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About Marian65

  • Rank
    Advanced Member
  • Birthday November 17

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  • Location
    Arkansas, USA
  • Interests
    Making things from clay, of course; reading (mostly non-fiction, esoteric topics); writing; antiquing/flea marketing; zoo keeping for menagerie of furred and feathered friends; road trips with my husband; staying in touch with friends and fellow artisans.
  1. As with every aspect of clay, we all have our preferences and favored methods for achieving them. I would advise making as sure as possible that your handles are attached well, no matter what their shape. I seldom make two handles alike on mugs. Every human's hands are different sizes and shapes and people hold their cups and mugs differently from each other. The holding is often dictated by the handle, but I've found that it's a fun conversation, especially at craft shows, to ask people what they like in a handle. Are you a two-finger holder, a three-finger holder, do you put your fingers through the handle, but hold the mug? Do you put your thumb on the top of the handle or do you grip the entire handle in your fist? I put thumb rests (buttons of clay) on the tops of some and customers comment that they like them. When I attach the buttons, I usually make an thumb-shaped indention in them or maybe run the top edge out a little bit as a kind of stop point for the end of the thumb. I just got one out of the kiln yesterday that I'll be taking to a show this weekend that is very whimsical. I put a thumb on top of the handle and I call it "Two Thumbs Up!" When I hold the mug, it looks as though there are two thumbs on it. The nail on the mug is forward of my own. I did that just as a little attention-getter and will place it around about the rest of the mugs to see if it gets any comments. It's a good thing I'm not a "set" person at this stage of my life, because I've never been able to make exact duplicates well and in my part of the world, customers at shows either get a single mug. They enjoy trying out all the different handle shapes and configurations and deciding which one feels the best. Pulling handles is very professional and a great way to learn to make duplicates. If that's priority with you, then disregard all my ramblings. Watch a YouTube video by Simon Leach on pulling handles. If personalization pleases you, roll a sort of fat coil of clay and give it a little squeeze in the middle. Curve it to suit the shape of the mug it will go on and cut it with enough space to allow for shrinkage. I think you'll be surprised at how comfortable it is to use when fingers naturally lay into those places. I was looking at a pottery display in a craft mall once when a very tall, very large man stopped to look, also. I asked him what kind of mugs did he like and how did he hold one. He'd never given it much thought, he said, because restaurant mugs are much the same and he held them however he could. He said he only used what was available at home, too. That started a brief handle conversation and I made several mugs after that, that I called "Man Handlers"; large mugs with longer handle openings for larger fingers and a little bit bigger diameter so big guys can feel the handle. Enjoy what you do. Practice and practice some more and as long as your ware is well made, don't be afraid to try different shapes and forms. When they behave the way they're supposed to after they come out of the kiln, you'll have fun with your art/craft and customers will be pleased that you're thinking of them. By making multiples of the same shapes and sizes, you'll gain product recognition and the multiples draw those for whom having like things are important. Robin Hopper is the ultimate in contemporary pottery mastery, and these folks on the forum give us great advice and ideas. Welcome to the world of clay!
  2. For anyone still following this thread, I've determined that my Giffin Grip is in good working order and that my trimming problem is almost certainly my doing. Can't fault any of the machinery. I've been giving some thought to crutches. I guess I've learned not to use that term except for its literal definition. The use that has been adopted for our society seems to be "to use a thing as a way to avoid." I would add "to use a thing as a way to compensate." When one has handicaps, crutches are wonderful and allow us to continue to do the things we love when we don't have the ability to do them the "right" way. Clay is such a wonderful medium for all the people who choose it. I've been making pottery for many years and was never any good at tapping something into center. One instructor enlightened me that it depends on the position one's fingers take when tapping and I had more success after doing it his way, but tapping doesn't always work for the piece. When I first learned pottery back in the early '80s, I was taught to use my needle tool (or fingernail) and lugs and that worked well over the years until I got my GG. I adore it because it saves me so much time and aggravation. I'm more toward the end of my creative life now, I'm still a hobbiest vs professional, and whatever makes my throwing days easier for me, I'll happily use as crutches and keep on enjoying having my hands in the mud. I love sculpting and hand building, as well, so I shouldn't have to quit working yet! Thanks, Pres, for reminding me about the rims. I think that may be my total problem, but I can't put it to the test until I start throwing some more this week. If a jar is not level at the rim, that leans the bottom when it's turned over and thus a simple solution to my issue. No matter where the lugs are placed or the posts of the GG, the thing would still be leaning a little, wouldn't it? At least enough to make a difference in the trimming, but perhaps not quite enough to be obvious when I'm looking down on it and depending on the tapping, scratching, or the GG to get it right. Being more alert and more open to all the angles should do it. I appreciate everyone's input and I appreciate the differences in methods.
