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GEP

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  1. Like
    GEP reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in Signature worth money?   
    I agree fully with what's already been said about standing by everything you put out, and being identifiable to people who may be interested in more of what you have to offer.
    When you say "soulless" pots, it evokes certain images of boring/unengaging work, or stuff you don't like making: stopgap items that you hate.
    When I was being taught professional practices more than 20 years ago in art school, there was a prevailing attitude of snobbery toward making things that paid the bills or having a bread and butter line, as they were probably distractions from our "real" work. It went along with the ideas that no one would pay what a mug was worth so I shouldn't waste my time on them, and that having a website wasn't a good idea because it would conflict with and potentially undercut my galleries' efforts to sell on my behalf. 
     I think it's pretty safe to say that view isn't an accurate one now.
    I think the folks who taught me that may have meant well, but they had it all backwards, and maybe had some scarcity issues.  You wind up spending a lot more time making your bread and butter stuff, so enjoying it is important to your long term happiness and continued ability to make work. Why work for yourself if you hate your job? 
     
     
  2. Like
    GEP reacted to Min in Signature worth money?   
    I'm a firm believer in having a legible stamp/signature, can't count the times I've gotten repeat orders from people contacting me from my stamp on the bottom of pots. All the work helps pay the bills, simple small pots (which are my best sellers) or one offs.
    You could always use 2 stamps/signatures, one for the bread and butter pots and another for your high end one offs.
  3. Like
    GEP reacted to Sherril in Glazing help with dark brown stoneware 70   
    Hi there,
    I don't mind at all. I have a 10' x 32' (includes a 6' porch) insulated skid cabin built by local Mennonites. We later added a 14' x 5' extension for a kitchen and shower area. I have a primitive gray water septic. I hand carry water and also have a small RV tank for gravity feed, dishes, hand washing. I love it, though it is small and my slab roller takes up a chunk of the living area! Thought about a container, but for the money and time involved the cabin was the best choice. 

  4. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 in Ecological impact of studio pottery   
    I have a friend who, years ago, moved to a new area, and learned that she would need a permit to build a gas kiln. So she went to the county offices, and learned that the person who approved the permits was her next door neighbor. He said he didn't know much about gas kilns and would need to research the matter, and get back to her. She figured she had no chance. The permit guy found out that firing a gas kiln emits lets than a commercial passenger airplane does every 30 seconds. He gave her the permit!
  5. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Chilly in Ecological impact of studio pottery   
    I have a friend who, years ago, moved to a new area, and learned that she would need a permit to build a gas kiln. So she went to the county offices, and learned that the person who approved the permits was her next door neighbor. He said he didn't know much about gas kilns and would need to research the matter, and get back to her. She figured she had no chance. The permit guy found out that firing a gas kiln emits lets than a commercial passenger airplane does every 30 seconds. He gave her the permit!
  6. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Chilly in Starting up in a big way.   
    Measuring experience in years doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Measuring in “pots produced” is more meaningful. You mentioned above that you need to acquire a studio space and equipment. Whose equipment have you been using up until now? If you are using somebody else’s studio, or a community/classroom studio, there was probably a limit on the volume of pots you could produce. 27 years of making a few dozen pots per year does not put you on the cusp of making a good income with pottery. I’m just assuming your output level of course, I could be wrong, based on you saying that you need to get a studio and the equipment. 
    (I once had a pottery student who had been making pots for 15 years. Turned out she had very little command of throwing, and her bad habits had been ingrained for so long, she couldn’t unlearn them.)
    Which brings me to my next question. Do you think you can make 2000 pots per year?  That’s about my current output, and some potters do far more than that (Mark C., for example). Many very talented potters fail on this issue. Will you enjoy the volume and repetitiousness? Or will it make you as unhappy as your current job? To expand what’s been said above already, production speed and consistency also take years to develop.
    (It wasn’t until I did wholesale pottery for several years that I developed that kind of speed.)
    What have you been doing with the pots you’ve made in the past? Even if it’s a few dozen pots per year, they need to go somewhere. Have you done any commerce at all? Even if you are gifting it, you should already have an idea if people like your work and want to own it. What is your sense of the demand for your work? 
    (Long before I ever considered starting a pottery business, my friends and co-workers were lined up ordering my work. The community studio where I made pots had an annual holiday sale where I could sell just about everything else.) 
