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Posts posted by Stephen

  1. 23 hours ago, oldlady said:

     clearly, farmer's markets are not the place to find pottery lovers.   

    ya know some of them do have have a very art/artisan minded crowd. We found the Everett one in Seattle area was a lot like many if not most art shows we do. The crowd was often locals out for a walk and there to grab some vegies but it is on the waterfront and people had money and liked handmade and on a nice weather day it was crowded. Sold a lot of mugs but bigger stuff would sell as well. We couldn't bring enough berry bowls but my partner hates making those and we overpriced accordingly (but still always sold out). 

    Only a 5 hours sales window though so a lot of work for the hours you got and we had to drive an hour each way. Also had a waterfront restaurant so we would blow a good portion of our take on an evening out after loadout :) 

  2. hey congrad. Couple of thoughts to add to all the great advice.

    Wheels, I am hard of hearing so love the Shimpo whispers we have,  very quiet and work great. Have been some complaints here on torque on higher weights but we dont throw huge pots and have never noticed a problem. I've used Brent, Shimpo and a clayboss for 6 months. 

    kiln, We have a 9cf oval and a skutt 1027. I think the  7cf 1027 is the most popular small studio kiln. Love the way skutt is built. The round kilns though make large platters a challenge so if you are going to do platters you might look at what size and consider that. Going big might sound smart for future but I would think it through. For instance the  7cf holds about 50 or so larger mugs and the oval closer to 70 so if you throw mostly small things on a regular basis then as a hobbist it will take some time to build a load for firing. Like Neil pointed out the 18" round kilns make some pots a challenge but most of the brands make a two ring shorter 23" that is smaller. It prob comes down to if you don't mind just firing every few months. I would put in a kiln vent. The shop will get very very hot so think about that with the stuff sitting out and consider backer board on the walls if its near any. Ours are in the studio so I always make sure all clay stuff is covered except bone dry and we fire overnight. One of the web cams will make your life easier for checking you kiln from your phone. I check the firing every few hours just because.

    We got a de-airing pugmill mixer from the start and it has been fantastic. If its been a while since you have thrown it will be very liberating to just toss pieces at first in recycle without any thought on the work to get it back to throwing shape and as you go it will save a lot of time when you get some hard clay. We throw from the pugger without wedging so saves your wrist too. We have a peter pogger 9.

    our slab roller is a shimpo and is a table model. Also own a small counter top one but its more of a hassle to use. Very convient to just toss a pug down, I dial it down as I repeatly run it through and have a slab in just a moment or two ready to work with.

    We have a couple wall mount extruders one is round and one is square. Lots of cool possibilties and we extrude all handles. Great compression and never have any cracks. 

    Also have a recirculating sink and I will say that I took it to storage to make some room when we moved our studio to a new place with convient water for buckets. But when We had a studio a hundred feet from water we used that a lot. A little pricy but it really is as good as running water for a clay studio.

    We have a few rolling bakers carts with plastic zip covers. Use 3/4 ply as shelves. Work great and can slow drying down when you want. 

    I woul'nt get too hung up on brands as long as its from a legit pottery supply house and not Amazon. Clay king, Sheffield, Baileys, The Ceramic shop are all legit. Dick Blick is great. The studio equipment by the major brand is built so well that most of these option will be fine. I find people mostly rave about the stuff they bought. When you drop 12-1500 for a pottery wheel you want to feel like its the best.

    have fun, try not to over spend. An old kiln and wheel, rolling pin and expired credit card for throwing tool will make great pots. We spend the dough just to make it easier.

  3. 31 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

     I don't think the seller would necessarily be making money on the deal, but probably coming close to breaking even, and the buyer could be saving $1000 on what is basically the same kiln. For me the vent is the deal breaker, as the old style vent is definitely inferior. 

    but that's a thousand off new not off another comparable late 90s/early 00 5cf kiln. Stuff depreciates and the value goes down unless its made of precious stones or metals :) To me getting more than I paid for a kiln 20 years later would definitely be making out really, really well on the deal. I'm just saying the actual owner of the kiln may well get that the friend is wrong and a fair price for that kiln is no where near 2k.

    besides that 1000 savings you mention evaporates in a hurry if the 20 year old controller goes on the blink or a brittle element craps out. But at 7-$800 which I bet is more like the going price for that kiln the savings may make the risk worth it. Ya know though I do respect your opinion and get that to some people 2k might pencil out and that kiln may then last them the rest of their days so I guess it works out either way. Depends on what your criteria is and if you get what you need out of it. 

