Jump to content


Photo

Bone Head Mistakes


  • Please log in to reply
62 replies to this topic

#21 Marcia Selsor

Marcia Selsor

    Professor Emerita, Montana State University-Billings

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,676 posts
  • Locationwhere Texas, Matamoros, Rio Grande and Gulf of Mexico come together.

Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:27 PM


The post about the artist who dumped wax resist on a kiln shelf got me thinking. What have you seen in your time either from yourself, students or colleagues that you would classify as a really dumb mistake. I know we have all done them.
I was the clay tech at my former art school. A student actually took an electric skill saw[circular saw], and while cutting a board, cut the end off the table. Not through the middle, just a foot off the end. When I asked him "why", he said; "I thought it was really tough going to cut that board."
I am attempting to go for humour here, as in Three Stooges. Not to humiliate anyone, so, no names please, just your own.
TJR.


Introduced myself to the professor of my first grad class in ceramics at Penn State. First day of class, no idea of how a Brent C worked as I had always thrown on kick wheels. Put my full bucket of water on the wheel platform, 10lbs of clay, tools all arranged. Put the clay on the wheel, pushed foot all the way down on the pedal-prof-Stevenson, was walking around, The clay went flying hit the bucket, and the whole thing landed on his pants and shoes. I shrank the rest of the summer. . . .

I know Jim Stevenson. And Dave Dontigney. funny.
I had Dave Dontigney's nephew in my classes in Montana. Both Jim and Dave are Montanans.
Marcia

#22 TJR

TJR

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,131 posts
  • LocationCanada

Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:40 PM

I am enjoying this blog immensely! I keep thinking about those wooden kiln shelves that the carpentry shop made. Oh, man.
Thank-you to everyone who has posted. Don't be shy out there. Keep posting.
TJR.Posted Image
Tried to drag the emoticom.Hope it works.
It worked!Posted Image

#23 Iforgot

Iforgot

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 155 posts
  • LocationColorado

Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:59 PM

you know that moment when you put a cone 7 in your sitter when you are actually firing cone 03 majolica ware.








Derek VonDrehle

Raku, Pit fired, Majolica, and Stoneware ceramic artisit

#24 GEP

GEP

    Moderator / full time potter ^6 stoneware

  • Moderators
  • 793 posts
  • LocationSilver Spring, MD

Posted 14 February 2013 - 11:51 PM

Once as I was unloading a bisque kiln, I picked up two pots, one in each hand. One of the pots slipped out if my hand. I let go of the other one so I could use both hands to catch the first one, without success. Duh.

Mea
Mea Rhee
Good Elephant Pottery
http://www.goodelephant.com

#25 Mark C.

Mark C.

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,580 posts
  • LocationNear Arcata Ca-redwood rain forest

Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:09 AM

This is a crossover mistake -meaning I have made it twice and both times been able to recover from it. So a repaired bone head mistake if you will.
Twice over the past 40 years I loaded my car kiln for cone 10/11 glaze fire rolled it in. Then at 1800 to 2100 or above I notice oops no cones.
Bone head for sure but wait there's more.
I keep cone pads on heater always so I have dry ones to work with . My spy plug is 4 inch tube so I gradually and I mean SLOWLY slid on a heavy angle iron the cone pad taking about 1/2 hour in very small stages pushing them in and holding them set up on a ladder. Then when I deemed them red hot used a push bar to slide them in between pots on shelve. Out of good habit I always have left the space just forgot to put them in.
I know this seem impossible but I have successfully done it twice without blowing them up.-
The fires both turned out fine
Recovered from Bone head move.
Mark
Mark Cortright
www.liscomhillpottery.com

#26 R Fraser

R Fraser

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 30 posts
  • LocationThree Lakes, Wisconsin

Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:18 AM

After enough electrical disasters (sawzall vs. 220 line on the far side of the joist, small electrical fire after 220 wire of new dryer- fire department not involved) to make most sensible people actually pay a qualified person to do the work you would think I would know better, and yet…



