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Everything posted by GEP

  1. I think it’s great when I hear that someone is retiring from another career, and becoming a potter on a hobby level or a semi-pro level. It works the brain and it works the body. When you do it full-time for a real income, it’s very different. It overworks the body, and often underworks the brain, due to the repetitious nature (couldn’t do it without audiobooks). I don’t regret doing it for the last almost ten years. I’d do it again! But there is a limit. So you can retire TO pottery, or you can retire FROM pottery. These are two very different paths, though both valid. Either way, I know that being retired and having nothing to do can be a catastrophic mistake. I also know that when your occupation is the sole basis of your identity, you’re in big trouble when you get old. There’s more to me than being a potter, but I’ve had to table everything else. When I retire from pottery, I still plan on being a maker, on a hobby or semi-pro level. And doing something that does not require so much physical work, and does not require so much space.
  2. When you roll out your slab, make sure you are not stretching the clay in only one direction. If you do, that direction will rebound back more than the other direction. If you are using a slab roller, put the clay through in one direction making the slab twice as thick as you want it. Then rotate the slab 90 degrees and put it through the slab roller again to achieve the finished thickness. I see in your original comment that you say you are “compressing the clay in both directions,” but I’m hoping to spell out technique more specifically. I make a lot of square plates. Before I figured this out, many of them would emerge from the kiln as rectangles. As for your coiled pot coming out oval, are you working on a banding wheel, which will allow you to address the pot equally from all 360 degrees as you are building it? If you’re not using a banding wheel, this could also be affecting your slab pots.
  3. Step 1: Curse Step 2: If the thing that needs repair came with a manual, I start looking for a solution in the manual. Most of the time, the problem turns out to be routine, and the solution is already spelled out. Step 3: If I still can ‘t quite find the answer, I call the manufacturer of the thing that needs repair. Often they have personnel who can help troubleshoot. In the pottery world, people tend to be smart and nice. Step 4: I’ve also had good success asking for equipment help on this forum!
  4. Yes, several ceramics entities will recognize "emerging artists," such as Ceramics Monthly magazine, and some of the high-end craft shows. However, this does not catapult anyone to success. It's just a boost up. There's still a lot work and years ahead for a talented emerging artist to build a sustainable practice. There's no such thing as an overnight success in ceramics. There's too much skill involved, you cannot get around the number of years it takes to acquire the skill.
  5. I store my main glaze in a 10 gallon plastic bin with a rectangular opening. It’s wide enough to dip a bowl/platter that is maybe 15 inches across. When I want to use another glaze on something large, I have these big tubs that I found at the Korean grocery store (kimchi making tubs). Learn to embrace the overlap. make it part of the design.
  6. I like to say that I "retired" at age 40 to do pottery full-time. I put "retired" in quotes because I work a lot harder now than I did before. But just like a retired person, I had set myself up with a long-term plan for financial stability, before giving myself the gift of walking away from my previous career. There is no inheritance, trust fund, or sugar daddy involved. I earned it! And even though I was expecting to earn a lot less as a potter, it turns out I am earning about the same as I did before. Don't worry, the financial situation is not going to be wasted. It means I can retire for real when I want to, and much younger than 65. So I guess I am agreeing with @CactusPots. But you don't have to be 65 or older to "retire."
  7. I see. The controller has 12 firings. But the kiln is much older than that. Makes more sense.
  8. Congrats on the new kiln Liam! I’m very curious about the backstory of the kiln. You say it’s “old” but it only has 12 firings. Plenty of potters buy a kiln, then end up not using it much, but rarely a monster-size kiln. My first kiln had that story (it was 25 yrs old and never fired!) but it was a small 3 cu footer.
  9. Hmmm ... dinner plates are easy to make (mine are handbuilt) and easy to sell. In terms of “time spent making” these are my most profitable items. But they take up so much space when drying in the studio, and in the kilns, that I don’t think they qualify for this. So my best answer are these small elephant figurines. I can crank out 12 per hour, and they sell for $20. I tuck them into otherwise empty spaces in the kiln. Even a student can afford one. And they work as “add-ons” to a larger purchase too. For instance when someone is buying a $60 pot, they get to my check-out area and see the small elephants, and say “I’ll take two of these too.” Now the $60 sale is a $100 sale.
  10. Both good ideas, thanks! I have a big show in 2.5 weeks, so I need to figure this all out pronto. Meanwhile, I was doing a bisque firing in the same kiln today, and a relay failed! My other kiln had a relay fail recently too. I am cursed!!
  11. Thanks for the links, @neilestrick. So it looks like L&L does not recommend changing the lag. And if you really want to, don’t go below 10. This doesn’t improve my situation, since I can already get it to fire within a 10° variation. I guess I’ll have to learn how to live with it. The pinhole problem is only on certain pots, so I can try to keep those out of the hotter middle zone. Or maybe I can figure out another way to glaze them.
  12. I have two L&L e23t kilns, one from 2003 and one from 2013. Apparently the kiln went through a design change in 2004, so my two kilns are not exactly the same. My older kiln has a feature called Thermocouple Lag, which comes factory set at 25°. It means that if one zone falls behind by 25°, the controller will put on the brakes and try to even things out before continuing the program. My newer kiln does not mention Thermocouple Lag in the manual, nor does it have the feature when cycling through the “other” options on the controller. I think this means my newer kiln does not allow any zone to fall behind in the first place. When using the exact same program as the older kiln, it does take longer to fire, and results in slightly hotter firings (based on witness cones), and I think that explains why. But someone pls correct me if that’s wrong. None of this mattered to me before, but recently I figured out that one of my claybodies has changed, resulting in pinholes in one of my glazes. The solution to the pinholes is to lower my glaze firing by 10°. However, if I fire any lower than that, another one of my glazes, a semi-matte, starts to look a little dry. So now my tolerance for glaze firing temp variation has gotten a lot tighter. In my older kiln, my middle zone generally fires 10° hotter than the top and bottom. This is based on both what the controller says, and the witness cones, I have tried changing my kiln load to put more mass in the middle. But I can’t go any further with that, because I don’t have any more flat pots to fire. Need to have room for mugs and vases too! Has anyone tried to change the Thermocouple Lag on an older L&L kiln down to maybe 3° or even 0°? If so, how did it effect the kiln’s performance? Or is this a bad idea for the kiln?
