I'm not in the area, nor have I used them, but a quick web search turned up Forstall Art Center. Per their website, they sell Highwter and Standard Clays, both of which make good products. They also offer firing services, but you have to purchase the clay from them.
I was reading on this topic this morning and thought...glad I don't have that problem. Then this afternoon in the studio, I rubbed my wrist a bit raw. The forum jinxed me!!! Then I noticed I was using type of bat I haven't used in a long time...the amaco black composite ones. They are a bit on the rough side.
You are so right. I've actually ground my fingernails down to tender skin when throwing a wide bottomless form on these plastic bats. The textured side is just like sandpaper.
<snip> Meanwhile, ceramic Arts Daily has great videos every day....small segments from their DVD series. I learned several techniques like photo transfer and a fast embossed slip applicator from mylar wrapping paper.There are lots of topics presented by some of the top people in the field. If you have any road bumps, do some searching there. They are very informative.
I still struggle with the age old, what to do with the kiln gems? Do I sell them for the same price, raise the price, save them for entering into shows, keep them, give them away, etc? I have done all these things. None seem to make sense to me. The best situation however has been someone bringing that kiln gem up to me and telling me how much they appreciate it, that they picked it out of all the other pots and know its a great pot.
In my mind there is nothing wrong asking a premium for the special kiln gems (just the opposite of giving a discount for a second or not so special pot). Fundamentally, price is the amount that a seller is willing to accept and the buy is willing to pay in an exchange of goods and services.
Although he no longer sells directly from his website, Steven Hill used to offer "reserve" pots which sold for more than the regular price of that pot. Of course it helps when you have the talent and name recognition to be collectible.
In my mind, this pricing strategy should be applied only to really special pots and not to those that are just a tad better than others similar to it. Otherwise the price structure will be confusing to customers.
Wow - a 102 mile round trip. This must take you 2.5+ hours of non productive time once you factor in driving, set-up and clean-up. You must be really motivated to do clay and not have any alternatives to this studio.
My thoughts on community studios are if something unchangeable becomes unbearable to you, then its time to find another studio, build your own, or do something else. Until then, you have to make the best of the studio you have.
In that light, is there any way to turn the "kiln nazi" into an ally (or at least not an advesary). One possible way to do this is to appeal to her "superior knowledge" and seek out her advice before hand (approaching it from the starting point that your technique or pots are the problem). You may have to bite on your tongue a bit, and it may take a while, but it could result in a workable truce with this person.
Dr. Myrtle offers some other good strategies and is also correct in that you can't love an individual pot. In pottery there are too many opportunities for things to go wrong along the way, especially in a studio situation where you don't have control.