I bought a new 10 CF electric kiln and put in an 80 amp breaker for the 220V service, and bought some copper cable the size of a baby’s arm to hard wire the kiln to the junction box. Now I know the conventions for electrical wiring i.e. green = ground, and the large green cable in the guts of the kiln clearly was firmly mounted to the case & stainless jacket, so of course it is the ground right? The 8 gauge cable had 4 colors in it, black white, green, and another one (red). So of course this would be easy. I went over it all twice before energizing the panel and the breaker, and the kiln panel made a test tone like all was Okeedokee. So, following the testing instructions I was going to check that all the elements operated correctly and set up the kiln vent and plugged it in. When I energized the kiln there was an impressive flash and rather acrid smoke followed immediately by a warm wet feeling in my pants. I turned off the kiln breaker and went to see WTF was going on. The Kiln vent seemed to stop working and on closed investigation I noted the ground wire of the kiln vent had magically disappeared after melting its way through the plastic insulation. There was no other damage anywhere on or about the kiln so perhaps it was faulty wiring in the kiln vent, and yet it worked fine until I powered the kiln breaker. So I thought I should check the set up and took the wall and breaker box apart. Turns out somehow the green cable was attached to not the ground but to one of the energized legs of the panel, so my kiln jacket was energized with ½ of the 220 voltage, the black cable to the other and the white (should have gone to the energized pole) to the ground/neutral. The flash was indeed the ground of the kiln vent vaporizing because of its proximity to the rather “amped up” kiln jacket and a whole bunch of eager electrons with no place to go.



Now, I appreciate the fact that these electrons did not pick me for the best exit to ground, and that after such a terrifying experience I should have paid the electrician to fix my problems. For a whole day I considered giving everything to do with electricity away but a lack of common sense and mortality prevailed. I corrected the faulty wiring, checked it a second and third time, replaced the kiln vent cable with a new grounded plug (one that still had a green wire) and standing a more than safe distance used a broom stick to energize the breaker to the kiln. Everything worked perfectly, all 3 thermocouples worked fine, all solenoids functioned and all kiln elements lit up. I am happy to say the kiln has been firing flawlessly since. My wife has been spared the gory (or nearly gory) details on this.


So I built a light saber, am I a Jedi now?


#27 Marcia Selsor

Marcia Selsor

    Professor Emerita, Montana State University-Billings

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,676 posts
  • Locationwhere Texas, Matamoros, Rio Grande and Gulf of Mexico come together.

Posted 15 February 2013 - 08:01 AM

My students wanted to try a pit firing brought in some cow dung. My assistant dug a hole according to instructions. The kiln yard was located on the main highway up to the airport.
The cow dung was damp and started smoking ...extremely blocking visibility on the highway. Soon the fire department showed up and dowsed the fire through a hurricane fence. The front page of the Billings Gazette on the next day had a photo of a smiling young fireman in a yellow duster and hat with a hose aimed through the fence. Headlines read: "where there's smoke there's..."
I got a citation from the fire department and some funny letters from the Dean and VP.
I moved the dung firings to my house out of town.

Marcia

#28 Denice

Denice

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 643 posts
  • LocationWichita, Kansas

Posted 15 February 2013 - 09:27 AM

I did a similar bonehead thing with plaster, I was making a Da Da type sculpture piece I needed four sets of legs and hands and arms. I was smart enough to use plaster bandages and then reinforce it with mold plaster but I had to make them off my own body. I decided that the plaster bandages need more enforcement so I made large plaster fill boxes and laid my legs in them. I could get my legs out easily, my first layer was bandages and I only went half way up, the problem was the heat from the plaster as it set up. I just had to sit there and bear it, I didn't actually get burned just very red.

#29 Pres

Pres

    Retired Art Teacher

  • Moderators
  • 1,884 posts
  • LocationCentral, PA

Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:00 AM



The post about the artist who dumped wax resist on a kiln shelf got me thinking. What have you seen in your time either from yourself, students or colleagues that you would classify as a really dumb mistake. I know we have all done them.
I was the clay tech at my former art school. A student actually took an electric skill saw[circular saw], and while cutting a board, cut the end off the table. Not through the middle, just a foot off the end. When I asked him "why", he said; "I thought it was really tough going to cut that board."
I am attempting to go for humour here, as in Three Stooges. Not to humiliate anyone, so, no names please, just your own.
TJR.


