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Member Since 15 Feb 2013
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#79603 How Often To Clean Your Kiln?

Posted by Pugaboo on Yesterday, 09:56 PM

Bad mentors every last one of you! Bad bad bad LOL

When I first started I cleaned it before every firing, then every couple, then every few, and as I said it's been about 10 this time and that got me to wondering when was the proper time to do it. I should warn you you are talking to the woman that mops her studio daily and color wheel coordinates her glazes and keeps all her shelves, kiln furniture and stilts stacked and organized by type, height and size. I could probably load my kiln blind folded. Don't even get me started on storage.


#79573 Confess. How Many Of You Colored Outside The Lines As A Child?

Posted by Pugaboo on Yesterday, 04:04 PM

I had an early grade school encounter (1st or 2nd grade?) that affected me for YEARS. We were given a plain very simple bunny printout to color. I cut mine out glued it to colored construction paper, added a cotton ball tail, puffy clouds, flowers, grass. I gave it an environment to live in. Once done the teacher came by to collect them. She was furious with what I had done, I did not do as told and simply color the boring bunny. She made an example of me before the whole class. It was awful! From then on I did EXACTLY what the teachers said to do. For years I hid my "real" drawings. I knew I HAD to create but that fear of being ridiculed kept me hidden. It wasn't until my husband joked that the bed was getting higher on one side than the other because of all the art I kept shoving under there and that maybe I should dig out some and sell it did I even try.

All of this is one of the reasons why my signature almost always includes the quote, "The world is but a canvas to the imagination"

Embrace the world obliterate those lines and create what your soul tells you to.


#79017 How Do I Paint The Bottom Of A Piece For Mid Fire (Cone 5)- Help!

Posted by Pugaboo on 10 April 2015 - 05:05 PM

You can try using Red Iron Oxide to give it a wash of color. It won't stick to the shelves like underglaze can. If you kiln wash your shelves and use underglaze and a piece sticks you can usually use a Dremel and just touch the piece with it and have it come off leaving either no Mark or a very tiny one.

Contrary to popular belief you can use stilts with cone 5-6. You just have to buy high fire stilts. Go to Clayking.com and look at their offerings. I fire to cone 6 and stilt just about everything. The stuff I don't stilt I usually put on little bisque wafers.


#78831 Tumble stacking the bisque-electrics

Posted by Pugaboo on 08 April 2015 - 07:07 AM

I've been reading this subject for awhile now and yesterday for the first time partially tumble stacked my bisque load. I used 3 shelves instead of 5 and wow did it hold a lot of pieces! I kept having to go get more pieces cleaned to fill in the spots. I actually could have fit more but I ran out of small filler pieces. I was not brave enough to fire anything sideways but I did stack things face face and foot to foot. With the face to face pieces I filled the inside cavity with smaller pieces. I let things touch and even hang a bit off the sides of the shelves as long as they didn't touch the walls of the kiln. Since I added so much newly cleaned bone dry pieces and I do my final cleaning with water I did add a 1 hour preheat to it just to make sure everything was as dry as possible not sure if this was necessary or not.

The kiln is on its last 40 degrees to reach ^04. I don't think it fired any quicker even with taking into account the 1 hour preheat but I sure did fit a lot of stuff in there. It usually takes about 13 hours to do a slow bisque, add on the 1 hour preheat and I am approaching 14 this time. We shall see if I end up with a load of cracked warped pieces or not. I won't be able to open it until tomorrow morning to know so keep your fingers crossed.

If this works just how far can you push tumble stacking? Does anybody out there do it with 1 shelf or less?


#78608 Spoonrests or Top Ramen

Posted by Pugaboo on 04 April 2015 - 09:30 PM

Mark is Sooooo right. Make spoon rests then make more spoon rests and when you are done make some more. They will sell sell sell. I am small potatoes compared to Mark but every show I do spoon rests are about 1/3 of my income. They are so easy to make I use different texture patterns on mine as well as glazes. I go crazy with the glazes and try all kinds of combinations and the weirdest ones sell first. Go figure

I also make 3 different sizes. A mini dish for next to the morning coffee cup and it fits a teaspoon. I have started pairing these with my mugs and hand made spoons (just started trying spoons). A small spoon rest for the table so the serving spoon doesn't sink to the bottom of the bowl and since its smaller it fits a serving spoon but doesn't take up as much table space then the large which is meant to sit on or near the stove. At one point I was going to stop the small spoon rests but at the end of the year when I added it up they were as popular as the mini and the large so decided to keep offering them for another year.

