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Callie Beller Diesel

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Posts posted by Callie Beller Diesel

  1. The specific gravity won’t affect how the glaze drips but the rheology, or how the glaze flows will. This is the thixotropy of a glaze, or lack thereof. While I am a fan of Tony Hanson, Sue Macleod is a much more thorough and effective teacher on this subject. Her explanations are far more approachable. She goes into more depth on how to troubleshoot and fix things. 

    Epsom salts would have been my first choice to fix a dripping issue. How much did you add, and was it thoroughly incorporated? Did you add your Epsom salts as dry material, or did you add them as a small amount of a super saturated solution?

  2. Hi and welcome!

    Are you right or left handed? Typically if you’re right handed, you work with your right hand on the outside of the pot and your left hand inside with the wheel turning counterclockwise, and vice versa if you’re left handed. But there are a lot of ways to make pots, none of which are wrong per se, if they result in a pot being made. I would pick one method and stick with it on both wheels because there’s a lot of muscle memory to build, and trying to do it both ways is bound to trip you up. 
    Hope that helps!

  3. I’d balk at the price. 

    That said, this is actually more or less how my weekly farmers market is operating, with the exception of sign up times: instead they count heads going in and out to keep it under a certain occupancy level at all times. For a festival in an urban centre, they’d have to fence it or something, but it’s doable. 

    It’s actually working pretty good you guys! 

    People have been coming out and actually purchasing because they’re conscious of supporting local businesses. Customers relax considerably once they’re in, because it’s not crowded, and it feels like they’re doing something normal. It winds up being an enjoyable shopping experience. My sales last month were excellent!

    I’m not able to problem solve for clothing or print vendors, but here’s how I get around the no touching part: 

    1) Gloves are not the greatest solution unless people are changing them between tasks. If they’re wearing them from booth to booth, they’re still spreading germs. I provide a pump of hand sanitizer, and in my greeting, encourage people to use it before touching, should they choose to do so. Choose your phrasing so that you’re emphasizing your concern about their welfare. It’s much harder to argue with that sentiment.  “Good morning! I have some hand sanitizer available for you, if you’d like to take a closer look,” works. 

    2) Wipe down everything with bleach spray and cloths you treat as single use for those who get ahead of you, or are just plain rude about it. I haven’t had anyone be weird about it, but it’s kind of regulation for going into most stores now anyways. I went to Canadian Tire (I’m sure there’s a US equivalent) and got a bag of car wash rags for $15 that I cut to size. I got probably 50 cloths the size of a big facecloth out of it, which is LOTS. I keep these in a basket behind my table with a spray bottle of 1:50 bleach solution, which is what the provincial health authority recommends. You need to make fresh bleach solution every day, as it does degrade. I have an old pillowcase that the cloths go into if they’ve been used even once, and the whole thing gets thrown in the washer as soon as I get home. Clorox wipes are difficult to find, and I’ve never loved using single use anyways.  Because of the calm crowds, this is a workable thing to do. 

  4. Incoming Novel: tl;dr, it's possible to make some money at them, but only under certain conditions that need to be in place first, and no, they won't be the same return as the big US shows.  They will be frustrating for those used to a certain level of income.


    I spoke to a friend yesterday who had just completed round two of an in-person show that seems to have pivoted their audience online successfully. She was gracious enough to describe their process without financial numbers which she wasn't comfortable disclosing. We chatted about some of the pros and cons, and with her permission I'll share some of our analysis here.

    Some of the things we felt worked in the show's favour were that the organization has been established in the handmade community for a few years, and has always had a substantial and effective niche social media marketing component to their advertising. Their shoppers are a younger (30 something) crowd that does tend to have some disposable income, are social media users, are in the "nesting" phase of life and are inclined to shop online in the first place. Also, the show's application process requests your social media handles so that they can see your work development, check your audience compatibility, etc. (I don't get the impression this is common practice in the US, but it has become standard here in western Canada at least over the last 5 years.)  I think it's important to note that while there can be some overlap, online audiences DO differ from the live ones. Online audiences take time to build, just the same as in-person ones. I believe that an online show without a solid virtual presence to start with would not be as successful in the first years as the same live show would be.  A show that has focused the bulk of their efforts on more traditional marketing methods to get the word out will be essentially starting out as a beginner show if they attempt to pivot to an online platform in order to stay afloat or to try and support their artist stable. So I would say that if you're looking at a virtual show, check out their online assets before making a decision. Some things to ask would include:

    • social media engagement numbers, which are a better indication of an enthusiastic audience than straight follower numbers. Followers can be purchased, engagement, notsomuch.
    • ask if their email list was built virtually or from in person signups from previous years. 
    • ask whether your own digital assets and that of other artists are a factor in their selection process. While the organizers should be doing the bulk of the marketing for you, they should also be providing you with materials to help promote yourselves as a group. Building efforts and community are necessary all the time, but more so this year.

