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Member Since 20 Feb 2012
Offline Last Active Jul 25 2014 08:53 AM

#36129 A weird spot

Posted by Nelly on 29 May 2013 - 01:38 PM

Just saw this new posting that was made as I was doing my other one........

The problem with switching to a different university is that most have passed deadlines for the upcoming semester as well as the commute. Also, I have taken upper level studio courses which many universities will not transfer as they prefer all or most upper level courses to be taught from one institution. All those scenarios push a graduation date back a lot.

Many things can be "done" if the right person is attending to them. Every "rule" can be broken wit hthe right signature on it. You need to get someone at your college in a "high position" to be an advocate for you. THAT is you goal right now. Find that person. If you have to go to the college's President... then do so. You have NOTHING to lose. And again... they created this problem for you.... let them help to solve it.

My main question is will I be just as hirable to a community studio as a community class teacher or tech as well as eventual workshop instructor without a bachelor's degree (but with a strong portfolio, workshop background, and assistantship experience) as someone who does have a bachelors?

The short answer is that the better your credentials... the higher up the "potential hire" list you are. There are lots of people with "......a strong portfolio, workshop background, and assistantship experience" that ALSO have a BFA or MFA that will be looking at the same positions.

Also for future reference, I have been looking into different residencies and fellowship opportunities. I have noticed that none of them out right require a degree to apply but many of the past artists do have a degree. Is this an unspoken requirement or is this because many are in between stages of higher education?

The same thing I said directly above applies here.



This makes a lot of sense, I suppose it works like most other jobs. Another thing, if I stuck with getting my BA but in a different dicipline, will that hinder me just as much or is that where that "piece of paper" comes in?


Jobs are jobs. Business or corporate or academic politics exist all over. It is a fact of life. You learn to deal with it. Part of the "college education" you get is just this... learning to deal with other people and operational structures.

While there are no guarantees on anything in life, if you have a BA in Art, a strong ceramics portfolio, and some ceramics teaching experiences listed on the resume', I think it certainly can't HURT you when compared to not having any degree at all. BEST would, of course, be having the BFA in Ceramics after your name.... but if that is not possible.... the BA in Art might be the "best of the available options".

Sometimes you have to make "lemonade" out of the lemons.

But don't get out the lemon squeezer just yet!

You said you "talked to the department". I am thinking that means that you have not yet gone to someone ABOVE the department level to get some options and answers????? Depending on the school..... there are usually a couple of layers of people ABOVE the people at the Department level that CAN help sometimes. Just make sure as much as possible to not "tick off" the art department people as you approach this problem. Don't "throw them under the bus" too directly unless you have reached the absolute "end of the line".

Work your way slowly and politely up the line of "powers that be" until you reach the last of your options. That last option may actually be someone a bit "outside" the college in a sense.... a member of the Board of Directors of the college. Most schools have them in one form or another. Get one of thei Board's member's ear... and somtimes amazing things can happen. Suddenly, all the BS goes away. (Unfortunately.... this is the way the world works in SO MANY things.)

But you absolutely must show that you have worked you way up the ladder if it gets that far. And be able to show that your actions were professional all the time as you dealt with it. Inside you may want to kill somone.... but don't let a speck of that show on the outside. Follow up every meeting / conversation with a polite written piece that expresses your thanks and states your undertstanding of what went on and what options were discussed.

You might find that you have more options than you think you do to solve this. Persistence and determination go a long way to succeeding in life. Go get em'.

BTW........ See your profile... I left a note there.



Dear All,

I am not a professional potter and have no academic credentials in art. I am, however, an academic. I teach at the university level.

Do know that increasingly, everywhere in the job market, degrees are fundamental. Agencies (whether schools or community centers) put out a job description. They develop this description hand and hand with those in positions of power within the setting. This is done so they can make sure they all agree about the type of person they want to fulfill a variety of different aspects of the job (i.e., skills, future funding, accreditation, identifying the qualifications of their staff in their marketing brochures etc.).

Thus, my advice, while not solicited, is to stay in your program. Grin and bear it. Finish it with style.

One more year, when you think about it can easily be reduced to weeks if you think about it in those terms.

I know when I have students who lament their time in the classroom I try to break it up into small chunks. I say, it is now the fall term. You have exactly 12 classes in this course and you will be that much further towards the end. The idea of say having to do one year can be overwhelming. Think of it in small steps leading to a big goal. The goal is the piece of paper.

