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Member Since 08 Apr 2010
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 10:02 PM

#127203 Where Are The Good Stamps?!

Posted by GEP on Yesterday, 09:48 AM

There are metal alphabet stamp sets made for jewelers. Jewelers use these by hammering them into metal sheets. I imagine they are sharp enough to make a crisp impression in clay. Metal might stick to clay, but a dusting of corn starch beforehand should prevent that.

https://www.riogrand...Alphabet Stamps

I also like Mark's suggestion of finding metal typesetter letters. These are considered antiques now, but you can still find them.

#127112 Pottery Back To A Sideline

Posted by GEP on 23 May 2017 - 09:13 AM

Here's another book you should read if you want to be self-employed:

The Millionaire Next Door
by Thomas J Stanley and William D Danko

Good financial skills and habits elude most people. But the self-employed cannot survive without them. It's easier than you might think, it boils down to common sense and discipline.

#127097 Qotw: What Movie Best Describes Your Adventures In Clay: And Why?

Posted by GEP on 22 May 2017 - 08:07 PM

Thelma and Louise.


I'm Thelma, my wheel is Louise, and my studio is the car. We took a wild trip past a point of no return, so we just kept going.

#127074 Pottery Back To A Sideline

Posted by GEP on 22 May 2017 - 12:10 PM

Stephen, I hope the word "sideline" means you aren't quitting altogether, just scaling back. You have all the equipment already, so keep going as a part time business.


I've described this on the forum before, but it's been a while and it bears repeating. I kept my day job for EIGHT YEARS after I started a pottery business. At first it was full-time designer and part-time potter. It didn't even occur to me that pottery could provide a livable income. Years later when I caught a glimpse of the possibility, I pushed ahead, and for several years I had two full time jobs. It wasn't easy. There are no easy paths to get here. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I closed the design practice AFTER the pottery was generating enough income to support myself. 


In hindsight, I would totally do it again. I had the luxury of developing my pottery work without any financial pressure.


Stephen, you still have a chance to do the same thing. 

#127014 Pottery Display Time

Posted by GEP on 21 May 2017 - 02:34 PM

I posted a photo of my new shelves, full of pots at a show, while you were in Cambodia. Not sure if you saw it. One of my goals was to get my stacks of plates off the ground level shelf. They are now one level up from the ground. I've done three shows this year and plate sales are through the roof.

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#127005 Does This Make Sense? (Purchasing Equipment On Credit)

Posted by GEP on 21 May 2017 - 01:24 PM

Like Mark said, for me it's not just for reclaiming, it's a power wedger. A full timer shouldn't spend their labor wedging.

I go through about 1.5 tons per year. If I had been wedging it all by hand, I probably wouldn't still be in business. Or, if I had been trying to throw hard, uneven, square-cornered pieces of clay, I probably wouldn't still be in business.

With the pugmill, I throw soft, homogenous, already round pieces of clay. I waste no time fighting with my clay.

There are days when I try throwing pugged clay that has been sitting around long enough to get stiff. At the end of the day, I'll be very sore. Not worth it, and not sustainable. I'd really like to avoid having my wrist bones removed!

As for the reclaim part, with bagged clay you can't control how hard it is. Reclaimed slop can be as soft or dry as you want. I use it to condition bagged clay into the softness that I want. Slop made from wheel trimmings is only a small part of what I reclaim. Most of what I reclaim are scraps from handbuilding with slabs. This does not need to be slaked or dried, just put through the pugmill again to be wedged back together.

I spend about $1600 on clay per year. I estimate that about 20% of my clay is reclaimed. So that's $320 of free clay per year. I paid $1200 for a used pugmill in 2008. It has more than paid for itself in free clay.

Edit to add: I should clarify that I am speaking of the value of a pugmill to someone who is primarily a thrower, and producing above a volume that makes hand-wedging unsustainable.
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#126882 Finding The Right Show For You

Posted by GEP on 18 May 2017 - 08:06 AM

Here's my blog post about picking shows:


I think the most important advice in this post is to visit a show in person before you apply. You can tell so much more from an in-person visit than you can see from anything on paper. Show organizers lie and exaggerate about their shows (as you just learned). This means you should be thnking about what shows you want to do more than a year in advance, so that you can plan a visit.

And for gold standard shows, in addition to ACC Shows and Smithsonian, there is the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) Craft Show, CraftBoston, American Craft Expo (Chicago). In the west, there is the La Quinta Art Festival (SoCal) and Cherry Creek Art Festval (Denver).

moh, having not seen your work, it sounds like you are in the early stages of launching a pottery business. This means you are years away from getting into gold standard shows. This doesn't mean you shouldn't apply for them, you absolutely should! But keep your expecations realistic about how competitive these shows are. They are very difficult to get in. So in the meantime, you should be applying to more accessible shows in order to gain experience, while working your way up to the gold standard shows.

Having said that, ACC San Francisco should definitely be on your list. ACC is very supportive of young and up-and-coming artists. And it's not that far from you. They have a program for emerging artists called Hip Pop, which allows you a space in the show for an affordable price.

