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Everything posted by Sputty

  1. Sputty

    Not Simon Leach

    Isn't it fabulous stuff? And I happen to know that he's a lovely man, too! As you say, uplifting to the spirit.
  2. Sputty

    Not Simon Leach

    Now that's a yarn bowl that would at least work as it should! It's actually remarkably difficult to find a yarn bowl which is intelligent from the perspective of functional design, but which also has some aesthetic sense to it. Almost every bowl I've seen has been clumpy - squat - to the point of ugliness. I go to a number of yarn/fibre events, and see stalls-ful (stallfuls?) of these things, almost always horrible, graceless, ill-thought out objects. Some of the nicer ones have actually been in turned wood rather than ceramic. I understand that the limitations of use do rather imply a wide, heavy base, but even so... I do quite like those made by Charan Sachar. But then he is a knitter as well as a potter, and I generally like his stuff anyway.
  3. Sputty

    Not Simon Leach

    Why the sarcasm? I have a whole back-catalogue of posts here of interesting videos that I like. People occasionally comment on them. That's what happens on forums. If the only responses you want are those which agree with you, you should perhaps add a rider at the end of your posts to that effect. I wasn't exactly rude, was I? Just gave an honest, mild, and moderated opinion. Just like your inference that watching Mr Leach was akin to taking valium.
  4. Sputty

    DIY spray booth with waterfall

    There are only slightly less than one million ideas here: Spray booth: help!
  5. Sputty

    Not Simon Leach

    The slot on that yarn bowl is w-a-a-a-y, w-a-a-a-y too wide, both for functional and aesthetic reasons. And the guy's manner annoys the hell out of me. Bring back Simon... My very own, very humble opinion, of course.
  6. It seems to be quite common here, especially recently.
  7. Sputty

    refiring bisque

    Yes, you can. No problem whatsoever.
  8. Sputty

    Bisque temp for raku

    China, rather, if anywhere. The history given here is interesting - History-Birth of Raku Ware - and especially worth a look is the 'Raku Successive Generations' menu item. Is a tea-bowl still a tea-bowl if it's not part of a tea ceremony? I'd argue that it isn't; the context of an object is as important to its definition as its form or superficial function. But it's probably all hair-splitting!
  9. Sputty

    Bisque temp for raku

    I think this is the problem, though. Cross-cultural knowledge without the traditions - which might mean the rituals, or the associated myths, or simply a history of usage - is not really knowledge at all. It's a sort of superficial, spurious bastard offspring without proper roots. Now, it might evolve into its own creature, but it really isn't related to the original except in the most trivial of senses. In the context of Japanese Raku vs Western 'Raku', this is really very obvious, as you have noted. The focus is so different, the concerns so different - the whole blessed point so different - that they are effectively entirely different aesthetics. And it is the aesthetic that is the whole point of Japanese Raku, one which requires a great deal of time and effort to assimilate if that particular sense, that way of accessing the world, is not ones immediate and natural instinct. I think all I'm saying is that I don't like one form being associated with the other! And I do like to recognise that any given aesthetic is informed by the complex, multi-dimensional context in which it is born and grows. These things are important.
  10. Sputty

    "dangerous" glaze ingredients

    The ultra-cautious can now add Titanium Dioxide to their list of terrifying ingredients. France is just about to ban the use of Titanium Dioxide as a food additive (E171), following research that shows micro-particles are able to pass through to the liver, lungs, etc. The stuff causes precancerous lesions in rats, as well as compromising their immune systems. E171 has been widely used in cosmetics and sun-screens, as well as being a food additive. So, you probably don't want to inhale vast plumes of the stuff, although of course once it's part of a fired glaze you can relax and breathe once more. For those with some French: Les bonbons au dioxyde de titane bientôt interdits
  11. Sputty

    Bisque temp for raku

    Are you sure it wasn't a L O N G time ago when people perhaps did know better? If ever the phrase 'cultural appropriation' has any meaning, it is surely in the way that the raku process has been hijacked by the West (starting in the US). The practice, process, and aesthetic has moved beyond all recognition from its root; and worse, it has gathered its own stern, almost legalistic, pre- and pro- scriptions we are supposed to abide by - absolutely detrimental to the understanding of that aesthetic. So one of the noblest, quietest, deepest and most elemental expressions of stillness and tranquillity gets reduced to buttock-clenching advice on food-safe surfaces and porosity. I sometimes get quite annoyed by it.
  12. Yes, Cromartie certainly did use brick lids at one point - mine has a brick lid! But mine has three elements, in series, 6-ish ohms a piece. The one I have is actually a really well built little kiln, fully encased in quality stainless. It's received so much abuse that it feels unkind, but it keeps on plugging along, mostly used for tests, or as a quick turnaround kiln.
  13. I'm fairly sure that it is a Cromartie kiln, which probably makes it one of the earlier Hobbytech 40's if it's rated for an ordinary 13 amp ring main. The company does still exist, and can supply elements and give technical advice. Try here. It would be worth sending them a few photos of the kiln, including any plates riveted to it, so they might identify it exactly (i.e. don't take my word as an absolute guide!).
  14. Sputty

