Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Firing Notes

In no particular order:
  • Bird seed (millet) makes a fine substitute for grog in wadding. [Edit: No, it totally doesn't!] It's cheap and readily available. The drawback is that over long periods of time, it will cause the wadding to stink. At least, that's what happened when some birdseed got into a friend's reclaim bucket one time: it was like the sum of all farts. But I only make small batches of wadding anyway, and a batch usually lasts only a couple of firings. [Edit: Repeat: Do not do this. Bad idea!]
  • Every so once-in-a-while, Cone 9 falls before Cone 8. This doesn't happen with other cones, and it doesn't happen all the time. And no, I haven't reversed them, I made extra-super-double sure this time.
  • Four and a half: the number of hours between coming out of body reduction and entering glaze reduction, and the beginning of soda application. Four and a half hours during which the kiln needs no adjustments. Would it be so wrong to sleep during that time? The baso valves ensure that the worst thing that would happen is that a burner would go out and the kiln would be uneven: not good but not tragic. Even if a baso valve failed for whatever reason, by that time the kiln is hot enough that propane entering it instantly ignites, so has no chance to build up and create a hazard. In order for any real safety hazard to occur, ALL the burners would have to go out, AND one of the baso valves would have to fail. We are getting into lottery-number unlikely, here.
Time for the next soda dump. Then it's off to bed for a couple of Zs before my afternoon class. Ciao!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting Loaded

SEA holiday Show on Friday! Here is a thing I am remembering about art fairs: there's no calling in sick. Got the flu? Too bad. Migraine? Suck it up! Luckily I have neither flu nor migraine, just a bad cold. My nose and lungs are congested and I ache all over; the only time I feel well is lying in a hot bath, but minutes after I get out I am achy and stuffed up again. But the firing must go on, so I got about three-quarters loaded yesterday (hehe, no, not like that, although that is a thing to consider: I've heard that alcohol kills germs.) I had to stop when I ran out of wadding, and then remembered that I had used the last of of alumina making door mud. D'oh! I can make wadding without kaolin: kyanite will serve. I can make wadding without grog: sawdust (or oat bran, right, Sue?) will work just fine. I cannot make wadding without alumina. So I crawled off to bed with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and a hot cup of spiced cider, and made a plan to visit Watershed first thing this morning.

All of which means I will be firing overnight tonight. Oh joy. But I keep doing it to myself (well: I've done it twice) so I can't really complain.Maybe I'm getting something out of it, a feeling of being Really Committed, or something. Or just that I should really BE committed, to an asylum.

Anyway: I am pleased with the look of this load. Can't wait to see them finished; that will make all this snot-slinging worthwhile.

(And don't worry about contagion! 2400F will kill any virus on the planet. )

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pursuant to my earlier post:

High Integrity, Moral Decency Has Cost Idiot Man Millions

CHARLESTON, SC—With its firm grounding in honesty, loyalty to friends, and a strong spirit of generosity, the asinine ethical code of Kevin Premus has cost the 42-year-old idiot millions of dollars over the years, reports confirmed Friday.

The moronic small-business owner, whose moral tenets are said to include basic human kindness and always trying to do what's right, reportedly never cuts any corners and is unwilling to fuck people over, poor habits that have led him into a life of endless mortgage payments, credit card debt, and a relatively small personal net worth.

Hehe. Read the rest here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thursday Inspiration: Amy Sanders

You can read more about Amy's methods here; and she also writes an awesome blog. Check it out here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Swiper, No Swiping!

I was at a craft fair here in Augusta last weekend, at which I bought a bunch of handmade soap. I would have bought some candles, too, but that vendor didn't accept plastic, and I never have any cash on me. Which got me thinking about the SEA sale coming up very soon. D'oh! I will need to have some way to accept cards.

I keep reading about Square, the mobile card-swiping device. I was, in the back of my mind, sort of thinking of that as the solution. Yeah, no. Square only works with iPhone, Android, or iPad. Obviously I am not a techie or gadgeteer, as it looks from the outside like anything that works with a smart phone ought to work with a laptop; but sadly, no. Because there is no way on the site to get information prior to sign up, I went ahead and signed up, and then started trying to figure out if it would work for me. It won't, so Square will be sending me, free of cost (thankfully!) a device which is completely useless to me, and I am still without a way to take plastic.

