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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
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#114191 Cone 4 Oil-Spot Type Glaze

Posted by neilestrick on 02 October 2016 - 05:09 PM

Just realized I posted the wrong version of the cone 6 glaze. Here's the one I'm currently using.


Attached File  St John Black 6.pdf   65.58KB   10 downloads


This one has more EPK in it, so it stays suspended much better.

#114139 Classes And Clay

Posted by neilestrick on 01 October 2016 - 09:18 PM

I've been in business 12 years, so it works for me. I have a few advanced folks who pay for a key and 24 hour access but not class time. Anyone who wants a key has to be advanced enough to work without direction, and must take at least one session of classes to learn the routine of the studio. For instance, I have a student right now who is taking her first session, but is a full time teacher and fairly proficient with clay, and just needs a studio to work in at night. For the key holders, I still offer advice as needed, but no formal instruction. They also help me out a lot with opening the studio when I'm out on repairs or art fairs.


I could charge more for my classes, and I did raise my prices $15 this year. I would like to get them up to $250 over the next few years. It's a tough call, though, because while the advanced students feel like it's worth the higher price because they know what's involved, I don't want to price it so high that it discourages new students who don't want to spend a lot of money on something they may not like. I may start throwing in a free tool kit for new students, which currently retails at $25, or some other incentive. I've also been thinking about extending the session to 12 weeks, and offering a 1/2 session for beginners. The 12 weeks would be nice because we could get 2 glazing weeks in per session, plus lock people in for longer. Currently, we glaze during the last week of each 8 week session.


The whole money thing is the hardest part. I want to make money, or course, but I don't want to be greedy about it. Plus I've got students who have been with me for several years and are now friends, so it gets to feeling weird to take their money all the time. I'm pretty flexible with my charges, though, like if a long time student is going to be out on vacation for a couple of weeks, I'll prorate the session for them, or I'll give someone a free bag of clay for helping me out with something. It's hard to be 100% business-like with people you like.

#114133 Classes And Clay

Posted by neilestrick on 01 October 2016 - 07:20 PM

I charge $215 for an 8 week session. I have 5 classes a week, 3 mornings and 2 nights, and students are allowed to come to as many classes each week as they want, as long as there's room. People signed up for a specific day get first choice. I'd rather have someone at the wheels practicing than have them sit empty. The more they practice, the more likely they are to stay and take more classes. The studio is open 5 days a week as long as I or one of my advanced students is there to monitor. It usually comes out to at least 15 hours a week, but up to 40 depending on my schedule. It's almost always open for at least 3 hours in the morning.


I charge $25 for a 25 pound bag of clay, which includes glazes and firings. That price has gradually gone up over the years as clay and glaze materials prices have gone up. I do not have the time nor interest in weighing out everyone's work when it goes into or comes out of the kiln, or in charging them for studio time outside of classes. I don't want my students to worry about the cost when they're making work and learning. They're less likely to want to practice if they know it will cost them every time. They pay for the class, pay for a bag of clay, and money is no issue until they run out of clay and need another bag. But psychologically it's easier to buy that bag than worry about cost each time they step foot in the studio or make a pot. I also think it's important to complete each pot by firing and glazing everything they can. Learning to glaze is an important skill, and only keeping the very best pots for glazing limits glazing practice. I've had many students who came of other studios where they were always having to pay for everything separately, and they felt like they were being nickel and dimed to death. My system may not be as profitable in the short term, but it makes for students who stay for a long time, and that pays off.

#114112 Explosion In The Kiln And Firing In Winter

Posted by neilestrick on 01 October 2016 - 09:19 AM

Concerning the spalling a.k.a explosions any moisture becomes steam at 212 degrees at sea level. Moisture/water expand 17 times its volumn when turning to steam.



Water actually expands 1600 times its volume when turning to steam.


Cold weather is only an issue if you have a digital controller. They'll usually work fine  a bit below freezing, but they can't read below 0 degrees F. If it's behaving oddly due to the cold, simply put a small space heater near it for a while before turning it on. Once the kiln gets hot enough it will keep itself warm.

#113996 Equipment/tool Shaming/bullying

Posted by neilestrick on 29 September 2016 - 11:36 AM




And, in true Smart-@$$, full disclosure...written by someone who installed his first slab roller that same day,


"Real Potters" use a rolling pin they constructed themselves out of the wood from a tree that they chopped down. ;)







Real potters grow the tree from a seed.


Real potters leave the trees alone and use recycled materials for all their tools.
-Paul :huh:



We have a winner! Nicely done!

#113989 Equipment/tool Shaming/bullying

Posted by neilestrick on 29 September 2016 - 08:48 AM


And, in true Smart-@$$, full disclosure...written by someone who installed his first slab roller that same day,


"Real Potters" use a rolling pin they constructed themselves out of the wood from a tree that they chopped down. ;)







Real potters grow the tree from a seed.

