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Mark C.

Member Since 09 Jan 2012
Offline Last Active Today, 12:59 AM

Topics I've Started

Molokai Art Center Workshop

06 April 2016 - 10:43 PM

I,m doing a casual clay workshop at the Molokai Art Center April 25th
Pm me for details

When The Ceramic Gods Try To Push You Over

31 March 2016 - 09:50 PM

Well just so you know sooner or later it happens to all of us. The ceramic gods try and knock you over.

I had a fully packed load of bisque in the Skutt 1227 fire to say cone 2-5?-I do not know really know how hot it got. I have not had this happen for at least 2- 3 decades maybe ever 4. It’s always a few things that add up and get you not usually one. In my case I have a skutt 1227 manual kiln with a Dawson cone sitter and a timer along with a fire right dial ramp up switch. I packed the kiln as I always do. 60 sponge holders 100 spoon rests 36 bowls and over 50 mugs along with some misc. stuffers. I tested the rod and it seems a bit stiff but loosened up right away (1st mistake) I set the cone sitter up and spun the timer for a few to many extra hours (second mistake).

Now usually I check up several times on an electric but for some reasons I was a bit to casual with this shut off. I checked out the window and he light was off but failed an earlier evening look see (3rd mistake)

This early am I noticed the kiln was a bit to hot on the pyro as it cooled off-seemed to be taking a lot longer. Finally I had it open to find the wares where pretty cooked and had that telltale hard ring. I loaded the whole kiln load into the truck and am taking it to the rock crusher plant to turn it into road base in AM. The thing about this is you should just move on and just remake the pots –I’ll throw a slug of them in am as well and this is already feeling better when I can not see these cooked pots. Best to move on than fight it in the glaze room.

Just so you know I fired this kiln 3 days ago and all was well with that bisque.

I noticed today the rusty floor  (stainless-ho-ho) band busted loose

so I called Skutt and ordered that band and a new lid band and handle as they are almost touted with rust. I ordered  as well a new Dawson tube with new guts and am starting over all new parts.

Stuff That Bisque

29 March 2016 - 05:05 PM

I wrote a piece years ago on tumble stacking but if your kiln is another shape beside an electric you should stuff it also during bisque. I use porcelain so I do not have trouble with burn out issues when packed tight. I try to use all my space in a bisque-My car kiln is almost 6 feet tall (I’m in shot for scale at 6 feet tall)

It is 3 shelves deep 12x24 advancers. This was Sundays load which turned into a glaze load in this kiln and another glaze load in my small 12 cubic foot updraft-I also did an electric bisque on Sunday so I have two small kilns worth of glaze pots now. I do most bisquing in this car kiln but when scheduling or needs demand it I will use an electric (old school skutt 1226).

The point here is stuff your loads if your clay can take it. I can get a small kiln and a car kiln glaze load from one single bisque in this car kiln when stuffed full like this. Of course every load has different forms and bowls and such nest better than say mugs.

Happy bisquing.




Consignment Issues

26 March 2016 - 12:43 PM

I have said that for me a mixed income stream is best as far as selling pottery. I sell my own at art shows for the lions share and have a mix of a few wholesale consignments.

That said many have mentioned that consignment has its pitfalls and you the artist can get hurt. Here are a few that I have had.

I have hade 4 consignment shops –one I had been in for 38 years (4 owners) until they closed down. I found out by accident 3 days before and I was not happy about how they did not tell any one. It was a gallery connected to a restaurant so they had lots of customers especially during the tourist season.

Their issue was signing a really bad 10-year lease but it turned out they also had poor people skills

They reopened after a one and half years and asked me back –I said no but will do wholesale with a limited forms deal-no more consignment-so far after a few years no issues but for me It will never be the same. I have been there 40 years now

Another other outlet is about a 25+ year run and now has a new younger owner and has been working well.

One other outlet has been about 14-16 years and has been trucking right along.

