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Share your most memorable clay experiment? | March 12, 2012


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#1 Chris Campbell

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 02:57 PM

Potters are great innovators, inventors and and problem solvers. It's what happens when you have to deal with clay, machinery, computers and fire ... you sometimes have to just sit down and think your way out of or into a situation. Now sometimes we come out with a great "AHA" moment and others times its more of a "Ooops, now what do I do?" If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again is our sustaining motto.

So, we've all done great things and we have all bombed spectacularly ... are you willing to ....

Share your most memorable clay experiment?

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Chris Campbell
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#2 Chris Campbell

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 09:57 AM

My goodness! 183 views and no replies ....

I am the type of potter who tries almost anything to see what's gonna happen so maybe I have had more than my share of disasters and successes. My most memorable disaster involved a whole shelf of vases fused to my kiln shelf as I learned never glaze pots with checkerboard designs on the bottom again .... My most memorable success is in process right now as I am adapting the polymer clay method of coloring to my own porcelain ... exciting, rewarding and so much fun. Who knew that after twenty years of doing something one way, the door could open to a whole new world of doing it an easier way?

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Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
www.ccpottery.com

TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#3 Idaho Potter

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:34 AM

Working on a handbuilt coil pot, I pushed to hard and fast. Leaving it overnight wrapped up I was not happy to see one side of it had collapsed. Trying to figure out if it could be saved or recycled, I took a look at it from another perspective and laughed because it looked like it was about to give birth. I finished the pot, threw a neck, and it still wasn't "correctly" pregnant. It still didn't have the right look that said"I'm pregnant".

I started to pay attention to pregnant women and the answer was hands. All pregnant women caress their bellies, rest their hands on it, clasp their hand together as if to lift and hold the burden. I loved it and incorporated hands into the sculpture/vase/vessel. I've made quite a few and fire them to cone 6 or Raku. OB/GYN' seem drawn to them. Don't you love turning an imminent disaster into a victory?

#4 clay lover

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 07:18 AM

Working on a handbuilt coil pot, I pushed to hard and fast. Leaving it overnight wrapped up I was not happy to see one side of it had collapsed. Trying to figure out if it could be saved or recycled, I took a look at it from another perspective and laughed because it looked like it was about to give birth. I finished the pot, threw a neck, and it still wasn't "correctly" pregnant. It still didn't have the right look that said"I'm pregnant".

I started to pay attention to pregnant women and the answer was hands. All pregnant women caress their bellies, rest their hands on it, clasp their hand together as if to lift and hold the burden. I loved it and incorporated hands into the sculpture/vase/vessel. I've made quite a few and fire them to cone 6 or Raku. OB/GYN' seem drawn to them. Don't you love turning an imminent disaster into a victory?


Could we have a picture of these 'ladies'?

#5 Denice

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:39 AM

The pregnant ladies did remind me of a past experiment I did years ago, I had heard about using fiberglass in clay to make work stronger. So I put a layer of fiberglass fabric between two thin layers of clay and made an curved tray. I fired in a Raku firing and the tray was long enough that it had to go length way into the trash barrel. When it came out it had a huge swollen bulge from gas created by the fiberglass. I learned two things, cut fiber glass is better and a higher firing, the tray did end up in someone's home because they thought it was unique. Denice

#6 JLowes

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:18 PM

My experiment was in throwing large. I attended a demonstration given by a ceramics student at the nearby University in throwing in sections and assembling them into a larger pot. His technique and explanations were so on point that I was inspired to "GO BIG"! So, for my first really (for me) large pot I decided I would max out my Olympic 25 Oval heightwise. That turned out to be 23 inches taking into account the shelf and posts off the floor. To speed up the story, I first had wheel pedal "accidents" that destroyed the first two assemblies, but the third try was successful. In order to make the effort more impressive, I designed a lid with an internal flange to add more height to the pot. The two pictures are the final shaping at the wheel and the completed pot on my fireplace hearth.

The end product was made up of three sections thrown and assembled, and stands (with lid and finial) over 25 inches tall.

John

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#7 SShirley

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 03:26 PM

OK, true confessions. I have a couple of clay memories that could have ended very, VERY badly. I hesitate to tell the stories to "strangers", (I really am fairly intelligent, but maybe a little careless) but in the interest of a "teaching moment", here goes. (This is just between us, right?)

