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kswan

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  • Location
    Ellicott City MD
  • Interests
    Throwing with stoneware; a tiny obsession with exactness; simplicity; noticing details that other people might overlook; native plants of the eastern US; birds, bees, bugs, and all the other life that resides together with me in my woods; bringing animals into our home who previously had no cushy, warm, dry places to lay their heads; learning every day, pottery or not, by taking classes, reading, or trying out an idea that is rummaging around in my head.

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  1. Congrats on a good run of shows @GEP! My sales seem to be about 10% cash. I also bring $100 in bills to make change which I will definitely keep doing. The annoying thing about cash is making the coin change when tax is added. Sometimes I've been rounding up the change for customers so I don't have to deal with scrounging up coins. I think I might keep just quarters and round up with those. I put my hand sanitizer at my little check out area in my booth even when it's not required, because I use it often after touching so many things during a day.
  2. You can try using clay like ball clay or kaolin mixed in to your stain and frit. That is what I use along with the CMC. My clay body is light colored so I can also add that in as well and it doesn't need so much frit.
  3. You can also test bisque firing a cone or so lower. The underglaze may not be as sintered and can absorb more glaze.
  4. @Mark C. I'm glad you have Godzilla to help you in your studio! I look at my Square tallies after each show and am surprised by the categories where things sell best and price averages at each show. That's helping me a lot. I do make a list for myself from that as to what I need to make more or less of. I wanted to share what I've tinkered with so far on Trello. I am only going to use this for special orders and not for regular inventory that I'll make. This is very simple and I barely did anything beyond the stock page, but at least it's all in the same place. I love making to do lists, and it's nice that you can make a template for an order including the to do list and then adjust as you need to. Also, @Callie Beller Diesel it looks like you get payment after the piece is made. The people so far who want special pieces from me are ready to pay as soon as the idea is drawn up. Is it standard to have a policy about upfront payment, down payments, etc? Or can that be up to the artist/buyer?
  5. I am nowhere near the volume of work that you all are doing, so I am enjoying the fact that people are excited about my work and I have time to make things for them. I'm no longer in a gallery so doing craft shows and then orders from that will be it for me. My "custom orders" are essentially the same as yours, @Callie Beller Diesel putting a design I already do on a different piece or making something that I am capable of doing in a slightly different way. I also take a photo of a little sketch and email it for approval. So maybe in my soon to be created binder I will have a section for emails to contact people who either want a piece I'm out of or who may want a special one made. I'm going to modify the commission referral log I made for the gallery I used to be in. On another note, my Square app updated itself right in the middle of me using it this weekend! That was bewildering, all of a sudden it shut down, I reopened it and it looked entirely different. I don't like the way it's laid out now.
  6. It's funny because I love organizing, making color coded binders and files and such! And I understand about the feel of a nice pen on paper. I just got overwhelmed by people asking for things at my booth, and wasn't expecting or prepared for it. I think what I'll do is stick with asking them to email me with a request and try not to get too bogged down in details while at my booth. That's overwhelming enough as it is. I did that at one show where four people asked me about making things, which is more than I've encountered yet at a time. I'm still pretty new to doing larger craft shows, and having a year hiatus didn't help with keeping things running smoothly... I'm going to make myself a binder with sections, because I really like being able to move parts around, and take that to shows. I'll keep my sketchbook for home, that's where I draw for myself and sketch items someone asks for. OOOH! I'm getting excited thinking about the sections I can make, like a place for the info sheets you receive from the show organizers, a place for taking notes and to do lists for each show. That way I can flip to the page where I took notes on the day and will remember it (hopefully). That would have helped remedy my embarrassing situation. I'm messing around with Trello right now. Did you use a specific template or did you start from scratch? I have to read through the guide because there's a lot to it.
  7. Thank you for all that detail! It really helps to see it too. I'm going to play around with it a bit. I also really want to have something written down when I talk with someone and where I can make little doodles too. I need to start bringing a sketchbook or binder to shows where I can jot things down and organize. I find myself writing on small slips of paper and then sticking them in my tool box. Not very organized!
  8. @Callie Beller Diesel Thank you for sharing this! Do you think you could show a photo or explain more how you might use this for custom orders? I just had a mortifying experience where I verbally agreed to save a vase at a show for someone and forgot, then accidentally sold all of those before she arrived. I've also gotten more custom orders at the same time that I want to find a good way to keep track of. Also, would you use Trello while at a show? I think you said you use it with a tablet. I can barely see my phone screen so I wouldn't want to use it with my phone while at a craft show.
  9. If it's going to be on food surfaces, I'd use a product that is rated food safe. A dark stain like the one you show could easily leach into foods if it isn't bound into a glaze.
  10. I use a Laguna clay and bought a few hundred pounds supply about a month ago. I noticed that the quality is way lower than I've been accustomed to. It is very hard and I have had to wet it in the bag to be able to wedge it. There are also weird chunks of things in it that I can't identify, possibly small bits of wire, red and black hunks, large enough that they have ruined several of my pieces. I often make extra lids for things and keep them on hand bone dry to get the best fit and I noticed that the clay from previous batches is a different color.
