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#110723 Qotw: Are Our Expectations Too High?

Posted by JBaymore on 28 July 2016 - 06:29 PM

I have never accepted, nor will I accept that all "variables" in glaze firings are truly variables. Some yes, All no.


This is very true.  A lot of studio potters typically think that they have all the variables under control... but there are ones that have impacts that many don't even know exist.  Industry gets its consistency level by controlling as many variables as they can.  But even they have ones that are hard or impossible to control (at least economically) ...so they have some "gotcha's" sometimes also.


The "unknown unknowns" are the places that the "phases of the moon" solutions start to circulate in the studio pottery community. 





#110700 Qotw: Are Our Expectations Too High?

Posted by JBaymore on 28 July 2016 - 09:18 AM

I think to "re-frame" the idea behind the question I might add that it is not that expectations are too high (as Johhny K points out above), it is maybe that the level of work and time commitment that many individuals are willing (or not) or able to put in to achieve those goals/expectations is where the actual issue lies. 


Having goals, even somewhat lofty ones, is a good thing, and the power of positive thinking has always guided me and those whom I know who have achieved their goals.  But you have to follow through on what is necessary to reach those goals.  If for some reason you cannot follow through to the level required to meet the goals you have set for yourself......... then you need to adjust your goals to a realistically attainable level.  Otherwise, you'll be frustrated and unhappy.


That above being said, there ARE many factors in 'success levels'.  Some are things that, no matter how high we set our goals, we are unlikely to achieve.  Knowing this is what might be called "achieving wisdom".


I am a pretty good (snow) skier.  (Was better when I was a lot younger. ;) )  Started very young, had good instruction, and had parents (THANK YOU!) that supported that opportunity for me.  I lived near a small ski area....... which was basically in the backyard of my high school.  I skied every day in the winters.  Long story omitted here.......... that stuff lead me to eventually hold a professional certification in the snowsports teaching field that less than about 400 people in the USA also held.  Getting there involved skiing in situations and on terrain that most will never tackle..... and many grueling skiing exams. Physical training, equipment tweaking, nitpicking.


So.... were there any "Olympic dreams and goals" or something like that in my head?  Nope.  Why? 


I had the pleasure of skiing on a number of occasions with people whose names anyone familiar with Olympic level skiing (back in the day) would recognize.  Like Phil and Steve Mahre.  Alberto Tombo.  And so on.  The GAP between myself and many of those other 400-ish people I was a part of and the Olympic men and women was so amazingly HUGE, that the reality was apparent instantly on the hill when skiing with them.  Could I learn from them and make improvements...... of course.  Could I BE them?  Not a snowball's chance in *&^%.   Many aspects come into play with that fact. 


One is physicality........ to do the "job" well, your body has to be built to achieve such peak level performance in the specific field.  Another is the willingness to push that body....... to and even over the limits.  To literally take life and death risks.  To risk permanent injury.  I was not gifted with the perfect skier's body.  I did enough damage to my body in the pursuit of what I did accomplish... and was not willing to do more.


Another factor is the level of commitment that is required.  A whole life dedicated to achieving that single "standing on the podium" goal.  It becomes your total life.  Everything else slips by the wayside.  Not much of a life outside the endeavor.  I had other intersts that were important also (like clay!).


Another is opportunity.  I had good ones in my early development.  Most of the Olympic folks had great ones.


And so on.


The bottom line of understaning......... I was happy with where I was and what I had achieved.


So set realistically lofty goals for yourself... develop a plan to get to those goals.... and stick with the plan....... and you'll get there.


If you have not read this book.... "The Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell ..............it is a worthwhile read:  https://www.amazon.c...l/dp/0316017930


Also this one......."Art and Fear" by Bayless and Orland..............:  https://www.amazon.c...g/dp/0961454733






#110678 Qotw: Are Our Expectations Too High?

Posted by JBaymore on 27 July 2016 - 08:44 PM

For SURE this is not about "the younger generation"... it is not an 'age thing'... it is attitudinal.  I see the same thing in ALL age groups.





#110622 Qotw: Are Our Expectations Too High?

Posted by JBaymore on 26 July 2016 - 08:31 PM

: there is just too many roads to be able to walk them all in one lifetime.



I have 100 lifetimes all planned out.  :)





#110592 Qotw: Are Our Expectations Too High?

Posted by JBaymore on 26 July 2016 - 12:17 PM

I'm with you there Mark.


Saw the same thing happening in the snow skiing field when I was still teaching that.  See the same tendency in the clay field.  See the same tendency now in XXXXXXX (fill in the blank).  The age of Instant Gratification


People tend to see others who are at the end of LONG and deep careers in a field... and have put in the time and study and heartbreaks and the dues... and they tend to want that after 5 years of work.


I love the trend being talked about by some in academia ... that undergrad college is too long.... we need to drop it to only 3 years.  ???????  Heck....... we can't get enough covered in the 4 years!!!! 





#110440 Trouble With Red

Posted by JBaymore on 22 July 2016 - 08:50 AM

One other thing I would do that I didn't see on the lab sites directions would be to wash the test piece that you are sending in with hot water and soap before sending it off. Have no clue if Cadmium would fume, doubt it though, but remember that thread John B posted from Carty about copper glazed pots leaching far less in the testing if they are washed first. Probably won't make a difference for Cd but not 100% sure.


