John Baymore has been a professional studio potter for 44 years and currently fires a five chamber noborigama which was completed in 1981 at this studio in Wilton, New Hampshire. He just concluded serving his second term as the President of the Board of Dirctors of the Potters Council of the American Ceramic Society and is now the Immediate Past President of the Association. He has a family history in ceramics tracing back to the Cook and Mercer potteries in Trenton, NJ from the mid 1800s.
John began woodfiring his student work in 1969 in New Jersey in a small woodkiln he built at his home. John studied ceramics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and was first introduced to Japanese aesthetics and clay work when shown the black and white film, “The Village Potters of Onda” in his Ceramics 1 class. He has also attended classes at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and Rivier College in Nashua, NH. In the past, John has taught continuing education classes at the Danforth Museum School (MA) and the Lee (MA) Art Center, continuing education and BFA/MFA credit courses at Massachusetts College of Art, and BFA/MFA credit courses at Boston University’s Program in Artisanry. He is currently adjunct professor of ceramics at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he has been teaching ceramics studio and technical courses as well as ceramic art history in the undergraduate, certificate, and continuing education programs since the fall of 1995.
He has worked on on the New Hampshire Institute of Art’s Curriculum Committee and acted as the chairperson of the NHIA Health and Safety Committee from 1998 through 2006. In AY2005-06 he was the school’s part-time Academic Program Health and Safety Coordinator. He sat on NHIA’s NASAD Accreditation Committee in 1999-2000. He has also worked as a member of the Leadership Advisory Team for the New Hampshire Department of Education.
John has been a presenter at NCECA conferences in Boston in 1984, in Columbus in 1999, in Portland in 2004, and Seattle in 2012. He has presented workshops for diverse organizations including such venues as the Alabama Clay Conference, the Harvard University Ceramics Program, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston University, Wellesley College, the Currier Museum of Art, the New Hampshire Potter’s Guild, Emerson Umbrella Art Center, The Potter’s Shop, Mudflat Studio, Clay Dragon Studio, New Hampshire Art Educator’s Conferences, and a NJ State Teacher’s Conference. He recently presented the keynote address for the New Hampshire Art Educator's Association annual meeting at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH.
A kiln design and technical consultant for Cutter-Eagle Ceramics from 1978 through 1984, John has been a professional kiln builder since 1973. He was the full-time ceramics technician at Massachusetts College of Art from 1974 through 1978. He has built numerous gas, wood, salt, and soda kilns for potters and craft centers over the years, as far away from home as Richmond, VA in the United States, and recently also in Japan. John was the online “Kiln Answer Man” for the CraftWEB Project in 1995. He has also done glaze development consulting for the Finer Decoration Division of Sherle Wagner International in 1982 through 1984.
In 2006, John designed and oversaw construction of a large wood kiln at the Kanayama Togei Kumiai in Goshogawara-shi, Japan where it joined the only other non-Japanese designed and built wood kiln installed there by Fred Olsen. During the summer of 2009, John was invited to return to Kanayama to lead the group of international artists in a month long project in building a large wood fired salt kiln. In 1979, John was a consultant for the living history museum, “Old Sturbridge Village“ in Massachusetts, when they constructed a re-creation of a large colonial period wood fired bottle kiln.
John was an invited participant at the First Woodfiring Aesthetics Symposium held at the Japan Society in New York City in 1983, and was included in Gerry Williams' 1997 slide presentation on "Japanese Influences on American Ceramics" at the American Craft Museum in New York City.
He was the recipient of the Judge’s Special Prize in the Mashiko Ceramics Competition in 1996, juried by Shimaoka Tatsuzo and Hamada Shinsaku, and was invited to Japan to receive that award. Both Joan Mondale (representing the US Ambassador to Japan) and the Assistant US Cultural Attache’ to Japan attended the awards ceremony, formally representing the U.S. Government. This exhibition was also attended by the Emperor of Japan.
He was an invited presenter at the Aomori International Woodfire Festival in Japan in 2002, an event viewed by 37,000 Japanese citizens, and has also been guest lecturer at the prestigious Tokyo National University of Fine Art and Music (Geidai) in the summer of 2004 and again in 2008. In 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2009 John was an invited artist-in-residence at the Tsugaru Kanayama Ceramic Cooperative for the international woodfire festival programs held there. In the summer of 2013 John worked at the Kanayama studios producing a body of woodfired work. All in all, John has been invited to travel to Japan in the capacity as a professional ceramic artist on eight separate occasions in the past 13 years, and has lived in Japan for almost 2 years.
John was a lecture presenter and demonstrating artist at the International Society for Ceramiic Art Education and Exchange symposium held in Tokyo in the fall of 2011. In the spring of 2012 he traveled to MunGyeong, Korea as an invited presenter/participant in the MunGyeong Chasabal (teabowl) Festival. In the spring of 2013 he was a presenter at the 7th Yixing China Ceramic Culture and Art Festival. At that event he was appointed as a Visiting Professor at the Wuxi Institute of Arts and Technology in Yixing.
