Jump to content


Member Since 04 May 2014
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 07:02 PM

#127136 Pottery Back To A Sideline

Posted by LeeU on 23 May 2017 - 07:49 PM

Stephen--you wrote "...I didn't quit, I failed."  Then you added "I stopped because there was simply no choice and literally no way to continue."  When I read and re-read your post, I nothing came through-absolutely nothing--about "failure". What I got was a clear picture that it did not work out--costly and painful, obviously--but still, that's all--it just didn't work out. When one is backed into a corner and one has to do something differently, that is not failure, that is common sense survival. I imagine you will do some grieving-sad/mad stuff-but I hope you don't play kick me-beat me with yourself over having to make such a hard change. 

#126847 Help! Newbie Struggling With How Much Water?

Posted by LeeU on 17 May 2017 - 01:14 PM

For wedging, I use the cut, stack & slam method-I have all kinds of problems with hands/forearms/spine etc. and this is much easier than other technques. Took a while to get the hang of it, but well worth it.  A friend made me the cut & slam set up. He chose steel for the base before I could suggest a board w/canvas but it is working out just fine. Spiral wedging is my second choice, especially for small quantities for wheel work. I also chose stoneware clay without grit and avoided earthenware because I hate that red mess!  Less and less water needed over time-comes with practice. Just curious--betta, as in Siamese fighting fish?

#126846 Web Site Building And Marketing

Posted by LeeU on 17 May 2017 - 12:47 PM

OK..........just FYI, I may not be around in 10 years (70 in July-though as an aging hippie and inherently resistant to aging, I intend to live to 100-we'll see how it goes). I am not overly concerned, as a hobby business, about profit over time. I want to pay for my supplies-basically any real profit is gravy. The original query had to do with the valuing (reflected in pricing) of the creative aspect to my pieces, versus the basic formula of covering overhead/materials/time. 


And please bear with, re: the purpose of this Busness forum, as I am not a professional and don't intend to be. I do make every effort to learn good business practices and apply them. I am approachng my "hobby biz" as a seasoned and trained amateur, in the correct and best sense of that term. 


I did an interesting experiment recently--I selected a quantity of various types of pieces and ranked them into "A" ($30-35), "B" ($20-25) and "C" ($10-15) pricing tiers, based on my perception of value-added (the creative twists) and basic comparison research for similar products, tho that was pretty limited. Then I got a few people who I could trust to be objective (if not brutally honest!) to take the same batch of pieces-without knowing how I priced them-and asked them to rank them A-B-C for higher to lowest pricing within a $10-$35 range. What warmed my little heart is that the emergent concensus was that I was under-valuing the Cs, and some of the Bs. Something I discovered was that they cared less about size (i.e. I priced smaller items lower) than the surface attributes. For example, an especially attractive small spoon rest (I had put it at C) was priced higher by the majority of the group than a much larger, less intricate, one (I had at B-they pegged it a C). Cool.  B) This will clearly be a live & learn adventure! 

  • GEP likes this

#126622 How Clay Has Shaped You?

Posted by LeeU on 12 May 2017 - 03:32 PM

How does clay shape me? Clay is like a dance instructor that helps me dance with life and helps me dance with death. I prefer dancing with life, most of the time, and working in clay/with clay keeps me engaged in my own future, regardless of whether I trip over my own feet in the process. 


There are times, though, that I feel like I'm trapped on a sunken submarine (I just read The Terrible Hours/Peter Maas). I have found when I am in that place, dancing with death, focusing on all-things-clay and the process of working, planning, doing, dreaming, creating, trashing, rejoycing, building, reviewing, rethinking, tearing down, discussing, avoiding...whatever ...seems to result in muting the potentially dangerous/painful effects of whatever the obstacles to survival of the Self are, so that the dance of problem-solving and the dance of persistence can work their magic and metaphorically lift that disabled sub finally, safely, to the surface.  


As Paul sez--clay just keeps me grounded. Right now I'm working on a piece that has been going through transformations for a year now...multiple firings, reglazing, and reconfiguration of the elements. It has been an inner journey with outward manifestations. I don't know how the piece will turn out, but the clay is definately shaping me, for the better!    

#126405 Qotw: The Psychological Ups And Downs With Clay

Posted by LeeU on 08 May 2017 - 06:41 PM

I've only gotten back to my craft roughly the last 2 years, after a 30 year hiatus (I'm 70). The worst of this short time has been coming to accept that what I used to do and know well (i.e. the science of clay, glazes, throwing, firing) no longer resides in my memory and is now extremely hard to relearn/retain/recall, due to a type of brain damage acquired decades ago. The frustration resulting from the impingements to re-igniting my inner artist was approaching brutal at times, but resiliency has been my saving grace. I am grateful to have been blessed with a sufficient dose of it to keep on truckin'.


