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About JeffK

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  1. Someone who has not put in the work can't truly understand the difference between talent and skill. They see them as one and the same. All they see, care about, and comprehend is the finished work and not the years, the frustrations, the successes - and failures - behind them. It's unimportant to them. If they admire, use, and gain some joy in what I produce, then I'm quite happy with that. No matter what they call it. If other members of our community appreciate both the talent and the skills - with the understanding of the difference - that makes me happier still. I do believe we are born with certain talents - we just have to find out where they fit best. And then do the work and gain the skills. The skills to get to where I am now or in the future are based upon my talents, curiosities and propensities, and often obsessiveness, for certain work. I don't take "talent" as an insult. Just as an interpretation of what I do and what I offer. Having spent nearly four decades in the custom packaging industry, I've been asked what, to me, was most important. I answered, quite honestly, when I handed the finished piece to the client and watched their eyes light up. And an "attaboy" here and there from my peers didn't hurt. - Jeff
  2. "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein So goes the road I'm on... - Jeff
  3. @Min - extremely helpful video. That thick bucket he has at the end of the video is what I'm trying for. What I tried to do was just create a small amount - about 8 oz - in a cup to see the result. I was using my hand to do the mixing and that might be part of the problem. That stick blender would work but don't have one available right now. But will try again and let you know results. Thanks again for the help! - Jeff
  4. I'm trying to keep the water down to a minimum or not at all. But this is a possibility! Thanks! - Jeff
  5. So in the studio the other day, I crushed up some unfired greenware and turned it into powder. I then took about a half cup of deflocculated slip and started adding powdered clay to it. Mixed it as best as I could but ended up with a watery lumpy mess. Just for the heck of it, I flocculated the slip with some epsom salts and tried adding the powdered clay to that. Same lumpy result. Could be that I need to find a better way to mix the powdered clay in but I wonder if this is becoming far too labor intensive - maybe there's another way to achieve that "plaster" type consistency. Might try the last suggestion at letting some water evaporate out of the flocculated slip. Ah well - back to the pottery lab.... - Jeff
  6. All tips and resources greatly appreciated! - Jeff
  7. OK - got it now. Defloculated slip, NO epsom salt. Add powdered clay. Get thick consistency I want. Thank you all for your patience - so much to learn! Now I'm off to the lab...er...studio! - Jeff
  8. Okay - I'm getting confused. You've all given me some great insight into the chemistry. But that's getting lost in the sauce - so-to-speak. We have a 5 gallon bucket of defloculated slip in the studio. I don't touch the chemistry of that. That's up to one of the studio managers. What I can do for myself is take that defloculated slip, put some into a pint container, add epsom salt solution, and thicken it up. But it's not as thick as I want. I can then take that creamy slip I just created in that pint container, add some clay powder (that I can get from pulverized greenware I have handy) and thicken the creamy slip to what I want. Correct? - Jeff
  9. Thanks Liam and Min - I think I'm wrapping my head around the chemistry a bit better with your explanations. What I realize now is that by adding more epsom salt solution or more defloculated slip wasn't working because I wasn't changing the ratio of clay to water. Questions: - If I need to add powdered clay body to get to a thicker slip, can't I just add it to the creamy slip I've just created? Do I have to defloculate again, ie with Darvan, before I add additional powder? - I don't believe we have any powdered clay body on hand at our studio - can I just pulverize some greenware I have? Thanks again for the education - really fascinated by the details of what we create! - Jeff
  10. Hi all: I've been playing with defloculated slip as decoration. We have a prepared bucket for use in the studio and I've been shown how to dissolve some epsom salt in a bit of water and then drip it into a cup of slip to thicken it up. But the cup preparation only achieves the thickness of creamy yogurt - I was hoping for something closer to that of a plaster. As suggested, I added more defloculated slip to the cup and it did thicken it up some but never got past that creamy consistency. I tried adding some epsom salt crystals directly to the mix bit it didn't seem to thicken it up any further. The instructor said that the defloculated slip was fairly old and he may have to add sodium silicate to revive the slip. I don't completely understand the chemistry but was hoping for some suggestions to thicken up the texture of the slip I want to use. At least until the bucket of slip is reincarnated... - Jeff
  11. I don't necessarily disagree when it comes to mass consumption - the label says it all. But on the one hand you say "hard to be original or stand out in a craft that's as ancient as pottery" and later you state "50 years ago, no one grew the kind of plants for enjoyment I'm making pots for now." Why not buy a plastic pot at Home Depot - does the job, mass produced, cheap, etc. ? You can be original no matter the age of the form or format. You can even create a need. What you produce with your hands, your eyes, your sense of form, engineering, and color is unique. The downside is that if you find a growing audience for your pots, you're going to try and produce as many as you can as quickly as you can. Maybe you start an assembly line, producing the same piece over and over again, same style, size, colors, etc. Maybe you hire a couple of people to help you reproduce your designs. Ever see those landscape paintings in the department store? They have somebody on the line who does nothing but paint clouds all day long. The bottom line is the bottom line. I'm going to take a SWAG at it - most here are not interested in just making money. I'm not. I'm happy when someone pays me in negotiable currency for one of my pieces. And it helps me buy some groceries. But providing something unique, even a simple bowl, that I made with my own hands, and watching someone turn it over and around, sensing it's shape with their hands as well as their eyes, is really what gets me going. My contention is that strictly functional pottery no longer exists. A line has been crossed to take the functional piece to design and art. And that's not recent. Japanese, Chinese, and Korean tea bowls go back to the 13th century - they're strictly functional yet they were revered as part of rituals and ceremony. Interestingly, they raised the level of form and design of the everyday bowl. Why is that? I don't know if this answers your question. But the potters that I met, who depend on their craft to make an income, both teach and sell their unique wares. And I think they do it because they want to and generally enjoy what they do. Has little to do with what's practical. As the old joke goes - This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doc, my brother's crazy, he thinks he's a chicken.' And the doctor says, 'Well why don't you turn him in?' The guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.'
  12. Beautiful work, John. Love the use of the feather and stones to ornament the vase. The rim certainly takes it out of the usual form and gives it its own unique shape. All of it works together! - Jeff
  13. I've often said there is a beauty to be found in the imperfections. Looking at the classic functional bowls and vases, the rims, sides and feet are often roughly shaped. But yet they're incredibly fascinating and unique and show the work of a craftsman's - and craftwoman's - hands. Glazes are like that - what might be considered a chaotic blend of color really turns into a hypnotic combination that people are often struck by. Right now I'm still at the stage of exploring how clay moves and how the tools work. I don't seek perfection - that's unattainable. I do pursue function as demonstrated by my teachers although I'll sometimes give the form some way of expressing itself. That's where the interest is. For me, this has turned into an incredible exploration of science, craft and art - and I do fear I'm becoming a bit obsessed by it!
  14. I agree, Pres. Especially in centering and opening, I've found that having that hands touching in some way, has been helpful in stabilizing and moving the clay. It's becoming more apparent to me how critical awareness of position is - and having the hands working in concert helps. The above tip from Fred fits into that by first finding my position with both hands at the rim and then using the thumb as a "rail" guide to trim the clay off the top. This is work that takes more than a bit of devotion to continue to develop your skills!
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