    After I moved on from the community studio and put together my own, it was still 8 years before I could quit my previous job. I’ve met lots of aspiring potters over the years who thought it could be accomplished in months rather than years, not one of them has stuck it out. 
  7. Like
    GEP reacted to dirtball in Starting up in a big way.   
    Hey I've decided Im quitting my job and putting my retirement into a tax free savings account. Ill find a different job that i can devote more time to pottery.  
    Now with my display I'm going to build it out of baltic birch and laminate and will have a Scandinavian feel .Ill post the build when i build it . 
    thankyou all for your advice. 
     
  8. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in Ecological impact of studio pottery   
    I have a friend who, years ago, moved to a new area, and learned that she would need a permit to build a gas kiln. So she went to the county offices, and learned that the person who approved the permits was her next door neighbor. He said he didn't know much about gas kilns and would need to research the matter, and get back to her. She figured she had no chance. The permit guy found out that firing a gas kiln emits lets than a commercial passenger airplane does every 30 seconds. He gave her the permit!
  9. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Sile in Beginners Wheel   
    Because it's bigger and holds a LOT of trimmings. If this is your first wheel that is just for you and not shared with anyone else, you are in for a treat. You don't have to clean it!
  10. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Russ in Beginners Wheel   
    Because it's bigger and holds a LOT of trimmings. If this is your first wheel that is just for you and not shared with anyone else, you are in for a treat. You don't have to clean it!
  11. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Mark C. in Ecological impact of studio pottery   
    I have a friend who, years ago, moved to a new area, and learned that she would need a permit to build a gas kiln. So she went to the county offices, and learned that the person who approved the permits was her next door neighbor. He said he didn't know much about gas kilns and would need to research the matter, and get back to her. She figured she had no chance. The permit guy found out that firing a gas kiln emits lets than a commercial passenger airplane does every 30 seconds. He gave her the permit!
  12. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Benzine in Ecological impact of studio pottery   
    I have a friend who, years ago, moved to a new area, and learned that she would need a permit to build a gas kiln. So she went to the county offices, and learned that the person who approved the permits was her next door neighbor. He said he didn't know much about gas kilns and would need to research the matter, and get back to her. She figured she had no chance. The permit guy found out that firing a gas kiln emits lets than a commercial passenger airplane does every 30 seconds. He gave her the permit!
  13. Like
    GEP got a reaction from neilestrick in Ecological impact of studio pottery   
    I have a friend who, years ago, moved to a new area, and learned that she would need a permit to build a gas kiln. So she went to the county offices, and learned that the person who approved the permits was her next door neighbor. He said he didn't know much about gas kilns and would need to research the matter, and get back to her. She figured she had no chance. The permit guy found out that firing a gas kiln emits lets than a commercial passenger airplane does every 30 seconds. He gave her the permit!
  14. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in Tell us about the things that DID work for you in the beginning!   
    By the time I had started a part-time pottery business, I had been a self-employed graphic designer for 6 years. So I was already comfortable with administering a small business. This gave me a big leg up compared to a most craft artist businesses. So backing up from there, the most positive thing I did before starting my graphic design studio was to hire an accountant. He taught me how to keep books, pay estimated taxes, pay sales tax, and save for retirement. I am still working with him 24 years later! Over the years, he has given me so much good advice, plus lots of support and encouragement. I feel like I couldn’t have done it without him, because there is so much peace of mind knowing that when I have a question, I know he will know the answer. His advice comes from having insight into lots of other self employed businesses, not to mention he knows every detail of my business. His advice is never sugar coated. Sometimes we disagree, but he always respects my right to make decisions. 
  15. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Hulk in I want to buy a kiln. What accessories should be on my shopping list?   
    Witness cones.
    Heatproof gloves.
    Chisel.
    Notebook for keeping a kiln log.
    A wooden ruler that is taller than the height of the kiln and long enough to span across the width of the kiln opening. Use the ruler to check how much height is left in the kiln while stacking it. If you’re not positive that a pot on the top shelf of too tall or not, slide the ruler across the opening to see if it hits the pot. 
  16. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Magnolia Mud Research in Starting up in a big way.   
    @dirtball
    It has already been said but you are not taking the advice, but once again “all or nothing” is not a good way to do this. Keep you job and start the pottery business on the side. Build it up slowly. 
    You will still have a boss ... yourself. Being your own boss has a lot of pitfalls too. Also, you will still need to work well with show organizers (lots of rules to follow when doing shows), gallery owners, and most of all, CUSTOMERS. 
