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About GEP

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    full time potter / past forum moderator

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  • Location
    Silver Spring, MD
  • Interests
    biking, jogging, cooking and eating, veggie gardening, baseball (Orioles)

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  1. This thread has made me think hard about sieving. I go through a lot of glaze these days, and sieving has become very cumbersome timewise. Unlike @Callie Beller Diesel, sometimes glazemaking does sneak up on me! So annoying to sit down for a day of glazing, only to open a bucket and say “oh [bleep].” It sets back my whole day. @liambesaw‘s idea of putting a brush head on a power drill is very intriguing. But ultimately I decided that the lowest speed on my power drill is still too fast. Plus my sieve that fits a 5 gallon bucket is pretty shallow, it holds maybe a half-gallon at a time. The idea of a shallow sieve combined with a power tool has me visualizing large horizontal splatters of glaze across my studio. I was sold by @Mark C.‘s comment that the Talisman holds 2 gallons. I ordered one this morning. I like the idea of the high volume, combined with the controlled hand cranking. As for cleaning it, I don’t have a wide and shallow sink. I don’t think my household drain could handle this much glaze anyways. So my plan is to take it out on the patio and clean it with the garden hose.
  2. My firing cycles come up every 2.5 weeks. It usually involves 3 loads of bisque, and 4 or 5 loads of glaze. I run the bisque kilns while I start throwing the next cycle. Then I spend 3 days glazing (1 day for each bisque load). Each glazing cycle produces $5000 worth of pots.
  3. I just noticed @Mark C.‘s comments about me using top loaders in a basement studio, and how that must be tough on my back. I think I need to point out that I am only consuming about 1.5 tons of clay per year. I know that’s much less than Mark, who goes through 8-ish tons per year. I also can’t imagine loading 8 tons into top loaders, or carrying that much clay down a flight of stairs. My volume is manageable in my studio setup. My lower volume works because I have an east-coast urban audience, and I have learned how to market and price for this audience. This audience cares about quality, but they care very little about oxidation or reduction, or what cone I am firing to. They care a lot more about design.
  4. @shawnhar I make a comfortable full-time living with two 7 cubic ft electric kilns. In my sphere there are a lot more full-timers firing electric, vs firing gas or wood. Not sure where you got that impression.
  5. I've tried it with a hand-held scrub brush. It took just as long as using my hand, and the brush got clogged up and took a long time to clean. I think you need the spinning action of a power drill, or the cranking motion of a Talisman, in order for the brush to work faster than your hand.
  6. At the very beginning, someone gave me a small kiln for free. I spent another $5000 furnishing the rest, inckuding a wheel, kiln vent, kiln furniture, slab roller, lots of tables and shelving, various tools, and the electrician who installed the kiln circuit and punched a hole in my wall for the vent duct. I did all of this in my unfinished basement, which was not being used for anything else, so my space was essentially free. SInce then, I have bought 2 new kilns, a second wheel (used), and renovated my dingy basement into a clean and bright workspace. Maybe another $25k spent, mostly on the renovation. These days, I spend $1500 on clay per year, $300 on glaze materials, and $450 everytime one of the kilns needs new elements and TCs which is once or twice a year.
  7. To continue thinning/growing the wall after collaring, learn to use a throwing stick.
  8. GEP

    Teapots that pour beautifully

    I haven’t done it that way in a long time, so don’t have much to add. I think Mark answered it best ... make lots of holes. I try to throw the spout edge as sharp as possible, but I will sometimes hone them further at the leatherhard stage, and even at the bisque stage with a diamond grit hand pad. It all works. I once did it to a fully glaze-fired teapot with a diamond hand pad. It works but it leaves a blemish.
  9. GEP

