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claydog

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Everything posted by claydog

  1. I had back surgery six weeks ago to remove portions of a ruptured disk in my lumber (lower back) region. Surgeon says I have two adjacent disks that are degenerating and may rupture if I don't change my ways! Problem is throwing in a sitting position, bent over the wheel. I need to re-learn how to throw while standing. I have access to classes at my local community center, but they have neither a table-top wheel nor an instructor who feels confident in that position. Any videos or books you recommend that deal with this topic? Or artists that use this throwing position? Any tips on converting/raising my Brent Model B to table height are also appreciated.
  2. Chantay, I'll check out John Britt. Can't believe I hadn't already thought to check out YouTube! Maybe I'll find some other "standers" out there. CarlCravens, thanks for the information about the mirror. Sounds like a great idea! I agree--it's a tool, not a crutch. I don't understand the attitude of some potters; it's a sore spot for me. If a mirror is a crutch, then a potter's wheel is total cheating! It's not a crutch to use every available technology. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with going back to pinch pots and wood firing. Let's all respect each other's choices! Thanks everyone, ClayDog
  3. Thanks everyone for the great feedback! I guess misery loves company; hearing from others who have the same problem makes me feel better, though I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I haven't thrown in months due to the back pain, so I'm out of practice anyway. I'm going to try setting my wheel up for a standing position and see how that goes. Might as well try to "relearn" in that position! Oh, and I want one of those "can't vacuum" notes, too!!
  4. Beautiful! I've always loved finding places like that. It's fun to peel up the chunks and cup them in my hand, if they're small. Thanks again for the information!
  5. Hello Min, Thank you for the link to John Glick's article; saved me the trouble of searching for it. I read it completely. Sounds like my life history, except now there are MRIs for imaging disc problems instead of CAT scans. My laminectomy/discectomy was at L4/L5, which Glick says is the usual problem for potters. I know I weakened mine through constant abuse, in all of the ways Glick describes. L5/Sacrum is not looking good, nor is L3/L4, so I'm hoping to keep those intact. (I'm 58 and rode horses and motorcycles, too!) I have two top-loading kilns: one small ancient Skutt 180 I use for glaze testing, and a Skutt KM-1027 for larger loads. I'd love to get a front load but not in the budget right now, especially after paying the surgery bills! Lighter shelves for the 1027 will probably be my next step. Regarding the standing position, did you have much trouble getting over having your elbows on your thighs? That's how I learned, and switching seems like it would be difficult. What was your experience? Did you teach yourself or have coaching? I've been doing a lot of hand building since surgery. My husband lifts the clay for me. I can stand and walk all I want, just no twisting or bending. I really have to watch the urge to twist sideways to look as I'm working. With the pain gone it's easy to forget. In a couple more weeks I'll have fewer restrictions. Thanks again for your reply. ClayDog PS - Nice crackle glaze in your photo. Your own recipe or commercially available? I love crackles.
  6. Thank you, John, for your feedback and advice. I agree that ergonomics are not usually addressed at all. I have had formal throwing instruction from a handful of qualified individuals, and only one of those said anything about repetitive injury potential. My "real job" as an engineering/computing specialist led to many hours at the keyboard and resultant wrist injuries, so I am all too familiar with that. I hope to find a balance, perhaps even shifting from a standing to a sitting position on alternate days or whatever I can easily rig up. At this point I am only a hobby potter so production pressures don't exist for me and I can rest when I need to. I will look into John Glick and Studio Potter magazine. Thanks again, ClayDog
  7. Is there a forum or bulletin board where members can post equipment for sale? Thanks, Jean
  8. I quit using antiseptic soaps and cleaners about ten years ago. I have had way fewer colds, though of course I can't say for sure it is because of changing soaps. Antiseptics do harm in the water supply, killing beneficial bacteria and other organisms. Once you remove those beneficial bacteria, other things move in that are more resistant to being killed, and those things can be bad for you. I remember back in the 80's when the first e-coli outbreaks occurred with hamburger meat. A study revealed that e-coli was taking over work surfaces in meat grinding plants because the use of bleach and other antiseptic cleaners was wiping out the benign bacteria. The e-coli was more resistant to the antiseptics, so it populated the work surfaces now devoid of the benign stuff.
  9. New Work Table

