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Celia UK

Member Since 01 Jul 2012
Offline Last Active Today, 01:25 AM

#89324 Are There Any Laws Of Pottery?

Posted by Celia UK on 22 July 2015 - 02:08 PM

I have to go with jrgpots' rule 2). Had request (commission?) for 5 pieces - anything, for Golf Club Captain's special day. To be fair, I didn't get on with it as soon as I could have done, but not really too tight timescales. I threw 8 bowls and had a couple more in the damp box. Had to do something different to each (I carve, add pieces on, texture etc etc.) and nothing too similar to previous pieces as Golf Club have had my work before and no one really wants to win a second bowl like the one they we're thrilled with last year.
Add to this, recently moved from white earthenware to stoneware and a new kiln.......Recipe for disaster????
Finishing off last bowl before bisque - a week before the deadline - loved it, nice thrown shape, beautifully carved (even though I say, it myself). Masking off with newspaper before using an airbrush for copper oxide, caught scissors on side of bowl ....... 3 pieces of bone dry bowl on worktop!!! Stopped myself bursting into tears and got remaining pieces into the (old) kiln for bisque. All beautifully bisqued - Yay! Half way there. 5 days to go - Dip glazing next favourite piece of the bunch and glazing tongs snapped off a very delicate addition! 4 days to go - Went to new kiln and set about programming the controller - despite following the 'easy' step by step instructions I could NOt get the program to save. On advice of my husband (wise old sage!) decided to fire in 2 batches in old (small ) kiln - a bit anxious by now, as I had to go out for the day and needed to get this going. 3 days to go, Opened the kiln. One piece good (actually a tricky piece that usually doesn't make it this far), one rubbish - a previous bisque firing which I think must have been vitrified as glaze crawled off! Remainder underfired - on checking I'd used a glaze that required another 80oC than I'd set the top temp (in too much of a hurry to go back into the house to check!!!! Currently refiring to 1200oC, kiln glowing and I have everything crossed. Next firing for the other half of the batch, awaits for tomorrow.
On the upside, the golf gods were with me today and I played one under my handicap in a knockout against the Lady Captain - and won on the 18th hole. Guess you can't have all the gods on your side at the same time.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has these disasters - good thread!!

#87116 Idea For A "hall Of Fame" Catagory...

Posted by Celia UK on 14 June 2015 - 03:36 AM

That was my first thought too Pres - it's all very subjective.

I use the 'follow this topic' button, but hadn't realised I could check back in everything I'm following. I suspect I'm not using the search facility properly as I've found it hard in the past to locate things I know are there. Will investigate further......

On another matter - I'm very conscious that I'm sometimes reading stuff on here when I'd be better off DOING in the studio. You know - hear & forget; see & remember; do & understand. What is it about procrastination that means we even do it with things we like doing, no only those we don't???

#87115 Preheat Time For Single Fire Cone 6 (Tonight Or Very Early Tomorrow Morning...

Posted by Celia UK on 14 June 2015 - 03:10 AM

Thanks Diesel - this must be what I'd found in my research when I was trying to resolve my glazing issues, but I'm thinking I got 525 & 575 confused somehow. I got into such a stress with glazes crazing and cracking a couple of years back, that I bought a digital controller and came up with a program that went carefully through ALL the 'dodgy' phases incorporating every bit of advice I found. This included a slow start, slow through Quartz inversion, slow for the last 150o, a hold, AND firing down! However, this means that I've never really identified which thing resolved the problem! Should I go slowly from about 570 to 600oC then and the same on the way down through Quartz inversion? I can feel a bit more brain work coming on! At the time I was happy to have got rid of the crazing but I knew I'd over-complicated the firing program so I've simplified it a bit now and will review again.

Such an intuitive potter Pres - no doubt from years of experience! Sounds like a lot of babysitting the kiln. I'm now going to match up your colours with temps on my chart and see how my firing program matches up.

Thanks all for sharing your expertise.

#86822 Should I Start Pottery Or Not? Advice Please.....