  4. 12 hours ago, neilestrick said:

    New Skutt KM1018 with shelf kit and vent = $3000. The $2000 was just a number they decided on as being fair compared to the new price.

    no I get that. Yes it cost 3 grand to get a new 5cf Skutt and vent but I really don't think that means a 1998 one with a vent is worth anywhere near 2k no matter how little use it has seen and if I understood the original post the go between friend thought that was a good tie in and suggested it as an offer. I was suggesting that perhaps the actual owner gets that the kiln is not worth more than they probably paid 22 years ago and they might be open to negotiating a more realistic price. Maybe not but I wouldn't think anyone would pay anywhere near 2k for a 1998 kiln, electronic controller or not.  

  5. 5 hours ago, Potterhead said:

    Thank you Neil. You've given me everything I need to think about.

    At this point, since there is no record of the firings, I'm inclined to buy new. I'm looking at the same size kiln from L&L.

    Just wondering, who came up with the 2 grand price? That is a 4.5 cf kiln.

    We have a 9cf oval electronic controller from early 00's that was $1800 with everything (vent, furiture), delivered and it has been moved 4 times now and fired 100's of loads and it works great. We have a Skutt 1027 from 2015ish (actually bought 2 of these) that were both under 2k with furniture and another $350 for vents and that is a 7 cf kiln.

    I mean I dunno what a 5cf kiln cost in 1998 but I I find it hard to believe it was more than $1200-$1300 with controller and vent,  maybe a bit more (since controllers were real expensive at first ) . Does she have a receipt? I mean it really does look like it's in great condition and if price were a more reasonable $6-$7, even $800 it might be a great kiln for you if 5cf is big enough. The new ones are a lot more now but that really does not mean that people that own the ones are getting that kind of money. Maybe this friend of theirs just didn't know what they were talking about but the actual owner may get it and be perfectly happy with a fair 50-60% or so of what they paid 22 years ago. Maybe hit the pottery boards and see if you can find some comps to back up the offer.

    New stuff is fun of course and  5 cf kiln may be a bit small for what you want but for a hobbyist it also means it doesn't take that long to fill so you can fir more often. Just somethin g to think about, have fun with what ever you get.

  6. ya know maybe you guys should rethink it a bit. Does retiring have to be a complete walk away? Maybe retiring is just changing what you do. Maybe your pottery moves more toward something that shakes things up and is less about paying bills and more about enjoyment. We have talked about when we get past the age we want to be lifting 50 pound boxes of clay moving to Egyptian Paste Jewelry and other small items.

    Retirement that I've seen seems to be best with a work routine of some sort. I don't know why but it seems the happiest and healthiest old people in my family have been the ones with a schedule to keep.  


  7. You said easier to setup and I couldnt agree more. To me one of the things that makes shows somewhat suck is setup and tear down so I would stick to that. Watching this thread as we want to simplify as well. We bought a several thousand dollar professional show rack that is beautiful and I hate setting that beast up and switched to collaspable shelves and one center table last season and while better still just too much and takes an hour an a half on both ends to deal with. Marks shelves look really quick and nice. Good luck and please post what you end up doing.

  8.  A 3-$4000 machine to process a few buckets of  clay scrap every once in a while may not pencil out but if you can get right in your mind that a potter dose not have to spend time and cause body wear and tear wedging then there's that. Also things change, about a year ago I started pressing a lot of tile and now it would be absurd to not mix/pug as I end up with a huge amount of scrap and it would add thousands a year in expenses to just toss. I went from using the pugger every once and a while to almost daily. 

    I also think that as a new pro ya just have consider getting things like this to make your process more streamlined and efficient. All of this stuff between used and new doesn't really add up to that much money when you consider its the backbone to your whole business. Most of this stuff will last a really long time, often forever for the first potter buying and using it.

