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Group Studio: How To Figure Out Cost Sharing

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We have recently started a group studio and it was easy to split costs when 2-3 main people shared the kiln space evenly. We split the propane costs for the kiln, and the electric kiln for bisque shows the amount of electricity used. Supplies and maintenance costs are split too. But we are trying to figure out a formula for the future when more people get involved and there are different quantities of work being produced.

 

The core members of the group order the materials, mix all the glazes, grind all the shelves, load and unload the kiln, keep the studio clean, etc. If a person wants to fire some pieces in the kiln, we are not sure what to charge ON TOP of the propane price. I see that some studios charge $0.09 per cu in, but I don't know how that is broken down. But what I would like to know is there a percentage formula anyone has worked out, that factors in all the materials, labor and wear and tear of the kiln? Would 20% on top of gas cost be a fair estimate?

 

So ultimately, we would like the core members to pay for all the costs and split accordingly, and then excess monies paid for by the contributing guests would go into a "fund" that will be used for purchasing new materials or supplies.

 

Would appreciate your feedback on this!

 

 

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I think trying to figure out the cubic inches someone uses in a kiln is a royal pain to figure out. It makes loading the kiln a long, tedious process. At my studio, the cost of the firing is included in the cost of the clay. If I fire for someone who is not a student of mine, and has purchased their clay elsewhere, I charge $1 per pound for each firing. Weighing pots is quick and easy. In my smaller kiln I can fit about 30 mugs, so it would cost roughly $30 for a full load of mugs. The cost of the electricity is about $6, so that gives me a little profit and some money towards new elements/wear and tear. If someone had a load of bowls, it would cost them less because the it wouldn't load as dense as the mugs, but it all averages out. I do have a full kiln price, too. The only time it doesn't work is when they have large, thin, sculptural pieces that take up a lot of space without much weight. For those we have to decide a fair price.

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we have a larger group studio. there are 50 artist members plus students in the classes we run. we kind of backed into the monthly membership fee (which gives you the run of the place plus glazes and 4 cu feet of firing space per month).  We don't track really accurately the usage but the kiln firers know when someone is over using the kiln space and then they pay more.  We are now at $115 per month for membership.   We previously backed into our number by how much it cost to run the place - rent, power bills, glaze ingredients and paid part time staff.  

 

with this many people it would be hard to measure sq inches of every piece and keep track of it.  for a smaller group it may be possible.

 

we are set up as a business corporation wtih a few owners of the stock, but we operate more like a non profit as none of us takes money out and we cut special deals for charter schools and such.   We struggled financially for years but seem to have finally found the right balance of charges and membership.  Now we have a waiting list. 

 

Recognize that some people will always be doing more than others and some will be taking more than others and as long as its not extreme, its probably best not to try to allocate every penny.

 

best of luck.. our studio is the Fire Arts Center in Arcata CA and it has a web site if it helps you to look at it.  Rakuku

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Hello everyone,

 

Thanks for all your input, it's very interesting to hear the three different outlooks! So amazing that I can reach out there and get such nice feedback from the community. Much appreciated! :)

 

Thank you for the spreadsheet, I will definitely study it and then change the variables based on our kiln! 

 

I think for our situation, membership is not something we want to do because there are only 3-4 main people who will be using the studio. Most of the outsiders have their own studios, clay and electric kilns and just want to get their pieces fired in the soda kiln. It is important that the costs be more on the accurate side so people are paying fairly. This is due to the high cost of propane in the state of Hawaii, and that soda kilns are quite costly to fire and accumulate more wear and tear than your typical gas kiln. I believe this is the only soda kiln studio on the island.

 

Any other input would be great appreciated!

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A studio here in the Chicago area has a soda kiln, and the cost for putting pieces in it is very high because they have to rebuild it every 4 years or so. They fire it at least 100 times a year, and use a lot of soda, so it doesn't last too long. The rebuild cost can range from $8,000 to $15,000, depending on how much brick can be salvaged and the degree to which it is torn down. So if you do it right, when it comes time to rebuild your kiln, you'll have enough money put aside to do it.

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If you are doing all of the loading, remember to pay yourself for labor!

 

It's great that you're making the resource available, but a fair price for providing a firing service should be at least double what it actually costs you. Even at that price, it will still be a bargain for participants.

 

I rent part of my personal studio space to other potters. Renters are responsible for the cost of all of their own expendable materials and have assigned storage spaces for their work, tools, and materials. I have two firing fee structures, one if the renter does all of his/her own loading/unloading and another if I load their work. When I load, I base the cost on the height of the shelf required to accommodate their work and/or the percentage of the kiln space used, rather than weight or actual square inches. Ultimately, it is my judgment call. I strive to be fair and usually err on the side of charging on the low end of my estimate. I haven't had any complaints.

 

Finally, if renters  want to use my glazes, they pay a fee per 25 lb bag of clay opened. This grew out of the system we use in the teaching studio where we buy the clay and sell it to the students with an up-charge that covers the cost of the studio glazes and underglazes.

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Thank you Neil and Potterbeth! Very valuable feedback :)

 

Neil, we only fire once a month at most. And people who bring pieces here usually will use our glazes, wadding and sprayers. Two people usually rotate being the kiln masters, and both will load/unload. So it makes sense that their labor should be factored into the fees, because at this point they don't want anyone else touching/running the kiln.

 

I think we will also charge based on our guess of what percentage of the kiln is used. But if the items fall below 25% percent of kiln space, then we will have to charge per sq inch. This is where the amt per sq inch gets tricky. We have a 14 cu ft kiln. 

 

I think once we figure out the propane costs per cu sq inch, then we will have to just tack on a percentage that will cover wear and tear, expendables, glaze and the labor that others put in for loading/unloading and firing. It will probably be 30%-50% on top of the gas.

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