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Everything posted by GEP

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. These types of shows have value in the academic world. Having a long list of exhibitions on your CV has value there. Outside of academia, they don’t have much value. Sometimes they can be fun, or feel like a nice feather on your cap, but that’s about it.
  16. I frequently do outdoor shows with no power supply without any battery back ups. A fully charged phone or iPad will last one whole day of processing credit cards, plus occasional emailing/texting. Even if the show day is 10 hours long. Just don’t be surfing the web all day. Be stingy about checking weather maps, only when you really need to. Be diligent about charging everything up at night. Remember, simple is better. Learn how to work with as little gear as possible,
  17. Good job, Liam! That sounds like a very smart next step. I agree with Callie that it's time to start collecting email addresses, and building an email list. If you have time to make more pots, rather than making tulip themed pots, make vases that are properly shaped for tulips. Tulip stems are shorter and thick, so the vase needs to be short-ish with a wide mouth. The same form that would work for a utensil caddy. This way, you won't be stuck with tulip themed pots that don't make sense at other shows. Don't think of yourself as a salesperson, think of yourself as the "host" of your booth. Make everyone who comes in feel welcome and comfortable, and glad that they stopped by whether they buy something or not. It's your responsibility to have positive interactions with your customers, not their's. It takes a great deal of energy, especially for three days. You can decompress in the evenings and when the show is over.
  18. This morning’s result, left to right, top zone middle zone bottom zone. All is good here. Thanks for the help everybody! When this is your income, equipment snafus can be stressful.
  19. Shelves. So I can see everything and do an inventory when needed.
  20. Thanks @neilestrick. Now that the kiln is powered on, the millivolts for all three TCs are the same as each other. Though slightly different from your chart. Now reading 13 when the chart says it should be 15. Is this due to the age of the TCs, being about half way through their lifespan? EDIT: I just remembered there is a 25° thermocouple lag offset. Never mind!
  21. I may have discovered the problem? Upon removing the panel, I found that the red wire of the top thermocouple was not connected. The set screw was not all the way tight. I bet the wire was in the right place and somewhat connected, enough that I didn't get a TC FAIL error. But still faulty at times. Then the wire got pulled out when I opened the panel. All three thermocouples look about the same level of cruddy, appropriate for their age. The top thermocouple is on the left. I don't feel like I need to replace them, at the moment. I'm currently firing the kiln with shelves and cone packs only. If it doesn't fire evenly, I'll replace the TCs after all.
  22. Thanks. I’ll open up the panel tomorrow and take out the tubes, and check on this. Too late to do it tonight, because the Ravens game starts in five minutes :-)
  23. Thanks, @neilestrick! I’ll open up the panel tomorrow.
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