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Everything posted by GEP

  1. Another question that I hear regularly is “is your pottery lead-free?” I have a short answer and a long answer prepared for that, depending on the situation. The short answer “I guarantee there’s nothing toxic in these pots and they are safe for food use.” The long answer is meant to address the word “lead” which customers still use all the time. “Actually, lead has been gone from American handmade pottery for a few decades now. But “lead-free” doesn’t automatically mean “safe” because there are other materials around that potters still use that could be unsafe if not used properly. Barium, for example. Or, if a potter isn’t formulating or firing their work correctly. It might not be toxic, but it might leak, or harbor bacteria. So the question you should be asking is “is your work safe for food?” And if you don’t get a confident “yes” from the potter then you should assume it’s not. Or, just use it at your own risk. And keep in mind that lead is still commonly used in glazes outside of the U.S.”
  2. I used to feel like I had to say “no” conditionally, such as, “No, but it could be a yes if…” This never ends well. The customer, who is already trying to push my boundaries, will sense that they have some leverage and just try harder to get something out of me. Now I’m older and smarter and realize I was being somewhat passive aggressive, wanting people to be respectful without having to force them. Now I just say “no, there’s no discount.” I say it courteously, not with a cross tone, and people don’t seem to mind. I might lose some sales, but that’s ok knowing another customer will come along soon who doesn’t mind paying full price. Here’s my strategy for when a customer is being obnoxious (or their child is). It is a mistake for the artist to be cross with a customer out loud. Other people will hear you, not understand the context, and assume the artist is the problem. Instead I just stare hard at the obnoxious customer, and give them the evil eye. I don’t say anything, just stare at them. It makes that person uncomfortable and they will soon leave. Nobody else around notices what you’ve done.
  3. Enjoy it, Mark! What I missed the most during the pandemic were the road trips to fun places with a van full of pottery. My show schedule will start in October, knock on wood.
  4. Yeah, the name is creepy and makes a lot of people think “yuck.” The actual product is vegan. I wouldn’t call it delicious, but it doesn’t taste bad either. I’m prioritizing function and convenience, and it solves all of the issues for me.
  5. My solution for show food is Soylent. https://www.amazon.com/Soylent-Replacement-Powder-Original-Pound/dp/B071F4Z16T/ I buy it in powder form which makes it light and shelf stable for packing. I’ll have breakfast of oatmeal and coffee at the beginning of each show day. Then I bring 600 calories of Soylent with me to the show. Even on a hot day, it won’t go bad in the span of one day, so I don’t need refrigeration. It’s really easy to sip 150 calories, at four intervals. I never feel hungry or full. No sugar crashes. I never get caught chewing food by a customer, or any food stains on my clothes, or sticky fingers. I don’t have to leave the booth. (I don’t like to be away from my booth either. Every minute you’re gone is a potential sale lost.) I also bring a 32 oz Hydroflask with ice water, which will stay icy the whole day. At the end of every day I’ll go find some real food for dinner. Packing the oatmeal, coffee, and soylent from home saves a lot of money, compared to buying breakfast a lunch on the road everyday. Buying dinner everyday seems justifiable.
  6. The difference between perfect 6 and hot 6 is generally no big deal for most pottery situations, meaning there’s nothing wrong with your kiln. But if your glazes are picky then I would add a TC offset to the middle TC too. Also you said you tried packing the middle more densely but how much denser did you try? In my kiln, I make my bottom shelf and top shelf 7 or 8 inches tall, and pack the middle with a bunch of short shelves. I don’t do TC offsets and my kiln fires evenly, and my glazes are picky too.
  7. Although you’re already leaning towards L&L, here’s another pro that hasn’t been mentioned yet. The L&L has three zones each with its own thermocouple. Which means much more even firings top to bottom, compared to a Skutt with only one thermocouple.
  8. There’s a potter in my area with a large homestead property and a 100ft solar panel array. She says in most months, she generates more power than she needs. I wouldn’t run kilns on solar unless you have the space to get an oversized system. 20 years ago I bought a rechargeable battery lawnmower (back when that idea was new and the technology wasn’t very good). It really sucks when you run out of juice before you finish the lawn. The battery should have been enough for my little yard, but lots of unforeseen factors would come up (wet lawn), which can happen in a kiln too (aging elements). I would imagine if this happened with a glaze firing it would be incredibly frustrating. If this is a business it could be ruinous. Whatever you choose, make sure you never start a firing thinking I HOPE there is enough juice.
