Jump to content

GEP

Members
  • Content Count

    2,291
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Reputation Activity

  1. Like
    GEP got a reaction from blackthorn in QotW: What investment will you be doing this year to advance/enhance your ceramics journey?   
    Right now I am 90% sure I’m going to do this, though I still need to convince myself of the last 10%, but I think I’m going to get Lasik surgery. I recently turned 50, so this will be my 50th birthday present to myself.  I was originally planning to splurge on a nice vacation, but those plans went out the window with covid. Lasik is probably more useful anyways. 
  2. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in QotW: What investment will you be doing this year to advance/enhance your ceramics journey?   
    Right now I am 90% sure I’m going to do this, though I still need to convince myself of the last 10%, but I think I’m going to get Lasik surgery. I recently turned 50, so this will be my 50th birthday present to myself.  I was originally planning to splurge on a nice vacation, but those plans went out the window with covid. Lasik is probably more useful anyways. 
  3. Like
    GEP got a reaction from liambesaw in QotW: What investment will you be doing this year to advance/enhance your ceramics journey?   
    Right now I am 90% sure I’m going to do this, though I still need to convince myself of the last 10%, but I think I’m going to get Lasik surgery. I recently turned 50, so this will be my 50th birthday present to myself.  I was originally planning to splurge on a nice vacation, but those plans went out the window with covid. Lasik is probably more useful anyways. 
  4. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Chilly in QotW: What investment will you be doing this year to advance/enhance your ceramics journey?   
    Right now I am 90% sure I’m going to do this, though I still need to convince myself of the last 10%, but I think I’m going to get Lasik surgery. I recently turned 50, so this will be my 50th birthday present to myself.  I was originally planning to splurge on a nice vacation, but those plans went out the window with covid. Lasik is probably more useful anyways. 
  5. Like
    GEP reacted to LeeU in What’s on your workbench?   
    Hey--this is some serious art here! This is the art of resilience and adaptability. It is the art of pleasing women who shop at gift boutiques and are obsessed with gnomes. It is the art of kicking Peter Voulkus out of one's head and replacing him with a big nosed little creature in a valentine hat. It is the art of survival.  And, truth be told, it is the art of having a bit of fun. But we shall not speak of this ever again.



  6. Like
    GEP reacted to akilspots in What’s on your workbench?   
    big pot practice

  7. Like
    GEP reacted to hitchmss in Studio Design   
    Grab a cup of coffee, it's a saga here. 
    Sorry I've been MIA everyone...2020; hopped on here yesterday looking for some advice and Babs asked me how the studio came along....made me remember that I never provided updates and finished photos. 
    I'm currently sitting at a hospital (not for me this time....surprisingly) so I have some time to kill and thought I'd provide the low down on how the shop came together, but will have to take some new photos of the finished space as of most recent since it's been getting worked in and filled up. 
    A lot of the ideas and designs discussed in this thread came into fruition but I'll try to recap, in as brief as possible, what all went into the shop. I will however, for your sanity, not provide the infiite plethora of details about how the project came together.....there is some info about this on my blog on my website. In short, being designer, engineer, general contractor, contractor, plumber, electrician, HVAC tech, drywaller, painter, and septic installer, with the help of only one Carpenter for 80% of the build, while on a shoestring budget, and doing 23 shows during the build.....never worked so hard in my life. Worst diet I've ever been on; caffeine, sugar, and junk food, but still lost 50#'s....amazing what stress will do to you....glad it's over, but in some psychotic way, missing the action-always loved building and solving problems. 
    The project began in early March with the de-construction of the 1970's tobacco barn which stood where my new shop is built now. Construction of the new shop began on April 23 2019 and truly finished in early January 2020 (even though there are still some trim pieces which need paint and some other touches).
    The overall footprint is 48' wide x 72' long x 13' high (eaves)c 10' finished ceiling ,with a 4/12 pitch. It is a post frame (pole barn) construction, slab on grade. The building is a residential grade build (for my county had to be due to septic/bathroom), so a number of details were essentially "beefier", more complex, and more $ than an agricultural build.
    Posts 4' deep in a 2' wide ditch, on large concrete footings, backfilled with stone. 6x6' laminated Posts on 8' centers, trusses on 2' centers, and a 1' overhang all around. 2x6 girts on 2' centers, 2x4 purlins on 2' centers. Sided/roofed with metal, a vented ridge, and vented soffits including Gable end soffits. 5" seamless gutters with plans for some gutter guards in the near future. 
    Under the slab is a type 2 4.5" EPS foam which provides a little over an R20; this also works up the sides of the slabs at the grade boards, and as thermal breaks in the slab between climate and non climate controlled zones of the building. 
    In the slab is the radiant floor system which is essentially 3,000 feet of 1/2" PEX tubing run on 12". There are two heating zones; main work area and storage/kitchen/bath. We of course have utilities (water/electric), (2) 4" x12' trench drains for main work/glaze area floors, as well as drains for the kitchen/bath, a lot of gravel, and a vapor barrier. 
