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Amy Waller

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Everything posted by Amy Waller

  1. You may know this, but I would be careful with covering your work during the drying period with effloresced Egyptian faience, which many potters call Egyptian paste. I cover my Egyptian faience pieces only while I'm working on them and even then not for long periods of time. Once I'm done working on a piece, I make sure to expose all the surfaces that I want to be glazed to the air to encourage drying and the "wicking process" that causes the sodium to migrate to the surface. This is what creates the glazed surface. Covering with plastic or anything else - especially loosely or partially covering - can cause the sodium to migrate to some areas but not others, resulting in an uneven glaze surface. As for an alternative to a drying cabinet - do you have access to a small electric space heater? I sometimes use a small, inexpensive (15-25 US dollars) space heater. It is somewhat wasteful energy-wise, but the dry heat works well for drying Egyptian faience. If that doesn't answer your question, let me know and I'll try again.
  2. Thanks for the annotated list of suggested references, Alabama. Anna O. Shepard's Ceramics for the Archaeologist is available from the publisher as a free downloadable PDF (it's the first publication under "Archaeology"): http://carnegiescience.edu/publications/books_online
  3. Seeing that Mug is from northeastern Ohio made it pretty easy to guess which "pottery capital" (in quotes, as Mug put it) was being referred to. My point wasn't to argue the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed title but rather to acknowledge and show respect for the town's history, including the fact that the town called itself that and was known - including popularly, beyond pottery and ceramic circles - by that title. John - to me your first comment came across as maybe a little funny. Your second comment a little less so. I might not have said anything if you hadn't posted your second comment. Mug - I like what you said about traveling having a humbling effect. I've never been to East Liverpool but hope to make it there someday.
  4. Ouch, John. I don't want to get into a pissing contest, and of course many places can and do lay claim to being the so-and-so capital of the world with little or no foundation, but I'd suggest dissing East Liverpool and its role in the history of ceramics also suggests not getting around much.
  5. Because Asheville has been mentioned a couple times, here's a February 2013 story about the local arts scene (it's not specific to ceramics, bit it does hit on some of Paul's criteria): Craiglist conversation is a tough take on Asheville's art scene As alluded to in the initial post that sparked the above story, the Asheville Area Arts Council has gone through a tough few years. The current Executive Director seems to be doing some great work in turning it around, though - this profile is from last month: Asheville Area Arts Council regains footing My take: Asheville can be an expensive place to live, especially for young people and/or artists (who might be otherwise employed part or full-time). Tourism is big business, and lots of jobs are dependent on that - and not very high-paying. A lot of people work multiple service jobs. I'm not sure this is different from other cities in the US these days, but the heavy reliance on tourism can make it seem that way to a casual observer. But - if you can afford to live in or near Asheville, it can be pretty great. Diane nails it on the generosity of potters and ceramic artists in Asheville and Western North Carolina. Handmade in America and the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design are two terrific Asheville-based craft organizations. And plus one on Clay Club - Clay Club rocks!
  6. This is an issue, and as Chilly points out, it's not just pottery/ceramics/whatever-you-want-to-call-it that is affected. Google has discontinued use of the plus sign as a search operator to force results to include a word (like +ceramics, as was suggested above). Here's a blog post that talks about this: Google Drops Plus Sign from Search Operators If you don't want to deal with using search operators, try Google's advanced search - it will let you customize your search. Google Advanced Search Also - if you haven't cleared your search history, or if you're signed into your Google account, Google will provide results based on your search history. Your results may be different from my results for the same search. You can get around this by using a search engine like DuckDuckGo.com. One thing you can do to get Google (and Google users) to find your pottery business is to register for a Google Places listing. There are some issues with this - for example, Google now requires you to use their pre-approved categories to describe your business and these categories are not very artist or pottery/ceramics friendly. But it will make it easier for people to find your business locally. Google Places for Business
  7. Related to this is Gombroon ware, a Persian fritware body that was sometimes pierced. It was possibly an attempt by Persian potters to imitate the translucency of Chinese porcelain. Then, later, Chinese potters may have been imitating the pierced Gombroon ware by making the rice grain ware. Here's an example and a little more information from the Ashmolean Museum: Gombroon ware bowl with foliage and pierced decoration
  8. Wanted to update this thread with a link to a facebook page that shows the work of modern day Egyptian faience (Iranian faience) potters: خرمهره kharmohreh. Blue beads. Iranian Faience This post shows fired beads still embedded in the cementation glazing powder: fired beads in cementation glazing powder This page appears to be public and available for all to view, so you shouldn't need a facebook account to view it. Lots of photos of beads and more with that brilliant blue glaze.