Getting myself a programmable electric kiln, using commercial products, and doing simple handbulding, has enabled me to truly enjoy my self-defined artistic achievements. I have also come to appreciate that, for me, it is not about scale or longevity, going to and/or being in big events, or even daily production efforts. For me it is all about the deep core satisfaction that has emerged from engaging in a creative endeavor. The bit of a buzz I get when someone else likes something I made is just iceing on my cake. And when they actuall pay for the pleasure...WOW!!  So I guess the psychological ups & downs with clay, for me, have pretty well diluted themselves to merge with my intention to avoid the roller-coaster and just take life-on-life's terms.

#126397 Brush Hairs Leaving Behind A Line On Finished Product,

Posted by LeeU on 08 May 2017 - 04:42 PM

A picture might help if you could post one. Brushes may occasionally leave hairs when they are old or (usually) of poor quality to begin with, but I've never seen any evidence after firing. 

#126313 Nine Warning Signs Of An Amateur Artist

Posted by LeeU on 07 May 2017 - 12:22 PM

YEA Mea...thanks...your last comment helps me understand the intent at the heart of the text/headings that I overreacted to.


"...this is the Business section of the forum where the discussion should be about running a ceramics business.Anyone who is serious about it needs to be comfortable making this distinction. Especially in the sense that these common mistakes will stop you from succeeding...stuck in a limbo state because they are hanging on to non-professional ways of thinking."


I appreciate all the comments that cut through the snarky tone that tainted the article (for me, that obscured the validity of the observations regarding professional thinking/behavior for running a business). I have no problem with judgements as constructive criticism, i.e. critical thinking, reasoned debate, but I also have no truck with blanket negative assertions about the shortcomings of the amateur artist, with no apparent foundation. I used the term "data" loosely in that context. In my experience, many amateur artists are involved in an art community, work as hard and in a similar manner to professionals, and don't just act like "wannabes" with no forward movement toward running a business/turning pro, when they do indeed wish to enter that arena.  Maybe the view depends on which side of the fence you're looking from. As GEP notes, the issue is about running a ceramics business, not "us vs. them". 


I did an experiment where I mentally re-framed each of the article headings, i.e." #1 Amateur Artists wait for Inspiration." and changed it to: Mistake #1: Waiting for Inspiration. Then I rewrote the text in my head to something like: Non-professional thinking is waiting until the mood strikes to do your work, and your business will suffer. Professionals have a disciplined approach to their work day...etc., etc........." and that helped me to see what the core point was, without the put-down. 


The focus on "common mistakes" and "non-professional ways of thinking" conveys the heart of the matter. Identifying and avoiding obstacles to succeeding is essential for professionals, and is certainly useful for others as well.  Viewing those 9 elements as "common mistakes/non-professional thinking" offers guidance on what to watch out for and avoid (rather than shaming the "wannabe",even if he/she is never going to make it). Clarifying the downside of the limitations of "non-professional ways of thinking" is objective, pragmatic, and dynamically useful business-building advice. I did re-write the guts of the list in order to make it useful as a self-inventory--a check list that I can use (think: Do This-Not That) to guard against "...being stuck in a limbo state...", which is crucial for self improvement.


Oh--and I am pleased to announce that now that I am no longer sick I have some great looking photos, each piece with a product code and descriptive text, for the first three categories (of 13) that will go on my web site.   :)

#126284 Nine Warning Signs Of An Amateur Artist

Posted by LeeU on 06 May 2017 - 06:10 PM

Well, as someone currently learning about developing a small business, who has been a recognized professional in several fields for many decades, as an artist who is unlikely to live long enough to become a professional ceramist, and as one who is happy being a talented amateur,  I had a visceral YUK reaction to the article.


The 9 assertions and my rebuttal:


1.  Patently false. Misunderstands the definition of amateur; no supportive data for claiming this "mood" behavior.

2.  The professional approach to the work process as described is just as true for many amateurs or novices...simple observation supports that.

3.  The author is using the word amateur (ignoring the definitions) in place of the more correct "dilettante", which is closer to what he is describing.

4.  Any data to support this silly claim? (marketing/sales)

5.  Same as above. (quick success)

6.  Really? Seriously?  (organization/discipline)

7.  He's just being snotty now. (amateurs never finish)

8.  More negative assumptions (learning/not doing--again, more like dilettantism than amateurism)

9.  Not even ancedotal data to support this statement (isolation). Plus there are tons of strictly amateur community-based clubs, events,and groups that non-professional artists participate in, in cities/town as well as online. And professional art communities that welcome amateurs with open arms (like the CAD forums, and potters guilds). 


 Sorry GEP-I do understand your intent to address the role of professional vs. amateur in the context of business--but this piece, for me, just missed that mark. I bet if you spoke to the core issues and wrote the text, it would be much more paletable and definately more useful. 

#126031 Qotw: Do You Tend To End Up Using The Same General Color Schemes In Your Glaz...

