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QotW: What best habit would you recommend to a beginner setting up their studio?

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Hi folks, nothing new in the pool for QotW, so once again, I will pose a question.

A while back we asked: What studio habits do you have that others have warned against?  Asking just the opposite- QotW: What best habit would you recommend to a beginner setting up their studio?  My best suggestion would be to look at your storage, surfaces and flooring, in order to control dust. I would suggest sealed rubbermaid type bins for chemicals, sealed buckets for glazes, work surface easily cleaned, without dust gathering canvas or other materials. I would try to stay away from containers with deep recesses in their lids, as they gather dust, Stay away from low shelving as they will gather underneath. Use dolly's to move larger containers out from under shelving to be easier to clean areas. Then clean once a week at least. Limit your ceramics space to ceramics, no household tools, or other storage in the studio. Most of my mistakes are listed here! 

Asking once again! QotW: What best habit would you recommend to a beginner setting up their studio?





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totally agree with russ.   i got the kind of bucket you step on and pull the mop straight up through the two rollers.   the mop is sold with strings as the water carrier.   take them off and use an old 100% COTTON towel, preferably one that was bought years ago for one dollar and is foldable lengthwise to give you about 15 inches of folded mop.   there are LOTS of new, modern, in style, non-cotton mops that are totally inadequate for a studio.  the bucket is still sold in real hardware stores, the small kind in a small town.   they are inexpensive so the big box stores do not carry them.  they would rather sell you a $25 huge, yellow. plastic thing that wants you to use your hands instead of your foot.


Edited by oldlady
add 100% COTTON
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I am so tempted to just write "Run, Forest, run".    Long silent pause.    But, OK, I'll play. 

1. Unless you have zero debt and zero money concerns, determine a realistic budget strictly for the studio and it's operations.

2. Include all things ceramic, such as related travel, major & minor supplies, overhead, fees for participation in exhibits/craft fairs/conferences/local potters guild etc.  

3. Set the financial projections up for about 3 years--it will take that long to see what the real expense  is for your mode of claywork is going to cost you.  

4. If by now you're saying to yourself but it's "just a hobby", run, Forest, run.

5. Stick to the budget and if it is not working, don't delay making the necessary adjustments. I check my budget monthly to see if I'm on track, and I enter expenses when they occur--not 3 weeks later when I can't remember what I got or what I paid, and I've lost the receipt (which should be in a file but sometimes isn't).  

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Very good advice. Thank you @Pres @Russ @oldlady @LeeU

@Callie Beller Diesel that is a big one. It is good to read it, as I am here reading the forum, delaying a little going to practice at the wheel, with fear that nothing will work today. Going there right now! Thank you.

Edited by Lucia Matos
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wheels under everything you will move, and you will move things if but to wash that floor.   Harbor Freight stores have lots of types.  avoid plastic wheels that are inexpensive.   buy full bags of the commonly used glaze ingredients.  the best containers i have used are the Rubbermaid totes but they do not seem to be in the big box stores anymore.  Sterilite is very brittle for holding large quantities of heavy ingredients.  rubbermaid might sag but sterilite cracks.   do not leave your purchases in the original bag!  store them in something strong enough and easy to open, preferably on wheels.  bags become dusty and there is no way to open them repeatedly that will not cause a dust storm under your nose.   buy a respirator first thing.

second purchase is a decent cut off wire that you can control.   fishing leader lines come in different lengths, i find a 12 inch very useful and a 9 inch is always in use.   attach round metal key rings to the ends.    take your key rings to a fishing supply place that is not too big so there will be an employee who can advise you.  these wires are already braided so they cut clay the first time and last for years.

label everything.  not on paper that is taped to a container, tape will  dry up and fall off.   use a sharpie directly on the container.  you can remove a label if you change things.  just use hairspray and a cotton ball to wipe all the sharpie off.   hairspray works better than acetone and smells better.

there are a number of posts about setting up a studio, i do not know how to retrieve them from this website but if you search, you will find some really great ideas.   i do have strong opinions on most things because my education has been the school of hard knocks.   trying to save you some pain.

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Whilst out on the bike (and waiting on glaze load to cool off), was reflecting on what I'd read in my notes, then aha! How useful notes can be, sometimes.

Detailed firing notes, detailed results - clays, glazes, what worked, problems, etc. Don't count on remembering, heh.

For example:

  > notes support my guess that yesterday's much longer firing time was related to more mass - an extra half shelf, and lots of ware - for the cool down time is also much much longer (still waiting); those times and temps can be helpful.

  > notes indicate that reclaim glaze came out well on one of three clays; I couldn't remember which one, aha.

  > the tin chrome red I'm using sometimes catches little flecks of blue, why? More to th' point, can the look be repeated? Not completely sure on why, however, results indicate that yes, the look is repeatable - the "secret" is in the notes.

  > am getting closer on evening out the firing, particularly the cool zone right at the top. Notes help, for I'm not quite able to remember what I'd tried, when, for how long, nor the bend in cones.

There's more ...take notes.

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