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Member Since 11 Apr 2011
Offline Last Active Oct 27 2015 07:57 AM

#89524 Freestanding Retail/studio Location

Posted by LawPots on 24 July 2015 - 04:20 PM

You didn't include any pictures on the inside of your shop.  I visited your website and I was particularly impressed with the displays inside.  You experience in retail really shows in all aspects of your operation. 

#89319 Going Price Of Mugs

Posted by LawPots on 22 July 2015 - 12:53 PM

I'd like to echo Mea in a way.  I am a student of hers, but I also fit the demographic that Mea sells to - craft fair enthusiasts with upper middle income.  I happen to go to the types of shows she participates in. I went to many of them before she started doing them, like the Smithsonian show.  I've paid up to $60 for a mug.  I bought a mug from Sang Joon Park for over $40 at ACC Baltimore, broke it a week later, and bought a second mug from him at the Smithsonian show.  The reason I'm estimating his price?  I can't remember it.  I didn't really care how much it was. 


So, were there cheaper mugs at both shows?  Yes.  Did it matter?  No. 


I think you do have to find a mug that you can make for a rational price for both you, and your target market.  I figure making, glazing and firing a plain mug takes about 12 minutes each mug.  Provided that you are a quick thrower, don't trim, and don't do much decoration.  A modest decoration, some marketing overhead, and a retail mug at $25 is my guess for a minimum price for a mug if the maker lives in the greater metro area of Washington DC. 


Likewise, $35? Totally an affordable price for a handmade mug.  In 1980, that was about $12.00, and in 1972, that was $6.  Which happens to be right in line with a previous post.  Check this out: http://www.bls.gov/d..._calculator.htm, if you want to want to compare a historic price to a current going price.

#88612 How To Complete A Mistake? Please Help

Posted by LawPots on 09 July 2015 - 01:28 PM

Ok, if your sculpture is a whole body with a hollow space filled with air in the middle of it, it will blow up like popcorn. Just make a hole in the underside of it's base; 1cm in diameter is more than enough.

Please do this, it's just a hole in an invisible place.


This is a really great analogy, and explains why everyone is right in this post, as a practical matter, because even if you know don't know why you're putting a hole in your pot, it works!  


Popcorn feels 'dry' when you hold it.  But it isn't!  Popcorn blows up because the moisture in the popcorn flashes to steam.  (See Wikipedia,   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn)  If it was just air in the popcorn, popcorn wouldn't pop. Its the water in the popcorn that makes it pop. The water is trapped inside because the popcorn kernel has a hard, impervious skin that won't let the inside of the kernel dry completely. If the popcorn's skin is damaged, the kernels won't pop, because the moisture content falls too low. 


So, when we dry our clay art, we're trying to keep it from acting like popcorn.  The moisture in the clay, and the moisture in the air inside hollow clay, needs to escape before we fire it above the boiling point of water.  If we don't, the steam will blow up our pots.  The clay needs to be "dry" for this to happen.  Unlike the shell of a popcorn kernel, unfired clay is generally porous enough that the moisture escapes through the surface.  Candling your kiln (at near boiling point of water) can help get the moisture out of the clay and any air inside voids in the clay.  Holes help dry hollow parts, because they allow the dry air outside the hollow parts to exchange with the wet air inside the hollow parts.  The clay dries more efficiently, and there isn't any moisture trapped (like in popcorn) to blow up your pot.  If your clay is very thick and heavy, the moisture doesn't escape well through the surface, and there can still be enough water in it to pop. 


So, if you poke holes in your popcorn kernels, you'd better pop it fast, because the inside will dry out and then you'll just have dry corn.  And that's lame. But if you poke holes in the voids of your pots, the inside will dry, and your pots won't pop.  And that's awesome!

#80089 Community Challenge #1

Posted by LawPots on 25 April 2015 - 07:56 PM

Well, since I'm a student of Mea's - I'll do what she did, and post something I made last year (I am making more . . .) Attached File  image.jpg   69.59KB   2 downloads

#35677 Protecting trade name and design ideas

Posted by LawPots on 22 May 2013 - 11:18 PM

There's at least three things that a potter could look into (by hiring a lawyer or reading the Copyright office or the Patent and Trademark office websites) to protect their business:

Copyright. There is copyright upon creation, so creative people have copyright without doing anything in particular except creating their own work. But to sue in federal court, the work must be registered. $65 per registration for the visual arts (U.S. copyright office), and pretty much irrefutable proof that the work was created before the registration date. This mostly protects against 1 to 1 copying of the original work, so, it's not very strong, and particluary not strong if there isn't much creative expression in the work.

