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Member Since 28 Jan 2013
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#86837 Should I Start Pottery Or Not? Advice Please.....

Posted by Stephen on 09 June 2015 - 11:00 AM

and the expensive part is only if you have the means to make it so.  Clay and glaze are so cheap they are not even worth considering really.


A new kiln cost in the 1500-3 grand range and you get a shiny programmable kiln, used kiln, maybe a hundred or two and you learn to work with witness cones and a kiln sitter to turn off (that can be fun too but ya have to hang with the kiln instead of the bar with John, actually you are supposed to sit and watch the shiny new one do its thing as well).


New wheel 8,9 hundred bucks, used you can probably score for a couple of hundred or less. New slab roller, a grand or so but a rolling pin from goodwill might set you back a couple of bucks.


My point is that you can take a garage and deck it out with 10-15 grand worth of really nice new studio equipment or you can get the same functionality with a carefully assembled assortment of used stuff and work arounds such as a rolling pin and it really does not have to affect the quality of your pottery much or the fun you will have. Actually the cheap equipment might add a more romantic feel about the whole thing.   


by and large potters are a pretty cheap bunch so no one's going to make fun of your 25 year kiln you scored from a school auction for $50 B)

#81081 Buying A New Wheel! ^_^ Yes!

Posted by Stephen on 08 May 2015 - 11:15 AM

Guinea you might want to call Marc Gaiger, the potter who designed it, and get his take on the comments above.


The tool looks very similar to the one I saw in the video I initially mentioned. That potter I think made his himself when he, like you, was faced with giving up the wheel because of severe arthritis. Although I don't remember who he was I do remember that he had been a potter for 4-5 decades and they had both a huge shop and gallery and he was producing professionally using his centering and opening tool so he seemed to have figured out how to throw with it without sacrificing quality. Of course I couldn't access the structure of his pots but he had a throwing demonstration that looked liked it spun true. 


Good luck with it all. I know you love pottery but I would really figure out something so you are not just sucking it up and just going for it, injuring your hands in the process.  

#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 :-)

#73093 What Is Your Biggest Plan , Dream Or Goal For 2015

Posted by Stephen on 08 January 2015 - 06:22 PM

To make a million dollars worth of mugs.


That works out to 152 $25 mugs a day, 5 days a week. I've read that the average production potter is expected to do this so I figure its a good first rung on my career ladder.   


next years goal?


To sell a million dollars worth of mugs.


(I'm 6 days in and slightly off pace) 

#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 ;-)