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Posts posted by crazypotterlady

  1. Mark, My shelves were not silicon carbide not hollow, so they must be mulite. My ^10 ones are 1" and I bought them straight from Thorley's in So Calif back in 1975. The ^6 kiln shelves are the same material bur 5/8" thick. The ^10 kiln maybe would have made it if the large welded sheet metal vent over it hadn't crashed down on it in the fire. 


    Old Lady and/or anyone else who has books they'd be willing to donate:  Here's a list of the books that I used the most for resource and inspiration/ideas:

    *Daniel Rhodes', "Clay and Glazes for the Potter", 

                               "Stoneware and Porcelain: The Art of High-fired Pottery"

    *Glen Nelson, "Ceramics: a Potters' Handbook

    *The 500 Series: Bowls, Tiles, Teapots, Pitchers, Cups, Plates and Chargers


    Those were the ones I used most, but any pottery book would be appreciated!

  2. Thank you for the advise/information. Not what I hoped to hear, but down deep I knew that nothing would make the pots right again. What about refiring just some shards, particularly the ^6 ones with the bright underglaze colors? I was thinking about refiring them to my bisque temperature, ^07, specifically to melt the ash which I'm hoping will brighten the colors.  A friend of a friend is giving me an old Cress electric kiln which I'll use for bisquing. We're putting in 220 next week, and I reordered a wheel which we'll pick up tomorrow, so I hope I can make some time to throw so I can fill the kiln. Putting my life back together is a huge process.  I lost all my pottery resource books that used all the time, so I'm now really relying on the expertise that this forum represents.


    Also, all my refractory kiln shelves are also brittle which is a big surprise to me. When I lifted one it snapped in two. I would have thought that they would have survived. The 5/8" ones were in the garage with my electric kilns and the 1" ones were out with my ^10 kiln.  All were stored upright.

  3. My house and studio burned down in Calif.'s Valley Fire (which should have been named the Cobb Fire as it started right down below our house). I had pottery everywhere in my house and outdoors, too, and everything was lost.  There are 8 pieces that look pretty good, but the color is not as vibrant, and the 6 that are ^6, when tapped with a fork, have that dull thunk of a sound that I associate with thermal-shock or some action that compromises the structure of the pot. About a dozen more pots, mostly mugs in my studio where I had about 100 of them ready for art fairs, are all in one piece, but look very ashy and when lifted, can be broken it into pieces with my hands. Obviously not functional. 


    I have numerous samples of five different kinds of clay and each responded differently to the fire.  Oldest are my ^10 reduction which were most of my personal pottery. Of those, the large (for me) vases, lamps and bowls were made out of 8-11 red, which I threw with in the 70's, and as a group fared best. Two of the largest ones actually are not only intact but ring true. It's just the glaze that lost that wonderful richness of a reduction firing. The glaze is flat and/or extremely dry like underfired pieces.  Also in ^10 reduction I used Danish white and the few that are intact are covered in globs of ash, etc. but many ring true, but again the glaze is dry and flat. A few pieces were in porcelain (Coleman) but they looked no different than the Danish white.


    I also had many pieces of ^06, mostly handbuilt pieces made as samples from 25 years of teaching students pottery. This as a category fared better than my ^6, although all are covered in ash /globs and none are keepable. Some were in Navajo Wheel, a ^06-^6 red clay which I use a lot, and the rest were Low-fire White, which were the ones that did the best.


    All my new (6/2014 to 8/2015) work is ^6, Navajo Wheel and B-Mix ^5, and I had at least 400 pots ready for my fall and Christmas Fairs. Five pieces are intact, but all sound 'thunk', but the glaze, although a little drier than it should be, looks the closest to how it's supposed to. Three of them are small bowls and I'm afraid to test their strength by trying to pull them apart, because I fear they'll break and I won't have any intact pots to remember. The other two are little vases. The vast majority of the pots are in pieces, but few maintain the brightness of their before fire life. I have salvaged ~15 Costco plastic storage containers of broken pots and shards. I plan to make a mosaic wall (or 2 or 3) from them, but they mostly look like they've been through a fire. That's fine for some of the mosaic, but my design needs some brightness, too. 


    My questions are: What would happen if I refired the intact pieces that don't ring true?  I'm assuming that the reason is thermal-shock from the fire, too hot too fast. Would it/could it undo the thermal-shock or would it in all probability do more damage? I taught the daughter of one of my neighbors and they ordered a teapot and 4 cups for her college graduation. Their house also burned but the teapot and 2 cups came out intact, but thermal-shocked. She wants to know if I can refire it. Would that work? To what cone would I fire? What about just refiring shards to brighten them up so they don't look so ashy? At what cone does ash melt?  I really need the help and advice of the experts in this forum.



  4. I retired from teaching in 2013 after 25 years (3rd-7th grade, mostly 5th and 6th, enclosed classroom). I too loved teaching and loved my students. During those years I saw funding for the arts dwindle to near nothing and spending for education put California near Mississippi.  It is now up to 39th in education spending but still has a long way to go to get up to the average. That said, good teachers can still do a great job and make a huge difference in children's lives.