  9. Archaeologist Damien Huffer has written about the provenance issues raised by this bowl: Hide and Go Seek?
  10. Interesting discussion, especially about professional labels. I hate the word crafter and am still surprised that Clark - or anyone - likes it. Matt Jones responded at length to Garth Clark in a series of blog posts, starting with this one: Critique of a Critic: Rising to Garth Clark's Bait. (There's an overview in a later post: Wrestling with Garth, Post #1: Introduction and Clark's response (Garth Clark Responds) is included, too.) Highly recommended reading. This blog dialogue resulted in Clark coming to North Carolina last October. He visited a number of potteries and participated in events in Charlotte, Raleigh and Asheville. Here's a Charlotte Observer article about the symposium at the Mint Museum. Lots to think about from many points of view.
  11. Interesting thread - thanks for starting it, Cass. Remembering what it is "worth to you," the maker, (as you talked about in post #16) is such good advice.
  12. I'm not sure I understand exactly what your calculator would do, but if you're not familiar with it, you might be interested in Orton's Cone Calculation Program. It's an older piece of software, available free from the Orton website. (It's Windows-only as far as I can tell - personally, I would love to have access to something like this that was web-based and/or could be run on more modern operating systems, including ios.) Here's how Orton describes the software: The Cone Calculation program was developed by Orton to provide customers with more options for using cones to quantitatively monitor and control firings. This write-up describes the program. If desired, print it for reference. Input cone number, bending angle and firing schedule to determine equivalent temperatures for Orton Pyrometric cones. This program can be used to: · Determine Cone Equivalent Temperatures · Find Temperature Differences Between Cones · Evaluate the Effect of Soak Times · Determine Appropriate Cone Series · Calculate Heating Rate that affects cone bending The program is based on mathematical expressions to describe the behavior of pyrometric cones. The values shown are for Self-Supporting cones. When Large cones are used, the tip should be mounted 1 ¾ inches above the mounting plaque at an 8º angle. If mounted at 2 inches, the cone will bend about 2º C lower in temperature. You can download it from the Resources page on the Orton website (software download links are on the right side of the page, under "Software Download").
  13. An update: John Britt has received an official letter of apology from Penland School of Crafts and he has posted it on the Clay Club blog: Penland Apology Letter
  14. This recently revived thread over on the business forum discusses the education question: Etsy or Ebay?
  15. Thanks for bumping up this thread, Tuttaz - some interesting comments here. Teardrop - I especially appreciated what you had to say. This thread over on the education forum has some more thoughts on related issues: To School or not to School? How has your choice affected your life in clay?
  16. I am pretty new to this, but I have noticed this, too, especially in the last few months. Since I don't have a lot of experience for comparison, it's interesting to hear from people who do.
  17. I was in a similar spot a few years ago. I considered going back to school but decided not to in the end. One of the first things I did was to get a good history of pottery book ("10,000 years of pottery" by Emmanuel Cooper). I picked one topic from each chapter to research further. For me, this was a good way to start figuring out what I wanted to learn more about - where I wanted to focus my immersion efforts, if you will. You mentioned that you were having a hard time thinking of yourself as a potter. I can relate to this. One of the best pieces of advice I've heard came from a professional development workshop (for craftspeople) and it was this: don't talk about your previous profession - don't include it on your resume, don't talk about it in your artist statement, etc. As the person teaching the workshop put it (to the best of my recollection), "I don't care that you were an engineer or whatever for 20 or 40 years or however long - I only want to know about what you've done as related to the craft you're practicing now." I find myself thinking of this almost every time someone asks me what I do. Saying simply that I'm a potter gets a very different response from talking about what I used to do and how I'm trying something new in my life now. I think there are many ways to get to where you want to go. Good luck as you go forward.