    The concrete floor is 5" of 4,000 mix with fibers, thickened to 8-9" in the kiln room and garage areas. Concrete day was the WORST day of the project hands down, but all in all, the finsibed product is not heinous. There is a fine brush/fuzz/velvet texture worked into the surface (not actually brushed, just power troweled) and at this time is unsealed but will do an epoxy coat when $$ becomes my friend again. 
    The building has an overall R55 in the wall, and R60 in the attic. The wall insulation is comprised of three distinct builds/layers of polyiso foam and dense blown cellulose fiber. To achieve these r values, provide a finished surface on which to hang sheetrock, and separate interior spaces (obviously), there is a stud (2x4")wall around the perimeter of the climate controlled spaces, a double stud wall separating climate controlled spaces from non, and single walls for adjoining climate controlled spaces.
    The "exterior" wall total build thickness is 14.5" thick (love my deep window sills) and interior double stud walls is 10.5" thick. The polyiso foam (2 separate builds in the walls, and 2 types of polyiso facings) is cut to fit, and spray foamed in place, providing not only an extremely air/moaiture/vermin tight envelope, but an extremely rigid wall structure. 
    The 3" standoff (space between stud wall and posts; is where all utilities are run (no drilling studs) and is filled with fiber once the polyiso is in the stud wall. 
    The same layers of polyiso (just in reverse order) are installed between the posts, and against the girts, sprayed into place. 
    My ceiling insulation is just 18" of loose blown cellulose fiber with extra build to 24" over water lines and refrigeration lines. 
    There is a total of (10) 4'x7' triple pane, high efficiency sliding windows. Some are placed in areas for aesthetics, but primarily for light and ventilation purposes. Window heights are designed to fit with equipment and furniture which lives in front of them. I wish I had the $$ for non vinyl, and casement windows instead of sliders, but alas, I'm just a Potter. 
    The length of the shop is oriented on an easy/west axis and because of this, all the windows/doors get GREAT crossbreezes. Numerous south facing windows get a welcomed solar heat gain in winter, and are mostly shaded by trees in the summer. A few west facing windows let in too much heat during afternoon summer sun periods, but planning to deal with that. Blinds have helped immensely. 
    The main work area (production & glazing) has a number of door openings to it; an 8x8' insulated overhead door, a 6' double door, and a standard 3' man door. The kiln room has a 8x8' overhead door, and the packing/storage room has (2) 6' double doors. There is also a 4' roll-up door on the tool shop, and the interior doors are all 3' doors. The overhead and double doors have no thresholds installed (rolling carts). Automatic door bottoms and sweeps had to be custom built to seal these doors. The garage space has the framing for, but not installed, a 16' x14' overhead door. 
    Unfortunately a 400 amp service was just not in the budget, so a 200 amp single panel was installed. Numerous quad and tandem breakers allowed us to create numerous circuits and still have room for all the 240 v equipment. An overhead service had to be used even though we planned for a buried service, mainly for $$. A whole home surge protector is on the panel, and the panel has some space left in it, but room for a sub panel was built in immediately adjacent. 
    20 amp circuits for all "non specific normal" outlets, with many many dedicated circuits in both 120 & 240, including circuits for equipment I won't own for Many years. Outlets are mounted high on the wall (4') and at least every 6-8'. Overhead outlets were installed in areas where open floor spans exceeded this distance. 
    Speakers are wired in wall for practically every interior room, as well as exterior speakers. 
    Overhead lighting is surface mount LEDs in the work/storage areas, and commercial high bay LEDs for the kiln room.....it's lit up! The lighting is laid out in certain areas to be directly over certain work spaces (task lighting) but you can't go more than 6' without there being another light. 
    Exterior lighting is also abundant; (10) caged LED fixtures run the sides of the building, and LARGE LED flood lights with motion sensors on both gables. Surface mounted lighting in the garage bay, and entry lighting as well. Very easy to work at night outside. 
    Thankfully city water with good pressure was available and I ran a 2" CTS line to the building. Unfortunately due to cost it constricts down to 1" fittings where our under slab stub out ties into the home run. (the cost is NOT linear when going from 1"-2" on brass fittings---holy cow!!).
    1/2" PEX carries water throughout the building; I wish I had done 3/4" for branches and 1" for main runs....hindsight. 
    (2) 2' tub sinks are in the main work area; production area sink is built higher to minimize bending over, and the glaze room sink is lower (to minimize lifting 5 gallon buckets out of)--both use paddle (non knob style) handles for turning on faucets easily with dirty hands.
    Another tub sink is installed in the kitchen, a full bath (walk in shower), a stacked washer/dryer, hose bib in garage, and ice maker constitutes my water demands. Both work room sinks have connections for a standard hose fitting allowing me to hose down floors. Pressure is set at 75 psi providing plenty of power to blast debris away. 