    Having carpentry skills to build a display is not the hard part. The hard part is to design a display that is visually effective and also logistically easy to transport. It takes a lot of trial and error (a common theme in this thread). My display evolved a lot for many years before it began to work well. 
    This is not a good head space from which to make a major financial decision. A pottery business is not the answer to this situation. The best answer to this situation is to find another paycheck job in the same field with a more compatible boss. Take a deep breath and slow down. Being a potter, and being a professional potter, are two very different things. The notions you have expressed indicate that you don’t understand this. If being a professional potter is your lifelong dream, then pursue it with a positive head space and a plan to succeed. Don’t just jump off a cliff and hope it works out. 
  17. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Sile in Beginners wheel and kiln   
    @Sile, although the kiln you mentioned before is already sold, the size of that kiln does not prevent you from making plates. I wouldn’t try to fire a production quantity of plates in a 17 inch wide kiln, but making plates for personal use is totally doable. So don’t eliminate that size when looking at used kilns. 
    I am a full time potter, and started my business with a kiln that was 17 inches wide and a bit shorter than that one. I made plates, using plate setters to stack them more efficiently. I upgraded to a larger kiln two years later when I could afford it. But still, if you are making pots for yourself as a hobby, that size will work.
    That little kiln was given to me for free, I wasn’t going to turn it down! It really helped get my business off the ground. At the same time, I could see that I would need something larger before too long. Similar to what @neilestrick advised you, I had the electrician install a wire that was beefy enough for a larger kiln. When it came time to upgrade to a larger kiln, I only needed to have the breaker and the outlet replaced, but not the wire. Planning ahead saved a lot of money. So if you go with a small kiln now, my advice to you is to do the same. You may never need it, but if you decide to upgrade to a larger kiln later, you’ll be glad you did. 
  18. Like
    GEP got a reaction from neilestrick in Starting up in a big way.   
    @dirtball
    It has already been said but you are not taking the advice, but once again “all or nothing” is not a good way to do this. Keep you job and start the pottery business on the side. Build it up slowly. 
    You will still have a boss ... yourself. Being your own boss has a lot of pitfalls too. Also, you will still need to work well with show organizers (lots of rules to follow when doing shows), gallery owners, and most of all, CUSTOMERS. 
    Having carpentry skills to build a display is not the hard part. The hard part is to design a display that is visually effective and also logistically easy to transport. It takes a lot of trial and error (a common theme in this thread). My display evolved a lot for many years before it began to work well. 
    This is not a good head space from which to make a major financial decision. A pottery business is not the answer to this situation. The best answer to this situation is to find another paycheck job in the same field with a more compatible boss. Take a deep breath and slow down. Being a potter, and being a professional potter, are two very different things. The notions you have expressed indicate that you don’t understand this. If being a professional potter is your lifelong dream, then pursue it with a positive head space and a plan to succeed. Don’t just jump off a cliff and hope it works out. 
  19. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in Starting up in a big way.   
    @dirtball
    It has already been said but you are not taking the advice, but once again “all or nothing” is not a good way to do this. Keep you job and start the pottery business on the side. Build it up slowly. 
    You will still have a boss ... yourself. Being your own boss has a lot of pitfalls too. Also, you will still need to work well with show organizers (lots of rules to follow when doing shows), gallery owners, and most of all, CUSTOMERS. 
    Having carpentry skills to build a display is not the hard part. The hard part is to design a display that is visually effective and also logistically easy to transport. It takes a lot of trial and error (a common theme in this thread). My display evolved a lot for many years before it began to work well. 
    This is not a good head space from which to make a major financial decision. A pottery business is not the answer to this situation. The best answer to this situation is to find another paycheck job in the same field with a more compatible boss. Take a deep breath and slow down. Being a potter, and being a professional potter, are two very different things. The notions you have expressed indicate that you don’t understand this. If being a professional potter is your lifelong dream, then pursue it with a positive head space and a plan to succeed. Don’t just jump off a cliff and hope it works out. 
  20. Like
    GEP got a reaction from dirtball in Starting up in a big way.   
    @dirtball
    It has already been said but you are not taking the advice, but once again “all or nothing” is not a good way to do this. Keep you job and start the pottery business on the side. Build it up slowly. 