Posted by LeeU on 01 May 2017 - 04:49 PM

So far I've been throwing spaghetti to the ceiling to see what sticks. My glazes are all commercial, mostly ^6. I am slowly moving away from the traditional-looking browns (ex. Bronze Temmoku). I generally only work on white stoneware or porcelain-the porcelain often stays unglazed or with just clear, or maybe clear and a small splash of one color, like blue. I do like some of the "effect" glazes like Crystal Forest, Blue Rutile, and Texas Two-Step Oil Spot (the combo of a red/magenta-ish base with black specks). I don't particulary care for pastels or use underglazes much, at this time. I like cream fractal base under or over something. Right now, for color, Lapis Satin is one of my favorites. My testing is more along the lines of experimenting, so I'm buying whatever is appealing to me when I have some spendoolies for something new--collecting a variety so I can settle on a few, down the road.  

#125950 Nhpg Biennial Exhibition 2017

Posted by LeeU on 29 April 2017 - 02:13 PM

The New Hampshire Potters Guild Biennial Exhibition 2017 will be at Discover Portsmouth, Portsmouth, NH (seacoast) July 7th through October 1st. Opening reception is Thursday, July 6th, 5-7 PM. Open to the public Friday, July 7th 9:30 AM   (Art 'Round Town 7/7, 8/4, & 9/1). 


Open to all dues-current members of the Guild, including folks from Maine & MA. Entry deadline is May 28th. Dues are $30 individual, $15 student & $40 family. Exhibit fee is $25 for up to 2 works, space permitting. The show is not juried.



#125949 Pottery Knowledge Quiz Of The Week (Pkqw): Week 4

Posted by LeeU on 29 April 2017 - 01:55 PM

I am liking this PQOTW a lot. I am trying not to angst over how much of my training/education in high fire ceramics I simply can not call up now (due to minor brain damage) and having sold off most of my foundational books (except Lawrence & Rhodes-but I'm not "doing" the chemistry at this time anyway. I am enjoying re-learning some things via these easy-to-take snippets.

#125801 Qotw: The Power Grid Has Gone Down In Your Area A...

Posted by LeeU on 25 April 2017 - 09:17 PM

Power out for a year--that definately portends dystopian horrors.  


There are serious luxury condo survival habitats built inside old missile silos buried in the desert, for use by billionaires should TSHTF.


Therefore, I would go on eHarmony and insist that my perfect match would own such a shelter and would, of course, install a complete ceramics studio.  Problem solved.


Alternatively, I'd invite myself over to John's place. 

#125503 Qotw: Do You Like Other Forms Of Art And Is There A Cross Over To Your Cerami...

Posted by LeeU on 18 April 2017 - 03:41 PM

Much cross over, always.


Still working that unfinished Selfie from a Community Challenge ages ago. I've broken it up and am putting it back together but haven't found what I want yet.


Old lino block I did years ago. Photo I took on Staten Island Ferry long ago. Oil crayon drawing (I cut things up a lot.) Manipulated photo. More recent stuff is buried deep and I physically can't get to it.  Used to love collaborations with other artists that were small installations of clay and other media-paint and metal, usually-I miss that. I'm trying to focus, and keep to a single discipline, and not go too far afield with embellishments-tho I will probably never stop putting glitter on clay LOL.


Attached File  0416171355.jpg   124.93KB   0 downloadsAttached File  0418171508.jpg   164.26KB   0 downloadsAttached File  0418171512 c.jpg   320.26KB   0 downloadsAttached File  1030151128 c.jpg   301.15KB   0 downloadsAttached File  Dancing c.jpg   71.09KB   0 downloads

#125455 Quick Question: Sea Shells - Cone 6 - Which Type?

Posted by LeeU on 17 April 2017 - 05:41 PM

 I actually know nothing, truth be told, but  I imagine some nice effects could be gotten from rough, salty shells if perfection is not sought, but the question is how much would the clay pull away and leave cracks or craters, and whether or not that was desired. 


Here is a snippet I had read and filed in my "Tips" folder-don't remember the source but do remember reading other comments about the shells holding up when used like wadding, and then turning to powder a few days after firing.


Technically, no. You will not be able to use a shell on a pottery vessel and then fire it, with the expectation that the shell will remain in tact and in place, for several reasons (shrinkage rates and the shell will burn out). However....shells are frequently used to prop up pottery vessels during wood firings, this keeps the vessel off the shelf and leaves a gorgeous shell indent in your work. Usually oyster and scallop shells are used for this. A natural glaze forms on the vessel due to the high amounts of ash settling over it, the shells minerals help to add some texture and shape into this glaze forming process."

#125300 Pottery Knowledge Quiz Of The Week (Pkqw): Week 3

Posted by LeeU on 12 April 2017 - 07:19 PM

Alumina, fusion buttons (flow test), fritting , & cone packs.