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rayaldridge

Turned Foot Rings On Mugs; Elegance Or Affectation?

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Rebekah, I can certainly understand that point of view, since for most of my life I held a very similar one.

 

But... I have to disagree with the implication that a beer stein can't be great art.  There are very ordinary functional pots that are in my opinion greater works of art than any number of works made with the intention of creating art.  A good example is the Song Dynasty rice bowl, of which millions were made by anonymous potters.  Some of them are staggeringly beautiful, and in my view unmatched by almost everything made by studio potters in the last century or so.

 

Anyway, now that I'm in my dotage, I've resolved to make everything that comes from my kilns as beautiful as possible, given my limited skills... even the humblest of forms.

 

That doesn't mean that I don't care about whether or not a form can be made profitably.  I do.  In fact, my thinking about the mugs involves certain financial considerations.  My mugs are porcelain.  Porcelain wares have certain connotations and contexts that make it reasonable to apply a more careful degree of finish than might be the case with stoneware.  People expect a certain boldness and spontaneity with stoneware, but with porcelain, they expect refinement.  (Of course, there's nothing wrong with confounding expectations.)

 

The amount of time it takes to turn a foot on these mugs is not enormous, especially with the right equipment and an efficient set-up.  I think I can ask and get more for these mugs than I could for mugs finished flat on the wheel.  I believe the couple of minutes it takes to turn the feet will be adequately repaid, though of course I could be wrong.  The initial reaction I'm getting is encouraging.

 

But perhaps more important than any financial consideration is that I'm really proud of these mugs, I look forward to making them, decorating them, firing them, and that makes it more fun to crank them out.  I'm inclined to make more of them than if I were regarding them as something I had to make in order to pay the rent.

 

I guess what I'm trying to get across here is that making a decent living with functional wares is not easy, even if you are very skilled. For folks who aren't really interested in making mugs for their own sake, they might be better off working at McDonalds, and spending their actual studio time on the forms they really want to make.

 

This is in no way a disagreement with what you said.  It's more in the line of explaining why I'm doing what I'm doing.

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I don't like washing bare clay on domestic ware whether it is for serving or cooking. So I cut foot rings. They look better and allow most of the base to be glazed. The only disadvantage of the foot ring is its tendency to collect grotty water in the dishwasher. I cut V shaped chinks in the foot ring, but that spoils the look. What I would like is the foot ring on a plastic mug I own. It has a foot ring of tiny half domes, but I can't think of any way to apply them efficiently to thrown cups. Any ideas?

 

I've seen people make mugs with little "feet". They can be really awesome but of course it's another thing to attach so I would not call it efficient. Perhaps you could throw with extra clay left at the bottom, trim an oversized foot and then cut away all but a few points? Here is an example of a beautifully made mug with feet. 

http://store.brothers-handmade.com/Green-Iron-Red-Textured-Footed-Mug-Handmade-Pottery-EACH-ONE-UNIQUE.html

 

Neil: That golden mug you shared last is just wonderful in every way. 

 

 

Thank you! 

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 "For folks who aren't really interested in making mugs for their own sake, they might be better off working at McDonalds, and spending their actual studio time on the forms they really want to make."

Ray- 

I have to disagree with that statement.  Why would working at Mcdonalds for someone els's sake be better than working in your basement with clay for someone els's sake?  I do agree with you that steins can be art, I love steins. I have a beautiful stein in my collection that Is inspiring to me.  To clarify, to make something that is well made and you enjoy - knowing that the design is simplified to hasten turnover isn't a bad thing.. especially if you want to spend the majority of your time sculpting or decorating other pots.  (ps. I put footings on many of my cups too. To me it depends on the design of the cup) 

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Giselle, don't let the fear of trimming through the bottom stop you from making foot rings. When it happens, say "oh well", recycle the clay and try again. That's how you learn to gauge the thickness of the bottom and how much to trim.

