Group Studio Managers


Group Studio Managers

This group is for those who have a hand in managing ceramic guilds, open studios, teaching studios, or want to expand their private studios to bring in another revenue stream. The struggle to stay afloat is a critical issue. Here you can consult with others who face the same challenges.

Members: 18
Latest Activity: Mar 15, 2018

Discussion Forum

Recommended electric potters wheels

Started by Lawrence Weathers. Last reply by Lawrence Weathers Mar 15, 2018. 14 Replies

My Shimpo M 400 just died. It may cost more to fix it than it's worth. What electric potters wheels are you folks most happy with?Continue

Protecting glazes in an open studio

Started by Donna Kat. Last reply by Donna Kat Mar 11, 2018. 6 Replies

I think one of the more expensive mishaps that can happen in an open studio is people ruining glazes by carelessness and/or not knowing what they are doing.  Since any member has access to an open…Continue

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Comment by Cyndy Littleton on November 18, 2014 at 10:54am

I went from a beginner potter in March of 2013 to manager of a studio in September of 2013. If it wasn't for Cone6pots website and youtube, I would have been dead in the water. The closest potter is over 30 miles and does not use electric kilns. 

Does anyone have some basic guidelines for studio use? I've seen some lengthy ones online, but really just looking for something that doesn't have 20-30 dos and do nots.

Comment by Brent Farler on November 18, 2014 at 1:22am
After with 3 failed firings in a row & finding both thermocouple wiring problem & relay problem I was curious how others approach kiln maintenance? I thought about replacing all relays on a schedule rather than waiting for a failure
Comment by Norm Stuart on March 17, 2014 at 2:57pm

I run a studio funded by a non-profit.  As with any company or group your biggest challenge is training your replacements.

The two people who ran this studio five years ago had done a terrific job, except for overlooking this small detail.  When they left, no one at the studio knew how to fire a kiln, make kiln wash, mix a glaze, deal with waste material, or virtually anything else dealing with running a studio.

Especially given the higher turn-over in a non-profit, my approach has been to train everyone who is willing to listen how to handle every aspect of running a studio - and letting them do this

I've uploaded our glaze recipes to the Insight-Live database and have a number of studio members who have joined this website to access our glaze recipes and hopefully get into the habit of looking to the larger ceramic community for solutions to problems.

The downside to my approach is, the managers of the funding non-profit and myself, have needed to be willing to accept a lot of mistakes, especially early on, until the group develops what I'd call a "herd memory".

When I was on holiday, a couple of people decided to push sagging kiln elements back into the element grooves.  They "knew" they needed to heat the elements red-hot with a blow-torch to do this as this is what I had taught them.  But they found our blow-torch out of gas, as people use it on the potters wheel as well.

Rather than buy another canister of gas and give the receipt to the non-profit for reimbursement, they decided to push the elements back into place "when the elements were still hot as the kiln cooled down." Only after the next firing failed to reach temperature did they realize that they had broken most of the kiln elements, costing $220 and a tremendous amount of work, in addition to belatedly purchasing a new tank of gas for the torch.

The members who replaced the elements wired the kiln wrong, requiring a visit from a kiln repairman to set right.

Some new batches of glazes inevitably look little like the originals as people learn how to weigh and familiarize themselves with the raw materials. Even though both containers were clearly labelled, members once used an acrylic plastic as kiln wash.  And other people's work has been ruined in the kiln as people gain personal experience loading and operating the kiln.

Unfortunately this is the price of learning in a volunteer setting.

If I were running a refinery these mistakes would be deadly and unacceptable.  The members would be paid well, would be given written tests prior to getting hands on experience, watched by experienced paid supervisors, and fired if they didn't follow directions.  But I'm not running a refinery or an organization with paid workers. So the price is accepting mistakes.

I've tried to set in place practices which minimize the resulting damage. Members can't make large quantities of glazes until they're proficient at making small quantities.  We use a kiln wash of 50% alumina hydrate and 50% kaolin so excess glaze runs can be lifted on the kiln shelves easily - at least when they use this kiln wash instead of plastic.  I have "cheat sheets" for running the kiln in the kiln log.

Over the past four years members have become more active supervising each other and catching each others mistakes as that "herd memory" develops.  In learning how to run a studio I have to remember I made errors myself.

Learning is a messy process, but I'm convinced this is the best approach for the long term viability of our ceramic studio.

Comment by denise a mendez on March 17, 2014 at 1:54pm

Hi All,

I own MIY Ceramics Studio in Hollywood Florida.  Our studio has been open for 7 years and counting.  Its origins go farther back, but I have run its current incarnation since 2007.   I used to do all the heavy lifting at the studio with a lot of volunteer help, but now my time is limited because I have a little one so I have entrusted my studio to be run by others.  I have been very lucky in having people find me who want to help and be part of the business, but now it seems some of those people are moving on and away!  So my current biggest question and concern is how to find someone who is passionate about pottery, trustworthy and looking to manage a studio ;).

I have done a lot of good's and bad's in the studio world so please feel free to ask me any questions.

My biggest secret to staying a float is to diversify, but not too far. 


Members (18)



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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, 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

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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