First lesson: Many years ago, after I had been in clay classes for a while I decided to set up a studio of my own. I went to a garage sale and bought a really old electric kiln, took it home and set it up. I wasn't even sure the thing worked, so - thinking it was like an electric stove - I turned it on and patted my hand on the elements to see if they were warming up. Big mistake. I quickly learned that an electric kiln is just a big open circuit and touching the elements is not a good idea. I got a huge shock. Could have been killed. Lesson learned? Not quite. I had to test the theory again a few years later with another "new" kiln. Now the first thing I tell new people who are considering getting an electric kiln is NEVER touch the elements if the thing is plugged in.

Second lesson: A group of us set up a clay "club" and started having group sales once or twice a year. For one of these shows, maybe 10 years ago, we decided to set up a raku kiln and bring bisque ware which people could glaze and fire on the spot. Big fun. Well, I had never done raku on my own but I had an old kiln that I brought to use. We cut holes in it for the gas. We borrowed a weed burner and got propane tanks and tongs and cans and all that stuff. When it came time to light the kiln I started the gas, put the weed burner in front of the hole, and clicked and clicked the bbq lighter but it wouldn't start. It just kept clicking. Hmm, I thought. Who has matches? Finally the lighter made a flame, hit all that gas that had been filling the kiln this whole time, and WHOOSH! The lid shot up several inches and fire was everywhere. I remember knowing that I was surrounded by flames. And then just as suddenly it was done. I didn't have a single burn. No singed hair or anything. It was amazing that I wasn't severely injured. People around me said they knew it was going to happen, but thought I knew what I was doing. Don't know what gave them that idea.

Oh, boy. these stories make me sound like a moron. I'm really not, I promise. Maybe just a little too enthusiastic. So, the moral of my stories is... electricity and propane can kill. Or amuse your clay friends for years to come.

Sylvia

#8 Pres

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 03:52 PM

OK, true confessions. I have a couple of clay memories that could have ended very, VERY badly. I hesitate to tell the stories to "strangers", (I really am fairly intelligent, but maybe a little careless) but in the interest of a "teaching moment", here goes. (This is just between us, right?)

First lesson: Many years ago, after I had been in clay classes for a while I decided to set up a studio of my own. I went to a garage sale and bought a really old electric kiln, took it home and set it up. I wasn't even sure the thing worked, so - thinking it was like an electric stove - I turned it on and patted my hand on the elements to see if they were warming up. Big mistake. I quickly learned that an electric kiln is just a big open circuit and touching the elements is not a good idea. I got a huge shock. Could have been killed. Lesson learned? Not quite. I had to test the theory again a few years later with another "new" kiln. Now the first thing I tell new people who are considering getting an electric kiln is NEVER touch the elements if the thing is plugged in.

Second lesson: A group of us set up a clay "club" and started having group sales once or twice a year. For one of these shows, maybe 10 years ago, we decided to set up a raku kiln and bring bisque ware which people could glaze and fire on the spot. Big fun. Well, I had never done raku on my own but I had an old kiln that I brought to use. We cut holes in it for the gas. We borrowed a weed burner and got propane tanks and tongs and cans and all that stuff. When it came time to light the kiln I started the gas, put the weed burner in front of the hole, and clicked and clicked the bbq lighter but it wouldn't start. It just kept clicking. Hmm, I thought. Who has matches? Finally the lighter made a flame, hit all that gas that had been filling the kiln this whole time, and WHOOSH! The lid shot up several inches and fire was everywhere. I remember knowing that I was surrounded by flames. And then just as suddenly it was done. I didn't have a single burn. No singed hair or anything. It was amazing that I wasn't severely injured. People around me said they knew it was going to happen, but thought I knew what I was doing. Don't know what gave them that idea.

Oh, boy. these stories make me sound like a moron. I'm really not, I promise. Maybe just a little too enthusiastic. So, the moral of my stories is... electricity and propane can kill. Or amuse your clay friends for years to come.

Sylvia


Ahhhh SShirley. . . It happens! Years ago when in grad school for Art Ed, I was assigned to load and fire a salt kiln. I had never fired a gas kiln before, let alone bricked up a door. As it was I teamed up with another student that had fired gas, but not salt. We loaded the kiln after considerable research-good wadding on everything, entire semester of work from myself and others. Bricked in the door, and started firing. About cone 6 we noticed that the door was bulging out dangerously! At cone 8 it was nearly out 2 feet in the center. We couldn't rebrick, couldn't figure what to do-but we got some angle iron Ts that were in the courtyard, and propped them up to the door pushing it back into somewhat flat. Braced it. When we got to salt temp we put the salt in through the ports, and let it fire until cones down. Never closed down the flu for a little salt soak! Driest looking salt firing around, good color, and luckily several of the pots had some glaze on them so they were actually Ok. Other loads since-much better, but 25 year olds at 3 in the morning were running around scared as heck!

