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Member Since 28 Jan 2013
Offline Last Active Apr 18 2014 05:12 PM

#55624 Check Your Tools

Posted by Stephen on 28 March 2014 - 10:28 AM

Ya know, I would say try and think of recycled clay as a bonus and just go with the flow when it does not work out. At the end of the day you're reclaiming all that can be reclaimed and keeping waste to a minimum and that's really what its all about, right?


Maybe just hold it to the side and use it when you are experimenting with a new form or use it up making a round of new garden pots for your personal use.


I am learning to just go with it when things go wrong as issues just seem to pop up at the most inopportune times, don't let it take away your Zen :-)

#54997 Water In A Studio Without Plumbing: Ideas Needed

Posted by Stephen on 19 March 2014 - 10:33 AM

well if you are making 100 pots a day, every day, and they sell for an average of $30 that's 1.1 million dollars in pottery and one can afford whatever water system they want  :D 

#51445 Consignment, Reasonable Expectations

Posted by Stephen on 31 January 2014 - 12:23 PM

I would chime in that the difference in production work and studio work makes a huge difference.


A hand crafted mug that has a lot of additional detail and time involved might be priced substantially higher as more of an art piece than a production mug that is thrown in a few minutes, trimmed in a few minutes and a couple of minutes of a 2-3 hour glazing session along with a small corner of a kiln (our 9 cf kiln cost about $6-7 to fire by the way). 30 seconds more of bottom sanding an it is ready to go out the door somewhere.


This production mug is still going to be a beautiful handcrafted mug (may well have a little carving or slip work) and gleaned from hours of drawings, testing and other design work by the potter, perfected for production runs and will be priced at say $25 retail. 


A $12.50 split works out OK for the potter and selling direct to the public will earn $15-$17.50. Direct selling through decent size fairs cost about 30-40% in expenses (but you will get some show labor at slightly above min wage out of that :-) and could increase north of 50% if you have a string of show failures and have to eat some additional cost somewhere. Like Mark said, it is going to be a moving target trying to attach direct expenses to individual production items if you make and sell many.


One thing I would warn is not to take more involved artistic studio work that is done on a functional piece of pottery, like a mug, that you invest a lot of time in and then price it like a production piece or you will have trouble making it work.  


Not sure I agree with your pricing based on experience. A subpar mug should not go out and if its a quality mug then why should it not be priced a what is perceived to be the market rate? A famous potter may command much more but you are advocating pricing at well below what I think most folks see the market rate of 20-25 bucks for artisan made handcrafted mugs. I think this is what the artisan market sees as an average price for a nice hand thrown mug (I am assuming your talking about hand thrown mugs and not slab work).


I would argue that the adjustment is made if you're honest about the work and only sell beautiful mugs and trash the rest. This means that a new professional is going to have a much higher failure rate than a seasoned pro and make less because of this. The mugs that hit the market though are all of high quality and priced right. Everyone is served as the market is not depressed and the seasoned pro is realizing some additional perk of his/her years of hard work.    


The business forum moderator, Mea Rhee, did a fantastic hourly earnings project that was published by this sites magazine and Mark C's and others threads offer of lots and lots of details on making a living at this.


Good luck with your first wholesale customer!  

#51132 Photography Isn't Just Pressing A Button

Posted by Stephen on 27 January 2014 - 11:53 AM

What a great thread, getting ready to put this together now and my research is already done :-)


Sorry you got dumped on John. As has been stated repeatedly and I'm sure you already know, there was absolutely nothing but great advise in your post, OP just had a chip on his shoulder.

#48680 Buy Vs. Build (Kiln Dilemma)

Posted by Stephen on 27 December 2013 - 12:17 PM

You let Christmas get in the way of looking at a 30 year old broken kiln you can probably get for next to nothing? Where the heck are your priorities!

#46131 How To Warm Cink Water

Posted by Stephen on 19 November 2013 - 01:59 PM

I think the original poster is talking about a product called the cink, I have one as well and it is a closed recirculating system that filters out the clay. We have a septic system and decided to buy one instead of plumbing so we could be sure that clay does not end up in the septic system. Works very pretty well but the water get really, really cold in an unheated space overnight.

#45754 Gallery Commentary?

Posted by Stephen on 14 November 2013 - 05:33 PM

Your back and forth is exactly my point in saying the gallery comments need be moderated, not censured, but moderated. Either of you could easily weed out the malicious comments before they hit the board. I honestly don't think many want to censure or sanitize anything on this board. It's just a matter of making sure that for that 'one in the bunch' that Phill mentioned, someone has a chance to weed it out so it doesn't junk up the board and frustrate a member and more seriously encourage others to avoid uploading any pictures of their work.

After reading the last two posts though, it certainly seems to me that a separate forum for this would so much better serve the members because the process is obviously very involved and the back and forth you two just did ought to be given a chance to happen when examining someone's work AND it seems so important that the work being commented on needs to have been put forth by the artist for just such commentary.

Obviously it can be argued that by merely uploading the images an artist offered the work for critique. If that's the case then there are going to be so many members here that are never going to show us their work because they do not want this from this forum in this setting. This may have absolutely nothing to do with how they feel about their work but rather they see the process differently and don't see this forum as a place for this to happen. One reason might be that the internet is searchable and many professionals would not want this process to be this transparent to their customers, or potential customers. A scathing exchange might turn the customer against the work and cause the artist to lose a sale or a contract, or many sales and many contracts over a process that they personally didn't ask for and don't want to be a part of.

