Jump to content

Mark C.

Member Since 09 Jan 2012
Offline Last Active Today, 10:06 AM

#61756 Craft Shows... Tips For Success

Posted by Mark C. on 03 July 2014 - 10:05 PM

Heres a few tips I have learned

There are many factors for a good show and asking others should not be a big one.I only trust that type of feedback from my fellow professinal potters whom I've known for decades and even with that my stuff sells different than their stuff.

As mentioned if its a hobby a few hundred bucks beyond expenses is not ok for a full timer but mnay be fine for someone.

If I'm driving say 1200 miles one way I need to make some serious $$ to make it work

A few key elements are the size of the crowd (the more the merrier with a few exceptions)I always do well in well atended shows

some shows like the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival drwas over 300K but its a cheap crowd-meaning big stuf does not sell well.

Its takes lots of street time to dial all this in.

Exceptions are the crowd is there for another event say a music festival(not good for selling anything large) or car race or -----fill in the -- blanks

Thats not to say you cannot sell 3-6 k at such an event it just takes a lot of small sales.

I like the shows that are in towns that happen once a year and its a big event say an annual art show-It can be twice a year as  well

The locals come out as well as tourists and out of towners

In areas that have shows every weekend then all the sales are diluted-the San Francisco Bay area is just such a place. Back in the 70's and early 80's-it had a few great shows 

Now there is a show everyweekend in some nearby town and the public thinks oh we can go in a week or two as their is always a show close by and you will be there.

They will ask you if you are in such and such next weekend?

I always say I live on another planet that is far away and only come once a year

You need to be aware of what else happens in your show area the whole year around as to art shows.

I tend to do large annual events-they are always better than an every week event in sales.

If you are a hobbist then weekly markets will be fine but I want more sales than they can provide.(our local famers market is only for food anyway)

Good luck with the selections


#61678 Outdoor Kilns And The Elements--Opinions?

Posted by Mark C. on 02 July 2014 - 01:24 PM

I think you could spray the outside of showing fiber with a thin sodium silicate spray to seal the fibers from floating around??

I have sprayed it with my zircon and colloidal silica on the hot face a fair amount-you just need to keep all coating very thin.


#61669 Craft Shows... Tips For Success

Posted by Mark C. on 02 July 2014 - 11:37 AM

The 50 mile thing only works if you live around people-I did that for 1st 15 years until mid 80's-if you are rural then you need to go further unless you settle for meger sales. have saturated my 50 mile circle. If you want to sell super well you need to find those markets and travel to them.Once developed you stay with them and they build.

1/2 my income comes from way outside the 50 mile circle-more like a 1200 mile circle

as in real-estate- location location location.


#61654 ? Secret Ingredient In Underglaze?

Posted by Mark C. on 02 July 2014 - 12:34 AM

(You just need a mini blender)

like in Barbies doll house

(mini electric drink stirrer)-these are electric and work well on small amounts.


#61647 Factors In Determining A Successful Pottery Business

Posted by Mark C. on 01 July 2014 - 08:16 PM

(Now another way to go is to just work your ass off and hope for the best.)

I think this may just be the best way at least when starting up- you will have the inventory to have options.

Even when selling as much as I have not all tax years for me have been profit years over time.

Depends on the expense column-capital improvements and such can eat up profits fast.Just buy 50 12x24 advancers and see what kind of hole that puts in the expense column.

I have a Roth IRA and own everything with zero payments and take vacations own a few boats and do other things and travel as well.Life is short and my interest list is long. Having an incrediable work ethic is key at least for me.

For most of my life I never knew what the income coloum would be-I can only guess at best-so savings is the only way to even that out.

As Mea said (income is going to fluctuate a lot, sometimes less and sometimes more)this is always true for most potters.

You will learn over the years that sometimes things work different than you would think. For example when I did 15 shows in a year I actually made less than the next year doing 12-as my expenses where way up overall even though the shows where all good and solid. That magic number is almost impossible to know in real time.I still now with only 7 shows seem to pay more quarterly taxes than I used to.My gallery sales are up as well as the ecomomy is on the upward trend

It takes so long to dial this all in.

The main thought is love this work or forget it as it will seem like work and you will not be happy.

For me as Mea said its a lifestyle-I picked it so long ago it a distant memory.

Hey its my 41st 4th of July selling pottery. Whats it like to have that day off???

Last one I had off I was 20 years old-man how time flys.Work your ass off and it pays off-at least for me it has.


#61628 What Is Your Throwing Position?

Posted by Mark C. on 01 July 2014 - 03:26 PM

Whatever you use think about your back in 40 years-I have used a stump- a steel tractor seat -wood chair-office chair- and now a super stool as in Johns post above.

You need forward slant for best posture.

If I knew now what I did not know then-

Big Lou just prop your box up with a 2x4 under rear

Take care of your back now- you will need it later on.


#61621 Factors In Determining A Successful Pottery Business

Posted by Mark C. on 01 July 2014 - 02:20 PM

I've been at this for over 40 years now . For the past 10-15 years I would sell over 100K (gross) in ceramics-that was my target amount. I have another potter friend who does pots with his wife and we both would sell over that target amount each year. Now that I'm slowing down I no longer chase that amount. Have a mix of sales -retail-wholesale-consignment-custom-whatever you can get to work

The key things for all potters is to keep expenses low as you can-do not live beyound your means-try and own all your stuff as soon as you can (avoid payments) pay the house off as soon as you can. I also do not have kids and have owned my place for over 20 years now.