    A high efficiency tankless hot water provides hot water for both domestic and heating purposes and is fired with LPG. The "mechanical" room is one of my favorites; all the piping and technology that makes these systems work----awesome! 
    Air conditioning and emergency heat is provided with a high seer 3 ton mini split system. Overhead "ceiling cassettes" were opted for in lieu of the wall mounted air handlers. Currently only the main work area has AC, but the compressor has hookups for 5 air handlers and we only installed 2. At $800 each, adding AC to other areas is a manageable cost. The compressor is mounted high on the exterior side of the building; provides better 360* air flow around unit, and prevents possible theft. Vibration dampening pads between the frame and the building to prevent any related operating noise from transferring (amazing there is practically ZERO noise from the unit, even standing next to it outside). 
    The only ventilation this building has is what's built into my "dirty room"---sanding, spray booth, hot wax dipping, glaze mixing. This is a 10'x10' room which houses my downdraft sanding table and spray booth. A makeup air hatch in the ceiling is held in place with magnets and pops open with an easy pull from a stick while standing on the ground. Wall and ceiling mounted infrared heaters provide comfort while working in this room during the winter, but during the summer ya just gotta strip as the makeup air is HOT. 
    A 100 gallon 240v compressor, mounted on vibration dampening pads, in the kiln room carries compressed air throughout the shop on a 1" line. 
    A 1,000 gallon LPG tank out back provides fuel to the kitchen range, hot water heater, and kiln via a 1" line. A low pressure system takes care of everything but the kiln, and a high pressure system for the kiln is separate but same tank. There are also capped off circuits to allow for easy add ons for future kilns in both low and high pressure. 
    Lastly, a 3 bedroom sized (allows for a 2 bedroom home to be added later when we renovate the old schoolhouse and turn into home) septic system services the bathroom and kitchen.  The work room/glaze sinks are on an independent waste system; clay/glaze not good for leach field. Both sinks and drains have sediment filters and traps at the point of use, they then all (2 sinks, 2 floor drains) run into a filter pit, which is essentially a big hole in the yard filled with numerous layers of different gravels, sand, filter fabrics, and pipes. Eventually (20+ years) this pit will have to be dug up and cleaned but for now has been working flawlessly. 
    This covers "the basics" of the new "building" however there is a whole slew of other painstaking details which I'm happy to answer questions about. 
    The shop is designed to do a number of things but one big one was minimizing the handling of clay/pots by performing a "cyclical" pattern to the flow of work through the numerous stages and physically through the building. See the image of my floor plan for more ease of understanding. 
    My main work area;
    The van can be driven into the garage, clay offloaded onto wheeled wooden dollies, rolled through the garage door, and stored on the dollies under the "wedging/weighing" table (2'x7') which is also on wheels (as is practically EVERYTHING in the shop). There is space in the main area under different tables, and along the perimeter of the walls to store about 4 tons without being in the way...too much. 
    A VPM-60 pugmill is immediately adjacent to this area. My throwing "corner" is two wheels fitted beneath a 2' deep "corner table" (a wrap around table/bench idea, on wheels)which needs only a flip of my chair to go in between throwing/trimming wheels. Ware carts can be pulled up to my side for easy loading while working/sitting. There is a third wheel for my assistant next downstream with another work table in front, which holds a 2'x2' plaster slab for drying out slop. 
    A large and low (maybe 28-34" can't remember off hand) 5' x 10' main work table. This table is used for numerous different processes, but primarily for slab/coil construction, and staging ware boards of work. Tools/bats/bags/etc are stored on shelves underneath the top, as is clay on dollies and this table is also on wheels. 
    A 2' Bailey manual slab roller, with a 2' infeed table, and 6' outfeed table is also in this area (on wheels); shelves below the work top for storing extruder ((2) wall mounted northstar SS units) and slab related tools/parts/etc.  The slab roller top height is taller (maybe 36-40"?) Which is perfect for putting a banding wheel on top and standing to work putting on handles etc.
    Space for ware carts (18"x48"x72" wire shelving/carts), and a batmobile are also in this area. 
    A free standing air filter unit is "centered" in this space. Numerous gel floor mats also increase comfort from the hard floor. 
    A small pullout loveseat is a good place to take a break, if my dog decides to share "her couch" with me. My overnight Murphy bed is in this same corner too. 
    Immediately adjacent to the main work area is my office; a small 8x8' room with a desk, file cabinets, wall shelving, and pinboard. I have my "library" in here, as well as Central stereo equipment (vintage HiFi nerd here!). 
    Continuing the "cycle" through the space;
    After main work area, carts stage in the zone between main work and glaze area to dry. 
    My "dusty" room is immediately adjacent to the main work area, and between it and glaze area. Space for two carts are behind the walkway (behind you while working). The downdraft sanding table and spray booth are in this room as aforementioned. 12" duct carries dust trough the exterior wall. The sanding table is commercially made, but modifierd by me, and spray booth is DIY; I just did a write up for these on the FB group DIY clay. Infrared heaters and floor mats for comfort. Compressed air is brought into this room for both units. 3' doors on either side of the room for "flow through". 
