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GEP

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  1. Like
    GEP got a reaction from DirtRoads in Dressing Up The Display   
    I cut and sewed my tablecloths to fit my tables exactly, with the hems hovering right above the ground. I fold the sides around to make boxed sides, then pin them in place with upholstery pins. They are cheap, and fast to set up and take down. I'm not a great seamstress, but I can sew a straight line.
     
     


  2. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Evelyne Schoenmann in Does Moving In Social Media Circles Support Your Clay Career?   
    I enjoy the social media activities I'm involved in (this forum, blog, facebook) however I think the importance to my career as a potter is marginal at best. Most of my social media contacts are too far away to attend any of my shows, which are all within my region. "Likes" are not sales. If I have made any sales from social media, the volume is very small. Shipping out a long-distance order is a big waste of time and packing materials, compared to the volume and efficiency of selling at art festivals and home shows. And social media can really drain your time. A pottery business needs to be efficient with time. So although I find social media to be "fun" I try to limit the amount of time I spend on it.
     
    There are "social media superstars" who do an effective job of driving eyeballs to their online stores. I'm not poo-pooing that approach for those who are happy with it. For me, I can't see how the amount of time spent online, plus the amount of time spent packing/shipping wouldn't put serious cramps on production. These days I sell every pot I make, therefore anything that would lower production would be a costly mistake.
     
    (The reason I have time to write a long post today is because I'm sitting in an waiting room while my van has one of its tires patched.)
  3. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in Does Moving In Social Media Circles Support Your Clay Career?   
    I enjoy the social media activities I'm involved in (this forum, blog, facebook) however I think the importance to my career as a potter is marginal at best. Most of my social media contacts are too far away to attend any of my shows, which are all within my region. "Likes" are not sales. If I have made any sales from social media, the volume is very small. Shipping out a long-distance order is a big waste of time and packing materials, compared to the volume and efficiency of selling at art festivals and home shows. And social media can really drain your time. A pottery business needs to be efficient with time. So although I find social media to be "fun" I try to limit the amount of time I spend on it.
     
    There are "social media superstars" who do an effective job of driving eyeballs to their online stores. I'm not poo-pooing that approach for those who are happy with it. For me, I can't see how the amount of time spent online, plus the amount of time spent packing/shipping wouldn't put serious cramps on production. These days I sell every pot I make, therefore anything that would lower production would be a costly mistake.
     
    (The reason I have time to write a long post today is because I'm sitting in an waiting room while my van has one of its tires patched.)
  4. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 in Dressing Up The Display   
    Chantay (and anyone else interested),
     
    Here's a photo of the back side of my display tables, to show how I pin the tablecloths to create boxed sides. It only takes two pins. Easy peasy. When I am outdoors in a windy situation, I will use a few more pins to keeps things from shifting around.


  5. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Arnold Howard in 21 Century Customer... Perpetual Replacement Of Pottery   
    I have a relevant story from this week ... a customer emailed me because a platter she bought last December had developed a crack. She wanted to buy a new one. Yes she was willing to pay full price. I asked her to bring the platter so I could see the crack, and asked if she could explain what happened. She said she didn't know, but thinks her mom used it under the broiler.
     
    She brought the platter to my house. The crack was obviously a thermal shock crack. It came in from the rim, then curved around the base of the floor. I thanked her for teaching me that I need to caution customers not to use my pottery close to a broiler element. And I offered her 50% off the new platter. She was thrilled. Then she said she needed to buy a gift for an incoming house guest, and she picked out a $105 vase.
     
    So just because Tracy had a bad experience, take heart that there are great customers out there too. Trust me, I've dealt with the turkeys and crack pots too. But my experience is that far more pottery customers are like this example.
  6. Like
    GEP reacted to bciskepottery in Dressing Up The Display   
    Looks like the type of display one would see at the Smithsonian Craft Show.
  7. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in Dressing Up The Display   
    I cut and sewed my tablecloths to fit my tables exactly, with the hems hovering right above the ground. I fold the sides around to make boxed sides, then pin them in place with upholstery pins. They are cheap, and fast to set up and take down. I'm not a great seamstress, but I can sew a straight line.
     
     


  8. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Roberta12 in Dressing Up The Display   
    I cut and sewed my tablecloths to fit my tables exactly, with the hems hovering right above the ground. I fold the sides around to make boxed sides, then pin them in place with upholstery pins. They are cheap, and fast to set up and take down. I'm not a great seamstress, but I can sew a straight line.
     
