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About SEWSart

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    Ankeny, IA
  1. SEWSart

    Glaze fit

    Ah yes, that may be a bit trickier to control since you would not be able to isolate a single component of the prepared powder, but it couldn't hurt to do a few 100gram test batches with different concentrations (say .5%, 1%, and 3%) of a frit that contains borate added to your glaze powder. It is a good thing that you get the glaze in powdered form, because if it were premixed with water then it would be much harder to consistently add the same amount of frit to each glaze batch (if the testing turns out). I have definitely found that crazing will happen when there is too thick of a glaze application. Using just clear glaze really doesn't take much to make a nice glossy seal. If you take a credit card and scrape a line in the glaze you should see that the thickness on the piece is about the width of credit card or even a touch less (you can then rub your finger back over the scrape to fill the glaze back in). Also, if you thin it down it would definitely help glazing the piercings. (I too am very much into pierced designs) I find if the hole has filled in as I pull the piece up from the dip, if I blow gently into the opening it will break the surface tension and possibly clear it. Otherwise if it stays closed, depending on the shape, i can use a small drill bit to hand "drill" the hole out without completely chipping away the dried glaze. You can take your finger and gently rub over the runs to "sand" them away so to speak, or you can use actual sand paper to gently grind them down. Just make sure to try to keep the dust down (wear a mask). I was taught that when you stick your hand in the glaze and pull it out there should only be a thin layer still stuck to your fingers, if it's thick and sticks like gravy to the back of a spoon it's too thick. There is also a way to make a density meter with a block of wood and a weight so that you know the glaze is the same thickness every time you make it. Basically you attach the weight to the end of the stick and place it in a bucket of plain water so that part of the stick is floating above the surface. Mark where the water level is on the stick. Next, place it in the bucket of well mixed glaze that you know has been combined with the right amount of water (you've tested how well it covers the bisque and possibly fired to see if it crazes) and mark where the glaze level falls on the stick (it should be lower than the water mark). Then, the next time you mix that glaze you can drop the stick in the bucket in between intervals of adding water to the powder until the stick comes to rest at the glaze level line. You should end up having the same density glaze every time. As with nearly everything, this was not my original idea. I believe I got it out of a Ceramics Monthly magazine actually. As far as firing the bisque to a higher temp then glaze firing, I've honestly never done so since I fire to cone 9/10 and the clay would never accept the glaze at that point since it would be completely vitrified. But I am curious if it helps with crazing at lower temps since it is much more economically feasible to fire lower. Best Shannon
  2. SEWSart

    BFA Programs

    Hi Amanda, As someone who is fresh out of a BFA program in ceramics from Iowa State University (2008) I can attest to how hard it is to find jobs right after graduating. I do not want to discourage you because ceramics is one of the best things in my life, but most of the jobs I found were temporary positions (often with specific requirements like having residency in a certain state), required an MFA, or did not pay enough to cover living expenses (we're talking less than 30k for a single person). Plus most of the jobs I applied for already had way more applicants than positions, so being fresh out of school just wasn't enough to cut it. I broke down and started temping just to have any income what so ever (those student loan payments were coming due)! So here I am a few years later and I'm still working full time in an accounting department; however, I have continued to slowly accumulate supplies and a body of work with the help of some local friends that I cooped with to have access to kilns. I have my own Soldner wheel, a nice pop up 10'x10' tent, and I am planning on applying to a few craft fairs for this next year. Yes, I may be moving slowly, but at least I'm doing something. Plus, even though my degree is not in accounting, the art degree has been a huge asset to have because studying art makes your brain think differently. You train to use your entire brain and can visualize the whole picture and still see the details of any situation. I can't tell you how many times I've seen connections and improvements we can make when my coworkers have just been stuck in the "this is the way it's always been" mode. No matter what, I will still continue to explore and produce ceramic art, but just so you know I will never regret getting my degree even though I didn't "make it" right away. So go for it if that is really what you want to pursue, because you may never be able to afford another time to so fully immerse yourself in the medium as you do in undergrad and graduate degrees. Plus the skills you come out with are able to be applied to way more avenues than just the arts. All the best, Shannon EW Schanus
  3. SEWSart

    Glaze fit

    I know it may seem very straight forward, but since you say you mix your glazes from powder, are you using the same Kaolin (clay component) that your clay body is made from? Often times there are very subtle differences in the clay that is pulled from one location and the clay from another location that can actually affect fit. I've always made sure that even if a glaze recipe calls for a different kaolin to still use the same kaolin that is in my clay for fit issues. So far, cross my fingers, I have not had any colorant issues from doing so. I also have had issues with bubbles & crazing in my clear glazes and have found a wonderful resource in The Potter's Dictionary by Frank and Janet Hamer. It is a comprehensive resource for almost all things clay. Including what goes wrong, and possible ways to fix it. I found that adding a bit of frit which contains borax can really help improve the clarity and fit of the glaze. The frit I used is ferro frit 3195, a high calcium borate frit from my local supplier, in a concentration of 2-5% in the glaze. Obviously, more testing will need to be involved to determine what will work with your specific resources and environment. I use a numbering system on my test tiles and use that to test one variable at a time (the only thing being hard to test specifically is the firing schedule/temp). That way I can cover a bunch of different variables in one kiln firing and adjust based on the out come. I hope this helps as one emerging artist to another. Shannon EW Schanus
  4. SEWSart

    2012 Works

    A small collection of sewing themed work.
  5. Ever since the 6th grade I've wanted to be an Architect. Because of that, in high school I was drawn to slab building in the ceramics class, and excelled at making forms with crazy joints that didn't crack! But my throwing work was abysmal. I decided that the best Architecture school for me was Iowa State University (mostly because it was in state). That first year was crazy! The freedom to go to class or not, to do homework, or not, because it wasn't counted towards my grade really threw me off in a couple classes (I had been used to straight A's in HS). I think that's why I didn't get in to the Architecture program (Thank GOD!), and instead decided to stay in the design college as an fine arts major so I wouldn't have wasted a year of tuition. Little did I know that would be the best decision of my life! I graduated with a BFA and Ceramics/Painting major and Textile/Business Minors in 2008. I would have liked to go to graduate school or a residency of some sort, but I just couldn't make the money work, so I temped out of desperation basically. I've been subsequently hired into the accounting department of a magazine company, got married in 2010, and have slowly accumulated studio equipment/supplies. I've made a small amount of work thanks to cooping with a friend for kiln/studio usage, but you could say I've had a period of non-production. However, I think I needed the down time to collect myself and refine my goals/point of view. I still kept up with Ceramics Monthly, and something I've found with being an artist is that I always see the world now as inspiration to my muse. It's become my point of view. Even with the non creative day job, I have a huge advantage over my coworkers because I can see any problem from an entirely different perspective. Now, I finally have my own Soldner pottery wheel! The wheel in addition to a refinement to the style & techniques I want to focus on have really ramped up my production levels. I love the tactile quality and challenge of pushing porcelain to its limits, and the fact that you can explore infinite possibilities with clay will always keep me interested for a life time.

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