Introduced myself to the professor of my first grad class in ceramics at Penn State. First day of class, no idea of how a Brent C worked as I had always thrown on kick wheels. Put my full bucket of water on the wheel platform, 10lbs of clay, tools all arranged. Put the clay on the wheel, pushed foot all the way down on the pedal-prof-Stevenson, was walking around, The clay went flying hit the bucket, and the whole thing landed on his pants and shoes. I shrank the rest of the summer. . . .

I know Jim Stevenson. And Dave Dontigney. funny.
I had Dave Dontigney's nephew in my classes in Montana. Both Jim and Dave are Montanans.
Marcia


Bone head moves- Jim had an experiential project one day where we dipped all sorts of toys etc in slip to look at how they looked made of clay. This was involving all sort of things he must have brought from home. Mid way through class he was called to some sort of meeting. By the time he got back - much later, a family was startled coming out of the Creamery by 7 clay statues running past. Most startling probably was that they left their clothes back at the studio! We all know how clay shrinks and pulls when it dries-what a day! I don't know what the repercussions for Stephenson were but then this was in the mid 70's, a different world back then.

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


#30 Natania

Natania

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 171 posts
  • LocationMassachusetts

Posted 15 February 2013 - 05:56 PM

Once I was giving a demo, and it an idle moment I stopped to admire my new hiking boots by flexing my foot, forgetting (somehow) that it was on the pedal of the electric wheel. My not-yet-stuck-down lump of wedged clay flew off the wheel and smashed into the wall with a distinct "thunk". I don't think I actually fessed up about how I was checking out my new hiking boots - I jut passed it off as a silly mistake (which it most certainly was) and luckily my very nice students laughed with me (I think).

#31 Benzine

Benzine

    Socratic Potter

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,429 posts
  • LocationThe Hawkeye State

Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:08 PM

I've had plenty of bone head moves, but most of mine have been pretty boring, and nowhere, as glorious, as some of those mentioned.

I made plenty of mistakes starting out teaching ceramics. My emphasis in college, was not ceramics, though it was one of my favorite classes. But by first teaching job had me replacing a teacher, who taught several ceramics classes a year. So I dove right in....and sometimes the depths were shallow.

The first firing, I did, I rushed it, and lost a good deal of the projects. Then, I had an issue with the glazes, on those projects that did survive. They didn't mature correctly, and were not becoming glossy at all. I checked the kiln and everything I could to make sure, the kiln was going hot enough......Then I realized the glazes, many of the students used, were underglazes.......

Also, in college, we had to design and teach a lesson, for my Art Education class. I choose to do a fresco lesson. So I wanted them to do a true fresco, and paint on the plaster surface, while it was still wet. As the students poured their plaster, out of the mixing bucket, it began to thicken. They didn't realize, that hot water, would cause it to set up, very quickly.....neither did their "instructor". I'm glad I figured that one out, before I started teaching, and before I tried using plaster on a project, like body wrapping, or something of the like.

I will also tell this story, though it is not my own. This is from the instructor, I had in college. I will preface it by saying, he is a great guy, and very skilled on the wheel. And in the event, that he actually comes across this post, I hope it doesn't embarrass ynou.
Anyway, the story goes: He was working on an electric wheel, the type with the moveable floor pedal. He was creating a rather large form, which very much impressed the class, which was also working in the room. He noticed their awe, and was feeling pretty cocky. As he went to stop what he was doing, he dropped down (He was standing on a seat, to form the vessel) and landed on the foot pedal. This kicked the wheel into high, causing the vessel to spin so fast, that it tore itself apart. One of the larger, flying chunks hit him, in his torso, knocking him backwards. The class was still awed, but for a different reason.
I always use this story, to explain to my students, why it is a good idea to slow the wheel down, for the later stages of work on the wheel.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#32 Matt Oz

Matt Oz

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 263 posts
  • LocationMichigan

Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:53 PM

Slapping two wedged chunks of grogged clay together and having a piece fly off right into my open eyeball, I quickly washed it out but the damage was done, if you have ever scratched your eye you know it's no party.

Glad the emoticon tip workedPosted Image

#33 Round2potter

Round2potter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 60 posts
  • LocationPortland, Orygun

Posted 16 February 2013 - 12:35 AM

First bonehead mistake i made was in high school. i was wedging (trying) on a plaster bat about 3 foot by 2 foot by 4 inch thick: didnt notice the trimming tool undernerath and CRACK.......... it brok into like 3 sections.

