Jump to content


Member Since 15 Feb 2013
Offline Last Active Today, 08:55 AM

#105800 Thinking Of Getting A Test Kiln, Pros, Cons?

Posted by Pugaboo on 27 April 2016 - 01:56 PM

Thought I would give you an update on my decision. I just ordered the L&L Doll / Test Kiln. I got the cone 10 option with the dyna-trol controller and it runs on a 240 amp with the 6-20P plug. The interior is 9 inches high by 11 inch hexagon. I'm excited and look forward to getting it here and hooked up. I am sure I will have some questions on getting it set to fire as close to my larger kiln as possible.

Thank you everyone for your help!


#105441 Thinking Of Getting A Test Kiln, Pros, Cons?

Posted by Pugaboo on 20 April 2016 - 09:13 AM

Thank you everyone, so the consensus seems to be:
The kiln should be capable of doing cone 10.
Forget trying to use a current 20amp outlet and install a 30 amp dedicated outlet.
Look for a slightly bigger model since dinner plates might not fit.
Be sure to get a nice controller to try and match my larger kilns firing cycle.

Nerd - very good points. I looked up your kiln and it's on my list to research and compare more. It's on the upper end size wise as I want to easily be able to fire just 1 plate or mug or a couple spoon rests without having to make up extras just to fill a small custom order.

Mark - thank you and I agree with you on the circuit, I was looking at the fact that they push the small test models as able to be used on a regular circuit. The size dinner plates I make for custom designs and laser imagery are 9.5 in diameter inches once bisqued, so I think the 11x9 interior hexagon might work. The fact that the glazes might appear different is an issue I am concerned about.

Joseph - thank you for sharing your experience. I definitely don't want it to struggle to get to cone 6 you helped me decide I need to try and find a cone 10. The plug getting that hot would freak me out so than you for sharing that side affect!

Denice - yes your kiln is too small for what I need. The plates I make for custom design work and transfers are 9.5 inches in diameter once bisqued. In the 11.25 interior hexagon this would be the absolute largest size plate I could try to fire. It would be snug and might not work, it's something to consider.

Chris - does your Duncan fire to cone 10? Do you think it would fire closer to your larger kiln if it had a controller that you could tweak the settings on?

Neil - thank you for your input it is a valuable addition to my decision. I am assuming your kilns are L&L's. If this is the case what small 1 cubic model do you have? I have the L&L Doll kiln on the list with the cone 10 option, do you have any experience with this little Kiln? I am kind of leery of having a kiln shipped, should I not be? Unfortunately I am in a very small town and craigslist has always been a zero for me here, if I were in a large city I would definitely look there. Like with your forgotten mugs, firing just one or 2 custom items is exactly what I am looking to do. I try and fire my other kiln twice a month since that usually works for me. It's the small custom orders that are causing me issues. I would really like to push the fact online that I can put any photo or image a person wants on a dinner plate, salad plate, cereal bowl, mug, spoon rest or sponge holder with several glaze options and ship within a week. I can't promise that right now since to keep enough of all those pieces and combinations of glazes on hand means my shelves are full of stuff I can't just take to a show and sell. It also never fails they pick the one piece or glaze color I just sold the last of.

Stephen - sounds like what you do and what I want to do with the small kiln is different. I plan to only use the small kiln to run small special orders when my larger kiln isn't ready to be filled and run. One of the reasons why am am looking at a small kiln is that I lost several sales over the past holidays because I couldn't create, design and fire small custom order requests within a week. I was firing my kiln back to back just to keep up but still had orders show up right after I would fire and I would have to tell them it would be a couple weeks before I could deliver. This request for a fast turn around on custom orders is happening more and more, people just don't want to wait 2 - 3 weeks for stuff. I CAN turn around an order very quickly EXCEPT for the fact that a lot of the time I am creating extra pieces just to fill the kiln. This past week I had a request for a set of small dipping dishes in a particular color. I had the pieces, had the glaze, BUT I had just fired my kiln so I didn't have enough to fill it up immediately once more. Luckily they are willing to wait the week while I quickly finished a bunch of stuff to fill the kiln and fire it for just 4 little bowls. If I had a small kiln just big enough for stuff like this I would spend less time trying to make a bunch of other stuff just to fill the kiln. Since custom requests seem like they are becoming a larger part of what I do I am looking for something to make it easier to fulfill them in a shorter time period.