    HELP - how does this kiln work

    Bear in mind you'll be (potentially) trying to draw 14 Amps from a 13 Amp circuit if you're plugging it in to a standard power socket. That's not necessarily a good idea, and will trip anything there is in line to trip, or possibly cause a fire if trippable things fail to trip. Is there a 7kW cooker circuit you can run it to? I'd recommend it... Is there any history with this kiln? Previous owner? Usage?
  15. Sputty

    HELP - how does this kiln work

    It's a good start! When you say 'orange glow' - was that the whole kiln interior, or just the elements? That is, do you think the kiln itself got to orange heat? This from @Pres is very useful: How many hours did it take before it shut off? What were the dials set to? Those glaze tests - what are the glazes - that is, what temperature or cone are they supposed to mature at? Bear in mind that your kiln appears to have a top temp of 1200 deg C, so you'll struggle to get anything above cone 6 to maturity. The ceramic tube is (was!) there to protect the thermocouple from mechanical and environmental (chemical fuming) damage. You should really replace the tube - in fact, unless you know for certain how old the thermocouple is, you might be best advised to replace it all while you're about it. That assumes that you think the Pye box is functioning as it should. If you have doubts about that, it might be an idea to bypass the temp controller and thermocouple completely, so you just have a box which heats up with the aid of the simmerstat. You'd then rely on cones to tell you when the firing is complete. You could also buy a new thermocouple and meter to help you judge what's going on, but that means spending money, a pet aversion of mine.
  16. Sputty

    HELP - how does this kiln work

    I believe Pye Ether stopped being Pye Ether in 1974, so that dates your controller (and presumably the whole kiln) to then or earlier. It's an interesting bit of kit, but as far as actually using it (the controller itself), I'm not sure I'd trust it! I'd like to, really I would, because I just love old electrical devices. I'd be very interested to see inside it. The NiCr/NiAL refers to types of thermocouple that the device is expecting. It claims a top reading of 1200 deg C. The idea is that as the kiln reaches whatever temperature is set on the dial, it (probably) throws a relay to cut the power to the elements. Somewhere inside the kiln will be the tip of a thermocouple (assuming it still exists). Whether it still works is probably a matter for divinity, and if it does, whether the box of tricks still does what is should will be divinity, Part II. You need to find out what works, and what doesn't! Theoretically, with the kiln wired to a suitable outlet, and the temp dial set 1200, and the simmerstat set to 'high', the kiln should come on and stay on. The little neon on the controller (right hand one) should light, and stay lit. After 10 minutes, you should be able to notice warmth in the kiln. If that doesn't happen (and I'll be mildly amazed - and amused - if it does), then you'll need to track down which bits function and which bits don't. Are you comfortable with electrics, voltmeters, etc? You need to know whether the elements are sound, whether the simmerstat works, etc. Even if the Pye Ether device is duff, it should be possible to get the kiln up and running as a basic box which heats up. You'll just have to judge the switching off at the end bit yourself, which in practice you'd probably do anyway, with the aid of witness pyrometric cones. Report back! I'm off to see whether I can track down the innards of that controller. EDIT - It appears that you can still source these Pye things 'as new'! It's all very exciting. EDIT - It also appears they exist in science museums...
  17. Sputty

    Newbie to Stoneware

    Unless you're doing anything out of the ordinary, with out of the ordinary materials, it's normal when working with stoneware to biscuit at 960 deg C - 980 deg C (1760 deg F - 1800 deg F). So Cone 07 would be good. When you biscuited to Cone 5, the body would've been vitrified. I take it the glazes were brush-on rather than dipping? Glazes rarely turn out like they're supposed to anyway.
  18. Sputty

