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Mark C.

Production potter work tips

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Tips on an easier ways for production work

 

One of the things we work thru during a life of production work is ways/things that make for quicker or easier ways to do things

 

I always learn from visits to other potters studios-here’s ashort list of some of the labor saving tips I have come to use over theyears-the sooner I could have put some of these to use the easier it would havebeen on my body

 

 

 

Car kiln- with long track-its easy on the back loading andunloading-really a must have item if your going to be pumping out pots for30-40 years

 

 

 

Advancer kiln shelves-they take up about 1/3 the space of 1inch shelves and weigh 9#s each compared to a 1 inch dry pressed English shelveof 33#

 

That’s a lot of weight that you will not have to lift overthe years

 

For my kiln it was about 900#s per load less for 35 bisquesand 35 glaze fires that’s 63,000#s I do not have to lift per year with this onekiln-the other benefits are glaze does not stick to them and they take up lessspace stored

 

Mine are 12x24s

 

 

 

Dedicated trim wheel-this has saved countless clean up hoursover the years on my throwing wheel

 

Fitted with giffen grips

 

 

 

Dedicated 1/2inch power drill glaze drill with jiffy mixeron it-smaller cordless one as well for small buckets-another labor saver

 

 

 

Talisman glaze sieve-another labor saver

 

Mix and store glaze in large containers-mix enough forseveral glaze loads at once

 

 

 

Good quality extruders for handles-a real time saver plusthe handles are stronger compressed

 

 

 

For those who do slab work my power bailey slab rollercannot be beat-it’s a work horse and saves tons of time

 

 

 

Some simple work ways often overlooked are.

 

Ware boards to carry pots on-try to handle pots inseries-throw them/carry them/glaze them/load them that way

 

Do not clean all the glaze stuff every glaze day-I haveleaned to not clean it all up every time-That saves glaze and needlesswork-leave some glaze mixer sticks and pourers dedicated to certain buckets andleave them dirty-You will waste gallons of glaze over the years cleaning upalways

 

Dedicated glazespace-so it can be ready at all times-saves setup time

 

Set the studio up so clay flows in thru and out in theshortest order as its heavy-all parts from boxed clay to finished priced bowedwork for sale

 

Think this thru

 

A van if yourgoing to do fairs-I after 15 van years and 22 truck years can say trucks arehard on the back and knees-all that crawling in and out-The Van is the singlemost back saver for me doing art shows

 

Now all of these things can cost some $ so work on itslowly with a plan as to what you need 1s

 

Over time work them into your budget

 

Other top items are an air/dust handler-mine is a delta-theycost less than say a baileys

 

400 cd disc player that is in house and pumps music intostudio and stays dust free

 

Computer for bookkeeping with software-a good accountant

 

Keep good records for all sales in all states. Taxes will be easier

 

Buy in bulk-whenever you can-order clay and materials withothers for best prices

 

Do not procrastinate-this is a key point

 

 

 

What are your tips??

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Make one thing at a time, as in mugs all in one day.

Weigh your clay and wedge all balls first before you begin throwing.

I use pot boards as well, and try to make the least amount of trips possible.

Glaze your lightest colours first. Start with whit, then Celadon, then Shino, then Temmoku. Makes cleanup easier.

I like the dedicated trimming wheel idea. I built a large wooden splash pan for my Brent. It collects all the trimmings, which I reuse.

Wash your throwing tools after every use. It is better to come to work with clean tools. I don't clean my wheel between sessions of throwing-this wastes time.

Have you work space all on one level-no stairs.

Have a flow, from clay to wedging to making to drying.

That's about it for me.

TJR.

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Make one thing at a time, as in mugs all in one day.

Weigh your clay and wedge all balls first before you begin throwing.

I use pot boards as well, and try to make the least amount of trips possible.

Glaze your lightest colours first. Start with whit, then Celadon, then Shino, then Temmoku. Makes cleanup easier.

