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Callie Beller Diesel

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Everything posted by Callie Beller Diesel

  1. My best advice for shipping internationally is to get a tracking number and make sure the customer has it as well. It saves on a few customer service emails, because they can check on their shipment. If anything does get lost, it’s my responsibility as the sender to do any claiming, but I’ve not had any issues doing so. Just as a heads up, I have recently had several of my packages get held up in Canada/US Customs for upwards of 10 business days due to Covid backlogs. Once they clear, delivery does seem to proceed quickly afterwards. It might be wise to let your client know to expect some delays.
  2. I don’t know what the rules are in Ontario, but you can’t buy suitable gas burners in Alberta without a gas fitters licence anymore. The only way you’ll find any is on the second hand market, and they don’t come up much. You can build a raku kiln with a tiger torch, but I’m not certain it’d get hot enough for bisque or glaze temps. Edited to add: the gas and electrical codes are different here, and you really do need to look up a lot of stuff. Most provinces classify kilns as custom industrial builds, so they’re in the same category as things like hospital boilers, or tar sands equipment. Because of some industrial accidents a few years ago, most provinces are enforcing their codes more stringently regarding appliance certification than they did a decade ago. Hence not being able to buy a burner unless you are certified install one, and a gas fitter isn’t allowed to hook it up unless the kiln is CSA certified, which is $$$ to an engineering firm that offers such services.
  3. I think I’d be more inclined just to buy a small kiln shelf for the purpose. I don’t think eating trace amounts of kiln wash is a good idea. Or tasty.
  4. The extended family is another story entirely! When I was speaking to some of my sister's in-laws at a gathering one time, one of them expressed horror and disgust that you coud get a degree in Ceramics. He thought because his mom did some scratch and bake gnomes in the 70's I was doing the same thing.
  5. I'm glad you've got the other revenue streams and that there are some postitives at least! My increased online efforts have actually put me on par with last year's spring results, and have been more profitable because of the lower overhead. To qualify this though, my first quarter is typically extremely low, but I'm finally putting solid effort into a consistent, organized presence on social media and seeing concrete results from it. I don't expect the pattern to hold over the whole year though. Numbers of Covid have peaked and are still in decline, and I'm thinking people will be cautiously optimistic by the time my farmer's market opens for the summer in about 3 weeks, as long as there's not something ELSE that happens. Whoever keeps holding 2020's beer needs to stop the enabling.
  6. I make my living throwing pots, so it’s not like I’m just at the wheel for relaxation. I’m not making 100K of pots a year, but I manage a respectable wage. A Giffen grip simply isn’t ideal in all situations. I’m not for a second saying people shouldn’t use one, nor am I some kind of Luddite. Currently I have a skill set and a demand level that renders one unnecessary. Lots of people pull handles rather than extruding them too, even though the extruder is a lot faster. Some of it’s preference, and what’s wrong with that?
  7. Wayne and I got together when I was halfway through art school for pottery, so he knew it was part of the package. He tried one afternoon to center a bit of clay on the wheel and decided it was NOT his thing, but that it didn’t need to be. He has been my biggest source of emotional support the whole time. He made sure I got my pottery wheel at a time it wasn’t the most financially sound move ever and I told him not to. When we moved into our current house, my birthday present was him stripping the carpet out of a basement bedroom and scraping the floor so I could have a studio space. He gets me out of my head when I’m overthinking myself into anxiety. I truly have one of the best ones.
  8. I borrowed a friend’s Giffen grip once and had a lot of problems using it because the point I needed the holder pads to be on to centre the pot was also the point I needed to trim on. I gave it back. I didn’t like it even a little bit, although I liked the idea of what it was supposed to do. At the time, I tended to pull too quickly in the beginning stages and the rims didn’t have the same centre point as the shoulder or the foot. It took me about an afternoon or two after that to get the hang of tap centring, and I usually don’t come by manual skills like that easily. That said, if I get to the point where I do Mark or Mea’s quantity of production, I’ll buy one in a heartbeat and re-learn a skill. I happened to meet half of the couple that runs the Giffen company in the hotel lobby last year at NCECA. She was an absolute heartwarming delight to talk to, and based on that I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out to them and ask questions. They stand by their stuff.