Next big one happened my second term in ceramics. I got a bit too free with how thick i should apply an already runny copper red. LUCKILY it floated ontop of the high alumina wash, it fused my pieces to evything on the shelf. Also, some of the red dripped down onto another shelf, took out a some furniture, dripped and made a gorgeous blemish on a bowl and dripp down that shelf onto the brick below.
All of this did no real damage to any kiln materials since it cracked right off clean; i did however ended up breaking all of my pieces to free all of the other students work intact, which i did somehow manage.

Ahhhh........ I did some rock/mineral test refereed to in an old post, and a buddy of mine got the idea to fire a big chunk of polished fluorite which took a ton of stuff out in the kiln.....

I'm sure there is more, and will be more, hopefully that day is not tomorrow.

Cheers! lets all learn from each others mistakes!
"There is no such thing as cheating in clay; So long as it works"

#34 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 16 February 2013 - 09:49 AM

Cheers! lets all learn from each others mistakes!


Like how not to position a picture for your avatar?

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#35 perkolator

perkolator

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 286 posts
  • LocationCalifornia

Posted 16 February 2013 - 11:06 AM

^^ yikes on over applying your glaze. Happens to lots of people. At least you weren't making a copper glaze from scratch and liberally brushing it on a 5' tall sculpture with lots of corrugated texture on it which loves to hold lots of material....only to find out you forgot to put everything but the frit/flux and copper in the glaze!!

This was a student a few years ago --luckily it was a special firing with a mostly empty kiln to get the last few pieces fired for term, but the piece was on the corner of the kiln bed and the glaze ended up spreading 18" around the piece and running off the bed onto the bag wall and rear wall/downdraft flue, thus fusing the car into a 130cf chamber. Lucky for us the car and door are separate so we could see why car wouldnt come out. Had to use pry bar to break car free. Spent 3days replacing about 24 soft bricks on car and lower kiln wall, and grinding shelves since it was so runny the glaze traveled to almost out the bottom of kiln. Never again!

Students are now REQUIRED to show me their glaze test and to check off materials as they add them to glazes when mixing. We don't keep house glazes in studio - everything is mixed on a per piece basis since its sculpture course where glaze mixing is part of curriculum.


I've heard stories of people putting a bucket of glaze next to the kiln wash, and having a different person not know any better....that's gotta be a fun day when you open the kiln...

Also know someone who set timer WAY too long on kiln sitter and left to fire unattended - cone didn't drop/sitter stuck so it kept firing. He came home at night and saw his kiln glowing from the bottom...ended up burning out the floor it overfired by so long!!!

#36 Benzine

Benzine

    Socratic Potter

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,429 posts
  • LocationThe Hawkeye State

Posted 16 February 2013 - 08:04 PM

"Slapping two wedged chunks of grogged clay together and having a piece fly off right into my open eyeball, I quickly washed it out but the damage was done, if you have ever scratched your eye you know it's know party."

I had something like that happen, but it was a student, who slapped the clay together, and I just happened to be standing in the right spot. Luckily, the clay did not contain grog, as yours did. Still, I just had to blink a lot, and let the tears wash away the weirdness.

"I've heard stories of people putting a bucket of glaze next to the kiln wash, and having a different person not know any better....that's gotta be a fun day when you open the kiln..."

That reminds me, of one of the mistakes I forgot to mention. I had a "Cadet Teacher", a student that helps a teacher with a class for credit, and I asked them to bring out a bag of the clay powder. We used it to mix into the reclaim clay, to improve the consistency. So they did, and a couple students, luckily, mixed up their clay. They then made their projects, and I fired them a few weeks later. I then, went to get them out of the kiln, and was momentarily confused, until suddenly the series of events all came together. My cadet teacher did not grab the bag of clay powder. Instead, they grabbed another, similar looking, but differently labeled bag, from nowhere near, where I told them it was. That bag, was full of dry glaze power. I didn't catch on, because I never looked, to see what bag they grabbed, and the glaze powder, looked a whole lot like the dry clay powder. So, my mistake, was not observing my cadet more closely.
Luckily, The project did not contain enough glaze, mixed into the clay, to fuse to the shelves, or anything else. They just basically started to melt. The student had another project, I had not yet fired, that they put a lot of time into, but obviously, I couldn't fire it.