     


  9. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Chilly in Are You Sometimes Childlike In Your Behavior?   
    Today I had ice cream for lunch.
     
    Then again, I would never have been allowed to do that as a child. So maybe having ice cream for lunch is really "like an adult, who is free to make my own decisions, good and bad."
  10. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Sallyd in Dressing Up The Display   
    I cut and sewed my tablecloths to fit my tables exactly, with the hems hovering right above the ground. I fold the sides around to make boxed sides, then pin them in place with upholstery pins. They are cheap, and fast to set up and take down. I'm not a great seamstress, but I can sew a straight line.
     
     


  11. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Chris Campbell in Dressing Up The Display   
    I cut and sewed my tablecloths to fit my tables exactly, with the hems hovering right above the ground. I fold the sides around to make boxed sides, then pin them in place with upholstery pins. They are cheap, and fast to set up and take down. I'm not a great seamstress, but I can sew a straight line.
     
     


  12. Like
    GEP got a reaction from High Bridge Pottery in Dressing Up The Display   
    I cut and sewed my tablecloths to fit my tables exactly, with the hems hovering right above the ground. I fold the sides around to make boxed sides, then pin them in place with upholstery pins. They are cheap, and fast to set up and take down. I'm not a great seamstress, but I can sew a straight line.
     
     


  13. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Babs in Dressing Up The Display   
    I cut and sewed my tablecloths to fit my tables exactly, with the hems hovering right above the ground. I fold the sides around to make boxed sides, then pin them in place with upholstery pins. They are cheap, and fast to set up and take down. I'm not a great seamstress, but I can sew a straight line.
     
     


  14. Like
    GEP got a reaction from kswan in Are You Sometimes Childlike In Your Behavior?   
    Today I had ice cream for lunch.
     
    Then again, I would never have been allowed to do that as a child. So maybe having ice cream for lunch is really "like an adult, who is free to make my own decisions, good and bad."
  15. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Chris Campbell in Are You Sometimes Childlike In Your Behavior?   
    Today I had ice cream for lunch.
     
    Then again, I would never have been allowed to do that as a child. So maybe having ice cream for lunch is really "like an adult, who is free to make my own decisions, good and bad."
  16. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Newtoclay54** in Newbie Discouraged But Persistent---Help!   
    I agree that the 4 in 1 classroom sounds really unfortunate. If you were in a classroom with other beginner throwers, you would see that everyone is going through the same stages as you, and the instructor would be more focused on those early stages. I don't want to cast blame on the instructor or the college, this might be the best they can do with their limited resources.
     
    It sounds like you have already made good progress working on your own during Spring break. My advice is to look for a class that is meant for new throwers. If that is not available in your area, then continue with your college classes, but lower your expectations for what they can do for you, and take on an independent approach for learning (like you've already started by renting a wheel over spring break). Youtube has a lot of good video lessons, and you can always come to this forum with questions.
  17. Like
    GEP got a reaction from newby Jan in Community Challenge #1   
    FINAL ENTRY - GEP
     
    I'll go first! This is a design I make on a regular basis, therefore my entry is ready to go.
     
    "Serving Bowl with Clouds" 11 inches across.
     


  18. Like
    GEP reacted to Tyler Miller in Authenticity, My Own Personal Struggle With What It Means   
    This is something I wrote to articulate a struggle I've been having with my own work and to help me resolve my feelings about it.  I thought I'd share because it may help others crystallize their own artistic project.  I will disclaim that the contents may not sit well with you the reader, but it is not meant to be directed outward, this comes from my own perception of myself and no one else.  Please bear that in mind. This is 100% an internal and personal criticism directed at myself, no one else.
     
    I’ve come to the conclusion that my impulses as a potter have come into conflict.  On the one hand, i want to explore and understand EVERY form.  i want to know why Wedgewood is beautiful, why chawan can be perfection and how to get there, how to make the most perfect imitation of a longquan celadon, or get the highest gloss possible on an attic red-figure copy.
     
    But on the other, I can’t help but feel like I’m betraying myself and my own potential for a naturalistic artistic vision if I carry those desires too far.
     
    Horace and Hamada ring in my ears.  I can’t help but think about what Hamada said about the pretentiousness of Japanese potters adding granite to their clay to make it like the prized clays of Shigaraki that naturally had it present, or the excessive effort put into applying hake me brush strokes in a beautiful manner when the Korean potters who came up with the technique were just hoping to cover the red clay of the body.
     