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#9 SShirley

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 04:53 PM

Ahhhh SShirley. . . It happens! Years ago when in grad school for Art Ed, I was assigned to load and fire a salt kiln. I had never fired a gas kiln before, let alone bricked up a door. As it was I teamed up with another student that had fired gas, but not salt. We loaded the kiln after considerable research-good wadding on everything, entire semester of work from myself and others. Bricked in the door, and started firing. About cone 6 we noticed that the door was bulging out dangerously! At cone 8 it was nearly out 2 feet in the center. We couldn't rebrick, couldn't figure what to do-but we got some angle iron Ts that were in the courtyard, and propped them up to the door pushing it back into somewhat flat. Braced it. When we got to salt temp we put the salt in through the ports, and let it fire until cones down. Never closed down the flu for a little salt soak! Driest looking salt firing around, good color, and luckily several of the pots had some glaze on them so they were actually Ok. Other loads since-much better, but 25 year olds at 3 in the morning were running around scared as heck!
[/quote]

Thanks, Pres. I feel better knowing I'm not the only one with a taste for danger.

#10 phill

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 05:59 PM

I decided I would max out my Olympic 25 Oval heightwise. That turned out to be 23 inches taking into account the shelf and posts off the floor.


I like the parameters you gave yourself. I worked with S.C. Rolf for a while and he said he loves giving himself similar parameters. Example: He throws ten cups. All have to be 1lb. and 4" high. Everything else is game. He said that he found it was better to give himself a fence to really push on than to give so much space that he felt lost.

#11 Chris Campbell

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 06:48 PM

The kiln lighting tale reminds me of an old joke ... Guy parachuting finds his rip cord fails and he is plummeting to the ground when he spots a man shooting up at him .... "know how to open a parachute?" he asks ..."nope, know how to light a gas kiln?"

Chris Campbell
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TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#12 Matt Oz

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 02:01 PM

Chris Campbell your skinner blends look great.




Here is what I've been working on, a new cone 6 translucent porcelain. I decided not worry about slumping with this clay and fire it to a glassy finish, no glaze needed. It's also compatible with a variety of other cone 6 clay bodies and glazes. It's a plastic clay body and fairly easy to work with, so I would like to try to market it someday.

I haven’t made anything fancy with it yet, just tests, but here are some examples. Some with light behind them and without. They are actually brighter than the pictures.

The photo of the square one alone, is showing the test piece from behind. The piece that goes from white to brown, is actually the new clay on one end, grolleg porcelain on the other, and a combination of the two in the middle.

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#13 Idaho Potter

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 05:57 PM

To Clay Lover,

My "Ladies in Waiting" were uploaded to the Gallery on Feb 5th. I had a heck of a time finding them myself, so good luck. The ones shown in the Gallery are Raku fired, but I have produced them and fired to cone six using a white clay body (Coleman Raku or BC-6 stoneware). Keeping the glaze off the hands has been difficult. Wax didn't work too well as it sometimes got on the "body" while I was coating the hands. Finally switched to latex resist, and so spend a lot of time removing sticky stuff instead.