 

Paul

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Jumping back in here with a few of my own personal opinions. For me, any pot, no matter how functional or decorative can aspire to great art. It may not be through intention of the potter, but it happens. Just as every painting by a painter is not a masterpiece, yet one is, so with pots. I really don't see what the difference is when all things are considered. We all master our skills, whether a painter, sculptor, jeweler, potter or weaver or other form of art or craft. We all design the work we do-unless of course we are mass producing something for a designer. We all make choices of color, and texture, contrast, as some of the Elements of Design. We also all use Principles of Design including Movement, Contrast, and Unity. Why shouldn't a simple cup aspire to be great art?

 

Trimming a foot ring on a mug, as I said before it is a matter of design. Does that trimming have to have a hollowed inner area? Not necessarily. I foot ring may look like it is there in profile, but in fact just be a flat bottom if the piece is thrown so that the design of the foot is taken into account. At the same time, cutting away areas of the foot again is a matter of design an practicality.  Practical because the foot ring that is whole will gather water from the dishwasher. The opened ring, will not.

 

Again, these are very personal opinions, and one of the reasons I return to simple objects often like the mug, the bowl, the plate. When satisfied with that journey I return to other forms like the Teapot, the casserole, and others.

 

Best,

Pres

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I'll throw in my 2 cents Giselle on the mug bottoms-I agree with Neils suggestions. I may add that a wet sponge on the sharp edges will align the clay particiles and smooth the bottoms. Having a smooth bottom on a mug is always a good idea.

Mark

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Giselle, to add to what Paul says, there are ways to gauge the thickness of pots as you trim the foot.  You can take a mechanical approach, and devise a way to measure the thickness of the bottom by measuring from the rim to the bottom, and subtracting that from a measurement of the rim to the wheelhead.  A couple of sticks can be used.  Another way is to flick the bottom as you trim.  The sound it makes changes when it gets thin.  Eventually, you will be able to just allow for the depth of trimming you want when throwing the piece, and the process becomes automatic.

 

 

Rebekah, I'm probably wrong.  But my thinking in this matter has two tracks.  The first one is that making a living selling functional pottery is not easy.  I've done it several times in the last 40 years, and it is a lot of work and a lot of stress.  It's not the way I would choose to finance a different calling, because to do it well enough to succeed requires a total commitment to that path.  Those who succeed rarely are able to treat it as a day job, and then spend their evenings doing sculpture. (I'm sure there are exceptions, but I think this is a general truth.)  It is no coincidence that many, if not most of the potters I admire who do gallery quality sculptural and non-functional work are also academics.  That's how they pay the rent.

 

The other track has to do with focus.  I have a theory that we all possess limited amounts of creative juice.  Some of us have lots, some have less, but for everyone there is a limit.  If we spend it on one thing, there's less available for other things.  If we spend it on beer steins that we don't love, there's less available for the stuff we really want to do.  I can give you an example from another field.  When I was an active science fiction writer, and had a big novel slowly cooking along, I was offered a chance to do some ghost writing-- work-for-hire books set in another writer's universe.  I needed money (who doesn't) to live until the big novel was finished.  I talked to my agent about it, and perhaps because he had hopes for me as a literary writer, he advised me against it.  "Go drive a cab if you need money," he said.  "Do what's important to you, when it comes to writing.  You only have so much steam and so much time; don't waste it doing stuff you don't really care about."

 

As I say, I'm probably wrong about this, but focus is terribly important, especially if you want to live in the world of fine art, which is a hostile and ultra-competitive environment.  If I were attempting to storm that castle, I think I would be smarter to take a job that had nothing to do with clay, and then put all my clay juice into the work I really cared about.

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It's a balance between spending enough time making your pots that they are beautiful enough that someone wants to buy them, but not so much time that you waste time doing things that the market won't pay for. I have some designs that make for really great pots, but I can't get enough money for them at art fairs to make it worth my time to produce them. I get $26 for mugs, and at that price I can trim a foot on them.

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Giselle, don't let the fear of trimming through the bottom stop you from making foot rings. When it happens, say "oh well", recycle the clay and try again. That's how you learn to gauge the thickness of the bottom and how much to trim.