    The cycle then continues through the glaze room, to the kiln room, via the double doors. An Olympic 2527 HE, and Amaco Excel "1027" are used for bisque. Both kilns have a downdraft exhaust system (even though I don't use for bisque) which is powered by one inline fan and is vented with 6" snap lock ductwork with seams taped. 
    After bisque work then travels back through double doors, into glaze room, and then into dusty room for hot waxing bottoms. (Done in spray booth for "smoke" and fumes. 
    The glaze area has two zones; materials storage/mixing, and application. (3) pharmaceutical storage/work tables (2x4'-wire slide out storage baskets below, and stainless tops) can be rolled into the "dusty" room for mixing, but I usually roll the necessary materials only in on a smaller cart. Only small volumes (1 gallon containers or less) of materials are stored in these tables (screw top, clear, square sided containers), and big volumes are stored in the kiln room in either 5 gallon buckets or their bags. 
    Next to the mixing tables is my sink. 
    (6) 2x4' stainless kitchen tables (on wheels) are the main glazing surfaces as well as a 2' deep x (maybe 20-25' long) wraparound "bar" (no legs to floor- wall cleat and 4 diagonal braces); this bar top is higher, about 44" which allows me to roll my as large as 40 gallon trash cans of glaze underneath to store. Wall mounted shelving above this bar, and glaze mixing tables finishes out this room. 
    In between the glazing/main work area there is space for an air king air filter unit to be hung from the ceiling. I have the unit, but still need to paint and hang. 
    Once glazed, pots roll through the double doors again to the kiln room for gas firing. I've written about the kiln on here before so I won't go into much detail. Essentially a 4' cube, single wall, ITC coated 2800* IFB, with a layer of 5/16" board and 8# blanket on the exterior. It is a downdraft car kiln fired with (2) big Bertha burners on high pressure LPG. It takes three stacks of 12x24" advancers (love love love); I take this to either cone 12 ox, or cone 10 redux depending. Storage of kiln shelves and posts is to the side/behind the kiln. The new burner setup allows me to turn both burners up from the same valve as opposed to two at the old studio. 
    The kiln room has a number of wall mounted shelves, and shelving units for staging of glazed but not fired wares, as well as general purpose.storage. A large window and 8' garage door provide draft for egress, comfort and safety. There is no ceiling in this room, and the vented ridge/soffits draws ALL the heat out of there....NICE in summer. Not so much in winter. 
    The electric kilns, air compressor and small (9x10') tool room are in this area as well as the electric panel. I store my kayak and other items under/in the trusses. Plans for a set of drop-down stairs (REAL stairs not attic access junk) on a winch will lead up to some framed and decked in attic storage for medium-lightweight items----probably next year $. 
    The tool room is an enclosed and heated room which is roughly in the same "footprint" of the kiln room. A 3' insulated entry door, and 4' roll-up door provide access for bringing tools (table saw, etc) in/out for work. Small machining/woodworking projects occur in this room, but it's basically tool storage with one work bench surface. 
    The next step for pots is through a different double door into the show packing/receiving & shipping/ finished inventory/pricing/etc room. Copious wall mounted shelving in numerous heights built specifically for the sizes of pots I make/store cover the walls. A large shelving unit (on wheels) sits in the center of the room, as does a 4x8' work table (on wheels). 
     A 3x6' table in the corner has shelving above for storing packing materials and rolls of bubble/foam on a roller above. A Chase for a "peanut chute" is buried above the central work table in this room, but not completed yet. When done it will allow me to take 6-8 body bags of peanuts into the attic to load the hopper and funnel down to below. 
    This "side" of the building (packing/storing, kitchen & bath) is heated but no AC. It is on a separate heating zone than the main room, allowing me to keep the heat low and save $. One window in the kitchen (off the back of the pack room) and antoher in the pack room, plus (2) 6' double doors with 1/2 glass panels provide both air flow and extra daylight to this side of the space.  It is separated from.the main work area intentionally so as to keep the finished pots as dust free as possible, and since the radiant heat has no airflow to it, dust does not "reach" the backs of the shelves and all the books and crannies as much. Because this is a north facing "wing" of the building, it gets not much solar heat gain during summer, so AC is not as critical in this room, especially if windows are opened on cool nights. 
    The kitchen is basic; two thrift store cabinets (upper and lower) provide my food storage, open shelving for dishware and pot "display" (this is a potters studio afterall!), refrigerator, full gas range (in case of open houses), microwave, and stacked washer/dryer unit. Off the back of the kitchen is the bathroom (I know, weird combo of smells but saves $$) which is basic; thrift store vanity/sink, commode, and walk in shower. The kitchen has an epoxied floor (prevent food spills into concrete) and the bathroom has a LVT floor for easy cleaning too. 
    The last step for pots is out the double door which goes into the garage space where the clay initially came in and gets loaded into the van and off it goes. The garage is a 16'x30' space with a 13' ceiling which fits my full height extended sprinter 2500 with room to walk around comfortably. A hose bib and overhead lighting/speakers complete this room. 