    Getting by without essential studio equipment usually means more labor. Nothing wrong with fugal and as a hobbyist reclaim, wedging, rolling out slabs with a rolling pin etc might be part of the whole romantic experience of pottery and part of why you love doing it so much but for a business I think one of the huge obstacles for any artist/artisan is that all we have is a limited amount of time. Even if we dial in our market perfectly and have lots of customers we will always be restricted by just how much we can make. You can't just order more if you have a great month or spectacular show. Spending time jerking around with a bucket of clay slop by hand and an hour wedging up that days clay just seems short sighted to me.

    You did say you were new at doing this full time though so maybe just let it pile up for a while until the cash is moving. You can use that time to see if you can score a good deal on a used one. 

  9. Well that is the problem when small businesses consolidate. If the new service sucks then they lose the customer base. If its mostly an asset sale then some don't care too much but if you paid based on future revenue from the customers then your probably screwed. When I bought other companies I escrowed a portion of the dough and a lot of the value paid for customers was phased in payments as we hit milestones so the outgoing owner(s) has an incentive to help us keep customers. Usually the market has been split up between a few large companies and then the 2nd tier might be a bunch of local shops. Its just about every trade, plumbing, painting, builders, HVAC and industry sectors. Most things are really local at the end of the day. 

    I would think of pottery as a pretty small space and most online suppliers that have some traction seem to some geo area pottery suppliers that built up their online presence early on like Baileys, Clay King, Sheffield's etc . I have no idea how many others are just pure drop ship internet companies though. I know BCS had a warehouse in AZ because when we ordered they  offered local pickup and used to have some shots of their warehouse and it had things like pottery wheels, slab rollers and other larger studio equipment visible so they were not a pure drop ship company unless those were fake images on their website. I also remember that you had to go to the entry office and they would go out and get the stuff so I don't think they were really a retail store either. I had briefly considered picking some of the equipment up since I was flying in to Phoenix on business and thought about renting a truck, so they had some of it. 

    I don't really know that's what happened though, it seems like I remember about 5-6 years ago getting some emails from the owners about the sale and then I heard from some place that the original owners got it back (maybe here)---but all of that is from this old mans 10-12 year old memory and hearsay. Might not be the story at all. How's that for hedging.  Maybe someone who actually knows the facts will see this thread and come in and tell us how all of this went down.

    I do think its a shame because back when we dealt with them they were just fine and you hate to see a company that has it figured out go under. That means a lot of hard work wasted beyond a paycheck and I think all of us order a lot of our stuff online now so there is no reason they should not be doing well.

  10. hey glad to hear it is looking like the damage was minimal. ya know the problem I see with candling is that it gets real easy to think of it as a way to just push wetter and wetter stuff on through until boom. Now ya got get yourself through PES (pottery explosion syndrome) and hope you have a mild case.

    Some potters with a bad case of PES will struggle to fire stuff they threw 6 months ago. Every pot feels cold and clammy and they have flashbacks of when they initially opened the kiln and saw the carnage.


    ...I find that Mexican food and margaritas will help. But I actually think Mexican food and margaritas helps everything (even too much Mexican food and margaritas).

  11. I spent some time doing rollups and to get it right the common denominator has to be a great process. People don't like change but they can adjust. We bought out a dozen small companies and many of them were run half a$$ed so we lost very few customers. We were an upgrade. Had a competitor that also bought out a few smaller outfits and they always bled customers after closing and we ended up with those customers too.

    No matter what the business people mostly demand a well run process and they like to feel that they matter. The only other way to keep customers is sell or offer something that no one else does and that's hard to find these days in any market.

  12. ya know I'm not sure any potters today will be viewed down the road as a name other than maybe a few sculptors. Functional potters like Leach, Mackenzie etc... have huge name recognition beyond other potters but I think they may have been the end of an era. Everything is so social media centric and that is so dominated by people known for being known. This thread though has me thinking about this though. I need to work harder at knowing who's doing what.


