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Everything posted by GEP

  1. Totally normal! It’s called “spalling.”
  2. I am also in agreement that the one on the left looks too thick. I would advise developing some process/techniques to make sure your glazing is consistent from pot to pot, such as using a hydrometer, and timed dips or timed sprays.
  3. If you have a melted element or a glaze spill, one section of the channel (about 4 inches long) can be removed and replaced. And to agree with Neil, if the element is tucked in correctly, the corners of the channel act like pins and hold the element in place. It’s a very smart design. The inside of my 16 yr old L&L looks new. I’ve replace maybe three sections of channel over the years. Roberta’s elements will soon lose their flexibility and will no longer be able to pop out.
  4. This happened to me once. I had overstretched an element a little, and it came drooping out on the first firing just like yours. It was still flexible enough to nudge it back into place. It looked a little wonky just like yours, but from then on it had a normal life span.
  5. I've posted about this subject before, just want to share another quick story about how much more powerful email marketing is, compared to social media. The past two years, I have participated in an online show/sale of cups. Last year, I sent a blast email to my email subscribers about it, and I posted about it on facebook and instagram. My five mugs sold out in under 10 minutes. This year, I decided to skip the blast email, and just use social media. I was theorizing that my email subscribers prefer to go to my shows in person, and social media followers are more likely to not be local enough to do that. I only sold three mugs on the first day. Two days later, and person on instagram asked me for instructions on how to buy. Instagram does not allow hyperlinks, so I had to describe how to get to right website. Cumbersome, but it appeared to work, the fourth mug was sold that day. Two days later (yesterday), the fifth mug was still not sold. I posted on facebook about the last mug. I did not bother with instagram, because I could not link directly to the mug listing on instagram. Nothing happened. Three days later (today), it was still not sold. I had scheduled a blast email about a show coming up this weekend. So I edited the email this morning to mention the last unsold mug. It was sold 30 minutes after the email went out. Just remember your email subscribers are far more interested in your work than anyone who follows you on social media. Next year, if I do this cup show again, I will not skip the blast email!
  6. I started a pottery business in 2002, and bought my pugmill in 2007. You can get by for a while with elbow grease. You are aware of how much they cost, so start putting aside money from your pottery sales as a “pugmill fund.” The day you come home with the pugmill you paid for in cash will be a big day.
  7. Yes, you definitely need the fines from the sludge. But they don’t need to be blunged in. They can be wedged in. I use a bucket of throwing water for several days, until it becomes too thick for throwing, then toss it in the slop bucket. I usually add a little more water from the sink, but just a little. My trimmings are usually bone dry before I add the throwing water. Flopped thrown pots can be smushed out on a plaster batt, then rewedged in a hour or so. I sometimes do that because I try to pug only as much clay that I need for one day. If I flop a large pot, I will need to reuse the clay in order to finish that day’s to-do list.
  8. If you are mostly using one clay, the blunging is not necessary. It takes a lot of water to make the slop loose enough to blunge. You only need to add enough water to rehydrate the leatherhard parts. It will reach the right consistency a lot faster. Then wedge. Wedging will easily incorporate the small scraps of different clay.
  9. You don't need to de-air your clay in the vacuum chamber if you are still planning to wedge it. Wedging is a mixing and de-airing process. Even if you had a pugmill, you need to get the slop to the right moisture content before pugging. So you can still only process as much as your plaster/climate parameters can handle. The pugmill only saves you the effort of wedging. Which is a significant savings in terms of wear and tear, but it still takes work and a disciplined system to keep up with the reclaim. I wrote a column for CM last year that details my reclaiming process. I can process 40 lbs at a time without needing extra space. It's done by stacking up a tower of plaster slabs. This does not require a pugmill. The reclaimed clay needs to be either wedged or pugged before using it again. But again, the key to my method is to not accumulate more than 40lbs of slop before processing it. https://www.goodelephant.com/uploads/3/5/9/2/3592345/rhee_dec18cm.pdf You might be better off throwing out your 500 lbs of reclaim, because it might be impossible to process it all now. Clay is cheap, so it's not that big of a deal. Start over with a small slop bucket and keep up with it all the time.
  10. I use a tiny bit of black nickel oxide in one of my gray glazes. It’s a neutral brown, kind of like iron oxide but without the red undertone. When combined with a tiny bit of cobalt carb, I get a pretty pale gray with a slightly blue undertone.
  11. Just to echo what @liambesaw said, there do exist smaller private websites with well-curated handmade craft. https://www.artfulhome.com/ is another one. Artful Home is basically a wholesale deal for the artist, you split the retail cost with them, then you drop-ship the work to the customer. You pay Artful Home much more than you pay Etsy, in order to have your work displayed among nothing but well-curated work. The other well-curated online craft sellers that I know of also work on a 50/50 split. It’s a trade off. If you want something with lower costs like Etsy, you can’t tell them to lower the volume of work. If you want to be seen in a well-curated environment, you need to pay them for the added value of their venue. It's expensive! It should be treated it like a gallery relationship, as in you have to compete to get past their discerning selection process, and give them half of the sale.
  12. I recently developed a need for a pincushion. I started shopping for one, and found that all of the ones you can buy either look like they are not very functional, or they are way too cutesy for me. Then I remembered that @Mark C. had posted his pincushion design with instructions on the forum. I searched the forum and found this thread. Now I have a new pincushion that is very functional and suits my tastes. All of the materials were already in my house, so it was free too. Thank you, Mark!!