    I live and taught in a very poor rural county. My degree is in Art and I went into teaching at 40 years old.  My administration left me alone because I always got great results (read test scores) from my students.  When asked how I did it, I replied that my students did art and PE just about everyday. No one believed that was the reason, but I'm convinced that art and PE make a critical difference in helping students develop their thinking skills and work ethic. 


    Doing art so often cost me a lot of money, although I did get our parent organization (PTO) to purchase a kiln.  But a lion's share of art supplies came from my pocket.  The benefit for everyone was that I could get my students to work hard because they knew they would get to do pottery (or printmaking or painting, etc) and PE when they completed their work.  The attractive force of art has tremendous power!  When education critics defend cutting the arts and PE by saying "we want to go back to basics", I counter with THE ARTS AND PE ARE BASIC.


    I also have a Masters in Math Education which helped me be an effective math teacher, but by and large, I am not remembered for being great math teacher as much as I am remembered for all the art I taught.

  5. No one in my family is artistic, although my mom and siblings all appreciate art. I was not allowed to take art in high school, even though I REALLY wanted to, because I was 'college prep', and my HS was trying to get girls to go to college (this was the '60s). I started college as a math major, but changed to art after finally getting to take an art class. The rest is history.


    My family is fascinated by my artistic ability and amazed at how my pottery has developed over the years. I have NEVER been sorry that I changed my major and graduated with a BA in art. 

  6. The catalyst for gearing up into a new direction usually comes from seeing something, a design, a shape, a pot or painting, that intrigues me and I start mentally trying to figure out how I would create that effect, making it my own through my work. This mostly happens in the winter when I'm actively searching for stimulation for doing new work for the upcoming fair cycle.


    I'm now working just in ^6 oxidation, using either a dark stoneware body or a white clay body with underglaze colors, so there is a parameter for what I can create with this. I decide which of these clays would work best for the idea. 


    I'll then start sketching. What shapes work with this new idea? Where to put the design/picture/texture/whatever? Then I start throwing, etc.  I have a small kiln (3 cu ft), so I can do a lot of firings trying my ideas out and tweaking them into what I want. By my studio tour sale in June/July, I have a body of new work and I see how my customers (both old and new) respond to them. 

  7. I'm back from my first big fair, (one day, Mendocino, CA coast) and I'm exhausted but happy (not ecstatic, though). I sold well, although only 75% of what I did last year, but I did raise my prices 25%, mostly to offset the 20% of gross fee for the fair. Talking to the other artists, the consensus was that sales were less than last year. I'm reasonably sure I did better than the other potters and the organizers were very pleased with my sales  (there was a central cashier).  They'll get hundreds of $$ from my sales. It comes out to be my most expensive fair (by far) but I do well enough and will do it again next year. 


    Been looking at my data compared to last year and see that I had the same number of sales and my average per pot sold was the same. Where the difference came in is number of pots sold (-25%) and average sale (-25%). Last year 30% of the pots I sold were $80-$100, this year I didn't sell anything in that price range, although 10% of pots were $120 and over. What does all this mean?? I sold fewer pots and people didn't buy as many higher priced pots and/or multiple pots. I guess...


    I'm still struggling with pricing, finding that 'sweet spot' where the price isn't too high and scares them away, but high enough for me to make some money. I had a huge amount of interest, touching, appreciation and admiration for my mugs (and all my work), although I only sold 6 mugs (at $45-$49 each). No one actually commented on the prices being too high, but with the amount of attention they engendered, I expected more sales. Also I make large (for me, 5#-6#) bowls and last year I sold 8 of them at $75-$85. I raised the price to $90-$110 and sold none. Ouch! They take me at least 3 hours to make and they are just as beautiful as any I make, but maybe the $100 price... I don't know. I sold lots in the $40-$60 range (avg per pot for the fair, $52).


    I feel that I need to become more clear on what my goal is with my pottery.  Do I make pottery because I love the creative outlet?  YES, YES, YES!!!  Is it because I love the process and the finished accomplishment? YES, YES, YES!!!  Pottery satisfies me on so many levels, not just the making it and feeling a sense of achievement, but also the compliments and adulation from those who see it. And yes that has value also. Is my goal to make money? I have to admit, that's a real consideration as my teacher's pension only goes so far. So I'm still struggling with pricing everything.

  8. Thanks so much for this thread.  It's a very timely one for me as I just starting the pricing process for my 1st big art fair of the year and I'm struggling with what to price my mugs.


