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Firing work for others and charging a fee


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I would only do it if you can 100% confirm that the clay and glaze is rated for the cone they say it is, or if you know and trust the person. How much you charge is up to you, but start by figuring out the cost electricity for the firing, plus the cost of wear on the elements, and what your time is worth. You'll also need to figure out how you want to deal with glazes running onto your shelves or other kiln damage due to their work. Put everything in writing, have them sign it. Put cones in the kiln on several levels so you can prove it fired properly. Make sure to note that if anything goes wrong with the firing, like an element burns out and the firing shuts down prematurely, that you are not responsible for their glazes not coming out like you expect. 

As you can see, there are a lot of potential problems with firing someone else's work. Your best bet is to avoid it all together. I am of the opinion that if someone wants to work in ceramics, they need to either get their own kiln or join a studio.

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About 30 years ago I bisqued a wildlife scence sculpture that a fellow spent two full months making-two months in the greatest detail of many critters-all realistic.

I mentioned the exploding/cracking options that could take place in my manual kiln (no computer controlled kilns back then ) it was all seat of your pants as I still do it today.

I dried it in my shop with heat for a week than I slowly took that kiln up over two days to get to 06. No cracks and all was well but it could have gone sideways in a heart beat. This person had never worked in clay before. I decided after that to never fire work done by others.I should add I fired some clay for another potter to cone 10 and it was cone 5 and slumped all over the place as well as a cone 10 plate drawing -I made the plate, someone did thier drawing on it than I glazed it so I know the stuff was right.

since thoes days it a no I do not do that. To much pain and suffering possible .

 

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I agree with everything written, other than letting someone else fire my kiln (sorry @liambesaw) If there is a screw up on firing, I would rather it be my screw up.  I have fired for a couple of friends who were in a jam, but it was only a couple of times.  And I give them the 3rd degree concerning the clay and glaze.  Other than that, I just say no.   If you have a kiln that you fire regularly, you also have regular maintenance which is expensive.  

Roberta

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The one time I accommodated a friend's work in my kiln I managed to misposition a large tray so that one corner was slightly over the edge of a shelf that was not at the same level as the other half.  It was her most prized piece.  The corner slumped (well, duh!) and I felt like  s**t for months, because  there was just no way to make it right. In other words-don't do it, it's not worth it. I agree with Neil-ceramics is not the type of work, even as a hobby-that you do looking for the easier, softer way to make it happen.  People who are unequipped to do it correctly should just join a community studio, take a class, or use air dried/oven treated pseudo clays.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I get requests like this at least once a week.  What I've settled on is an open studio plan, where for a fixed fee per month, users can rent a section  of shelf space and use studio equipment to work on projects when I don't have classes in session.  The fee includes bisque and glaze firings, and a selection of the glazes I use in class.  However, they must purchase their clay from me so I know what is going into my kilns.  Several of my open studio users have wheels or slab rollers at home, but no kiln, so they bring in their works from home for firing and glazing.  It's been working out ok so far, but I control what goes into my kilns and I do the firings.  No one else touches the kilns.

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