I like the dedicated trimming wheel idea. I built a large wooden splash pan for my Brent. It collects all the trimmings, which I reuse.

Wash your throwing tools after every use. It is better to come to work with clean tools. I don't clean my wheel between sessions of throwing-this wastes time.

Have you work space all on one level-no stairs.

Have a flow, from clay to wedging to making to drying.

That's about it for me.

TJR.

 

 

My studio is small, not a lot of room, with the kilns along one wall. Therefore there is not a whole lot of space for storage. I have built a rolling cart for my kiln shelves that can be wheeled to either of the two kilns-heavy wheels. I also use an old frig outside for wet box in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Keeping the studio organized and clean is one of the best things to help keep things working well-as over the years my studio became a dumping ground for everything to the point that I couldn't move without breaking pots. Now much different.

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I thought I pass on this simple discovery on to anyone who has trouble keeping track of test glazes. I am about as organized as a junk drawer. I can get organized but the skill of staying that way eludes me. The affliction is know as "I'lldoitlatterism" As my life moves ever on ward toward chaos, any attempt to slow the advance is appreciated. The affliction is most felt with the discovery of a or some yogurt containers with a hadrened hockey puke of a of glaze rattling in the bottom." Gee, wonder what that was?' is the first thought upon discovery. Followed by a self inflicted lecure on how and why I won't do that again and a quick analyis of my I.Q. level. I use yogurt containers containers to mix test glazes. They ar unbreakable,readily advailable and the yogurt is pretty yummy too. At least the fruity unhealth ones. The plain stuff is nasty. Beside the point. Also they are the perfect size for 100 grams of glaze. I mix them carefully on slow with a single beater mixer so as not to splatter and stir in the edges that the rounded beater can't reach with a plastic spoon and mix again. In the past I wrote the name on the lid with marker, but that ruined the lid for the next test. You can run out of lids pretty quick. I tried putting a piece of paper on the lid knowing that it would never get lost or relocated. Ha! What a disappointment that was. So I started using plant markers like you use to mark garden rows. They look like plastic tongue depressors. Write the name or number of the glaze on it and leave it in the container. But that was too expensive because you have to go to the garden supply store to get them. You pay a nickel 98 for the markers and a fortune for the the flat of plants you wouldn't have bought if you had just stayed out of the store. So now I write the name on the plastic spoon and leave it in the container. It is so simple. When I am ready to match up my test tiles with the test containers that birthed it's color. To my great glee, there it is. The right glaze hardened like a brick around a marked spoon that bears it's name. I can rehydrate it to do more tests or add it to the batch if I decide to mix some up. No more mystrey glaze being plopped into the hash bucket. It is almost an embarrassment to admit to needing such simple methods to stay organized but I bet I'm not alone. I hope this might be helpful to anyone else who intends to be organized but sometimes finds their best efforts just a bit short of the mark. ain't clay fun Kabe P.S. around New Years There was a question on what works well on designing a studio. If you have the room, those 4 ft roller stands you use to remodle with are great in a studio. Make great shelves and displays for shows, they are on wheels and they break down. I got two real cheap on sales once. I don't think you could build something that works as well for any less money. Happy firing.

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As far as Talisman Sieves go. I have one and still found it a bit laborious, so I took off the aluminum frame, sawed off the curved part of the crank, inserted the brush cluster into my drill, and now it sieves much faster, and is more versatile.

So basically, all I really needed was the brushes.