This piece of paper will open doors that may and likely will otherwise be closed to you if not completed.

My father had a saying he told me repeatedly as I lamented going to school. He said 'education is hard got but easily carried around." I remembered this through my many, many years of study. It helped keep me focused. Today I have those pieces of paper and they are light in my pocket but they are heavy in terms of trying to get jobs that would not be open to me otherwise.

Your goal should be something like, I want to work the least amount for the most money. This will free you up for what you really want to do in life.

Think of it as finishing this degree, maybe giving yourself a break and then assessing your situation more carefully. You may find the MFA is where you really should be but without that other piece of paper, you will have to go back to this step and complete it.

In short, finish the degree to "keep all your options open in life."

Whether you are in pottery, psychology, political science or architecture, today's employers want that piece of paper. You may not make that cut in the job posting if you do not meet their really basic standards posted. And yes, you need a strong ally who will stand beside you to recommend you for any position (with or without the piece of paper).

It is just too, too competitive out there in the world today. Jobs are at a premium today.

My two cents worth.


#34110 Turning off the vent fan?

Posted by Nelly on 05 May 2013 - 12:42 AM

Dear All,

I have a load of low fire bisque in my kiln right now. In the past, I have been taught that as soon as the firing is done (i.e., reached temperature) you should turn off the fan as it saves the fan belt. In reading on the Internet, it was suggested you leave it on through the entire firing and cooling process. There was also some brief discussion about if you leave the fan on, you can reduce your cooling time by 2 hours??

My question to you is when do you turn your fan off?? Do you worry about taxing or over working your vent?? Mine, by the way, is a two year old Orton.


I don't believe these HAVE a belt, my Orton is a direct drive...
The couple or so hours saved by turning it off sooner is insignificant compared to the number of hours running when actually firing, but if there is concern about cooling the ware too fast it can be turned off.
In the winter I would turn it off soon as the firing is done since it does take some heat out of the room your furnace has to make up, since you already paid for the heat from the kiln use it if you can.
In the summer you might want to leave it on to get rid of the excess heat.

These vent fans are real cheap quality motors, I don't even think they are repairable like most motors of quality are, these motors seem to me to be toss em and get a new one type motors- the kind that are sealed and you can't grease them or replace the bearings on.

A good motor has grease fittings and can be greased, as well as opened up to replace ball bearings, and brushes if used.

Dear RDWolf,

Mine is a vent master. I just checked. Interesting that they don't have fan?? I didn't know that. This is what I was told at my old community studio. What I thought was interesting about your post was...use the heat from the kiln in the winter and turn it off. In the summer, let it run.

That is good advice.

So, they are made cheaply ah?? Not good. Another expense down the road I imagine.

BTW-your work is just incredible. Seeing those last pictures and the progression of your thinking and production was very, very exciting. Thank you.

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#32979 It's a luxury and curse

Posted by Nelly on 15 April 2013 - 08:41 PM

I find Jason Briggs work to be really amazing. He was the tech assistant when I taught a workshop at the Appalachian Center for Crafts about 14 years ago. He was working in this direction back then. I think he is a meticulous craftsman. And I think his imagery is a humorous criticism of human anatomy. He is a really nice guy too.


Dear All,

I couldn't really figure out what any of his pieces meant or were intended to present. I just saw the lines of the piece and the lengths he went to in the creation of his work. I honestly could not really see what they were to mean?? Well maybe the one with the jacket done up at the back I understood as being some sort of feeling of imprisonment but I was lost with the rest of the images. Or maybe, just maybe I didn't want to go any deeper in my analysis. I just saw the soft edges juxtaposed against the courseness and the detail.


#32855 Where do you sign you name?

Posted by Nelly on 13 April 2013 - 11:08 PM

Dear RD,

Those are absolutely beautiful. I like the 5 and 9 as well. Nice find. I am sure it really adds to your pieces to have your pieces signed using these letters. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing them with me.


Thanks Nelly,
I use the brass letters and numbers just to impress the design number and date of completion on the top rear of the original model similar to how they did in the 1800s with architectural terracotta my work is based on, so it follows that concept there, and I write in my name.

Posted Image

After a mold is made all of that is permanently in the mold and all casts taken from the mold. On the back of each cast before they harden all of my casts are numbered so I write in the number of the cast, the date and sign it.

