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Everything posted by GEP

  1. I have 3 main glazes. Plus 3 more that are just variations of the two of the main glazes. Another benefit to keeping your glaze palette limited is it’s easier and cheaper to buy glaze materials, when you only need a limited number of ingredients. You can buy 50 lb sacks knowing you’e going to use it all up.
  2. I mentioned two days ago that I had a show postponed to late June which had not been cancelled yet. Well, it was cancelled this morning. Now I already have enough pots for a July show that has not been cancelled yet, which I expect to be cancelled too. My back-up plans are to do another "home delivery" show for my local area, and another one for the State College PA area, which will involve a day trip up to Pennsylvania. These will probably happen in June or July. I have already received booth fee refunds of $1515, and now I have another $450 coming in a few days. With my teeny budget, this actually goes a long way. Combined with the home delivery sale I did last month, I am several months away from needing to tap my emergency fund. Sales from my online school have been up ever since the shutdowns began. I guess that makes sense. Honestly, I am enjoying the slower pace. My front yard has not looked this good in years. I am cooking a lot more. I used to enjoy cooking a lot, but since becoming a full-time potter, I really haven't had the time or energy to do much more than dump things in an instant pot, or get take out. These days, I get to enjoy better food. Last summer, I bought a blueberry bush, which died. I partially blamed the plastic planter, because the plants in nearby ceramic planters were fine. My next studio project is to make myself a gigantic ceramic planter, and try again with a blueberry bush this year. I am rethinking how I am going to schedule myself, even when things are relatively normal again. I really don't need to do 10 shows per year. 6 might be enough?
  3. For those in the mid-Atlantic area, Clayworks Supplies is doing curbside pickups at all of their locations (Baltimore MD, Alexandria VA, and Richmond VA), if you need to buy heavy stuff like clay. They are still shipping as well. The hours are limited so check their website for details. https;//clayworkssupplies.com
  4. I have one show that was postponed to June 20-21 that has not been cancelled yet. I still made pots so I have enough inventory for it. Not because I think it will happen, but because I think it is my professional obligation, until I hear otherwise. Two out of three of my July shows have been cancelled. So I am still making enough pots for the third show. Again, I don’t expect it to happen, but who the heck knows. As has been pointed out by Mark, finished pots do not go bad, so there is no downside to having extra stock. As for fall and holiday shows, I think it is reasonable to plan as if they are going to happen. I’m keeping my thoughts about this fluid, of course. If they happen, there will be lots of changes. I plan on having a big touchless dispenser filled with hand sanitizer in my display. My greeting will become “Hi! If you want to touch any pots, please sanitize your hands first (while pointing at dispenser).” I expect everyone will be glad to comply with that. The hard part about this idea is that hand sanitizer is so hard to find right now. I also plan to use an alternate arrangement of my display, which is smaller and pushed towards the front of the booth. This will give me more space behind the display to keep my distance as much as possible. A smaller display is fine because there will be fewer customers anyways. But based on how people are flocking to beaches and shopping malls this week, I don’t expect the art festivals to be ghost towns. I own two N95 masks, which my brother sent me out of his California earthquake preparedness kit. I am saving them for shows. They do not have an exhalation valve, so they will protect me from others, and protect others from me. I am planning to apply for one or two extra shows for the fall,. I usually try to keep my November schedule easy, so I can stock up for my December open studio, but this year I plan to have extra stock piled up. I’m still deciding on which shows. and cancellation policy is a big factor for me too. This is my thinking for now. But I am following the data everyday, and I don’t consider anything to be decided.
  5. It’s a simple 1:1 ratio. 25g beeswax + 25g coconut oil = 10 tubes of lip balm. I borrowed my digital scale from the pottery studio. I melted the ingredients in the microwave in 30 second increments. I used a glass measuring cup, it got warm in the microwave and kept the wax mixture melted longer. Nah, I’d be worried about them melting while in transit.