    Indeed, there are many Hamada copyists who miss entirely Hamada’s artistic vision.  Hamada was a brilliant potter who could work in any style and formulate any glaze to fit his purpose, but he chose to be a Mashiko potter and work within the limitations of that folk tradition.  The boldness and revolutionary nature wasn’t his forms, it wasn’t his subject matter, it was that he let those decisions make themselves as he set down roots.  Leach (and Cardew) tried to do something similar, but he found that he couldn’t authentically work in the English country potter tradition as he’d hoped.  Cardew’s attempts especially failed at making slipware commercially viable the way he’d hoped.  After all, it wasn’t too long after Cardew was struggling to make it work that the last old time English country potteries closed.  I suspect potters like Isaac Button would've thought Cardew “daft†for being too precious with “nought but clay.â€
     
    Leach’s true success was his marketing.  The studio potter was his invention and I’m not quite sure I properly know what being a studio potter is all about.  Maybe you do.  But the concept eludes me.
     
    What bothers me, however, is how many Hamada and Leach copyists exist out there.  How many little brown jugs and pitchers exist, how many tea bowls are thrown, only to be an awkward way to drink Earl Grey or a latté, or how many anagamas are built in North America and Europe.  It may all be a part of the natural progression of studio potters—the artist’s indulgence in the process seems to be part of the process, and that’s fine.  But to what extent are we really just adding granite to our finely levigated clay?  To what extent are we just lingering too long over how we’re going to apply our slip with a rough brush, when maybe we should be thinking about how best to do justice to our art as a continuation of ourselves?
     
    It’s too easy to don masks and pretend we’re one thing or another.  Playing at pretend is almost a right in the western world.  We’ve allowed ourselves the luxury of saying “well, I’m pagan, but I really like buddhist meditation, and I wear a rosary to honour my great aunt, who was a nun—I can still feel her spirit with me.† To me, as I get older, this kind of pastiche of cultural appropriation seems to miss the point entirely.  We can dissemble ourselves into oblivion, when the point of it all is to seek and express truth.  Can a westerner truly grasp wabi-sabi?  Maybe academically, but I think we only have limited choices before us when it comes to approaching another culture, we can step into it through a contextualized “window†of study,  we can compartmentalize its attributes into our own, preexisting culture, or we can let it wash over us and envelope us and change us, but even then, we’re never quite authentically a part of it.  Disagree?  Examine how you feel about immigrants who come to where you live, do they ever really become a part of your culture in your eyes?  Is the person with an accent ever really American/Canadian/Mexican/British/French/Swiss/or Japanese?  I want them to feel like they are, but they know as well as I do that’s not an identity they get. Their children and their children’s children get that, but never them.
     
    So too, I feel it is with culture.  We will always have a cultural “accent†when we work within an artistic context other than our own.  I’m getting pretty good at throwing Hellenic forms and I make a decent chawan, but they’re not real, my Canadian accent is too thick for me to speak proper Greek (οá½Îº á½€Ïθως ἑλληνίζω).  And while it’s a good and acculturating experience for me to try and expose myself to different cultures and ideas, at some point it becomes an exercise in hiding from oneself.  At some point that in-between space between cultures becomes an insulation.  Something like:  I cannot identify with my own culture, so I adopt another to act as a mask among my own people, a means of explaining myself through other peoples and hiding myself the same way.  Maybe the artist has a right to do this, but I’ve never been comfortable with that kind of conceptual art.  It seems too much like the Animé fan girls who obsess over Japanese culture and pine over its superiority in order to compensate for their own struggle to fit in.  Or a friend of mine who constantly travels, with no roots anywhere.  When things get “too real†in any one place, he moves on, and finds a new set of friends and a new culture.
     
    But all this begs the question?  What do I do as an artist to be authentic to myself and my work?  I think Horace’s Ars Poetica has a venerable answer.  A painter cannot legitimately paint a horse’s neck with a human head and all manner of feathers and features down below.  At least, not without proper context.  A writer sounds ridiculous writing a day’s events in purple prose.  There’s a proper register and justice to be done to everything.  A proper way to work with clay.  Indeed, i think that’s what the Japanese are talking about when they talk about the “flavour†of the clay.  It’s like a wine’s terroir.  A certain kind of climate does the best justice to a certain kind of grape.  And so too, I think a certain land produces a certain kind of clay, a certain culture a certain set of vessels, and a certain person a certain kind of approach.  There’s little place for obfuscation in this, I think.  No real reason to try to appropriate another culture, at least, for any length of time.  The culture you grew out of is culture enough.  And really, the best artists I know, seem to shoot at something above it anyway, they look too deeply inward.  Their imitators, however, seem all too superficial by comparison.
  19. Like
    GEP reacted to oldlady in Planning A Glaze Kiln Load - How Much Planning?   
    there is a slight trick to loading a shelf if you are trying new shapes or sizes.  i use full rounds so i put one on my white tabletop and drew around it with a sharpie.  then i can put all the new things out and figure what will fit best where.  a yardstick laid flat over the tops of the appropriate posts shows how much clearance is available between tops and the next shelf.  this is only for practicing not something to do all the time. 
     