All these outlets above are all local and close enough for me to go to on a very regular basis and keep and eye on. This is a key point

The last is about 4 hours away each way. I have been in this tourist town in a gallery for about 30 years. Over that time I have been in three galleries but the 1st two are long gone. The most recent I have been in 16 years.

This outlet has been strong but peaked about 4 years ago and since then been struggling some. I take them a huge yearly shipment every spring (about 45 boxes of pots) and ship a few huge boxes later in year or drop another small shipment thru friend heading that way. They have a massive display of my work.

A few years ago they starting to slip behind on the monthly check. It was two months behind for 1 year they have been 3 months behind last year but it’s been very consistent the past year. During Christmas season I have so many pottery sales and demand going on I did not notice that slipped behind again until my late check came with a note in late January saying they have slipped 5 months back and they where trying to get back on their feet with payments.

I sent them a letter saying that 5 months was to long and that I knew winter was the slow season and that I have seen 5 months slip to longer and I was very concerned. As I have seen this long slow death of a business. I gave them a plan to get back to normal by mid summer with payments. They let it slip another month and I hit my red line. Now I’m speaking with them (3 partners) directly on the phone. Since I was their biggest seller I had some power to negotiate but in my heart I felt I could very easily loose these months.

I knew they where deciding whether to close or stay open. They admitted if I got my work they would close within a month. I got to the point that I just wanted my work back and that I was coming down to pick it all up. I mentioned that I would take them to small claims court to get my $6200.00 after I got my work.

This was a slam-dunk case in my favor but by no means I would ever get my money back. after winning that case.

I packed my truck with 25 empty boxes and my dolly and two paper rolls and my paper roller that late afternoon. I let them know I was coming down in AM. That night they called me and had borrowed some funds and decided to move forward and the check is in the mail.

Since that time we are back on track with a new contract that I wrote and in that contract I have to be paid every month by a certain date otherwise I’m picking up my work. I have limited my potential loss to 6 weeks tops. I also stipulated renegotiating the contract in early fall as I think they may not make it thru a winter and we need to decide about that at that time. I will only take a summer load down in a few months worth of pottery.

I have spent too much time on this mentally and part of me wishes I had got my work but I would be out $6200(the check was good). It's back to what it once was but I’ve got them on probation after shattering my trust, which is not a place that is good for me mentally.

My point here is keep it local and make sure you have your contract clean and keep the communication fresh

Central Vacuum For Clay Studio

24 March 2016 - 11:14 AM

I'm working on a idea for my studio that involves a vac system which would be outside.

I put in a few central vacuum systems over the past decades (one is in our house )

The unit is outside and you just plug a hose into an outlet the noise and dust go elsewhere and gets caught up in a bag.

I have found a dust deputy made by Oneida air systems (they make that cyclonic dust vacuum they advertise in CM) that takes about 98% of all dust and clay and captures it before the dust gets to the vacuum-this also has a bag. This etc units work in tandem .

The reason one should not use a vacuum in a clay shop is loose dust but this system would not have any dust only suck.

With the dust deputy hooked to a heap shop vacuum you get the same results but I'm thinking forget the shop vacuum and hook it to a central vacuum outside shop.

The system would cost about $650 and you can use a hepa bag in central vacuum if you want-I'm not sure this is needed in my case as the dust is blown into a field far away from any humans or animals-The heap bags are under 50$ so its no big deal really .

just wondering if anyone else has tried this? I'm almost ready to buy the parts and build it.I see no down side for the studio

The vacuum will suck dust and trimmings and its industrial sized-the metal can in 1st chamber in the dust deputy is a 10 gallon metal can.the second vacuum is a 6 gallon bag.

I already have hepa air handler in shop that reprocesses my air every few minutes



one last note I was going to buy the Makita VC4710 shop vacuum for pairing with the dust deputy as it has a hepa self cleaning feature and is highly rated but I already have two shop vacs and the central Vacuum is cheaper and moves all the noise and dust outside.