 

Paul

 

That is excellent advice, Paul, and I will try not to cringe as I trim any more. LOL

 

I recently saw a video on trimming by Hsin Chuen Lin and he did this sort of watermelon flick on the bottom of his pots as he was trimming. You could really hear the sound change as he trimmed. I have been trying it a bit, and I definitely have gotten bolder about trimming. My first couple of mugs have maybe 1 1/6" trimmed and I was sure I was going to go through. Of course they're bottom heavy and I could have trimmed off quite a bit more than I did. Now some are as deep as 1/4" and I haven't trimmed through one yet. I also could put on a new bottom (although even as a beginner making it over is already easier than that). 

 

I'll throw in my 2 cents Giselle on the mug bottoms-I agree with Neils suggestions. I may add that a wet sponge on the sharp edges will align the clay particiles and smooth the bottoms. Having a smooth bottom on a mug is always a good idea.

Mark

I'm working on my first glaze load of wheel thrown stuff so when I'm wiping them down I'll check carefully that the bottoms have no sharp edges. I've been using a sponge at the end of trimming but I wasn't trying to round the edges, just smooth it. Something new I get to try! :) Thank you! 

 

 

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It's a balance between spending enough time making your pots that they are beautiful enough that someone wants to buy them, but not so much time that you wasting time doing things that the market won't pay for. I have some designs that make for really great pots, but I can't get enough money for them at art fairs to make it worth my time to produce them. I get $26 for mugs, and at that price I can trim a foot on them.

Yes and we love your mug here- It never stays in the cabinet! I think my teenage daughters adopted it ... 

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It's a balance between spending enough time making your pots that they are beautiful enough that someone wants to buy them, but not so much time that you wasting time doing things that the market won't pay for. I have some designs that make for really great pots, but I can't get enough money for them at art fairs to make it worth my time to produce them. I get $26 for mugs, and at that price I can trim a foot on them.

Yes and we love your mug here- It never stays in the cabinet! I think my teenage daughters adopted it ... 

 

 

Nothing better than to hear one of my pieces is being used a lot. Thanks!

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On 4/30/2015 at 10:48 PM, rayaldridge said:

Rebekah, I can certainly understand that point of view, since for most of my life I held a very similar one.

 

But... I have to disagree with the implication that a beer stein can't be great art.  There are very ordinary functional pots that are in my opinion greater works of art than any number of works made with the intention of creating art.  A good example is the Song Dynasty rice bowl, of which millions were made by anonymous potters.  Some of them are staggeringly beautiful, and in my view unmatched by almost everything made by studio potters in the last century or so.

 

Anyway, now that I'm in my dotage, I've resolved to make everything that comes from my kilns as beautiful as possible, given my limited skills... even the humblest of forms.

 

That doesn't mean that I don't care about whether or not a form can be made profitably.  I do.  In fact, my thinking about the mugs involves certain financial considerations.  My mugs are porcelain.  Porcelain wares have certain connotations and contexts that make it reasonable to apply a more careful degree of finish than might be the case with stoneware.  People expect a certain boldness and spontaneity with stoneware, but with porcelain, they expect refinement.  (Of course, there's nothing wrong with confounding expectations.)

 

The amount of time it takes to turn a foot on these mugs is not enormous, especially with the right equipment and an efficient set-up.  I think I can ask and get more for these mugs than I could for mugs finished flat on the wheel.  I believe the couple of minutes it takes to turn the feet will be adequately repaid, though of course I could be wrong.  The initial reaction I'm getting is encouraging.

 

But perhaps more important than any financial consideration is that I'm really proud of these mugs, I look forward to making them, decorating them, firing them, and that makes it more fun to crank them out.  I'm inclined to make more of them than if I were regarding them as something I had to make in order to pay the rent.

 

I guess what I'm trying to get across here is that making a decent living with functional wares is not easy, even if you are very skilled. For folks who aren't really interested in making mugs for their own sake, they might be better off working at McDonalds, and spending their actual studio time on the forms they really want to make.