  11. Sue McLeod is doing an underglaze research group. It might be good for you to check out what she's doing and add your input. Go to Sue McLeod Ceramics and find "Troubleshooting Commercial Underglazes" . She has charts you can fill in to track your testing and then share with her to compile the results. I believe she has a facebook group as well where you can discuss these issues. I apply underglazes to bone dry work. I also mix up my own underglaze like or wash like formulas with mason stains and flux, sometimes adding other things as needed such as a bit of my clay body slip, CMC gum, or white underglaze. I notice that the mason stains act differently from one another too just like the commercial underglazes do. I fire to cone 5. I experimented a bit with different fluxes mostly just to get the mason stain to stick to the surface of my work after bisque. I've used frit 3124, Gerstley Borate and Wollastonite as fluxes. The ratio is about half flux and half stain, but do some experimenting if you add things like your clay body slip because it already contains some kind of flux. It almost looks like the black is trying to pop itself off the clay but the glaze is sort of holding it on. I've had big flakes of underglaze come off after bisque, I think when it was applied too thickly all at once. It seems like a good way to get it to adhere better to the clay is to use a more watered down first layer so it sinks into the clay instead of sitting on top of it.
  12. I'd like to add my 2 cents to this topic, because it's something I am concerned with as well. I reuse clean packing materials, and I ask some trusted people give me what they collect as well. If you live near an Ikea, the dishes in their kitchen department all have thin foam pieces in between. People leave those on the shelf when they buy dishes, and the employees just throw them out. They will give them to you if you ask nicely. There are probably all kinds of businesses like that where you can ask for supplies. Reusing something is better than buying new, if it was already heading for the trash. I like the idea of the autobody foam too, @oldlady It sounds like the same type of foam and you can have bigger pieces when needed. Most ceramics should be double boxed except little things like mugs. I've not had anything break since I began doing that. I'd rather make it bomb proof than have to remake a special piece. If you have more than one item, wrap them individually and then wrap them together so they don't move at all. It's them clanking together that will break them rather than force from outside the box. I use rubber bands, bubble wrap or kraft paper to bind them. Before you seal it, shake the box. If you hear anything, add more stuffing. 2 inches of insulation all around, and under a little pressure, so it's like a jack in the box when you open it. I bought boxes from a local manufacturer that is a 10 minutes drive from me. That way, they don't need to ship them. They have other supplies as well, like kraft paper, tape, etc. I don't use Uline because I don't support their political views and there are lots of local places to get supplies around me. I bought boxes because that way I don't have to try to scramble to get ones to nest in each other. Also, they are just the sizes I want, so I need less packing material inside them. Other than that, I haven't bought any shipping supplies except tape. I will switch to paper tape once my plastic tape runs out, that's a good idea. I try to remember the three R's of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle. Right now everything is shipped, so it's hard to reduce the amount of stuff we're using, but the next step is to reuse what's already here instead of buying something new unless that's the only option. I've also thought about adding a note in there, along the lines of "Packed with reused/recycled materials, please keep the cycle going by reusing or donating" It may spark somebody to think about it! I wish they could donate it back to me!
  13. Why would you prefer using 2 of the 7 c.f. kiln to a 10 c.f. one? Just those particular models or in general? I've got a 2927 and I like the size since it's flexible space for loading., most of my pieces are all different sizes. Is there better energy usage in the smaller kiln in general, or again does that vary model to model based on something, like being direct wired? What do you think of the Quad Pro? Thanks!
  14. Here's one of the rolls of wire you need. They also have the thinner 24 gauge. I use both of them, both for supporting a bead on the rack and for inserting directly into clay. https://www.theceramicshop.com/product/1496/wire-high-temp-17g/ I had the experience of a pile of beads slumped and melted together on the kiln shelf and since mine are heavy, I use this on the rod between bead rack supports to keep wire from bending under the weight. Then I cut pieces of the 17 gauge wire and wrap to fit on the rod to suspend the bead. As long as you don't bend them often you can reuse them many times. I slide them on and off the ends instead of bending them to fit each time. I do some ornaments this way too. One thing for heavy items is to be sure the wire is wrapped once around the rod or the weight will begin to straighten the wire and it may fall. https://www.theceramicshop.com/product/1675/porcelain-rod-6/ I use small drill bits to make my holes in the beads. Sometimes trying to push something through will crack it. I try to get the hole close to the edge so the jump ring fits through easily.
  15. I tried VC 71 on multiple clay bodies and it crazed on every one. I like the look of Marcia's matte, and how color still comes through. I have been using this recipe for about 4-5 years now on B Mix 5. I paint with underglazes and mason stains and I want a glaze that I can see through but has a nice feel in my hands. Some mason stains require a high calcium content for color development, so this works. My kiln is also a manual kiln sitter controlled, but it is 10 cubic feet, which may slow down the cooling a bit. I adjusted this Dixon Satin glaze by adding silica, so if you want it as matte as it was originally, reduce silica. (I think I added about 900 g) Silica 27.17 Nepheline syenite 21.41 Whiting 21.12 EPK 19.18 Ferro frit 3124 8.34 Gerstley borate 2.78
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