    Egress/ingress/mobility was highly considered for this space also. The driveway is about 14' wide and THICK Gravel to accommodate heavy truck deliveries as much as possible. The "turnaround/parking" area in front of shop is large for easy turning around. A 10' access road runs down the length of one side of the building for easier access to the back of the building for items which can't roll through the 6' doors in the shop. All the walkways are at least 3' so you can comfortably Carry a box and not scrape knuckles. Doors are also at least 3' and all have lever style handles, not knobs, and attached "feet" to hold doors open if needed. No thresholds in the building so aside from floor mats and the trench drains, there's nothing to roll over once you're on the concrete. 
    The building is a residential grade build, so aside from being "beefier" it also meets all required codes including things like smoke/co detectors. Is just about every way, I exceed building codes but a lot! 
    My experience in it so far;
    Having only made maybe 5 tons of pots in this space since I finished it almost one year ago exactly;
    The only thing I would change, or did wrong- the packing/storage space is too small. Not even a full, one year's normal production filled this space by almost 70%. Eliminating what doesn't need to be stored in this space ,More storage and more efficient storage will help, but will need to find more space for this. Otherwise I made a few mistakes during construction and just have to live with that. Similarly there were budget limitations, which is what it is, and while what it is, is definitely NOT bad in any way, I wish I had the $$ for those things. 
    The radiant floor heat is amazing! Not only highly efficient and comfortable, due to the lack of air flow, pots dry very evening, and the humidity level is consistent; two ceiling fans in the main/glaze area move the heat around my 10' ceilings perfectly. A single small dehumidifier running during the summer keeps the humidity at bay---critical since it is so airtight (closing the doors, they'll fight you some! ) 
    Speaking of efficiency; using the gauge off my LPG tank (not highly accurate I know) I estimated that last year's heating season (not a brutal winter) cost about $1.50/day in propane, a total of $2/day to heat the 2400 SQ feet of climatize space to-55* for storage, 67 for main work area. 
    I haven't had any months where I haven't been using heavy electric equip (kilns, compressors, air exhaust, etc) but on the leanest months of that kind of use, and only wheels, lights, stereo, etc my electric bills are around $40/month. Highest bills thus far have been during high firing/glazing periods and have been $160+, but that was expected and unavoidable. Water bills are less than $15/month. 
    Since we're on numbers; I won't breakdown every cost I had in this project but I will tell you that it cost me $58/SQ foot to build, which includes the septic, driveway, and sjtework which was done. Of course, my labor, which was A LOT, Was free. Definitely not the cheapest project and more money than I had, or wanted to spend, but considering what I've built with that $, I think the investment was well worth it, especially as my studio space, but even if I were to sell it. 
    For the future;
    to use up the old barn which I took down-
    Building a 24x24x 12 covered kiln pad out back for Raku/soda this spring when I get some time and a few $ for hardware. Concrete slab for this maybe next year, and kilns after that. 
    A 12'x 26' covered and screened in front porch for an outdoor area to sit, but also cut down on afternoon summer solar heat gain in main shop.
    Also planning some roll-up screens for the large openings on the building to allow for a bug free, but WIDE open space! 
    A shed roof "garage"/lean to along the access road side of the shop. 
    Lastly, a large shed roof lean to, for covering wood pile for potential community wood kiln in future. 
    I'm now racking my brain trying to thing of what I've forgot to share, but alas, can't think of anything else. Happy to answer questions and go into further details about things. Will hopefully get new pictures taken and uploaded with captions this week if not next. 
    I dont like to boast; not my nature, but this shop is pretty awesome so I kind of break my habits. Plus I like sharing this info, expsicslly the $ as it's useful info for those considering. 
    In that regard, I know most of you are no where near what we'd call "local" but if you're ever in the Cincinnati region, I'd be more than happy to have you to the shop and show you around! 
    Thanks for reading!  
     
     
  8. Like
    GEP reacted to Min in HCSM 1 + 2 White?   
    @Katie Piro, I've tested the High Calcium Satin Matte 1 base with 12 zircopax plus 2.5 tin oxide. It's a lovely white and still a semi matte with these additions. It does bump up the silica level (from the zircopax) but I found it still matte enough for me. I was using it over a white clay, I don't know what colour your clay is but will need higher opacifier levels over darker firing claybodies. I found it did slightly cutlery mark. If you also find it cutlery marks then do a line blend of the semi matte glaze plus a clear glaze, both with the same levels of opacifiers. There should be a point where the cutlery marking stops without the glaze becoming too glossy.
  9. Like
    GEP reacted to kswan in Eco friendly packaging   
    I'd like to add my 2 cents to this topic, because it's something I am concerned with as well. I reuse clean packing materials, and I ask some trusted people give me what they collect as well. If you live near an Ikea, the dishes in their kitchen department all have thin foam pieces in between. People leave those on the shelf when they buy dishes, and the employees just throw them out. They will give them to you if you ask nicely.   There are probably all kinds of businesses like that where you can ask for supplies. Reusing something is better than buying new, if it was already heading for the trash. I like the idea of the autobody foam too, @oldlady It sounds like the same type of foam and you can have bigger pieces when needed.