    I LOVE the idea of TYVEK on the table top! I am going to replace my canvas with that right away!! And your ideas for creating handy storage for tools are much appreciated. You're right--my table top shrinks to nothing when I am working because I scatter tools all over the work surface, then go crazy when I have to search for something. I'd love to see photos of your studio; I'm sure you've been smart and creative in your use of space. Have you ever done a video tour of your studio? That would be great too. Also, it occurs to me that TYVEK does not stretch like canvas so it is much easier to apply and keep tight on the tabletop.
  10. New Work Table

    I like 3/4 inch MDF as a work surface. I also wedge on it. It has held up well for over a year in my home studio, however, it might deteriorate in a busier teaching studio environment. When I set up my own studio 7 years ago, I built tables using instructions from Peter King's "Architectural Ceramics for the Studio Potter" book. Here's a link with a photo: http://books.google.com/books?id=1YPJSKwmgZwC&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=peter+king+work+table&source=bl&ots=EHHs0lYONE&sig=Cvv41DTYtOGiCP8ZTSWWCVmP1bU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DSuQT6yAJeWiiQLz4u28Aw&ved=0CHgQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=peter%20king%20work%20table&f=false These tables are easy and cheap to build, and modular so you can clamp them together in different configurations. I love them!! I didn't end up putting casters on mine but if you do, pay for the heavy duty ones. Puny ones won't hold up at all, especially if you load the lower shelves with clay and plaster molds like I do.
  11. Shoulder Tendonitis/Bursitis

    Take action now, don't wait. I encourage you to 1) get an MRI of your shoulder so you can really find out what is going on, and 2) seek physical therapy/rehab before considering surgery. And definitely get a second opinion before having any kind of surgery. The shoulder is an extremely complex joint so be careful who you let hack on it! At the very least you need to rest your shoulder by laying off the wedging and throwing for a while. Believe me, that is a way better option that getting to where I am now! I am past 50 and have lost half the cartilage in my right shoulder. Cartilage on the joint surface does not grow back. I started having shoulder pain in my early 30s. I used to just ignore the pain and keep on going, and that's why I have all the damage now. Now I am looking at a total shoulder replacement in five years, or sooner--whenever I just can't stand the pain anymore. I can't wedge or throw without extreme discomfort, so hand building is what I do. I love it, but I miss having the full range of creative options. NSAIDs are not a good long-term solution because they are extremely hard on your liver. In hindsight I really wish I had sought the help of a physical therapist early on. I have learned that usually chronic pain like that is caused by a combination of repetitive motion, unrelieved muscle tightness and lack of flexibility. Think about how much time you spend in a position with both arms in front of you, squeezing your chest together, putting pressure upwards into your shoulder joint. There are lots of exercises and stretches you can learn from a physical therapist that will help you combat the problem--BEFORE you lose basic joint integrity like I have. In some states, like my own of Idaho, it is NOT necessary to see a doctor before you see an OT or PT. But I recommend that you see a shoulder specialist first so you can get the imaging necessary to know what is happening inside your shoulder. Xrays will not show soft tissue damage effectively; an MRI is the best option, but if you're young you'll have to insist on that to get it. (Wish I had insisted!!!) If you're not sure what doctors are good in your area, call around to the PT/OT offices and ask for recommendations. They know who is good and whose patients recover more quickly.
  12. Shoulder Tendonitis/Bursitis