    if you only have a few taller things, using a short post to hold a small item above the nearby pieces works great. triangular POSTS used this way can allow 6 or so extra small things to fit.
  20. Like
    GEP got a reaction from John Hertzfeld in Finding Your Own Style...easy To Say   
    This comment is not aimed at anyone in particular, just my thoughts about style development in general:
     
    The emergence of style is an organic process. If you are putting in the hours of practice, you can't stop it if you tried. I agree that it is helpful to look at as much pottery as you can. A good "vocabulary" of visual styles is important. However, just like the process of becoming a good writer, your vocabulary will only get you so far. Most of your "style" will come from innate creativity, life experiences, and practice.
     
    The best pottery is not different or unique, it is authentic.
     
    I also think it's unfortunate when someone is in a hurry to establish their style. To invoke a cliche "journey, not destination." The process is long, but every minute of it is so enjoyable, savor it! Focus on making good pots and lots of pots, and style development will emerge in an authentic way.
  21. Like
    GEP got a reaction from ChenowethArts in Planning A Glaze Kiln Load - How Much Planning?   
    My approach is more like Paul's. I will even redesign a pot in order to make tighter packing in the kiln:
     
    http://www.goodelephant.com/blog/seven-bowls
     
    And now that this particular design fits seven-per-shelf, I make them in multiples of seven. I have quite a few other examples of this, most of my kiln packing is based on this.
     
    This is another reason why I don't like wholesale very much. Wholesale orders don't allow me to decide my own quantities, and the kiln loads are never as tight.
  22. Like
    GEP reacted to LorrieMud in How Many Sell Ceramics For A Living?   
    Lurker here- just thought I'd post to offer what I hope is encouragement. 
     
    At the risk of sounding yuckily braggy-- I started a pottery business in the 1980's and when I sold it to a large giftware company seven years ago, it was worth eight million dollars.  My business was a hybrid of pottery & ceramics, and I continue to keep a finger in a variety of muddy pies: I wheelthrow pieces that are slipcast by major ceramic companies, I design tabletop and functional giftware for large corporations, I run an etsy shop in my spare time... I could go on. Mostly i just want to assure you that it is possible to make not only a "living," but a really good living at pottery. 
     
    When I first started out I did much of what Terry describes doing above.  I hit a point in my life where I experienced both great financial hardship and also discovered a deep and abiding addiction for clay.  Failure was not an option for me.   I started selling my clunky imperfect items on a blanket on a sidewalk in Brooklyn.  I had to sell enough of my items to feed myself, pay for my housing, and to be able to afford to make MORE stuff.
     
    What this experience did for me is prevent me from lapsing into any sort of self indulgence. For example,  I certainly could not afford to make large artistic pieces that a gallery may/may not want to buy.  I HAD to make things people wanted: even if that meant not always making what I wanted.  I had to be responsive in the development of my products- I had to be disciplined in the use of my time, materials, etc.  Think for a moment if every thing you had was taken away from you and all you had was six bags of clay and the ability to turn them into something that would allow you to live.  That is how it was for me:   I learned to never name the well that I wouldn't drink from. 
     
    I think another thing that was instrumental in my success is that I learned to love the business aspect as much as the making aspect-- and to bring creativity and curiosity to those aspects as well.  I met so many talented amazing artists on my journey- but many of them detested the marketing & selling aspect involved in making a living from their work.   Building a business from the ground up can be so exciting if you are passionate about it. 
     
     One of my favorite quotes has always been: "There are many who are far more talented than I am, but few more determined to succeed."  Like anything you dream about, or wish for, hard work is required.  But know that what the future may/may not look like is entirely dependent upon what you want it to look like!!  You can have ANYTHING you want-you just can't have everything. 
  23. Like
    GEP reacted to Pugaboo in How Many Sell Ceramics For A Living?   
    I have been a full time artist for many years, photography, painting, etc recently started doing pottery. In the past I made enough to live on from art, if I had to, but my husband earned good money so I didn't need to. Used the money for equipment, traveling, and such instead. Now my husband is ill and can no longer work his disease is progressive it's never going to get better and will eventually end in his death. Sad but a true reality for me. This is the writing on MY wall.
     