  9. If anyone needs some pottery/art/cat related humour, a couple of days ago Carole Epp took a picture of her cat and posted it to her IG, as one does. Someone then decided to photoshop the cat into a moon landing picture. And then some other people decided to similarly photoshop Levi into a lot of other pictures. Hilarity has ensued! This is what happens when you lock a bunch of artists up and get them kinda bored, and then give them the slightest thing to work with. Go check it out, there’s some really good ones!
  10. Keep in mind that the OP is in Canada, folks. As much as we may complain about it, Canada Post is less expensive to ship with than the big courier services are, unless you’re doing a LOT of volume. Even with ICAN benefits. And my customers pay the shipping too. And it’s worth noting that all shipping services are coping with larger volumes while having to cope with a pandemic. There’s going to be slow downs and errors, just like at Christmas.
  11. I’ve seen some folks use a round trimming tool to gouge out the key.
  12. No, but I should be buying stock in whoever makes cornstarch packing peanuts.
  13. I had to take a year off my studio courses when I was in college becasue I gave myself a persistent case of tendonitis during my summer job. I took all my outstanding Art History, English and Humanities requirements for my degree in one year. It gave me 2 years of nothing but studio courses to focus on, and a lighter course load. It upped my grades across the board, and eased the stress a whole lot.
  14. If your studio makes their own glazes at all, those materials will be on hand. They're ubiquitous in North America, and universally inexpensive. If you're working from home, re-incorporating your throwing sludge into your mushed pots requires the least input. You can dry the resulting mush out on an old pillowcase or other fabric remnant on a cement floor somewhere if you lack a plaster bat. It'll just take a little longer.
  15. I've worked too many customer service jobs to feel good about letting a customer handle their own claims. That's just not cool. Good customer service is all about communication. I usually tell people I'll guarantee it to them within 6 weeks for any special order, and that's to allow for it going wrong. Twice. I typically ship around the 3 week mark. If for any reason I'm delayed, I send them an email so they're not anxious. People like to feel looked after. My husband has worked at all levels of shipping and logistics for the last 20 years. The thing you have to remember about shipping anything is this: There is not a dock worker, package handler or anyone else alive that gets paid enough to give anything even remotely resembling a s*&$ about your package. And you guys know I don't swear here. The level of not-caring is deep, wide and systemically entrenched. So that means it's up to me to make sure my customer has a chance of getting their deliveries. I pack so I feel comfortable throwing the package myself. If I feel nervous about doing it, add more packing. If something breaks in transit, I ask for a photo so I can make the claim, and I send them a new one on me. Because not packing it properly was my mistake. I never send anything without a tracking number. The customer gets sent this tracking number. I set up the shipments so I get email notifications of when they arrive. If a customer contacts me because they havent' got their thing yet, I resend the tracking number with an update that I looked up for them. Because that's a service I have consciously chosen to offer. Mostly, I don't have to do anything regarding shipments. It takes me almost 0 extra time. But the last 2 weeks I had 2 shipments to the US held up in customs. I have a system that's pretty quick to go through to look up a shipment because I make a point of sending the customer those tracking numbers. Because I know how they operate (customs can hold packages up to 10 business days if they're overloaded), I was able to reassure my customers about what to expect, and because I was able to say I was keeping an eye on their shipment as well, I'm able to successfully ask them for positive reviews. Everything arrived just fine. I've had so much good will come through my inbox in the last few weeks because I took a moment to reassure people who didn't know what was going on. Even if it never adds up to anything beyond that, it feels good to have people contact me and say they were thrilled with that extra bit of service. Edited to add: I also had someone find a mistake on my new website this week while trying to make their purchase, and they wound up not getting the mug they initially wanted. They got sent an extra tea bag dish/spoon plate as a thank you. I want to make people feel good about purchasing from me. Because that does mean they will do it again.