Graybeard - lucky you to find one waiting for you in a dumpster! Doing small custom loads is exactly what I am looking to do. Thank you for letting me know you like your small kiln.

Thank you everyone for your thoughts, I am taking it all into consideration while I research my options.


#105092 Qotw:what Is Your Favorite Redesigned/repurposed Common Kitchen Or Shop Tool...

Posted by Pugaboo on 11 April 2016 - 05:50 PM

My entire Wilton's cake decorating kit... The big one. Got it as a gift from hubby for Christmas years ago. The silicone texture mats, the fondant rollers, cookie cutters, decorating tips, like I said the whole kit now resides in my studio. Some of the items I use every day: Cookie cutters, flat wooden spatulas, old credit cards, cake rings, cheese slicers, aspic cutters, and empty mayo jars for storing slips.

The thing I love the most and use the entire time I am making stuff is my homemade scoring tool. I made it from a cheapie craft store paint brush that I cut the bristles off, then drilled tiny holes in the end. I cut the pointy ends off some large safety pins dipped in glue and stuck in the holes. The best scoring tool EVER.


Attached Files

#104705 Booth Curtains

Posted by Pugaboo on 04 April 2016 - 08:35 PM

How about a bottle of Downy Wrinkle Relaser? Might not be as perfect as freshly ironed but it does work. Hang your curtains, spray, smooth with your hand then stretch the edges of the curtains out for a moment and most of the wrinkles from being rolled should go away.


#104693 Lost My 1 Wholesale Account... Sigh

Posted by Pugaboo on 04 April 2016 - 04:29 PM

Just found out my one wholesale account has decided to retire and close shop. I was pleased with this account. They had been in business in the same location for 35 years, so thought hey they know how to do this! Well next time need to keep in mind that 35 years is a long time and retirement comes for everyone.

Now I need to get back out there and find a replacement for them. Was approached last year by a new place just down the street but turned them down since I had promised this place not to sell anywhere else in town. I will have to see if they are still interested, heck I will have to see if they are still open! Lol business being what it is and all that.


#104426 Stuff That Bisque

Posted by Pugaboo on 29 March 2016 - 08:51 PM

LOL I was thinking the same thing, with my luck there'd be one bobble and the whole thing would come down on me!

Amazing Mark, you are a true inspiration.


#104061 Qotw: Will You Be My Guest?

Posted by Pugaboo on 23 March 2016 - 03:42 PM

Have we done a QOTW about anyone using technology in their pottery? I'm talking computers, scanners, digital die cutters, printers, etc.


How about favorite colors? Favorite techniques?


How many have found themselves in the pottery in their pajamas at 2am because a particular piece won't let them sleep? Call it the insomniac potter. Lol

PS. I'm glad you are staying on! Wish I could have gone to NCECA and met some of you in person! It sounds like so much fun.

#103761 Is All Kanthal A-1 Wire The Same?

Posted by Pugaboo on 18 March 2016 - 03:53 PM

The issue I have with buying more bead rack precut wires is that the wires turn green over time and this green can at times come off on a piece. Right now when this happens I have a small sanding bit for my Dremel that I can carefully clean out the inside of the hole with. But it's sanding glaze and I try to avoid doing that even with a mask on. I have some Kanthal a-1 gauge 12 wire I use for earrings and it has not turned green. Hence my search. But if needed I will just get some more precut bead rack wires.


#103715 Mixing Kiln Shelves?

Posted by Pugaboo on 17 March 2016 - 09:43 PM

I too have started doing large plates and some platters and only had a couple whole shelves and mostly halves. DON'T fire a large flat piece spanning two shelf halves even if you put the halves snug up against each other. I fire cone 6 little loafers and tried this early on and got a taco shaped plate.

I need to do some dinnerware sets and have found I can fit a service for 4 made up of 5 piece place settings in my little 18x23 BUT ... I had mostly half shelves. I bought myself enough whole shelves so I can fire 4 large plates and 1 platter. I use the halves for everything else. I have been starting with the whole shelves at the bottom. I use 4 posts so that when I get to the half shelves I can switch to supporting each half at 3 points using the 4 posts, where the shelves meet each half gets half the post for support. I make sure the posts all line up one on top of the other all the way up for stability. I haven't had an issue with warped shelves but then most of my whole shelves are new so that might be an issue as they get older.