  6. It’s not food, but I did make them in my kitchen. I have trouble buying lip balm in stores, because these days they all contain ingredients that make me itchy (shea butter, aloe vera, menthol). Why can’t I buy a basic mixture of beeswax and coconut oil? Now I know why, because it is way too easy and cheap to make it yourself. The store brands need to add fancy ingredients so they can charge $3.99. These tubes cost me about 25 cents each.
  7. This year’s penn state show is already cancelled :-(. Full booth refund, and all artists are automatically juried into next year’s show.
  8. To go further along the vein of "you're not alone" ... @HayleyPots what you're going through is so common, there is a term for it: The Startup Trough of Sorrow. This is a common experience because too many new entrepreneurs have overly idealized expectations for how groovy things are going to be, right from the start. What they don't expect is that is takes years of development to get into a groove. It sounds like you were already dealing with stress, burnout, and debt before the pandemic hit. The real test for new business owners is whether you can adapt mentally and climb out of the trough. Those who are thinking about starting a new business should pay close attention. What Hayley is going through is the norm, not the exception. I've lost count of the number of potters I've met who are struggling with the trough. It's also possible to avoid the trough, by having modest expectations for the early years, and by understanding how much work is ahead of you.
  9. Yes I think this is a reasonable cost in the short term, but not permanently. I mentioned in my blog post about my "home delivery" sale that this approach is missing the opportunity to meet NEW customers. Shows are where that happens. I would like to get back to shows when it's possible. The cost of a booth fee is worth the potential new customers. I used a Square online store for my recent event. I know Square and Weebly are the same company now, but you can still build an online store on the squareup.com website that is separate from your Weebly site. The Square store allows you to create different shipping rates for the customer. They could choose the $20 shipping, or the $10 delivery. This would save you the step of refunding. I wonder if you could do this in your Weebly store too. (I would think yes, given that they are the same platform, but I could be wrong.) The Square store also solved the problem I was having with BigCartel, which would allow multiple people to buy one item, due to slow payment processing. With the Square store, once a person finishes paying for an item, the item automatically became unavailable, even if it was already in somebody else's cart.
  10. @HayleyPots, this sounds like a situation where it would be totally appropriate to use a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the short term. You still have access to the studio, therefore you can make the pots that the donors would get in return. You could tier the donations as “mug” level to “teapot” level to “full set of dinner and salad plates” level. You could also offer gift certs for the gallery, free classes in the future, lots of options. So really this would be a pottery sale more than a charity ask, just using GoFundMe as the platform, and “to pay the rent during the shutdown” as the mission. I bet your existing members/students will be first in line to help out. They care the most about your survival. You can ask them to spread the word in their social circles as well. People who like to engage in the arts know people who think it’s important to have art spaces in their community. What I’m finding is that there are people in our strange current world who are in a position to help, and really really want to help their communities right now. I think you will find that you are not as alone as you think, and how much people do care about the arts. The way fundraising generally works is that you are looking for a bunch of small donations ($50 ish) that will add up to a substantial amount. Plus, you are looking for one or two deep-pocketed types who will fund most of the campaign. The 50% rent discount is a wonderful offer, and I think you should try to take advantage of it.
  11. Thanks Neil! I found a couple that look like they will do exactly what I need.
  12. I would totally be interested in this! As I was plotting locations on a map by hand, I was thinking there must be a tool that makes this task faster. I once read that UPS drivers' routes are designed to make as few left turns in urban areas as possible. Because left turns take much longer than right turns. So I know this type of tool exists. If the shut down lasts until year's end, I will hold my annual open studio this way. And it will (hopefully) be a much bigger event than the one I did this week. It would help if the driving routes are maximally efficient.
  13. I've just published a blog post about what I've been doing for the past 1.5 weeks, so everyone interested can copy or adapt the idea for themselves. I have complained often about how much I hate selling online. This approach replaced everything I hate with something I actually like. https://www.goodelephant.com/blog/improvising-in-a-pandemic
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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/
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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