It's amazing something so simple and easy to make can make such a difference to the bottom line.


#78207 As a potter/ceramic artist, which IRS business code do you use for taxes?

Posted by Pugaboo on 29 March 2015 - 10:27 PM

I have always used the independent artist category because I do a variety of things, painting, photography, pottery, written several books, graphic art services, etc... But I do NOT sing or perform, my dogs howl even when I hum and a dozen broken bones is proof enough I am a clutz and should keep both feet seperate and on the ground at all times. Lol I guess I might actually be the poster child for this government category.


#78072 How Do You Handle Online Shipping Costs?

Posted by Pugaboo on 26 March 2015 - 10:21 PM

I ship stuff all the time. I use priority mail and have always had good results with them. Buy a scale do a practice pack and go to their site and see if it's cheaper to use their flat rate or the variable rate boxes for that item. The difference can be astonishing depending on the item. I will admit I ship mostly small stuff I keep about 50 of the 7x7x7 cube shaped boxes on hand at all times. This size will also fit inside their bigger boxes for double boxing if needed. Even with the small cube size my stuff goes into a gift box, gets wrapped with a ribbon and has a card attached before being boxed for shipping. I allow for all of that in my shipping charge to the customer. People really like that extra touch and I want them to know that I value the fact that they bought a hand made item of mine. I get lots of repeat customers and even have them buy gifts and have me wrap and ship it straight the the giftee since they know it will arrive in gift worthy fashion.

One thing I do tend to do is include the shipping in the price of the item online. I offer Free shipping on as many items as I can. I sell spoon rests for $16 including shipping and nobody has complained yet, but when I sell a spoon rest for $8 plus $8 shipping and handling I will get emails asking if I can do any better on the shipping weird but true.

Go to the post office website and order an assortment of their boxes and see which sizes suit most of of your stuff then order a bunch and keep on hand. The boxes are free to get since the cost of the box is figured into the shipping rate when you ship them. I have a permanent shipping area set up in my garage which makes packing sales so much easier and more efficient. I keep and recycle ALL my packing materials like popcorn, bubble wrap, and plain paper. I have already paid for that stuff once when I bought whatever I bought so I'm not about to throw it away and go spend more money to buy more. My husband does claim I am a packing peanut hoarder and have enough in giant plastic bags stacked along the garage wall to last a lifetime but I just tell him you can never have enough packing peanuts saved up they are like gold...Mohave you seen what they want to charge for those things if you buy them?

Since I do sell online so much I will admit to mostly only making items that will fit in the priority Mail boxes. The large stuff I sell at shows and galleries mostly or if I have online I have done a practice pack and used a Zipcode in Alaska to find out the maximum shipping cost.


#77821 What's A Good Extruder?

Posted by Pugaboo on 21 March 2015 - 09:35 PM

Clay lover,

I cover the wooden supports with plastic because at times the clay will stick to it by the time it gets to leather hard and be really hard to slice and slip off the end. Using the plastic you just cut then slide the whole length down, plastic and all then slip the cut piece off. I do not cover the extruded forms with plastic unless I have to leave them on the supports overnight, usually I pull 25lbs worth of extrusions in each hollow die shape (square, round, triangle), rubber rib them, set them out for firm up to leather hard, then measure, cut and put the cut pieces under plastic to add the tops and bottoms to the next day. I have extruded as many as 150 boxes in a matter of hours so it all takes some planning to get everything tended to at the correct stages.

I was worried about the thickness of those bigger extrusions but still want to try them. If I find they are too thick I might go to a local metal shop that does custom gates and such and see if they can cut me metal plates with thinner walls, have a feeling that will be expensive but it's the back up plan if I find them too thick. I have been hinting to hubby that I have a great idea for our tax refund check, not sure if he will bite or not but if he does plan to buy the expansion box and plates.


#77531 If You Want Perfect...