  18. Just a couple more ideas - sounds like you're saying commercially available bead racks wouldn't be practical for all of your large beads, which I understand. You could make your own bead racks that better suit your needs. Or another thought is to incorporate the unglazed end (or ends if you leave them both unglazed) into the decorative design.
  19. John Britt has posted a response over on the Clay Club blog: Penland School Admits Mistakes- Agrees to REPAY Artists!
  20. I appreciate the response from Penland (posts #34 and #35 above), and I am cautiously hopeful that it marks the beginning of a resolution of this situation.
  21. Here is the text from the Question and Answer Page Penland posted today on its website: Some Questions and Answers In response to the recent controversy over Penland past payroll system Read the Statement Here The airing of this problem, on Facebook and other Internet platforms, has created confusion, raised questions, and spread a lot of misinformation. In an attempt to clear the air, we are presenting a list of questions that have been implied or asked directly along with detailed, accurate answers. If you have further questions about this matter, please send an e-mail to communications@penland.org Does Penland pay time-and-a-half for overtime worked by its employees? Absolutely. Since August 2007, Penland's payroll practices have conformed with all applicable state and federal laws. This was checked again and confirmed in 2011 by outside legal counsel. Any hourly employee who works more than 40 hours in one workweek is paid time-and-a-half for the time over 40 hours. North Carolina law does not set any limit on how many hours can be worked in a single day--only on the number of hours worked in a single workweek. This is carefully explained in Penland's employee handbook and all supervisors understand how the overtime policy works. It is not common for hourly employees to be required to work overtime, but when it happens, they are properly compensated. Penland has said that it made a “technical violation†of the labor laws. What is meant by that? This is the term our lawyer used to describe the following: Penland pays employees every two weeks. During the years in question, employees turned in a single number for the hours they had worked over a two-week pay period. They were not paid extra for overtime unless they worked more than 80 hours in a two-week period. What this meant in practice is that if someone worked more than 40 hours in one week of the pay period, they compensated for those hours by working less the other week. This was not set up maliciously or with an intent to deprive employees of proper pay. The staff members who were managing the payroll at that time believed that their system was legal. And despite charges that have been made, the fact is that all employees were paid using the same system. Another problem with the way payroll was handled at that time was that timesheets were turned in before the end of the second week so that employees could get their checks on the last day of the pay period, but this meant that they had to estimate some hours before they were worked. This problem was also fixed in 2007. How could you make a mistake like this? It may be hard to understand in retrospect, but the two lawyers we have worked with on these matters told us that this is one of the most common payroll mistakes they find, particularly in small businesses and nonprofits. There was no intent to deprive anyone of their rightful pay. The staff administering it thought it was legal. We hope this can be understood as part of an ongoing evolution in Penland's business practices. What exactly did Penland do when this mistake was brought to its attention? The school hired a lawyer with experience in labor law. She reviewed Penland's payroll system and recommended changes to bring it into compliance with the law. Since that time, hours have been recorded for each week so that overtime compensation can be properly made on the 40-hour standard. The payday was moved from Friday at the end of the pay period to the following Friday so that timesheets could be turned in on Monday--after the end of the pay period. Penland followed the recommendation of its legal counsel that it pay all of its then-current employees the additional amount they would have received--going back two years from August 2007--had overtime been calculated based on a 40-hour week rather than an 80-hour pay period. It was recommended that the school similarly compensate any former employees who came forward to say that they were also owed for overtime worked during those two years. The lawyer also told the school that it did not have to contact former employees who worked during that two-year period and Penland followed this advice as well. We understand now that this is the way this problem is commonly addressed in the business world, but clearly this was not an appropriate approach for Penland. Because of the way the timesheets were structured, it was impossible to tell from those records how much, if any, overtime had been worked by a given employee. The former studio manager--the same person who has led the public campaign on this issue and also brought the violation to the school's attention--had kept, but not submitted, a second set of timesheets for studio coordinators. These were discovered after he resigned. Those unofficial records show how many hours these employees worked each week during the two years prior to August 2007. The studio coordinators working at Penland at that time were paid additional overtime wages for the two-year period based on the information in these