Expand The Art - A crowd funding initiative for new studio equipment

Expand The Art - A crowd funding initiative for new studio equipment

Since moving to Indianapolis in February of 2018 we’ve been expanding and growing the studio. The most exciting thing is that it’s all been done with micro-loans, minimal use of a business line of credit, some generous help from friends, upgrading from used equipment to new slowly as we can afford it and without going into deep debt. One of the biggest pitfalls I’ve seen over and again is production potters who grow too quickly, amass debt for the very expensive equipment we use then something happens and it all falls apart leaving them at ground zero with a lot of debt.

I don’t ever want to be in that position because that would prevent me from being able to bring all these other talented potters along on this journey with me. I bear a sense of responsibility to the rest of the team, not just myself. Even beyond that, there are bigger things I want to do like feeding the artists in our community and when they’re back on their feet continue working to prevent or at least minimize food insecurity in our community through outreach efforts.

As we’ve grown this year in our new space it has become clear that we need a back up pug mill for processing clay. It takes a big chunk of the day, every day, to wedge and reclaim clay. It is physically taxing and the repetitive stress to wrists, elbows and shoulders is simply unhealthy. Our primary pug mill is used daily for processing the dark clay we use in the studio, but now we’ve started working in multiple colors of clay which is really cool, but also very time consuming since we have to hand wedge those other colors. That’s a few hundred pounds a week of weighing and wedging.

What a pug mill would do for our studio is reduce the physical fatigue, allow us to continue alternating schedules during social distancing without one person being stuck with wedging all the clay for the week or each person spending a big chunk of their day doing it. The pug mill will do in half an hour what would take one of us 2-3 hours to wedge. Spending half an hour at the beginning of the day running some clay through a pug mill doesn’t sound like a bad way to start out each morning.

You still with me here? I know that’s a lot of background info about our process that isn’t all that exciting unless you’ve ever wedged clay for 3 hours.

Initially I planned to use my business line of credit to purchase a pugmill. The week I had planned to pull the trigger, the lender closed all lines of credit and completely switched their operations to only processing SBA loans to help small businesses access funding from the government programs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We all know how that turned out. My business was deemed too small for the loans and I was denied.

So with no line of credit available and no SBA loan, I applied for a couple of grants. One was denied because my business is too big. The next was denied because my business is too small. 

We fall into this weird in-between land where Gravesco Pottery has lost its line of credit as a result of the pandemic, yet is unable to receive any other funding or loans. 

That’s totally ok, though. I’m actually cool with that and after my initial frustration realized that I would be better off spending my time making and selling pots than filling out more loan applications that my lender said, “are a long shot.”

So that’s what brings us here today. We’re crowd funding this baby. Why not, right? More importantly, we’re pioneering this thing ourselves so we don’t have to pay a percentage to another site for hosting the crowd funding. This is straight up DIY, just the way we like it.

I’m not looking for one single hand out! Not one. I am, however, realizing that much like the artists we want to feed with our Feed The Artists initiative, I need to raise my hand and ask for some help, too.

Here’s the deal. This is how we are going to Expand The Art. Beginning April 26th, the purchase of every Artist’s Choice Mug for $25 will be used to fund our pugmill. With a goal of $3500, we only need to sell 140 mugs to reach that goal! That’s totally doable.

It’s a win-win situation. You get a one of a kind mug chosen by the artists and we get a pugmill without paying interest or filling out even more loan paperwork.

It’s ok if you’re not in a position to buy a mug right now, too. We totally get that! Every time you share our posts about the #expandtheart Artists’ Choice Mugs and tag us on social media we’re going to enter you in a drawing to win a large Artists’ Choice Serving Bowl once we reach our goal. You can use it for fruit as a centerpiece, to let your dough rise if you’re out there baking bread during the shelter-in-place, to serve a great big salad or whatever the heck strikes your fancy!

So what do you think? Are you in? Can you help us crowd fund this new pugmill, save some potters’ wrists and make it a little easier for us to keep making pottery and keep feeding the artists of Indianapolis?


If you want to see a pug mill in use we explain it and do a little demo on this Wish TV spot with Dick Wolfsie.

And just for fun, here is a little video from yesterday, throwing bowls for the Feed The Artists initiative.


UPDATE!!!: as of 4/30 we are 50% of the way to our goal of $3500 for purchasing a pugmill! Thank you to everyone who has been shopping and sharing. We’re SO CLOSE!

UPDATE!!!: It’s 5/5 and we are only 20 mugs away from our final goal of $3500 for purchasing a pugmill!!!!! Thank you to everyone who has been shopping and sharing! WE. ARE. SO. CLOSE!

Update on shipping: The first batch of mugs is in the kiln and will be shipped this week!

UPDATE!!! It’s 5/10 and we ordered the pugmill! Thank you to everyone who purchased an Artist’s Choice mug and helped us #expand the art!!! We are still a few mugs short (I forgot to figure in the sales tax) so if you’d like to help, we’d love to send you an artist choice mug to get us over the last hump!



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