Trademark. To protect the good will developing around a brand, however, register with the Trademark office. These go through some scrutiny, but trademarks last forever so long as they are used. Trademark law protects the name or mark (or a confusingly similar name or mark) from being used by competitors. Like, for example, 'fruit bat pottery' and 'vampire bat pottery.'

Design Patents. Finally, for decorative design that is both original, and valuable enough to go through the trouble, there is the design patent with the Patent Office. Patents have a well deserved reputation for being difficult to get. However, there should be functional pots that would qualify for this, so don't dismiss this as impossible. The Captain Picard tea set comes to my mind as the kind of thing a design patent will protect. And a design patent holds out the possibility that it would prevent a greater variety of copying of the ideas in work than copyright protection.

I am not giving legal advice people - don't ask me for any. go get your own attorney.
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#33199 Left at the Altar

Posted by LawPots on 18 April 2013 - 04:04 PM

Don't delete the phone message. Check with your small claims court. File the claim to cover the work (labor and materials) that you had into them. Use the recording as evidence.... the person KNEW that they were being recorded...so it is admissibnle evidence. Clearly there is an admission there that there WAS an order........ verbakl agreement. Not as strong as a written one.... but you might get lucky.

At the least, annoy the crap out of them.



You might want to consult a lawyer. Oral contracts are great for litigators. Much better than written contracts, because there's so much more to argue about. Of course, this isn't so great for you when you see the bill.

This is not legal advice for your problem, but potters in the United States should seriously consider reading, and at least attempting to understand, Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code. It's enacted by most U.S. states to be a uniform law of sales (each state has a version in its statute books). Article 2 of the U.C.C. has a provision that says: "a contract for the sale of goods for the price of $500 or more is not enforceable by way of action or defense unless there is some writing sufficient to indicate that a contract for sale has been made between the parties and signed by the party against whom enforcement is sought or by his authorized agent or broker." - http://www.law.corne...cc/2/2-201.html Because of this provision, I daresay that anyone taking orders from more than $500 of pottery should consider a signed written sales contract or signed work order to be a prerequisite to the sale. Otherwise there is a real danger that your oral contract isn't worth the paper its written on.
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#23598 Do you have a pottery joke to share? | Sept. 18, 2012

Posted by LawPots on 14 October 2012 - 06:22 PM

i remember a cartoon showing an older man in a really fancy corner office in a high rise. he was talking to a young man and said " son, i am really glad that you have found yourself, but couldn't you have decided to be a potter before you finished law school?'

Ok, that just hits too close to home. :)

#21456 allegations about Penland School of Crafts labor practices

Posted by LawPots on 28 August 2012 - 04:34 PM

My self-imposed barriers to responding to this topic have failed me. John Barrymore is correct, John Britt's challenge to Penland isn't so much a "legal" one; it is more of an ethical one. But, while I know and respect Mea, I also disagree with her about Penland's ethical obligations. I particularly disagree with Penland's response.

First, let us not mistake Penland's failures as technical violations; with a technical violation no one is hurt. In this instance, employees were paid less than the law required. The principles that require employers to keep records, and establish state and federal employment oversight over employee pay, is that employees typically do not have the bargaining power, the sophisticated understanding of law, or the money to challenge the unlawful wage decisions of their employer. I think this is where I disagree with Mea - just because an employee can stick up for themselves, not all employees will. That's why we've got these laws in the first place. If you already have an independent source of income, are willing to risk unemployment, or have the resources to fight it, fine. But many ordinary employees don't. Moreover, I don't think it is unusual or unexpected that employees would not realize that their sophisticated (I think Penland qualifies) employer was violating overtime laws.

But that, even, is not John's real complaint at this point. After threatened with exposure for an illegal practice, Penland agreed to pay its former employees compensation for its failures to follow the overtime laws. It did not. Penland was in the best position to inform former employees that it had made the overtime error, and Penland was in a better position than the employees to correct it. In some states, a statute of limitations would not have run until the employees had a reasonable opportunity to discover the error - but, I don't think that is necessarily an issue here. Fact is, Penland avoided a lawsuit by agreeing with the whistleblower to correct its violation, and then proceeded to follow only the bare letter of the employment law by not informing the former employees of the error, and only paying those that came forward with a complaint. It also only did so for the prior two years (something that I find suspicious if the law provides a five-year statute of limitations, but maybe the statute is only two years). Regardless, that was a pretty bum thing to do, even if your lawyer said it was ok, because no matter how I read this, I can't believe the promise was that Penland would do the minimum required by law to correct its mistake.