Posted by Celia UK on 09 June 2015 - 08:01 AM

Having done a couple of years of ceramics 30 years ago, I knew it appealed as a retirement activity. My route 2 years before I was due to retire, so still v busy work wise, was ......
1) Community Ed classes - I used to take pieces home and work on them between classes.
2) Bought a small 2nd hand kiln which meant I could also hand build at home and fire my work in my own time.
1 year later...
3) Bought an electric wheel.

Although throwing will always be my preferred construction technique, I have dabbled with handbuilding - pinching and slabs, hump and slump moulds etc. while getting used to working with clay, trying out glazes and decorating techniques. There is a lot of scope without buying a wheel in the first instance, if you didn't want to shell out for everything immediately. At one point I did think I needn't have bought the wheel so soon, but I was right to get the kiln first. If your class has a number of different wheels, you'll have the opportunity to decide which suits you best, before you commit to buying your own.

One piece of advice, given that you'll definitely be dipping in and out when you have a few spare minutes, is to make yourself some Magic Box damp boxes for storing your work. There is a video available on YouTube - I'll try to find the link. Basically - large cuboid lidded storage boxes with a słab of plaster about 1" thick in the base. With pottery, so much depends on the clay being at the right stage of wetness/dryness, an easy way to keep things damp until the next time you have a few spare minutes is a godsend! You don't have to wrap things up, spray them, keep an eye on them all the time. When one of the little ones demands your time & attention, just put your piece in a damp box and it will still be in a good condition to continue with, later! I spent years in school, with pottery club only taking place once a week, wrapping, spraying etc.etc. things drying out between classes....because I'd never come across the Magic Box idea!

#82420 Qotw: What Would You Have Wished To Become If Not A Potter?

Posted by Celia UK on 25 May 2015 - 05:17 PM

At grammar (High) school, I was quite academic, but not really aware of it at the time. No history of college or university in my family (grandfather and father both furniture makers, mother - clerical), so parents not really aspirational for me. I first got my hands 'muddy' in art class at age 11 and it definitely sparked something in me. Art at school stopped aged 13 unless you took it as an option for O levels. I was choosing between music (I've always loved singing, but never stuck at an instrument), art and dressmaking & needlework. The latter won the day! At 16yrs old with a wadge of good O levels I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career and had a narrow understanding of what was possible. I started A levels in Biology, Maths and Geography but apart from a real love of biology I really don't know why I ended up with these three subjects - advice to an 'academic' student from teachers I think! I was ill in the first term with hepatitis and glandular fever and after an absence of over 2 months, couldn't motivate myself to continue at school.

I had a friend who had left school to become a Beauty Therapist & I was rather in awe of her. Somehow, aged 17 I ended up at college in Manchester, on a 3 year, full time course in hairdressing and beauty therapy. In my first year, my Mum became ill with lung cancer, and I left college to help look after her. Sadly she died very soon after and the following Autumn I went back to college, dropping the hairdressing, to continue a 2 year course in Beauty Therapy. While the course content suited me well (in-depth anatomy, physiology, chemistry (cosmetics), physics (electrical treatments), nutrition, physical education and ART which I loved, as well as all the practical aspects) I was never really suited to this as a profession. I passed all my courses with flying colours and intended using my qualifications in the Occupational Therapy department of my local hospital - but despite the promise of a position, financial cuts meant this never came to anything.

Various unfulfilling jobs followed for a couple of years - mostly clerical positions, au pair, bit of salon work, lecturing in Further Ed. Then I started nurse training - my true vocation, met the man who later became my first husband. We married 1 year into my 3 year training, 2 years in he wanted to relocate back to our home town, so I transferred my training to the local hospital but never settled and made the fateful error of giving up nursing! Two children followed, and my marriage failed when they were 2 & 4 years old. I was unfulfilled, had no higher education qualifications, so limited career prospects and needed to be financially independent! After working a year as a temp in an office, to keep the wolf from the door, I knew I needed to study for a degree if I was ever to be able to have a professional career.