 

Hope I haven't committed a sin.:huh:

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I thought I pass on this simple discovery on to anyone who has trouble keeping track of test glazes. I am about as organized as a junk drawer. I can get organized but the skill of staying that way eludes me. The affliction is know as "I'lldoitlatterism" As my life moves ever on ward toward chaos, any attempt to slow the advance is appreciated. The affliction is most felt with the discovery of a or some yogurt containers with a hadrened hockey puke of a of glaze rattling in the bottom." Gee, wonder what that was?' is the first thought upon discovery. Followed by a self inflicted lecure on how and why I won't do that again and a quick analyis of my I.Q. level. I use yogurt containers containers to mix test glazes. They ar unbreakable,readily advailable and the yogurt is pretty yummy too. At least the fruity unhealth ones. The plain stuff is nasty. Beside the point. Also they are the perfect size for 100 grams of glaze. I mix them carefully on slow with a single beater mixer so as not to splatter and stir in the edges that the rounded beater can't reach with a plastic spoon and mix again. In the past I wrote the name on the lid with marker, but that ruined the lid for the next test. You can run out of lids pretty quick. I tried putting a piece of paper on the lid knowing that it would never get lost or relocated. Ha! What a disappointment that was. So I started using plant markers like you use to mark garden rows. They look like plastic tongue depressors. Write the name or number of the glaze on it and leave it in the container. But that was too expensive because you have to go to the garden supply store to get them. You pay a nickel 98 for the markers and a fortune for the the flat of plants you wouldn't have bought if you had just stayed out of the store. So now I write the name on the plastic spoon and leave it in the container. It is so simple. When I am ready to match up my test tiles with the test containers that birthed it's color. To my great glee, there it is. The right glaze hardened like a brick around a marked spoon that bears it's name. I can rehydrate it to do more tests or add it to the batch if I decide to mix some up. No more mystrey glaze being plopped into the hash bucket. It is almost an embarrassment to admit to needing such simple methods to stay organized but I bet I'm not alone. I hope this might be helpful to anyone else who intends to be organized but sometimes finds their best efforts just a bit short of the mark. ain't clay fun Kabe P.S. around New Years There was a question on what works well on designing a studio. If you have the room, those 4 ft roller stands you use to remodle with are great in a studio. Make great shelves and displays for shows, they are on wheels and they break down. I got two real cheap on sales once. I don't think you could build something that works as well for any less money. Happy firing.

 

 

 

Ha! I love the spoon idea!!! I too have tried various ways try to remember what was in that pot. I tend to use plastic shot glasses....ummmm... anyway I will get a bag of plastic spoons and change my life. ;) Other than not procrastinating about production work the only other tip I have is...Don't let anyone in the studio on those days, they just wanna talk and I loose total concentration.... Trina

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Tips on an easier ways for production work

 

One of the things we work thru during a life of productionwork is ways/things that make for quicker or easier ways to do things

 

I always learn from visits to other potters studios-here’s ashort list of some of the labor saving tips I have come to use over theyears-the sooner I could have put some of these to use the easier it would havebeen on my body

 

 

 

Car kiln- with long track-its easy on the back loading andunloading-really a must have item if your going to be pumping out pots for30-40 years

 

 

 

Advancer kiln shelves-they take up about 1/3 the space of 1inch shelves and weigh 9#s each compared to a 1 inch dry pressed English shelveof 33#

 

That’s a lot of weight that you will not have to lift overthe years

 

For my kiln it was about 900#s per load less for 35 bisquesand 35 glaze fires that’s 63,000#s I do not have to lift per year with this onekiln-the other benefits are glaze does not stick to them and they take up lessspace stored

 

Mine are 12x24s

 

 

 

Dedicated trim wheel-this has saved countless clean up hoursover the years on my throwing wheel

 

Fitted with giffen grips

 

 

 

Dedicated 1/2inch power drill glaze drill with jiffy mixeron it-smaller cordless one as well for small buckets-another labor saver

 

 

 

Talisman glaze sieve-another labor saver

 

Mix and store glaze in large containers-mix enough forseveral glaze loads at once

 

 

 

Good quality extruders for handles-a real time saver plusthe handles are stronger compressed

 

 

 

For those who do slab work my power bailey slab rollercannot be beat-it’s a work horse and saves tons of time

 

 

 

Some simple work ways often overlooked are.

