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Miss B

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    Sydney, Australia
  • Interests
    Making the most of our short time on this earth :)

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  1. It’s early in 2016 and while new years’ resolutions to try something new is fresh in everyone’s mind, I thought I’d post some trends I’ve noticed taking off in 2015 that I think will continue through 2016 or may already be reaching their 'consumer-consumption-limit'. I really just wrote this for myself and started pinning and researching but then figured others might want to read this to. Noting of course that, as a disclaimer, I do not have a glass ball I have included one image for each 'trend' but you can find more on this Pinterest board. I know that some potters don’t follow trends but even you might find 'pinspiration' in the info below with the associated 'opportunity' thought. TREND: 'THINGS INSIDE POTS' In a fast-paced world, people (your customers) seem to need reminders of how to slow down and inject a little humour in their day. There has been an increase in putting things inside pots - like tea infusers shaped like people and any animal you can think of. There has also been increased 'improved function' versions of pots - like those with additional 'appendages' e.g. tea bag holders. Opportunity thought: How can you improve the usability of your existing product designs to solve a common customer issue? Octopus in mug - Click for source TREND: TEA ANYONE? When the whole family gets 'tea themed' products for Xmas, you know tea is a trend! For 2015 I got a special 'turn-it-upside-down-and-see-no-leak' teapot for cold tea with a custom selection of wild flavoured organic teas from a family member (and everyone got something tea-themed). People have extended on the previous year’s (and ongoing) ‘organic’ trend and rediscovering the natural remedies of teas and new combinations. Opportunity thought: how can you work with local suppliers and specialists of local goods to package your products with theirs to create symbiotic marketing and sales opportunities? People Resting Teabags - Click for Source TREND: CUSTOMISATION TURNS DIY OR EXCLUSIVE As anyone selling on Etsy knows selling customised products is big and isn't a new trend, however, the trend now leans towards two areas, at the opposite ends of scale: Packaging customisation in DIY products Taking customisation to 'exclusive' levels The first area is exemplified by products that you can make yourself – duh – but taking it to a whole new level in terms of the variety of products and services you can DIY. There are some great links and articles in the Pinterest board for this. The exclusive trend is an interesting one in terms of how might be applied to ceramics and pottery – unique and handmade pieces are obviously already quite exclusive in that there is usually limited production. However companies like Lee Jeans and Netflix took exclusivity to whole new levels in 2015 – in September 2015 Netflix created a gadget called “The Switch†“that automatically switches on the TV, launches Netflix, silences the phones, dims the lights and can even order takeoutâ€. They did not sell it though – they gave everyone the instructions on how to make it themselves! The exclusivity in this respect came from the skills required to make the object (software and hardware programming). Opportunity thought: Think about how you can ‘up the ante’ on providing DIY products or exclusive services to a targeted demographic. Personal Photo Temporary Tattoos - click for source TREND: 3D PRINTING ADOPTION ACCELERATES The 3D printing trend will continue to accelerate and become cheaper for anyone to produce with the technology starting to reach greater audience mass. In the technology world whenever a new technology is released, it tends to go through a typical adoption cycle (called the diffusion of innovations) – as an example, think of how much a desktop or laptop computer cost in the early 90’s (early adopter) compared to today (saturated market). Figure 1 –Diffusion of Innovations (source: Wikipedia, 2016) Note also that the timeline for technology adoption differs from country to country. Through 2015 3D printing sat in the first phase of the early adopters area however, with the dawn of 2016, as a society we are quickly moving towards the early majority adoption phase. I predict it will still be about 2-3 years though before we start seeing the transition into fully fledged mass production as big print and hardware companies (with the appropriate funds behind them to do the mass production research) ramp up new product teams and technologies. I think in 5 years' time you'll see 3d printers going for $1k-5k instead of $5k-30k they are now, with many more features, bigger sizes and much better reliability - it is a typical tech cycle. However in saying that, there are now companies who are printing clothes, 3d selfies (yes, really) and establishing startup 3D printing shops (for those of you ‘mature’ enough, think equivalent to Kodak photo processing shops prior to digital cameras). Opportunity thought: if you are interested in 3D production, do a 3D printing course - 3D CAD Modelling software skills are essential to using this hardware. Just remember before investing in 3d printing machines that the first iteration of any technology tends to be error prone and/or limited in features and expensive compared to what they will be down the road. TREND: HAND-DRAWN AND HANDMADE STYLE (in style, if not in reality) and ANIMALS This popular trend of the past couple of years doesn’t look like giving up anytime soon. However now the theme has morphed into mass manufacturing with the hand drawn element becoming a key element – often combining with other trends, especially tea, typography and animals. Related to the hand-drawn theme, animals are a central design figure in homeware product design. Gorgeous prints and handdrawn animals are popping up around the house, from pillows to dinner and drinkware to bedding. The use of animals ranges from intricate and detailed hand drawn realism, through to stylistic and conceptual. Opportunity thought: start a new trend! This one might have seen it’s days played out within the year with mass manufacturing splashing it everywhere. Handdrawn animals everywhere - click for source Would love to hear everyone else's comments and thoughts on 2016 trends - Happy 2016!