With 2 dependent children under 5, I wasn't in a position to relocate, so my local college was the only option. They offered a 4 year BEd degree course in Primary Education. This included a specialist subject area which needed an A level (English, Maths, Science, Music etc.) but for Art & Design the entry qualification was an interview and a portfolio. Yay! Now 31 years old, I started my degree course, qualifying with an upper second class degree, 4 years later. In the latter 2 years we had to specialise in either 2D or 3D (ceramics) - 22 years after my first introduction to clay I was getting my hands dirty again.

I taught the full breadth of the Primary Curriculum (5-11yrs) for 23 years, which included curriculum art and an after-school pottery club in the last few years of my career (Headteacher - 'Principal'). In the last 2 years leading up to retirement I prepared to get back into ceramics - bought a small kiln, set up a work room, then bought an electric wheel.

I'm currently closer to being a potter than I've ever been. So .......until now I didn't become a potter, I became various other things along the way. Nursing / medicine would have been my vocation but teaching became my career (never a vocation - I just worked hard to become successful at it!)
MY RETIREMENT HEAVEN: In addition to my pottery exploits I'm now 'scratching' the medical itch AND using the Beauty Therapy training by working as a Red Cross volunteer in my local hospital - offering hand, arm, back, neck & shoulder massage to patients, one day a week and also have plans in hand to set up a clinic as a volunteer in hospital, providing Cosmetic Camouflage consultations. I am also about to start training as a Red Cross trainer for the massage treatments.
So despite many 'failures' and 'mistakes' along the way, at 60 years old it's all coming round and nothing has been a waste of time after all.
Not quite a direct answer to the question in hand, but it got me thinking.......

#80790 Visually Identifying Clay Bodies

Posted by Celia UK on 05 May 2015 - 04:56 AM

Yes Paul - I've learnt to do most of this - my scrap buckets are labelled, I make notes, but they're a bit random and need to be more systematic, I take photos (sometimes) and my shelves are labelled! For it to be foolproof, I need to develop a more systematic system!!! I tried to rationalise my notebooks about a year ago, but found it difficult to let go of my original journal which contained everything - design ideas in the front, photos, pictures for inspiration in the middle, technical stuff - clay and glaze notes, firing etc. etc. at the back. It worked in the early days, then I started looking at mixing my own glazes and trying different clay bodies and making different pieces so I got more notebooks - and tried separating out all the different things. This was an academic exercise in its own right and it's still not perfect so I'll keep on honing it!

What's got you up so early in the morning?

#80215 Community Challenge #1

Posted by Celia UK on 27 April 2015 - 04:34 PM

Soooo ... Even though it's my first time glaze firing stoneware - and I fired the chosen glaze to the wrong temperature, (see my post 'Bubbles in glaze'), I'm still uploading an entry because I think it's a great idea of Joel's (High Bridge Pottery) and feel I should give something back and not just 'take' from the forum.
I'm still struggling to get decent photos that don't exceed the maximum, so apologies if this pic isn't very good (like the piece itself!)Attached File  image.jpg   66.62KB   0 downloads

#79009 Pottery Add

Posted by Celia UK on 10 April 2015 - 01:40 PM

Oh my - this one has pressed a lot of people's buttons! Why aren't you all busy in your studios?????? Ha ha!

If anyone is still unsure as to why the man in the store, or anyone else, for that matter, would choose to use bought glazes rather than mix their own, you only have to read the thread started by Min today in Clay and Glaze chemistry, entitled 'Iron Speckles'. I'm in awe of everyone who has contributed to that one. My poor 60 year old brain is struggling to get to grips with the basics of glaze chemistry and reading the posts in that thread told me why! I think I'll stick to form, incising, carving, texture etc. etc. nice white clay and a few oxides...
What a clever lot you all are.

#77801 Log Form For Testing

Posted by Celia UK on 21 March 2015 - 05:04 PM

Perhaps the temperature of your bisque firing? Whether you poured, dipped of brushed the glaze. Where in the kiln - top, middle, bottom, perhaps?

Note as much information as possible - if you're anything like me, you think you'll remember what you did, but then can't recall exactly what it was.....!!

