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Callie Beller Diesel

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Everything posted by Callie Beller Diesel

  1. Callie Beller Diesel

    Will Re-Bisqueing Stop Bloating?

    Unfortunately, this thread is 4 years old, and timbo hasn't been around for quite some time. To clarify the point, there are 2 distinct causes for bloating: 1) gasses being trapped as a result of moving through the sintering stage of the bisque too fast and trapping organics that are still burning off, or 2) overfiring the clay, and gasses from the decomposition of metals or minerals being trapped in the heat-softened ceramic material (eg, the clay is beginning to boil because it's too hot). If your bloating is a result of the first set of circumstances, adjusting your bisque schedule could help (see Timbo's suggested hold). If your bloating is a result of the second set of circumstances, adjusting the bisque won't help, and might make things worse because the pieces are subjected to additional heat work. Since Standard recommends firing 266 at cone 5 because it has known issues with bloating, that says to me the root cause for this clay is more likely over firing. It hurts nothing to test a piece, of course. It may just be that your friend has to make a full kiln load of black clay pieces for a cone 5 schedule. Which could be fun!
  2. Callie Beller Diesel

    Where do you put freshly thrown pieces?

    We had a similar setup to your image in college. The instructors would demo, and the students would crowd around the instructor's wheel. The students and the instructors wouldn't be throwing at the same time, so I think building a 2 tier shelf that you could remove a section of for clear sight lines during demo times wouldn't pose any issues.
  3. Hi @tperez and welcome to the forum! I've moved this topic into the Business part of the forum, because I think it might get some more views over here, and I think this could be a really good thread. I've had my own battles with depression, and have definitely found being a self employed potter is a lot better for my personal mental health than trying to work for someone else. But that is largely due to the causes behind my particular case of depression. Being self employed in any capacity can be beneficial in terms of having flexible hours, but extremely unforgiving and stressful if you don't have the wherewithal to make, but you need the product to have an income. Add to that the fact that ceramics really does take years to get good enough at to have a *long term* viable business, starting a pottery business is definitely a huge undertaking. Depending on your triggers, it can either be really good for you, or set you back horribly. My suggestion for a first step is to get good at making pots. This part is going to take a really long time. It's like playing a musical instrument: there is no substitute for practice. Obtaining some good technical education is a must. If you're looking at colleges, do some research into the program to make sure you're going to learn what you want to learn there. Not all of them are created equally, or have the same focus. In terms of business resources, have a look at people who have successfully made a living doing what it is that you wish to do. Write a simple business plan. This is for your own purposes, and not the bank. You need a rough guide for what you want to do. Mea, one of the members here, writes a most excellent blog on the ins and outs of her job as a full time potter, and if you go back through her archives she speaks extensively on how she sets her business up. The whole thing is worth reading, but her Art Festival Plan and theHourly Earnings Project are good places to start. Some online business and marketing courses that are geared towards creative businesses are offered by Marie Forleo (B-School) and Mei Pak (The Creative Hive). I have to leave this post right now because timing, but I'lltry and write a bit more later.
  4. I have dedicated studio towels that just get thrown in the washer. I have bath sheets that get draped over my knees while I'm throwing or doing certain finishing tasks, and some medium sized ones for general purpose hand wiping. Just got them all from the thrift store. They go into the regular wash in their own seperate load, but I wash them pretty frequently in the name of keeping the dust down and not putting a lot of clay through my top loader. I tend to clean 98% of the clay on my hands off into a bucket (also wiping with a grout sponge) that later gets decanted into my reclaim. At that point, my hands are safe enough just to wash with soap and water in the bathroom sink. When pulling handles, I pull separately and let them set up before attaching, so I'm really only having to clean up from that job once, and not constantly wiping my hands. Fun hint: you keep your elbow dry if you dip the clay slug in the water bucket instead of getting your whole hand wet. I don't buy paper towels for the rest of the house, never mind my studio.
  5. Callie Beller Diesel

    Why make functional ware?

    Usually I deadpan "it's for dieters."
  6. Callie Beller Diesel

    Why make functional ware?

    ....and then there's at least one j3rk at every show that has to make a crack about the "bowls with all the holes in them" being not very good for soup. And it's always the husband.
  7. Callie Beller Diesel

    Why make functional ware?

