Why Are We Here? What This Network Is, and What It Could Be.

Almost two year ago, I started the cone6pots network, as I started getting back into pottery in a serious way. I could have been satisfied with joining the clayart listserve with its constant interchange of text emails, but working in information technology and having had the experience of running a highly interactive classified ads website gave me the opinion that the clayart listserve technology is hopelessly early 1990s, despite its active membership.

I looked around at the social networking websites with their capabilities for rich media content, and knew that was where a ceramics and pottery network could communicate in a variety of ways beyond just text. Myspace and Facebook both could have served, but they both were conceived to serve individuals best, and their implementations of networking for groups was not so well developed. Then I found the ning network and it was clear right away that the ning software had been built from the ground up to support interest groups or “networks” of people as the primary entity, rather than individuals.

Instead of trying to serve all ceramic artists, I decided to create the network to serve people who are working with clay in ways that are similar to how I work. It was obvious that mid-fire electric potters were way underserved on the Internet, despite the fact that we probably outnumber high fire potters who do gas and wood firing. Not everyone can put in a gas kiln to support their pottery work, which may only be a hobby. That simple fact has resulted in many people over the years turning to electric kilns to be able to continue working with clay, even though they may have gotten their training in gas reduction firing.

Most of our members probably aren't even aware of it, but this network could become the best online ceramics network on earth. You each have all the tools you need, right here on cone6pots to create an extensive and powerful web presence where you can introduce yourself to the world, showcase your work, and meet and exchange ideas with people who are experiencing the same issues in pottery making that you are dealing with. There are methods available to connect your member page to an online arts marketing operation like etsy.com, as well as simply linking to galleries that may be carrying your work.

In order for this network to achieve world domination, two things have to happen.
  1. You need to develop your own member page, telling us who you are, what you're working on, show us pictures of your work, and other work that excites you, especially if you are just starting out. Tell us how you made the pieces that your proud of, and how you overcame technical problems that held you back.
  2. Then we must start interacting like invested members of an organization that we want to succeed. That mainly means that we start communicating with each other. The comment, "I love that pot!" may get you a, "Thank you.", but it won't start a meaningful conversation. A better approach is to say exactly what you like about a pot, and even ask if the person who made it will share the techniques that are stopping you from making something similar. In case you haven't noticed, we have some incredibly talented potters among us. They may be holding back, because we are not acting as if we notice their presence, or their talent, and we are not making any attempt at starting an interaction. In a nutshell -- there is no community until we start talking to each other.

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I am always looking for resources that will enable me as a professional potter to make better choices in my business...after 30 years of cone 10 gas and wood firings it is time for change...your site has led me into the area of cone 6 single fire....and i thank you...it is interesting how the internet has integrated into my life...anyway i am in the process of setting up a studio in a warmer climate [fl] and will begin testing at cone 6  [single fire] after the first of the year...as soon as results are out i will be an active member, thank you for the site, maybe it will take be down path that i would have never followed.....

the" bastard child comment" maybe the feelings that you are feeling...environmentally electric fired pottery is the answer.....there are not many choices

I discovered this site last year and signed up, lost my sign in info and re-signed up last summer.  I really enjoy it and have gotten a lot of wonderful glaze info, tutorials, inspiration, etc from it.  I have commented on photos and asked for more info such as glaze recipes and have gotten enough no's that I generally look and comment but don't ask for more details unless it's George I'm asking : ) I can understand protecting special glaze formulas but I share when asked because I really do want to exchange ideas and grow as a potter.  If I post a photo I add comments and would include a note that I wanted to show the piece but the glaze is a secret!  One thing I've found really valuable are the videos that Charan Sachar has posted and the tutorials George put up with down-draft and spray booth vents.

I am STILL having kiln problems from a move last summer and am very anxious to get a kiln going so I can test glazes again - something I thoroughly enjoy doing!