alternate timesheets. An employee working in the development office was paid based on her recollection. One former studio coordinator contacted the school at that time and requested compensation. His records were unclear, so he was also paid based on his recollection. Penland's original statement referred to the "incomplete nature†of the older records. What does this mean? Were records lost or destroyed? No. There are timesheets for employees going back to 2000, although the school is only required to keep timesheets for two years. However, the system being used before August 2007 did not record the information needed to determine how much, if any, overtime was worked by any individual employee in any particular workweek. So the records exist; it's the information that’s incomplete. Employees turned in a total number of hours for a two-week period. Whether time-and-a-half should have been paid for any of those hours can't be established without knowing how many hours were worked in each week. The only records dating before August 2007 that have this information are the alternate set of timesheets for coordinators kept--but not submitted--for several years by the studio manager. It has been charged that during the time in question Penland’s facilities crew recorded their time differently than other employees and so they were properly compensated for overtime. Is this true? The timesheets and pay records from that time show no evidence that any employees were reporting their time or being paid using a different system than everyone else. We have no idea what is behind this charge and there is no information to support it. Can't Penland just figure out how much people should have been paid and make up the difference? No, it can't. Except for the studio coordinators who worked during the time period when the alternate timesheets were being kept (see above), it is impossible to determine which employees might have worked overtime unless they worked more than 80 hours in two weeks, in which case they would have been paid extra for those hours at the time. The records have been saved, but the information needed to figure out how much overtime was actually worked and how much extra money should have been paid simply does not exist. Why has the response from Penland been so limited until now? The tone of the public airing of this problem, which has been taking place on Facebook and other Internet platforms, has been hostile and characterized by inconsistent and often inaccurate information, and it has generated volumes of comments, some of which are ill-informed or based on assumptions that are not true--most notably that the problem being discussed is an ongoing one, which it is not. We do not think it is productive to enter into discussions of this character. Our initial statement was meant to give a short and accurate description of what had transpired and to assure anyone reading it that the problem is not a current one. However, the controversy caused Penland’s board and staff to revisit and reassess how the problem was handled in 2007, and we decided that the choice not to go further than the recommendation made by our legal counsel does not reflect Penland’s values and aspirations. A group of board and staff members then worked together to find a solution that would address the mistakes of the past without simply paying everyone a made-up, fixed amount of money, which would be arbitrary and unfair--coordinator work requirements have always varied considerably, and the former coordinators we are contacting all worked at Penland for different amounts of time, from a few months to several years. The plan developed by this group required board approval and convening a board meeting requires proper notice. The plan couldn’t be implemented until it was approved, and making further public statements while the situation was in flux didn’t seem like a good idea. So, we are trying to answer questions now. We regret the delay but it couldn’t be helped. Organizations can’t always move at the speed of the Internet. How does Penland treat its employees? Penland is committed to being a good place to work. In addition to their pay, employees have a benefits package that includes paid vacation, 10 paid holidays, sick leave, extended sick leave, health insurance (Penland pays 85% of the premium), a retirement account set up when they are hired (to which Penland makes contributions after two years), free meals while working when classes are in session, and a free class every two years. All employees have limited access to studios at no charge and can rent extended studio time during the winter months at a reduced rate. Studio coordinators have free access to studios whenever it does not interfere with classes. Penland also has a grievance policy that helps employees bring problems to the personnel committee of the board of trustees if they cannot be resolved at the staff level. Penland conducts regular salary studies to compare its salaries with those paid for similar jobs at comparable institutions locally, regionally, or nationally, depending on the nature of each job. When significant discrepancies are found, the school takes steps to correct them. Penland employees have gotten merit increases every year for the past decade except for one (2009). There were no layoffs or pay cuts during the recent recession. Employment at Penland is governed by a detailed personnel policy that is reviewed periodically by the board of trustees and legal counsel. Penland values its talented and hard-working employees. It's no secret that many people who work for nonprofits could make more money elsewhere, and that’s true for