    The structure of this show we're using as an example was experimenting a bit this last spring. This second round of the show this summer wasn't the usual juried format, and was instead an invitational, drawn from previous participants. I believe they wanted to offer shoppers a lineup of familiar favourites to set everyone up for success, as this is after all an experiment. The show organizers provided the online platform for centralized shopping, marketing efforts, and resources for the vendors. They charged a show fee which was lower than the usual booth, but they added a small commission on each sale, I assume to cover web fees and online processing.  They also were donating a portion of the sales to local charities, which came out of the show's portion of the comission.

    Pros of this show overall included:

    • a group of solid, quality artists 
    • Existing supportive audience
    • Community effort in promotion lead by the organizer, leading to wider collective reach for all show participants
    • Neat appearance of user friendly shopping platform so shoppers could purchase from multiple vendors in one transaction
    • Short duration  of the sale (one weekend and it's gone) leading to a sense of urgency for the shoppers, similar to a flash sale or Instagram shop drop
    • Less physical labour!!! No setup or tear down!
    • Watching sales come in all weekend in your pjs with a hot drink is pretty satisfying.


    Cons Included:

    • There was a lot of building online assets (product listings, photos, etc) that were temporary: once the show was finished, listings were removed. This is a significant consideration IMO. 
    • The ability to invite new customers to your own website/newsletter signup/social media were limited
    • My friend's analysis showed that after all shipping costs, "booth" fees and commissions were accounted for, she received approx. 50% split. I suspect this number will vary from artist to artist. Results on this may be affected by item price point, number of sales, and whether or not shipping costs are appropriately accounted for in your pricing. The number of items one lists and sells may also be a factor. I don't have a wide enough sample to be able to tell though.
    • Software apparently glitchy from the artist end, although things did get sorted out.
    • You do need an ability to at least learn software reasonably quickly in order to make this work, or be able to borrow from your own existing digital infrastructure (product descriptions and web suitable photos) to do this efficiently.

    My friend, who did not previously have a sales portal, has concluded that while it was a profitable show and that it's important to support folks who have supported your own career, she might have kept more money had she just done things from her own website and promoted with a group of show friends with a compatible aesthetic in order to share reach.

    My thoughts are that digital shows may be a possible stop gap or secondary income stream, but some problems need to be worked out if they're to be a  more permanent thing.

  5. I started off firing cone 10 reduction with porcelaineous stoneware, and well....

    I wasn’t going to be able to get at my usual cone ten gas rental for the summer while they rebuilt the kiln shed, so I thought I’d play around with some cone 6 clay because the electrics were still available, and I picked up some red clay and some underglazes for a change of pace. That was almost 5 years ago, and I never did go back to the gas kiln. 

  6. Another really sneaky thing that will keep you from being able to centre all the way is if you inadvertently trap even a tiny bit of air under the clay when you’re smacking it down. Make sure the surface of the clay that will go down on the wheel head has no wrinkles or bumps in it. (Took me a really embarrassing amount of time to figure that one out.)

  7. If you’re firing a lid with a flange on the flange rim, it can still warp as the piece shrinks. Min has said before that she fires her French butter dishes separately and the top goes on a clay cookie to prevent such warping. 
    I favour drying and firing lids together with their pots, especially larger ones. I find on the bigger ones you also have to be really mindful of plastic memory when you’re moving lids or trimming them.

  8. Latest is the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Urban fantasy around a coyote shapeshifter. Very dry humour, well paced and interesting characters and world building. I burned through the latest Jim Butcher last week, and am now stuck in cliffhanger heck until the end of September when the next one comes out. 

  9. Hi and welcome!

    My advice? Pay the $300 and take the lecture-only version of that class if you want to save a few dollars, but that one is probably one of the best ones going right now. Save yourself a lot of time and go with that one if you like the technical side of things. There can be a lot of misinformation when you’re trying to cobble together an education from free online sources, or figure out which books you’ll find most applicable to your practice. While it can be done, there’s a lot of sorting through different sources to find the accurate info. Matt Katz knows his stuff. 

    The reason chemistry or firing mostly isn’t taught to beginners as a rule is it’s a whole other skill set to add on to people who are already working on something reasonably complicated. Usually it’s easiest to provide students with a handful of known glazes chosen by the teacher or the teaching facility so that beginners aren’t hopelessly overwhelmed in their first couple of courses. 

  10. How the family intends to deal with the urn afterwards may also affect the dimension requirements. If the family intends to inter in a columbarium, you have to keep it within a certain size as well as volume. You’ll need to be mindful of any tall/sculptural knobs or finials, or any lugs. If they’re burying the urn or scattering the ashes, you have more leeway. 

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