    Most ceramics should be double boxed except little things like mugs. I've not had anything break since I began doing that. I'd rather make it bomb proof than have to remake a special piece. If you have more than one item, wrap them individually and then wrap them together so they don't move at all. It's them clanking together that will break them rather than force from outside the box. I use rubber bands, bubble wrap or kraft paper to bind them. Before you seal it, shake the box. If you hear anything, add more stuffing. 2 inches of insulation all around, and under a little pressure, so it's like a jack in the box when you open it. 
    I bought boxes from a local manufacturer that is a 10 minutes drive from me. That way, they don't need to ship them. They have other supplies as well, like kraft paper, tape, etc. I don't use Uline because I don't support their political views and there are lots of local places to get supplies around me. I bought boxes because that way I don't have to try to scramble to get ones to nest in each other. Also, they are just the sizes I want, so I need less packing material inside them. Other than that, I haven't bought any shipping supplies except tape. I will switch to paper tape once my plastic tape runs out, that's a good idea. 
    I try to remember the three R's of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle. Right now everything is shipped, so it's hard to reduce the amount of stuff we're using, but the next step is to reuse what's already here instead of buying something new unless that's the only option.  
    I've also thought about adding a note in there, along the lines of "Packed with reused/recycled materials, please keep the cycle going by reusing or donating" It may spark somebody to think about it! I wish they could donate it back to me!  
  10. Like
    GEP got a reaction from LeeU in What’s on your workbench?   
    I’ve been in studio deep clean mode this week. I usually do this before my annual holiday sale. But since I didn’t have people coming inside this year, I did it after the sale, and had more time to do a more thorough job.


  11. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 in Advice for a new business.   
    My only issue with the Square store is that sometimes I’ll be trying to work on my store but the website is bugging out and not functioning correctly. If I walk away and come back a few hours later, it’s fine. The buying experience from the customer side has been flawless. 
    I had a few friends also launch Square stores this past year after asking me about mine. I advised them to watch the setup tutorial videos that Square provides. They are short and easy to get through. I found the interface confusing when I tried to figure it out on my own. But after watching the setup tutorials, it all became easy. 
  12. Like
    GEP got a reaction from rox54 in Advice for a new business.   
    My only issue with the Square store is that sometimes I’ll be trying to work on my store but the website is bugging out and not functioning correctly. If I walk away and come back a few hours later, it’s fine. The buying experience from the customer side has been flawless. 
    I had a few friends also launch Square stores this past year after asking me about mine. I advised them to watch the setup tutorial videos that Square provides. They are short and easy to get through. I found the interface confusing when I tried to figure it out on my own. But after watching the setup tutorials, it all became easy. 
  13. Like
    GEP got a reaction from rox54 in Advice for a new business.   
    Just for price comparison purposes, you can build a simple online store on the Square platform for free. You just pay for the credit card processing, which is basically the same cost as any other processor. It’s easy to link to it from your main website. 
  14. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 in Advice for a new business.   
    I do not advocate that everybody has to choose one color scheme, just because I do it. The goal should be that all of your work has enough connective tissue between the individual pieces that a viewer can see one piece, out of context, and know who made it. Mark’s work achieves that even with all the various colors. The connective tissue is there. 
    @rox54, on your website, your work is organized into five different collections. Some of them relate to each other, and some are way out on their own stylewise. I love the mugs pictured on the front page of your website, however I can’t quite determine which collection they belong in.  (I think it’s Earth and Sky, but only because Earth and Sky is the broadest.) All of this sends a message that you are unsure of yourself as an artist. That doesn’t mean this is true,  just that the message is being sent. So you are correct that it is confusing, from a customer perspective. When your work is displayed in a 10x10ft show booth, you only have a few seconds to catch a customer’s attention. If they can’t figure out what you’re selling, they’ll move on. 
    This doesn’t mean you should drop four of your collections today. Like you said, that’s very hard to do, and the right decision will take a lot of time and careful thought. (And metrics! Which you learned in my video). And again, it doesn’t mean all of your work needs to end up in a single color scheme. (Look up the work of Steven Showalter on instagram. His work is a rainbow of colors, and a large variety of forms. But the connective tissue is very strong.)
    Absolutely you should be applying for a higher grade of juried shows, starting as soon as shows are allowed to open again. What type of show do you mean by “craft” show, that you say you don’t do well in? Some people use that term to refer to low-end kitchy shows, but it can also refer to the high end of the craft world too. 
  15. Like
    GEP reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in Advice for a new business.   
    I think you need to choose a way that you want to work, and then study the best way of going about that. Wether it’s your galleries, doing shows or focusing online, if you put in regular maintenance and effort, it’ll grow given time. The trick is to be consistent. Your work is beautiful, and you should have no problem moving it. I don’t think the problem is your work at all.