Penland. Our employees are dedicated people who provide extraordinary creative experiences for others. It sounds like the studio coordinators have a pretty hard job. Has Penland done anything to address this? Yes. Coordinators have received several raises in the past five years in addition to annual merit increases. The studio manager works closely with coordinators to help them plan their work and balance their workload. A new position was created for a studio technician to help studio coordinators with complex technical and mechanical issues. Two coordinatorscoordinators are now assisted in the summer by full-time interns. Also worth noting is the fact that coordinators represent Penland at national conferences in their medium at the school’s expense. This is part of their job, but it also benefits them professionally. They have free access to their studios during the 22 weeks each year when classes are not in session and at other times if it does not interfere with classes. Most of them take advantage of this to pursue their own work. And of course, coordinators receive the same benefits package as other employees. This is detailed above. But yes, these are demanding jobs requiring technical, managerial, and interpersonal skills, and we're proud of the talented people who choose to do them. There have been references to people being "blacklisted" by Penland. Is this true? No, there is no Penland blacklist. It is true that since 2007, the person who has led the public airing of the current problem has regularly sent hostile and inflammatory communications to staff and board members, and the school has chosen not to have a professional relationship with him, but neither he nor anyone else has been banned from campus, and there have been no activities that could be called “blacklisting.†The financial statements for Penland available online make it seem that the school has a lot of money. Isn't Penland a nonprofit? There have been several postings of a Penland listing on the Guidestar website, which publishes information about nonprofits. The financial statement posted for Penland's 2011 fiscal year has generated some misunderstanding, because it appears to show that the school had a large amount of excess income for that year. What this statement does not show is that Penland is involved in a multi-year capital campaign and that almost every bit of the excess income shown on that statement is donor-restricted for specific scholarships, endowments, buildings, and infrastructure improvements that will benefit generations of future Penland students. Because that statement doesn’t distinguish between operating and capital funds, it doesn’t show that in fiscal year 2011, Penland's annual operating income--the money available to the school to pay for salaries, instructor stipends, food, utilities, etc.--only slightly exceeded its operating expenses. Some people have also seen reports of total assets and thought that this number is some indication of income. Total assets includes the value everything that belongs to the school: 420 acres of land, 56 buildings, furnishings, computers, studio equipment, etc. It's worth noting that Penland's income from tuition, room, and board paid by students covers less than half the cost of running the school, with the balance coming primarily from annual fundraising and endowments. And last year, 49% of Penland’s students attended with some form of financial assistance. Penland’s relationship with artists. Although the problem under discussion had to do with the school’s fiscal relationship with its employees, much of the public airing of it has been framed as a conflict between Penland and artists. This has been especially troubling because artists--whether they are professional, amateur, or aspiring--are the reason Penland exists. Penland provides artists with education, residencies, teaching opportunities, the unique Core Fellowship Program, exposure for their work through the Annual Benefit Auction, and promotion and sale of their work through the Penland Gallery. Last year, Penland provided 262 work-study scholarships, 60 full scholarships, 157 studio assistantships, and 82 stand-by discounts, and thirty more full scholarships were made possible through partnerships developed with other institutions. The Penland Gallery director advises artists on marketing and prices and frequently recommends artists to other galleries and institutions. The gallery attracts thousands of visitors each year and provides them with information about artists in the surrounding area, encouraaing traffic to local studios. Penland also provides training and support for teaching artists who use their talents to benefit children in local schools. For their part, artists, through donations of work to our auctions, contributions to our annual fund and capital campaigns, volunteering, taking classes, being studio assistants, and, of course, the creative contributions they make as teachers, advisors, board members, and staff members, are Penland’s most important and passionate supporters. Penland School’s relationship with artists is a mutually beneficial give and take: no artists, no Penland. It’s that simple
