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GEP

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  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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. 
  9. 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.
     
  10. 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.
     
     
  11. 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. 
  12. 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. 
  13. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel 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. 
  14. Like
    GEP got a reaction from dirtball 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. 
  15. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 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. 
  16. Like
    GEP reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in What’s on your workbench?   
    More photo play.

  17. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Dottie in Hope someone can help me! Shivering problems! My business is at stake   
    @Dottie, not that you have much free time to read, but here is my recent blog sharing a similar story. I developed a pinholing problem last winter, and had to figure out where it was coming from, and how to fix it, all with a deadline looming. It was not fun. But my point is, we've all been there and understand what you’re going through.
    https://www.goodelephant.com/blog/there-are-times-when-pottery-is-not-fun
  18. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Stumonster Clayworks in Pugged Clay Storage?   
    My clay from Highwater and Standard does not come with twist ties. The bags are just folded over, and the boxes keep them closed. I agre that older lots of clay will be harder than newer lots. 
    @Stumonster Clayworks, I agree with those who say you should only pug an amount that you are going to use in the next day or so. It’s not a good idea to let your pugmill sit idle for too long, or you risk letting things harden up inside. I keep my pugged clay in a plastic box with a gasket on the lid, and it stays moist for several days. I use a box because it is much easier to access a box compared to a bag. After a few days though, moisture evaporates from the clay but stays in the box. Condensation forms into puddles while the clay gets harder. So after a few days, any clay left over will get pugged again. If I pug any clay that I know I will not be using soon, I put it into a plastic bag (a bag that the clay comes in), and close it with a clasp. The smaller amount of air in the bag seems to hold the clay in the same state for a long time. 

  19. Like
    GEP reacted to Pres in hand-building and throwing with arthritis, suggestions   
    Tough decisions as we get older @Dottie. Most o f this is personal decision, but I will let you know what I have been doing. Retired 2009, do part time pottery mostly in the non Winter months. I have had cysts, with bone spurs, one operated on, and it killed the joint on the rt thumb. I recycle all my clay with wedging, and throw most of my pieces. I used to pull handles with my rt hand, but now use an extruder to make handles for mugs and other pieces that require handles. I used to take NSAID for pain, mostly just before bowling, as I am an avid bowler at 3 times a week. I have found that the pain of the hands goes away when I am using them. The more I use them the longer the pain seems to stay away. However. as I used to teach most handbuilding techniques in HS, I know how much the pinch pot forms can affect the hands, especially as you get older. Maybe you could resort to a hybrid form with coils, or extruded forms working on the sculptural pieces that way. I think if you love what you do you will find ways to adapt.
     
    best,
    Pres
  20. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Hulk 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. 
  21. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Hulk in Clay for beginners   
    Good point. I use a dark brown clay, and need to keep an entire drawer of “pottery shirts.” 
  22. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in Clay for beginners   
    Good point. I use a dark brown clay, and need to keep an entire drawer of “pottery shirts.” 
  23. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Hulk in Clay for beginners   
    Since you are planning to throw, I would start with a clay that contains some amount of grog. Grog makes the clay more stable for throwing, i.e. it can hold a shape better than something very fine and smooth. This is why porcelain is considered a more intermediate/advanced clay.
    I don’t agree that “earthenware is best for handbuilding.”  Stoneware is just as good for handbuilding, and both can be thrown too.. The better question is “do want to make foodsafe, functional pots?” If yes, then stoneware or porcelain fired to midrange or above is better suited for that. Many earthenwares cannot hold liquid when fired. Maybe that person meant “earthenware is best for sculpture” because sculpture does not need to be foodsafe? 
    The last question to ask yourself is “what color?” White, buff, red, brown .... this is a purely aesthetic choice. 
  24. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 in Consignment Store Record Keeping   
    Just for some context, Nora Roberts owns a big chunk of the town of Boonsboro. I bet the inn and the shop are owned free and clear, which means operating them has much lower overhead than typical businesses, and that she can afford to subsidize the shop. Good for her for using her wealth to bring tourists to buy work from local artists. 
  25. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 in Clay for beginners   
    Since you are planning to throw, I would start with a clay that contains some amount of grog. Grog makes the clay more stable for throwing, i.e. it can hold a shape better than something very fine and smooth. This is why porcelain is considered a more intermediate/advanced clay.
    I don’t agree that “earthenware is best for handbuilding.”  Stoneware is just as good for handbuilding, and both can be thrown too.. The better question is “do want to make foodsafe, functional pots?” If yes, then stoneware or porcelain fired to midrange or above is better suited for that. Many earthenwares cannot hold liquid when fired. Maybe that person meant “earthenware is best for sculpture” because sculpture does not need to be foodsafe? 
    The last question to ask yourself is “what color?” White, buff, red, brown .... this is a purely aesthetic choice. 
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