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Everything posted by GEP

  1. 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."
  2. I have a Miele vacuum, and use their bags and filters,
  3. 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.
  4. @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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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?
  14. If that is sunlight coming through the windows, cover the windows with a white sheet. The room may look too dark, but let the camera compensate for that with a longer exposure. You can also try a light mist of Dulling Spray (available at photo stores or Amazon). Nice use of depth-of-field (or purposeful lack of),
  15. Yup, they are stainless steel. So just as food safe as the pots.
  16. As I mentioned in the Events section, I have a big show coming up soon. Lots of good stuff coming out of the kilns now.
  17. I”m also going to say pugmill. I like to recycle my clay trimmings and there’s no way I could wedge it all by hand. Even if I weren’t a recycler, spending 20 minutes at the beginning of a throwing day making sure all of your clay is soft, homogenous, de-aired, and in round pieces, means you don’t spend the next four hours fighting with uneven, bubbly, or hard clay. Makes the whole day much easier. @liambesaw I got mine second hand for $1200. Keep your eyes peeled!
  18. Heading out for a well-earned vacation. Goodbye winter! At least for a few days.

    1. Min


      Enjoy yourself!!!

    2. Mark C.

      Mark C.

      YA-nothing is better than a warmer climate in winter

    3. Pres


      Hope your trip gets your bones thawed out. About now I wish to be back in Hawaii!




  19. On the subject of “hours vs. years,” I agree that there is a minimum number of hours required for development. But I’m not sure you can speed up the process by cramming in all of the hours within a short period of time. In order to make what I consider “professional” or “sellable” pottery, you need to be a fully-fledged adult with a strong grasp of your own values, tastes, priorities, etc. The pots you make are a reflection of who you are. And if you have not yet answered the “who am I?” question, your pots will look immature too. So even if you’ve spent 4 years in a college ceramics program, putting in many hours of intensive study, a degree holding 22 yr old still has years to go. A college campus is not the right environment to answer the “who am I?” question. The environment is too safe. (I remember as a college design student, I thought the program was so hard, intense and competitive. Then I hit the real world and realized how safe the environment had been.) In other words, the hours of study are just a starting point in terms of technical proficiency. The years of personal development are necessary too. In my experience as a pottery teacher, I occassionaly worked with students who had been practicing pottery for a year or two, and already making wonderful pots. They were mature people (which doesn’t necessarily mean older) who had a good sense of their values, and a large bank of life experiences to draw on and guide them.
  20. I was taking recreational pottery classes while working full-time as a designer. During those years I was also building up a freelance design practice on the side, so for several years I was working 1.5 full-time jobs. Pottery was my much needed stress relief on weekends. It took me eight years before I was making pots that I would consider “sellable.” Sure I sold some pots before that, mostly at my studio’s holiday sale, and at some small local fairs, but I would call those pots “student pots” not “professional pots.” The people who bought them had the same expectation. So for me, it was eight years of serious weekend practice. At that point I bought my own equipment and started working out of my own studio. This was a huge turning point, because it’s when I could finally make all of my own decisions, and especially to develop my own glazes. Before then, I really didn’t have control over how/when my pots got fired, and I was using the same clay/glazes that everyone else at my studio was using. Which means those pots were not MINE to the extent that professional pottery needs to be. I would add that to the factors that make someone work professional-grade. Skill, aesthetics, sound science, and ORIGINALITY. If you can only make pots that look like somebody else’s, that’s not professional.
  21. When I used to have a Trimline canopy, I would strap the poles to the roof rack. A dolly or handtruck can also be strapped to a roof rack.
  22. I did shows for over 10 years with a Subaru Forester. It can be done. I did some “tetris-style” packing (like @Callie Beller Diesel mentioned above) and also used the roof rack. I unpacked the car between shows. Most of these years were the part-time years of my business. Having a dedicated vehicle for a part-time business doesn’t make economic sense. Don’t think about it like “I need more space to pack more stuff” but rather “I need to design a display that fits into my Trailblazer along with X boxes of pots.” This approach to thinking will serve you well in many aspects of doing shows. Being organized and efficient goes a long way. So does being frugal. The Trailblazer is absolutely big enough. The right time for a dedicated vehicle is when your pottery business has supplied you with the funds for it. Until you reach that level, run your business as cheaply as possible. I traded in the Subaru for a used Toyota minivan when my business was full-time and the cost was easily affordable based on my business’s revenue.
  23. @shawnhar I would not choose a trailer as my first choice. Especially if you are still in the early stages of your pottery career. Try to make it work with a car that doubles as an everyday car, such as an SUV or minivan. In addition to the lack fo suspension that others have mentioned, there are lots of show sites where space is very limited during load-in and load-out. If you are pulling a trailer, you are taking up twice as much space (which can get hairy when a trailer-owner doesn’t know how to steer their trailer). Trailers are also bigger targets for theft, compared to a normal looking car. I would not spend $3000 on a trailer. If you don’t have a large enough car, I would trade in your current car, plus put the $3000 towards a larger car. I also don’t think 1000 mile trips are a good idea for the early stages of a pottery business. Very few shows are worth driving that far. I guarantee there are good shows closer to where you live. When you get to the point that you are doing this full-time, then it makes sense to think in terms of a dedicated van or a trailer, that you never need to unpack. Right now, the investment doesn’t make sense. And again, a trailer doesn’t really make sense for doing long distances with fragile pottery.
  24. So how do you feel about the $780 electrician’s quote now, after seeing how much work and expertise was involved?
  25. Aha, so the brushes come off easily? I may not need the garden hose after all. (which is good on a day like today -5°F wind chill)
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