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Mark C.

Member Since 09 Jan 2012
Online Last Active Today, 09:34 PM

#70557 Cut-Off Date For Christmas Custom Orders

Posted by Mark C. on Today, 12:52 PM

shippers get REAL rough with packages about this time of year.
I never have shipping breakage issues except at the holidays-as they are so rough on my double boxed pots.
I have a web page that is deticated just to this subject

The last note is I already have 16 retail sales days in Dec and taking time out to ship a spoonrest is not what I plan on doing . I focus on my sales which are more large volume sales-getting hundreds of customers their christmas gifts directly from my booth in time for the 25th under a tree.This month (dec)is always a huge mounth for me as its my 35th year of running my own pottery booth in Town just for holiday sales.
One last note on last minute shipping. Often the shipper get overwhelmed and schedules drag a few extra days-I know this from past experience(last year a woman talked me into a last minute shipment across country in a snow storm)It made it on the 24th just barely.

#70436 Sealing Hump Molds

Posted by Mark C. on 21 November 2014 - 10:15 PM

If you want to seal the surface-that is loose all the plaster asbsorption I would use PUP which is polyurethane Parting compound.
Its made to seal a master molds to cast your rubber off of. I have a gallon jug around just for this use.It seals plaster extremely well.
If you have a treal paint store you could ask them for some or order it from a full service ceramic supply house.This is what mold makers use to seal plaster.

#70345 Pitfalls And Must Haves

Posted by Mark C. on 20 November 2014 - 09:12 PM

TGP No worries-never been sued in past 40 years with more pots out there than a rodent could nibble on.


#70319 Input On These Cups/handles

Posted by Mark C. on 20 November 2014 - 03:44 PM

My vote is for handle #2 as it fits a large hand then #1 as it fist a smaller hand and looks good with mug shape. #3 is not up to speed and needs to be redone.

#70127 New Potter: Advice Appreciated!

Posted by Mark C. on 18 November 2014 - 12:50 AM

The forums here at Ceramic Arts Daily have been a huge help as I try to navigate the intricacies, complexities, joys, and frustrations of running my own pottery business. I figured it was time to actually get acquainted with some of you and begin developing relationships that I feel could really aid me in my pursuit of doing this pottery thing full time.
Here's the scoop. I have only thrown/turned pottery for just a little over a year now (see some images of my work below), and would love to go full-time in the next year or two. I realize to some of you, the previous sentence may border on the offensive. I know it takes decades to truly excel at pottery and I have a long way to go. But, when I have had extended time in my studio, I have seen the quality of my pieces grow in leaps and bounds compared to periods when I only had several hours a week to give. In general, I am happy with my pots, but not content. I am consistently working on my lines, weight, function, and originality. I have so many ideas . . . 
Here's a little background on my business: 
1. Officially started in April (Running as Sole Proprietor)
2. Have been selling on Etsy, at some local craft shows, and out of my little shop
3. Put in $500 in seed money in a business account and resolved not to take any more of my personal money to fund the business
4.  My business account has paid for my startup/continuing costs and I have earned close to $3000-$4000 or so working very part time since starting in April (Graduated in May, married in June, so my time has been limited) 
5. My pieces are in several galleries in the Indiana/Ohio/KY area 
6. Just purchased a bigger kiln so I could begin ramping up production 
Here are my goals for the next year:
1. Earn $10,000 net by end of August 2015 
2. Further develop my voice: Specifically focusing on forms and glazing
3. Get out of the local craft fair scene and focus on bigger shows
4. Do all of this while continuing my full-time job (business writer) and without ruining my marriage. ;-) 
My wife and I sat down last weekend and talked about the business. We decided together that if I could clear $10,000 in profit by the end of next August working very part time, we would consider taking the plunge and going full-time (assuming I could double/triple my profit once I had 40+ hours a week do devote to it) 
I have so much I could say, but I will try to keep this brief. To make a long story short, I really want to give this thing a go in the next year, and know that you all have knowledge, experience, and information that would take me years to learn on my own.
So, here are some of the questions I feel you guys could really help me with (feel free to chime in with any other advice as well) 
1. Are my pieces good enough to go full-time (see some sample pictures below)? 