Dear Randall,

Now to me, that way of signing your name has definite style. It is class act. Thank you for sharing. I may see if I can find some of this sort of font in trying to get a stamp created. Your design is quite lovely though.

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#32832 Where do you sign you name?

Posted by Nelly on 13 April 2013 - 11:46 AM

Picture of my set of brass letters and numbers forward and mirrored. I really like the style of the numbers 2,3 and 7 a lot.
A quarter is in the photo for scale. They must have been for an offset/ linotype printing press originally, but I've never seen solid brass ones, normally they were always a lead alloy.

Posted Image Posted Image

Dear RD,

Those are absolutely beautiful. I like the 5 and 9 as well. Nice find. I am sure it really adds to your pieces to have your pieces signed using these letters. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing them with me.

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#31820 Problem Centering

Posted by Nelly on 29 March 2013 - 03:11 PM

Here's a way.....


......Waits for OffCenter.....

The only thing worse than a splash pan is a Griffin Grip and the only thing worse than a Griffin Grip is this piece of crap!


Dear All,

When I have trouble either centering a piece of seeing that it goes off during throwing I go through a bunch of thought processes... (please feel free to correct me in anyway if I am wrong).

1. Is my wheel level (i.e., has my wheel shifted and is it as close to level as possible using the guage). I use shims or elevate the legs if required to make it level.

2. Have I wedged my clay properly?? Are there lumps or places of air knocking it off??

3. Am I braced in a position where I am almost like a lever going into the clay (i.e., straight and not bent).

4. How is my body positioned vis-a-vis the wheel head?? Am I off too much to the left in my chair or too much to the right??

5. Is my bat really sitting on the wheel pins or is it sitting on the crud of yesterday's throwing??

6. At my age, I now remove my glasses when throwing to see that I am centered. If I didn't, for sure the pile of clay would be off.

7. If I find I am not able to center it I say to myself "hold your hands on either side of the ball of clay and eventually it will right itself."

8. Before starting to center did you hit the clay into a general central position on the wheel head?? This can really start a piece off well as you don't have to fight too much with it to get it to the place you want it to be from the onset.

10. What is my mood?? I find if I am anxious in anyway, it can come out in fighting with the clay.

11. What grip have I used in entering the clay? I like two fingers clasped together and pressing down with my arms braced against my body.

12. Where are my hips as they relate to the wheel head?? Are they slightly above so I am approaching the clay in a top down manner if sitting.

I could go on and on with all my neurotic thinking that I review in centering clay. I must say though, this list has helped me. I am sure there are many different aspects of this process I have forgotten?

If ever a piece that I throw is off and I cannot detect it when I am throwing and it is caught in the trimming process, I simply make the base into a triangular foot. I can cover up a lot of issues with this style of foot ring.

Just my thoughts. Please, anyone, feel free to correct me on any of these points.


#28636 Designation--"Master Potter"

Posted by Nelly on 28 January 2013 - 06:23 PM

It seems like a good idea in theory, but like I've said to some of my colleagues, "How can I expect my students to master a concept/ skill, that I haven't even mastered?"

We (at least here in America) have a great trend running of de-valuing terms and standards. Everyone has to have a grandiose title. Everyone is a winner at everything. The concept of "mastery" used to imply a great depth of experience and knowledge in a given subject well beyond the pale. Now it simply tends to mean that someone can add 2+2 and come up with 4 (most of the time).

We now tend to teach to tests and score them with tightly defined "rubrics" breaking thngs into tinly little measureable discrete chunks. Unfortunately, we don't seem to teach people to THINK much anymore.

As this thread implies... the term "Master" has no real significance anymore.



I very much agree John. Though I will say, administrators and educational "experts" do put emphasis on the higher orders of thinking, like analysis and synthesis. That's why art classes generally receive high marks in those areas. All we do is analyze and synthesize. Sadly, many of my students keep coming to me, to ask what they need to change, or whether or not they are finished. I try to put it back on them, by asking, if they have met the standard, of what I asked them to do? Many of them can't tell. They don't want to be wrong, and they are so used, to having a defined answer to every problem. I could go on and on on the subject, but I'm getting off topic enough.

They don't want to be wrong, and they are so used, to having a defined answer to every problem. I think you may have hit it on the head. Students any more don't understand that being wrong is not wrong. They are too afraid to fail, failure to them is a dead end. For us, failure is just another step in the process to approach what we are trying to do, and sometimes our failures are our greatest accomplishments.

