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Member Since 28 Jan 2013
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#78460 How To Determine $ For Used Equipment

Posted by Stephen on 02 April 2015 - 12:18 PM

one thing I would point out about online ads such as Craigslist and others. The ads are free. This means that there is no incentive to move things quickly because of the cost of advertising. This means that when you check the ads you will see all of the newly listed items AND usually a much higher number of older ads with the unsold items. As an example I see used Clay Boss wheels listed all the time for $500 OBO. This entry wheel can be bought for almost the same amount of money brand new with free shipping from a number of online suppliers.

I think the only way to determine the 'going' price of something on a particular board is to check it regularly for a few weeks until you get a feel for the real sales versus the unsold ones that pile up make it look like things are more expensive than they are.

Sorry to hear that you have to give up your studio. Have you looked at pottersweb.net. It might be a good place to post both the individual pieces and the whole studio.

Since you have a complete studio you might also contact the ceramic art department at a local college or pottery program and see if you can post your stuff on a BB or ask the instructors if they know of a new potter that might be interested. they might even agree to pass out flyers to their class.

Good luck with whatever you move on to after you sell and I hope all is well with your health.
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#78247 Potters Seat

Posted by Stephen on 30 March 2015 - 01:20 PM

Seriously? You guys went and just bought some potters seats without asking us our opinion? I am speechless :huh: .

#78162 Basic Beginner Advice

Posted by Stephen on 29 March 2015 - 10:28 AM

The one thing about starting with a good general pottery book is that it has a beginning, middle and end and that means it will introduce you to pottery and then generally progress through each area and explain. One you have worked through a good tutorial type book the videos will likely make more sense. Have fun!

#77883 What Do You Get Out Of This Forum Interaction?

Posted by Stephen on 23 March 2015 - 12:02 PM

I am about five years in and this forum has been essentially an unpaid group of consultants. I'm not sure any potter, for any amount of money, could put such a team together by design.


Any time, day or night, I reach out and almost instantly pros and amateurs alike start joining together to help me work through whatever it is and together we always seem to successfully work through my issues. 


I find this both amazingly helpful and very humbling.

#77881 I'll Never Be A Real Potter.

Posted by Stephen on 23 March 2015 - 11:36 AM

Sounds right to me. 


Since your time is limited I would think you would only mix ur own if you wanted to explore that part of the medium as well. Money is not a good reason for you because with low output the savings is probably offset with hassle and more upfront cost. In a production environment the savings can be a lot of dough though so if you ever want to go pro you will likely have to do it for business reasons a if for no other.


#77592 If You Want Perfect...

Posted by Stephen on 18 March 2015 - 12:28 PM

I was not advocating selling flawed pots but rather just cautioning you to be careful to not go overboard with the concept to the point that your tossing good pots. Hand made pottery is handmade and it's real easy to nitpick your work down to nothing. I do however agree with others that a butter dish should flawlessly hold a stick of butter and thus that pot would certainly be a prime candidate for the shard pile.


I do think cracks, warps, pin holes, crazing (sometimes) and crawling are most likely trash but like I said b4 we will hang onto great pots that might have a slight crack in the bottom for personal use if its otherwise sound. We would never sell a cracked pot, even as a second, but we have no issue using it in our daily lives.     


I think its like everything else in pottery in that it takes time and experience to 'cull' your work properly and professionally. If your tossing something I think you should take the time to truly review the piece and not just work from a perfectionist position that everything that isn't perfect needs to be tossed, at least until you're skilled at making the call.


Whitney Smith in Oakland writes a great blog and has been a successful studio potter for a couple of decades and she has been doing some soul searching on this issue in her latest post as her work has always been really tight and she is developing a looser approach and has blogged about how it has run counter to her tendency to be a perfectionist. I think everyone getting into this business should review her blog, I think its called a potter's life??


