Hi, I'm Lori Watts, owner of Fine Mess Pottery. Thanks for viewing my Kickstarter project.
I am designing a new line of pottery, that will be beautiful, functional, and save fuel by firing to a lower temperature than traditional stoneware.
I'm calling it Sweet Life, and it's inspired by candy and desserts, by flowers and vines, by striped silk circus tents, and all the beautiful and frivolous things that make life sweet. Stripes and dots and swirls will adorn it, and brilliant, flowing glazes; this will be pottery that proclaims that this is a joyful occasion. Even if it's just your morning coffee. Because life is mostly everyday things. If we make those more joyful, we've improved the whole thing.
I designed and built my kiln two years ago, brick by brick. I load it up every two or three weeks with the pots I've made, and fire them until the glaze melts. Near the end of the firing, I introduce a mixture of baking soda, soda ash, wood curls, and water, which volatilizes into a vapor that then creates a glaze in the kiln. The soda vapor glaze, as it's called, introduces a random element to the finished work, because surprises are part of the joy of life, too.
Here's the best part: I am designing my new glazes, and reformulating some old ones, to fire to a lower temperature. Lower temperature means:
- Less propane. About 30% of the fuel is used in the last 100° of the firing. Less fossil fuel consumed is a win for the environment!
- Less cost. Propane is my number one expense. Savings in this area make my business much more viable.
- More colors available. The higher the temperature, the more coloring minerals burn out. Lower temperature means more color options.
- Still hot enough to create durable, utilitarian stoneware: ovenproof and dishwasher safe.
- The new line will share many colors and shapes with my current work, but be use less fuel to produce
Since I share everything I learn with students, workshop participants, and potters on the web, they can benefit, too. It's good for me, good for other potters, and good for the environment. And YOU can make it happen.
But pottery is artwork that is only complete once it is in use! Once the line is designed, I've got to get it to the users. Toward that end, I will be traveling to art fairs, stores, and galleries to market the work across the country, as well as on the web.
I'll need clay and glaze materials, and propane, and I'll need to build an art fair display booth and redesign my website,and some money for travel. I set my goal for $3850, because that's the minimum I need, but if I get $4500, I will replace my old kiln shelves and buy more shelf supports, making my firings more efficient and kiln maintenance easier.
I hope you'll consider funding my project. I have some great rewards for funders, from original design sketches, to ice cream sundae dishes, to your name fired onto a kiln brick, a part of every subsequent firing.
But, Lori, you didn't budget any salary for yourself into the project! How's that going to work?
I offer a couple of classes at a nearby teaching studio. That, and selling existing inventory will get me through the duration of the project.
Risks and challenges
So, what could go wrong?
Not much, actually. Oh, there will be setbacks: some of the glazes will not turn out as expected; some claybodies will crack or warp or just not look nice with the soda vapor glaze. Surprises are part of the process. But as far as actual potential obstacles...well, I could get sick or injured, I guess. But pottery is my vocation and my calling, and I would have to be incapacitated to prevent my working.
It could take longer than expected to develop the glazes. I have a pretty good idea of the changes I need to make to existing glazes to get the colors I want at the new temperature, but ceramic processes can surprise you, as I am always learning. I plan to try a variety of approaches in each test firing to ensure that some will succeed.
The one serious risk lies in the design of the kiln. Like many kilns, it fires unevenly at lower temperatures, and then evens out as it climbs. I have some ideas how to address this but it's possible - not likely, but possible - that despite best efforts, I won't be able to even it out at the new, lower temperature. If that happens, I will adjust my firings to Cone 8 instead of Cone 6 - still a saving of 60° and a substantial savings in fuel and costs.It already evens out by the time I reach Cone 8, so that will solve the problem. In no case will this impact the thank you gifts.
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