 

Ware boards to carry pots on-try to handle pots inseries-throw them/carry them/glaze them/load them that way

 

Do not clean all the glaze stuff every glaze day-I haveleaned to not clean it all up every time-That saves glaze and needlesswork-leave some glaze mixer sticks and pourers dedicated to certain buckets andleave them dirty-You will waste gallons of glaze over the years cleaning upalways

 

Dedicated glazespace-so it can be ready at all times-saves setup time

 

Set the studio up so clay flows in thru and out in theshortest order as its heavy-all parts from boxed clay to finished priced bowedwork for sale

 

Think this thru

 

A van if yourgoing to do fairs-I after 15 van years and 22 truck years can say trucks arehard on the back and knees-all that crawling in and out-The Van is the singlemost back saver for me doing art shows

 

Now all of these things can cost some $ so work on itslowly with a plan as to what you need 1s

 

Over time work them into your budget

 

Other top items are an air/dust handler-mine is a delta-theycost less than say a baileys

 

400 cd disc player that is in house and pumps music intostudio and stays dust free

 

Computer for bookkeeping with software-a good accountant

 

Keep good records for all sales in all states. Taxes will be easier

 

Buy in bulk-whenever you can-order clay and materials withothers for best prices

 

Do not procrastinate-this is a key point

 

 

 

What are your tips??

 

 

 

 

 

Don't sit at the wheel all day long...protect your body by alternating tasks, throw for an hour, then clean the studio, trim, or dance and stretch for a few minutes . Work will flow much more smoothly.

 

 

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A few other tips I forgot to mention-but folks have added some similar ones

A great throwing seat-over the years I have had logs with tractor seat screwed to it-office chairs and stools .I have a couple of ST-1 stools- made for throwing which has lots of adjustments as to height and angles-its not for everyone and takes getting used to but it very comfortable-I wish at times it would roll

AS far as having more wheels-potters over time will run into other potters selling out-which is a great time to buy it all-for me this has happened a lot to me-I at one point had 5 wheels now its down to 4

I keep a stoneware wheel in another part of studio for iron clay use with the salt kiln

A large clay shed to store clay in-as I buy my whole year of clay at one time for best cost.I will say if you live where it freezes this will be harder-my friend another production potter Jeff Kuhns who lives in the cold part of New Mexico keeps moving blankets over all his tons of outside clay with good results

USE the sun to dry pots-I always put ware boards out in sun during our drier season-April-October-its a lot of work but it gets them dry fast

I throw all pots under 9#s on plaster bats which dries the bottoms even with the tops. I use two sizes of them cast from metal pie plates the top diameter is 9 inch for larger pots 6 inch for smaller pots-like mugs-spoon rests and sponge holders -cereal bowls

As noted work in series with all forms-weighing-throwing-throwing-trimming -glazing

I load all kilns by height of items and try to pack all loads as tight as I can-bisque ware can be fired on its side with no worries as well as any pot that fits into another goes in that way you get more in the load

I always glaze more than will fit so the best stack in terms of space will be the results of having to much-if I could fit more stuffers than I have I feel its wasted space

Once I put pots in Van I try to leave them there for the shows-never unpacking till needed-I keep other pots for gallery sales and studio sales out of van which is always ready for a show-no wasted time moving in and out of vehicles-This took me years to master-now the past 12-15 years I't a done deal-I hate digging for a pot in van to fill an order

I'm not a numbers man endlessly counting everything but I do like to throw and trim a large quantity of pots every day I'm in studio-

Glaze day is usually my longest day which includes loading the glaze-10-12 hour day without interruptions and my studio assistant for help

Almost all days include some type of studio work-I'm rambling now-

I have added a few photos of throwing room and clay shed thats 8 feet deep next to road and shop

Add your tips to the list

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A few other tips I forgot to mention-but folks have added some similar ones

A great throwing seat-over the years I have had logs with tractor seat screwed to it-office chairs and stools .I have a couple of ST-1 stools- made for throwing which has lots of adjustments as to height and angles-its not for everyone and takes getting used to but it very comfortable-I wish at times it would roll