    Teapots that pour beautifully

    Lack of air exchange is only one reason why a teapot spout might gurgle. Most teapot lids are not air tight to begin with, hole or no. You can dig through my instagram account (@goodelephantpottery) and read the captions for every post that contains a teapot over the past year. I’ve been in pursuit of a perfect pouring teapot spout, and you can read all of my thoughts on what makes a spout pour well. A nice, organized arc of liquid is one of my goals. I’m not quite ready to declare my spouts “guaranteed dribble free” but a customer who bought one in December reported back to me that the pour was perfect. Still working on repeating that result consistently, but I’m close. Edit to add (realized it would be a pain for someone to dig through my instafeed): Here are the important factors: 1) the spout should taper all the way down to the opening. This creates back pressure as the liquid travels down, creating the arc of liquid. The more tapered the better. 2) longer spouts work better than shorter spouts, more distance creates more back pressure 3) the edge of the spout opening, especially the bottom edge, should be sharp. This prevents the last drop from dribbling down the outside of the spout 4) I try to attach the spout low on the teapot body. This accomplishes two things. It requires a longer spout to do this (see #2), so the opening of the spout is still high enough to accomodate a full teapot. And it makes the teapot start pouring with a shallower tilt of the pot. If the spout is attached high on the teapot, it takes a steeper tilt to start the pour. The shallower tilt makes the teapot easier to use. 4) I cut one large hole in the teapot body where the spout is attached, rather than punching a series of holes. This ensures there is plenty of liquid flowing. 5) I don’t put holes in my lids. To answer your specific question @cambriapottery, I have tried different angles for the spout, but that doesn’t seem to affect the pour. If the angle is pointing upwards too much, it might make the teapot harder to use because of the steep tilt required to pour, but doesn’t affect the pour itself.
  10. I know you have praised UPS many times on this forum. Those of us who have shipped enough pots know that UPS is overall trustworthy and their customer service is excellent. And I know that mistakes happen sometimes, moreso around the holidays because they are handling much higher volumes then. Just wanted to add a positive story, so the thread wouldn’t be only bad stories. Wouldn’t want somebody who is new to shipping pots to think that UPS should be avoided. And I’m not sure it’s necessary to avoid shipping in December. I only do online sales in December, and it works for me.
  11. I feel the need to write something in defense of UPS during the holiday season. Those guys/gals are working at double speed, 24/7, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had a monster online sale this year, and had to ship out 25 boxes, small medium and large. They were picked up at 8pm on a Thursday night, and by Friday morning many of them were already out for delivery. Including one in Raleigh, NC, which is two states away. This was a regular Ground shipment, it didn’t fly, it was on the road all night. I had several boxes headed for the Boston area, and one to the Chicago area, and they were delivered on Saturday. Feats of logistics. I had boxes going as far as Arizona and California. They were all delivered at least 2.5 weeks ago, and I had no reports of lost or broken pots. I don’t want folks to get the impression that these are a bunch of lummoxes who don’t care. They are overworked during this season for sure, and sometimes they make mistakes. But my experience with them this year was successful, and exceeded my expectations. And I second what Callie said, good packing is the best insurance. That’s up to you, not UPS. And I will note that even though I had a few dinner plates left after my Open Studio, I chose not to sell them online because flat things are the most likely to break, in my experience. Again, that’s a choice for me to make, not UPS’s responsibility.
  12. 1. Yes, plaster can take longer than that to fully cure. I normally allow new plaster items to cure for a week, but for a thick plaster slab it might take longer. Wait until they feel like room temperature. 2. Yes, the plaster slab will feel damp after clay has been sitting on it overnight. Normal! You can probably use it again right away one or two more times, but then give it a few days to fully dry out.
  13. GEP

    Electric quote seem fair?

    I live in an 80yr old house, which I have been slowly rehabing for 20 years. Here are my thoughts on how to find a contractor: 1) Start by asking friends who are also homeowners. If anyone gushes about the work somebody did for them, put that contractor on the top of your list. Over time, you’ll learn how few contractors are worthy of gushing. 2) If you know a good contractor in another trade, ask them for a recommendation. Tradesmen know other tradesmen. I hired my electrician based on the recommendation of my plumber. My plumber is very dependable and does excellent work, and his friend the electrician was the same. 3) If you don’t have the luxury of a personal recommendation, here’s my method. I start by googling [type of contractor] and [my local area]. This search will yield dozens of results. I’ll look at as many websites as I can, and make a list of the ones that give the impression they can do my project. I try to identify at least 10 possibilities. Then I start making phone calls. Sometimes the impression you get on the phone is very different from the website. And lots of contractors don’t answer calls or return messages, because they are that busy. When talking to someone on the phone, I make sure to ask: — Is this a project that you’re interested in? (Normal for someone to say “not really”) — Are you available to do it in the relative near future? (How long you’re willing to wait is up to you. Keep in mind a kiln hook-up is not an emergency. A reliable electrician might be worth waiting for. Don’t be impatient.) — Can you come give me a formal estimate? The phone call phase will eliminate most of the possibilites. I keep making phone calls until 3 people have met my criteria and are coming to give me an estimate. The in-person estimate is also an important test, because you can judge if they are punctual, professional, and will treat you and your house with respect. After this process of vetting and narrowing down, I find that at least one of those people will be worth hiring.
  14. GEP

    Electric quote seem fair?

    A pottery student of mine once sort-of complained to me, “Mea, you’ve forgotten how much you know.” She meant I sometimes tried to explain advanced concepts while forgetting how much foundational knowledge it takes to understand what I’m saying. When you have been doing something everyday for years, you think it’s easy. But a beginner on the other end of the learning curve doesn’t have the foundation to understand. From then on, I always tried to distinguish between “easy” and “easy for me.” Electrical work takes a lot of foundational knowledge to do a simple project, let alone a potentially dangerous project like a kiln circuit. Bill and Neil have a lot of advanced knowledge and experience, so it might seem everyday to you, but that doesn’t mean it is. My thoughts here are aimed at all the lurkers who are reading this thread, over the years, who will misinterpet this conversation as “it’s not hard, anyone can diy a kiln circuit.”
  15. GEP

    Electric quote seem fair?

    I'm saying this in a general sense, not meant for Liam specifically. I don't think it's a good idea to advise people across the internet to do their own electrical work. You can't know the capability or experience level of someone online. We're not dealing with night lights here. If you screw up a kiln circuit you can literally kill yourself or burn down your house. Let the pros do it! I also don't think it's a good idea to express across the internet that a pottery studio is supposed to be cheap. It's a cheap activity once the infrastructure is in place, but the infrastructure is expensive! Ideally, everyone should have this expectation. Back to Liam, I think your original budget of $500 is very reasonable, and I hope you find a good electrician who agrees.

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