I am using this page to organize my thoughts about this thing called the business of pottery. If interested, I have found The Potter’s Cast podcast inspirational in motivating me to move forward.
February, 2017: I am now starting a business, a pottery business, and in documenting the process, it may help me in keeping my thoughts straight in my head. Obviously, there are many requirements for a business to be successful in the on-line world, hence, I have this website. Setting up a website is not difficult and while I am using WordPress, there are many options for creating one. I am not happy with the current set-up and want to change it as I move forward with another format.
I have used two years (yes, TWO YEARS) full-time to create a single glaze that I use. This glaze has two variations that, with the addition of feldspar, creates a milky surface rather than a clear surface. Other than that, the oxides and mason stains are used to make variations on the theme of the base glaze. It has taken that long to create a look that I can say is mine and separates me from others in the immediate area.
February 1-I stopped in to talk to my friend, barista and fellow cyclist Sarah Johnson. I wanted to know, as I approached business to propose my idea of supplying mugs and plates for coffee shops, the pros and cons in doing so. After discussing sizes coffee shops use, the need for consistency regarding volume, supporting small local business, aesthetics, being mutually beneficial, displaying ware, selling ware in the coffee shops and durability of ceramics in a commercial venture, Sarah was kind enough to make an order for 6 each small, medium and large mugs and a dozen plates.
2/2/17-A busy day for the business. I ordered 2050 pounds of clay from Minnesota Clay. They are making my formula which I developed to be vitreous at Cone 3. The clay has cost me $699.05, a pallet charge of $11.25 and shipping (pick up at the freight office, not delivered to the house) is $112.00.
Also today, I paid $1.40 to continue my Etsy Shop, $4.90 to the post office for stamps and I registered my business name with the State of Nebraska for $103.00. I also applied and was granted an EIN # from the IRS. Finally, I bought a four column bookkeeping log and sales receipts from Office Max for $10.79 and $4.29 respectively.
February 4-I am working on writing a business plan. I went to UNO and spoke with the Nebraska Business Development Center (Kyle) and they helped me set a plan up for creating my Business Plan. The NBDC also pointed me in the correct direction with links to the state and federal websites to register my business name and get my EIN#. I still have to publish my business name in the paper in order to protect my name, so say the instructions.
2/10/17: I have come to the conclusion that if I don’t have a minimum of 10 test glaze tiles per glaze firing, that I have wasted the firing. The information I glean from these tests, be it discovering how the compounds interact with each other, if wax works on the glaze, if the glaze will work with Mason Stains, the effect of spraying on oxides and how slip will show/won’t show through the glaze is all expanding my understanding of glazing. I heard yesterday on The Potter’s Cast podcast how the host doesn’t like the glaze process. I couldn’t disagree more and find the experimentation just as, if not more, important and artistically important than the actual making of a pot.
I am very pleased that I am now finding as I put things on Instagram, which feeds my Facebook and Twitter accounts, people are responding! Granted, I only have 9 followers on Instagram currently, and 21 follows on Facebook, but it is growing.
2/11/17: Today I received notice from Jean she received mugs I sent to her and she graciously put them and my card on FACEBOOK. This may be beneficial as I received a question about shipping. Today, I have re-surfaced my kiln shelves and put kiln wash on them. I also have started finishing the glazing of the pots I took out of the bisque kiln earlier this week. I am not going to do a full load, but I am being very directed in what I am glazing and firing.
- I am finishing a special order of 4 ramekins and finished them in the style which I have come to like best using Loco A, Nickel spray, wax, cobalt spray, dots and a light manganese spray.
- Four, footed ramekins, which I was totally experimental with in using slips, brushed on glaze, brushed on sprays and brushwork.
- A plate, which I also was very experimental with, thinning out the cobalt spray and brushing it on the Loco A, then building glazes on top.
- Test mice. I am testing the Milky White glaze for a special order, the WJG Glaze with sprays, scraps, slips and colors. I am also testing Loco A for an iron saturated black.
- I am re-firing a covered jar where the lid crawled, due to Mason Stains I believe. I dunked the lid where it crawled and let it dry completely prior to putting it in the kiln.
- Finally, I am testing a white clay body I bought, knowing it is not vitreous at cone 3, but wanting to test the glaze and slip on a white clay body.
2/14/17: The fire came out very well and I learned a lot from the contents and firing. First, I let the kiln soak for 32 minutes before shutting it off (it was 2:30 am and I was bushed) and the glazes came out even more outstanding than ever before. The soak really took the few pinholes I had been experiencing and eliminated them. Secondly, the WJG glaze tests came out fantastic as a clear glaze. The LOCO O (A) glaze I have been using as a base clear is also very good (and what the majority of work has been glazed in up to now). As they are both good, I decided to do a cost analysis and found the WJG glaze to be $6.43 per 100 grams, while the LOCO O (A) is $8.48 per 100 grams. The #1 ramekins came out FANTASTIC and I have sold them already at $65 for the 4. The #2 footed ramekins are also very good and the “wire” slip is a funky texture. I won’t use it a lot as it will be harder to eat from, but if someone wants a heavy texture, this is one way to provide it. The #3 plate came out well but I would have used a colored glaze as the ground instead of the clear, and that is a process I will use in the future. The #4 Test Mice (or is it Mouses?) really showed me a lot as well and is explained in the blue notebook. The ‘Milky White’ glaze turned out very well, but isn’t right for the match I am trying to make. As I look at the match, the glaze which was on the ware may have been close to this glaze, but very, very, thinly applied. I’ll try that next as I try to meet the request of the purchaser. The #5 Refired Lidded Jar came out very well, but again, I used the clear and should have used a tinted glaze as the previous crawling now is just clear and LOOKS crawled, but is filled with clear glaze. The white clay body (#6) is not at all what I wanted to see. The clay body actually is more buff and bulky. I was looking for a more porcelain looking ware which would brighten the glazes, which it did not. I’ll let students use it in the future to get rid of it.