#45717 Gallery Commentary?

Posted by Stephen on 14 November 2013 - 11:48 AM

It is certainly an art in of itself to be able to provide quality feedback, especially negative feedback without offending. I think the reason the software defaults to admin approval is for another a person representing the organization keeping up the site to make sure that the exchange is civil. There is no getting around the fact that some people enjoy being cruel and the internet coupled with anon identities feeds into that. I have not read any comments by anyone posting here so I am certainly not saying their comments were not spot on. 


This forum is the face of a large non-profit organization that promotes ceramics for everyone, bad, mediocre and skilled professionals alike, sure makes sense to make sure the comments are meaningful and not just mean. 

#44881 Fyi Re: Purloined Intellectual Porperty

Posted by Stephen on 30 October 2013 - 12:24 PM

I don't know how many folks that went to Weebles link on faso.com read the comments but they are certainly extensive.


I certainly came away feeling that the very best thing to do if wanting to base some work off another's effort (in any medium) is to get permission. That said though I have come across situations where folks want to try and project ownership of methods or designs that are not theirs to begin with.


I also feel people need to consider that even if you did come up with a design or method without any input from any other source that does not mean that you alone came up with that design or method and with functional pottery I would think that many designs get 'dreamed up' independently by numerous folks around the world regularly. I thought the faso.com article did one thing very well and that is to demonstrate that many things are much more complicated than they may seem on the surface and it is best that the situation be completely sorted out before judgments can be made and just comparing the work in no way means its an infringement. 


In the pottery world there is a case in point from a few years ago where a popular potter who sells on etsy publicly attacked another potter on her blog when she 'caught' the potter selling one of her signature forms on etsy as well, for less. She sent her a C&D email and crowed how the potter cowered to her and apologized and immediately removed the item. She said she thought the potter was genuinely sorry but ignorance was no excuse and decided to take to the blogs to publicly thrash this new potter. The problem I had was that the form in question was a form that goes back centuries in Japan and she made a few minor tweaks and then went after someone else using it.  


All in all I thought the post and resulting comments were alarming since they appeared to come from many established potters around the country and, at least to me, they seemed to really be off base on what is and isn't infringement and/or ethical.

#44876 Crack In Floor Of New Kiln

Posted by Stephen on 30 October 2013 - 10:33 AM

(whispering) she left a small plastic dish drainer leaning against the new kiln and it melted, she is trying not to think about it.

#42941 The Need For It To Be Understood

Posted by Stephen on 20 September 2013 - 02:23 PM

my best to you and your family Pazu and I hope your dad is better soon.

#42827 So You Want To Be An Artist

Posted by Stephen on 18 September 2013 - 10:50 AM

For a perspective from a successful 15 year potter in the Bar Area you might take a look at Whitney Smith's blog post on the business side of things. She grouped a number of them together in the link below.


On thing that hit me on one of her post that seems to ring true:

"There is no magic formula to when your work is "good enough" for the marketplace, and it is true that most artists will continue to improve throughout much of their career. I still consider myself a student of pottery, I'm learning and -- I hope-- still improving my work. But I do think one needs to be out of that rapid growth and improvement stage, where from month to month your work looks markedly better, before you start selling."

#42430 Double, Down Draft Oil Barrel Kiln

Posted by Stephen on 12 September 2013 - 09:54 AM

Oh one other thing you might consider is putting some wire mesh between layers of pots so as the fuel burns away the pots don't pile into each other and leave unwanted marks or damage.

#42045 Potentially Huge Impacts On Community Studios, Art Centers, And Studio Artist...

Posted by Stephen on 04 September 2013 - 10:08 AM

Ya know if the intent of the studio is truly in the spirit of a valid apprenticeship relationship with a new artist then it seems like all should be fine based on the list of qualifiers in the article. If on the other hand it is simply a way to get around employment responsibilities for grunt level studio work then this should be a good thing in that it will clean up these questionable practices. Of course defining the level of work a pottery apprentice should be legitimately doing is going to be the tricky part for both the studios and those monitoring the process. 


In the interest of disclosure I must point out that I am very pro labor and feel that it is very important to set strong guidelines for employers and have a very rigorous enforcement system to back them up. The honor system does not work and never will. There will always be folks that want to be what they consider creative and that is bad for the rest of us in so many ways and horrible for the person being used.  Pottery is a dream career for many and that means a lot of folks would be willing to work for little to be involved but minimum wage is as low as it should be allowed to go if in fact they are just doing a low level job for free or close to it. 

#34828 Prices and Expectations

Posted by Stephen on 14 May 2013 - 10:18 AM

What? I know that it's not that great,but someone wants to buy it.

Well that was an unfortunate post and I hope you didn't pay attention to it. Some folks get a rise out of picking on people online or have the audacity to think that only what they like is worthwhile which is not true of course. My 2 cents, I would never utter those words though. It is your work and some people will like it, some people will love it and some will simply not care for it and I wouldn't defend my work to someone so obviously out of line.

Like Gypsy I like the work. Hand building is something I admire and would like to spend some time experimenting with. How are you planning on glazing the set? Are you concentrating on tea sets? You know on pricing, if this is a friend you might just ask them what they had in mind and bargain from there. Hand built work generally cost more because it is often more involved but of course value and the time it takes to produce has a very loose connection in pottery.

You did say a mouthful though when you pointed out you have a buyer, nice quip :-)

Good luck and let us know what you ended up charging. Also be sure and post the finished glazed pieces, would love to see them.