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Member Since 08 Aug 2013
Offline Last Active Mar 13 2014 04:15 PM

Topics I've Started

Unvented Kiln

19 December 2013 - 09:40 AM

So, I'm loading our glaze kiln (Skutt 1231 PK) 31 inches tall, 28 wide, 11.5 cubic foot firing chamber. And the kiln slides on the floor. Now it's on casters, but the casters are suppose to be locked down, and even if they aren't the Envirovent coupler is spring loaded and should drag on the floor... Weird!?!


So, I get down on the floor to inspect this oddity, and find... what do I find? The Envirovent coupler is disconnected, not engaged, laying on it's side far away from the vent holes in the floor of the kiln. Meaning we have been firing our kilns unvented. How long? Unknown. Did I say Kilns? Well, me rolls over to inspect Meshach (Our glaze kiln is called Shadrach). Meshach, who does most of our bisque firings is... What's this? Disconnected as well?!? I have no idea how the couplers became disconnected as they are spring loaded and the spring is fairly hefty.


So, this means both glaze and bisque have been fired unvented! What are the implications of unvented firing? How might an unvented firing manifest its self in glaze faults? We've been having a series of faults, and now I'm wondering if I might have found the problem...




Color Distortion?

Orange Peel?


Your thoughts, other than... Go post this in the thread on "It's OK to make mistakes!" :-)



Merry Christmas!



Test Kilns

14 December 2013 - 06:58 AM

I'm looking at test kilns to test glazes, clays, and firing schedules. Our production kilns are Skutt 1231 PK Single Phase kilns... We fire to ^6, producing functional wares. What sort of features, volume, size, mobility (we are tight on space), element upgrades, would you suggest we consider? Also, it seems like we should stick with Skutt as the production kilns are of the same make (is this a valid assumption?) last our enviro vent system is maxed out with the two 1231's.

Is it wise to swap out the venting from the 1231 to the new test kiln or is this wrought with peril? Should we purchase a new venting system? Can we run a hose out the window, or do we need to run duct throughout the wall? One of my potters seems to think there no need to actively vent a test kiln, passive is fine, but this would vent into the primary workspace.

Your expertise and thoughts would be most helpful...

Grand Opening

22 October 2013 - 02:00 PM

A member asked that I update y'all on our grand opening efforts... So, we had our Grand Opening celebration on October 10th, 2012. We are now officially open for retail Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 AM through 6:00 PM and Saturdays from 10:00 AM through 5:00 PM. Our website launch has been delayed to coincide with the launch of our Heritage Collection on November 8th.


Here are some links to articles and photos:


Good photo's here, including my bald head! LOL, check out our signage! It's already working as we're getting walk in traffic about twice what we projected. We have $4,000 in pending sales since the 10th and should land our first commercial account (a local cafe) this month:




In the main photo, that's Steven (Master Potter 30+years from Hawaii), My beautiful wife Rose, Me, Lisa Merkel (Herndon Mayor), Members of the town council and Council for The Arts. And, Olivia, our entry level product potter. 


Another local article:



Photos in the Herndon Connection make me look kinda angry! LOL...


I understand we made the town cable TV channel too, but I don't have a link for the video.


We invested heavily in our signage, all of it was sculpted by hand. And, it's been a huge draw. People stop and come if off the street just to see what we're all about... I've had people attending parties come and tell us that folks are saying we have the best looking signage in town.


We still haven't launched the primary tactics include in our marketing plan. Those will start to roll out Veteran's Day weekend through Christmas, with messaging specific to Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas.


Things that worked really well for the event:


Product Displays, we used two china cabinets and I wired them with LED tape that emitted a bright day-light white light. They really showed off the dinnerware we had on display. We sold a number of platters and serving bowls. We also provided platters and condiment bowls to the caterer so all food was served on our wares.


The bar was equipped with a mass of swizzle sticks we made as drink stirs. We extruded these out of Standard 266, added our logo on a thumb hold, and dipped the other end in glaze. These functioned as party favors as well.