#77660 I Have The "what Next Blues"

Posted by Celia UK on 19 March 2015 - 01:09 PM

Try Pinterest? The Lark Books '500..... ' Series are good if you already know the kind of item e.g. Bowls, Pitchers, Teapots etc.

#75151 Pierced Clay

Posted by Celia UK on 10 February 2015 - 05:31 PM

The dry end of leather hard. Too damp and you don't get clean holes and have lots of clean up. This has been my tendency, and it creates loads of extra work, going back several times to get the sharpness I like. Too dry and the clay crumbles or cracks. One problem is the piece drying out as you work (I spend hours carving and piercing!) - wrapping the areas you're not working on helps and I sometimes spritz it with water along the way. I also use a Magic Box damp box to keep my work from drying out between making and carving/piercing. If a piece becomes too dry, at any stage, a few days in the damp box will bring it back to a more workable state. Great , especially if you're not working in the studio every day, to catch pieces at just the right stage.

#74638 Submit Your Community Challenge Ideas

Posted by Celia UK on 01 February 2015 - 12:24 PM

Water/sea or similar that allows for colour and/or form interpretations.

#71299 Lettering On Clay

Posted by Celia UK on 05 December 2014 - 04:07 PM

I've recently bought a bag of alphabet pasta to press into greenware. It will burn out in the bisque fire, and I will then brush with stain/ underglaze and wipe back. I may do a second bisque fire to fix, so that I can dip without contaminating my glaze bucket. Otherwise I'll carefully brush the glaze over.
Have spent hours sorting the letters into a compartmentalised box so that I can find the letters when I need them - a bit tedious, but somehow therapeutic at the same time .

#63211 A Change Of Direction

Posted by Celia UK on 24 July 2014 - 06:01 PM

Put it in a damp box for a few days and it will moisten up evenly, then get it to dry leather hard and use hole cutters. I use the boxes all the time with my pieces - sometimes to re-hydrate a piece, sometimes after adding decorative elements, so that everything moistens/ dries evenly - it increases success rate enormously. 'Damp box' (AKA 'Magic Box' - see Youtube video by Tim See)= standard lidded plastic crate with 1/2 " plaster, cast in the bottom. My best piece of equipment ever!

#63119 What Are You Working On?

Posted by Celia UK on 23 July 2014 - 06:17 PM

I was persuaded to make my own prizes for my Lady Captain's Day at the Golf Club and it's now 2 weeks away! This needed 17 prizes of varying 'values'. I've been 'playing' with clay for the last couple of years, but haven't got beyond the - 'gifts for friends and family' stage, so this has really focused me and I waiver between feeling v proud of my work so far and mortified at the prospect of the glazing going wrong and not having prizes for this big day!!! have enough pieces made and need to do one more bisque fire (small kiln!!!) to ensure I have spares for when the glazing is not acceptable or breakages.

I have some test pieces ready (underglazes, oxides etc) and now need to fire them and then use a matt and shiny transparent on each to help me decide how to finish the prize items. As I haven't mastered glazing, this is potentially where the plan goes pear-shaped! Dip, pour, spray, brush on? Glaze tongs or finger grips? Wax bottoms or wipe? Oxides under or over base glaze? While I've made quite a lot of pieces over the past 2 years, I haven't yet got to a position of confidence with colouring and glazing.

So......tomorrow is final bisque fire day and a good clean up in the studio. Then I have Saturday & Sunday clear and must bite the bullet and decorate the first few pieces - oxide brushed on & wiped back on one, sprayed on another and underglaze painted into carved areas on a third, then transparent glaze over, but dip, pour, spray? Decision, decisions - it's making me nervous just posting this. Brush on has been the most consistently successful transparent glaze to date, but I don't have glossy brush on and haven't yet tried the matt. Also I WANT to develop my dipping, pouring, spraying skills and get right away from brush on glaze. Perhaps this project isn't the time to be brave...or perhaps it is? In case you're wondering...I DON'T have a back up plan! If I think about it and have the time, I'll post some pics - successful or otherwise, of the finished items. Wish me luck!