Showing posts with label pottery studio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pottery studio. Show all posts

Friday, January 24, 2014

Choosing A Pottery Wheel.....

Picking out a pottery wheel, my method behind the myriad of choices. It is a tough choice and it gets more difficult when you are buying multiples! There is little real information on overall satisfaction from potters themselves about wheels and their highs and lows.  Yes,there are forums, and discussion threads, and large sales companies who write up the products they are selling.  There are some very detailed reviews on wheels available online.  What I was searching for was a more "ethereal" view point from the potters themselves and how the connect with the wheels they use.  Although I am sure I did not hit ever nook and cranny of information out there, I am confident in my choice, basically because of the way I feel when I use it, and my overall level of comfort with the design.

Basically, I am a Pacifica GT800 potter, and I will tell you why....  I have thrown on Brent, Thomas-Stuart, Creative Industries, and Shimpo wheels of varying ages and styles (including the stick shift version), and not being a kick wheel user, I did not investigate those options.  Of the wheels I have used I just keep coming back to my Pacifica.

While a number of the manufacturers listed are substantial and venerable for sure, for my purposes, and the students I anticipate working with, I believe the Pacifica wheels will do a wonderful job.

I am not going to go through all the other styles and tell you what I liked and disliked about each and how they stack up against one another. Instead I thought I would simply share what I LOVE about my Pacifica GT800  which I have been using, basically on a daily basis, for the past 6 years.

Me Throwing on a Shimpo Wheel
First, it is solid.  It doesn't move, rattle, clank.  It stays still and lets the wheel head do its job.
Next, it is QUIET.  Very important to me because for me wheel work is often meditative and quite is paramount.  No distracting noises, none. The splash pan is super easy to put on and take off and I never seem to hit that "oh, I have the pieces reversed" dilemma. I really like the non-porous work table that is built right in.  It has lots of room for tools, water buckets, and all those other nick knacks you just have to have when you sit down to throw. Finally, I think it is important to purchase enough throwing power so that as you progress and build your skills you are not limited by the size of your horsepower.  The GT800 has 1.0 hp which is all I will ever need.

So, this was my process.  It was not scientific, but I am confident my students will enjoy throwing on these wheels for many, many QUIET years to come.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Down to Earth....

As we are closing in on the last few days of bringing the construction phase of our "little project" to a conclusion. I am beginning to think in earnest about all the details of what, where and why in setting up the Studio and Gallery.  We have made some last minute changes, and I am thinking that the changes will work well and allow for lots of interesting opportunities.

First up is the actual layout.  We decided that in order to better use space and keep the actual creation processes on tile surfaces (think muddy here), we will be adding some additional Gallery space.  This will serve several purposes, first to encourage visitors to feel welcome past the first two rooms and encourage them to go "behind the scenes" into areas of the Studio where work will be in progress. Second it will allow for additional area for sales of both work by our Studio Artists, as well as some of my favorite non-pottery art work which I have discovered along my journey into mud.

Having participated in many Fine Art Shows over the past 7 years, I had the joy of meeting and getting to know several artists who create phenomenal work, and yet like me they strive to keep their prices down to earth and affordable.

Yes, there will be a few items that will be in higher price ranges, but overall everything in the Gallery will be affordable art for everyday, or for that special day when something unique is needed. All of the pieces that I create will be available for custom order with choices of text, impression, clay base and glaze colors.

It is my hope that the Studio will be a welcoming and friendly place where people look forward to come and explore being creative, or come looking for unique creations.

In the meantime, we are setting up all the needed "number things" book keeping, scheduling, ordering, and ultimately, very soon  MOVING IN AND SETTING UP !!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Looking Ahead to 2014 and Learning from 2013....

"End of December, the sleepy brown woods seem to nod down their heads for the winter..."
Dan Fogelberg, Lyrics to "Old Tennessee"

Lessons Learned

As I write this in mid December, I am coming to the close of my 6th year in the world of custom, personalized pottery.  What I have learned this year can be summed up in the simple thought of "let the customer lead!"  Some of my best pieces have come from ideas that my customers have shared with me.  I keep and open ear and do not fear doing something differently just because it is something that I would not have done.  Some of my most interesting, and successful pieces have come from my collaborations with customers. That said, it is also important for me as an artist to continue to create all those pieces I have floating around in my head.  I find that if I share my studio time with pieces that I have been commissioned to create with those that I "need" to create for my own artistic venting, that I have a good week.  Keeping time set aside, and kiln room set aside for the pieces I want/need to create has been a happy medium for me this year and a lesson learned for sure.


Looking ahead to 2014, I just downloaded Pantone's Wedding Colors for Spring 2014. There are a lot of great shades to work with for my custom pieces, as well as for my ready to ship items.  In particular, I will certainly be playing with Pantone's Freesia - a beautiful vibrant yellow; Dazzling Blue - a wonderful full bodied shade or royal blue; Radiant Orchid - a fabulous shade of violet; and Celosia Orange - a terrific, subtle shade of soft peachy/orange.