His work has been acquired for public collections in Japan including the Mashiko Pottery Museum, the Tokyo National University of Art and Music Collection, the Aomori Art Museum, the Goshogawara Art Museum, the Kanayama Resident Artists’ Collection, and Hitachi Corporation headquarters. His work is in the private collections of many Japanese potters including Shimaoka Tatsuzo, Hamada Shinsaku, Matsuzaki Ken, Ogawa Hirohisa, Kondo Hiroshi, Shimada Fumio, Yokou Satoshi, Matsumiya Ryoji, and Shigetoshi Tsuji. His work is also in the collection of the MunGyeong Ceramics Museum in South Korea and the Yixing Ceramics Museum and the World Pottery Capital Ceramics Musueum, both in Yixing, People's Republic of China.
John was selected to be featured in Japanese journalist Yokota Masuo's 2001 Japanese language book on Americans who are greatly influenced by Japanese culture. Also published in the Japanese language, a kiln he built in Japan is featured as the cover shot of issue #79 of the “Aomori Journal” and he has a six page section about him in Matsumiya Ryouji’s new book, “Clay, Fire, and a Stubborn Guy”. John’s influences from Japan are also mentioned in English in Yale University Press’s “Encyclopedia of New England”, and you can find his overglazed woodfired work which is influenced by Hamada Shoji’s work, pictured in Paul Lewing’s ACERS text, “Overglaze and China Paint”.
Other text publications involve multiple inclusions in Maureen Mills’, “Ceramic Surface Decoration”, studio information and images in Steven Branfman’s, “Potters Professional Handbook” and a listing in Yankee Magazine’s, “Guidebook to New England Handcraft Centers”. His work has appeared in Ceramics Monthly, Clay Times, Ceramic Industry, New Hampshire Magazine, and other magazines and newspapers. John has appeared on NHK Television News in Japan a large number of times, in a one hour RAB Television special (Japanese language for domestic use) produced on the Kanayama residency program, on WMUR Television’s “Four O’ Clock Focus”, and on National Public Radio being featured speaking about ceramic toxicology issues in 1976.
Articles by John have appeared in Ceramics Monthly, The Crafts Report, the NCECA Journal, and other publications. In 1983, John was also a pre-publication content reviewer for Charlotte Speight’s text, “Hands in Clay” and in 2005 for Steven Goldate’s, “Dictionary of World Ceramic Art and Artists”.
Recent exhibitions include an invitational solo exhibition at Chi-Lin Asian Arts Gallery in Meredith, NH in August 2010, "Seacoast Master Artists" invitational at Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye, NH in July 2010, an invitational solo exhibition at the Thayer Academy Gallery in Braintree, Mass. in January of 2010, "Three in Clay" invitational at Chi-Lin Asian Arts Gallery in 2009, “Faculty Highlights” at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2005 through 2009, “The Vessel” invitastional at the Cunningham Gallery in Jaffrey, NH in 2004 and 2008, “International Resident Artists” at the Kanayama Togei Kumiai in Japan in 2004, 2006, 2008 , 2009, and 2010, at the Aomori International Woodfire Festival in Japan in 2002, and the 67th, 68th, 69th, 70th, and 71st “Regional Juried Exhibition” at the Fitchburg, MA Art Museum. Other recent exhibitions include the 2005 “Endless Variations” NCECA shino invitational in Baltimore, the “1st N.H Ceramics National Biennial”, “Woodfire Potters Invitational” in Manitou Springs, CO, and “Our Cups Runneth Over” invitational at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston, where he also had a solo show in 2003. John was one of three invited wood-firing artists (along with Jon Keenan and Marc Lancet) when Tokai Gallery on Newbury Street in Boston held its first-ever showing of any non-Japanese ceramic artists in 2002. John has had work in 13 exhibitions in Japan since 1996.
He is a charter member of the Potter’s Council of the American Ceramic Society, and a member of the American Craft Council, the International Society for Ceramic Arts Education and Exchange, NCECA, the New Hampshire Potters Guild, the Japan Society of Boston, Doshikai Iaido Dojo, and a state-juried level member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen.
Reading other forums on other sites the 10x booth fee was a standard some used to determine a good venue but that was the 1980-90’s benchmark. Todays show often 5x booth fee is the new benchmark. I hear people tell of the sales they made in the 1980’s, apparently it was a fabulous time to be in the art show circuit.
I really think that the "craft fair" is a dead concept whose time came and went. It was fantastic for those that were riding the crest of the wave at the time it erupted on the scene (I was there). Now, we are mostly "kicking a dead horse". It emerged in a time when there were few stores/galleries in most locations that sold decent craft items. It filled a need back then (good way to run a business,..... "fill a need"). As time has gone on, craft selling stores and galleries have proliferated all over the place (at least here in the USA). There are now few towns in th US that do not have at LEAST one craft gallery/store in them. Add to that venues like EBay and Etsy. Crafts are available everywhere. The "magic" is gone.