    I had a poke around your instagram and website, coming at it as though I just discovered your page, and wanted to see w hat your prices were and to see if you had a newsletter I could sign up for so I could learn more. Some of the following may come across as harsh, in the absence of body language or voice tone to soften this. Know that my intent is to just give information. It’s only information, and websites and social media are ongoing projects. You’re never done improving them. 
    Some observations about your website and social media. 
    At first glance, your instagram has lovely photos. Your top 18 photos are pretty and on topic. It’s easy to click follow, because I like what I see, and I’m hoping for more of the same. Your bio is a bit vague, but not a deal breaker. It doesn’t tell me where you’re out of, or if I’m supporting an artist local to me, or how this art might appeal to me. I see you did a giveaway...in August. And then didn’t post again in your feed until December 20. That’s too long if you want to use instagram as a sales avenue. After your giveaway, you didn’t do any follow up that encouraged people to go check out items for sale on your website. Online, you really have to spell things out for people and tell them exactly what you want them to do. You’ll hear marketers talk about using a call to action. A call to action isn’t “I made a pretty butter dish! Link in bio.” A call to action is “If you missed out on winning your favourite piece in the giveaway, there are these other ones in my shop. Go check it out through the bio right now and pick your favourite!”  . I’m not saying you need to post 3 times a day, but at least a few times a week is a good idea. This might be mitigated if you’re more active on your stories, but those disappear after 24 hours, and you didn’t have any active when I was browsing through.
    When I went to your website through the link in your bio, I find your website isn’t optimized for either sales, or for viewing on a mobile device. If you visit your website straight from instagram on a mobile phone, some of the elements jump around as they’re loading, which I found physically uncomfortable. There are far more pictures on your desktop view than there are on the mobile view. The drop down menus land in a weird place, and it’s really difficult to find pieces with prices. After finding an item I might have liked with a price attached to it, I find you require people to email you for purchase, which involves a trip to yet another part of your website. There is no direct link provided for this, and I have to go back to the main menu. All of this is making your customer work way to hard to purchase something from that particular sales avenue. If I hadn’t been on a specific mission to find it, I would have assumed after 2-3 clicks that you didn’t have anything in your shop at the moment and left. In fact, on the first pass, I did. I went into a browser on my laptop and discovered it was possible, if complicated, and went back into my phone to see if I could find it.  
    I think that if the layout is an issue with your template, you need a new template. You have paid enough to your chosen website building platform to remove their branding. Typically that comes with some form of e-commerce option. What’s the reasoning behind not using it? 
    Also, the only place I could find to sign up for your newsletter was on your contact page, and it appears to be incorporated with your “contact me” box. I know people tend to hate the idea of pop ups that solicit these things, but I can say that they work beautifully, and you can set them so they only occur once to a given IP address so they’re not invasive. I just did mine through Mailchimp.
     
  16. Like
    GEP reacted to Min in Advice for a new business.   
    Since you are selling pots I would stop referring to yourself as a hobby potter. You are a potter. Call yourself as working part time at it if you like but to me the term hobby potter doesn't really encompass selling work on the scale you have described. Being a hobby potter is wonderful, I hope to get there someday, but from a business perspective that's not how I would market yourself.
  17. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Min in Advice for a new business.   
    I do not advocate that everybody has to choose one color scheme, just because I do it. The goal should be that all of your work has enough connective tissue between the individual pieces that a viewer can see one piece, out of context, and know who made it. Mark’s work achieves that even with all the various colors. The connective tissue is there. 
    @rox54, on your website, your work is organized into five different collections. Some of them relate to each other, and some are way out on their own stylewise. I love the mugs pictured on the front page of your website, however I can’t quite determine which collection they belong in.  (I think it’s Earth and Sky, but only because Earth and Sky is the broadest.) All of this sends a message that you are unsure of yourself as an artist. That doesn’t mean this is true,  just that the message is being sent. So you are correct that it is confusing, from a customer perspective. When your work is displayed in a 10x10ft show booth, you only have a few seconds to catch a customer’s attention. If they can’t figure out what you’re selling, they’ll move on. 
    This doesn’t mean you should drop four of your collections today. Like you said, that’s very hard to do, and the right decision will take a lot of time and careful thought. (And metrics! Which you learned in my video). And again, it doesn’t mean all of your work needs to end up in a single color scheme. (Look up the work of Steven Showalter on instagram. His work is a rainbow of colors, and a large variety of forms. But the connective tissue is very strong.)
    Absolutely you should be applying for a higher grade of juried shows, starting as soon as shows are allowed to open again. What type of show do you mean by “craft” show, that you say you don’t do well in? Some people use that term to refer to low-end kitchy shows, but it can also refer to the high end of the craft world too. 
  18. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in Advice for a new business.   
