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Everything posted by GEP

  1. I got my pugmill second hand for $1200. In 13 years I’ve reclaimed roughly 500 lbs of trimmings per year, or 6500 lbs. At .40 per lb, the pugmill has yielded $2600, or more than double it’s cost. Ok, ok, I know it’s had to find a used pugmill, and I got very lucky. But at the time, I was fully prepared to buy a new Bailey pugmill for $2500, so it still would have paid off. The savings on body wear and tear are hard to measure. Wedging is not the only savings. Throwing causes lots of wear and tear too. When buying new clay, I can’t control how hard or soft it will be. But my reclaim can b
  2. This is how I store my plaster slabs, so they dry out as much as possible between uses:
  3. If you are full-time and reclaiming clay, then I think you need a pugmill. I also think you do not need to blitz your clay trimmings/scraps. That requires you to use more water than necessary and therefore it takes longer to dry. However, when you don’t blitz, the slop will be chunky and inconsistent, which is why you need the pugmill to “power wedge” it. Nothing to stop you from hand-wedging, but as a full-timer, your energy is better spent on other things. My studio has experienced prolonged humidity this summer but this has not slowed down my reclaim process. I wrote a colu
  4. If the item is “soulless” and can be sold without an artist signature or stamp, then you will likely be competing with mass-produced versions of the same item, which is very hard for a hand maker to do.
  5. If you weren’t planning to use the kickwheel function anyways, get the more space-efficient Clay Boss. Space is a valuable commodity in most pottery studios.
  6. Because it's bigger and holds a LOT of trimmings. If this is your first wheel that is just for you and not shared with anyone else, you are in for a treat. You don't have to clean it!
  7. I have a friend who, years ago, moved to a new area, and learned that she would need a permit to build a gas kiln. So she went to the county offices, and learned that the person who approved the permits was her next door neighbor. He said he didn't know much about gas kilns and would need to research the matter, and get back to her. She figured she had no chance. The permit guy found out that firing a gas kiln emits lets than a commercial passenger airplane does every 30 seconds. He gave her the permit!
  8. By the time I had started a part-time pottery business, I had been a self-employed graphic designer for 6 years. So I was already comfortable with administering a small business. This gave me a big leg up compared to a most craft artist businesses. So backing up from there, the most positive thing I did before starting my graphic design studio was to hire an accountant. He taught me how to keep books, pay estimated taxes, pay sales tax, and save for retirement. I am still working with him 24 years later! Over the years, he has given me so much good advice, plus lots of support and encouragemen
  9. @dirtball It has already been said but you are not taking the advice, but once again “all or nothing” is not a good way to do this. Keep you job and start the pottery business on the side. Build it up slowly. You will still have a boss ... yourself. Being your own boss has a lot of pitfalls too. Also, you will still need to work well with show organizers (lots of rules to follow when doing shows), gallery owners, and most of all, CUSTOMERS. Having carpentry skills to build a display is not the hard part. The hard part is to design a display that is visually effective and also
  10. Witness cones. Heatproof gloves. Chisel. Notebook for keeping a kiln log. A wooden ruler that is taller than the height of the kiln and long enough to span across the width of the kiln opening. Use the ruler to check how much height is left in the kiln while stacking it. If you’re not positive that a pot on the top shelf of too tall or not, slide the ruler across the opening to see if it hits the pot.
  11. I use an overhead vent hood, and keep my top peep holes open all the time. I have corrosion on the lid band just above the peep hole too. My kilns are 16 and 7 years old, and get used heavily. They don’t seem to be anywhere close to failing yet, so the corrosion doesn’t bother me.
  12. Measuring experience in years doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Measuring in “pots produced” is more meaningful. You mentioned above that you need to acquire a studio space and equipment. Whose equipment have you been using up until now? If you are using somebody else’s studio, or a community/classroom studio, there was probably a limit on the volume of pots you could produce. 27 years of making a few dozen pots per year does not put you on the cusp of making a good income with pottery. I’m just assuming your output level of course, I could be wrong, based on you saying that you need to get a
  13. No. It takes much longer than that to develop a sellable body of work, and an audience that is paying attention to you. It does sound like you are in a stable financial position though, so becoming a potter is doable. Just give yourself 5 to 10 years (depending on your current skill level), and have a financial plan to cover yourself during those years. This will probably involve keeping a paycheck job for several more years, which doesn’t have to be the one you currently have. I don’t think it’s necessary to build a new house. Can you make a studio space where you live now? Or buy