Yeah... craft shows, for the most part, are slipping as an economic engine for the craft artists. They continue to exist for the most part because a good way to make a living in the craft field is to make if OFF OF the craft artists. There is a constant stream of starry-eyed newcomers that are looking for ways to sell their work. They are always willing to spend the booth fees to see if a show will work for them, with no guarantees of success. So the promoters "get theirs" up front and the craft artists take all the risks. If the show charges the audience to enter the show..... the promoters even get to "double dip". If a person does not sell well for a couple of tries at a given show, they either move to another venue, or give up on the idea. The "kicker" here is that there is always another new craftsperson right there to take their place. And so it goes.
At the college, we do not "sugar coat" the realities of all this with the students. To do so would be a dis-service. We are VERY clear about how hard it is to be a full time visual artist in today's world. They know that if they are not up to the A level of work coming out of school, that the road they face will be very rough for them. Our academic dean does a talk with the incoming freshman students that, shortened up a LOT, says........ 'if you are an A level student we'll be seeing you name in the big shows and galleries.... and if you are a C level student...... you'll be driving a truck'. (The way he does it is FAR more inspirational than that.)
I think the bottom line in this overall discussion is that if you want to be full time.... you better be DAM# GOOD at your craft, and ALSO be really good at "business smarts" as well. And also a bit lucky, to boot. And STILL willing to work for far less $ than you are actually "worth" (if you were an attourney, accountant, or iother more mainstream employment skilled person).
Also like ANY business start-up, you have to have the plan that allows you to LOSE MONEY for a good long while before the business becomes profitable. So there needs to be 'money in the bank" to support the business until it is viable. Most business (in all fields) fail because they are under-capitalized, not because they are not good viabale business ventures.
I think Chris summed things up very well above. And recently in Ceramics Monthly there was a great piece written by a ceramic artist that documents the "be careful what you wish for" aspect of going full time. He did... and quit that and went backl to part-time.
It CAN be done..... it AIN'T easy. (There is a reason that they call it a "job".)
Your point is heard, but unfortunately the forum software is the forum software. Changing it will/would be a huge investment for the CAD division of ACerS to make..... both in money... but particularly in TIME.
Something that is not often considered when suggesting changes to forums like this is the transfering of the OLD DATA contained in a forum like this to a new piece of software. That old information has value. It would be a SHAME to lose all of it. It is not as simple as you might think to copy stuff like this over. I am a mod at another forum, and due to software glitches and vulnerabilities, they decided to change the forum software. It took about a year and a lot of money and a lot of person-hours to get it done without losing a huge reference resource. We still lost a lot of stuff, and almost a year later we are still finding links that need to be restored.
Just to dispel what might be a myth out there......... the American Ceramic Society is not some sort of "deep pockets" organization akin to Exon-Mobil and other such companies simply rolling in the dough. Yes, money is made, and there is a cashflow, but overall it likely is far smaller economic engine than many people probably think it is. The art side of ACerS is constrained by the fact that is is a part of the arts... not the most lucrative side of the economy in the USA. And the other side of ACerS is centered on the industrial aspects... and remember that in recent times a huge portion of industruial ceramics manufacturing has moved offshore to China and Southeast Asia.
Also remember that ACerS, the parent company of CAD, CM, PMI, and Potters Council is a non-profit.
Relative to the Potters Council portion of ACerS........ the whole main office operation for us is run with only 1 1/2 full time people. That is for dealing with everything..... conferences, publications, member supoport and benefits, correspondence, and so on. Not exactly like a Google work environment . The volunteer Board and Committee members help to pick up the slack (or in some cases the office probably thinks we make them MORE work..... not less ).
So... the organization does the best with what it has available. Changes to stuff like this tend to be incremental, not revolutionary.
In a personal show situation ... Be it a home show or a craft fair ... You are much better off throwing in a small thank you piece instead. One potter I know makes little cheese spreaders, another makes tea bag holders, another makes a little thank you ornament. Fills the kiln spaces easily, made very quickly ... Everybody likes getting something free. A way of giving people a deal without compromising your worth or your relationship with your galleries.
In Japan this is common practice... called "Sah-bee sue" (Japanese pronunciation and addoption of the word "Service"). I do it also. Goes WAY further than a few bucks "discount" and sends a completely differnt message about you and your work.
I'd think that the issues you'd encounter with a Japanese bowl (porosity, thermal transference) would be similar in a western-style raku vessel... assuming, of course, that there was nothing toxic in the glaze.
One of the key "values" of actual Raku ware to a chajin (tea person) is that aspect of the insulating thermal transference quailties you mention. Another is the very light weight. And yet anotehr is the clear fragility of the work (wabi-sabi coming into play). Another highly valued quality in Raku is not somehting that most people not really familiar with Chado are aware of; the sound the whisk makes in Raku wares. Sound is a key component of tea ceremony (every sense is important). Vitrified wares tend to make a harsher sound when the tea is whisked.