AS far as having more wheels-potters over time will run into other potters selling out-which is a great time to buy it all-for me this has happened a lot to me-I at one point had 5 wheels now its down to 4

I keep a stoneware wheel in another part of studio for iron clay use with the salt kiln

A large clay shed to store clay in-as I buy my whole year of clay at one time for best cost.I will say if you live where it freezes this will be harder-my friend another production potter Jeff Kuhns who lives in the cold part of New Mexico keeps moving blankets over all his tons of outside clay with good results

USE the sun to dry pots-I always put ware boards out in sun during our drier season-April-October-its a lot of work but it gets them dry fast

I throw all pots under 9#s on plaster bats which dries the bottoms even with the tops. I use two sizes of them cast from metal pie plates the top diameter is 9 inch for larger pots 6 inch for smaller pots-like mugs-spoon rests and sponge holders -cereal bowls

As noted work in series with all forms-weighing-throwing-throwing-trimming -glazing

I load all kilns by height of items and try to pack all loads as tight as I can-bisque ware can be fired on its side with no worries as well as any pot that fits into another goes in that way you get more in the load

I always glaze more than will fit so the best stack in terms of space will be the results of having to much-if I could fit more stuffers than I have I feel its wasted space

Once I put pots in Van I try to leave them there for the shows-never unpacking till needed-I keep other pots for gallery sales and studio sales out of van which is always ready for a show-no wasted time moving in and out of vehicles-This took me years to master-now the past 12-15 years I't a done deal-I hate digging for a pot in van to fill an order

I'm not a numbers man endlessly counting everything but I do like to throw and trim a large quantity of pots every day I'm in studio-

Glaze day is usually my longest day which includes loading the glaze-10-12 hour day without interruptions and my studio assistant for help

Almost all days include some type of studio work-I'm rambling now-

I have added a few photos of throwing room and clay shed thats 8 feet deep next to road and shop

Add your tips to the list

 

 

 

sweet! T

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I love this thread!

 

Here are my additions:

 

Pug your clay so it's very soft. Much easier on the body if you throw for hours per day.

 

Pay close attention to how long it takes you to produce things, in relation to how much you can sell them for. Use this information to be very picky about what items you will make as part of your production line. Last year I stopped making a popular item. They took so much labor to produce, and every time I tried to raise the price, the sales stopped cold. As much as I thought the design was clever, it had to go. Tough decision, but I have plenty of other clever designs that earn their keep much more efficiently.

 

Regular exercise ... production pottery takes a lot of energy. It really pays to be fit. You need a strong core and strong legs.

 

Eat properly ... again it takes a lot of calories to work as a potter. Don't feed your body with junk or empty carbs. For me, it made a huge difference when I started making sure I ate some protein for breakfast.

 

Mea

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Last year I stopped making a popular item. They took so much labor to produce, and every time I tried to raise the price, the sales stopped cold. As much as I thought the design was clever, it had to go. Tough decision, but I have plenty of other clever designs that earn their keep much more efficiently.

 

 

Mea

 

I can relate to this dilemma

 

This brings another thought-could you make it easier/simpler and keep some of the same values and keep the price down??

 

I have a whip pitcher/with whip on side I make which is cute as a bug but I really think its going to break easy and is way more costly as it has two handles-the cost has to be low or they do not sell

These sell well in galleries but are slow at shows-I tend to eat that cost - galleries want them-I would like to drop them

For me when I make a new item one old one has to go

My current form list is about 35 items in many sizes

Mark

 

 

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I posted these photos in another thread, but they seem to fit here better... We made these kiln guards out of 3/4" plywood. My friend Steven S. made them for me when were building out the studio. I think he got the idea from Dale down at the Work House Ceramics Studio in Lorton, VA... Saves your firebrick...

 

IMG 1948

IMG 1949 2

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