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About GEP

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    full time potter / past forum moderator

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  • Location
    Silver Spring, MD
  • Interests
    biking, jogging, cooking and eating, veggie gardening, baseball (Orioles)

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  1. Offset lithographic printers are still very much around. The place you're talking about is probably a digital-only shop. If it has a retail storefront that the public can enter, then it's not the right kind of place. For anyone who is trying to find printer blankets, try googling "offset lithographic printer near me." Then give them a call and tell the receptionist that you are a potter who is wondering if their company gives away used printer blankets. They should be free, printers throw them away everyday. But be prepared to pay a reasonable price if asked, for the time it takes them to accommodate your request.
  2. I found enough ingredients in my kitchen to make a Shoo Fly Pie. This is one of my favorite pies, so simple and down to earth, easy to make. I’m down to my last slice. Plate by Christy Knox. Photograph by Laura DeNardo. 1 9-inch pie crust 1 cup molasses 3/4 cup hot water 3/4 tsp baking soda 1 egg beaten 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup brown sugar 3 tbsp butter or shortening Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine molasses, hot water, and baking soda. Stir well. Whisk in beaten egg. Pour mixture into pie shell. In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter/shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle on top of molasses layer. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Lower temp to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30-40 minutes.
  3. My first concern is my health and safety, and the health and safety of my parents (ages 78 and 85) who live in a retirement community, and I can’t visit them right now. (I am technically still allowed to visit, but I’d rather be cautious.) Then there are my siblings, who live is zones where the outbreak is much worse than here, Staying home is not that different than my normal lifestyle, since my workplace is in the basement. I got a load of clay maybe two weeks ago, so I plan to keep making pots. The Washington Post is behind a soft paywall, you can read up to 5 (I think) articles for free per month. Here’s a great little demonstration of why social distancing is important right now. Stay in one place! Avoid other people! https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/
  4. Welp, just like @neilestrick was referring to above, my April show was postponed to a weekend in October when I have already committed to another show. I have already paid both booth fees. Both shows have a no-refund policy. But one has an “act of god” clause and the other has a “catastrophic event” clause. Not sure if the current situation qualifies for either. Now I have to choose. The biggest factor will be if either show will refund my booth fee, and what percentage. It’s a paradox, because the show that acts more generously is the one I’d rather do. I’ll be doing a lot of begging and pleading in the next few days.
  5. Another point about art festivals ... although the format is inherently unpredictable, that also means it's flexible. If my spring shows are cancelled and I end up with extra stock, I can sign up for an extra show or two in the fall, or even next year. The income is delayed, not lost. Unlike other industries, where the money they are losing now is gone for good.
  6. Ok, if the advice was meant for everybody, why did you tag it with my username? ps, if the advice is for everybody, I still disagree with it. Working potters should avoid debt like, well, like a contagious virus. And we certainly shouldn’t borrow a whole year’s worth of living expenses. It’s possible to plan ahead for being out of work for a year. And if you’re not prepared for that, an extended work outage means you need to get another job, not a loan.
  7. Liam, this is not how I operate. I hate borrowing money and hate paying interest, no matter how low. My comment says that I always keep enough cash flow on hand to survive missed shows. Shows are 95% of my income, but like I was trying to say, I know it’s a risky business and therefore I stay prepared. I’m not going to brag about my specific finances on the internet. I’ll just say that, like Mark, I am already set up to retire. Edit to add: This is part of a broader concept for anyone who wants to be self-employed. When I quit my last full-time job to become self-employed in the 90s, I promised myself that I would always buy myself health insurance and start a retirement plan. Then when I quit design to become a full-time potter, I knew the income would be less predictable and therefore I promised myself to manage my cashflow accordingly. With freedom comes responsibility.
  8. My next shows are mid-April and mid-May. No word yet if they will be cancelled. My hopes are low for the April show. I normally choose the non-refundable hotel option because it’s cheaper. This time I only booked cancellable hotels, just in case. I’m still producing as usual. If the shows are cancelled, I’ll have extra pots for summer shows, and I’ll take some time off. The loss of income isn’t fun, but this is a good example of why small business owners need to be proactive about cash flow. I’ll be fine. Even when there’s no pandemic, any show can be wiped out by bad weather.