Japan is a different place. They have a different legal system. They value ceramics differently. They value "tradition" (in some cases ) diffetently. True Japanese Raku ware is lead glazed. To this day. Laws in Japan tend make exceptions for "artisanal wares".....because they are important. So technically the glazes on those pieces have some real "potential issues" by modern standards.
BUT......... a Japanese Raku teabowl will be put to one use and one use only. It will be used to serve matcha. No one is going to "defile" it by doing anything else. Raku chawan are "revered" objects. Almost like a religious icon (but Chanoyu is NOT a religous ceremony, although Zen values permeate it). And the real ones (Raku family and/or Ohi family) typically are absurdly expensive, although you certainly can find more mass produced ones that are much lower priced.
One of the first things that is done in a real Chakai (tea ceremony gathering) is that the host cleans everything in sight before the guests arrive.... including the utensils. So any film of white lead oxide that forms on the surface of the raw lead glaze is well washed away then. During the cremony itself (shortly after the "big cleaning") the host again ritually cleans the bowl before use. SO by the time tea is made in the bowl, it is well cleaned of potential lead residues that will form on the surface.
The amount of time that the tea in the bowls is, as I mentioned, literally only minutes. For a serving, there is only a small amount of tea in the very bottom of the form. For usucha (thin tea) it is meant to be drunk in about 3 sips. For koicha (thick tea) there is more and it is shared by multiple people, but still very little material in the bottom of the bowl. Leaching tinme and surface exposure is minimal.
I have Raku bowls. In a setting with my students, they are used for display and handling only. In a "tea" setting with "consenting adults", I use them.
The reason I asked about the red is that it looks like a cadmium based red. Hopefully they are using an encapsulated form. Even still........ if you haven't looked at the FDA laws on lead and cadmium use with food wares.... you likely should. Just so you are familiar with them in your decision making process.
I looked at the Duncan Envision MSDS that I could find. I wasn't impressed with its thoroughness. First of all....... there are no individual ones that I could easily find for the individual colors. So the "generic one' seems to me to be night on to useless to guage the actual content.
I've related this story before about a "food safe" non-toxic labeled product from one major manufacturer that I was wanting to use. I called to talk to their tech support folks to get an answer about any lead being in the product, since I make food wares and the FDA laws require that I know about that potential fact.. I got told by the people I first got sent to ... nope... none in there. But from talking to them and asking questions, I became well aware that I knew well more about technical ceramics than they did. These were their "tech support staff" that 99% of potters calling them would get. I kept asking for someone further up the technical "food chain". After a few layers and people who clearly could not answer a real techniocal enquiry, I finally asked them if they had a ceramic engineer type person on their staff. They said they did. I asked to talk to him. In about 1 minute or less I had my answer. Yup... lead in there. Those products are still sold by that company as "food safe".
The whole "non-toxic rating" can be a bit of a "game" on MDSDs and product labeling. You'll notice that the boxes of clay you get often have the ASTM non-toxic ratings on them. And they are. As THAT product..... which is what is being rated. It is really hard to inhale a wet mass of plastic clay. Ah,.... but let that clay dry out ..............and there you have respirable micro-crystaline silica in that stuff. A known human carcinogen, a causer of silicosis, and an OSHA regulated compound in the workplace. They can be sold as non-toxic... because they are wet . Ditto for glazes.
What is that red? Is that the "commercial" glaze you mention?
Note that AMERICAN raku is not used for tea ceremony. Japanese Raku is. And it is VERY different ware. And in tea ceremony the whisked matcha (tea ceremony tea) is in the bowl for a VERY short amount of time. Like maybe a couple of minutes. Coffee in a mug will be there far longer.
No, of course I haven't sold at the prices I am selling at now "back in the day". And I should not have. And if I had tried, they wouldn't have sold. (And in looking at some of my work from back then.....thank goodness!)
I can clearly remember thinking that I "knew something" about clay when I was just out of UMass. Thought my pieces were pretty darn OK. In hindsight, I realize I didn't know squat back then and my pots were very much barely "so-so". After a certain point of early learning, folks tend to think they "know stuff". Get full of themselves. It is when someone finally matures a bit and realises how darn much they DON'T know and what they CAN'T do so well that they finally are at a point to really blossom in their art work. This is the breakthrough point where the pricing can start to come up significantly becasue the WORK will then change dramatically for the positive.
As the work matures, the pricing of that work changes ("evolves" is probably the right term). So pricing DOES change.... but it is not random. And it tends to be slow-ish. Quailty of the work produced, name recognition, "fame", and all sorts of other factors figure in as this develops. As do decisions about market positioning.
Personally, I have to say that I can't make a $10 cup/mug. Even wholesale. When I look at annual potential pottery output, the physical demands on my body, the nature of my studio operation, my firing process, and the particular standards that I want to maintain for the pieces that I sell,....... it just won't work. And I've been doing this professionally for a LONG time now....... so I'm pretty decent at execution by now.
I talk about this subject with students all the time. It is the "why are you here" talk. Here you are investing in a professional education in a field and likely racking up student loans and such. You are spending money on an education. Your goal is to be a professional. You want to make a living at this. So you should look at what the standard of living for "middle class" professionals in various fields make. After investing in learning a craft well, you want some return on that investment.