(You already hit the nail on the head -work on forms and glazing-this process takes LOTS of time so its good you love clay.
Start to develope a line of forms which you work on only to discipline yourself-stay within this line inproving these forms.
Glazing well thats another story-it all takes time and becuase you love clay this will not feel like work.
There is NO shortcut to save you years of to learn on your own-really it just takes yaers on on your own to refine this things.
I have 4 decades in to being a full time potter and i'm always refining processes still.)
    I know it is very difficult to evaluate pieces without having them in your hand (fit, weight,etc). But, I would appreciate whatever honest feedback you feel you can give from a visual example alone. I have had positive feedback in general from customers, several gallery owners, and ceramics' professors. But, I want to know what you guys think. Keep in mind, I have only been doing it for a year and know I have decades ahead of me to really perfect my pieces. I do not feel I am the next Bernard Leach, I just know I greatly enjoy pottery and at this point couldn't see myself doing anything else for a living long-term. 
2. What advice do you have for tweaking my booth setup (included below)?

(I would use your pop up for some more years and work on other item like your display.
The old barnwood is what I used 40+ years ago when I started out. I would work on a better display for better results.
Take it slow. The display you show does not use your 10x 10 space well. Look at other potters setups
all this takes some time-so go slow.)

The booth shot below is old, but it is still very similar to the setup I have used the last several shows. My dad and I made the shelving ourselves, out of reclaimed barnwood. I am planning on selling my pop-up canopy and investing in a new lightdome or trimline (Any advice here would be appreciated as well). Anyway, let me know what you guys think, especially in-light of my goal to break into some of the higher end shows this upcoming year. 
3. Are there any good shows you would recommend within 5 hours of the Cincinnati, OH area? 

(I cannot help you here as I live on another planet.)
4. Have any of you developed wholesale relationships with local farm-to-table restaurants/coffee shops/greenhouses (planters)? If so, how did you go about setting them up and have they been good experiences/profitable?

(This love of food you have and clay may later work but as noted by others restaurants usually do not want to pay for handmade wares-I suggest tabling this until later while you work on forms and glazing your line of work.)
5. My wife and I are not big spenders. We love our food, that's really the only area where we spend a lot of money. We would be more than happy if the business could produce $36,000 year in net profit. What would I need to gross to do that and is that a doable benchmark once you are up and running full time?

(Not sure if this has an answer as pottery is labor intensive-if you are thinking an hourly wage at this point I would not think that way.
Met profit is after expenses so plan on making a lot of Pottery-since there are so may variables-like clay-material costs gas or electric costs-show fees and travel you will find just to track this takes tons of time. I started without thinking about any of that and made it work. If I had thought about that at first I'd have done somethiong easy with my life like chain gang work or digging graves.)
6. What steps should I take to begin preparing for a possible full-time pottery?

(If clay is your passion go for it no matter what anyone says if your are on the fence take it slow and see if its for you.
If its only a job do someting easier like I mentioned above like moving around large rocks by hand to erect stone walls (stine mason old school way)
If clay is your thing the pieces will come together the more you work at its.
Work on forms and glazing of your line of work-this is the key element to make the rest work.
I could add more but my busy season is NOW and I have to get back to work.)
Thanks so much, I am sure this is more than enough to get the conversation started. I look forward to your input and counsel!
P.S. If you want any further images of my work to evaluate, I would be happy to send them over via email/pm (some of my professional shots were too big to upload)

  • GEP likes this

#70121 Wholesale Q & A

Posted by Mark C. on 17 November 2014 - 10:06 PM

My wholesale outlets came to me like this Rebekah
1-I approached my friend who owned two bagel shops years ago-this is a special fixed cost per mug aggreement where I get a very good piece of all sales-I can pm you the details but would like them not posted to the world-we both do very well with sales here.
2 I was asked by another potter if I could suppy some items to a gallery he did business with a few years ago
3 I changed a consignment gallery to a you buy it gallery or I'm out-they choose to buy it-two years ago-in this wholesale I get almost my full price as he sells them for top dollar.
4 I wholesale some small forms to a outlet that carries a large consignment assortment already.I always had this setup for past 20 years at this spot.I did not want to sell little items for much less so I sold them outright at 10% less.