#14 Kabe

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 09:54 AM

My strongest clay related memory was during my second semester of ceramics. It is not one that I wish to repeat. Intriged by how well plaster could capture an image, I started to make casts. I cast a gourd to make a ladle. I cast my hand. I cast sprigs to stick on some pots. I cast small stamps to decorate a bowl. I cast the nieghbors small yappy dog. The nieghborhood was so quite after that. ( no, just kidding no dogs were harmed) Then I envisioned a large pot with three faces encompassing it's belly, kind of a Greek looking thing I thought, and the face, of cource my own. I got a book from the library for instruction, bought plaster, brought home a bag of clay to use as a way to pool the plaster around my mug. Got some straws to stuff up my nose and talked my girlfriend, Cheryl, into pouring the plaster. Surrounded by a posse of supportive children, her four and my two, ages ranging from two to ten, I positioned myself on the floor. Nesting my head in pillows with a wall of wet clay secured by a long rag framing my face, I inserted the straws, closed my eyes and felt the cool plaster flow over my face. "This will be great!" I thought as I lay there trying to limit my breathing so as not to disturb the plaster, poking at it from time to time to test it's hardness. The book I obtained from the library said to "Grease your face well before covering with plaster." Check, did that. What it failed to mention was that having a beard could cause complications. I had thought of about it, I even trimmed off the shaggest parts and applied lots of Vaseline, just in case, but when it came time to remove this large, hot, heavy, entombing mass of plaster, we had become one. Not in a Zen sence, more of a cement galoshes sence. "STAY CALM!!!!!" I screemed to myself as I managed to feel my way across the floor and into a chair, all the while tugging at this immovable, semmingly permanet glob of plaster. Everything seemed muffled and quiet like listoning from the inside of a tomb. Even the children were quiet, Awe struck I expect and I bet a bit frightened. I expect it was like the scean from Aliens Two where that hatch-ling grabs Sigourney Weaver by the neck and she struggles with it for her life trying to get it off. "MMMMMMM MMMMM MMMMM" I said as loudly as possible. It's hard to give instructions with 10 pounds of plaster hanging from your mustache, "What?" "What did he say?" I heard Cheryl ask the kids. "Oil can! I think he said Oil can." piped in one helpful child " No No I think he said "Butter knife. Get me a butter knife!" said my oldest. I shook my cast vigorously in agreement. Armed with a butter knife I slowly, painfully started to pry it off. Insert knife handle and push down on your cheek untill the hairs pull out and repeat. In time I managed to pull the top part loose from my head and was able to peer out over the top. Just glad at that point that I could at least see. I still was not sure how I was going to get it off my chin. As unpleasent as this event had been thus far, it's unpleasentness was pale when compared to the recurring nightmare that was unfolding in my mind. The nightmare of being driven somewhere to have it removed. It was next to unbearable. First of all it might be hard to explain, especially when you can't speak. Secondly is there anything anywhere in any medical book that covers this depth of stupidy. Worse yet, I might live through the procedure and the doctor or archeologist, I hadn't decided which would be best suited to extract my head, would see who it was that had encased his face in plaster. Reciprocating saw. hammer and chisel, air chisel, T.N.T. what would be their tool of choice. I was tutored by my father, raised with the philosophy to alway try to laugh your way through the tough parts of life. That cowboy sence of humor that no matter how bad the ordeal, if you lived through it, something about it just had to be funny. I had not yet arrived to this conclustion but the kids had. Bless thier hearts. I'm not sure which kid snickered first, but there it was, that muffled sound of a surpressed laugh. I'm sure that seeing you dad sitting in a chair, looking like the early planning stages of MT Rushmore, just might strike you funny, and they were right. This was ridicules and it was funny and it deserve a snicker or two. I did eventually succeed in getting the cast removed without the help of a trained professional. I uses Nair. It is a hair removing product, sort of like Drain-O with fragrance added. It will remove hair and with prolonged contact, skin, but most importantly it can remove unwanted facial casts from your face. I poured it in, let it burn it's way through, while I pried with the knife. I still have the cast. I put a picture of it and some pieces I made with it in my gallary. I even talked my two boys into letting me cast their faces. I still haven't made the three faced pot. Guess I still can. Aint Clay Fun Kabe

#15 Matt Oz

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 11:52 AM

Sounds like a harrowing experience Kabe. I'll have to remember that Nair trick.

#16 Chris Campbell

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:45 PM

The awesome part is that your sons allowed you to do a cast of them after seeing how good you were at it. A trusting duo. :D

Chris Campbell
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#17 Kabe

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 09:35 PM

The awesome part is that your sons allowed you to do a cast of them after seeing how good you were at it. A trusting duo. Posted Image



Yes. But sadly it brings into question all our I.Q.'S Not really, well at least not theirs. ain't clay fun Kabe

#18 Pres

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:48 PM


The awesome part is that your sons allowed you to do a cast of them after seeing how good you were at it. A trusting duo. Posted Image



Yes. But sadly it brings into question all our I.Q.'S Not really, well at least not theirs. ain't clay fun Kabe



Experimentation is part of the learning process-I once tried to make set bricks with styrofoam and a torch! You can imagine the soot particles all over the place! In the end I discovered that a straight edge and a wire brush made great mortar lines. It all came from experimentation though. Back then there was no internet to give me a hint as to how to do it.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/





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