It is competitive as he$$ out there in the art market. So the clay work and the other skills they need as an entrapanuer better be there. You better be GOOD! Work hard, study hard. Wring every bit out of your studies. You'll need it. And it will also come down to the "last man/woman standing" factor......persistence and determination.
Around here a totally unskilled burger flipper gets $10 an hour with some benefits. That is on 40 hours a week. It seems to me that as a skilled professional, folks should be looking at WAY more than that for an hourly AVERAGE for a year. WAY more. In this day and age, the $100 bill is the "new $20". Massive numbers of people drop $7.00 on a coffee at the drop of a hat. Daily. Going out for "a beer" Friday night will kill a $20 bill really fast. An evening at a movie almost requires a mortgage anymore.
Personally I think 'why would I want to devalue my education and skills to a level commensurate to those kinds of thoughtless expenditures that people make'? That is "throwaway money" for them. What I do is an expression of skills and vision....... I believe that people have to be aware of that fact and should realize that the work is special. Not a double shot with extra cream .
Hope those thoughts are helpful.
Chris gave a great example above. People reading this thread should take her words to heart. She's a smart cookie.
The answer to most of your questions is ......."yes".
So... let's say you want to make... spark plugs.
Seems like a good idea. Maybe it is an easy item to sell. There are gazillions of cars on the road that need spark plugs.
But then you look a bit closer. And you discover that the specs for the spark plugs in different cars are often different. Hum..... what to do?
So you then see which cars share the same spark plug specifications. Your research shows that there are 10 major models from 2 major manufacturers that share specs. You then go further and research what part of the total automotive market share that those 10 models hold. You find out that it is 25% of that gazillion autos pool. Bingo.... likely very viable product.
More market research shows you what the sparkplug competition is charging for their sparkplugs. A cost analysis of you own operations tells you that you can produce the plugs for an amount that allows the business to "work". Even when slightly underselling the competition (price advantage). And you have an idea that produces something that the other sparkplug producers don't too (feature advantage). The unique feature of the sparkplugs you'll make gives a car a slightly better gas mileage (benefit advantage).
That analysis gives you a few thoughts on a potential marketing plan... you have three distinct avenues to pursue in selling the product. Good business.
Off you go to make those sparkplugs. And from your general viability research you know exactly where to market them as well.
Once that core endeavor is working, you can expand production into the second biggest market segment that you found for general sparkplugs. And so the business grows.
BUT.... now let's say that what you REALLY want to do is make sparkplugs for Ford Model T's. (Great analogy for handcrafted clay tablewares in this world.....particularly yunomi.) You have a passion for Ford Model T sparkplugs. They consume your every waking moment. Hum........ still sparkplugs... but a VERY different market.
The same kind of analysis has to happen. From that analysis you will find that the market is very small. Nothing like the first scenario. So you know that you will not sell a lot of units. So you know that the price per unit is going to have to be high to support the viable business.
But in your research you find that the people who own and drive these Model T's are FANATICS about their cars. And for the most part they are very affluent (have to be for this hobby). And they are willing to PAY for quality and such. You also find that they belong to things like antique auto clubsm subscribe to antique auto magazines, attend annual antique auto rallys, and so on. And you find that there are a small number of part suppliers that even are dedicated to sell to this small market.
Again... some business analysis takes place on production methods and costs... and you know what you have to charge per piece to make the business work. And you have already established whom you are going to sell to, you've established the "price sensiitivity" issue is not all that high, and you have found the core distribution network possibilities.
So you start attending those Model T conventions, you study the mechanics of the engines, you also go learn about cutting edge sparkplug technology (so that maybe you can add something the to original plugs that is better... but cannot be "seen" by the purists), and so on. You educate yourself to be an "expert" at Model T sparkplug design.You write some articles for those magazines. You lecture at some of those conventions.
In the process.... you meet a LOT of people who are tied into the serious Model T world. Like in any business endeavor... networking is THE most powerful tool there is. You've begun building your marketing base. And you have begin to build your credibility.
Off you go to make fewer sparkplugs than if you took the first possible sparkplug making route. And bnecause of your vast knowledge of the Model T culture, technical demands, and enthusiasts desires, you make KILLER Model T sparkplugs. In the end, you might just find that your overall gross income, your personal paycheck, and also your profits (if you dont understand the difference between thos three things..... take a class) are higher even though the total volume sold is WAY is lower.
This is all really "Business 101" stuff. Everyone who wants to work for themselves (including artists) likely should take at least one basic business class that covers stuff like production analysis, liability, insurance, accounting, taxes, marketing, employees, law, and so on.
PS: I've been studying Japanese ceramics, art, history, culture, language, martial arts, and so on since the late 60's. I'm a late career full time artist. So... I make and sell a lot of yunomi by now.
But things like "your handles are bad, you need to practice them a lot more" would be hard to hear, but is actually a really helpful and truthful comment and one you could grow from immensely.
