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Member Since 15 Feb 2013
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#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.


#77752 No More Wheel

Posted by Pugaboo on 20 March 2015 - 09:58 PM


I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. Don't let it stop you from creating allow it to take you in a different direction in which to create. I agree with everything everyone has said. Try different forms until you find the style you like, try different hand building techniques to see which ones work best for you. I primarily hand build and do just a little bit of wheel, primarily because I have serious back problems and if I did wheel I'd only be able to play with clay about once a week. I switch from one thing to the next a lot and keep a slew of projects going at all times. Learn how to keep projects at the right moisture level and you can work on pieces for months.

You were determined to learn the wheel now turn that determination to tackling hand building and I think you might find you like it even better. With hand building there are no boundaries if you can imagine it you can make it. I would recommend using cardboard to test out your shapes, it's what I do when trying a new one for the first time. Regular cardboard shipping boxes work great they are almost the same thickness as the clay, you can usually get them for free, and when you get the shape the way you want you can easily cut the tape, mark the pieces, and use them as the cutting templates time and time again, you can even combine different pieces to come up with different shapes.

I too paint on greenware I like the way it accepts the underglaze almost like watercolor paper and paint. I don't like the way bisque feels as it takes the underglaze. To paint detailed images I use a Kemper Tilt & Turn Table which allows you to place an object on it and then tilt the whole platform and rotate it as needed... Meaning no holding your item in your hand which might help with the pain you are getting from that. It's less than $40 and might be a good investment for you... Or if you are handy or your man is take a look at it online and make one that would work even better for you. You paint on your stuff a lot like I do and it can get really cramping in the hand to hold something the entire time. It felt weird at first not to have my hand holding it but once I got used to it it's made it way more comfortable to spend hours painting something. If you want more information on how it works just ask and I will try and give more details.

I know it's seems dark and scary right now but keep moving forward and before you know it you'll realize it's a beautiful day once more in the studio.


#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.

Attached Files

#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?


#71223 Bought The Square

Posted by Pugaboo on 04 December 2014 - 10:03 AM

I take credit cards too but use the PayPal Swiper on my cell phone since I have a merchant account through them and use PayPal on my website and other online sales venues. Sticking with PayPal was an easy choice since it meant sticking with a system I was already familiar with.

Credit cards are about 1/2 my sales and have had younger people use it for as little as $5. What I have done is set my prices then added 10% to them to cover the credit card fees and sales tax. If someone wants a discount on an item I ask if they are paying in cash and if so know I can safely reduce some and not really lose money. It makes those bargain seekers feel like they are getting a deal and I don't feel bad about being asked to discount my work so everyone is happy. Most of the time they are only asking for a dollar or 2 discount and that's within the margin of profit. Getting rid of my knuckle buster was a no brainer the yearly fees, monthly fees whether I sold or not and the percentage on top of all that was just bad business.

I have received a few bad checks over the years so would really rather just take a credit card and with the new cell phone systems know that the money is mine. I have found recently that people paying with $100 bills has increased so have had to learn how to check those onsite. This last weekend I got 3 of them which is a record for me as I usually only average 1 per show.


#70262 Overcoming Insecurity

Posted by Pugaboo on 19 November 2014 - 11:09 PM

I make my own transfers as well. I have 30+ years of artwork that I have converted to digital files so I can print my own stuff and put on pots. With the pen and inks I am even doing some color wash affects on some pieces since I only have the capability of doing black and white transfers.

I also second the small stuff. I LOVE doing sculptures and really fancy boxes BUT I need to price them starting at $100 and most people have this thing about spending more than a $20 bill on stuff around here. So I do loads of spoon rests, pendants, small pencil boxes, etc. The little stuff can add up quick when it sells AND it's cheaper to make since it takes less materials AND it's easier on the body.