While I wouldn't mindlessly follow the advice of your 40 year potter studio mates I certainly wouldn't dismiss what they are saying. Maybe try to get a little one on one banter going with the ones that are telling you this and try to more closely examine what they are calling good that you think is flawed. Not just the butter dish but other pieces you think are bad as well. They may surprise you with their reasoning and get you to examine your work in a different way if you think its junk and they think its sellable. Get them to address the flaw you see and see if they will explain why they think its OK in an expensive handmade piece of pottery.


I like Chris's statement to come up with your own standards and then stick to them. Don't let other artist bully you into their standards. If you like to make heavy mugs, think heavy mugs are acceptable then make heavy mugs. Someone that is adamant that heavy mugs are amateurish and bad will smash every one of them. That does not make them right about anyone's work but their own. 


Good luck with growing your business!

#75757 Firing Disaster? Fired For 20 Hours - 9 Hour Soak?

Posted by Stephen on 19 February 2015 - 11:25 AM

wow, I had no idea cone 5 pots withstand a soak for 10 hours at cone 5. Congratulations!

#74791 Community Challenge #1

Posted by Stephen on 04 February 2015 - 11:43 AM

Well I absolutely refuse to divulge my first name B)  

#73783 Request For John Baymore's Throwing Exercises.

Posted by Stephen on 21 January 2015 - 01:46 PM

hey why don't you link a pdf to your website and then folks can pause and check out your work while they are there :-)

#71613 Production Potter Productivity

Posted by Stephen on 10 December 2014 - 01:10 PM

I am also the type that constantly runs the numbers and beats up processes. I spent many years constantly tweaking the process flow for a group of a couple of dozen very dedicated employees for a non-pottery related business in order to maximize our output and I would caution to make the process a group effort, use a relaxed non-threatening approach and above all be inclusive.


If your frustration with your production schedule is too much of a frontal assault to the group you are either going to lose some good people and/or demoralize many of the ones that stay and really change the dynamics of the effort. The feeling that no matter how hard you work it's not going to be good enough will burn through people so fast. I've seen it happen often and even if they don't quit they grow to dislike their jobs and the overall atmosphere takes a hit for everyone.  


I heard a very good business speaker once advise an executive who is structuring the work day for employees to constantly ask themselves if they would work there and then modify their approach until they can honestly say yes. That advice has served me well and I think the folks that worked for me both produced the upper level of our capabilities AND enjoyed doing it.  


It's very easy to extrapolate numbers such as John's example of some of his good student throwers throwing a form every minute and then ramp that out as 60 an hour but hey first off those are throwing challenges and I assume not to be processed as product. Secondly he did not have them doing that 2-3 hours at a time day in and day out.


Mike I wish you the best of luck. I am sorry that you stopped posting here a year ago. I always only try to post on a topic that I think I can actually contribute something useful to the discussion. I only have the best of intentions with my post and like to try and contribute to the few forums I follow because I know its important to have an active membership for a forum to continue and thrive.

#70718 To Sell Or Not To Sell? That Is The Question

Posted by Stephen on 25 November 2014 - 12:44 PM

Hi Ria, you could just step up your game and start attempting very complex projects and forms. The output will go down and if you really push yourself you will likely have less making it all the way through in the beginning and new and different stuff to gift once ou master the new forms.


U could also start taking up other aspects of pottery like making your own glazes and maybe even dig/mix your own clay. Having the luxury of time and money can open up lots of interesting opportunities.

#70303 Pitfalls And Must Haves

Posted by Stephen on 20 November 2014 - 12:40 PM

Agree with the above and I would suggest if you are going to be selling regularly throughout the year then set up a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) Then just make sure you always put the ',LLC' next to your name on checks and when writing invoices or correspondence.


The LLC notation declares to the world that liability stops with the business and you as one of the principles are not personally liable so they are doing business with you understanding this. There are tons of internet resources on this so surf around and get familiar. It may seem complicated at first but its not and a single individual can set one up as well as a group and it is a great alternative to running a sole proprietorship when it comes to any business selling a product of any kind. You will likely have a state filing each year and taxes to pay but only need to add to your federal return if you exceed a certain dollar amount. last year that was $400.