Selection of appropriate semantic terms is important in so many things. "I like this handle" and "I like that handle" or "That handle is good" and "That handle is bad" are not very useful in 99% of cases. They are opinions. Handles aren't "bad"... they are inert objects. They are a chunk of clay.
They can exhibit cartain physical and visual characteristics though..................... here's some descriptive critique examples:
The strong line created by that handle tend to lead the eye downward toward the base. The sweep of the incised line that is placed on the body of the form terminating near the handle join then pulls people's attention back upward toward the attachment point. This circular use of line tends to keep the eye moving throughout and centered on the form.
The attachment point at the top has a lot of little marks and irregularities where it hits the body of the form. This makes the area there look heavily-touched and busy. This obvious texture, when the rest of the form is so smooth and sleek also tends to draw the eye to that point and hold it there at the top.
When you take ahold of this handle, the ridge line that was created by the pulling action is very sharp. This area likely felt much different before the final glaze firing, when the clay was "softer" in its general feel against the hand. With the clay becoming virrified and hard, and with a layer of glass over it, it now is like a knife edge. When you put the weight of coffee into the cup, the pressure on the fingers along that hard line is probably painful for many people holding this handle.
PS: I will agree that there are times that someone will benefit from getting kicked back from a harsh comment: but they are exceptionally FEW and far between. And they are ONLY constructive if the two individuals involved have a solid trusting relationship (see the other thread on critiques).
That first link above is a very "reactionary" and "inflamatory" type of writing. It is "scaremongering", with an agenda. Everyone's writing is like that......mine too, of course.
A lot about this whole wood kiln and pollution discussion was included in my part of the "Up In Smoke" presentation at the NCECA conference in Portland, OR in 2006. (See the NCECA Journal for that year.) I also cover a lot of this stuff in my kiln design and operation classes.
As a wood firer since 1969, a pro kiln designer and builder, a college professor of ceramics, and a self-proclaimed ernviromentalist, this 'wood kilns and pollution' thing is a "pet peeve" on my hot button list.
And I always have to say this following kind of "disclaimer" stuff before I go further with these thoughts on wood kilns......... because certain folks will jump all over me if I don't...... I am not anti-environmentalist. Actually the exact opposite. (Some folks will still jump all over me. So be it. )
I burn wood for kilns and home heating because it is a renewable resource, and on about a 30 year viewpoint window, is basically carbon neutral. I've had solar collectors on the roof and thermosiphoning ones on the side walls of our home since the mid- 70's. Same for an attached solar greenhouse. I designed and had built the main woodstove we use based on my kiln-design thermal engineering background; it is very, very efficient. The home and studio have had the insulation improved (and I am always improving this). I just installed a gas heater in the studio that is 90% efficient, with the main output a pumped water situation (amazing technology!). Our main "travel car" at the moment gets about 40 mpg. We have been recycling ALL of our trash since 1977. My wood kiln is deliberately one of the most efficient thermal designs available.... a noborigama... the precursor to the modern continuous tunnel kiln concept. It has insulating firebrick on the exterior courses. For about 30 years, all of the wood burned in the kiln was scrap wood from mills... that would have been burned in a big pile, to no good productive end. Oh, and my wife and I are proponents of the old 60's movement; ZPG (Zero Population Growth).
There...... got that off my chest. On to the subject at hand..............
For those that say that burning wood is putting particulates into the air, .... yup.... it is. No question on that. BUT I'll take that level of hazard well over the situation that we see at Fukushima in Japan any day (I spend time in Japan.... the situation there is very BAD). Pick your poison. Human activity is NOT clean. We do tend to foul our own nests. There are consequences to our existance. If you want no impacts from us on the planet.... maybe we need to become extinct. Then the planet can revert to its pristine state.
Some of the quick "upshot" here..........
First and formost, you have to put our wood kiln's (and all other kilns) usage into some frame of perspective. I did exactly this for part of the NCECA presentation. I don't have the exact numbers I did back then in front of me at the moment,.... but this is the gist of it. I compared my noborigama's CO2 pollution output to the CO2 emitted by a single 747 flight from JFK airport in NYC to Narita in Japan. (I'm an aviation buff..... amd know the numbers for those engines .) As I remember I can fire my wood kiln for my entire life on the equivalent of that single, one-way flight (assuming that the wood burning is not carbon neutral). I did not do particulates for that study, but those jet engines are not all that clean either, particularly on takeoffs and climbs when they burn a lot of gallons of Jet-A fuel per minute.
How many 747's are in the air going around the world on a daily basis? How many aircraft of all types are in the air burning fuel right now as you read this? Listen for a bit... almost no matter where you are, you can likely hear at least one.
In fact, go stand on the corner of a major intersection in a city at the morning commute hours for only one hour. Look at the cars and trucks. Seriously... LOOK at the cars and trucks. Try and count them. You can't. Every one of them is burning fuel and emitting CO2 and other pollutants. And that is only one hour at one intersection in one city in one country in the world. Do the multiplication work.