Posted by Pugaboo on 17 March 2015 - 04:39 PM

I have heard and been told the "if they want perfect buy it at Walmart" phrase A LOT at the local community center. Secretly it's one of the reasons I fire my own I want entire control and don't want someone saying oh that is good enough... Good enough is NOT good enough. I know 5 years from now my work will most likely be better than it is today but if I were to sell pieces I think NOW are not quite up to snuff what would I think of those in 5 years? Talk about causing a cold sweat!

I struggle with waste, hate it, can't abide it... To toss out a pot with a small imperfection makes me cringe (so wasteful erg) so I figured out a way for me to be able to get this thought right with my head. I put all the non sellable pots in a box for making walking stones in my yard. When I have enough I'll break them up and add concrete and make bright, colorful, and USEFUL walking stones. No wastage just repurposing. After the last rain I was thinking gee I relly need to get some more dead pots because I really need those waking stones to the meter so I don't get muddy feet getting my readings for firing a kiln load! Lol


#77428 Choosing A Name For Your Pottery Business

Posted by Pugaboo on 15 March 2015 - 05:46 PM

Very early on I used my name first and last, then someone said oh your should never use your married name what if you get divorced? Hmm felt like continuing to use that was like poking fate in the eye. Then a wonderful furry little diva entered my life. I started painting and selling Pug art primarily. So when I started selling that oh those many many years ago I named my first website Pugaboo. My little shop was the Pugaboo Boutique. I have 5 Pugs and will admit to being a crazy Pug person. When I started printing books and cards I used Pugaboo Printing for that. Now that I am focused on Pottery I use Pugaboo Pottery, sounds nice and is keeping with tradition. All anyone has to do is remember Pugaboo and I am quite likely to show up in some version of it. My signature stamp is a little running Pug as well.

I do have a question... Is there a place to go and register a signature stamp, makers mark, whatever it's officially called? It would be nice if in the future someone were to google my pottery stamp that they could find me that way as well.


#77347 Stuffers Is One Way To Make One Kiln Load Into Two.

Posted by Pugaboo on 14 March 2015 - 11:08 AM

Very impressive! When I grow up I wanna be Mark!

#76923 How Many Sell Ceramics For A Living?

Posted by Pugaboo on 06 March 2015 - 11:41 PM

I have been a full time artist for many years, photography, painting, etc recently started doing pottery. In the past I made enough to live on from art, if I had to, but my husband earned good money so I didn't need to. Used the money for equipment, traveling, and such instead. Now my husband is ill and can no longer work his disease is progressive it's never going to get better and will eventually end in his death. Sad but a true reality for me. This is the writing on MY wall.

I have instituted a 10 year plan, I just hope I have the time to get there. I have a chart taped to the wall in my studio with each year marked and a goal for that year, next to that is a blank line where I will add the actual number as I get there. I only got started about halfway through the year last year and made a little over $5k (peanuts I know but it was a test to see if what I do now will sell) I plan to double that this year, then do so many dollars more each year after that but do not expect doubling each year (I am realistic). In 10 years I need to be making between $25-35k a year to support myself. I know this is possible since I have done it before but it's not just fun and games anymore it will mean survival or not.

I work 6-8 hours a day every day IN the studio and usually put in a 2-4 more hours on the computer doing listings, etsy, website, ebay, etc. Or researching shows, local galleries etc. I'm not afraid of hard work I'm afraid of failure. Yesterday I tested out to see how many Spoonrests I can get from a 25lb bag of clay and how long it to me to make them. I got $518 worth of product from a $14 bag of clay. It took me 3 hours to do it. I pay myself $10 an hour so with the clay I subtract $44 from the $518. Subract off glazes and kiln firings etc and I'll get my profit from it. I am constantly looking at something thinking okay this is nice and people are buying it by the droves how can I do it faster, better, to improve my sales and the profit margin. I save 25% of every sale, I put another 25% into an account for equipment, that's half of everything I sell. I can do that for now since still have the money we saved from when he was working to live on. I realize my plan is small, not going to be a millionaire I don't care about that I just want to earn enough to feed, clothe and house myself.

