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potters' guilds

updated sat 31 aug 96


James Dapogny on fri 9 aug 96

Hi Keith,
Thanks for your note and kind words. Yes, the fair was exhausting and (in
Dick Aerni's words) uplifting!.. Mainly, I'm glad it's over.
Our Potters Guild (Ann Arbor) is 46 years old and I would be delighted to
tell you anything about it that might help. Come to think of it, other
people in newer guilds or thinking about starting one might be interested
also, so I won't just respond to your personal E-mail address. I know that
our guild has served as a prototype for quite a number of newer ones.
In a nutshell: Basically, we have 40 members (not all active) and our
membership is by invitation -- space limitations play a large role of
course; otherwise we are always looking at talent, creativity, spirit of
cooperativeness (since we are a cooperative), and general "fit" within the
Interested people apply to become students (we have a 1-2 year waiting
list); once in, they can continue for 4 terms (18 weeks) if they are making
pots, fitting in, etc. Once a year, qualified potters are eligible to
apply for our "guest" or "adjunct" membership by presenting a show (in our
building) of their pots and filling out a form. This adjunct membership has
now become a two-year membership (previously only one) and includes some
requirements such as learning to stack kilns and fire bisque, as well as
showing growth in making pots. Later, they are eligible to apply for
permanent membership which requires 3/4 positive vote of membership.
We own our building which includes a general working room with a number of
wheels and slab tables, glazing space including spray booth,individual
shelf area, wet room which also includes our pugger and dry mixer, an
additional room for storage of materials for clay-making and glazes, and a
kiln room which includes two gas kilns and one electic.
We have a tried and many-times-modified-and-tested point system which
basically means that we all have to earn every cubic inch we fire in the
glaze kiln. There are various and assorted point allotments for different
tasks involved in making the guild work. Everybody has to do assigned
weekend cleaning (3 to a weekend) including general surface cleaning, clay
trap, bathroom, and wet-vacing.
Also everyone has to make clay and this is figured on the number of cubic
inches each person fires. I make a lot of pots, so I usually have to make
clay about 17-18 times a year!
We have 3 clay bodies (stoneware, white stoneware, and porcelain) and
rotate these.
Our dues (over $300) permit firing 40,000 cubic inches a year; anyone
firing more than this (not uncommon) has to pay overlimit point fees.
We have two sales a year (December andx June) at our facility. In
addition, those members who really like to suffer the heat and hard work
can be in our collective display at the art fair.
Re credit cards: we accept credit cards but do not use a phone hookup on
the street. We do the inputting back at the guild several times a day as

Keith, I will keep your note and try to figure out what glaze you are
interested in when I have my glaze notebook with me, and will send it.

Thanks for your interest. All for now, Gail (Dapogny) in Ann Arbor

>Hi Gail,
> Thanks for responding to the Clayart request of posting your
>location at the Street Fair. I stopped by your guild's booth a couple of
>times but always seemed to have missed you. It's too bad I didn't get to
>meet you- next year! I want to compliment you on your work, it is very
>nice. I especially like the carving that you do. Your guild has some
>talented people! I don't know how you people do it, the fair is enormous!
>This was my first time up and I must say that I was completely overwhelmed.
>It was definitely sensory overload. I can't even begin to imagine what it
>is like on your end with all the work that is obviously involved in getting
>together a booth etc. Congratulations on that feat!
> I am a member of a guild in Akron, OH. We are less than a year old
>and are feeling our way through this. I was surprised by the fact that
>your guild was accepting credit cards. We have yet to establish a checking
>account. How has your guild been set up so that you can do this? Do you
>have a large membership? I'd like to ask you more about your guild's
>structure if you are willing, let me know.
>Keith Chervenak