    HELP - how does this kiln work

    Hi. Mills & Hubball went out of business in 1977/1978. I don't think anyone took the business over. The chances of finding a manual are vanishingly small. Given that your kiln is at least 40 years old, it might be worth letting a kiln-savvy electrician give it the once over, unless you are comfortable with 'leccy things. Having said that, the interior looks in good condition for that age, and the frame etc. isn't actually rusting into the ground. Note that it requires 14 Amps, which means a circuit with greater capacity than the normal socket circuit in the UK. Putting one in especially for the kiln is a good idea. The Off/Low/Med/High switch is a simmerstat. It does what is says: it cycles power on and off to the elements at a rate dependant on its setting. At 'low', it will switch off more than on; at 'med' perhaps half and half, and so on. Electric cookers uses to use these. Being a mechanical switching device, they eventually go wrong, but are readily available and replaceable. In use, you'd start the firing on 'low' for a few hours, then to 'med' for a few hours, then to 'high'. The exact timings of this will require experimentation to get the right profile for your purposes. Can you provide a better picture of the other dial? It's very indistinct. It's purpose will be to set the top temperature for the kiln. It would be interesting to know the mechanism behind it.
  19. Hi Clio. I think have some of those! To start at the end first, if the pots are truly as you describe, there's not much you can do to the pots, beyond what might be termed seasoning them. This relies on them being eventually sealed by continual use. In itself, the fact that they are only partially glazed shouldn't matter if the glaze is inside and partially down the outside. Can you post a photo? However... I'd like to know if the problem is actually as you describe, in that if water seems OK, and not to leak, something else must be going on. It might be worth doing the following: Thoroughly clean and dry - absolutely dry - one of the dishes. Leave it in a warm oven, or on a radiator, if necessary. Stand it on a few sheets of newspaper on a table, and 3/4 fill it with water. Come back in 24 hours, and see if the newspaper indicates any seepage - damp, wrinkled, whatever. Report back here! The dishes may well have been made in Morocco, Algiers, or elsewhere in North Africa (or they might indeed actually be Spanish). Whether something is seen as a problem, or merely as a fact of life, can be very culturally specific. There's a strong undercurrent on this particular forum that says earthenware should never be used for food, etc., etc., and that some monster will be lurking in the open pores of the terracotta with the sole purpose of attacking you. If the micro-monster doesn't get you, the dubious glaze will. I find that to be a particularly American attitude, and I certainly differ on this issue. I mention this only because someone will probably reply something of the sort - be aware that there are other opinions! Anyway, do my little experiment, and let us know.
  20. Have a look at Bath Potters. A decent pyrometer, plus thermocouple, shouldn't be anything like £250. (There's an old thread here somewhere where people get hot under the collar about which type of thermocouple is best to use, but I can't track it down. I argued for type 'R' or 'S', and I still would.)
  21. I'm not convinced of this at all. Smacks of social Darwinism, reductionist (and therefore wrong...). As a social anthropologist, it simply doesn't appeal - I'd need a great deal of well-argued reasoning to even begin to look at the idea seriously. An interesting idea, mentioned here, with specific reference to Magdalene Odundo: Women and Ceramics: Gendered Vessels
  22. Well, quite. The most obvious answer is to do with shape, volume, and the translation of physical attributes from person-hood to object, and the ascription of (culturally specific) idealised traits in a gendered fashion. I think the feminist in me steps back from that a bit. But - it's amazing. There's a huge wealth of material about ceramics written from a feminist perspective that I had no idea existed. Just one example of this rich seam of writing (sample from the book only, unfortunately): Artistic Ambivalence in Clay - (PDF) I may be gone some time...
  23. Things of Beauty Growing: British studio pottery, an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (UK) - Tuesday 20 March 2018 to Sunday 17 June 2018 Anyone able to get to Cambridge would be daft to miss this! Mentioned in an interesting article in The Guardian: Top of the pots: the smashing rise of ceramics
  24. Sputty

    Glaze or clay effect?!

    The 'sodium silicate/china clay dust/stretching' technique seems to be a wheel-based thing, relying on the form being nice and soft and stretchy. I would have thought that Aire's pots are hand-built - does anyone use these exact techniques on hand-built pots? How?
  25. Sputty

    Copied Images

    About 10 minutes, even with my low-level photoshop-fu. (Well, Gimp-fu). I imagine someone who knew what they were doing would do a much better job in the same time. I suspect that's why the professional image hawkers (Getty et al) slap a watermark across the whole image, crossing as many textures and colour gradients as possible. The job would be significantly harder then, although presumably not impossible for an adept. I'm in two minds about the whole thing. By the time you get to 'Getty' levels of watermarking, the effect is rather off-putting. As an analogy, I came across a stall at a pottery fair a few years ago, with some nice looking tea bowls, etc. In front of every second pot was a sign, in both French and English, telling me that photographing the display was forbidden. The signs were effectively more prominent than the pottery. It seemed very aggressive to me, and certainly didn't encourage a second look at the pots.

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