  2. I think you're being way too hard on yourself - that is a beautiful shape and I love the smooth finish and lovely defined handle. The raised parts look like rivets - this piece would look great with a rust style glaze that emphasizes it's 'age' as a hydria. Something like the look achieved by Sarah Dunstan in the October issue of Pottery Illustrated - she said she uses manganese dioxide and black iron oxide painted on then wiped off to give her pottery an aged metal look but not sure if that was just over the printing she did or the handles of the pots that were made to look like aged metal as the article didn't make that clear. Or maybe something like a 'worn aged copper' look with golds and greens like the Amaco Shinos (saw an ad with their colours in Pottery Illustrated as well). Just throwing ideas out there of glazes that will emphasize and 'sync' with those lovely rivets
  3. Thanks so much Nairda and Denice - greatly appreciate your recommendations!
  4. Hi Everyone, My wonderful mum has requested a garden feature - she has an amazing garden which she has created over more than 35 years. She took a photograph of a set of zodiac tiles that she saw in Italy and has sent me the photo as inspiration on the concept of creating a zodiac stepping stone tile feature - to be installed on the ground (as opposed to tiling on a wall). I have found a nice taupe coloured (her favourite colour) heavily grogged stoneware clay (the ceramic supplies guy recommended it for outdoor and durability, minimising wet-weather slips etc). I have drawn most of the designs and figured out a design of 12 large tiles. Now - my issues for which I lack experience, and would love your advice: Tile size I would like the tiles to be stepping stone size to make them a real eye-catching feature. I measured the biggest foot I could find (yes I actually asked someone if I could measure their big feet!) - a size 12 foot and it is 270mm (10.6"). I figured to ensure the foot is placed firmly in the middle of the step, with plenty of room for not hitting the edge the tiles (which would continuously place pressure on the edges) then they would need to be 400mm x 400mm (15.5") wide and 30mm (1.1") thickness. I know at this size I'll need to dry long and well and scoop out some of the clay on the back (but not too much so that it weakens the tile and it cracks under people's weight). Any tips or gotchas for sizing and creating tiles this size? Installation I have read up about installation types including installing directly on a bed of compacted sand/concrete (e.g. create a solid base of concrete and lay the tiles on top with outdoor tile fixture). However I also thought I could lay these paving stones and fix the tiles to these using outdoor tile fixture - this way the tiles have a solid (movable) base and I can potentially make them only 10-20mm thick as the paving stone becomes the major support. However I read on a paving site that having the tiles attached to pavers creates increased opportunity for water to get in between and, when cold enough for ice, the tile pops off the paver due to the expansion. This concerned me because my parent's house does get icy frosts intermittently in winter (but not snow). Does anyone have advice for the best installation method? Thanks & cheers, B.
  5. Lol - I had to laugh at this comment in the article Mea: "“It’s an antidote to all the electronics,†he added." - well for me it actually kind of is - I run an IT company, am surrounded by technology, people talking technology (or at their technology) and managing technology projects every day so ceramics is the antidote to my daily technology poison But it always concerns me when something is 'all of a sudden fashionable' because with every fashion comes the subsequent fall...in the technology world it is known as the "trough of disillusionment" in the 'Hype Cycle'. Then again - pottery has been around for '000's of years and it is coming around that popularity cycle where another generation of people find their mojo in the mud. Great post thanks for sharing.