And, in my opinion, much of that has to do, with the idea, that anything less than an "A", or perfect is a slap in the face. If you tell them, that something needs changes, or alterations, they get upset. They want want the quality grade, without the quality product, and no desire, to put the necessary work in, to achieve said quality product.

Dear All,

I must add to this education focused discussion. The "A" that you write about in the previous post is now in my opinion a type of commodity.

To acquire an "A" is not about learning something or having excelled in an area. It is about getting into the next level of education, to be able to apply for a job or I am guessing in the case of the arts such things as grants and internships. Thus, it becomes like a ticket.

Today's student wants that ticket bad. They envision a life where they are able to schedule their time on their own. A time schedule that will provide them with maximum money with minimum input. While admirable, it may not be a reality in the future. I am not certain this will be a reality in our current economic climate.

I do feel for teachers in the arts who must judge students against criteria set-out by their discipline or more likely the educational facility. I am sure there is an element of fear in offering an open, honest and growth enhancing critique of a students work. I mean, that is your job isn't it?? To get them to reach their potential through honest reflection on their work vis-a-vis the standards and potential for creativity.

So what am I saying?? I am saying think of an "A" as a commodity. This commodity is valued. Students see it as opening doors for them. Doors that often lead to higher education and yes, money.

At least this is the way those in education, in admittedly a different discipline than the arts, where I am conceptualize the "A."


#28493 Designation--"Master Potter"

Posted by Nelly on 25 January 2013 - 03:08 PM

I thought I wonder what this designation means in the pottery or ceramic world?

Absolutely nothing.

Who gets to call themselves a "master potter."

Anyone who decides to do so.

Really it is a totally meaningless term in our society. It is a holdeover from the older European Guild system..... when it did have a meaning. (Apprentice, Journeyman, Master)



Dear John,

Ah...now that makes sense. Total sense. Now I get it. At the time I was introduced to this term, I was working as a type of apprentice for a guy in exchange for free clay and use of his studio. I just had to keep the place clean, do some sales and try to make his pots. He called himself a master potter. I remember then thinking...and what makes you think you are one? You did your degree in psychology and you just started potting a short time ago?? The idea of it being a holdeover or hangover from the old Guild system makes total sense. Got it!! In a sense, he could use this term in its truest sense as I was a type of apprentice and he did have a hold over my learning and advancement in his studio.


#26648 What would you be doing if you were not making pots? | Q.O.W. 12/18/12

Posted by Nelly on 18 December 2012 - 06:45 PM

Probably writing a book or painting ... Painting is where I started and I do have a book plot ready for writing. Actually I have had this plot rattling around in my head for about 15 years and it won't go away ...

A lounge singer like Michelle Pffiefer stretched across a piano! That is what I would do if I wasn't in my current job and had pottery as my hobby.


#26620 Pottery Marketing at Christmas-this works well

Posted by Nelly on 18 December 2012 - 12:10 PM

The back has side panels so one cannot get into the rear on sides-its screwed to building so it cannot move.-its 16 feet long. Has a roof and sides-all screwed together. It comes apart and turns into all flat pieces and is stored in a shed made for it where it lives till next season.My usual racks fit inside along with pro panel backs for hanging my ceramic fish.

Dear Mark,

The key is the back screws. This is how it would survive where I am. I can imagine how the panel conceals the hardware at the back. Again, great set-up. Well done and good for you in becoming what I am guessing is a holiday tradition in your community. Now that is a great way to sell pottery.

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#25578 Heat gun versus propane torch

Posted by Nelly on 25 November 2012 - 06:33 PM

Hi Nelly,

I didn't mean to give the impression I think torches or heat guns are bad for the clay. I use BOTH and I can't imagine throwing without my heat gun. I almost never set anything aside to dry. I dry a mug with the heat gun while on the wheel then put a handle on it before getting up from the wheel. I dry a bowl enough to be flipped over and trimmed. When making large bowls or tall bottles, it important to be able to "freeze" the clay with a heat gun just when I've pulled it a little beyond where it would collapse without freezing it with the heat gun. If anyone wants to take away my heat gun they'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.

I often make fun of people here who are too safety-conscious so, the only reason I mentioned safety concerns in response to your post was that you have a cheap heat gun. Now, maybe for 14 bucks you lucked out and got a great gun, but there are guns that are so cheaply made that they are not only a waste of money but are unsafe, short out, shock the user, catch on fire, etc. You don't want that to happen anytime, but especially when you're working with water.