  13. hey I get it. Might work, might not and like you said, you are willing to accept the downside. I would just say that there is no reason to kick in such a gradiose plan before starting the business and selling some pots. An art business is still a business and if you havent sold anything in a long time then you will have a lot to work out. Here's the thing, you say a year and a half but its really less than that because you cant actually spend to nothing. I tried that and it was really stupid. I was very lucky that I got a programming contract right when I ran out of dough and they paid on invoice or I would have been scewed. I sold a lot of pots but trying to get to thousands a month to pay all of my bills and the business bills was a hill to high for me and a string of out of town shows ( using an RV ) that barely broke even burned through a lot of cash really fast and I was looking at another string of shows with thousands in new cost and it just fell a part quickly. That was close to five years ago now. I was up to 2am twice this week and I am generally in the studio working by 6ish and stop at 9ish for the day job. Work at home so no commute really helps. I really think I will be working two full time for a while and this time there is no way will I quit the day job until pottery is making as much or more than I make programming and its a pretty decent salary. I dont want to make less money just want to make it with pottery and I am determined to do it. 

    None of that means you should do it the way I am just thought it might help knowing someone else journey. There are so many different ways to get where you want to go and I've learned the hard way that sometimes it can take a bit to break through. All or nothing can work but it can also be defeating and set up a time to fail. I guess after almost a decade I just dont see a year and a half as a likely time frame. The first things you do may not work. The first string of shows may not clear enough over expenses to start a paycheck and may even just drain your account more. Slow and steady works. Building revenue works. I would try to get past the living a dream feeling and progress to making production list, sign up and do shows when this virus passes and build a business plan. Since we cant do shows right now we are concentrating on re launching our website with a new product line and building inventory foe when we can. You can do a lot by June but why make that a line in the sand. You say whats the worst that can happen and I say that is spending a lot of cash a lot faster than you thought you would. Transitioning with a part time job is great . Maybe a year getting to a good starting point with a lot of the business decisions worked out and some part time pottery revenue actually hitting your bank account would be worth considering.

    But however you do it I wish you nothing but sucess!

  14. Just read your latest post sounds like you have this, just need to work it out.

    Not clear on what you are building but I'd rethink that.

    I was at one show where a lady showed up next to us about 5 minutes to opening and popped up a light tent, hung a big sign on the back and put up a folding table and a chair. She then set out 4 or 5 long 'logs' of home made soap and proceeded to sell it an inch at a time to a never ending line of people.

    When the show ended she was out of there in about the same  5 minutes.

    I had tears in my eyes when I started the long task of tearing down and packing all our crap. 

  15. On 10/10/2020 at 12:23 AM, dirtball said:

    That said do you think a year will be long enough to get things off the ground? I'm just a bit gun shy on pulling the trigger on this because its a major life decision.

    Who knows but no need to do that.

    Do you make and sell pots now?  Do you have all your gear, studio and inventory or do you mean quitting your job and starting from scratch?

    If you are not currently making pottery at a fairly high end then no I don't think you plan will work, might, but seems more like wishful thinking. If on the other hand you have been doing it for a while and make nice pots and you just mean make the transition from hobby potter to pro then yeah lots of people do that. I think most though start out part time and transition. I tried that one and it didn't work but going to try again soon and my partner is full time.

    If your pottery is selling then you can decide if it will meet your needs. If you have been making but not selling then just start selling and just build up your business until you feel comfortable that you will make it. Nothing is going to magically change when you quit your job. Your customers won't know one way or the other unless you tell them. Online is faceless and a lot of shows are on weekends. Shows are great because you can talk to people that like pottery and get used to how your pottery is being seen buy people who buy pottery. Just remember money goes real fast when nothing is coming in and everything is going out.

    Good luck!

  16. On 10/1/2020 at 2:07 PM, neilestrick said:

    Sure, the initial cost is more painful, but it evens out in the end. And if you figure in the struggle and loss rate of using a clay you don't like or has problems, and the time it takes to pick it up, you might not be saving much anyway.

    Thanks Neil, good points! Thanks for your reply as I keep not doing this. Like you said above I should only be paying double if the local stuff is not up to speed. Since I haven't even tried the local porcelain it is dumb on my part to not do the testing so I am making an informed decision. Still have a few k pounds on hand but its going pretty fast and I don't want to change overnight if I do end up doing so.

    change is hard :)

  17. 4 hours ago, neilestrick said:

    Use whichever clay you like best, and adjust your prices accordingly. Adding 50 cents to every mug to cover the cost shouldn't affect sales.

    ya know I would normally agree but it does add up with some volume so going to try a couple of local options but you are right on that if we dont like the local stuff its prob worth just having it shipped. The other plus is that they ship a pallet to my door instead of me having to drive 3 hours round trip to pick it up, so there's that.

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