  9. I’ve used my chisel for two things. When a glaze runs onto a shelf, the chisel will chip most of it off. I have an L&L kiln with ceramic element holders. A few times I needed to replace some sections of the element holders. To get them out, you need to carefully break them with a chisel.
  10. In the summer (now) I have a constant battle with humidity. Sometimes I throw pots one day, and they are not ready to trim for two days. Pots that have been drying for a week still feel damp, and it's impossible to tell if they are really damp or not. I use fans to keep the air moving in the studio, and when I run bisque firings, I roll my drying cart over next to the kiln for the warmth and the airflow from the vent. In the winter I have the opposite problem. Thrown pots can have bone dry rims by the next morning, and pots with attachments need to be slowed down so they don't pull apart. I use sheets of fabric and plastic to control the drying. There are a few glorious weeks in the spring and fall when I don't need to think about these things.
  11. Shimpo banding wheels are a very distinctive shade of blue, like a Royal Blue or Reflex Blue. Not teal or green. Are you sure this is a genuine Shimpo?
  12. I don’t think you will have any problems when working with wet clay. I would avoid lotion before a glazing session though. If you touch a bisque pot with lotiony fingers, you may create spots where glaze won’t stick.
  13. This is the respirator that I bought, based on recommendations given on this forum a few years back. I’m very happy with it. It’s very light and the part that touches your face is soft and flexible. After it warms up with your body heat it will conform to the shape of your face and make a nice seal. I’m Asian so my face has an unusual shape, but this mask still fits me well. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008MCUVN4/ After a year of wearing cloth face masks for the pandemic, I find that wearing this respirator is actually more comfortable than some cloth masks. The straps do not bother my head (some cloth masks really hurt my ears), and it has an exhalation valve so it does not get steamy on the inside. My main complaint when wearing this respirator is that is blocks my vision below my nose. I need to be careful not to compensate by bending my neck too much, or else I’ll get a sore neck. Every once in a while, I twist off the filters, and rinse the mask thoroughly with water and let it air dry. That and replacing the filters as needed, are the only maintenance.
  14. Slam wedging is a great suggestion. I'm not sure if it's less effort than regular wedging, but it is definitely easier on certain joints, and a good solution for a lot of people. Here's a good youtube video on slam wedging. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HApNjUnI9U4
  15. Does a vehicle count? Because I bought a minivan specifically to make my pottery business easier, although it is also my personal vehicle. If not, then: 1. kiln 2. second hand pug mill
  16. I don’t think it exists. But if there were a hand-cranked pug mill, it would probably take just as much exertion as wedging.
  17. If your intention is to make pots for sale, there really isn’t a “sweet spot” when you are using group studios. If they’re inexpensive, then they probably aren’t well run. If they are well run, they are charging you for it.The general lack of control will stymy any business, even if the studio is well run. (You have an art fair next weekend and you need all of your pots fired before then? Too bad, we need to get all of the kids camp pieces fired first.) Making pots as a business really shouldn’t be done in group studios, except on a tiny scale. If you want to expand beyond that, it’s time to setup your own space with your own equipment.
  18. This is what I was thinking. When I make videos I use a <$20 lapel microphone clipped to my shirt. It records my voice loud and clear, with minimal background noise. The sound that the video camera captures contains a loud buzz of background noise, and my voice is much quieter and blurrier. In your case you will need a second set of hands to hold the mic near the noises you want, because both of your hands will be busy. Maybe one of your kids can be trained as “boom operator”? Or clamp the mic to a tripod that you can adjust and move around?
  19. If others have already expressed concerns to the owners and they weren’t receptive, then your best move is to find another studio. The situation isn’t great for the people who are still there, but they are adults and can vote with their feet too. A well run studio will offer more than just cleanliness, but a more supportive and enriching environment for artistic growth.
  20. Your best bet would be a targeted microphone, held close to the noise you want, while cancelling out anything in the background.
  21. Maybe you could mute the sound that gets recorded with the video, then dub your voice over in a separate sound file?
  22. Soft woods produce higher temperatures for shorter periods of time. Hard woods produce lower temperatures for longer periods of time. Not sure which one calculates out to “more heat.”
  23. If it’s happening randomly, the next time you get one that warps, cut (or break) it in half both vertically and horizontally, and look for uneven thickness in the walls.
  24. For me it's a combination of both. Most of my decisions about what to make are driven by sales. But the final decisions about quantities will also include "how many will be most efficient in terms of kiln stacking?"
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