 

This is in no way a disagreement with what you said.  It's more in the line of explaining why I'm doing what I'm doing.

Finding this very late, but a question: i like to trim but getting the darn piece centered takes me at least a few minutes for each piece. To me, that’s a huge waste of time. I tried tapping to center - hahahahahahah - No. so i let the piece go round and round and round with my finger held out, pushing and pulling, to center for trimming. Any other ways to do this more efficiently? Thanks,

nan

Edited by nancylee

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Takes me a bit of fiddling to center for trimming as well - looking to try using a Charles (stealing from Bill VG - a chuck) to speed things up some, however, the chuck would make sense when there are many similar/same items lined up to trim.

I start by eyeballing, then use pointer tool to mark the runout and eyeball the gap on t'other side, stop, move half the gap, repeat. Eventually we'll learn to tap to center?

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55 minutes ago, Hulk said:

Takes me a bit of fiddling to center for trimming as well - looking to try using a Charles (stealing from Bill VG - a chuck) to speed things up some, however, the chuck would make sense when there are many similar/same items lined up to trim.

I start by eyeballing, then use pointer tool to mark the runout and eyeball the gap on t'other side, stop, move half the gap, repeat. Eventually we'll learn to tap to center?

Thank you!! I keep trying, but no success yet!! 

Nancy

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1 minute ago, Mark C. said:

learn to tap to center-its one of the best skills to have.

Thank you, Mark! I really should have someone show me how, as I think I keep trying to learn it wrong.  HA!!

Nancy

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Take a look at the tap center video:

The key is to learning the technique (at least that is what Fred Olsen told me) is to tap at the 10 o'clock position when the wheel is turning counter-clockwise.  That works for me.  like all skills practice, practice, practice is essential  use a Styrofoam cup, beverage can, ... anything round.  add some sand or lumps of clay to the can to simulate the weight of a pot also helps.  

a big help to centering is to trim the bottom round before removing the pot from the bat (or wheel) so that there is a round edge to use to start from when trimming.  

Centering pots that are not round or symmetric is a bit more challenging.  I look carefully at the piece and arbitrary decide where the center of the foot ring should be, mark that spot with a pencil, and then tap center so that my mark is at the center.  

lt
 

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+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.

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There is no faster method than tapping center. How I was taught: Hold your thumb out directly in front of you, 6 o'clock position, pointing at the pot, roughly even with the top of the pot (the foot, since the pot is upside down). That is where you want to center, not the lip, because you're not trimming down at the lip. As the wheel rotates, watch for the point at which the pot comes closest to your thumb. That's your warning. Let it rotate 1/4 turn more, then tap. Most people tap too soon. You have to wait just a little bit longer than you think you should. Do it with the wheel turning very slowly at first, speed up as your get better. Eventually you just feel the rotation and don't need to use your thumb as a warning any more. But it takes practice! You can't just do it when you're trimming and expect to get good at it. Sit down for an hour and master it. Bowls are easiest to start with, since they are usually more centered than cylinders, and are more stable for tapping.

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Neil said(

Bowls are easiest to start with, since they are usually more centered than cylinders, and are more stable for tapping.

I learned with 30 cereal bowls-Back then those 30 which was a big feat when I was starting out just making 30 of them-the I tried to tap center each one and by the time I was done I master it. like. bike riding since that day.That was in 73-74.
Now throwing 30 bowls is like putting on my socks-very easy.

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Well what srmteuck me this post are the posters  where are they?.

A lo haven't posted since the software update I noticed.

 

Wonder if they are still around and potting?

Chenoweth Arts  Paul

Rayaldridge

Jpots come to mind

And Rebekah!

The interface of pot to surface on Neil's and Ray's mugs just add to the eye candy for me! 

Wonder how we can lure those back?

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Babs a lot of folks have come and gone since I have been here over the years. No telling whats up with them-send them a PM and its goes thru their  email if they set it up if I recall that may get them back if they are still into clay.

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