Sunday, October 21, 2007

Safety, Setting Up , and Location of your Kiln

After you have decided on the right kiln for your particular needs to start your Ceramic Handprint business the next step is choosing the location for your kiln to be safely set up. This kiln manufacturers instructions will guide you with the safety requirements for your kiln. This manual will come with your kiln. If you purchased a used kiln, then you can write to the kiln manufacturer and request a copy be sent to you for your particular model of kiln. Or, you can often find out about your kiln on line as well. Always read, understand, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Our first kiln was set up in our garage close to our existing electric dryer. We had a qualified electrician add another plug for us following the kiln manufacturer's requirements. This kiln location worked great for us because our clay workspace was close by. Having your kiln close to your workspace is important because you will be transporting your clay hand prints over and over. This makes it easy for you to keep a watch on your kiln during the firing and also keep the kiln space secure while it is in use. You can build shelves to store your kiln furniture and supplies. It is best to keep your kiln shelves and kiln furniture off the floor. Build them close to your kiln for ease of use.

Your garage can work great for your kiln space and work studio. Remember to read and follow the kiln manufacturer's instructions on safety and specific requirements. Have a licensed electrician install your kiln for you following the manufacturer's instructions. It doesn't take a lot of room to create a convenient workspace and safe kiln area for this clay hand print business.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tips on Purchasing Your Kiln

Tips on choosing the type of kiln you are looking for were covered in my last article. This time let's talk about the purchase of your kiln. This is a very important decision when you are starting you new ceramic hand print home-based business, doing baby and children's ceramic hand prints, and even pet prints! To help you produce the highest quality clay hand prints you must have a dependable kiln. Now, the decision is whether to purchase a new kiln or a used kiln.

The benefits of buying a new kiln are easy to think of. Let's mention a few that might not come so quickly to mind. The biggest improvement available in new kilns is the new programmable firing controls. This design has made firing much more user friendly and convenient for home studio use. Once you set up the firing program, these new kilns will allow you to fire your work repeatedly, safely, and reliably. They can also be set up to fire in a way that conveniently fits your time requirements and life style. Many new kilns also include new safety features that simply were not available a few years ago.

When I started this baby hand print business over 30 years ago, I was not able to afford a new electric kiln. I was however, able to locate a used kiln that would work for my needs. This kiln had the right electrical requirements, size, and it fit my budget. The next questions was did it work? The first test I used was to keep the kiln lid open, and simply turn all the controls on high and watch the electric cols from the bottom to the top for 20 to 30 minutes. (They should all glow the same color and continue to get hotter evenly). Now, you know that the elements are at least working. The lid and bottom of the kiln should be in fair shape, and the electric coils all where they belong. Any and all of these problems can be repaired with money, time, and know-how, but must be added into the total cost of a used kiln. On the plus side, most used kilns do come with some kiln furniture and this will be a savings for you.

I bought my used kiln for a good price, and it worked great for me for many years. It allowed me to get my ceramic handprint business started at a low cost, generate the extra income that I wanted, and in time, purchase a new kin for my business.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hints and Tips on Kilns

When you are starting your ceramic handprint business the biggest equipment investment you will have may be your kiln. It is important to know what you are looking for when purchasing a kiln. The following hints are to help you with what to research and look for.

You first consideration is where are you going to put your kiln; in your garage, studio, workplace, etc. Think safety (concrete floor), convenience (close to your work space), and the kiln's electric power requirements. Typically an electric hobby kiln will need a minimum 220 volts of power with a 30-50 amp breaker. A qualified electrician should always be consulted regarding your exact wiring requirements that you need to have in your home or studio.

The type of kiln you might look for depends on several considerations. First, make sure of the electrical requirements of the kiln. Will it work with your existing wiring? Second, the size of the kiln. Get what fits you best. Too large of a kiln may take too long to build up enough work to fill it. Too small of a kiln may not give you the flexibility to fire your larger work. Third, consider the shapes of the kiln, (round, square, etc.). Will the kiln fit your work? Is it safe, easy and convenient for you to load and unload with the shape and dimensions you decide on? Forth, consider the type of firing controls (manual switches, the number of them, computer programmed firing, and safety features) available from the kiln manufacturer. Fifth, consider other options that include venting systems, sectional kilns, lid lifting systems and kiln construction methods.

Do your research in the early stages of your ceramic business start up plan to prevent problems later. Often this information can be found by reading the kiln manufacturers specifications, which are found on their Web sites. You may also want to talk to other ceramic studio owners and artists who are currently using kilns and have first hand experience.

Friday, August 31, 2007

My Background

I have been working in clay since 1970. I took my first pottery class in college (UC Berekeley), and knew that pottery was going to be my profession in life. I met my husband who also was a ceramic artist, and together we have built our lives making ceramic art, teaching ceramics, and building our ceramic handprinting business to what it is today. We have owned and operated our ceramic studio, The Full Moon Studio and Gallery, in Morro Bay, California, since 1974.

Our Ceramic Handprint Business brought in the extra income that we needed to live in our beautiful seaside community, raise our daughter and spend quality time with her, as well as continue to create our one-of-a-kind sculpture pieces.

There was such a tremendous interest from our "Pawprint" clients who wanted to start their own clay handprint business that we began our ceramic handprint training program to make baby, children, and even pet clay prints. The success of our in studio one-to-one training program proved to us that we were able to train clients who had no prior experience in clay. Bascially, it takes paying attention to detail, and enjoying working with babies, kids, and families.

What we realized is that not everyone was able to come for our personalized in studio training. So, we have created a Home Study training program for those people (moms, dads, families, and pottery studio owners) that want to learn at their own pace in the comfort of their own home or studio. Our baby handprint and footprint Home Study Program is an instructional one hour and 45 minute step-by-step DVD and 21 chapter comprehensive easy to follow manual that details exactly how to make these ceramic baby handprints and helps get your business up and running from start to finish. We offer technical support for both training options.