For now, since he can't go to shows with me and I can't leave him alone at night or for a weekend I am only doing local shows that I can get home to each night. I did 4 festivals last year, plan to do 8-10 this year, and 12 the year after. I am also looking at finding more shops and galleries to carry my work, if I can get enough of these selling without me being there that's is a big plus. I always carry a small packet with me everywhere I go it contains 4 images of my work, a short introductory letter about myself, my work and a business card. When I find someplace I think would be a good selling venue for me I stop and speak with the owner, manager, sales clerk and leave this packet for them to peruse or pass on to the person that decides what to sell. I also keep a small box of finished pieces in the back seat just in case they ask to see real product, it's better to be prepared then have to schedule a time to go back the window of opportunity might be closed by then. I have my first inquiry concerning a wholesale order and I am trying to get it closed but I have never done wholesale before like this... They want x number of the same pieces x number of different images on the pieces. I am more familiar with the galleries and shops that want one of a kinds. So I am working on this type of a sale right now trying to figure out how it all works. If I can get it right and a solid deal it means one more avenue of income and that the next time someone asks for an order like this I'll know what the heck I am doing.

I will also be teaching 4 classes this year at the local art center, a new thing for me, but if it works another avenue of income.

I have a website, 2 etsy shops, do ebay sales, private commissions, take on graphic art projects like logos and flyers and such, etc. I will do whatever I have to in order to succeed... I WILL NOT FAIL

Do I know what I am doing? Heck no but is that going to keep me from giving it 150% effort? Not on your life. I would rather work 18 hours a day for myself than work a job for someone else where I really am only in it for the paycheck. If I end up doing that then I will consider that I have failed and have I mentioned I don't deal well with failure?


#76119 Artist Statement

Posted by Pugaboo on 25 February 2015 - 12:10 AM

The art festival applications that ask stuff like this I truly dislike:

"Please submit an artist’s statement which describes your work and how it fits in with and supports the mission of the festival."

Basically not only do you have have have a strong artist statement for your work you also have to have it explain to them why your statement is in love with their statement. I had to look up their mission statement and then scratch my head and try to get their statement clear in meaning then try and rewrite mine to do what they wanted. Took me a week of writing and scribbling to do what I thought they wanted.

I should state I didn't get into the festival. I guess my statement and theirs had irreconcilable differences... Do you think therapy would help?

I have applied to my back up festival instead and am awaiting their judgment. They were almost as bad, wanting a detailed writing on my artistic journey along with my previous festivals, shows, awards, etc. Oh and please feel free to attach additional pages to do so. After being as brief as possible for so many years THIS confused me... What do you mean add additional pages you mean I'm not telling you my artistic life's story in 100 characters? What ever shall I say that takes that many sheets of paper? Now the panic sets in gee I only have 3 paragraphs maybe I am not good enough because I haven't written a novel length description!

Awards? Yeah I have a whole box of ribbons around here somewhere. I actually had to go dig them out because I couldn't remember the precise awards, shows and dates! I CAN remember which shows I sold the most at, which galleries sell the most, and which of my clients have purchased more than a dozen of my pieces but awards and ribbons to me were never the point. Let the people vote with their dollars if they value my work they vote with green paper if they don't they give that green paper to someone else. I had a friend who never sold a single piece yet had over 3 dozen awards... Is he more successful than I because of this? It must be kind of chewy to eat ribbons for breakfast.

Festival applications can bite you on both ends.


#72066 Trying To Find A Square Plate Mould

Posted by Pugaboo on 18 December 2014 - 05:49 AM

I use Chinet paper paper plates. They have dinner as well as salad size. Also pretty cheap as far as a mold goes and if it's just for a gift you can toss it when you are done. I have found though with some care you can use them repeatedly before they lose their integrity.

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#71714 What Are Your Favorite Animals?

Posted by Pugaboo on 11 December 2014 - 10:19 PM

Ummm this might not be a surprise but I LOVE PUGS. I seriously could paint and create Pugs all day everyday... Hmmm guess that's why I do so HUH. But seriously go look up Pug puppies and you will have to agree Pugs are the cutest funniest most amazing dogs... Ehem... furry people as we call them around here.... Ever!

Oh and I also like turtles and have a ground hog that lives in my tiny valley that I want to sculpt. Oh and the deer, though there hasn't been as many this year, hopefully they are just trying to eat someone else's yard for awhile and will come back and visit soon.

But then again PUGS RULE!
Did I mention I like Pugs?