And now, some years later, Penland has given a terrible response to John B's complaint. Penland's response is: we made a mistake; we corrected it for some emplyees; we didn't correct it for others (the empoyees we didn't contact); we knew we hadn't corrected it for everyone; but, we weren't obligated to by law; so, quit your whining. That's a nasty bit of work because John B. exchanged his opportunity to seek legal redress for a promise from Penland that the overtime payments would be made right. Now, he has found out that it wasn't made right. I can't opine on whether Penland acted within the law, or what John B. could do about it if Penland did not. But, as an ethical matter, the answer is not hard. Penalnd's actions are unethical. And, for breaking Penland's promise to him, John B. has a legitimate gripe.

Of course, a statute of limitations ends old legal disputes. That's valuable. Time limitations permit the courts and the government to focus only on what happened recently. Limitations recognize that records get old, memories fail, and its just too hard to decide who owes what for that stuff that happened more than five (or seven, or ten) years ago. But that's for the conviniece of the courts in resolving disputes. As a lawyer, I think statutes of limitations are important and useful. I think we are better off with them than without. Maybe statutes of limitations even prevent abusive legal actions.

But, that doesn't mean something wrong didn't happen, or that we should forget that it did, just because it happened more than five years ago. A statute of limitations doesn't say that you can't make up for past mistakes if you want to. Penland just doesn't apparently want to try.

#15548 Shoulder Tendonitis/Bursitis

Posted by LawPots on 06 April 2012 - 06:59 AM

I'm too young to have these kinds of issues!

Since I got my wheel at home, I'm noticing that my right shoulder has an ache.... kinda right inside the joint and sometimes the dull pain goes down to my elbow.

I'm 100% certain it's related to more time on the wheel. I asked my friend, an orthopedist's assistant, about it, she said it was probably tendonitis/bursitis of that shoulder tendon/bursa.... But there's not a lot that can be done, short of surgery, which I'm not anywhere close to needing.... that, and NSAID pain relievers (Advil does help).

. . .

When I was a music major, it was clear to me that repetitive stress injuries are no joke, and need to be addressed. When i played, I had a tendinitis problem that led to numbness in my right pinky. Not good. My doctor gave me strengthing extercises, and i tried to reduce the pressure on my wrist. I've not played in years, I think this is partly due to the pain I had. In pottery, when I began to get pain in my left wrist (when centering) I wasted no time in changing my centering technique.

But, I want to bring something up, here, about your post that strikes me as familiar. I know a couple of relatively young musicians that thought they had joint pain and bursitis from playing (in their fingers in one case, and back and shoulder pain in the case of my wife) that turned out to be something completely different. It was a wheat allergy.

Why do I bring this up?
1. You say you're too young (30s? 40s?) - bursitis and athritis isn't so common amoung younger people. So why jump to that?
2. You are 100% certain it's your time on the wheel, but these musicians were 100% certain it was their time playing. They played all the time - of course that what it was; until, they found out it wasn't.
3. You sound like you haven't actually gone in for a diagnosis . . .

Good luck with this, obviously. Acupuncture works on horses, after all; physical therapy has plenty of success stories; even changing your techniques might solve your issue. But I suggest that you try to get a diagnosis from an experienced doctor. (Oh, if you quit eating wheat (bread, cookies, processed foods, ect.) for two weeks, and the pain goes away, that's probabbly the cause. No kidding.)
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#12903 Glaze Chemical Kit

Posted by LawPots on 01 February 2012 - 10:14 PM

When I picked up my first glaze ingredients last summer, I spend hours agonizing over different recipes. I wish now that I had started with the Mastering Cone 6 glaze book in hand. But, what I'd did notice was that nearly all recipes I was interested in had the following main ingredients:

G-200 Feldspar
Ferro Frit 3134
Ferro Frit 3195
Silica (325 mesh)
Gillespie Borate (or Gertsley borate)
Kona F-4 Feldspar
OM4 (Kentucky ball clay)
Whiting (CaO)

With the right colorants glazes made out of these base materials can make just about every color except a chrome-tin red (which is slightly dangerous to make because of the chrome, and can't be fired in the same kiln with other tin-opacified glazes without the risk of messing up the color.). I am sure I am missing a few ingrients the more experienced potters would recommend, as for colorants, along with the usual oxides, consider picking up rutile, which is a colorant I regret not purchasing because it figures large in the Mastering Cone 6 book.