  16. Do compare your shrinkage rates before you buy a whole bunch though. Not all of them are the same. Also, if you need a really stark white, you could try adding some zircopax to your slip base.
  17. I use a lot of white slip decoration over red stoneware. Although there are slip recipes out there (check Glazy) I have a white stoneware clay body that I buy in dry bags and mix it to slip consistency rather than into a throwing clay. I find white stoneware slip tends to adhere better than porcelain slip. The shrinkage rates of the 2 clays I use closer to each other, so cracking is less of an issue if you’re laying on texture like I do. But whatever slip you wind up using has to be compatible with the clay you’ve got it over, so randomly suggesting white clays is maybe not as helpful as we could be without knowing what stoneware you’re using. If you’re putting a white slip over a darker clay, I find it’s only necessary to have it whiter than the underlying stoneware. The slip will appear brighter in relation than it does on its own.
  18. @Callum Donovan-Grujicich let us know how it goes! I’m really hoping for this thing now.
  19. I was taught bowls did not start off with a cylinder. You establish the curve on the bottom with your fingers or a curved rib after opening and before you begin your pulls. Though they’re mostly vertical to start with, your throws or pulls should extend that curve and you need to leave a thick rim at the top so it doesn’t split when you expand the form. You still have to use those pulls to get your maximum height before the final flaring/rounding of the shape.
  20. I’m not sure what to tell you, other than to try calling Tucker’s then. You’re probably looking at finding an institution of some kind with a large enough kiln.
  21. I think the size of the piece is going to put this request into the "not possible" category, unless you can cut it down somehow. Anywhere that I know of with a large enough kiln to fit something 5' tall is going to want you to prove a certain level of technical facility if you just want to rent a kiln, supposing they offer such a service. Typically they want to see a degree or other certificate from a program known to them, or if you have a recommendation from someone they know. I'm thinking of Medalta's rates, which I know is well out of the 2 hour radius you're looking at. I can't think it will be cheap to do, either. Again, knowing you aren't likely to drive this thing to Alberta but just using it as a reference point, Medalta charges $600 +tax to walk in (if you have credentials) to rent their 30 cu ft gas kiln, which is the only one that *might* be tall enough at that facility. If you can cut this piece in half and reattach it afterwards, you will drastically increase your chances of finding someone who can do it in a 10 cu ft electric kiln in 2 batches though. As for who can do something like either scenario, you might try giving Tuckers a call. They'll have a line on anyone in your area who will have a kiln of a size that can accomodate you. We don't have so many clay suppliers in Canada: they tend to know everyone in their regions.
  22. A sugar jar from last fall, but playing with photo editing.
  23. There’s ways to do it more efficiently. Farming it out to a gallery is definitely an option. Building some systems and placing some limits on it is another: define clearly what you are and aren’t willing to do is important to keeping your time respected. Batching your shipping so you’re only doing it once a week is a perfectly acceptable business practice. If you want (key words there) to make these things available to your customers, be prepared and do it properly. Take images of the 24 mugs (or whatever) that you made for online sales as soon as they’re out of the kiln. Leave them in an area with your packing supplies so you’re not running all over the place trying to find the right thing. Put the photos somewhere your customers will look (email, social media, poster on a fence post, whatever). Let them make their choices. Document all the orders as they come in, and process the money as they purchase. Charge flat rate shipping so that it’s easy and fast to quote. If they get overcharged a dollar or two, consider that a service fee to you. Do the packing and the shipping on the designated day so it’s not taking up so much time. We are creative thinkers here. There are ways to solve the problem. If you don’t want to do any of this, then don’t! You’re the boss. Getting to make the rules is one of the job perks of being self employed.
  24. Mother of pearl can be quite subtle. Don’t put it on too thick or it goes hazy and looks like snot. There is a sweet spot you want to find in terms of application thickness.
  25. 3134 is almost the same as 3124, except that your proposed substitute has alumina, and the original doesn’t. I don’t know that it’ll make a huge difference with majolica or underglaze application, but if the piece you’re talking about is dear, it’s always a safer bet to run a test first.
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