  14. Good point. I use a dark brown clay, and need to keep an entire drawer of “pottery shirts.”
  15. @Sile, although the kiln you mentioned before is already sold, the size of that kiln does not prevent you from making plates. I wouldn’t try to fire a production quantity of plates in a 17 inch wide kiln, but making plates for personal use is totally doable. So don’t eliminate that size when looking at used kilns. I am a full time potter, and started my business with a kiln that was 17 inches wide and a bit shorter than that one. I made plates, using plate setters to stack them more efficiently. I upgraded to a larger kiln two years later when I could afford it. But still, if you are mak
  16. Just for some context, Nora Roberts owns a big chunk of the town of Boonsboro. I bet the inn and the shop are owned free and clear, which means operating them has much lower overhead than typical businesses, and that she can afford to subsidize the shop. Good for her for using her wealth to bring tourists to buy work from local artists.
  17. Offer them $350. I bet they really don’t want to move with it. Cress is not a very desirable brand, and the kiln sitter is a long outdated mode of firing these days (compared to a digital controller). It does look to be in good shape though. I have a friend who got a used Cress for $100, and he likes it. They work fine, but lack better features like an L&L. There are lots of them on the used market, because they are bought by potters who are just shopping on price, because they are not that serious about being potters (just like the sellers in this story).
  18. Since you are planning to throw, I would start with a clay that contains some amount of grog. Grog makes the clay more stable for throwing, i.e. it can hold a shape better than something very fine and smooth. This is why porcelain is considered a more intermediate/advanced clay. I don’t agree that “earthenware is best for handbuilding.” Stoneware is just as good for handbuilding, and both can be thrown too.. The better question is “do want to make foodsafe, functional pots?” If yes, then stoneware or porcelain fired to midrange or above is better suited for that. Many earthenwares cannot
  19. My clay from Highwater and Standard does not come with twist ties. The bags are just folded over, and the boxes keep them closed. I agre that older lots of clay will be harder than newer lots. @Stumonster Clayworks, I agree with those who say you should only pug an amount that you are going to use in the next day or so. It’s not a good idea to let your pugmill sit idle for too long, or you risk letting things harden up inside. I keep my pugged clay in a plastic box with a gasket on the lid, and it stays moist for several days. I use a box because it is much easier to access a box compare
  20. @Dottie, not that you have much free time to read, but here is my recent blog sharing a similar story. I developed a pinholing problem last winter, and had to figure out where it was coming from, and how to fix it, all with a deadline looming. It was not fun. But my point is, we've all been there and understand what you’re going through. https://www.goodelephant.com/blog/there-are-times-when-pottery-is-not-fun
  21. @Dottie, I agree with @Min. Call the customer, explain what happened, and ask for some more time. When I was doing a lot of wholesale work, customers were always understanding when I really needed some more time. Especially if you have a history of making deadlines (which it sounds like you do). I’m sorry this happened to you. I would switch suppliers too.
  22. Yes, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas generally brings a boost in sales. People are buying gifts, but they are also buying for themselves. And yes, now is the time to start building inventory for December. I hold an open studio in early December every year, and it is always my biggest grossing weekend of the year. If I compare it to the other “big shows” on my schedule in a typical year, it grosses about 33% more. (of course, this is not a typical year, and this year’s open studio will be virtual, so my expectations are more fluid.) If this is your first year, the number of p
  23. I am a big fan of buying kiln cement is powder form, rather than liquid. You can mix up the small amount that you need, and the rest can be stored indefinitely. I have bought small jars of liquid kiln cement before. It works great right after you buy it, but when you reach for it again a year later, the liquid has turned into a solid rock. https://www.theceramicshop.com/product/9654/kiln-repair-cement-powder-1-lb/?gclid=CjwKCAjwwab7BRBAEiwAapqpTHPiFknNmJkWpDylWjehyL1q2OhvGEJu25uORQN8MDD_nX4aVP5V0RoCb1kQAvD_BwE
  24. Thanks for the feedback everybody. I haven’t decided yet, but I’ll figure it out soon.
  25. Yes, I’m going to sell the pots online, and the advanced advertising for the sale will say “Free [item] with every purchase.” (edit to add) So the customers won’t be touching the pots while shopping, no subliminal messages will be involved. I normally pack all the pots into reusable grocery bags, but some grocery stores do not allow them these days, so i’m trying to think of a different gift.
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