    You will still have a boss ... yourself. Being your own boss has a lot of pitfalls too. Also, you will still need to work well with show organizers (lots of rules to follow when doing shows), gallery owners, and most of all, CUSTOMERS. 
    Having carpentry skills to build a display is not the hard part. The hard part is to design a display that is visually effective and also logistically easy to transport. It takes a lot of trial and error (a common theme in this thread). My display evolved a lot for many years before it began to work well. 
    This is not a good head space from which to make a major financial decision. A pottery business is not the answer to this situation. The best answer to this situation is to find another paycheck job in the same field with a more compatible boss. Take a deep breath and slow down. Being a potter, and being a professional potter, are two very different things. The notions you have expressed indicate that you don’t understand this. If being a professional potter is your lifelong dream, then pursue it with a positive head space and a plan to succeed. Don’t just jump off a cliff and hope it works out. 
  21. Like
    GEP got a reaction from terrim8 in Starting up in a big way.   
    No. It takes much longer than that to develop a sellable body of work, and an audience that is paying attention to you. 
    It does sound like you are in a stable financial position though, so becoming a potter is doable. Just give yourself 5 to 10 years (depending on your current skill level), and have a financial plan to cover yourself during those years. This will probably involve keeping a paycheck job for several more years, which doesn’t have to be the one you currently have. 
    I don’t think it’s necessary to build a new house. Can you make a studio space where you live now? Or buy an existing house with usable studio space? And you don’t need a new-ish big van. A used minivan is perfect for a potter. Keeping expenses low will be a big factor in whether you can make this work. 
  22. Like
    GEP got a reaction from dirtball in Starting up in a big way.   
    Measuring experience in years doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Measuring in “pots produced” is more meaningful. You mentioned above that you need to acquire a studio space and equipment. Whose equipment have you been using up until now? If you are using somebody else’s studio, or a community/classroom studio, there was probably a limit on the volume of pots you could produce. 27 years of making a few dozen pots per year does not put you on the cusp of making a good income with pottery. I’m just assuming your output level of course, I could be wrong, based on you saying that you need to get a studio and the equipment. 
    (I once had a pottery student who had been making pots for 15 years. Turned out she had very little command of throwing, and her bad habits had been ingrained for so long, she couldn’t unlearn them.)
    Which brings me to my next question. Do you think you can make 2000 pots per year?  That’s about my current output, and some potters do far more than that (Mark C., for example). Many very talented potters fail on this issue. Will you enjoy the volume and repetitiousness? Or will it make you as unhappy as your current job? To expand what’s been said above already, production speed and consistency also take years to develop.
    (It wasn’t until I did wholesale pottery for several years that I developed that kind of speed.)
    What have you been doing with the pots you’ve made in the past? Even if it’s a few dozen pots per year, they need to go somewhere. Have you done any commerce at all? Even if you are gifting it, you should already have an idea if people like your work and want to own it. What is your sense of the demand for your work? 
    (Long before I ever considered starting a pottery business, my friends and co-workers were lined up ordering my work. The community studio where I made pots had an annual holiday sale where I could sell just about everything else.) 
    After I moved on from the community studio and put together my own, it was still 8 years before I could quit my previous job. I’ve met lots of aspiring potters over the years who thought it could be accomplished in months rather than years, not one of them has stuck it out. 
  23. Like
    GEP reacted to neilestrick in Starting up in a big way.   
    Right now is definitely not the time to jump into a new career in pottery. The pandemic has thrown everything about our livelihoods into disorder, and there's no end in sight yet. And even if we do get back to 'normal' soon, it's going to be a different normal, and we don't know what those differences will be yet. Nor do we know when the economy will get back to normal or what people's spending habits will be.
    You basically have three ways to sell pots- in person at art fairs and other gatherings, online, or in galleries/shops.  Art fairs were cancelled for the most part this year, and we don't know if they'll happen next year or not, or if they'll be any good if they do happen. Just like all small businesses, the future of galleries and shops is in question right now. Many will close before the pandemic is over. It takes years to build up a following to be successful at online sales. Just putting your work on Etsy does not mean you'll sell anything. Search 'blue mug' on Etsy and you'll get 135,000 results. Etsy is great as a shopping cart, but worthless as a method to drive sales.
    I would say this is the worst possible time to try and start a pottery career. Maybe in a year, but more likely in two years. Take that time to start building up your business as much as possible, but keep your current job.
     
  24. Like
    GEP reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in Starting up in a big way.   
