pots.

#68024 W.a.g.e.

Posted by GEP on 17 October 2014 - 06:21 PM


Here's a recent thread discussing the most recent CERF survey of career craft artists and their incomes. I think CERF does the most comprehensive data collecting on the subject:


#66887 How Do You Take Photographs And Keep Them Consistent?

Posted by GEP on 29 September 2014 - 07:10 PM

You only need f10 to f16 to capture a whole pot in focus. F25 is not necessary and is contributing to the variation in shutter exposure time. But yes generally you need a longer exposure for a dark pot compared to a light pot, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Yes you should only be shooting at night, with the rest of the lights in the room off, in order to keep the lighting consistent. Also let your bulbs heat up 5 minutes or so before you start shooting so they reach full brightness.

I use a 2 second delay when I shoot, because your finger might wiggle the camera when pushing the shutter button.

If you are shooting pots of different colors, try "bracketing" each shot. Take three different exposures, the one in the middle being the one you think is correct. Once you get them large on your computer screen, you might find that the lighter or darker one is better. Hardly takes any more time to bracket while you're shooting. But if you get the photo on your computer and decide the exposure is wrong, it's a lot of wasted time to shoot the pot again.

It doesn't matter if your photos are 72ppi or 300ppi. It's the overall number of pixels that matter. So just take the largest photos your camera will take.

#66751 What Is Causing The Black Zits In My Glaze?

Posted by GEP on 27 September 2014 - 10:45 AM

Were the black zit pots near a thermocouple? Could this possibly be spalling from a thermocouple?

btw, you really got a nice result from that glaze overall. I tried making Waterfall Brown once and didn't have nearly as nice of a result.

#66742 What Do You Do To Energise Yourself In The Studio?

Posted by GEP on 27 September 2014 - 08:56 AM

I don't think I could function without coffee.

What really energizes me is to take a day or two off from work. When I do this I end up missing the studio and feeling eager to get back.

#66705 My First Show!

Posted by GEP on 26 September 2014 - 08:18 PM

This is what it looks like to have not settled on an aesthetic yet. I try a variety and like so many styles.

Keep these pictures and pull them out in a year or five or ten . . .

I recently gave a presentation about the development of my pottery business. I included some old slides from the late 90s. Definitely keep your photos. You will get a big kick out of them later.