Catered food, everyone raved over the food and it was all the buzz for about 3 days or so, people still come up to me around town and compliment me on the catering. This also kept me out of the kitchen and allowed me more time preparing product for the event.


Design Studio, we added a design studio, where we will work on custom designs. Friends decorated this as a dining room complete with a chandelier, table set with one of our dinnerware designs, and plates on a wall rail. We even had a bar cart equipped with our wares on it.


We had between 150 and 175 people come through on opening night.


What didn't work so well:


The event manager didn't have a rain contingency plan, and it poured... The ribbon cutting photo doesn't show it, but it was raining. 


The Heritage line isn't ready for prime time yet, but it got photographed, and a couple of pieces walked off the display stand, go figure... Someone would take a shot glass with a lousy glaze job and leave a $200 perfectly formed and glaze platter... Really?!? I think we should have held this back from the public eye.


We could not get our retail POS system online in time for the opening, so we decided not to take sales requests at the event. We lost about 10 or 12 sales, one rather large. She may come back and place the order, but I never like to loose control of the conversation when someone is ready to buy. It's so much harder to finalize a purchase after the person leaves your space. For this reason alone, if I had it to do over I would delay the event until we could take people's money and I would not have listened to the marketers' advice not to take orders.


We tried to get a large three pot fountain up and running for the event. I design a fountain that was to stand 4 feet tall. A tall vase form, bottle form, and a lower bowl form. Each had differing surface designs united by a common glazing scheme. There are photos of the wet clay forms on our facebook page. Anyway I was exhausted having stayed up for some long hours glazing and firing works for the opening and we were trying to glaze the bowl form. We decided to use a wheel outside because the form was too large for the spray booth.


I got the first layer of base glaze on the form and was setting down the spray gun and picking up my second glaze gun when my foot hit the foot pedal. The next thing I saw was a sight out of Roswell NM... The bowl spinning and flying through the air, coming to a not so soft landing on the sidewalk. No bowl, no fountain... But, we may have a fountain sale based on the two forms we did finish... I think there may be photos of those forms in the articles above.


I'll probably post more as I think of it... I'm off to run some glaze tests...



Spray Booth Exhaust

15 October 2013 - 04:26 PM

I have a 36" Paasche spray booth with an 1100 CFM exhaust. Glaze is making its way pass the interior filter and is being expelled through the louvered exhaust. The aerosol is waifing into the the neighbor's lot and hitting his property. As soon as I was notified I stopped spraying glaze and contacted our HVAC company to see if there was anyway we could fabricate a baffle, ductwork, and a secondary filter to stop the overspray. But, this will take days...


I was wondering if anyone out there has had to deal with a similar issue and found a working solution or even an interim solution we could use to get our glaze operation back online...





Hiring An Assistant

08 August 2013 - 08:50 AM

I'm looking to hire someone who can help with producing some of our designs, and even collaborate on future designs we're planning to market. I'm looking for a full time production potter, who can throw fairly well. We're a laid back shop, and this is a salaried position. My question for the forum... Rather questions are as follows:


1. Where is the best place to find full time potters who desire employment?


2. If I want someone with a couple of years worth of experience (1 to 5) what am I looking at in terms of salary? How would this change if I hired someone coming right out of school? 


3. If I go for education only, would you suggest I require an MFA or BA with a concentration in ceramics?


4. Do you think an intern might work, who is studying for an MFA or PhD in ceramics? If so, what ceramics programs on the east coast would you suggest I contact?


5. What sort of benefits would a full time potter expect?


6. Your thoughts on hiring two part timers in lieu of hiring a full timer?


7. Specific skills you would suggest I mention in the ad or posting?


8. Do you think I can find someone in the greater Washington DC area, or should I expect to relocate someone? If relocate, would you expect I would have to pay relocation expenses?


I've hired folks my entire career, but not in the arts. So, I have no idea what people expect or what is customary in this space.


The person will be throwing mostly functional pottery, barware, dinnerware, housewares, and garden wares. One of our lines will include an artistic expression that each potter contributes to, so he/she will be encouraged to work on their own artistic works using our production studio.