 

Every one of us got to where we are today, standing on the shoulders of those who went before and had the generosity of spirit to share their knowledge and insights.  For us to hoard the tiny increment that we may be adding to the body of knowledge is both foolish and shortsighted.  It not only slows the ability of others to make similar progress, but reinforces their hesitancy to share knowledge with us. Worse, it exposes our own lack of confidence in our ability to innovate something beyond what we created previously.  This is stagnation and death for an artist, yet many of us cling to it as if it were a life preserver.

It bears repeating that what makes this interactive network worthwhile is you, the members. You can post the content that would make our network an ever greater resource for our members. You can take a bit of time to mentor a struggling member on some detail of a process that you have mastered. If you do something well, write an article with pictures or make a video -- and explain/demonstrate your technique. Post it as a blog, a video, or a discussion topic in the Forum section. Then nurture your topic  by adding to it or commenting on it periodically.

Since finding this site last year, I have learned so much about the potting community and Cone 6 firing. I love it. I don't always have as much time as I would like to spend on the site each day so at times I might just have a quick look to see what is happening. There are times when it seems very quiet and other times when its quite active. I am time poor, like everyone else. A two year old toddler, two teenage daughters, a husband, keeping house, working and life prevent me from participating as much as I would like, but I do what I can to contribute something.  We all have priorities and with all that is demanded of us these days with social networking, texting, emailing, phone calls and generally hectic lives, it seems that there are never enough hours in a day. I agree with what George has said and there have been some very valid points made by others on this discussion. To me, it does not matter if some members come and go. Its the ones that see value in this site that will stay, contribute when they can and continue to appreciate the contributions made by active members. Thank you George for a great site and thanks to the members for helping me to come to terms with understanding Cone 6 firing. Still learning and always will be. :)

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Use These Links to Support Us

Low cost flat lapping disc can be used on you potters wheel if you, drill bat pin holes in it, and provide a trickle of water to cool it. At amazon.com, 120 grit for aggressive material removal. Click the image to purchase 

Members have had great things to say about John Britt's new book, Mid-Range Glazes. Click the image to buy from Amazon.com

Purchase Glazes Cone 6 by Michael Bailey, The Potters Book of Glaze Recipes by Emmanuel Cooper, or Making Marks by Robin Hopper, all available at amazon.comMastering Cone 6 Glazes by John Hesselberth & Ron Roy is now out of print.

Harbor Freight is a great place to find unbeatable prices for better HVLP spray guns with stainless steel parts and serviceable economy models, as well as detail guns, all tested by our members for spraying glazes, as well as compressors to power the guns. As yet no one has tested and commented on the remarkably inexpensive air brushes at harbor freight.

The critter siphon gun is a spray alternative that is well liked by some of our members, and is available at amazon.

Amazon is also a competitive source for photo light tents for shooting professional quality pictures of your work. They also have the EZ Cube brand favored by several of our members. You might also want to purchase the book Photographing Arts, Crafts and Collectibles . . .

If you are up to creating videos of your work or techniques you might want to invest in a flip video camera

Following are a few scales useful for potters. Your final price could be less or more - things change.

American Weigh Black Blade Digital Scale, 1000g X 0.1g $11.08 

For the non-digitally inclined the old standard Ohaus Triple Pro Mechanical Triple Beam Balance, 2610g x 0.1g, with Tare $169.00

And finally a low cost clone of the OHaus. The Adam Equipment TBB2610T Triple Beam Mechanical Balance With Tare Beam $99.62

ebay is a great alternative for many tools and the equipment used in the ceramics studio - kilns, wheels, extruders, slab rollers are often listed there both new and used.

Tips for Members

If you just want to spout off, it is best accomplished as a blog posting. If you want to get more guidance and ideas from other members, ask a question as a new discussion topic. In the upper right corner of the lists for both types of posting, you will find an "+Add " button. Clicking it will open an editor where you create your posting. 4/16/2014

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