    I am possessed by both an urge to make a wisecrack about my husbands's affections for me being fully explained by this quote and a very deep philosophical agreement with it on a number of different levels. I think people who are in need a mug go to a store and buy one. I think people who want a mug, and not just a mug but *that* *mug * *right * *there* look for something else. I think people are seeking some kind of touch or human connection or story when they're looking at handmade. We're so removed from the production of almost everything we touch, it's cold and isolating. Some people who also feel this are looking for something just a little bit...more. Not more things, but more connections and stories. Objects begin to hold the weight of their stories over time, and become heirlooms. Think of a quilt someone's grandmother made, or a recipe handed down, or that special dish that was only ever used for cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Yes, you can build a history on a storebought item just fine. But to start with something that was handmade adds more layers to that story. I think the tile maker was correct in that industry does make a technically superior mug than I could. But we cannot live from bread alone.
  8. Callie Beller Diesel

    Changed clay bodies and struggling

    If you're new to things, yes, you might notice varying softness in the clay affects how easy it is to move the stuff. If you're having difficulties opening, the usual culprits are having a small air pocket trapped under the ball, or starting to push down before you've found the sweet spot that is true centre.
  9. Callie Beller Diesel

    Thoughts on Pricing

    Then I think you’d be best off to make them buy them outright, and charge them your regular retail price. One-offs at that price point are not a consignment or a wholesale arrangement. If this is common practice in your area, I’m not surprised those shops are going out of business. It’s not a model that works long term for anyone, and it’s unprofessional. I am a firm believer that even if making is a part time gig or a hobby for someone, behaving professionally (pricing appropriately, having some basic policies regarding returns and order placing) protects you from being taken advantage of. Most professional behaviour involves deciding ahead of time how you want to deal with certain situations, and communicating clearly with the people you work with and sell to. It’s about clarifying how you want to be treated, sometimes even if it’s just to yourself, and setting healthy boundaries.
  10. Callie Beller Diesel

    Thoughts on Pricing

    @yappystudent If you’re selling wholesale anything, it’s a good idea to have some kind of minimum first order size or dollar amount that will allow a store owner to make an appealing display of the product, and to make it worth your while to fire the kiln. Subsequent reorder amounts can be smaller, as the assumption is that they’re rebuilding the display, not starting from scratch. Sitting down with a store owner to do some market research to ensure maximum mutual benefit is a tactic that works for any product you’d like to try selling. Usually I have a $150 minimum order for mugs and yarn jars, as a for instance. @Sputty Oh, don't worry too much. The radio told me just today that Bongs and Such has three locations in Calgary to serve me better! They’re usually in questionable strip malls, have lots of Rastafarian flags and pot leaves everywhere and everything there still smells like patchouli. The old was still live on.
  11. I can't use the fingerprint id either.
  12. Callie Beller Diesel

    Thoughts on Pricing

    Keep in mind, I'm writing this from a Canadian point of view: Cannabis is 2 months away from being legal for recreational use nationally, and medical dispensaries have been open for years. Smoking a joint here is akin to having a beer. If it isn't legal for you to make or sell pipes where you are, then my advice is DON'T. The CDN/USD exchange rate is (functionally) 36 cents on the dollar currently. ($1USD=$1.36 CDN). So take that into account when you're comparing prices. Having made some observations about the emerging legal cannabis industry, I can say that there is definitely a LOT of room on the market for accessories that look like they would be used by a mature adult as opposed to the attendees of a 60's college bush party. What I've been able to observe about the emerging legitimate market here is that the new dispensaries are a good deal more sophisticated than that place in the sketchy back alley that reeks of nag champa. A lot of the new storefronts resemble a cross between a craft brewery or fancy tea shop and zen spa: very clean, modern and welcoming with nary a mushroom or rainbow in sight. Think of a fancy juice bar, but with jars of weed behind the counter. The focus of the staff is on educating the public on the differences and benefits of all the different strains, differentiating the kinds of high and which balance of chemicals a user might enjoy or benefit from most. They're acting like someliers, writing a weekly feature in the papers and offering reviews. Organic growing practices and agricultural techniques to maximize active ingredient content are widely touted, and there are links and analogies to any kind of support local/artisinal/handmade/craft movement you could think of. It can be a good fit for ceramics. The entrepreneurs getting into the legalized cannabis industry right now are all intelligent, savvy business people who are passionate about what they're doing, and making sure that their customers have the best possible experience. My suggestion to you is to do what you would if you were trying to enter into any sort of specialty market, and sit down with the owner of a shop you wish to try and sell at. Ask them what they want in a ceramic pipe, what their customers are after that is missing in the market, and what a reasonable price point for that item would be. Then see if you can design something that fits that bill. If the shop owner has some input like that, convincing them to place a wholesale order as opposed to testing with consignment will be much easier, and you'll both be happier with the price. They also might have insights on what other accessories they'd like to see (pipe rests, bud jars etc), or things they'd rather buy from a local supplier such as yourself. They'll also be able to advise you on functional considerations in a way that a non-smoker wouldn't.
  13. Callie Beller Diesel