    I like the Bloom collection, and the techniques can certainly be adapted to carving slip off at the leatherhard stage, rather than scratching glaze off at the bisque stage. Slip carved surfaces can also be combined with transparent or translucent glazes, creating more connection with your other styles?  You don’t need to take my exact suggestions, I’m only giving examples of how you should be thinking going forward. (how to make this safer or easier, how to create more cohesion, etc). 
  19. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in Advice for a new business.   
    Would you be  willing to tell us what marketing efforts you made during the Christmas season? We could give you feedback that was more specifically tailored to you. 
  20. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 in Advice for a new business.   
    Would you be  willing to tell us what marketing efforts you made during the Christmas season? We could give you feedback that was more specifically tailored to you. 
  21. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Bill Kielb in New Kiln Advice   
    For an L+L kiln that was born in January 2004, the correct TC Offset might be 50 instead of 18. L+L switched to a thinner TC protection tube around that time, so yours might be the older, thicker ones. Anyhow, I agree with @neilestrick that you should reset the kiln to the factory settings, in case the previous owner changed something that maybe worked for them but doesn’t work for you.
    As for elements failing very young, I’m wondering how you are stacking the kiln? There was a time when I managed to kill two new-ish elements in a row. I had recently purchased cordierite plate setters, and was stacking them very close to the kiln wall. (I thought I was being space efficient, haha). After the second time it happened, I couldn’t deny that all that extra mass was somehow causing lots of stress on the elements in that one spot. By moving the stack about one inch closer to the center of the kiln, I never had that issue again. 
    I agree with everyone above that an 8 or 9 hour firing with a full load is totally normal. 
  22. Like
    GEP reacted to feistyfieryceramics in Emergency help...Just discovered mid firing @ 543 C that 1 to 2 elements are dead! Student work inside   
    @Bill KielbYay! I should maybe hold my excitement until we complete a successful firing , but we are feeling so happy and impressed with ourselves  I know there will be a lot more to learn, but we got past the first barrier of even trying. All thanks to the wonderful advice here.
  23. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in What’s on your workbench?   
    I’ve been in studio deep clean mode this week. I usually do this before my annual holiday sale. But since I didn’t have people coming inside this year, I did it after the sale, and had more time to do a more thorough job.


  24. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 in Taxes, what should I expect?   
    True for businesses in general, but the nature of a one-person pottery studio does not really present any risk of being sued. 
    There is no “one size fits all” answer to this choice, it all depends on an individual’s priorities,
  25. Like
    GEP reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in Taxes, what should I expect?   
    So taxes can vary pretty widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so the first thing I would do is actually track down an accountant in your area who is familiar with selling online as a business model. If you find taxation daunting, learn about it from a professional and eliminate the worry in your own mind.  Get them to set you up with a bookkeeping system you can use and fill out the way they need, so all they have to do is the filing. Get them to tell you the types of things you can and can't deduct, what to save and what to not bother about, and at what threshold you need to be collecting and remitting what. Getting set up properly from the get go will make things run more smoothly. Doing the bookkeeping yourself allows you to keep an eye on your finances in a clear way, which is essential.
    Next: set up a bank account that is only for your business expenses. Keep this separate from your personal expenses at all costs. If you have to go through a bank account, paypal and two different credit card statements at the end of the year trying to remember what was a personal expense and what was for your business, you are going to HATE your life!
    Accounting is something that can be pretty straightforward. But managing your cash flow and determining if you are actually being profitable is a topic that isn't addressed as much. A book on the topic that I only found last year and wish someone had pointed me at a LOT sooner is Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. It's a quick, easy way of setting up your cash flow that will reveal holes in your pricing if you haven't got it right very quickly. It also sets you up so you're insulated from the severe income swings that we can experience as makers. It's one of those unicorn books where the principle works in different countries, and at different income levels. He does explain how to scale the system if needed. If you're a fan of envelope or jar systems for household spending, this is similar, but easier. See if you can find it at your local library, but if they don't have it, it's not too expensive. 
    I personally think that if you've never built a website, Etsy isn't a bad place to start and learn on. However be sure to build your business as though you were a full time professional with an intent to eventually move off the platform. Taking the time to create proper shop policies and fill out all the forms on Etsy as thoroughly as you can is important, and will take some time. Doing that will help you communicate with your customers for a better experience, but it will also cover your backside in the event something goes sideways. It'll also be information that you can copy and paste onto your own separate website when you go to build it. Try and save the copy for these things in a document somewhere off site  as backup.
     That said, don't assume Etsy as an entity cares if you succeed as a seller or not, despite the extensive propaganda to the contrary.  If you need assistance, I found that some of the local small business and Etsy groups are better resources than their forum. Some of the things that Etsy encourage sellers to do are not, in fact, in your best interests as a professional. (Note when I say professional, I'm not talking about the number of hours you put in. You can be a part time professional at your business.) Lowering your prices or offering too frequent discounts might get you (and them) money short term, but it shoots you in the foot and trains customers to have a set of expectations that aren't in line with a sustainable business. 
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.