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Member Since 08 Apr 2010
Online Last Active Today, 04:12 PM

#96345 Etsy Partners With . . . Macy's?

Posted by GEP on Yesterday, 10:34 AM

Interesting development. Also, I did not know that Etsy was doing so poorly in terms of stock value.

My experience with wholesaling is that small craft galleries are aware of the production and time limits for hand makers, and try very hard to respect those boundaries. There are some potters (and makers in other mediums) who can produce high volumes, and some who can't, and craft galleries understand this.

The one time I worked with a major retailer, one who carries some handmade and some mass-produced, the experience was very different. The buyer seemed to be intentionally ignoring my boundaries. i.e. I would say "I need six weeks to produce this order" so they would send a purchase order with a 5 week turnaround, then send another purchase order for the same quantity two weeks later. When I tried to explain why that doesn't work, they seemed to think I was a diva.

#96075 Mug Broke With First Use.

Posted by GEP on 20 November 2015 - 10:34 AM

Yes. I once got a phone call from one of my galleries ... a customer reported that my mug cracked when it met boiling water. I was mortified! I sent out a free replacement, and the gallery sent back the broken mug. The crack occurred along a latitude near the bottom of the mug where I had trimmed it too thin. Until then, my priority was to make mugs as light as possible, because I think that makes a mug more comfortable to use. But I changed my mind. Now my priority is "evenly thick throughout." My mugs are a little heavier now.

I agree with you that a mug should be able to withstand boiling water, so I am not willing to use that excuse. I can't really comment about tension caused by the extra glaze in your glaze catcher. My opinion is that the thinner wall was the sole cause.

#95604 "i Covered Expenses ....."

Posted by GEP on 10 November 2015 - 10:09 AM

Lots of states have a "one-time use" form or a temporary license, but many do not. I wish every state did. I use "one-time use" forms for DC and VA, but I had to get a permanent license for PA. I just learned I need to get a permanent license for Massachusetts, for a show next year that I might only do once. Groan. These licenses are all free, and the paperwork is not that bad. The hard part is remembering to file the returns on the right date, because the filing deadlines are different for every state. I have to file a monthly sales tax return for Maryland, so I use that activity as a reminder to check if I owe money to any other state.

#95401 "i Covered Expenses ....."

Posted by GEP on 06 November 2015 - 08:57 PM

it is unlikely anyone will just start making much money consistently at this when they start out so you are either going to need to keep the day job for a while or cut expenses to the bone

I've mentioned this several times on the forum before ... I ran the pottery business part-time, while operating another full-time good-paying business, for eight years before pottery started providing me with a livable income. This is why I'm always preaching that this type of business takes a long time to develop, and there's no such thing as an overnight success.

I don't see this blog post as a stop sign to anyone, but rather a forehead slap.

#95381 "i Covered Expenses ....."

Posted by GEP on 06 November 2015 - 01:43 PM

Stephen, if you have the financial means to support yourself while you are breaking even for a few years, and if you are working with a plan of steady growth, then you are doing it right. The blog post makes me think of all the artists who make this excuse for too long, while simultaneously not working towards improvement.

#95377 "i Covered Expenses ....."

Posted by GEP on 06 November 2015 - 01:07 PM

It is heartbreaking how often you hear this at wholesale trade shows. Trade shows are a big investment, and many artists walk away with a net loss, let alone breaking even. Then the show organizers tell artists it takes 3 yrs before you start making a profit, which is baloney. If your work is sellable, new artists get way more attention from buyers at trade shows. Nobody wants to say "your work isn't sellable. Save your money until you've developed your work to a sellable level." Trade shows need the booth fees, so they won't say that. Nobody wants to think that about themselves either. I wish there was more honesty and standards involved, but I'm not sure who's responsible for that.

Art festivals are the same, they're not required to guarantee a profit for the artists. The investment is lower, so losing money or breaking even is easier to absorb.

#95347 Having Trouble With Wax Resist Keeping Glaze Off Clay.

Posted by GEP on 05 November 2015 - 11:10 PM

When I use cold wax (I use Standard cold wax) I find it needs to dry at least 15 minutes. If I don't wait long enough, it will still be tacky and glaze sticks to it like crazy. I also thin it out with a little water, and try to apply the thinnest coat possible, which helps it to dry faster.