#126878 Does This Make Sense? (Purchasing Equipment On Credit)

Posted by GEP on 18 May 2017 - 07:52 AM

$5800 is a reasonable amount of interest to pay. $7400 is not, under any circumstances, a reasonable amount of interest to pay over 2 years.

I bought a pugmill when I couldn't keep up with demand, and was profitable enough to pay cash. This means the labor-saved went into making more pots, and meeting more demand. If you are in a similar boat, then there is no argument that it's time for a pugmill.

I bought a used pugmill for $1200. Peter Pugger is maybe the most expensive small pugmill. Are you sure you need that one? You can buy a new Bailey for less than $3000. If this price point means you can pay cash for the whole thing, you will be much better off by avoiding the debt.

#126777 How Clay Has Shaped You?

Posted by GEP on 16 May 2017 - 10:31 AM

As an unabashed control freak regarding most things, pottery has taught me the limits of my control. And when my mind was exposed to this idea, that the subject of pottery is so much larger and greater than I realized, and can't be completely controlled, it opened up a whole new universe for me. Another way to put it is, if you foolishly believe you can control everything, you will confine yourself to making only mediocre pots. I came from a career as a designer, where everything can and must be controlled. I enjoy my current perspective much better!

#126776 Web Site Building And Marketing

Posted by GEP on 16 May 2017 - 10:12 AM

"How do you factor in a dollar value for the unique/creative aspect of your work?"  Is it a matter of trial and error? Is there a secret? Maybe a special prayer? 


The good news is, yes there is a value for this. The bad news is, you don't get to decide what the value is. The market decides. Your job is to pay close attention to feedback and sales, and over time the creativity value of your work will become known to you. There is never a time when the answer is final and you can stop thinking about it. It's an ever ongoing process. 


RonSa said "Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price." This is true for anything you make that is one-of-a-kind, for which there will only be one customer. No harm is starting with a high asking price, and lowering it the longer it sits around. However, if you are making series of pieces all in the same scope (like incense burners and catchall dishes, for example), you need to be more careful about price drops, because you have more than one customer buying the same item. If you start high, find sales to be lagging, then lower the price, you have suddenly cheated everyone who bought at the higher price. If they notice the price drop, their buying experience becomes a bad one. Doesn't mean this isn't allowed, just that you need to consider it very carefully. Don't you hate how cell phone and cable tv providers treat their existing customers much worse than their new customers? Do you want your customers to feel that way about you? A pottery business's customer base is very small, and personal to some extent. You won't survive if all of your customers only buy your work once. Repeat business is essential. You can't get away with disregarding past customers. A cell phone company can get away with it, they know we have become dependent on their services, which is not the same for a potter. When I became serious about my pottery business, I decided that my existing customers would always get more privileges and better treatment than new customers. Part of this philosophy is that when I introduce new items, they always start with a low introductory price. Those who buy into the design first get rewarded with the low price. If the item is successful and the price goes up, their buying experience suddenly got better. That builds loyalty. Customers will be happy for your success and will gladly pay more when they want to purchase again. This has served me well over the years, so I recommend the same to you. For items that you make regularly in the same scope, start with low prices and feel your way up to the right price points. 

#126260 Nine Warning Signs Of An Amateur Artist

Posted by GEP on 06 May 2017 - 08:55 AM

Hey folks, remember that this is the Business section of the forum. This discussion should be about "running a pottery business," which is different from a discussion about "being a good potter."

I've said this before on the forum, and will emphasize it again here, being a professional does not make you superior to a non-professional. As others have pointed out already, some amateurs are making mind-boggling work. Some professionals are making meh work. These are just two different subjects, that's all.

This article is not addressed to amateurs in general. It is addressed specifically to those who are actively trying to be professionals.

#126240 Nine Warning Signs Of An Amateur Artist

Posted by GEP on 05 May 2017 - 10:08 PM

I would argue that creativity exists, but it is like a muscle. It gets stronger if you use it a lot. This is another reason I am grateful for all the years I worked as a designer. Thousands and thousands of aethestic decisions and problems solved with the creativity muscle. Not just honing my own aesthetic values but also having to reconcile my beliefs with the tastes and needs of clients. It really crystalized my own belief system, which is now manifesting in my pottery.

#126216 Nine Warning Signs Of An Amateur Artist

Posted by GEP on 05 May 2017 - 12:16 PM

Here's an interesting article. I agree with most of it. Bottom line, people will take you and your art as seriously as you take yourself.


#126067 Plate Rack/stilt/stand

Posted by GEP on 02 May 2017 - 07:37 AM

I'm guessing its ok to have the rim stick out a bit as long as the base is fully on the shelf.

Yes, this is fine. Just make sure your plate design can accommodate the "legs" of the plate setters.

#126006 Ok, I'm Asking An Incredibly Simplistic Question

Posted by GEP on 01 May 2017 - 10:20 AM

You are close to the right answer. You can solve both of your questions with wax. Regarding your second question, after you apply the black underglaze, coat the entire piece in wax before carving the designs for the second color. Carve through the wax, brush on the second color, then wipe away the excess of the second color. The wax will protect the black underglaze from being wiped away. Bisque fire once.

This answers your first question as well, apply the color for the unreccessed areas first, coat with wax, carve the recessed design through the wax, apply second color, then wipe away the excess.