Moving forward, one of the things that is beginning to whisper to me from the furthest reaches of my mind, is the notion of preserving my artistic ideas in the pieces I am working so hard to create.  Imitation is certainly the sincerest form of flattery, but within the artistic world it is a big no-no.  While, I have thankfully not been subjected to any other pottery taking my ideas and reusing them, I will be looking into protecting my ideas moving forward for sure.  Being a fairly "type B" person - sort of a more "whatever" type personality.  I have a natural resistance to pursuing such legal protections, but many of my customers, friends, and family are encouraging me to at least look into it.

So, if you have experience or ideas on how I should go about doing this, I would sincerely appreciate your input and experience.  For now, I am focused on responding to my Christmas orders, and finishing my new Studio which should be opening in January 2014. 

It is an exciting time here at Big Dog Pots Pottery, and we are hoping for even more exciting times ahead.

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy Holiday Season, and a wonderful 2014!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Coming Back Down to Earth.....or MUD!

It has been an exciting time here for sure.  With the purchase of our new studio property and renovations getting ready to begin, I have returned to the studio, and returned to the mud.

When I first started with pottery, the clay that I used was a warm red brown.  Clay is found in many different types, colors, and consistencies and all of these work in different ways depending upon your application.

It happened that the first bag of clay available to me at the time was red brown, and so that is what I started with.

As I begin my pieces in clay, I visualize the end result.  So that when I begin, I know what clay I want to use.  Clay responds differently all along the process.  Some clay is more malleable and as such may not be good for hand building projects, some clay has more grog (sediment) in it and may just work wonders for particular throwing applications or three dimensional projects.  But all clay respond differently to glazes.  I made this little informational reference for my customers so that they could visualize how their clay choice would impact the end result of their custom pieces.  I learned a long time ago that it is always easier to start with a draft, this visual has been quite helpful.

I received a new custom order just yesterday, and seeing as the wedding is just around the corner, I decided to go ahead and get these trays underway.  They are going to be Wedding Thank You gifts from the bride and groom to their parents, and the wedding with be at a beach venue.  The bride and groom picked red brown clay, and a wonderful crab impression at the center piece.  These trays are still wet, but are well on their way to becoming a family keepsake.  They are a joy to make and I am looking forward to how these will come out.  The bride and groom have not decided on their glazes just yet, and that is part of the fun of custom orders, I get to create someone else's vision.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Taking the Next Step....Bricks and Mortar????

Well, I have been doing pottery for 7 years.  It is truly a passion.  I think constantly of pieces that I want to make, things I want to try, things I would like to teach.  In my personal life, we are also trying to navigate the transition into adulthood for our son who has special challenges.  On top of that, I have once AGAIN outgrown my current studio.

My husband and I had a long talk, then we had a long family talk.  The result...we began a search for potential places to open a studio.  We envision a place where I will work, teach, have a sales gallery, and provide studio space for other pottery hobbyists who would like a space to create their treasures. My son will be my CEO, he will manage the studio, handle my books, class registrations, and since he is an whiz with chemistry....he will be developing my own glazes!

Now, you may be thinking....well, she can create pottery, but can they actually handle all the aspects of running a business.  Good question.  The answer is yes, we believe we have the combined experience to do just that.
From the perspective of finding a suitable property, to renovating it for our use and setting up a studio. We have lots of experience.  We have built and set up my own private studio, and I have worked and created in many other studios. My husband, before he was a financial whiz in the corporate world, owned a building company.  He built our home and has done major renovation and construction work for all types of properties.  When he decided he wanted something to challenge his brain everyday, instead of his back, he went back to school and earned his MBA (about 18 years ago). So the construction and numbers aspects are checked off! 

In terms of finding a property, I have my own skill set to bring to the table.  Before deciding to be an at home mom, I worked for many years as an Urban Planner in both the public and private sector. I worked to do just what we are interested in doing, analyzing properties for various uses, and when the existing zoning didn't allow what a potential owner what to do, I would work through the zoning aspects with local jurisdictions to help make it happen.

From the perspective of running a retail gallery, I think we are good to go!  I was the manager of a high end jewelry store in a mall here on the east coast, and before that I worked in various retail stores through high school and college.

From the perspective of running a pottery studio and teaching, I also think we are good to go!  I have not only run my own studio and taught privately, but I have also run after school programs, worked with preschools, and have managed a pottery studio locally where I also taught classes for students aged 3-92!

So we are trying to make this dream a reality.  Follow along as we attempt to take my pottery making into a full fledged bricks and mortar business.  Wish us luck!  We may need it :).