  13. Smithsonian Craft Show. 20 years ago I thought it was an impossible goal. 20 years from now, I'll be thinking "I can't believe that really happened."
  14. I have a Miele vacuum, and use their bags and filters,
  15. I vacuum my studio once a year, during my big studio cleaning week. I use a vacuum with a Hepa filter bag, and wear a respirator while I’m vacuuming. Even if the bag isn’t full, I throw it away when I'm done, Then I leave the studio and don’t come back for at least 24 hours. I vacuum the floor and every horizontal surface, including the tops of the radiator pipes that run across the ceiling. There will be a fine layer of dust on everything. Without a vacuum I would not get things as dust free. After vacuuming I will wet mop the floor. The floor ends up much cleaner compared to not vacuuming first, because all the clay dust does not clog up the mop water.
  16. @liambesaw, the way I see it, it’s much better to start out with low prices, and raise them if the pots are flying off the shelf. Compared to starting out with overpriced pots, and having to lower the prices. Especially at a recurring market like a farmers market, where the same customers are going to see the evolution of your prices. Also, don’t let others pressure you into raising your prices. Especially from across the internet. We don’t know the area where you’re selling. Every location has different market forces. Base your pricing decisions on how fast your pots are selling. From across the internet, I can’t judge the weight and balance of your pots. But from what I can see, your pots are very attractive and of good craftsmanship. So present them with a sense of respect, not like bargain fodder. Which is related, but not specifically the same thing, as the number on the price tag. This market is a good choice for your first attempt at fair selling, due to its low booth fee. You can continue to do it this summer for the experience, but I would also start looking for something that is a step up. Where you won’t be selling pots next to snake oil.
  17. I unloaded a kiln this morning and found that one of my Core-lite shelves had cracked in half. It is broken mostly along one of its tunnels. The shelf is 6 years old and has been through 100s of firings without any signs of trouble. There was nothing unusual about the kiln load. It was tightly packed, and the broken shelf was in the middle zone where the pack was the most dense. The platter that was on this shelf is still flat. And the pots that were underneath are mostly fine. One of them has some grit from the broken shelf stuck in its glaze now. So I think it broke during the cool down. Anyone ever seen a Core-lite do this before? Any thoughts on why it happened?
  18. I have two glazes that dry to the exact same color when applied on a pot. I’m thinking of adding food coloring to one of them, so I can see where one glaze ends and the other begins. Has anyone tried this and does it work? By “work” I mean does the food coloring burn away harmlessly without affecting the glaze? Which color is most likely to burn away harmlessly, or are they all the same?
  19. Standard 266 looks like that, but it has bloating issues if you overfire it just a little. Better to fire it to cone 5. It can also react with glazes in unexpected ways, so testing is required with all new glazing schemes.
  20. I love dry cleaner plastic! As a potter I hardly ever set foot in a dry cleaners, but my NYC sister hooked me up with a large stash.
  21. You understood me just fine. But it’s not just silence/restraint, it’s also the politeness and a desire to not insult. And I’m not your sister.
  22. As a person of Korean heritage, I wholeheartedly endorse every word of the blog post. I also get raging mad when people use the term “wasi sabi” to describe something that is simply a poorly made pot. This is the heart of the matter for me. Asian cultures involve a culturally required politeness. We are programmed not to confront, or to express our offense. In my life, I've met many non-Asians who misinterpret this as approval, and somehow manage to extend the misinterpretation as “lower standards,” and take advantage of it, I appreciate her mention of Euan Craig as an example of someone who would never call his work “wabi sabi.” I don’t think she’s being vitriolic at all. She is offended, and expressing it with reasoned and tempered words. Maybe if more Asian people would stop holding their tongues, and express their offense, it wouldn’t seem vitriolic.
  23. I’ve been taking more and better vacations in recent years. But the type of post-retirement traveling I have in mind would involve being gone for months are even a year. Too long absences to maintain the momentum of a pottery business.
  24. I posed this question because I am a big believer in long-range goals. My whole career trajectory has been based on one long range goal after another: Get a full-time job as a graphic designer ... become a freelance graphic designer ... buy a house ... build a pottery studio in my house and launch a part-time pottery business ... quit the design business and do pottery full-time .... renovate my studio and buy a second kiln, which caused a big increase in output ... buy a minivan, which caused a big increase in shows and sales .... In recent years, my goals were all about improving efficiencies and productivity, ie making more more money with fewer pots and less labor. I”m now in my 9th year of full-time pottery. I would’t trade this experience for anything. It has been as satisfying as I hoped for. But as Mark noted, it is a grind and takes a toll on your body. So I am also thinking about winding down. In five years, I’d like to be living a much less labor intensive lifestyle. I don’t really want to live in a house with a yard anymore (especially on a spring day like today when I had to mow a tall and wet lawn). I’d like to live in a small, low-maintenance dwelling, which means no more pottery studio. I won’t need to earn a full-time income at that point, but I’ll probably work part-time to earn some extra income, and to stay busy. I also plan to travel, and pursue some recreational interests that I haven’t had time for while running a pottery business.
  25. I've got a suggestion for a QOTW. It's a subject I've been thinking about a lot lately. In terms of your pottery work, where do you seen yourself five years from now?
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