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Member Since 08 Apr 2010
Offline Last Active Today, 03:28 PM

#74056 Pregnancy And Working In The Studio?

Posted by GEP on 25 January 2015 - 12:04 PM

I've had a few pregnant pottery students, they all kept at it until a few weeks before giving birth. Some of them switched to a stand-up wheel when their bellies got too big to sit down and lean over. Some of them were avid wood-firers, so I recommended they avoid the shift that included salt glazing, and their classmates were happy to help them avoid too much heavy lifting, but otherwise they fully participated. The harder part is after the baby is born, when the new mom has a lot less free time and energy.

#74041 Reasonable Fee For An Accountant?

Posted by GEP on 25 January 2015 - 08:54 AM

My tax returns cost about $500. For that fee I can call my accountant and ask questions for free throughout the year. When I first became self-employed, he set up my Quickbooks file and trained me how to use it, no charge. This might be an even more valuable service, because once you know how to keep records properly, the tax prep is not too bad.

#73761 Community Challenge Idea

Posted by GEP on 21 January 2015 - 11:11 AM

I think signifying one or three people to post these entries will be a lot of work for them. The forum has moderators who volunteer as well. I think a possible separate topic for a monthly challenge could be done but it would need a moderator (High Bridge) And who knows what kind of spam you'd get posting.I just try to look at all sides. If this is a challenge for Forum members, then it should be here, no?The American Ceramics Society hosts this forum for us. Maybe we could ask an administrator if this would be a possibility.It could be archived quarterly for reference and started anew for the next quarter challenge.Maybe subjects for the challenge could be pulled from a virtual hat.Marcia

We mods/admins are envisioning the Challenge taking place in the "In The Studio" section of the forum. If any spam appears within challenge threads, we mods will zap it as usual. But otherwise the Challenge will be run entirely by users. If you want to include voting, you can do that with Topic Polls, or with the Like buttons.

#73312 The Hourly Earnings Project: A Follow-Up

Posted by GEP on 14 January 2015 - 11:00 AM

Yes I agree that defining a "window of opportunity" for the online sales has made things much easier for me, without really having a negative impact on sales. Plus, keeping the online store closed puts time pressure on festival customers too, because they know they can't buy it "next week."

I'm planning to impose a similar "ordering window" on my wholesale accounts this year. No idea how that will go over, but I'm trying to cut back on wholesale work anyways. I'll blog about it after I know what happens!

Diesel, I'm curious to hear what the Carter/Hatch course is saying about best venues. Not that I expect you to teach us everything they're teaching, but is there some consensus about best venues?

My prediction is there is not ... I feel like I need to emphasize/repeat that my conclusion of "wholesale bad, retail good" pertains only to my business. I live in a region where art festivals are very strong, and I am good at dealing with the public. My larger conclusion is that every business owner should analyze their own business and figure out the best use of their time.

#73219 The Hourly Earnings Project: A Follow-Up

Posted by GEP on 13 January 2015 - 10:04 AM

Hi everybody,

For those of you who followed my blog series a few years ago called The Hourly Earnings Project, I've just written a follow-up post about it, detailing how the project has influenced the direction of my business since then.


#72467 Quick Consignment Deal - Need Confirmation :)

Posted by GEP on 26 December 2014 - 10:34 AM

Thanks for the report Paul. You handled the "last minute discount" types very well. (Doesn't it make more sense to have a procrastinator's surcharge?) Congrats on the good sales!

#72339 Anyone Have Some Interesting Stories From This Holiday Sales Season?

Posted by GEP on 23 December 2014 - 03:38 PM

I have this regular customer, whom I have grown very fond of. Some friends of hers came to one of my fall shows, and bought her a christmas gift. "We are friends of [.....]. We know she wants this, so if you see her this fall, please don't let her buy one."

Of course, this person came to my open studio, and picked up the same item. She got in line to pay for it. I had to say "um ... um ... I can't let you buy that, and I can't tell you why." The room is very crowded and everyone is like "what on earth?" The customer looked a little confused but took it in stride. A few minutes later, she shouts from across the room "What about this one, am I allowed to buy this?" Everyone laughs. So hopefully in a matter of days, the confusion will be cleared up.

#72337 Repeat Customers

Posted by GEP on 23 December 2014 - 03:25 PM

I agree with the above responses, there is a marketing component and a product component.

Marketing: I also try to do the same shows every year, and if possible get in the same spot. I put out a sign-up sheet and I collect lots of email address that way. I send out an email announcement for every show.

Product: my pottery designs make a whole lot of sense to buy in multiples. Someone starts with two bowls, decide they like them so much they find me later and get six more. Then find me again later for a matching serving platter. And so on. I have quite a few customers who are slowly replacing everything in their kitchens. The pieces need to be attractive, but more importantly, highly functional and easy to use.