  9. Aha. My money’s on this being the cause. In my experience, a 30 minute soak is about a half-cone of heatwork, which is significant. It’s a perfectly legitimate way to fire, if it makes your pots work. If your pots were not showing signs of overfiring, which I gather they weren’t, then that person gave you bogus advice. And if they delivered it as a “scold,” then that person can mind their own business. Instead of testing gloss medium on an unimportant piece, I would put that piece back in the kiln and fire it with the hold. If it turns out your clay/slip combo can withstand a refire, then refire the whole load. If not, then try the gloss medium on this load.
  10. The location of the light spots could also indicate that another pot was loaded very close to it in the kiln, with the pots almost touching each other? Nothing wrong with loading a kiln like that, but it’s another case where firing a little hotter would help. Or firing slower, so the heatwork can reach the places that are more densely packed. I agree with Neil that your next step is to use witness cones to measure exactly how hot your kiln is firing, in every zone. There might be a cool zone somewhere.
  11. I knew I’ve seen photos of large architectural ceramic corbels, and of course it turned out to be Marcia Selsor’s work: @A.Adriana, it’s possible to build these out of clay, but keep in mind there is quite a bit of expertise required! Marcia is a lifelong practitioner. Which is not to say that you are not capable of doing it, you seem like an experienced artist. Just be prepared for a big learning curve. And yes, they do need to be fired, even if the fireplace is non-functional. Edit to add: they will not be reinforced, because reinforcing materials cannot be fired along with ceramic. The ceramic will shrink and the reinforcement will not. They will be hollow, and constructed to be self supporting. If you know how to make plaster casts, I suggest making the master out of modeling clay (oil-based clay) rather than ceramic. Then make a plaster mold and cast both halves of the final ceramic pieces from the molds.
  12. These are just guesses .... not from personal experience ... I would think that oil will eventually wear off. If they’re just for decorative use, maybe a thin wash of acrylic gloss medium would work? Or acrylic matte medium? Thin it out with water so it’s just a wash. And you'd have to coat the entire piece so the surface texture is the same overall. Once it”s dry, it will be as permanent as anything short of a ceramic solution, Of course, test on something unimportant first! As for why it happened in the first place, to me the lighter spots look less fluxed. Run the slip through a sieve again, maybe a few times. Or use a stick blender to give it a long whirl. Another possibility is that there is extra thickness in the walls of the pots where the problem is happening. The clay isn’t fully vitrifying due to the extra thickness, and therefore not transferring its fluxing action to the slip. Firing a little hotter might solve this problem too. Don’t know if this is a private collector or a gallery, but when I was wholesaling with galleries, there was a time or two when I had to miss a deadline due to a firing problem. Calling them and explaining what happened, and asking for more time always works. These types of buyers understand that you are doing something that isn’t automatic or fully controllable.
  13. The use the first one. See my emails above. My company name is the top line, and all of my emails are consistently branded. The goals is for the email to be recognized as a Good Elephant Pottery email first, with the name of the show second.
  14. This is common salesmanship advice, but it does not apply to what we’re selling. We are not selling used cars to average people. People who will buy handmade pottery are a tiny subculture of people. They are way above average in intelligence, cultural education, self-esteem and probably professional accomplishment (given that they can afford to spend $40 on a single mug, which to an average person is considered crazy). They cannot and should not be pressured into anything. They are too smart for that. Show them respect for their agency, and deal with them eye to eye, i.e. like you are not above them or below them. Your goal is not to make a sale to somebody ONE TIME, like a car salesman. You cannot survive for long in this business without repeat customers, and a lot of them. If someone makes a purchase and leaves your booth thinking “well that was a little annoying” you are toast. Again, I never push my email list on anyone. It is not necessary. I was willing to take going on 18 years to build it. It’s an incredibly valuable asset now. At the extra important show I referenced above, my booth location was near the far end of the show away from the entrance. Some friends of mine said “Gosh isn’t it tough being way down here? There are way more people in the aisles on the other half.” I hadn’t noticed because my booth had been swamped all day, thanks to my email followers who came to the show looking for me. Listen to what @LeeU said. A lot of people are easily bothered by your behavior, and you might not know it. I am the same way when I am a shopper. It takes a great deal of self-awareness, combined with empathy and respect, to actually make people feel good all day long. I find that a lot of artists are doing an ok job, some are definitely offputting, and maybe 1 in 10 are doing it well.
  15. I have a great supplier, Clayworks Supplies in Baltimore. 45 minutes away. In fact, I’m going there tomorrow for a van-load of clay.
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