Mark Stedman | Episode 868
After a twenty-year layoff, in 2019 Mark Stedman had the opportunity to buy out a retiring potter’s studio. Suddenly Mark’s home was full of glazes, kiln, wheel, and clay. Now Mark spends evening and weekend hours on his back patio teaching, creating, and firing work for himself and friends.
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How long did it take for someone to take you up on the offer of renting your kiln?
I probably put it on the web in early 2020 and it was very slow. It was very occasional that someone would fill out the contact us form on the website and come over and bring a shelf-full of work or whatever, but I enjoyed it. It was fun to meet other potters and be part of their journey and stuff and so it was kind of fun and it would help fill my loads, you know, if I didn’t have a full load. Then in 2021 it started to pick up more consistently and 2022 it is very steady. I fire twice a week.
Do you advertise only on your website?
It’s mostly my website and then it’s on Kilnshare, so shout out to Kilnshare. I don’t know how many people come from there but some do. I also occasionally will put it on Instagram that I am going to fire if I don’t have a full load. And I also have a bit of a mailing list with fifty or one hundred potters and I will just shoot an email out saying, Hey, Saturday’s load is not full if you want to get some work in there.
How did you go about setting your prices?
Yeah, I looked at other sites, you know, I googled around looked at other places and of course other geographic locations really aren’t a good comparison because costs are different, but it was sort of a guideline. And I worked up pricing I thought was fair. I did just raise my prices because I just replaced my elements and I realized I don’t charge enough.
If you are loading the kiln and there is damage to the shelf how do you charge them if you are the person loading?
I didn’t glaze it and I’m not the one who didn’t tell me it was low-fire. I had a really good run for a few years where I had no incidents at all and then I had a miscommunication with someone who forgot to tell me their glaze load was low-fire and I am sure you know what that looks like. Thankfully the customer took complete responsibility for it and replaced five shelves.
Has it been hard for you to fit your own work into the kiln?
It’s not. I mean whatever work I have I can always block out a firing for me. It’s really funny, sometimes it’s really busy and other times I have no one to fire and then all of a sudden I have eight loads stacked up on the schedule.
Which do you like better when you are helping people, firing their pots or teaching them how to make a pot?
Making pots for sure. Yeah. It is a lot of fun to work with artists who are progressing on their own and I see their work over time and I’ve helped them get launched. I have a customer who just told me she bought a kiln, which is a little sad because I won’t get to see them to often any more but seeing them move into success is really gratifying for me.