  6. I am relatively new to pottery however my first-ever two mugs are used daily (per my other post on mug sizes, I like specific sizes for specific drinks!). I also have my first two bowls that I used to replace the plastic crap my son was using for food - I really hate that plastic kids dinnerware and since I made the bowls myself, I don't care if he breaks it. I completely agree with the others here saying they learn the most from using the things they make to inform future changes and refinements - personally I think you don't really know how practical, efficient and usable something is until you 'break it in' yourself. I made a set of 4 mugs recently and the rims were all slightly different - straight, slightly curved in and slightly curved out but otherwise pretty much the same mug shape and style and using each of them gave me the opportunity to identify which rim worked better with the same overall form. Since I only just learned how to throw plates and platters in the past month, I am now planning designs for my son's dinnerware set and then onto our daily dinnerware and baking pots - look out cupboards I am coming for you!
  7. I don't know about most popular selling size however personally I use different sizes for different things: 350-400ml (11.8-13.5 ounces) = coffee 400-470ml (14-16 ounces) = big morning cup of tea, the 'I am flagging' coffee or night time hot choc Bigger than 470ml = soup cup But then again I am probably just a bit OCD in this respect
  8. Hi All, this seems like a post that never dies - five years in! My day job is running an IT company - I was going to propose writing some 'ceramics business IT' articles (in friendly non-geek-speak) to CAD to answer these sorts of questions but looks like they don't have a particular focus on the business side in their article set. But if anyone has any questions, please feel free to post them and I'll write a proper blog post about it so it has more detail and images than I can post here. To answer the original question (in short), there are a few craft management software programs out there specifically for product management - here are a few examples: Craftybase - https://craftybase.com/- an online (cloud based - no software to install) product management software tool specifically for crafts. I am trialing this one at the moment specifically because it integrates (i.e. you can easily transfer info between software) with Shopify (online ecommerce software for your website). Not that I am selling anything at this early stage in my ceramics pursuit but just because I am a geek Seems to have good product features so far. real life use will tell further. CraftMakerPro - http://www.craftmakerpro.com/- haven't tried this one but it is made by an Aussie so it's gotta be good right? Jokes aside, it is a very reasonable price but haven't personally tried it so can't vouch for features, support etc. Installs directly on your computer (not cloud based). Jewelry Manager Pro - http://www.bejeweledsoftware.com/- similar features as above even though it is focused on jewelry it works for other crafts as well. I have used this before and liked the fact I owned the software once I purchased it. Did not like the fact that when I move computers it takes more effort to move the software, reinstate the data (e.g. products etc) - that is why I tend to like cloud based software better generally. But a tradeoff between paying a once off cost Vs monthly (for cloud software). Just remember that no one piece of software fits all - some people prefer spreadsheets or creating their own databases as indicated here, others need something that eases desk time (e.g. automatic Quickbooks integration) or maybe something they don't have to think too much about. So when you look at buying software (any software) the best approach is to brainstorm first why you want the software (what benefits do you envisage it will bring your business). Then taking into account those aforementioned benefits, write down as many 'requirements' as possible and prioritise them e.g. Requirement #1: I want software that will automatically integrate my product stock with my website so when I sell a particular product to a customer at a live show, that product availability is automatically updated on my website. Requirements can be classified simply like: priority 1, priority 2, priority 3. Or I usually recommend making it more measurable e.g. use MoSCoW: Must Have - the software is not going to be a viable choice if it can't do these things Should Have - the software would still be viable but you might have some workarounds Could Have - these are nice to haves. If the software has these things, great. If not, you can live without them. Won't Have - sometimes you move requirements into this category when you find that the price is exorbitant compared to the benefit to get this feature or maybe just something you want to keep in mind for future software review. Now, you have a list of the requirements and how important each one is, you review the available software and 'mark' them against the requirements e.g. in a spreadsheet (good 'ol spreadsheets are never going to die) list the following columns and a sample line below shows what goes in the row: HEADINGS: Requirement | Priority | Software 1 | Software 2 | Software 3 (etc) SAMPLE ROW: "blah blah requirement" | Must have | No | Yes | No Finally, trial the software before you buy. Most software vendors have a trial option so you can test it actually meets those requirements 'in the way you think or need them to'. There is always plenty of good marketing guff on software websites so it is easy to 'assume' software works in a particular way when it doesn't really. Hope that helps someone!
