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Everything posted by Benzine

  1. Heads up, to anyone looking for a kiln on the East Coast.  Govdeal.com  has a good looking Skutt, with a digital controller.  The bids are currently low, and will likely jump, but worth looking into.  I nearly got a kiln off the same site, a couple years ago, for between 3-400.  I lost it last second.  

    There is also one listed on the same site, that is about an hour away from me.  It is listed as "Not working", but might be worth it for me pursue.  It does look as if there is some damage to the bottom bricks, possible an extreme glaze mess!

  2. Benzine

    Up to what temp can I vent?

    Pres, I remember you mentioning that table before. It actually made me want to make my own, with a wood frame, some peg board and box fan. I haven't done it yet, but definitely might! You know how it goes, tons of ideas, for ways to improve the classroom, but only so much time.
  3. Benzine

    Why make functional ware?

    Have you tried one of those small scrub brushes?... Hehe The thing is, there are no doubt things, that those men are passionate about, that they wouldn't question for a second, or be willing to spend good money on. "Pfff, what kind of idiot pays $30 for a stupid mug?!... Ah shoot, I got some scuff marks on my $300 dollar limited edition sneakers..." Now in regards to the topic. I personally make functional ware, because each thing I make is a one of a kind item, that didn't exist before, and never will again... Unless we get into the infinite timeline/ Universe and Quantum Mechanics discussion, in which every conceivable possibility exists somewhere... But that might be a bit heavy for this early in the day. A one of a kind, handmade item, is the reason, people still buy handmade ceramic wares, and Art of any type. We have cameras/ digital creation tools, yet people still draw and paint. Heck, we have digital cameras, but people still shoot film, and print in the darkroom! The final product might be similar, but the process is just as important. What does industry do better? Do they create greater quantity and consistency? Yeah, probably, especially on the former. Though I would argue that this Forum's version of John Henry, Mark C. could give (whatever a ceramic factories version of a steel driver is) a run for its money. In regards to consistency, I would imagine that even a factory, where things are very fine tuned, and controlled, still have defects. I can't say for certainty, if those defects are proportional to what a studio potter would face, but I wouldn't be surprised. So a factory can produce greater quantities, quicker. That's great for society. It drives costs down, and makes things more affordable. Though, I could argue, that isn't always a good thing. It makes us a disposable/ throw-away society. We bought something for cheap, so we don't put a lot of value on it, and are more likely to just toss it. Look at technology. We modern humans, love our technology, namely cell phones. They allow us to have access to the entirety of Humankind's knowledge at our fingertips, and stay connected to people all around the World. Yet, as soon as that thing shows a few signs of "wear and tear", toss it and get the new model. As an educator, who is around youth for a good portion of my life, I see this quite a bit. That's one reason why, I see so many broken screens. They don't care if it is broken, because they'll just get another. Cars are becoming the same way, even some homes. People want something that looks good, for a short while, and as soon as it loses its lustre, time to upgrade. Now what about quality? Sure, the pieces look good. They are all generally uniform (with some minor, purposeful imperfections, which I'll discuss in a moment), but do they last? I would say, overall, no. My Wife and I have a commercially made dinnerware set, that we got for our wedding. They've held up well, to regular use, but I've had to order several replacements, to some that developed stress cracks. This isn't even including all those that have chipped. I also received a commercially made mug, for Father's Day, that last a few months. It developed a small hairline stress crack, and I wasn't comfortable putting anything hot in it anymore. Meanwhile, the mugs I have made, keep chugging along. Now, one of the biggest pluses to buying a handmade ware, is its uniqueness. I have given plenty of my wares as gifts, to family and friends. I give Senior students mugs, as a graduation present. In those cases, the people absolutely love them. They like the fact, that it is something that I made, especially for them. I doubt they'd be as thrilled, if I just went out and bought something, even if it was very similar. As I said, everything is a one of a kind. There is no mold (Unless, you do indeed use molds), there is no machine applying the glaze or decals. Every piece a potter makes, was touched, by that potter, throughout the process. Can a factory say that? Sure, there are people, who handle the wares, but they aren't exactly applying a personal touch, in most cases. Except, when you look at commercial wares, like the wedding gift, dinnerware set I mentioned earlier. It was marketed as "Individually hand-glazed", which I believe is partially true. It is a base coat of one glaze, that *looks* like it could be brushed on by hand, but could have just as easily been done by some type of automated process. However, over top of that, are some large glaze drips/ splatters. This was probably what they were referring to. Someone, who sat at the end of the assembly line, ladling on a few spots of a top glaze coat. That way, they could say that each piece had a unique, individual look. It's almost like they are trying to mimic the style of handmade wares... So, if commercial/ industrial wares are superior, then why do companies go out of their way to mimic the look of handmade items? You don't just see this with ceramics either. The "rustic"/ "industrial" trend is in full swing, when it comes to decorating, and now companies are doing their best to make new decor, that looks old, handmade, or both. The reason is because people associate handmade products (rustic/ industrial items are older and generally carry with that age the implication they are also handmade), with good quality. Generally speaking, I would say they are correct. Once again, one person has handled the item, throughout the process, and therefore have a greater investment in that item. With a factory, there are numerous people, who have handled each item. They have way less investment in said item. Along with that, is the issue of safety. A large company no doubt makes sure there wares are safe. They don't want a mug or bowl exploding in the microwave. They also don't want to poison a customer, with a glaze that leaches into food. But, as many of the factories are overseas, there is still some concern. Those factories, have different sets of rules and guidelines, which is why there have been numerous product recalls, for items from those factories... Whoa, whoa, whoa, children's toys *can't* be coated in lead paint?! Now, when it comes to handmade wares, I don't know a potter, who is worth their salt kiln, who hasn't tested their glaze durability. I'm not saying, that every single one does, but those that stay around long enough to make a career out of it, definitely do. So, if I wasn't clear, I obviously don't agree with the statement that industrial, functional wares are better than handmade. I'm not knocking the commercial items, as they definitely exist for a reason. But there is also a reason, that handmade wares are still being made, and are still popular amongst people, even in a day, when cheaper alternatives are available.
  4. Benzine