Dear Jim,

Please know your points were all well taken. Know that I used my new gun this afternoon. I threw a big piece on what I would call the thinner side. I heard your voice as I removed my water pail to another location. I plugged it in my grounding surge bar (you know the one you use with a computer), started it on low and climbed slowly. It developed what John suggested earlier "a skin." This is exactly what I wanted. I then went back a few hours later and put on some slips on this slowly formed skin layer.

So yeah, know I did hear you. And I do think your advice is important. I did not misread you. I knew you meant it with a sense of caution.

In order to read about this topic I went into the file section of the forum and saw that it had not been discussed. I do hope I did the right search. I think given that we see lots of people use them in demonstrations, I am not sure the average person really thinks about it in their home studio. Like me, they just go and buy one and hit the clay. I thought, maybe I should just investigate this to anticipate what could happen with this application.

So again, do know Jim, I heard your voice and moved my water when I started my gun today. ;)


#22558 Trimming tool sharpening

Posted by Nelly on 23 September 2012 - 02:23 PM

Dear All,

I am just wondering how many people sharpen their trimming tools?? I use the cheap ones called "William" tools. These are the ones with the square and looped end. I have at least 12 of these. I buy a new one when the old one gets dull. I have quite a collection.

I do not have a grinder. I do, however, have a man up the road who sharpens knives. Do you think I could take in my collection and have these sharpened by him or am I ahead of the game just continuing to buy one when the others dull.

Of course, I do know that there are some great new tools out there that do not require huge up keep and maintain their edge fairly well.

What do you do when your trimming tools need sharpening? Do you grind them or simply replace them after a time?


#19583 Warping in plates and slab built bowls

Posted by Nelly on 20 July 2012 - 12:22 PM

I'm trying to work on reducing warpage in my pottery. I tend to have a problem with my slab built plates platters and bowls. Sometimes they come out perfect but alot of times they don't. I have a smaller slab roller and a pug that I pug out about a 3 or 4" round piece of clay, I think 'cut' it in half lengthwise and roll out the two halfs together layig them side by side on my board ad pressing them together but running them thru the roller. I'll then take each sectio and lay them out on my canvas with a bit overlapping and join them together using a rolling pin.

Can anyone tell me 1# why I'm getting so much warpage and 2# what can I potentially adjust to prevent/reduce future warpage?

Thank you in advance!!

Dear All,

While I am no expert by any means, here is my off the top list of things that could be happening in my understanding of clay:

1. Clay body (may not be conducive to slab building depending on the size you are trying to create)

2. Smoothing the clay with a rib in different directions after you use the roller (something about aligning clay particles)

3. Clay memory if disturbed significantly in transfer from the slab roller to the board or mold

5. Sometimes the clay is not just not thick enough?? I have had clay split down the middle that is just not meant to make big projects.

6. Uneven drying (I used to roll up a newspaper and put it on top of my platters to get some of the water to go into the paper as it was drying. Boy was this wrong. Major warpage with this idea).

7. Drying too rapidly (I have done this numerous times and had major warpage even before the bisque firing)

8. Firing issues (uneven shelves)

9. Too much oil on my mold (cracks)

These are off the top of my head ideas. If anyone wants to knock any of these down or cross them off the list feel free. As I said, I have just got my own studio so I would be interested in others comments.

I have found in working with clay slabs that having them "set-up" tends to be better (i.e., giving them time to rest between the slab roller and my actual creating of the form). Sometimes I sandwhich the clay between two boards to keep them flat at this stage to get them ready to work with. They become just a little stiffer making it easier to work with (i.e., just before leather hard).

Again, anyone with more experience feel free to say "Nelly is wrong" here as I am not an expert. I just know what I do with my slabs and what has/hasn't worked for me through trial and error.


#17288 Kiln Wash and Success

Posted by Nelly on 18 May 2012 - 12:29 PM

Dear All,

I just wanted to let the forum know that I while I had trouble with my kiln wash over the cold winter, I found that by putting a new shelf that I ordered in my oven @ 170 degrees for three hours and then apply the wash, I was good to go! Now all I have to do is bake this shelf with my next bisque fire.

I remember someone told me on this forum they bake their shelves in the sun before they put on the wash. Well, just know that it works. I had no bubbles, no cracks, nothing. It went on smooth, smooth and smooth.