You can likely do it all online in a couple of hours at your states corporation portal and simply file an annual report, pay an annual fee and file some specific reports if some things change (such as your address or business name etc.)


Also keep in mind that the IRS will not allow you to write off expenses beyond revenue offsets if your business is considered a hobby business so if you are just operating a side business to pay for your supplies and direct cost and are not trying to grow a business concern then limit your deductions to revenue.


here's a link on that:



Good luck, I hope you make a bunch of dough ;-)

#70298 Overcoming Insecurity

Posted by Stephen on 20 November 2014 - 12:19 PM

LeeU It sounds like pottery has been really something positive in your life. Thanks for sharing, u are an inspiration.  


When not walking in the same shoes as someone who is troubled about something it seems so easy to just tell them to pull themselves up by the ol bootstraps but anyone who has hit a rough patch knows it does not work that way. You have to get there and sometimes that means a lot of work.


Not a big fan of critiques. I know that makes the educators here cringe but they just do not seem to be that valuable. Look when you are asking another artist to weigh in on your work anything other that "that's great" stings so I don't want to put them or myself in the situation to start with. I don't need anyone to tell me my crappy work is crappy and if like it then I don't particularly care if they do or not, I'm the one in charge of my art.


As an alternative I am trying to be really engaged with pottery and what others are doing so my own opinion about my own work has more merit. Besides if you pot very much at all you have to start selling and when you start selling that is when you start getting the one opinion that does matter above your own, the customers. 

#70231 Overcoming Insecurity

Posted by Stephen on 19 November 2014 - 03:55 PM

You might also consider adding a bunch of small stuff to your mix. An hour of work per mug makes them expensive (or should) and in smaller close to home venues that likely means the sales are slow, not because the work is not good but simply because small local venues don't sell like the larger fairs do. The small stuff will help counter that and get some much needed cash into your box while you wait for the more expensive items to sell. If you search here you will see recommendations like spoon rest, soap holders, simple jewelry and the like. Basically anything on a less grand scale that you can make cool and sell for under $20 and you will likely ring up more sales for those pesky things like food clothing and shelter.


Maybe you use Diesels decal suggestion to transfer some of your beautiful art to less expensive items and then markup the strictly hand painted ones a lot. Kind of like working the 'original' versus 'print' angle that painters and photographers do. I would think a hand painted mug like you are doing should be pricey, is it?  


Good luck and don't let the business side of things deflate you. There is a solution to that, u just have to keep trying different things until you find the right combination and then boom you're on easy street with the rest of us.


I hope you didn't take offense at the fantasy recommendation. Your drawing seemed loose and fun and somewhat fantasy inspired, at least to me, and themed events like ravenCon supposedly get huge crowds of folks with money to spend and if you arrive with beautiful pots adorned with drawings that match the events theme I bet you would do really well.


Lots of other similar things for your art as well like hand painted beer steins at Oktoberfest events or the Scottish games in western Washington. How about animal events? I know a few avid dog show folks and if they go to a show and see anything painted with their 'breed' it is snatched up. Keep in mind these are people that have the kind of money to blow hundreds of dollars on a weekend of walking their dog in a show for a blue ribbon to add to their collection of blue ribbons.    


Anyway just some suggestions, sorry you feel panicked that is an absolutely horrible feeling. Sounds like you need some successes to even things out in your life, good luck working through it! 

#70221 Pride ... Is It Really A Sin?

Posted by Stephen on 19 November 2014 - 12:33 PM

2 me its the 'process' that charges me on a daily basis. I really dig that. With he right music and the work going well I get in a zone that is really cool. Even when I was cutting everything in half I didn't care, just check it and move on. It's just some mud so if its bad toss it and grab another ball or slab of clay.


Pots have so much to go through that I don't get too attached until its time to open the glaze kiln, then I'm primed.