I also have a severely messed up back, 2 surgeries, permanent damage, can't ride in a car for more than 5 minutes and if I do I can't feel my left foot and the sciatic nerve kicks in, bla bla bla. Lol grocery shopping can be a rather interesting prospect around here since the nearest store is 20 minutes away. With a messed up back I have just learned to do things the way I can and not worry that I do them in a strange way. I have to stand to do just about everything can't sit for more than a few minutes. When I throw it has to be a VERY GOOD DAY and I can't need to do anything the next day since I know I will be paying the price. It's why I do a variety of things pinch, slab, coil, extruder and wheel and I let my body tell me what it can handle that day. Heck I just realized my life can at times sound like a really bad country song.. Waa waa waa. My art is my sanctuary AND my business. I work through my issues with my art then sell them off to other people now THAT sounds like cheating. I also live in terror of not selling and have reacuring nightmares involving the words... Do you want fries with that? I work all the time in the studio and when something hurts too much to do that day I work on another project.

Don't let your limitations... Well.... Limit you, make them work FOR You.

I would also try the weebly free website it's very easy to learn and have helped friends get a website set up using it. You might also consider Wordpress which is a blog format and also free, you can put your stuff out there talk about your journey and get feedback. It sounds like you are feeling very isolated but you are not, there is a whole world of people out there and the Internet makes it so much easier to connect. My best friend lives on the other side of the country from me but it doesn't matter she is just one email or text away.

Keep your head up and keep doing what you are doing don't give up on your work or yourself.

#70186 Overcoming Insecurity

Posted by Pugaboo on 18 November 2014 - 11:24 PM

I too have a background as a painter. I like to paint on my pottery as well. We artists tend to be our own worst critics. I'll tell you a short story... Long long ago in a land far far away, just kidding.

When I first started selling my paintings a couple decades back I was terrible at it. If someone showed an interest in a painting I would point out all the flaws in it. Finally one day my husband said you need to stop telling them what's wrong with your painting if they see something in it they like enough to hand over their money for, LET THEM. So I forced myself to stop pointing out what I perceived as being wrong and learned to let people make up their own minds as to its validity to THEM.

Learning to let the art go out into the world and have its own life with the confidence to just let it be was one of the hardest things I learned starting out.

Even now I still struggle as we all do with, is this any good, am I even a moderately competent artist, etc, etc, etc. Just last month I did a show and had a piece I had been hauling around for a year. I liked the piece, had been offered far less than the price I had on it but had held on to it, I wasn't going to take it to this show figuring at worst I could use it around the house since I liked it even if nobody else did. I stuck it in at the last minute and well as it turns out someone did and they paid full price without even blinking. So you never know, and there is almost always someone out there for each piece you make, sometimes it just takes patience to find them.

As for selling venues, have you ever tried etsy, ebay, or your own website? I do all of them as well as festivals, formal galleries, pottery shops, gift shops and even what I think of a pseudo galleries. A pseudo gallery is someplace like the lobby of a hotel that has art for sale in it. Heck I've even sold stuff at tattoo parlors. I have found I do okay at these places so maybe thinking outside the box might be something that would work for you? The thing to keep in mind is to tailor your offerings to the venue. Pet Sitting Service = pet art, Hotel Lobby = easy to pack local themed art, Christmas shop = ornaments, etc.

Good luck and keep up the beautiful work!


#69189 Potter's Block.

Posted by Pugaboo on 02 November 2014 - 10:43 PM

Try pinterest. Type in ceramic bowls, pots, boxes, whatever intrigues you. The variety and wealth of creativity out there is amazing. So you make bowls.... Have you ever tried a double walled bowl? Or a pierced bowl? Or a bowl that isn't really a bowl but a little sculpture containing a lake with a little cabin along the side. Try joining two bowls together then cut a hole or carve out areas to make a hanging lantern. You can do a lot with a bowl shape as your start.

If you want to try something entirely new build something out of a pinch pot or by using slabs or coils. Heck don't try and make anything just get the clay moving and shaping and see what happens at some point you might go hey that looks like a ...... Or I bet if I add a .... Here I could make a ...

Sometimes trying or forcing the issue is the worst thing you can do. Do what everybody already thinks we do... Go PLAY with Clay.


#69169 What Else Is Going On (Or Playing) While You Work?

Posted by Pugaboo on 02 November 2014 - 06:54 PM

I prefer the quiet. My studio is a TV free zone. I have a stereo but never hooked it up after the move. It's my sanctuary. My creative thoughts are so loud in my head it's like I'm speaking out loud... Oh wait maybe I am. Is talking to yourself while you work a danger sign? Maybe I should claim I am speaking to the dogs... They'll never say else wise.