In most cases I am losing about 10 to 30% over my retail price -in some forms its just a dollar less-like sponge holders.

#69986 Pride ... Is It Really A Sin?

Posted by Mark C. on 16 November 2014 - 12:36 AM

Its one of the things that has kept me focused in ceramics-one day you are king the next you are the trashman.\
As stated above one day its all coming out great the next the whole load is in the can.This process does tend to send some folks packing and those who stick it out find it never ends.
Enjoy the sucesses but be mindfull its ceramics and it will all change in a firing in the future. We just never know what firing.
I have come to believe my only god is the kiln god and he/she is fickle at best.

Congrats on the work coming out well.

#69846 The Double Dip

Posted by Mark C. on 13 November 2014 - 11:41 AM

Its not anything like that

I dug up a few photos-in that studio potter issue is full instructions on how to make one with a two page photos spread on how to.

You just drop it into your glaze bucket and clamp to side wall.




Attached Files

#69729 Fitting Pouring Stoppers, Lots Are Too Small!

Posted by Mark C. on 11 November 2014 - 01:43 PM

Put a thicker glaze on the neck and refire making opening smaller-just a thought.


#69697 Med Mar Lustre Info?

Posted by Mark C. on 11 November 2014 - 12:52 AM

I have a quart bottle of same or similar product from back in the day.
I suggest from my memory of long ago using this -that the surface be a shiney fired glaze.These will work best.
I used to apply over fired cone 10 clear porcelain glaze.
It is not as touchy as gold and silver lusters.
You still need a clean dry surface without oils on it.
keep the dust off as you would with all lusters-use the same cleaners for brushes.fire to o18-019 as Marcia says above.
I have a few pieces with this on it from the 70's.

#69696 Store Bought Clay Slip Is Way Too Thick...

Posted by Mark C. on 10 November 2014 - 11:23 PM

I would NOT just add water and mix it.
You need to know more info from where you bought it.

#69384 To Submit Or Not To Submit

Posted by Mark C. on 05 November 2014 - 04:59 PM

Chris has it right -what do you want in the long run

For me fame and etc is not what I ever wanted. I liked to concentrate on quality pottery sold reasonable  fares and get paid well. 

The days where I want to be known more are long gone if they ever where.More folks know me that I can recall knowing them.

I like to leave a show with large bag of $$  leaving behind happy customers or get a large check from a gallery knowing folks will use my pots well and for a long time.

Submitting apps do not help this for me at this time.Its funny you asked this now as I briefly considered submitting a few pots for the potters council show and blew it off as I could not come up with a good reason to do it.

I have zero issues with rejection and can afford to submit -the real question is why would I at this point in my career.

The time factor also plays a part in this with no real goal in terms of outcome.I do not need to feel I got into said show and I at this point am more known that I care about.

It not about me anymore its about giving some back-thats why I'm here answering questions so other do not have to fall into those pitfalls that I once have.

If you want to read a few good books on just such a show experience pick up a copy of Tom Coleman's Mud pie dilemma .The original book or the newer one which I think has the old story with an update.Toms a great guy and this story still rings true.


#69327 making stoneware clay bottles for beer

Posted by Mark C. on 04 November 2014 - 07:19 PM

Getting the shrinkage right is the hardest part. This form will works best I think as slip cast as it will have even wall thickness. which is good for pressure.You may as well put a logo on the mold to add some style-very easy to do.

#69248 Glazes For Beer Head Retention

Posted by Mark C. on 03 November 2014 - 03:45 PM

Matt glazes and satin matt will kill beer head shiny glazes work well.I do not drink beer but know this to be true.



#69174 What Else Is Going On (Or Playing) While You Work?

Posted by Mark C. on 02 November 2014 - 08:05 PM

I have speakers in studio and kiln area with separate volume controls-hooked to a in the house two 300 stack cd players-it goes on before heading to studio always.

No tunes no work.I do spend a few hours a week with no tunes but its not a usual thing.