  3. I wire off my pots as soon as I'm finished with them and leave them on the bat until time to trim. They usually detach easily. Sometimes I rewire them, but there's nothing out of the ordinary that I'm doing now that I haven't done for many years. For Pres, as you notice in my original post, I can't throw tall or big. I'm not able to center more than about four pounds of clay and I can't pull taller than seven inches tall. When all of you mention "smalls," I guess everything I make is what some would call small if I make it on the wheel. There's nothing that should distort. Oh, yeah, about the flipping ... The pieces are already stiff enough to handle when I take them off the bats, so turning them over is no big deal. I thought for sure that I'd find one of the Giffin Grip's sliders off a little, but they're exactly the same as they have been since I put it together. I've just got m'self a mystery. I've decided that after I throw more pieces, I'll place paper on the top and if the diameter is small enough, I'll put the little level on it and see if maybe it shows anything. They all feel level and in-center when I'm done and they're visually centered. I've really messed up a whole evening's throwing this week due to the trimming being so much off center, but the stage is too dry to fold back into wet clay, so it's just more to put aside with the intention of reworking some day or adding it to the fill for a larger studio driveway. :-) Thanks for everyone's input. Guess we can put the subject to rest and if I ever learn what the heck's goin' on, I'll post it.
  4. I checked the tabs and each one is set even with the same number (20). I checked the level of the wheel head and the level of the GG when attached. Both are bubble center.
  5. Thanks for that suggestion. I'm going to my studio right now and take a look.
  6. For a few months now I've had an issue about centering when trimming. I use a Giffin Grip and love it, but something has started going wrong somewhere and I can't figure out what it is. My items come off the wheel (I use bats) centered and level. When they're ready to trim, I put them on the GG and they're NEVER centered! I've used a small level to test the level of the GG surface, so I don't think that's the problem. I always use a needle tool to lightly mark the bottoms so I'll have a visual of how far in to make the trim. When I put the needle tool on now, the bottom is up to half an inch off center! It's as though they lean while drying, but I don't know why they would do that. This problem is driving me crazy because I feel as though I'm losing almost all my work or just following it through and trying to compensate for the 'off-ness' in other ways, such as putting a mug handle on the leaning side in order to visually balance it. I'd rather identify the problem and fix it, but no matter how many sleepless hours I log, I can't seem to come up with what's causing it. When it first started, I thought the GG was not level on the wheel. I have not tried recentering for trimming by using clay lugs like I used to. I was never much good at that, thus the reason for getting a GG. That worked wonderfully for three years and now ... not. I can't make large items, so most of my ware is shorter than seven inches. Maybe some of my problem comes from unsteady hands, but I can't figure why the pieces seem nice and well-made enough until I get them to the trimming stage. I've got too much invested in time and dollars just to quit, but I get so upset I don't throw for weeks at a time. I realize that behavior just feeds the other issues, so whatever suggestions you have will be appreciated. Thanks, Marian
  7. I made a honey dipper and a spoon, each for the first time, but I don't know how to glaze fire them. I've seen pictures of stoneware spoons and ladles online, and the pictures don't show holes (from hanging on a jewelry rack, for instance), so how are they fired? Is it simple and I'm just brain-tired? I think I have "potter's block" anyway, if there is such a thing. Haven't been able to work up much enthusiasm in almost a month. Maybe knowing how to make some spoons would get me started again.
  8. What about making a thinnish pinch pot and close it up (or two halves stuck together). Then before sticking an air hole in it, attach little coils that you've made to look like rope so that it looks like the monkey's fist knot, with whatever number of rows you like and have space for (3, 4, etc.). Even 6 would look good if you made them small enough and would give more texture for glaze to break on. After the piece(s) get leather hard enough for you to carve out any little details you like, then put the air hole in somewhere it won't show and attach it/them to the pot. It sounds like a great project for your nautical family. It would be nice to see a follow-up picture of what you decide on.
  9. Here are a couple pictures of my the plates I made last night with the concentric circles. I think I should probably wait until I trim them next time (I mean when I make the next ones) and make the circles or designs at that time. Parallel squiggle lines would be fun, too. When the clay is soft, it doesn't seem to work nicely. That's what I was trying to describe in the original post. I make the circles and then when I try to soften the edges a little, the soft clay runs down into the grooves and makes them uneven, even using just a barely damp sponge. The picture of the best of the four wouldn't load. I got a note that said the file was too big. I think you get the idea, though. Yes, these are serving pieces. I think I said that in the original post, too, but I have a tendency to be too wordy and people skim read. My problem, but I'm from the Deep South and can't even say hello in fewer than 25 words. LOL. I make bowls better than I make plates, but don't know how to make pestles, so guess I'll stick with plates (dishes?). I'm getting a great education here. What's the difference between a plate and a dish?
