John Baymore at River Bend Pottery

River Bend Pottery   © 1995 - 2011 All Rights reserved



Potters and computers

The physical hookup of the system is quite simple, but both the RAM connection and the cables leave something to be desired.  To keep from losing information because of loose connections, glue the rubber feet of the computer to a large piece of Plexiglas or wood and tape down the cable; then wedge a thin piece of plastic under the RAM unit to tip it toward the computer.



It Can't Fire The Kiln.....Or Can It?


The first question people ask about my computer usually pertains to zapping aliens.  While some very good software is available for the TS1000, it is not a very good game machine.  Some limitations in display circuitry make the action slow and the graphics coarse.  But you don't need color, high-resolution graphics, and fast display action for the following pottery business applications:


Database Management:  Think about record keeping in your studio - boxes, bags, and filing cabinets full of glaze and clay formulas, gallery contacts, inventories of stock in various stores, mailing lists, library records, ware sizes and weights, etc.  Filing software will allow you to store a huge amount of information on a single C-60 cassette, and to manipulate the input - finding, sorting, adding, and deleting data in seconds.  A general program such as "The Organizer", also called "Vu-File" (approximately $15), will handle a wide range of filing needs.


Financial Records and Projections:  How long does it take you to do your end-of-the-month books?  Software can make this chore much easier, and will let you store records much more compactly.  Checkbook programs are great; just hit the "sort by payee" cod, type in the account name or number and complete information on all checks sent to that name in the past year will be displayed.  


There is software available to do the entire IRS 1040 for and all schedules.  Because information can be quickly updated, it will help you plan tax strategies; change an entry and see the net result in your tax liability.  By the way, don't forget to deduct the entire cost your computer system on your depreciation schedule.


Data Processing and Analysis:  Many businesses have a lot of cash flow but aren't making much money.  Sometimes the overall financial picture is hard to see; there is just too much information to sort through.  With a financial analysis package you don't have to be an expert at financial planning.  It can identify which galleries or items are making or losing money for you.  It will let you know the exact financial status of your business, and can suggest the best changes for you to make.


If you do a lot of clay and glaze testing, the computer can free you for the more creative aspects of such work.  You spend your time deciding what to do with a large amount of information, not in doing math.  For example, the program near the end of the article is capable of generating thousands of formulas in an orderly way.  How long would that take you?  Once you understand how the Software1program works, you can adjust it to meet your specifications.

I have written software which generates not only an orderly sequence of unified molecular formulas, but also the batch formula for each glaze; programs which let the user enter a batch formula and returns the molecular formula, on that takes the input of any molecular formula and gives the batch formula, and one that even finds the trends in molecular formulas based on observed results.  I also have one that compares two different firing curves (or groups of curves) to find precise differences and the cause of defects.



By John Baymore

Originally published in Ceramics Monthly magazine, December 1983