I do have a lot of posts in a lot of sizes (2-10 inch tall) since my kiln is so small. I don't want any wasted space because I only have a 6 inch post left when I need 4 inches, I even have and use quite frequently little 1/2 inch posts that I place on top of other posts when something is just a hair too tall for the size I have. I also use posts to place something up slightly above another piece on a shelf if I need to to make it fit. Loading a kiln is like a 3 dimensional puzzle.

Oh and I tumble stack my bisque and can get an easy 3 loads of glaze from 1 bisque load, unless there are a lot of underglaze pieces which can't be tumble stacked then it's 2 loads of glaze not 3.


#103484 Damp Box Construction Question

Posted by Pugaboo on 12 March 2016 - 09:27 PM

Awhile back I asked about the type of plaster for a large damp box and really appreciate the input as to using plain old plaster of Paris. I made a small one about 6 months or so ago and have had handles and bottoms in it since the first week I made it, everything is still soft and workable. The big one I just made I am using to store box and mug blanks so I can decorate them to suit on demand rather than having to build them and delay the fun part of decorating.

Damp boxes are great for using an extruder and I plan to make a couple more large ones for storing extruded parts that I can then quickly assemble. I tend to pull 25 to 50 pounds through the extruder at a time and then in the past had to scramble to get everything assembled before the parts got too dry. Now it's SO EASY, set up the extruder, pull, cut, firm up to soft leather hard, place in damp box, use as needed over months.


#101924 Kiln Vent On Or Off?

Posted by Pugaboo on 12 February 2016 - 10:15 PM

No I have a switch box. I had it installed especially for the kiln. It has a large lever type switch on the side, up is on and down is off. Might be called a cut off box or something but I use it to isolate the kiln from the breaker panel. The breakers in the panel a few feet away stay on and don't get messed with.


#101597 What To Do With All My Early Pieces?

Posted by Pugaboo on 07 February 2016 - 11:41 AM

I toss my rejects in a large cardboard box, they break they crack they stay there until I have enough to make some stepping stones for my yard. I have caught my husband fishing through the box and tell him uh uh uh finger wag what do you need? Then give him something that is good but I don't think is good enough to sell. He likes to use my pieces for pencils and small tools in his train room. I figure I will eventually have enough stepping stones to surround the entire house and then I will work on a path along the creek.

I had an issue when I started of every piece being precious I had to get brutal with myself and it helps when I looked at it this way... Before bisque firing there are no failures just new possibilities. Wedge it down and make something that IS worthy of the kiln. I'm very frugal and it drives me nuts to waste anything so I have learned to edit before firing so I can reuse the clay for something else. If after bisque firing there is an issue I use the pieces in the studio for practice painting and such. After glaze firing it's that cardboard box and stepping stones.

You can find molds and such to make mosaic walking stones at craft stores and you can find concrete stepping stone molds at Home Depot. Or just google diy stepping stones and make one yourself.


#100568 Anyone Else Doing Silkscreening On Clay?

Posted by Pugaboo on 24 January 2016 - 06:26 PM

I am In the testing stages of creating and using silkscreened imagery on my pottery. I am coming to the point I find myself using the same type images again and again and hand painting them repeatedly isn't a very cost effective use of time. So now that I know the type designs I like to use more than once I have decided to try using silkscreening to make the process more efficient. Never done it before, am learning as I go. The image in the plate here is my Black Luv Pugs design made from one of my own Pug paintings.

I have made a couple of screens and used them to create a few sample pieces.

I am currently using Underglazes that I have prepped for screening. To prep them I let them dry out until they are the consistency of that school paste we used in grade school. I used a white slip for painting in the back ground on one plate and a white underglaze on another so I can compare them. I have not yet tried slips through the screens. I am wondering if there is something I should be aware of using slips as the background instead of Underglazes? The same question for using slips through the screens.

I already figured out I need to make a separate screen for parts of the design. On the test plate shown here I made a screen with the hearts and the paws on the same screen, you can see where I got a bit of black into some of the red hearts. I hope I am right in thinking that if I remake the design as 2 screens paws on one and hearts on another it will fix this problem.

I did make the pugs as a separate screen, but messed up and put the image reversed when I exposed the screen so had to use the wrong side of the screen to get the pugs oriented correctly. It works but will need to figure out how I did that wrong so I don't repeat the mistake again.

The paws and hearts as well as the pugs are on ezscreens and have no frame. I can conform the screen to the shape of the plate with these but they are limited in size. I have a large design (16x20 or so) I want to put on a screen with a frame but haven't attempted this yet.