  10. At a local event two women asked me if I had garlic plates. I asked for a description. I came home and looked them up, of course, and decided to try some. I made four last night, but without seeing one for real, I won't make more. Of course they wanted to see some at my next event in two weeks! THAT won't happen, but I'll get a type perfected within the next couple of months and be ready for the autumn season. The idea is that the center of the plate is rough or has a texture such that a clove of garlic can be rubbed/grated/pulverized and then olive oil poured over it for dipping with bread hunks. I'm not particularly good at making plates, so I'm considering this a good reason to get some practice. When I made the few last night, I made concentric ridges in the center. They were too rough, so I damp-sponged them to soften the edges and when I did that, I smeared some of the clay down into the grooves. After thinking about it for a bit, I decided that maybe the ridges or texture should be done at the time of trimming when the plate is in its leather stage and any little nubs of clay could be brushed out or allowed to dry and then flicked out. Some of the pictures I see online are of just unglazed areas for the grating and others are of almost fingernail sized waves that look pushed up in a circular design. Those look as though they'd hurt fingers and make for coarser grating, but again, without seeing one in 3D I can't get much of an idea; only imagination. So ... have you made garlic plates? If you have, do you mind sharing how you make the grating part and how big you make the plates. Are they well received at shows or in shops? No one else in my region is making them that I know of, so maybe I have an opportunity here for something new!
  11. Becky, I looked at the pictures at Dark River Pottery. I like the risers on the table. Do they come apart or are they rigid units? Oldlady, how long have those folks in your guild been using ladders and boards? They might look unstable and give us the vapors to look at them, but if they continue using them they must be working. When one falls over and there's a lot of breakage, they'll likely replace their system. I'm with you and like something solid. Maybe the ladders are more stable than they appear. Lots of people use that system in antique malls and indoor flea markets. Seems inexpensive and portable. I've never found real ladders that had both rungs and horizontal supports at the same level, though, or I'd have tried it myself. For professional folks like most of you on the forum, though, it's better to LOOK professional and when you sell more than a couple items a day, you can afford to invest in better quality display units. Mark, what are other downsides to the ladder and board thing? Sometimes I need to see from another person's perspective. Do you think they're just tacky (Southern word for trashy)? I'm really enjoying reading about all of your adventures in the shows and galleries. Maybe I'll be better next time around, or maybe I was better sometime before and that's why I got a late start this time. (smile).
  12. Becky, do you have a picture of your stepped units with the drop-down back? Sounds great. The mental picture I'm getting probably isn't close to the actual thing. Mark, your booth situations are great. I'm impressed by your inventory, but not surprised after so many years of work and experience. You're an inspiration. If I were younger, I'd use your situation for a goal. I see you did a show at Volcano, HI. There used to be a potter there during the '80s who made clay fish using real fish. I never understood how he did them, but talked him into selling me one that was one of his discards, leaning against a tree in his yard! My favorite thing for several years until it got broken in Virginia during a move. I usually just say, "Oh, well," when things break, but I'm still sad about that fish. I love Volcano. My husband and I visited there many times on our way from Hilo to Kiluea Military Camp and stopped at the General Store to have orchids and other tropical flowers shipped back east to special friends. We lived on Oahu, but Big Island, Hilo side, is our favorite place. Sorry this is off-topic. Probably not appropriate to take up space chatting about somewhat unrelated topics. Thanks for all your advice and everyone else who has responded.
  13. Nice set-up, Mark. I'm five feet tall and not very strong, so you men have a distinct and wonderful advantage of choices. I have two 3 x 6 plywood surfaces that I put onto four plastic sawhorses. I can lift each individual component easily enough. My husband cut oval hand holds in the exact centers of the plywood so that I can carry them around. I have a bit of a struggle getting them lifted without putting the edges onto the ground, but sometimes that's necessary and I'm just careful not to drag them in the dirt. My design for that systems gives me a lot of surface, it's portable enough that I can set it up by myself if I need to, and I arrange an L shape. I have an old plant stand for a shelf unit and I have two 12" x 6' shelves to place on glass blocks for more shelves on the other table (not in the attached picture). By placing the L along two edges of my canopy when outdoors or against a wall when indoors, people can wander in and look without feeling trapped. I usually sit at the side, but I don't stay seated when there are people looking. I greet them and then move out of the way and try not to make them feel watched, but I like to engage people in conversation about the pottery and sometimes we have a five to ten minute party. That's as much fun for me as making a sale, because I meet some wonderful folks and get to encourage them in their own creative paths. Back to the question at hand, when I was outdoors this weekend I wasn't very organized as far as packaging was concerned. Indoors for the next one, so I'll take some of the forum's suggestions to heart and come up with something that may work well for me. Even a Sterlite container with rollers might be a temporary solution. I could attach hooks around the top rim to hang shopping bags and put tissue and bubble wrap and tape, etc., into the drawers. It would be great actually to have to wrap a big piece! I have my business card information one on side of my tags and put a brief description and the price on the other side in pencil. My thinking was that since most people ask for cards, I could do two things at once and save myself some printing expense. Every buyer gets one of the unusual cards and I have the traditional rectangular ones in holders for non-buyers. I could stick an attachment to the tags that I could detach that might work for Pres's suggestion and I'll consider a redesign for after I run out of my cards on hand and have to order more. A friend who used to do craft shows, not pottery, suggested that I clip the corners of my business cards so that they'd be obvious in a stack. She did that and had nice feedback that it worked well. She used pinking shears. Just a straight clip or a little squiggly clip with some scrapbooking scissor would work. I once ran a line of color along the top edge of some cards. Not very noticeable individually, but with others they stand out.