  13. I rarely use witness cones except when I’m trying to diagnose a problem. Even if you have a huge kiln, if you’re diagnosing a problem that might be temperature related, I think it’s worth the energy cost to fire the kiln empty once, with witness cones in the top, middle and bottom. This will give you a baseline knowledge of what your kiln is actually doing. So if adjusting the temp becomes the solution, you can do it accurately.
  14. No, with the exception of when I’m feeling a little under the weather. Then I’ll bring a big mug of water into the studio so I can stay hydrated. But I’ll keep the mug on a shelf away from my work stations.
  15. They won’ stick together, but it’s possible for the colored slip to transfer colors to other pots if they are touching during the bisque fire. I use dark clay and sometimes decorate with white slip. I like to stack things together for bisque firing, to save space. Sometimes the dark clay does transfer onto white slipped areas. In my case, my finished glazed pots have a lot of texture, so the dark clay smudges just blend in. If you are going for a look that is precise and clean, then it might matter. It all depends! And test test test if you want to know the answers for sure.
  16. If the problem appeared very recently, and has appeared in the past, I’m wondering if this has to do with aging elements and thermocouples? When I’m getting close to needing new ones, my kilns tend to overfire. Are you using witness cones, which would tell you if there is an actual temperature change? Or, how many firings are on your current set of elements/TCs?
  17. You’re talking about Quickbooks Self-Employed, which is a “lite” version of QB. It’s only $7/month for the first three months, Regular price is $15/month, which is still way more expensive than buying a desktop software.
  18. Not sure if you’re talking about forming an LLC or a corporation, essentially a separate tax entity from yourself. This isn’t necessary in order to deduct all of the expenses of a small pottery business. This can be done by simply adding a Schedule C (or a Schedule C-EZ) to your personal tax return.
  19. Oh wow, thanks! A few years ago Intuit announced that Quickbooks Mac 2016 would be their last Mac version, and they would stop supporting it in 2019. I guess they changed their minds. I had to call Intuit for another issue recently. They lectured me about my software being out and date and unsupported. They urged me to migrate to the online version. He never mentioned a current desktop version was available. Grrrr, That’s another reason to dump them if possible.
  20. First of all, congrats on making $2500 in pottery sales last year! And yes you have to pay taxes for the income. For IRS purposes, you don’t need to register as a business, you can file as a sole proprietor, which means the pottery income will be part of your personal tax return. Use a Schedule C to report all of your income and expenses from the pottery. If your records are simple enough, you can use a Schedule C-EZ. You said your sales were on Etsy, did you make any sales within your own state? Then you also need to collect and file sales tax for your own state. Put this on your to-do list for 2020: get a sales tax license. Depending on your state, you may need to register as a business entity within your state in order to get a sales tax license. But this is separate from the IRS and income taxes.
  21. I second everything Callie said. Once a month sounds like a good pace to me too. I send an email announcing every show, which is 10 to 12 per year, which roughly the same pace. I try to be consistent and concise with the content of my emails. Nice photo of recent work, show name/dates/times, my booth number. Maybe a quick blurb about the show. And a link to my website for the rest of my show schedule (always the most-often clicked link in my campaigns). If I have two or three shows on consecutive weekends, I’ll write all the emails in one sitting, and schedule their future send dates on Mailchimp. Love that feature!
  22. Their marketing pitch is “ditch the spreadsheet” so I have no doubt it’s better than using Excel. Probably not better than Quickbooks, except that it’s cheaper, which is nice. My qualm would be that it looks like a startup. I wouldn’t want to have my financial data stored in their online servers, only to have them suddenly go out of business. I don’t like softwares that you have to rent instead of buying. The reason it’s becoming popular is because the software companies make so much more money. I’m still using Quickbooks from 2015. Quickbooks no longer supports this version, and they have since stopped making anything for Macs. The next time I buy a new computer, I’ll need to switch to something else. They are pressuring me to switch to their online software, which I don’t like. (I spent $250 for the software 5 years ago. If I had rented it monthly for 60 months, I would have spent $1500 and counting.) My first choice is for my current Mac to run forever. My second choice is to find a different software that will run locally on a Mac. My third choice is to use an online software, but only if there’s no other option. I would consider CraftyBase at that time, because it is cheaper than Quickbooks. In reading the Craftybase website, I take issue with their pricing feature. Their software helps you figure out your pricing based on COGS and time, which is the absolute backwards way to do it for a craft business. Too many businesses make this mistake. Pricing can only be done by being realistically plugged into the market value of what you’re making. So I would ignore that feature. Maybe use it for analysis only, but not to drive my pricing decisions.
  23. I have a simple handwritten sign that say “Back in five minutes tops!” for when I dash to the bathroom. If I have a friendly neighbor, I will ask them to keep an eye on things while I’m gone, and offer to do the same for them. I would drive home at night. I do one hour commutes sometimes, and it’s not bad. You need to be well-rested and showered to be effective in your booth.
  24. I was once talking to a person who ran an art center that had an exhibition space. He said that for every call-for-entries they issued, they would get piles and piles of applications from people submitting work that was completely unrelated to the subject of the exhibition. They were all academics, looking to pad their CVs by mindlessly applying to every show.
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