So, if not Square, what? I hate dinking around with this but I need to figure it out. The options I have dug up so far:

  1. If there is wireless access available onsite, I could use Paypal's Virtual Terminal service. Thee fees are 2.9%, plus 30 cents per transaction. This costs $30 a month, but I can cancel it after the single month for which I need it. It's a cumbersome, though, as I have to type in the card numbers manually, and has a per-month payout limit of $500.
  2. MerchantAnywhere provides a reader that will work with a Windows machine. This service is $24.95 a month, on a month to month basis. The swiper cost $99 upfront, though.
  3. I can purchase a swiper to work with Paypal's virtual terminal for $$40. Or, this will work with:
  4. Authorize.net, which has $120 in set up fees, but only 10 cent per transaction; no percentage. or:
  5. Payleap.com, which has a $29 monthly fee, a $29 set up fee, a transaction fee of 25 cents plus 2.15%. Plus, of course, the $40 for the swipe device. Or:
  6. I can create a Payflow account, which is also through Paypal. (I admit I find all these different Paypal solutions confusing: Merchant account, Payflow, Payflow Pro, Website Payments Pro...I just want to be able to swipe credit cards. How many different ways can you do it?) This one has a $179 set-up fee, with a monthly service fee of $19.95. Plus the $40 for the swiper. Since I can't see how it's different from Virtual Terminal, I think I can cross this one off the list.
  7. ChasePaymentech iTerminal. Either I am getting tired and losing patience, or it doesn't say anywhere on the ChasePaymentech website what the service costs. Or, more likely, both. It may be on there somewhere but I grew tired of clicking around trying to find it. They are working so hard to keep the secret, it makes me think the cost must be around a bajillion dollars a month. No, a day. But I'll never know, unless one of you is willing to ferret out the info.
  8. Or, my best choice may turn out to be a more traditional payment processing service, like those offered through Powerpay. This won't work at the Uptown (not that I'll necessarily be going to Uptown!) but it would work for my upcoming event, as it is inside and there will be electricity available. Can't yet say how much this would cost, as I am waiting on a shout back from someone at Powerpay. This also makes me leery; why can't the prices just be on the website? Is it so complicated they need to explain it in person, or so expensive they need a persuader to sell it? Don't know, but I will let you know if I ever find out.
Barring some new info, I am leaning toward Virtual Terminal, with the USBSwiper device.

Back in the old days, when most people still carried checks (yeah, I know...I'm old, okay) when I ran into the occasional customer who had only plastic, I'd just sell them the pots, and give them a business card & ask them to send me a check when they got home I never had anyone fail to pay, but that won't work anymore, as virtually everyone will have only plastic. Just like me.

Thursday Inspiration: Nick Joerling

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

...where have you been?
I've been down to London to visit the Queen.
Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse, under her chair.
Actually I've been right here, just not sitting in this chair as much. So far as I know there are no mice beneath it, and if there are, someone - a number of someones, in fact - is not doing his job.

Whenever I read a blog post in which the author apologizes for not posting, I am always amused because, really, unless you are Duncan Black, or Dooce, does anybody even notice? Not that there's anything wrong with that! It is sometimes a comfort to me that if I slack off blogging for a while, no harm done.

I haven't just been napping, eating, and reading the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire. (Completely off topic, I was suddenly reminded of that little ditty kids use to annoy adults:
♫ This is the song that never ends
It just goes on and on, my friends!
Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was
And still they keep on singing it because-because-BECAUSE
This is the song that never ends...
A Song of Ice and Fire is like that: it apparently never ends. I should probably just quit while I still can.)

I've also been making lots of stuff, for my first craft fair in years:

This show puts the "dinky" in "rinky-dinky," but 1)I am rusty in the ways of art fairs, and it's probably better to get the bugs out; and 2)Portland Pottery is picking up the tab, as the event is in their neighborhood, and they want to have a presence.

As much as I enjoy the freedom to make whatever comes to mind, I suffered a bit of writer's (potter's?) block when my mind shifted gears from filling orders. I blew through the blockage with a new look, and created a body of work specific to this show.

Faceting and slip trailing are like chocolate and peanut butter.

I honestly don't know what to expect, though I think I can safely say I am in no danger of having my head turned by the sudden influx of wealth. I promise, it won't change me! No, really, I wouldn't be surprised to walk away with $100, or $1000; more than that would surprise me. Though the money is likely to be a bit underwhelming, I will be using this event to hand out business cards, brochures, and info about my new website.

The one I'm not done building yet. That, however, is an adventure for another post.