    Thoughts on Pricing

    Given that we’re about 2 months away from national legalization, information here is a lot easier to come by. Keep in mind prices are in Canadian dollars. A quick search of the websites of the local head shops show ashtrays running for $10-20, and pipes that are a similar shape to yours for $40-50. Most of those are glass, though. I don’t get the sense that these are considered luxury items. They’re pretty enough if you like tie dye, but utility seems to be the primary consideration. Katie Marks sells pipes for a lot of money, but that’s more because of her name. If it were me, I’d treat items like this as kiln filler: make them efficiently and quickly, and sell them wholesale. At that price point and at that volume, I don’t think I’d want to mess around with consignment.
  14. Callie Beller Diesel

    Up to what temp can I vent?

    Yeah, leaving sculptures solid will definitely cause you a lot of loss in the kiln. To leave pieces solid, you'd need months for something to dry thoroughly, particularly if you're somewhere humid. I think learning to love hollow sculptures will make your life infinitely easier. Building on packed paper or other removable armatures could be less nerve wracking, if you don't like cutting pieces apart and putting them back together. I think venting to 750C is probably just right, particularly if your just propping the lid open.
  15. Callie Beller Diesel

    Up to what temp can I vent?

    Pieces can look dry on the surface but not be fully dry all the way through, and can be tricky to determine if you're in a humid environment. How a piece feels (ie cool to the touch) can be a better indicator. If a piece is particularly thick, like with some sculptural work, you need to allow for more time for the water to work its way fully out of a piece. Water vapour that is escaping a piece too rapidly in the early part of the firing is what causes explosions, not anything else. You vent a kiln to prolong element life, and to keep the atmosphere in the kiln clean to allow for proper burnoff of organic materials so your pieces don't black core. Venting won't have an effect on wether or not a piece blows up. As to when you can stop venting for the sake of conserving energy, it depends on the conditions your kiln is firing under. My kiln is outdoors and in a shed, and has no other vent fan. I leave one peep unblocked until the firing is done (mostly because I'm lazy), and then block it completely to cool. Someone with a venting system will likely do things differently.
  16. Callie Beller Diesel

    Turned Foot Rings On Mugs; Elegance Or Affectation?

    +1 for learning to tap center. It does take some effort, but once you get good at it, you can go very quickly. After a while, you can just see when it's right. It also helps to take some extra time and ensure your pieces are symetrical as you're throwing them in the first place. If you throw too fast and your rims don't have the same centre point as your feet, you'll be there for days trying to figure out where the sweet spot is. I have the best luck centering to the shoulder of the piece when it's upside down. You'll get less trim-through. I do my tapping at 6 o'clock (I know it's weird, but it's where it makes sense to my brain), and rather than trying to figure out if that line you scribe on the bottom of th epot is right, I look at the outside of the pot in relation to the rings that are marked on the wheelhead to check centre. That's just what worked better for me.
  17. I walked right into that, didn't I.
  18. Callie Beller Diesel