  9. way too funny ohhh - too funny - awful visual images - not of you JAW - just Babs' comments
  10. Thanks so much everyone - fabulous tips and solid advice from all! Much appreciated, cheers, B.
  11. Hi Elaine, I saw this same video and I tried the same pyrometric cone sponge with helping me pull up the sides of a large platter the other day - I wore my fingernails down to skin (that really hurt - fingernail pain is as ridiculous as paper cut pain ) doing it the first couple of times without a sponge this past weekend (i.e. the friction of the bat/wheel head on my fingernails pushing under the clay to pull up the edge of the platter) so Adam's method worked really really well for this. It is a winner in my book - I like the flexibility of this sponge, how much water it holds and how I can weave it around my fingers so it doesn't get caught and pulled out of my hands. But I also second other people saying they use makeup sponges (for final cleanup inside the pot usually - nice and small and takes off the outer clay mush easily).
  12. Hi all, Last month I did a little test of how 'efficiently' I throw/decorate a mug and today I posted the results and images on my blog, also copied below: Between 3-5 mins to wedge Between 13-15 mins to throw a mug 10 mins for turning 5 minutes to pull the handle and attach 5 minutes for cleanup Bisque firing 5 mins of sanding to make them 'closer' to my desired finish (i.e. smooth, no throwing lines) 15-30 minutes decorating - I tried out a sample pack of Japanese tissue transfers and added some trailed underglaze for definition 10 minutes for glazing and glaze cleanup (e.g. bottoms) Glaze firing In total? between 66-85 minutes per mug. Eeek! I should state upfront that I am new to ceramics so I don't look completely moronic So - what I am interested in understanding from everyone are some 'industry baselines' for making a mug - i.e. how long does it take you (understanding of course everyone's creation/decoration techniques are different and thus have different 'time investments')...?
  13. Hi All, timely post - love everybody's examples My first little teapot came out of the kiln and I got it back this week...tea for 1
  14. Hi Joseph - from the Art History website: "The hydria, primarily a pot for fetching water, derives its name from the Greek word for water. Hydriai often appear on painted Greek vases in scenes of women carrying water from a fountain (06.1021.77), one of the duties of women in classical antiquity. A hydria has two horizontal handles at the sides for lifting and a vertical handle at the back for dipping and pouring. Of all the Greek vase shapes, the hydria probably received the most artistically significant treatment in terracotta and in bronze. The evolution of the terracotta hydria from the seventh century B.C. to the third century B.C. is well represented in the Greek collection of the Metropolitan Museum. The earliest vessels typically have a wide body and broadly rounded shoulder. Sometime before the middle of the sixth century B.C., however, the shape evolved into one with a flatter shoulder that meets the body at a sharp angle (06.1021.77). By the end of the sixth century B.C., a variant, known as a kalpis, developed (56.171.31). With a continuous curve from the lip through the body of the vessel, it became the type favored by red-figure vase painters. Terracotta black-glaze hydriai of the late Classical period were sometimes decorated with a gilt wreath that was painted or applied in shallow relief around the vase's neck. These gilt wreaths imitated actual gold funerary wreaths that were placed around bronze hydriai, examples of which have been found in Macedonian tombs. Hydriai from this later, Hellenistic, period tend to be more slender and elongated." In terms of size, Arts Connected documents one of the jars at 20 3/4 x 17 x 15 in. (52.71 x 43.18 x 38.1 cm) and another one at 25 1/2 x 17 1/2 x 13 3/8 in. (64.77 x 44.45 x 33.97 cm) so pretty big jars (well, at least for an amateur like me!). For fun, there is a detailed description of the myth associated with one of these famous pots and how the pot was crafted (using the natural terracotta colour as background, painted with black engobe and encised).
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