    I've been selling mugs (^10 reduction, thrown, trimmed, pulled handle, dipped glaze, wax design and contrasting dipped glaze over) since the '70s. I started selling them in a shop ($7.50, I got $5) and I gradually inched the price up to $25 for my ^10 mugs last year, selling at art fair and my studio tour. For the last 10 years I have also started doing work in ^6 oxidation, using underglaze color, sgraffito, carving and majolica. This new work takes me 2-3 times as long to make as my ^10 mugs, yet I've only charged a little more for them (10 years ago my ^10 mugs were $16 and ^6 were $20; ^6 now are $35). 


    When I first started working in ^6, I did only 10-20% of my total work at ^6, over the years that proportion grew, last year to about half of my work.  At my first big fair last year (same fair as what I'm getting ready for now, on the Mendocino, CA coast) I sold 3 times as many ^6 as ^10 in all categories. (In everything except mugs I priced my^6 to refIect how time-consuming the work is). I wondered why I sold so many more ^6 mugs because my ^10 work is beautiful: well-thrown and designed.  I thought maybe the customer realized what a good deal the ^6 mugs were compared to the ^10 mugs. Maybe... This same thing happened at each of my 6 art fairs, until I was putting my ^10 mugs on sale ($15-$19) and they were still out-sold by the ^6. This was an eye opener, and I made the decision to just work in ^6.


    So, back to my original question: what do I price my mugs?  I won't have any ^10 mugs there to compare to.  After reading the responses and philosophies on this forum, I decided to 'go for the gusto' and price my mugs at $35 for an all-over carve with a colored transparent glaze, up to $45 for the sgraffito/blackline, dotted work. Wow $45 for one of my mugs! I never thought I'd see the day. (We'll see if they actually sell...  wish me luck)

  9. Thank you so much Lorrie and Grype, etc., for this fabulous thread on etsy.  Incredible information and insights.  I just opened a shop on etsy and now I see what I need to do to have any semblance of success.  Lots more pots at lower prices. Promoting on social media. Etc., etc...  I really like good craft fairs, I enjoy talking to people (and basking in their praise), but the physical work of packing everything, setting up and breaking down is daunting for my husband and I, so trying to sell online has its attraction. A lot of work, but a different kind of work.  Thank you Lorrie for the list of successful shops from etsy.  I'm going to study them. I'm also going to look into Amazon.

  10. Definitely throwing and (trimming)!!  From my first experience in college ('69) until 10 min. ago when I just finished trimming and pulling handles for mugs, I've been obsessed with throwing.  Now that I have finished trimming, I get to do my 2nd most favorite thing: carving or sgraffito. Ah the bliss!!  I have done some hand-built, and have enjoyed it, but it doesn't satisfy me on the same level as throwing. Also my customers are way more attracted to my thrown work.

  11. I taught 5th and 6th grade for 25 years, so consequently I only had 8 weeks in the summer to do my pottery, which I did like a demon.  I would always make many small things that a child could afford: cups, small bowls and simple mugs. Each year my school would have a "Breakfast with Santa" occasion at which I would sell my pottery, both small things and my regular pots. Many pots were sold to my students and other students.  I would then take all the pieces $20 or less into my classroom for all my students to be able to buy a pot. They were so excited about getting the chance to buy something quality for their parents, etc.! The students who went to the "BwS" occasion, their parents let them know something that they liked and would come prepared on Monday morning with $$$, but mostly kids wouldn't remember I was bringing pottery into the classroom, so I'd let them choose a pot and they had to bring the money in the next day or it would go back on the shelf.


    Each year I got a lot of feed-back from parents about how proud their child was at buying something hand-made and beautiful (and made by their teacher!!) for them.  FYI: In the 3 hours of "BwS" and having the pots in the back of my classroom (as well as having a pre-sale for the teachers and staff) I sold as well I usually do at a weekend craft fair.


    I'm now retired and can make pottery all year long, but but I remember those "Breakfast with Santa" pot sales and pots in my classroom days as a wonderful opportunity to expose children to buying art. And YES, they made a LOT of pottery in the classroom.!! And even though I was a math specialist as a teacher, they remember me for the pottery they made!

  12. I like plaster. My table is next to my wheel and I use it to recycle wet clay as I throw. I can wedge up the wet scraps and throw it during my throwing day.

    I am careful not to chip it. I clean it with a scraper and then wash with a sponge. My current plaster wedging table is about 15 years old.



    I agree. Plaster works well and fits my needs,  Mine is 35 years old and has successfully made it through 6 moves. I throw with a dark clay and a white clay and it cleans up beautifully in between  with a sponge.  I also have it by my wheel and I can wedge up my wet scraps in an hour or so so I can throw something with it. It feel like I'm getting free clay.

  13. I have done arts and craft fairs off and on since the 70s, and when asked for a discount, almost always say no. The times which I have relented and given a discount are usually at the end of a fair when someone asks for a discount for a pot that hasn't gotten much interest from the customers, or is a good pot but not one of my favorites.  I'll then give a small discount but I let them know that I don't usually give discounts and don't like doing it.  I rarely give a discount until the end of the fair because I am an eternal optimist who believes that each piece I select for a fair has someone who wants it and will buy it.

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