"Also know someone who set timer WAY too long on kiln sitter and left to fire unattended - cone didn't drop/sitter stuck so it kept firing. He came home at night and saw his kiln glowing from the bottom...ended up burning out the floor it overfired by so long!!!"

I heard the exact same story, from a colleague. I'm not sure if their kiln had a timer though. But for some reason, the cone did not melt properly, and they had a nice, new, thick bottom to their kiln.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#37 Round2potter

Round2potter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 60 posts
  • LocationPortland, Orygun

Posted 17 February 2013 - 06:22 PM

Another story from my school studio is that we had a brand spankin new load lifter, envirovented, auto control, high temp electric kiln and the very first time it was fired..................................

Somebody thought it a good idea to break house rules and bring in their own clay, which just happened to be a lowfire "white".

It melted completely in the Cone 10 firing, spreading bubbly blue mess all over a shelf, tons of other student work, the floor, the bottom coil, and 5 or 6 brick.

This is now on display at the studio as a lesson to others.
"There is no such thing as cheating in clay; So long as it works"

#38 Pres

Pres

    Retired Art Teacher

  • Moderators
  • 1,884 posts
  • LocationCentral, PA

Posted 20 February 2013 - 10:12 AM

Another story from my school studio is that we had a brand spankin new load lifter, envirovented, auto control, high temp electric kiln and the very first time it was fired..................................

Somebody thought it a good idea to break house rules and bring in their own clay, which just happened to be a lowfire "white".

It melted completely in the Cone 10 firing, spreading bubbly blue mess all over a shelf, tons of other student work, the floor, the bottom coil, and 5 or 6 brick.

This is now on display at the studio as a lesson to others.


Bricked up a gas kiln with another student second year in graduate school-non MFA major. This was my first salt firing, and we really didn't know a whole lot about the kiln, or firing. Dug in anyway. Kiln loaded with our pots and other student pots. Bricked up double layer thick, we thought it was tight. About ^7 the door started bulging outward, when it got to 8 inches out of norm I got really concerned. It was 3 in the morning, and we got some metal braces and braced up the outside, someone else helped us balance the pressures, and we completed the firing without much problem, but there for a while life was frantic! Had a lot of late night student running around in panic.

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


#39 Ben

Ben

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 135 posts

Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:20 PM

I added some clay to an extruder one time, it was in another class room full of students in a class I was not in. Began extruding, things got difficult. The handle would go down but not much would come out. It was almost like there was a spring under the plunger. Then

BOOM!


I looked around shocked. The teacher started griping though I could only see her lips moving as my ears were ringing form the blast.
Slowly I began to realize that I had trapped a huge pocket of air in the barrel of the extruder and blasted out a clay bullet onto the floor though there wasn't much of the "bullet" left. It had splattered all over the place.

That one was all on me.

An acquaintance once had a set of wooden shelves made for her electric kiln on advice from one of her friends. She misunderstood WHY the wooden shelves had been reccomended (to be used to verify that pieces would or would not fit in the kiln) and she fired them. oops.


The forced air blowers on the gas kiln lost power one day during a reduction cone 10 firing. The resulting smoke caused someone to call the fire dept who knocked in the kiln door and hosed the thing down. They got in a little trouble for that.

This thread is full of LOLSPosted Image

#40 NancyA

NancyA

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:44 PM

Well, I spent a week incising a dozen tiles to fire in my first non-test bisque fire. Some of them I spent hours on, including sgraffito through underglaze on greenware and detailed carving. After waiting another week until they were bone dry, I carefully loaded the tiles into a box and carried them down to the basement to load the kiln. I put the box on the floor next to the kiln...walked away for a few minutes to get the shelves and posts. By the time I came back, my 10 lb. cat had jumped in the box and done a little dance all over my tiles, reducing most of them to cracked shards of rubble. And then he peed on them. I hadn't considered that cat litter is made of clay, so he probably thought it was a fresh new litter box. Or maybe he was just trying to tell me something!? Everyone's a critic, even the cat. Deep Sigh. So now I'm back to square one, though I'm not really in the mood right now to start over again. Maybe tomorrow. Lesson learned: keep an eye on my destructo-cat, and never put a box of greenware on the floor. Bone Headed, indeed!




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users