One more for you. Go find a hillside overlooking a town or small city on a nice really cold January day, with nice still air, right around dawn. Look out at the pillars of warm gasses looking a lot like steam coming from all of the various chimneys for home and business heating. That's CO2 and other pollutants along with the condensing water vapor. Again, this is one moment in one town in one country. Multiply.
I bet you can easily add other such scenarios to the list.
THAT all is a "reality burger, hold the ketchup". That little exercise puts the accurate perspective on the impacts of a single electric, gas, oil, or wood kiln sitting at your home or studio. Now we are actually in the right frame of mind to continue discussing this.
The burning of wood as a fuel is for the most part, carbon neutral. What this means is that as trees grow, they sequester the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, by absorbing CO2, and store it as carbonaceous compounds in the wood. When you burn the wood, it puts the carbon back into the atmosphere as CO2 again. This process can be repeated over and over. It takes about 30 years to gropw a harvestable tree. So in about a 30 year viewpoint, burning wood is basically carbon neutral. I produce about 3 sustainable cords a year of harvestable wood on my own property; that heats my house.
The world is filled with what is called scrap wood. This wood is the processing leftovers from sawmills, the off cuts of lumber work, clean demolition wood from the taking down of wooden buildings, and so on. A huge portion of this wood goes to landfills every year. Some of the branches are left as "snag" to rot on the ground in the woods at the point of tree harvest. At the landfill one of two thngs happens to it. It gets burnt in big piles, releasing the CO2 for no good reason except reduction in garbage mass. Or it gets composted (left to rot) which also releases that same CO2. Many woodfirers use this scrap wood to fire pots. At least the CO2 in the air is for a good reason. And the high temperatures of the firboxes of well designed woodkilns cause better combustion than the big open burn piles, and the long flamepaths in the kiln through the pots can trap a lot of particulates.
Lacking testing all of them, it is likely pretty safe to say that there is no woodkiln in the world (with the exception of ONE I know of in Japan that is industrially scrubbed) that will pass the US EPA's PM-2.5 regulation or the older PM-10 standard that have been in place for a LONG time now. Nothing really new there. Wouldn't pass before, won't pass now. This includes Kusakabe-san's new "smokless" designs (more on that in a bit).
Good firebox design and areation practices can greatly reduce the particulates that are emitted during firings. Ditto for choices of wood burned. Ditto for stoking methods. Wood kilns do not HAVE to look like old coal-fired steam engines coming thru town and still get good results. Kusakabe-san's recent smokless kilns demonstrate this concept.
The current US propensity for building anagama kilns that are basically technologicaly the same core designs as those in Japan in the 1500-1600's is rather problematic, since these kilns are very poor at getting fuel and air mixed before the effluent exits the chambers. They tend to smoke like hell. Ditto the old US "groundhog" kilns... the "American Anagama". There is a reason that the noboriogama technology supplanted them in Feudal Japan........ the new design is far more efficient. Doh!
If you understand combustion process, the flow of gasses, and thermal engineering, most any wood kiln's firebox system, including anagama's, can be improved greatly, reducing visible smoke and thereby the particulates emitted. Kusakabe-san's smokeless design is not something that is earth-shatteringly different; he just understands combustion well. The tall chimney used there is KEY. Get plenty of air mixed into the wood, provide turbulent flow for mixing, and give it a long flame path. Simple actually. My noborigama design burns very cleanly; it was designed to do that.
Most potters don't tend to know it, but the EPA does have jurisdiction over ALL kinds of kilns if you are a business operation....... including gas and oil ones. If you check it, emissions from most typical potter-type gas kilns in reduction will not pass EPA PM-2.5 standards. Most potter type oil kilns will not pass either even when not in reduction, particulary those using drip-plate burner designs.
The EPA has regulation classes for such fuel burning units of all kinds. MOST potters kilns do not fall under the classification of units that require the submission of reports and the obtaining of annual operations permits; they are too small. These classifications are based upon the annual BTU / CO2 production levels of the units. But if your overall operation is big enough (lots of kilns) or if you have one big kiln, you DO need this permitting stuff in order to be legal. Including an annual operating permit. Surprise there for many reading this, I'll bet. (Do you know if you should have gotten a permit? Go to the EPA's website and find out.)
My own noborigama kiln was speciffically designed for its BTU input to be into the US EPA's 'non-major source' category. That puts me below the overt permitting process for either a building permit for the unit when it was constructed or for the renewable annual operating permits. My kiln cold not have been much larger than it was; that was a "design constraint" when I planned it. If it was bigger, it would have been falling into the regulated category, which I absolutely didn't want. Many large anagama and noborigama wood kilns in this country are actually in this latter category, but are in fact likely not "legal" if they were looked at by the EPA.
The GOOD news here is that we are "small potatoes" in the overall polution scheme of things. The EPA is not out overtly looking for us (yet).