  14. Since I'm new to shows and festivals, I'm looking for suggestions that will help me to keep track of my sales at the event. I keep a small receipt book with pens and cash for change in a fanny pack. Then I have to drag a tub out from under the skirting of my table so I can get at wrapping materials and bags and then try to balance everything and write a receipt and smile and make nice. Guess it's just second nature for some of you, but I haven't 'got' it yet, how to do all that with some degree of grace and efficiency. I sometimes think I look like one of those country yard ornaments that's a piece of plywood cut out to look like an old woman bent over at the waist, working in the flowers, except that with me I'm searching through a bin, rummaging for all the stuff I need right then. There isn't enough space on the table tops where the pottery is and there isn't enough floor space to take a dedicated small table to work from. Ten by ten or 8 x 10 seems very inadequate, so I just need to get better equipped to deal with it. Any advice you have will be happily considered. My next event is 20-21 June, indoors, all crafters, a few potters, and I'd like to seem a bit more professional.
  15. I've just read through this thread and it seems appropriate for me to add my experience from yesterday at a small-town festival. I'd debated whether even to show up or not, but almost last minute decided to go ahead and do it for the experience. I had three sales that all happened just before a storm cell hit and I packed up ditched the remainder of the day. I sold one mug and two sponge holders, $12 each. The space cost $10 and my husband and I shared three shave ices from the space next to me and I bought books from two authors in a writer's group I go to who were on the other side of me. There were lots of vendors, a lot of trinkets. One trinket vendor had a big, heavy cash register to use for her sales. While unloading my ware, I noticed that I'd left three boxes in my studio. Since the boxes contained covered casseroles and my more pricey items, I decided not to bother husband with going back home to get them, but went with what I had and that all seemed appropriate for the day. I love chatting with people who like/love pottery and I made a lot of good contacts for other things/other places and mentioned to several about the next venue which is a dedicated Craft Fest in two weeks. I'm almost sure i'll see most of them again. Whether they buy or not ... who knows. I was approached by a promoter who handed me a tri-fold color brochure about two conference centers near Fayetteville, Arkansas and excitedly told me about the thousands of people who attend and stories about some vendors who sell out (not pottery) the first day of a two day event, and on and on. Then he mentioned the fees. $1,500 and $1,800! I'd have to make stuff for a year to get enough to try to recoup the fee and expenses for a weekend. I just can't think in relation to my pottery and those figures. Every show/festival I attend (single digits so far) have lots of people asking me if I teach and expressing the desire to learn, accompanied with their individual stories of any past experience. I love teaching beginning classes and intermediate and a few more advanced techniques in hand-building, but I'm not set up to teach from my studio. One man couldn't find a price on a bowl he liked, so I turned over the tag and when he saw $25, he left and was about 50 feet away by the time I got the bowl back on the table! I will do that event next year just to help the tiny town and because it's fun, but I'll only take mugs, lots of them, some ring holders, sponge holders, and smaller things and I plan to make a folio in a three-ring binder to showcase my bigger/better ware for anyone who cares. Oh, and in addition to all the dogs in attendance, I got to host and pet a 24" tall horse in my booth. Along with the experience of helping my husband and another guy hold down our canopy during the storm, the horse was probably the highlight of my day! If I had to depend on pottery for a living, I'd starve quickly ... but I'd have a great time! I agree with all of you who advise to match ware to the potential types of people in attendance and if you want to become known for your pottery, don't mix up woodworking and other things into your pottery displays. I'd get another space for that or just not take pottery. I think we should promote our chosen craft by itself so we can build the idea of quality (or humor, or cheap sales, or whatever it is you're looking to do), and not have our public relating our best work with other things, no matter whether it's pottery or wood carving or jewelry making. That's more like ten-cents-worth, but since it's a discussion, hope you don't mind.
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