#113951 Equipment/tool Shaming/bullying

Posted by neilestrick on 28 September 2016 - 01:41 PM

For me personally, I feel that some tools are a shortcut for learning a skill, and as someone who teaches 5-10 pottery classes each week (depending on the season), I want my students to learn the skill. I want them to be the best potter they can, and that tool may not always be available to them. Plus in many cases the skill is faster and easier once it's mastered. I am definitely one of the folks here who have made comments about certain tools, but I in no way meant them in a bullying or mean way. I am a total smart a$$. If my comments have ever come across as bullying, I apologize. It was not my intent to make people feel bad. I understand that it's difficult to show sarcasm in this online format, but I will do my best to be clearer in my meaning in the future. Prepare for lots of emoji!  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)

#113906 Equipment/tool Shaming/bullying

Posted by neilestrick on 27 September 2016 - 09:10 PM

Then there is the friendly chiding: Neil likes to remind me how superior his controller is: and I remind him I melt them in my Paragon kiln.



Even melted, it's better.  :D

#113898 If One Does Not Possess A Firing Gauge...

Posted by neilestrick on 27 September 2016 - 07:39 PM

The gauge isn't really necessary. The cone should bend to 90 degrees. Adjust the weight as needed.

#113868 New Business Promotion

Posted by neilestrick on 27 September 2016 - 12:59 PM

Online sales can be difficult. There's something about putting your hands on a pot that makes you appreciate it more. But beyond that, it can be very difficult for your work to be found by customers. This is especially true on Etsy, where there are so many items for sale. Etsy also seems to allow just about anything nowadays, and half the work on there isn't hand made. Search 'mug' and you'll get over 170,000 items. Search 'blue mug' and you'll still get 12,000. Narrow it down further with 'striped blue mug' and that gets you down to 542 items. That's 8 pages of mugs to look at, which is doable. So you have to really know how to sell on Etsy, and it really helps if you have something very unique that will help people find your work. One of my friends puts little critters on the lips of her pots, so they sell well because people who collect things with mice on them, or birds, or hedgehogs, will find her work. Her work without critters never sells, because people can't find it. A lot of people I know who sell well on Etsy do so because they already have a strong following via art fairs and social media, and their main web sites simply direct people to Etsy to make purchases. Etsy is a very affordable way to have a shopping cart for your web site. There are other affordable web sites with shopping carts, you just have to shop around. Weebly had good prices last time I checked.


As for drawing people to your site, social media seems to be the way to go these days.

#113783 Stoneware Limit Study

Posted by neilestrick on 25 September 2016 - 09:58 PM

I'm betting you'll find little no potters who care about MgO in their stoneware bodies. The issues for most potters are simply vitrification, color and texture. Vitrification via how much feldspar they add, color via iron, and texture via fireclays or additives. More and more people are using white stoneware bodies, very often smooth bodies without any fireclays. Wood and soda/salt folks have a lot of different criteria than cone 6 folks. Reduction and oxidation bodies have different requirements. People add silica sand, grog, mullite, kayanite, etc, in a wide variety of particle sizes. Some really nice stoneware bodies also have kaolin in them. Stoneware formulas are a much, much broader range of materials, textures and colors than porcelain. You've begun on a very long journey......

#113676 Do You Like....?

Posted by neilestrick on 23 September 2016 - 03:01 PM

I like to look at it, but I don't like to use it. I need my dishes to function well, and wobbly plates and crooked handles just don't do it for me.

#113417 Causes For Cracks

Posted by neilestrick on 19 September 2016 - 04:56 PM

It's a thickness issue usually. If the bottom of the pot isn't close to the same thickness as the walls you'll get cracking. Also make sure the bottom is uniform thickness throughout. If the bottom on the inside curves upward, the bottom on the outside must also curve upward. Also make sure the wall near the bottom isn't too thick. All those variations can cause uneven drying and cracking.

#113359 Clear Glaze Forms Bubbles At Edges & Rims

Posted by neilestrick on 18 September 2016 - 11:58 AM

I'm having a really hard time following exactly where the issues are because you seem to be testing a lot of different variables at the same time. The original issue was the blue slip you make, correct? But now it seems like we're testing a bunch of commercial underglazes and two different commercial clear glazes, and nothing has changed with the original blue slip? I don't think we're narrowing anything down at all, but rather making it more complicated.


Any underglaze can cause bubbling/roughness issues if it's put on too thick, no matter what color it is. Some of the blue and red underglazes from many brands tend to be more prone to bubbling, especially if they're too thick. I don't think there's any issue with soluble materials here, but rather issues with application/thickness, too much cobalt in the slip, and incompatible commercial products. Not all glaze products play nicely together.

#113358 Glaze Leeching

Posted by neilestrick on 18 September 2016 - 11:46 AM

Leaching is when the glaze itself leaches out metals or other minerals. What you're referring to is weeping. They are two very different issues.


Low fire clays like what you're using are do not generally vitrify, so you must rely on the glaze to seal them up. If the glaze crazes, then liquids can seep through the cracks in the glaze and into the wall of the pot, and weep out the unglazed bottom. If you're using commercial glazes and commercial clays, then there's not much you can do besides testing other products until you find some that work.