I am hoping someone else here might be able to give some input to help a beginning silkscreener avoid some pitfalls?


Attached Files

#100545 Stop Me Before I Ruin It Please

Posted by Pugaboo on 24 January 2016 - 01:38 PM

I use Underglazes for painting on pots extensively. My experience is this...

A darker color like dark blue or black under a white or pale yellow will sometimes reappear after firing, and usually after it is glaze fired. It depends on how many layers of the lighter color you have over the dark.

The touchiest Amaco LUG colors by far are Dark Blue and Black. You need to use a Zince free clear and not heavily applied either as this can make the blues and blacks run. I think the black turning blue under a regular clear with zinc in it is because the black has Cobalt in it, just a guess but that's what I am leaning towards. Before I figured this out I ended up with some crying Pugs and nobody wants sad pugs.

If you use a bunch of heavily applied layers you will occasionally find after glazing that parts of these colors come away from the pot. This only happened when I first starting using the Underglazes and had not yet figured out how to do washy layers.

When using Underglazes you can blend the color right on the pot if you need to. What I mean is put a dark blue at the bottom of a pot and white at the top. You want a nice blended color from white to dark blue. So paint the bottom 1/2 dark blue and the top 1/2 white, let it dry now get a sponge wet it and buff the middle area together, you can achieve a really nice blended light to dark.

Underglazes don't run and won't bleed all over the place, they should stay where you put them.

Don't place underglaze pieces touching each other in the kiln, or at least not the dark blues or blacks or light against dark. I stacked some ornaments and the black lines from one put a halo of black on the ornament it was stacked on top of.

I hope this helps,

#99933 Creating Product Lines / Over Time

Posted by Pugaboo on 16 January 2016 - 11:22 PM

I only started in pottery 3 years ago, is that all its been? Wow seems like I've always done it. Oh well anyhow even though I am currently doing pottery I have been working and making enough to support myself as an artist for over 2 decades. I see you are in Georgia, there are a lot of potters in the southeast, that's where I am as well by the way. People know pottery in the south.

I would suggest doing a few local one day craft fairs, the input you get from just watching people handle your work is invaluable. I have many issues for not currently doing national shows, which I have done by the way over the years with other art forms. I've done festivals from Key West to Niagrara Falls, New York City (yes I drove into the city and set up a booth in Central Park), Chicago, Detroit and all the places in between. For awhile traveled so much I once woke up in my own bed in the middle of the night and couldn't remember where I was or which direction the bathroom door was. Not fun but made a lot money.

Change in life means I can no longer travel like that. So tested my stuff at some local one day craft shows, thought I was doing badly then realized a show with maybe 1 or 2000 people isn't going to pay me what I used to get at say Ann Arbor. Locally I know I can get $500-1000 at pretty much any local one day fair with good weather. Peanuts I know but I am talking SMALL shows in small towns just around where I live. I have to admit though I like showing up on a Saturday setting up, selling, then going home to my own bed. Craft Fairs are also a good place to sell those items not moving online.

Online is HARD. It takes planning and patience. I have 5 domains feeding 2 websites, an eBay seller account, Amazon Seller account in the process of opening, and 2 etsy shops, one is Pug stuff anything and everything Pugs from paintings to pottery to greeting cards if you are looking for something starring a Pug that's where you need to go. Seriously go buy something! The other one is just my pottery and nothing else it's a Pug Free Zone. I just restarted my etsy presence this past year after having to take time off for a couple years due to... well life... I guess.

If you make all one of a kind things plan to spend a day each week just photographing, measuring, weighing and describing each piece. Don't scrimp on these, online people will only know what you show, get sloppy and leave stuff out and people won't pull any punches about letting you and everyone else know it. I started doing the variations in etsy so I could with one listing get 4 different colored items but all with the same Pug image on it and it cut way down on my time photographing stuff.

Think of it this way, 5 photos per listing x 200 listings that's 1000 photos just to get your shop up to speed, now add in variations like 4 different colors if you list each color separately multiply that 1000 photos times 4 so you are now at 4000. So variations within listings and solid design lines that you can recreate very closely time and time again will make things easier. I only have 4 solid design lines at the moment in my regular pottery, but do test out other schemes regularly to see what sticks. I am currently offering around 12 standard Pug images I'll put on just about anything I make.