It can be done and but it takes a lot of work- more than most want to do.

I have seen many a young person think its way to much work (just out of collage). I used to hire them to help me until I gave that up due to realizing most do not want work that is this much work.


#61549 Calcined Kaolin? (Glomax)

Posted by Mark C. on 30 June 2014 - 10:40 AM

That makes it clear as that link above shows Alberta with a really low sinter point.Looks like you want to keep it low heat for that clay.

As I have never needed to calcine Alberta this is news to me.


#61340 Real Time Preheating Question

Posted by Mark C. on 24 June 2014 - 10:52 PM

I would keep it under 212 degress no matter what kind of work as steam is steam no matter what the work is.

The question is really hold it under 200 until the moisture is gone and that will be a direct relationship to thickness and dryness.

Your work demands a long slow preheat k.

If its paper clay it can take a bit less time I think or any clay with an aditive that loosens it up.

How tight is this clay body?


#61242 Bon Ami Whiting/feldspar Ratio?

Posted by Mark C. on 21 June 2014 - 12:40 AM

 as an off-label use of the product


I think it says that its good for cleaning counters ,toilets,floors and making sanitary glazes on the label.

You can also use the can to roll slabs of clay .


#61138 Plaster/hydro-Stone Bats

Posted by Mark C. on 18 June 2014 - 10:14 PM

I throw about 90% of my production pots on plaster bats

I never get plaster in pots

I am familiar with pure and simple (I even own a plastic mold system from her as it came with some other stuff I bought once)

They live just a few hours from me.(pure and simple)

I do not use any of that for bats

I make my own as you can-you can use pottery 1# or casting plaster for more hardness.-mine are all 1# pottery plaster as it sucks water very well as far as drying. They wear over time just part of the deal.They will last you many many years.

I throw on over 50-80 of them every throwing day just about.

They suck the clay dry and release the forms same day or next -whatever you need.

They dry out in an hour of sunlight or heated shop in winter

I use small metal pie pans for most small work

These are a bit harder to find but you can find on the net find them-I think thru amazon last time

They are 5 inch on the bottom of taper and 6.5 on the top.

If I throw 7-8#s of clay or larger I use a plaster bats made form regular 9 inch metal pie pan(at the top)

These forms are also at resturant supply stores

I do not use metal tools with them mostly wood tools so I do not gouge them

I stick them to a clay pad I throw on the wheel head-I keep this wet and covered for about 1 week before needing a new pad. Use an tool to pop bats off and water to stick them down.Rough the pad while turning when adding water.

You can see them here in this photo.

Since I carry a ware board full of pots(and bats) I need them to not be huge-When I started potting in the 70s I wanted large bats since those days I have learned that smaller is better

This also can be sanded smooth again every 5 years of heavy production

I have about 80-100 of them in both sizes.

I use plastic bats for large flat work-like pie plates or chip and dips or dinnerware plates.

This post made me think I need to put that system up on potterbarter some day

You can see more of them in photos in my gallery.


Attached Thumbnails

  • tn_gallery_8914_376_46447.jpg

#61082 Canvas Texture On Handbuilt Work

Posted by Mark C. on 18 June 2014 - 10:15 AM

Its easy to not get texture-just use a slab matt it leaves no texture.



#60983 Most Difficult Aspect Of Making A Pottery Business Work?

Posted by Mark C. on 16 June 2014 - 10:35 PM

This may be off track but the #1 thing I think is motivation.

With out a super motivated person who is disciplined with time and finance

The rest seems doomed.

#2 is product.

Liking to make pottery is not nearly enough

I like Mea I am amazed that many think they can make a go of it on the cheap with no funds. This applies to all pottery in general as well.

Its like this-

Next year I’m going to learn to be a brain surgeon for free any ideas on how to do that???? I’m good with a knife.


Making what you like and finding those customers may be harder (this is what I have seen not work well for some) than making what people like and make that.

I hate to spray water on the fire but starting a pottery business and making it work (say for 10 years or more) is so much harder than it looks.

I am helping a younger functional potter whenever I can make a go of his business. Seeing someone start out from art collage from scratch has been an eye opener (this is what I did long ago). He worked for another potter when in High School which gave him the bug

Finding the outlets (shows /wholesale/consignment/whatever) that will buy your work is another huge hurdle that takes time to get over and get dialed.

Much of this comes to personality as well. If you are no good with people stick to wholesale.

Enough for now I have to go check a few kilns firing that are firing tonight.


#60815 Craft Shows... Tips For Success

Posted by Mark C. on 14 June 2014 - 03:37 PM

I'm in deep trouble I have never owned a suit and tie. At 61 I think I may make all the way without one.

I tend to wear comfortable clothes at shows and always a fish shirt.

I have done many a press camera talk this way as well when a show asks for someone who has been doing it forever they send them to me.

I try not to look like a slob but stress comfort is also a big factor.

Foot comfort is key.



#60775 Clean Up After Reduction Firing

Posted by Mark C. on 13 June 2014 - 08:20 PM

I fire my reduction kilns(almost weekly) with no clean ups. They oxidize as soon as they shut off. My oxy meter shows this well.

I brick up the ports and let cool slow.

I also usually have a few reds in my kiln and do not want to loose the color.

Wood fires are a bit different all the way around.