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Posts posted by GEP

  1. I’m in a bit of a pickle right now. I am down to my last box of clay, so I ordered it from my local supplier this weekend. The supplier does not have it in stock, because the manufacturer is out of stock of other clays, and behind with their deliveries. I had to order 100# from the manufacturer, just to get me through the next two weeks. The shipment via USPS will cost as much as the clay. I am desperate to keep on track production-wise because of my upcoming shows, so I have no choice. I have to wait up to 5 days to get it, and that will already set me back. Hopefully my local supplier will get their truck delivery in the next two weeks. If not, I’ll buy another 100# shipped from the manufacturer. 

    So right now I am experiencing a lot of extra expenses and hassle, caused by supply chain issues, caused by the pandemic. 

  2. My advice is to not get a new kiln just for one glaze. At 4 years in, you are still somewhat new to pottery, and your interests in glazes may still be evolving. 

    When I was younger, I was convinced that I would someday build a wood kiln, because I loved the aesthetic and thought there was nothing as good. As I got older and became a more knowledgeable potter, I outgrew that. I still love the aesthetic and admire those who do it, but am very happy doing electric kiln work.

    At 4 years in, your focus should be on improving your forms and pottery building skills. A lot of potters at this stage (including me back then) place too much importance on glazes and firings, thinking that this will elevate their pots to a higher level. But really a glaze cannot do that. And when your pottery building skills have reached a high level, any glaze and firing will elevate your pots. 

  3. I once took a workshop with Sandi Pierantozzi. She is an amazing hand builder and teacher. She has an instructional video titled “What if?” that is available in the Ceramic Arts Network store (you can get there through links at the top of this page). I think it would be a worthy investment.

    I also recommend Christy Knox as an amazing hand builder. Here’s her website, where she has a variety of videos that you can watch for free, and she makes new videos on a regular basis. https://www.christyknox.com/videos

  4. 11 hours ago, Bill Kielb said:

    Pre planned randomness seems like failure to me and a nightmare for traditional QA/QC. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts.

    Yes, and from the perspective of those doing the slipcasting, they were super uncomfortable with it. How can they know if the finished pieces will be deemed unacceptable or not? As soon as there is a dispute over the result, the idea fails. 

    If this is what IKEA wants, they still need to produce masters, maybe 10 or 20 of them so it looks like natural variation. And pay for the extra cost of having all of the master molds made and used. 

  5. All four shows that I have on my schedule for the fall were juried during the April-July timeframe, when the vaccination efforts were going strong and covid metrics were dropping like a rock. It made sense to go ahead during that window. But then the Delta variant came along. All four shows have promised to return booth fees if there’s a cancellation.  But yeah, I’m sure that will be costly for them, especially two years in row. One of them would switch to virtual, so not a complete refund, but that’s ok their virtual show last year was good. In fact, their show is a hybrid in-person/online show, we all need to be ready to take online orders during the show, so it will be easy to convert to virtual only if needed. That looks like very savvy planning on their part now. 

  6. My answer is “no” as well, for the exact reasons that you explained so clearly. 

    I’ve had a few people approach me about firing their work at my house. In every case, the person was trying to avoid the expense of using a community studio. Community studios need to charge what they charge for a reason. A person who doesn’t see those reasons is generally going to be difficult to work with. In one case, a neighbor got angry with me when I said no. Very entitled person. Imagine how she would have complained if a firing didn’t turn out the way she was expecting!

  7. I use silicone gaskets too. These are not completely airtight, because the lid is not being held closed with pressure (Bill's jar with the wire harness will be more airtight). But this jar keeps my coffee beans fresh until I reach the bottom of the jar. The hard part is to make the lid the right size and shape to fit the gasket, accounting for shrinkage. And to make the jar body fit the lid. 

    The silicone gaskets are easily found on Amazon. I have several jars (not hand made ceramic) with similar gaskets, and the gasket does wear out after a few years. But they are easy to replace. 


  8. :-(

    It’s not a show I was in this year, but this is bad news for everyone. Our area is not even that bad in terms of pandemic danger right now, so I don’t know why they decided to cancel the in-person event. There are no capacity limits on events right now, just mask mandates in some places. 

    Right after this news broke, two other shows that I am doing announced, “WE ARE NOT CANCELLING.”  One of them asked me to confirm that I am fully vaccinated (looks like they will require proof of vaccination for all), and the other said they are working on the guidelines but we should expect to be masked the whole time at least. 

  9. I looked at my quickbooks file, going back about 10 years, and found that my clay costs and glaze costs have remained pretty stable throughout. My most expensive glaze material in Tin Oxide and that price hasn't really changed. I do use one frit, but I haven't needed to buy it for years. I'm sure the next time I need it I will be in for a rude surprise.

    What has gone up in prices is the cost of replacement elements and thermocouples. It used to cost $430 for a complete set for one kiln. This year is was $490.

  10. 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.”

  11. 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. 

  12. 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. 

  13. 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. 

  14. 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. 

  15. 2 hours ago, Pyewackette said:

    Errrrm ... what would the chisel be for?  

    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. 

  16. 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. 

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