    @dirtball 
    First of all, welcome to the forum, and I hope we can help you out with your end goals, and figure out something that will work. There are a number of successful, full time professional potters here, and their advice is well worth listening to.
    There is so much about this that I'd like to address, and so very much of it will depend on where you are in North America. I second Oldlady's words about your location mattering. For instance, I don't know any potters in Alberta that own one of those cargo vans that a lot of the artists in the US seem to use. Our market here does bear some similarities to the US and some principles do cross over, but there are also some very significant differences.  For instance, we don't have the massive outdoor fairs of the US, and even in the absence of a pandemic, there aren't enough of them to hit one every week of the year. You need to make sure that the information you're getting is actually applicable to your circumstances. Local economic situations will come into play. 
    I started my own business full time about 6 years ago, when the price of oil crashed and the province went into a bit of an economic tailspin. It strangely wasn't a bad time to begin a business, but I second, third and fourth the opinions stated already that building a pottery business takes longer than advertised by any of the marketing gurus will lead you to believe. And under no circumstances would I touch my retirement savings to do it. If you've been making pots for 27 years and you started when you were 20, you're in your late 40's. Don't mess with your nest egg!!
    When I went professional after 15 years of making pots haphazardly where I could after college, I had a wheel, a small (11x11')  studio, some glaze materials and other small sundries, and about $700 CAD saved up through doing things like paid surveys. That money went towards booth fees for some Christmas shows and a cheap tent for the following outdoor season. The list of things that I didn't even know how badly I didn't know it was staggering! For the first 2 years or so, everything I made went back into the business. 6 years in, I am now beginning to draw a small but regular monthly salary from my earnings as opposed to uneven windfalls. (I recommend reading "Profit First" by Mike Michalowicz to set up cash flow management.) 
    I'd also like to note that almost everything I was ever taught about building an art business by academia was entirely wrong. Almost. The advice about starting a mailing list right away was definitely good. 
    There is no "just" learning to build a display, plus Etsy shipping and advertising. It is an ongoing, constantly changing process. 7 months will get you into the experimentation stage, where you're beginning to gather information about what works for you. And while it's a good idea to keep the booth design ideas in the back of your head, I wouldn't jump on that too hard until crowds are allowed again.
    Your time will be better spent defining your business goals beyond "I want to make  money from pottery." There's nothing at all wrong with that, you just need to get really specific about who you want to serve and how you want to go about doing that. You need more than a paycheck to stay motivated when you get to the point where you  move from your pottery being a creative outlet where you get to make whatever you want to making things for the market you've chosen. It's still fun and creative and a great job that I really enjoy, but you're not the only one with something at stake anymore.
     
     
  25. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 in Starting up in a big way.   
    Measuring experience in years doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Measuring in “pots produced” is more meaningful. You mentioned above that you need to acquire a studio space and equipment. Whose equipment have you been using up until now? If you are using somebody else’s studio, or a community/classroom studio, there was probably a limit on the volume of pots you could produce. 27 years of making a few dozen pots per year does not put you on the cusp of making a good income with pottery. I’m just assuming your output level of course, I could be wrong, based on you saying that you need to get a studio and the equipment. 
    (I once had a pottery student who had been making pots for 15 years. Turned out she had very little command of throwing, and her bad habits had been ingrained for so long, she couldn’t unlearn them.)
    Which brings me to my next question. Do you think you can make 2000 pots per year?  That’s about my current output, and some potters do far more than that (Mark C., for example). Many very talented potters fail on this issue. Will you enjoy the volume and repetitiousness? Or will it make you as unhappy as your current job? To expand what’s been said above already, production speed and consistency also take years to develop.
    (It wasn’t until I did wholesale pottery for several years that I developed that kind of speed.)
    What have you been doing with the pots you’ve made in the past? Even if it’s a few dozen pots per year, they need to go somewhere. Have you done any commerce at all? Even if you are gifting it, you should already have an idea if people like your work and want to own it. What is your sense of the demand for your work? 
    (Long before I ever considered starting a pottery business, my friends and co-workers were lined up ordering my work. The community studio where I made pots had an annual holiday sale where I could sell just about everything else.) 
    After I moved on from the community studio and put together my own, it was still 8 years before I could quit my previous job. I’ve met lots of aspiring potters over the years who thought it could be accomplished in months rather than years, not one of them has stuck it out. 
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