However, even for the non-major source category, if there is a specific complaint filed, the EPA can decide to enforce the standards for the major sources. If they do this for a wood kiln, the issues of PM-2.5 and the emissions opacity test will immediately come into place... and you will have a passel of issues to deal with. Likely unsuccessfully. And if so, probably quite expensively. So the big issue here is.................. getting no complaints!
The biggest "issue" woodfirers have at the moment is the visible smoke that seems to be the hallmark of current kiln design and firing practices. Not only is this a lot of unnecessary particlate pollution, but at least as importantly, it is HIGHLY VISIBLE. It is going to eventually bring down the "wrath of god" upon the whole woodfire community as more and more people complain about it. Once the EPA gets woodkilns on its radar, the "witch-hunt" will probably begin. Here in NH, years ago we saw one single potter and his approach to dealing with neighbors and the EPA cause the basic "extermination" of salt firing in the state. (We also saw the FDA go after lead in glazes... but that is another story.)
The current popularity and proliferation of wood firing in the US is going to eventually be an issue as many people are now building wood kilns in settings that are not appropriate to their use (too urban or suburban) .... and that practice will likely bring the attention of the various regulatory bodies down on the overall woodfireng practice. Potters mistakenly seem to love that huge plume of black smoke coming from the wood kiln stack as some sort of 'personal fireworks" or affirmation of important process, but the average non-potting lay person will simply see ......... RAMPANT HUGE POLLUTION. They won't be thinking of all those jet planes, all those cars, or all those chimneys. THIS is what I greatly fear.
Potters as a group have no real political power. We are easy targets with few resources. People don't care about us. Polititians don't care about us. Big corporations have their lobbyists and their paided-off congressmen. We are an easy "feel good" target. Shutting down a wood kiln will look like good politics and environmental awareness.... while right next door the large local employer dumps chemicals into the river.
The upshot of all of this is that that if you are concerned about the enviromnent, there are lots of other things that you can do in your lives that have a far greater impact on our human impact on the planet before you start worrying about deciding to not fire your kilns anymore, or switching from cone 9 to cone 6, shutting down wood kilns, and so on. Insulate your house. Install a more efficient heating and cooling system. Get a fuel efficient car. Recycle all your garbage. Lobby your legislators to focus on supporting geothermal, solar, and wind energy. Limit your children to at most two. Do those things that have the greatest impacts on the world first. Priorities.
Something like shifting from cone 9 to cone 6 is simply a "feel good" exercise if you still drive an SUV. Or if you fly to NCECA every year and stay in a huge energy inefficent hotel eating food that was shipped in from China.
So what is my "personal agenda" here in writing this (as I mentioned there would be at the start)? I don't want to get my relatively efficient and relatively smokeless wood kiln shut down becasue some dimwit decides to drop an anagama in downtown Detriot. Oh... and maybe also to get people to think about how to appropriately lessen thier impacts upon the planet.
PS: Hum......... above is: Copyright 2013 -John Baymore -all rights reserved. I was just thinking that I might write a short article based on editing and embellishing this above.
to be honest, anything in american ceramics called a "shino" lacks the geologic pedigree to be called a shino--but semantics.
In lectures and teaching situations I always refer to "American Shino" when talking about the non-Japanese veriety of the glaze here. Ditto for "American Raku". Both have roots in Japanese traditions,.... but are far removed as we practice them.
I have a small supply of the ground stone that is the sole basis for the Shino glaze in Japan which I have brought back with me from when I am working in Japan. (I treat it like gold and replenish it from time to time. ) Time spent with a shino ware potter gave me a recipe for obtaining nezumi (mouse gray) and also explained the glaze preparation process.
Many Japanese potters use the stone alone as the glaze, suspended and fixed by the use of a decomposed seaweed solution binder. That is it. Some add a SMALL percentage of what would be a kaolin type clay..... like 5 to 10 percent. The amount of clay added, if there is any, is varied to match the various batches of the stone on a batch-to-batch basis.
Aside from the chemical composition of the stone itself, the KEY here is the preparation of the stone. It is ground in a stamper mill and is not water milled to round off the particles. There is also a wide particle size distribution. This allows the edges of the "chipped" particles to sinter early in the firing process well before tru fluxing and melting takes place.
Japanese shino is also generally fired to a much lower endpoint than the American variety. More like about Orton cone 7-8. BUT...... it is traditionally fired on LONG heating cycles..... like typically 48 hours on the up cycle. The traditional body underlying the glaze is pretty white, open textured, and not all that mature.
Sometime in workshops and classes here in the US I will bring out a piece or two of actual Japanese shino glazed ware. I'll tell the participants that its glaze name is something that they are very familiar with. Many times.... they don't recognize it as Shino. Most is quite different from the look of most American shinos.
American shino first got "derailed" from accuratlty modeling the Japanese precursor when lithuim was used in the mixtuire by Virgina Wirt. Then the idea of carbon trapping from soluble soda compounds got started. (In Japan carbon trapping in shino is a defect.)
American Shino is to Japanese Shino what American Raku is to Japanese Raku. Us Americans tend to like things "bigger and bolder and in-your-face".