#94852 Developing Glazes As A Body Of Work

Posted by GEP on 27 October 2015 - 09:39 AM

Chantay, you did not mention the all the different firing schedules before, and that some of your glazes are very fussy. That is the real problem, that will prevent you from moving forward. You probably don't want to hear this, but of the three glazes you like, you need to drop two of them. Give yourself one firing schedule for everything. As you've already figured out, there are still enough variables to juggle!

Your next steps are to develop new glazes (again you probably don't want to hear that) that are meant for your chosen firing schedule. Looking for glaze combinations will have to wait until after that.

In my business, I adopted a "no fussy glazes" policy early on. No matter how pretty they are, they are not worth the time spent, or pots ruined. Ain't got time for fussy glazes!

#94790 Developing Glazes As A Body Of Work

Posted by GEP on 26 October 2015 - 09:16 AM

Make a few dozen test tiles, and spend an afternoon testing all of the 2-glaze combinations you can make with your glazes, and all of the 3-glaze combinations. Repeat using different application methods, dipping vs spraying vs brushing. Make sure to record everything on paper, this approach requires a chart or a spreadsheet.

When I used to teach in a community center, where there were about 30 good glazes to choose from, I would encourage this systematic approach. For the ones who took the time to do it, the results were clear. Within a few months they had developed distinctively beautiful glazing approaches, the kind that makes other potters say "that must be so-and-so's pot" and "how did she do that?"

And here's an interesting side note ... even if you tell another potter exactly how the beautiful glazing approach was done, the other potter cannot repeat it exactly. There are too many subtle differences in techniques between one potter and the next. So it only works if you develop the approach yourself, using your own techniques.

#94778 Packing Methods For Show

Posted by GEP on 25 October 2015 - 03:28 PM

The only thing I do to save time is to separate backstock from frontstock. In other words, I know exactly how much quantity of each item will be in my initial display, and everything else is backstock. When I am setting up, I don't even have to open the backstock boxes, just stow them under tables. I only have to unpack the frontstock.

Before I started doing this, I had to unpack everything, decide what was frontstock, then repack and stow the backstock.

#94400 Do Titles Help Sell Work

Posted by GEP on 18 October 2015 - 03:56 PM

I make functional pottery, and most of my designs have names. Sometimes the name is as basic as "tumbler" but still I do think it helps sell them.

#93884 Professional Courtesy

Posted by GEP on 07 October 2015 - 10:04 AM

This type of discounting falls into my overall sense of "boundaries" when it comes to pricing. If someone wants to offer artist-to-artist discounts, that's fine. But please don't expect every artist to do it. Let every artist decide for themselves.

When I want to buy another artist's work at a show, they will often offer me a discount. I will say "I insist that you charge me full price." Then sometimes that artist will insist back, and we'll settle on a smaller discount. I would never act like a discount is required.

I do not give artists a discount, but I will forgo sales tax if they are paying cash. Most artists are paying cash from their own sales till.

When I was doing wholesale trade shows, it was common for artists to walk around shopping towards the end of the show. These artists expected you to sell them your work at wholesale price. I refused, and got lots of raised eyebrows. I didn't care. A 10% discount might be reasonable, but a 50% discount is not reasonable. Just another reason to not like trade shows.

Trading is another story. I love trading with other artists.

#93683 Rain, Rain, Rain

Posted by GEP on 03 October 2015 - 01:11 PM

In recent years, my plan is to schedule enough shows that one or two can be impacted by weather, and cash flow will still be where I need it to be. Then if I have a year when no shows are impacted by weather, it's a bonus.

Feeling very lucky right now that the show I was supposed to be doing today is going to be held next Saturday, rather than cancelled. And lucky that I had next Saturday free.

#93451 Good Rubber Stamps

Posted by GEP on 29 September 2015 - 06:40 PM

The t-shirt for electric kiln owners would be the letters "CPLT" in big red digital letters on a black t-shirt.

#93271 Display Question

Posted by GEP on 26 September 2015 - 09:38 PM

Sorry for the confusion Marko. My name is Mea, but my forum handle is GEP (an acronym for my business Good Elephant Pottery). You can call me either Mea or GEP. Bruce provided my website above, and it's also in my signature.

I am humbled and honored to hear that my blog is having an impact on other potters.