    I have instituted a 10 year plan, I just hope I have the time to get there. I have a chart taped to the wall in my studio with each year marked and a goal for that year, next to that is a blank line where I will add the actual number as I get there. I only got started about halfway through the year last year and made a little over $5k (peanuts I know but it was a test to see if what I do now will sell) I plan to double that this year, then do so many dollars more each year after that but do not expect doubling each year (I am realistic). In 10 years I need to be making between $25-35k a year to support myself. I know this is possible since I have done it before but it's not just fun and games anymore it will mean survival or not.
     
    I work 6-8 hours a day every day IN the studio and usually put in a 2-4 more hours on the computer doing listings, etsy, website, ebay, etc. Or researching shows, local galleries etc. I'm not afraid of hard work I'm afraid of failure. Yesterday I tested out to see how many Spoonrests I can get from a 25lb bag of clay and how long it to me to make them. I got $518 worth of product from a $14 bag of clay. It took me 3 hours to do it. I pay myself $10 an hour so with the clay I subtract $44 from the $518. Subract off glazes and kiln firings etc and I'll get my profit from it. I am constantly looking at something thinking okay this is nice and people are buying it by the droves how can I do it faster, better, to improve my sales and the profit margin. I save 25% of every sale, I put another 25% into an account for equipment, that's half of everything I sell. I can do that for now since still have the money we saved from when he was working to live on. I realize my plan is small, not going to be a millionaire I don't care about that I just want to earn enough to feed, clothe and house myself.
     
    For now, since he can't go to shows with me and I can't leave him alone at night or for a weekend I am only doing local shows that I can get home to each night. I did 4 festivals last year, plan to do 8-10 this year, and 12 the year after. I am also looking at finding more shops and galleries to carry my work, if I can get enough of these selling without me being there that's is a big plus. I always carry a small packet with me everywhere I go it contains 4 images of my work, a short introductory letter about myself, my work and a business card. When I find someplace I think would be a good selling venue for me I stop and speak with the owner, manager, sales clerk and leave this packet for them to peruse or pass on to the person that decides what to sell. I also keep a small box of finished pieces in the back seat just in case they ask to see real product, it's better to be prepared then have to schedule a time to go back the window of opportunity might be closed by then. I have my first inquiry concerning a wholesale order and I am trying to get it closed but I have never done wholesale before like this... They want x number of the same pieces x number of different images on the pieces. I am more familiar with the galleries and shops that want one of a kinds. So I am working on this type of a sale right now trying to figure out how it all works. If I can get it right and a solid deal it means one more avenue of income and that the next time someone asks for an order like this I'll know what the heck I am doing.
     
    I will also be teaching 4 classes this year at the local art center, a new thing for me, but if it works another avenue of income.
     
    I have a website, 2 etsy shops, do ebay sales, private commissions, take on graphic art projects like logos and flyers and such, etc. I will do whatever I have to in order to succeed... I WILL NOT FAIL
     
    Do I know what I am doing? Heck no but is that going to keep me from giving it 150% effort? Not on your life. I would rather work 18 hours a day for myself than work a job for someone else where I really am only in it for the paycheck. If I end up doing that then I will consider that I have failed and have I mentioned I don't deal well with failure?
     
    Terry
  24. Like
    GEP reacted to Marcia Selsor in How Are You Surviving This Winter Season?   
    I like that delivery man. I had a pallet clay delivered and the driver unloaded the pallet with a forklift and left. I moved it all with a dollie but 200# at a time. I guess I'm a wuss (sp?). My husband , the theoretical astrophysicist says he went into theory to avoid mass. I am on my own.
     
    Marcia
  25. Like
    GEP got a reaction from Marcia Selsor in How Are You Surviving This Winter Season?   
    The delivery guy put about 500 lbs at a time on a heavy duty hand truck, and slowly bounced down the stairs. As you can imagine, this guy is really strong. I used to get my clay from a different supplier, who would leave it on a pallet on the driveway. I carried it down one box at a time X 40 trips. So now that someone will bring it down the stairs for me, I give him a big tip. I'm hoping he spent it on a big lunch.
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