    Take action now, don't wait. I encourage you to 1) get an MRI of your shoulder so you can really find out what is going on, and 2) seek physical therapy/rehab before considering surgery. And definitely get a second opinion before having any kind of surgery. The shoulder is an extremely complex joint so be careful who you let hack on it! At the very least you need to rest your shoulder by laying off the wedging and throwing for a while. Believe me, that is a way better option that getting to where I am now! I am past 50 and have lost half the cartilage in my right shoulder. Cartilage on the joint surface does not grow back. I started having shoulder pain in my early 30s. I used to just ignore the pain and keep on going, and that's why I have all the damage now. Now I am looking at a total shoulder replacement in five years, or sooner--whenever I just can't stand the pain anymore. I can't wedge or throw without extreme discomfort, so hand building is what I do. I love it, but I miss having the full range of creative options. NSAIDs are not a good long-term solution because they are extremely hard on your liver. In hindsight I really wish I had sought the help of a physical therapist early on. I have learned that usually chronic pain like that is caused by a combination of repetitive motion, unrelieved muscle tightness and lack of flexibility. Think about how much time you spend in a position with both arms in front of you, squeezing your chest together, putting pressure upwards into your shoulder joint. There are lots of exercises and stretches you can learn from a physical therapist that will help you combat the problem--BEFORE you lose basic joint integrity like I have.
  13. Hello to any friend or patron of Scott's place. I don't post personal details online. Perhaps we have already met. To answer your question I am a transplant but have been in Boise for almost 20 years. Great place to live and do clay.

  14. Whiny butt

    Hi Dharsi-- I re-read your e-mail and realized you already had the pyrometer. Awesome! When I was test firing my kiln, I took a temperature reading every hour or so and recorded it. Later I was able to enter the data in Excel and make graphs showing the temperature rise inside the kiln over the period of the firing. Comparing these graphs to the ones in Zakin, I was able to fine-tune my firing schedule to get the temperature ramp I needed for various clay and glaze combinations. I don't record the detail data anymore, unless I'm doing something new, but I can always refer back to my charts for what is "normal behavior" for my kiln. When my firing times start to lengthen, I can usually tell which element is failing if I've recorded the temperature data. Fun, if a bit geeky. :-) I confess to an engineering background. There are paperback copies of the Zakin book for $30 new on Amazon. I guarantee you'll like it--he includes clay and glaze recipes and kiln repair along with lots of other great information in an interesting-to-look-at package. Looking forward to hearing about your forays into cone 6. Oh, and Ceramic Arts Daily has the Zakin book for $30. That's where I got mine! If you're a Potter's Council member you get a discount from that.
  15. Whiny butt

    Hi Dharsi-- I re-read your e-mail and realized you already had the pyrometer. Awesome! When I was test firing my kiln, I took a temperature reading every hour or so and recorded it. Later I was able to enter the data in Excel and make graphs showing the temperature rise inside the kiln over the period of the firing. Comparing these graphs to the ones in Zakin, I was able to fine-tune my firing schedule to get the temperature ramp I needed for various clay and glaze combinations. I don't record the detail data anymore, unless I'm doing something new, but I can always refer back to my charts for what is "normal behavior" for my kiln. When my firing times start to lengthen, I can usually tell which element is failing if I've recorded the temperature data. Fun, if a bit geeky. :-) I confess to an engineering background. There are paperback copies of the Zakin book for $30 new on Amazon. I guarantee you'll like it--he includes clay and glaze recipes and kiln repair along with lots of other great information in an interesting-to-look-at package. Looking forward to hearing about your forays into cone 6.
  16. Whiny butt