    Up to what temp can I vent?

    Pres, In some instances, I will also put work, on the kiln lid, but only if I am sure, that it is mostly dry to begin with. The project shelf, for work that is ready to be fired, either time, is directly across from the kiln. That way, any greenware, gets a little extra heat and dry air before they are fired. I will also regularly set projects on our air vents. During the Fall and Spring, that does a bit to help, but our building has AC, so the air is quite cool. During the Winter, with the heat going, a project can be dried in no time flat. In fact, some students have forgotten things, they were trying to partially dry, on the vent and come back to find them very, very bone dry. Between all this, and my very slow bisque program, explosions *Usually* are not an issue.
  5. Welcome to the Forums. There are plenty of people here, with near limitless information, including those, who do make a living selling their work. So, I suggest you start off, by looking through the Forum topics, as Gabby suggested. You may have questions that have already been asked and answered. Use the search bar on the top right. If you have a question, that hasn't been asked, ask away. Like I said, there is a lot of experienced, knowledgeable posters here. You've already started classes, which is great, as being hands on is the best way to learn, and figure out if something is for you or not. Keep at it, and don't get discouraged. Nobody got good at clay work over night. There will be frustration, there will be failure. But there will also be a lot of excitement, and sense of accomplishment.
  6. Benzine

    Up to what temp can I vent?

    I've always found that difficult to gauge personally. It's not that they don't feel cool, it's just that they almost always do to me.
  7. Benzine

    Up to what temp can I vent?