#71965 What Was Your Greatest Leap Forward This Year?

Posted by GEP on 16 December 2014 - 10:33 AM

My biggest leap forward this year was the result of leaving my teaching job at the end of 2013. I do miss the classroom environment and seeing my students/friends every week. But having all of my time devoted to studio work resulted in giant leaps forward in productivity, design of new pieces, more shows, and a whopping 40% increase in sales (not exaggerating ... I'm still trying to wrap my head around this number). I also never felt strung-out exhausted this fall, which had been the norm in previous years. Somewhere along the way this year, my work crossed over another threshold. After several years of applying, I was juried into the 2015 Smithsonian Craft Show, so next year is already looking bright.

#71750 Production Potter Productivity

Posted by GEP on 12 December 2014 - 12:25 PM



Well, so far I just learned why I decided not to post here and haven't for more than a year... I'm thinking this was a bad idea...

Because the Internet always wants to give answers to questions you didn't ask?


Yes Virginia, there is wisdom on the internet.... EXACTLY!



Years ago, when Clayart was the only clay forum around, I posted a glaze recipe and asked "can anyone suggest how to tweak this recipe so it melts at a half-cone lower?" One of the responses I got was "why don't you adjust the recipe so it melts at a lower temperature?" Seriously. Clayart was/is so unstructured and disorganized that the original questions get lost quickly and nobody thinks it's important anyways.


I'm glad this forum is organized into threads, so when an OP remarks that the answers are not on point, everyone can easily refer to the original question.

#71738 Adding Subtle Interest To Surface In Electric Kiln To Enhance Visual Qualities

Posted by GEP on 12 December 2014 - 10:02 AM


Your forms are really nice, and well-suited for minimal glazing. If you want to add some subtle textures, I like neil's suggestion to use a darker or a speckled claybody. But if you don't want to switch clays, then I recommend that you purchase a mouth-blown glaze sprayer. I consider this a "can't live without" tool for cone 6. These jars are dipped in a light gray glaze (which is very boring by itself) then sprayed unevenly with a darker gray glaze. It creates gradations of tone, and a grainy texture.


(note that I am using a dark and speckled claybody, and that the stamped textures are part of the equation too)

Take your favorite glaze, mix up a small batch of a darker version of the glaze, then spray it unevenly over the base glaze. I often taught my students that any cone 6 glaze can be made more interesting by spraying on accents of white glaze or black glaze.

#71577 Production Potter Productivity

Posted by GEP on 09 December 2014 - 10:36 PM

Scoring and slipping can be reduced to one step, by scrubbing the attachment points with a wet toothbrush instead. It roughs up the surface, and creates just the right amount of slip.

Don't blend in the seams where the handles attach. That is a total time suck. Just press the handles on firmly, with lots of pressure and a tiny bit of wiggling. Then clean up any slip that oozed out with a wet paint brush. Takes a little practice. Hopefully your glaze will pool in the visible seams and make them look nicer.

#71563 Production Potter Productivity

Posted by GEP on 09 December 2014 - 08:43 PM

Mike, I don't think there are many potters here who are producing at this rate, which is why no one has the exact answer you're looking for. I do think you have gotten some useful responses anyways.

Throwing 5 cylinders per hour is not worth paying for. 15 per hour is good. I am guessing an experienced production potter would be throwing 30.

The hand building rate is painfully slow. I don't know how to make it go faster, except to hire folks with faster skills. I'm guessing some of your employees are belaboring over the details too much. Try to figure out if this is happening, and address it. Extruded handles ought to be really fast. Maybe the tiles can be made in bulk in advance and kept moist.

#71028 How Do You Develop You Own Aesthetic?

Posted by GEP on 01 December 2014 - 12:47 PM

Good point , Chris. Include what your are balancing as well as your attempts to grow.Marcia

I've mentioned this on the forum before, and this is the advice I give out frequently, that I worked another good-paying full-time job for the first eight years after launching the pottery business. The other job gave me the funds to start the pottery business, and also allowed me to develop my work without any financial pressure. I didn't quit the other job until I knew the pottery business would provide a living income.

#71027 How Do You Develop You Own Aesthetic?

Posted by GEP on 01 December 2014 - 12:42 PM

You are or should be your best and toughest critic. How hard are you on yourself?

My standard for judging my pots: If I hadn't made that, would I buy it?

I know what goes through my own head when looking at pots. I have a great deal of appreciation of art, craft, and design. But I am value-oriented and hate clutter. I will sometimes buy expensive pots, and sometimes buy things that I only plan to display on a shelf, but mostly I want pots in the everyday functional range.

My new pottery designs go through a fairly long design process, which often involves using them myself for some time. I only release a small number of new designs per year, and maybe one or two will survive in my line for the long term.

Another standard that I like to achieve: When I can say to the customer "I know you're gonna love this."