So let's say I am listing spoon rests, 12 different Pugs x 5 different camera angles x 4 color choices x 2 different spoon rest sizes.... It makes my head ache just thinking about it. But I do it and have the stock to support it because trust me the one color you are out of is ALWAYS the one they will order. I do more in private custom requests online than I do in regular sales and whether you want to get into that is up to you. I can put anybody's pet on any of my pieces so I happily take custom requests. I have a permanent light box and digital camera set up and as I make new items not within my regular lines I put it on the shelves in that room. Those shells fill up quickly and if the stuff is sitting in a shelf unphotograhed it's not out there selling! Oh and don't even get me started on inventory control.

Now you have everything photographed, guess what now it's time to figure out shipping. Weigh each piece make note of it and hopefully you are making them exact enough that the weight doesn't vary from identical piece to identical piece. Write the weight down, now pack it up securely and safely in a box. What size boxes will you need on hand all the time to meet demand? I Know my common sizes and have a shipping area set up permanently in my garage next to the shelves full of completed stock. Once you have packaged up each of the different types of items weigh the boxes and write down what each weighs. Now don't forget how you packaged these samples up since if you used 1 sheet of paper and popcorn for the test but use 3 sheets of paper and popcorn when you actually ship, your weights are going to be really different. You can lose money on shipping if you don't know what you are doing. Nothing worse than thinking yay I have a sale, oh bleep it's going to Alaska and I got the weights wrong for the etsy shipping calculator so it's only charging them for 2 pounds stead of 3. I learned that lesson a few decades backwhen shipping out 24x30 framed pieces from my website. You get a sale where you actually lose money after its all done because the shipping was double your expectations and you don't forget it.

So now you are set for online sales but want a few shops and galleries to carry your work as well. Don't forget to keep your prices the same from festival to online to shops since people shop in all those ways these days and you don't want there to be large variations between venues. You have your work in gallery A which takes 40% commission and won't do wholesale and then you have shop B which only wants 20% so you need to have your prices based on the 40% locale not the 20%. You are happy you've done your math and everything is golden...

Wait a moment gallery A is selling but slow to pay you... Hmm didn't think you'd have to go running after your own money did you? Your contract says they are to pay you by the 10th of each month, you do have a contract right? You call the manager is busy would you mind calling back, you stop by even though it's an hour drive one way for you, They say the accountant that writes the checks is on vacation. You sell really well here so you don't want to just yank everything out but how long and how much trust can you afford? You do get paid eventually but find out this is probably going to happen frequently at this gallery. How many vacations can one guy take anyway? You have to decide how much you are willing to put up with. I have a rule no shops or galleries more than an hour away it's too hard to keep an eye on things. Oh and don't forget to allow for gas and mileage on your vehicle when pricing your stuff.

You say no consignment for me wholesale only! Okayyyyy you get a request for a wholesale order.... They want to see alllll the different dog breeds you have to put on stuff and all those dogs on all the different forms possible before they can make a decision. You panic for a moment then think PHOTOSHOP! And make up a quickee 3 day catalog showing all those things. You then get asked for it to be printed, sigh okay. Now grab a few samples for touchy-feely, the printed catalog and make your appointment to get your wholesale order! It'll all be worth it right? They love EVERYTHING but decide on just a few items to test and by the way will let you know by email what they want to order, can they order online please? So now printed catalog becomes digital catalog and you think not worth it butttt oooooo the money of a good solid wholesale account is inticing.

You get everything done and sit back waiting for the order. A week passes, a month, you drop them a nice email or phone call reminding them of the start of the season approaching and that you will need time to hand make each item. They say oh yeah we forgot we shall do it right away. 2 weeks before the season starts you get the order, it's a NICE order but they want it by opening because back at your meeting you said it would be no problem to get it to them by that date. The fact that you said that 2 months ago and have been waiting to find out what precisely they want has nothing to do with it. But smarty pants you have racks of "blanks" done up awaiting glaze and images because you sell online and have planned ahead for those custom orders you get. Whew!

If you are thinking eazy-Peazy I can do all that with one hand tied behind my back while juggling running chainsaws, then I welcome you to the world of the professional potter. We might lean a bit to the crazy side for doing what we do but it's the good kind of crazy and I personally can't imagine doing anything else.

PS. There are a lot more successful potters here than I and I think each and everyone has done it in their own unique way so just forget everything I said here and do it however it works for you.