    When I assign my sculpture project, I allow the students, to build it, using any method they'd like. It is the final project, and at that point, we've been through, pinching, coil building, slab building/ slumping. I do allow them to hand model the clay, and hollow it out, as well. However, when they ask my opinion, I'll tell them to go with slabs or coils, depending on the form they are looking to achieve. For curvy, more organic objects, I highly recommend coils. For things that are more geometric, I recommend slabs. Regardless of the building method, they know the rule that I've hammered home since the first week of class. I won't fire anything that is an inch thick or over. The thickest slats I have for making slabs are 1/2" and the extruder makes coils that are about the same. Using either slabs or coils have the benefit of knowing exactly how thick, every spot of the sculpture is. It is very difficult to hollow a sculpture out, to a consistent thickness. The issue isn't just with steam related explosions either. There can also be issues, when the chemical water is "burned" off, not to mention all the changes to structure that happen at different points of the heating and cooling process. There is a lot of stress going on there, with thick pieces. Finally, you have the problem of thick and thin(ner) spots drying, expanding/ contracting at different rates. If you have a thicker spot of your sculpture, next to a spot that is thinner, they will pull away from each other, due to how quickly the expand and contract. This will lead to some bad cracking, and other structural flaws. That actually reminds me of several years ago, the year my District hosted our Conference Art Show. One of the judges I got, was a ceramicist. We got to the Ceramic Sculpture category. There were a couple from one of the other schools, that I thought were really nice. They were large, detailed, and had great subject matter. They didn't place very well, if at all. The reason is, the judge looked at how they were made. They were built solid, and hollowed out. They survived the firings, but with some cracking. However, they were insanely heavy for something their size. The judge did not like that at all. Your sculptures look great, and I know myself and others here, just want them to turn out the best that they can, hence the advice.
  8. Same here Pres. I never did clay work K-12, except for one, quick coil pot my Junior year, which was never fired. My instructor just had some clay left over, from a student led project, and decided to teach us the coil process. One of the main reasons I took Ceramics in College, was because I needed another 3-D type class, for my Art Education degree. And I'm glad that was the case. I had a great teacher, and it is one of my favorite classes to teach, as well as a favorite for the students to take.
  9. Benzine

    how to make underglaze bleed & run

    If I were trying to make an underglaze bleed, I'd thin it with water and/ or apply it to a wet surface so it would be more likely to diffuse.
  10. Benzine

    What are the pitfalls?

    Yep, about half an inch, is what I have students leave, depending on the size. I tell them that some ceramicists leave more, if they are creating a deep foot, some less, if they don't trim a foot. I too enjoy trimming, it is very soothing/ relaxing.
  11. Benzine

    What's Your Work Music?

    Pandora radio, with a variety of stations on shuffle.
  12. Benzine

    What are the pitfalls?

    My suggesting for students, is always leave more on the bottom, than you think you'll need., as you can always make it thinner. Worst case scenario, you'll have to trim a bit more later. Throwing off the hump, might help you leave the bottoms thicker, since you'll be able to see the bottom a bit better, as it will be higher up. However, throwing off the hump also leads to more issues, like not compressing the bottom enough. So you'll trade thin bottoms for S-Cracks. As preeta said, it's all about practice and repetition.
  13. Benzine

    Underglaze versus glaze?

    Underglazes would work well for that, as long as you aren't expecting them to mix during firing. So you want a solid background, with some shapes of other colors on top, is that right? If so, underglazes will work great for that.
  14. Benzine

    Bisque temp for raku

    preeta, I always preface my student discussions about Raku, with how what we are going to do, is not the same, as they traditionally do in Japan. As you noted, I call what we do "American Raku". I usually mention, that as Americans, we try and "improve" things, with the addition of fire and explosions... In regards to using Rakuware, yeah, I would never do so, and tell my students the same, explaining why. I made a decorative Raku tea set, for my older sister years ago, and explained that they were not meant to be functional. Then at a family gathering, she mentions, "I use them for my mac and cheese all the time!" I responded, "Stop that!!!" I find that funny, as I made her a functional casserole years before, and joked about the glazes not being safe, or coming off into the food, and she adamantly grilled me to find out if I was telling the truth. When this topic came up, in the past, John Baymore would talk about how the Japanese would rigorously clean their Raku tea bowls, as part of the ceremony. So any dangerous glaze materials, or bacterial/ mold growth, were likely washed away before use. Personally, I would not be afraid to use a Raku piece, of either American or Traditional firing, but I wouldn't do so every day. And Mark, I can't believe you would just toss all that deliciously sweet tasting white lead!...
  15. Benzine

    Underglaze versus glaze?

    I just tell my students, that underglazes are essentially like a paint, that can withstand thousands of degrees. They mix like paint, apply like paint, can be layered like paint and GENERALLY, what you see is what you get. I do have a couple underglazes that do change color pretty dramatically, like Amaco's Dark Blue. It looks like lavender before it is fired. But I recommend the underglazes if the student wants to do some detailed/ precise decorating. A poster her, Guinea Potter did some AMAZING illustrative decorating, with underglazes. With glazes, I tell the students it's almost the exact opposite. The colors run, bleed, mix with lower layers, and usually dramatically change color. The first project we do is a pinch bowl, where I require them to use both underglaze and glaze, along with a variety of techniques like sgraffito, underglaze with an oxide stain, resists, etc.
  16. Benzine