    Dharsi - I also have a KS1027 which is a 1996 model. I have seven years experience firing it. I am not an expert, but I have learned a few things over time. I completely agree with responder neilestrick that there is very little reason to fire cone 10 in oxidation. I suspect you are aiming for cone 10 because that is what you were exposed to in school or wherever, where they had a big gas kiln for reduction firings. If what you are doing truly requires cone 10 work in oxidation then you are among an extremely small group of ceramic artists. So small, in fact, that you won't find many (any?) clay and glaze vendors advertising cone 10 materials for the oxidation environment. I'm not saying it is the wrong thing to do; I'm just saying it is not something you will find a lot of information about because most people don't do it. There are reasons for that. Different materials (clays and glazes) are good for different things because of their different physical properties. Different kilns are good at different things because of their design. With existing materials and kiln technology, you are facing a huge challenge in trying to achieve a cone 10 reduction look in an electric kiln. (If that is what you are after.) It's sort of like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. Seriously. It can be done, but it's very, very hard. Okay, that being said, let me make some suggestions that I hope will help you with your frustration: 1) Get a pyrometer. Witness cones are great, but they only tell you a story after the firing is done. A pyrometer is a device that measures the temperature in the kiln and displays that temperature on a dial or screen. A cheap ($80 or so) analog pyrometer will do just fine, though you can spend a lot more. I bought mine at the local caly store here in Boise (The Potter's Center), and I don't know how I lived without it. It's extremely easy to install; the KS1027 already has an opening in the outer steel skin for the probe. All you have to do is drill a little hole through the soft fire bricks, stick the probe in the hole and mount the gauge on the wall near the kiln. A cheap pyrometer isn't a precision device; it will be off by 100F +/-, but this is a pretty small error at 2400F. (Oh, BTW, make sure the pyrometer you buy has the temperature range capability you need.) Believe me, this is the best bang for your buck when it comes to getting the results you want from your kiln. It will teach you so much about what is happening during firing! 2) Read Chapter 2, Chapter 4 and Chapter 8 (at least) of Richard Zakin's book "Electric Kiln Firing". This will help you understand the basics of how oxidation environment materials (clays and glazes) work, and the best methods for firing your electric kiln. (Skutt is a great company but they really don't tell you everything you need to know in the kiln manual.) It is important to understand that how long it takes to reach final temperature depends on your firing schedule--how quickly or slowly you are ramping up to temperature. Clay and glazes mature according to the amount of work--energy applied over time--that is put into them during the firing process. I could spend two days getting to cone 6 if I wanted to be very very gentle in bringing my piece to maturity, or I could spend as little as six hours in the KS1027 getting to cone 6 if I thought my piece could take that kind of stress--not recommended. So when you ask, "How long should it take to get to cone 10 in my KS1027", I say, "It depends on your firing schedule." How long are you spending with elements on low, on medium, on high? What is the rate of temperature rise in your kiln? (Can't answer that one with witness cones.) When I fire to cone 6 with Laguna's Buff Sculpture clay I generally take a total of 12 hours to get there--3 hours ramping all three elements to low, then two hours at medium, then the remainder on high until the KS trips. Buff Sculpture has a lot of grog, so it can take a relatively quick ramp up to temperature. If I'm firing cone 6 porcelain, I generally use Richard Zakin's two-day firing schedule (page 255) with a long overnight preheat. That firing schedule takes almost 24 hours to get to cone 6. Going to cone 10 using any firing schedule will take a lot longer than going to cone 6, of course. In short, only 12 hours for cone 10 sounds way to short to me. 3) Ask yourself if you really need to work at cone 10 to get the results you want. There are a huge variety of materials out there with almost limitless possibilities for creativity at lower firing temperatures. Don't let people with "cone 10 bias" persuade you that cone 6 or lower is somehow not good enough for a "true artist". (I have found this bias very prevalent and am quite baffled by the attitude.) Great artists are not defined by temperature ranges and atmospheric conditions in a kiln. I am not a great artist but there are many great artists who use the same materials and work at the same temperature range as I do. I choose to work in cone 5/6 because I like the results I get for the type of work that I do. My dinnerware is dishwasher safe, and I have outdoor sculptural work that has been exposed to the Idaho climate for over a decade without any noticeable decay. I had people, even one university professor, tell me I couldn't do those things unless I worked at cone 10. Not true. Just look at the photos in Zakin's book (and others) and I think you'll agree. An added bonus of working at lower temperatures is that you are using a lot less energy. In fact some universities and large studios have moved to lower temperatures to save money. 4) Finally, don't give up. Firing a kiln, just like throwing or slabbing or doing anything else worthwhile, requires practice and experimentation. But firing doesn't have to be a mystery full of surprises. Yes, there are a lot of variables, but the process is understandable by anyone. And it can be very predictable once you get to know your materials and your kiln. With experience you can achieve consistently good results. Be patient with yourself and do lots of experimenting. Including, of course, firing your KS1027 at cone 10 if you want. You may teach the rest of us some new tricks! Sincerely, ClayDog
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