[Clayart] cost of materials

Robert Harris robertgharris at gmail.com
Tue Jan 11 17:52:09 UTC 2022

I don't think people buying pints of glaze are trying to make a living, or
a profit, anyway. What they're far more interested in is bulletproof!

The local rec centers here charge between $20 and $40 for a class, often
taught by a 20 something with close to zero experience, but who is cheap,
cheap, cheap (the one center with $45 classes is taught by people who
really know what they're doing and they make their own glazes).
The rec centers use the ready made glazes because the people teaching the
class don't have any experience themselves.

It's the old story, pay peanuts and you get monkeys.

Not to mention that in most rec centers they don't teach you anything
besides making a pot and slapping a glaze on it. Nothing about firing,
nothing about troubleshooting bad glazes or bad firings, not even how to
mix up glazes.

WHen you look at the cost of classes, those expensive glazes are cheap. And
to be fair to Amaco and Coyote, some of them are really pretty nice and
they can take a lot of abuse (i.e. large firing range, thickness is less
critical etc.). And with the lack of expertise at rec centres someone in
that situation probably doesn't have much of a clue where to start. And if
you only have a few hours a day or a week to work on something that is a
hobby, then Amaco glazes are probably worth the price.

(And there are plenty of people on this list who have posted about how even
many colleges have degraded the craftsmanship and technical knowledge
portion of ceramics in favour of pushing artistic boundaries).

Are there people selling pots with expensive purchased glazes? Absolutely.
But they're probably not trying to make a living.

There are lots and lots of downsides to making your own glazes.

1. The really bulletproof homemade glazes are pretty boring. Things like
floating blues take a while to get the hang of.
2. Even a fairly modest glaze kitchen takes a fair bit of storage space. A
hobbyist in a small garage (let alone in a city where space is precious) is
already feeling pretty cramped with a wheel and kiln and table (or two).
Add in a few glaze buckets, then where do you put those bags of Custer, and
silica and whiting and Gerstley, oh and this glaze calls for dolomite, and
this one needs NephSy ...
3. And when you're just starting out, who wants to fire a kiln just for
tests. And we all know that if you make up an untested glaze and put it on
your precious pots, it's NEVER going to end well! So where do you start ...?

Considering the difficulties inherent in glazing, we should be a lot more
understanding of the difficulties rather than just sitting in snobby
judgement of people using easy, bulletproof commercial glazes.
If you look at the archives, when this list was truly active there was
probably a request every 3-6 months for a truly clear, craze free glaze.
And of course that's going to depend massviley on the clay body. And we all
know that "Cone 6-10" bodies (clay companies should be burned at the stake
for that one!) don't really vitrify very well at Cone 6 ... which leads to
crazing problems. Honestly when you think about it, it's absolutely amazing
that anyone that comes from a rec center, or a dumbed down college class,
gets started at all!

(Please note: I have a tendency to make gross generalisations and use
plenty of hyperbole to make a point. I'm sure YOUR local rec center is a
paragon of virtue ;) )


On Tue, 11 Jan 2022 at 08:22, kathi at lesueurclaywork.com <
kathi at lesueurclaywork.com> wrote:

> I had never realized how much those jars of glaze cost until I was at a
> local supplier and saw a five gallon bucket of “dipping” glaze for $290. A
> shiny cone 6 blue. I came how and calculated what my most expensive glaze
> is to make. A black with cobalt, manganese, and iron. $22. When I asked on
> a clay forum why someone would buy that bucket as opposed to making their
> own I was attacked for asking the question. Others must have a lot more
> money than me. I just finished my best year ever, by far. Most went in a
> box from online sales. A studio sale, one art fair, and customers
> contacting me through my website all contributed. My cost are extremely
> low. All of my equipment is paid for. And, the cost of clay and glaze is
> very low. Living in a city that take recycling seriously I spend very
> little on packing materials. I can get all of the peanuts and bubble that I
> want free. And, a local manufacturer is thrilled to give me the flat
> styrofoam that I line my boxes with.  How those people buying little jars
> of glaze and decals can make a profit is a mystery to me.
> Kathi LeSueur
> Sent from my iPad
> > On Jan 11, 2022, at 8:21 AM, mel jacobson <melpots at mail.com> wrote:
> >
> > I totally agree...a few pounds of lithium would last me
> > ten years.
> >
> > If you produce your own glazes, re/cycle clay, run a
> > studio that you control....the cost of materials can be very low.
> > In the scheme of things, almost a non-factor. I have glaze materials
> > for at least three more years. I have beans and rice here at the
> > farm for at least two years. I saw 15 deer on the hill last week.
> > hmmm, one would last me a year if i smoked the meat.
> >
> > My major thought was for those that buy all ready made. A pint of glaze
> > for $35.  My base glazes/  I can make 20 gallons for a few dollars.
> > I have two Walker pug mills.
> >
> > Just that simple thought is how I was able to have six classes a day
> > making pots..at the top end...180 kids.
> >
> > Remember the story.  50 gallon garbage can on wheels.  two bags of
> > volcanic ash, two bags of gertsely. add some zircopax and that made
> > 50 gallons of base glaze. cone 4.  at the time it was like 40 bucks.
> > We named the glaze Mount St. Helen's.  (Volcano)
> >
> > When I left, the new teacher said `that much glaze is silly and hard
> > to make. she bought pint jars.`
> >
> > If you order 50,000 lbs of clay for your school program, it may not get
> filled.
> > And that price may triple, if they deliver.  The folks at both Minnesota
> clay
> > and continental are very worried. What happens if the ball clay mine
> shuts down.??
> > As was said yesterday..."potters get the left overs."
> >
> > No one ever tells us what happens to all those huge car batteries. They
> die you know.
> > And, you pay cash for a new one. 10 grand.??  re/cycle. ???  I think
> Canada takes them.
> > It is far from Nirvana.    Oh, and there is a plane that runs on a
> battery. Flies for
> > 8 minutes. The battery is heavier than the plane.  As the joke years
> back. "We have an
> > electric plane. 85,000 Dollars.  $5000 for the plane, $80,000 for the
> extension cord.
> > Mel
> > It is like the neighbor, She says she won $300 at the casino last month,
> She only spent
> > $500 to get it. Simple math you know.
> >
> > website: www.melpots.com
> > www.melpots.com/CLAYART.HTML
> >
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