    No Swiping

    Yep Pres, as the way people keep and spend money change, so do the ways that people try to steal that money. Crypto Currencies were supposed to be safe and secure, but that has proven to be untrue.
  17. My Art Club students are glazing dozens of the same form, for one of our projects. I was initially going to use one of our dip glazes, but don't think we have enough, nor do I think I have enough time to order more of it. So I do have quite a bit of another color that will work, but it is a brush on glaze. The instructions say that it can be thinned for dipping or pouring, but don't specify how much I would want to thin it. For dip glazes I've always gone with the "Heavy Cream" consistency (What's a hydrometer?), but I wasn't sure if that's the consistency I would want for something that is normally brush on. My concern arises from the fact that I know that commercially made, bottled glazes, that are meant for brushing, have additives that make them easier to brush, like gum. Anyone have any experience/ suggestions on this?
  18. Those look terrific Seb! I've experimented with some cotton yarn, dipped in slip, and helped a student create a series with the process. They were VERY porous and fragile, afrer the bisque, but were much better after glazing. I would imagine that the porousity led to the glaze penetrating deeply into the structure. I have also fired a slip soaked paper towel, because... Well, just to see what happened. It survived fairly well, and I glazed it, and gave it to a student, who was intrigued by the process.
  19. Benzine

    Bisque temp for raku

    Denise, I have used stoneware, for Raku as well. The school district, where I learned the process, fired to Cone 5, for most projects, prior to me starting there. So it made sense, to use the same clay for our Raku firings, if the same clay body would work, which it did. So I stuck with that same approach. The stoneware body worked well, the same reason that specific Raku bodies work, they are intentionally underfired. This is what allows them to handle the thermal shock associated with the process. In a matured ceramic body, the particles are locked together, which is great when you are making functional wares, thay don't seep liquids, but bad for something that has to tolerate quick/ dramatic temperature changes during the firing. That locked ceramic structure is not good at quickly transfering energy from one part to the next. So the expanding and contracting that happens, leads to cracks/ dunting. This is why you are not supposed to put a glass or ceramic casserole from the fridge into a hot oven. With an underfired body, the bodies are still "open" and the particles are not fully locked together. There is space between them, which allows the heating and cooling to be relatively gradual, and lessons the odds of dunting. I have honestly never tried to use low fire with Raku, but I have taken low fire pieces, out of the kiln, when they were still somewhat hot(200 degrees F) and had them develop cracks. Being weak due to underfiring, is the nature of Raku. With the exception of the Japanese Tea Ceramony, Rakuware, is not meant to be functional, so it's relative fragility is not that big of a drawback.
  20. Benzine

    Thinning a Commercial Brush Glaze

    Thought I'd post an update. The thinned glaze turned out great. It actually looked better than it normally does, brushed on from the bottle, where it generally seems too thin even with the correct amount of coats applied. I may have to keep a dipping bucket of it around, for when something similar comes up. I am glad it did turn out well, as we used them on teacher/ staff mugs, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day/ Week. We made about 90 of them (You don't realize how many coworkers you actually have until you do something like this). The Staff was very appreciative.
  21. Benzine

    Bisque temp for raku

    Really? Why is that? I usually go to 04 with mine, and have had no issue. The reason I do so, is because I go to 04 for my main classroom clay, and it doesn't make much sense to do a separate firing for the few Raku projects we do.
  22. Awesome Mark! Where did you find that wheel? I've come across that model online a few times. It looks like Brent's take on the Shimpo RK. Speaking of, I have a RK, in my classroom, that I've been meaning to restore. It works well enough, but the attached splash pan is toast, and the inner workings need a good once (or twice) over. And while I'm at it, maybe a new, dynamic paint job... I guess I could also mention my "Workbench" in my classroom, that has way more projects than necessary going on at one time. In the fall, I have an Amaco wheel I was fixing, student projects, that I was repairing, glazes and slips I was mixing, project demos/ examples, etc. Every year I promise myself I will keep the space cleaner. And every year, it ends up looking the same...
  23. Benzine

    Newbie to Stoneware

    When I've done stoneware, I did "Five and Five". Cone 05 for the bisque, Cone 5 for the glaze. I had no issues with the results, in either case.
  24. Right now, I have some wood working stuff on my bench. I'm trying to finish up some night stands, that I made for my Wife, as a gift for her birthday... Which was in December... I've done some cleaning recently, as I am going into Graduation Mug Mode, for my students.

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