    Firing with glass

    I did just enough glass blowing and slumping to make me read up on the chemistry differences of both. Basically glass, unless *very* specifically formulated to be compatible with a specific clay body, have different (and mismatched) rates of expansion at all points of the heating and cooling cycle. I found one guy who managed to get the formulation right as part of his master's degree thesis, but both clay and glass were his own formulations, and neither is commercially available. And last check he wasn't working with the process anymore because it was too much of a pain. I will also repeat what Stephen said: it's not a matter of if it will fail, but when. Annealing glass doesn't change the coefficient of expansion of either glass or ceramics, or the points at which the two substances expand and contract with heating or cooling. In ceramics we really only concern ourselves with one phase change at quartz inversion. Glass cooling cycles deal with about 5 if I remember correctly. All of them are at much lower temperatures than clay workers even look at. The firing cycles that you have to do to get glass to be glass and ceramic to be ceramic are also mutually exclusive. Glaze is a solid with some crystalline matrix to it: we all go on about how to slow our firings down at certain points to alow the materials to homogenize and have a chance to grow crystals for pretty effects. The opposite is true of glass: it's a supercooled liquid, and not actually solid at all. That's why antique windows are thicker at the bottom than at the top: the glass is still flowing, it's just doing it really, really slowly. Glass artists will crash cool their kilns through the places where crystals develop to prevent devitrification (homogenization and crystal formation). Crash cooling a kiln at those places will cause dunting in clay. If you're trying to incorporate stained glass into ceramics, you should also be aware that most of the colours in the glass are created with all kinds of things that burn out well before bisque temperatures. The toxicity level of these compounds is also pretty high (think arsenic). The colours will burn out, and also create all kinds of mystery fumes as the glass boils. All that said, if you want to play around and have some fun with process, I do say go ahead and enjoy the experience of making. I think that's important. You will learn things. Just go about making them knowing that they are temporary creatures and won't last. For liability's sake, don't sell these pieces or turn them out into the world. If you wish to incorporate glass and ceramic, I'd go cold process, and make friends with things like uv glue or epoxies.
  19. I had my phone balanced on a travel mug. I'm glad I wasn't the only one hitting the button with my nose!
  20. Well, my fingers have always been too short to be called graceful. My nails are soft and don’t really grow long anyways. So I am glad they are strong, skilled hands. (Also, given the weird things I had to do to take this shot, how did everyone with both hands in the shot get theirs?)
  21. Callie Beller Diesel

    Potters tissue

    HI David, and welcome to the forum! I've moved your post to the studio operations and making work section to help with your search. Question threads on the forum aren't deleted unless they aren't related to ceramics, so you can find some excellent conversations from years gone by on lots of topics. Topics from a few years ago do get revived as new questions arise, so really discussions are always open. Use the search bar on the main page to search the whole forum for best results. Was there some specific information on tissue transfers you were interested in?
  22. Callie Beller Diesel

    Glaze Bilsters...

    I agree with the overfiring hypothesis. Pinholes from improper carbon burnout are usually smaller, and not clustered the way yours are. Your glazes look more like boiled glass.
  23. Callie Beller Diesel

    how to sand off glaze bubbles

    Hi and welcome! Kemper makes a stilt mark stone that's good for taking off small burrs like this. Kind of a white rectangle thingy. They should be available at most North American pottery suppliers, or online. Others use a dremmel tool or diamond sanding tools from the hardware store.
  24. Callie Beller Diesel

    help with aesthetic for pottery

    Hi and welcome to the forum! The thing with ceramics is that there is always more than one soloution to a given problem. I'm glad you said you like experimentation, because there will be a lot of this in your future! The look of these pots can indeed be achieved in cone six oxidation, not just cone ten reduction. The images you've posted here all look like high iron clay bodies with varying degrees of grog, and have simple white glazes with varying levels of sheen to them. The iron in these clay bodies is bleeding through and affecting the glaze colour, giving it lots of visual interest. The first and last images are likely slump molded items, and the middle picture is wheel thrown work. This look is pretty on trend right now, so the good news is that ceramic suppliers all have dark firing and speckled cone 6 stonewares available. Play around with some and see which one(s) you like. The tricky part will be getting the glazing right. With dish ware, you need to make sure that your glazes fit the clay body you're using and don't craze or crawl. Glazes aren't one size fits all, and what works on one clay may not on another. They also need to be able to hold up over time, and resist things like cutlery marking (difficult with a matte glaze). My personal bias is strongly towards mixing your own, but before I write a (bigger) essay, I need to know a bit more about what you have available to you in terms of access to firing, kilns and workspace. Also, are you wanting to go into production, or just make pots for the joy of it?
  25. Callie Beller Diesel

    Thoughts on the Cress FX-23 P

    @Richsound The second image you show of the top layer of your kiln isn't particularly densely packed. Those test tiles won't hold a lot of thermal mass, which is what will help even things out. Think about having lots of tightly packed things on the top, that will take more energy to heat up than the handful of things on the bottom. And especially for a glaze fire, letting the kiln cool for about an hour (depending on ambient temperature outside the kiln: you want the peep to show a light orange colour) after it shuts off, and then turning it back on for a 10-15 minute soak may tip that middle cone over on the bottom.

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