  22. Penland has posted a statement about the labor practices violations on their website. I'm re-posting it in its entirety here. At the bottom of the statement is a link to a Question and Answer Page. I'll post that separately. What Happened and What We Are Doing About It Action and a statement about the controversy over Penland’s past payroll system Penland School of Crafts has recently been the subject of public discussion resulting from a past payroll problem. The board and staff are taking action at this time that we hope will bring the matter to a reasonable conclusion. We are also posting detailed responses to some of the issues that have been raised. Prior to 2007 Penland’s payroll was managed in a way that unintentionally resulted in hourly employees not always being properly compensated when they worked overtime. Simply put, Penland paid employees every two weeks, and hours were recorded as a single number for the pay period. While hourly employees were paid time-and-a-half if they recorded more than 80 hours in a two-week time period, they should have been paid time-and-half if they worked more than 40 hours in a single workweek. Penland’s handling of overtime was not intentionally incorrect; the staff members administering the process believed it to be legal . The problem was brought to light in 2007, it was fixed going forward, and, following the recommendation of the school’s lawyer specializing in labor law, a group of then-current employees were compensated for back wages for the previous two years. Also following our lawyer’s advice, we did not attempt to contact former employees who had worked during that time, but we paid one former employee who contacted us about back pay. The mistake in the system was not denied or hidden--it was corrected. However, a recent campaign against Penland, led by a community member who worked at the school during that time, has brought a lot of attention to the limited scope of the retroactive employee compensation. While we have elected not to conduct an adversarial public conversation on multiple Internet platforms, the board and staff of the school have revisited the decisions made in 2007 and have decided that the choice not to go beyond the recommendations of our legal counsel does not reflect Penland’s values and aspirations. Although the mistake in the timekeeping system was not intentional, we regret this mistake and the way in which it was addressed, and we are sorry that hard-working staff members were not properly compensated for their work. In light of this, the board of trustees has decided to do the following: This week, we sent checks and a letter of explanation and apology to two other studio coordinators who were no longer working at Penland in August 2007 whose records show that they should have received overtime pay for hours worked between August 2005 and August 2007. We are able to do this despite the inadequate information in Penland’s timesheets from that period because, during those two years, the studio manager kept and saved time logs for coordinators, which makes it possible to reconstruct their hours on a weekly basis. This means that all coordinators whose records show they should have gotten extra compensation in that two-year period have been paid. Several other coordinators who worked during this time period and whose records do not show they are owed compensation will also be invited to contact Penland if they believe these records are incorrect. We are also sending a letter of explanation and apology to every studio coordinator who worked between January 2000 and August 2005 inviting them to call deputy director Jerry Jackson if they believe that they worked overtime at Penland and were not properly paid. Because the timesheets from this period don’t give us a way to tell how much extra pay any of these coordinators should have received, Jerry will work with each individual to agree on a fair amount of compensation. Many people have expressed disappointment that Penland did not handle this more generously in 2007. We agree that we should have, and that is why are taking these steps. We feel these actions will bring the matter under discussion to a conclusion. Although the problem raised had to do with the school’s fiscal relationship with its employees, much of the public airing has been framed as a conflict between Penland and artists. This has been especially troubling because artists--whether they are professional, amateur, or aspiring--are the reason Penland exists. Every dollar we spend supports artistic growth. Penland is a magical place that has changed the lives of thousands. But it is a complicated place to run; it is run by people, and people make mistakes. We are sorry for the mistakes that created this situation, and we are proud of our association with this school. We hope that we can now go back to the business of helping people live creative lives. Glen Hardymon, chair, board of trustees Rob Pulleyn, vice chair, board of trustees Some Questions and Answers The airing of this problem, on Facebook and other Internet platforms, has created confusion, raised questions, and spread a lot of misinformation. In an attempt to clear the air, we are presenting a list of questions that have been implied or asked directly along with detailed, accurate answers. Question and Answer Page
  23. Natalie Tornatore, a Penland Core Student from 2005 to 2007, has posted a statement on the Clay Club blog: PLEASE READ THIS IS IMPORTANT!!! Labor Issues, Artists Work and Held Wages…
  24. Another former Penland employee has posted a statement on the Clay Club blog. This one is from Chris Winterstein, coordinator of the iron studio from 2001-2005 and also of the wood studio in 2002 and 2003. An Open Letter to Penland’s Board of Directors- Chris Winterstein former Iron and Wood Coordinator.
  25. Paul Kowalchuk has posted a pretty blunt piece about the Penland labor practices allegations over at the Studio Potter Archive Blog: Penland Faces Problems Over Past Overtime Wages Violation & With Recent Public Relations Letter Addressing Same Topic
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