Can't remember if I have ever mentioned this in THIS thread (not reading back now)... or anywhere here on the CAD forums.........


In Japan, the famous "Oribe" green copper glaze is loaded with copper.  One of the standard parts of using that glaze for Japanese potters (that is not all that well known here in the USA) is to take the pieces that are glazed with it and soak them in a solution made from crushed chestnut shells overnight.  Basically it is an acid bath.  It "clears" the hazy look of the glaze as it comes out of the kiln.  It is taking the "loose" copper off the surface and in the immediate surface layer of the fired glaze.


I also note that many "American" versions of "Oribe" greens are so loaded with copper that they cause little black microcrystalline surface silicate precipitations to form.  Those areas will be way less stable in holding the copper than fused glassy phase glaze.


The acid soak makes a huge difference in the look of the glaze. 





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#110429 Competive Juried Shows

Posted by JBaymore on 21 July 2016 - 07:06 PM

Marcia and Bruce hit it.  WHY would you want to do them?  Aside from the "bragging rights" ;) . They can be an important portion of a solid marketing and business plan.  Or they can be a distraction from what you should be doing.  Depends on what you are making, and who your market is.


If you are going for the more "high end" market........ doing some of them for a good while is pretty much a "must".  If you are in or going into academia... it is a part of the evil "publish or perish" deal.


Sometimes getting a piece into the "right show" can be the event that 'opens the door' to a lot of other opportunities.


Most competitions in the USA are juried from slides.  Which is actually a problem.  Because it becomes "all about the photos".  The pieces have to POP in a purely visual environment.... when the juror is looking at the images for only a few seconds.  Hundreds and hundreds of entries.... for only a few pedestals and wall space.  Can be very competitive.  Some great subtle work will tend not to make the cut... and some mediocre work that photographs well will make the cut.  If you are going this route......  you either need a pro taking the photos... or you need to learn to take great images yourself.


You can waste a lot of money if your work is not at a competitive level with the level of the typical entrants to the competition.  This requires some seriously objective self-critique.  Match the "caliber" of the show that you enter to the "caliber" of your current work... to help assure some success and "payback" from your entry fees.


There is no "one size fits all" answer to this one.





#110293 How Much Granular Manganese Dioxide?

Posted by JBaymore on 19 July 2016 - 07:39 AM

The documented potential issues with manganese are via inhalation.  Manganese in clay bodies potentially increases your risks in two areas;  the respirable "fines" from the clay body DRY dust that invariable accumulates in the studio (the granules are not an issue) and mainly the fume that comes off the kiln in the firing.  A "fume" is not a "gas"... but is an ultra-fine, sub-micron "dust" particle.  VERY respirable and stays in the air a long time.


Then add the concepts of intensity, duration, and frequency to the equation concerning your possible "exposure".


This is not simple stuff.  That is why god created scientists, toxicologists, occupational health specialists, and ventilation engineers. ;)   There are only (to my knowledge) anecdotal individual pieces of information about potters getting manganese poisoning.  There are medically documented studies showing instances of industrial workers getting manganese poisoning.  They are NOT the same thing.  The industrial studies point to the potential risks...... but are not 100% applicable to what it is we do.  No one in the medical field has studied the impacts on studio potters (to my knowledge).   So we 'extrapolate' from the available info, and do the best we can.


Are we right to be concerned about the potential health impacts?  Of course.  Should we 'seal ourselves in giant baggies' to go thru life?  I think not.


Education, education, education.  The information about health and safety in the studio environment is out there.  Then you have to assess if you are a "glass half full" or a "glass half empty" type of person in your approach to life.


One of the important things that I tell people in my ceramic toxicology sessions and workshops...... if you have a health concern that you think is related to what you do in the studio, go get a referral from your primary care physician to an occupational health specialist.  The average GP type doctor is not typically trained to think about things the way that you need them to approach the subject.  Take a list of the materials that you use, and the MSDSs for them with you to both of your doctors. 


A lot of GPs will be surprised that you work with some of the stuff that you do.  If they KNOW about it, they will keep a little reminder in their head when they deal with your general health issues over the years.





#110144 Qotw: What Other Things Beside Clay Have You Mastered?

Posted by JBaymore on 15 July 2016 - 10:03 AM

I too shy away from the idea of "mastered" with most anything.  That is a  "title" for others to potentially append .... not for me to judge.


As to other things that I have done pretty seriously and well over the years.........


I started playing music professionally in clubs as the age of 13 (had a NJ liquor commission waiver).  Later I was in a very serious band in the late 60's and early 70's.  Spent a lot of time on the road and in recording studios (had a TINY clay studio in the basement of the band's house).  Got right to the edge of the "big time" (record company interested) and we all decided the music business was not for us.  I no longer play at all.  Miss it sometimes.  Still have my Gretch kit with Zildjans all around.  Can't bring myself to sell it.  (I played for the first time since 1972 at the Potter's Jam at NCECA two years ago.)


At the age of 18 I started teaching (snow) skiing professionally.  I stuck with that until maybe about 4-5 years ago... and ended that career holding the highest level of international certification (Level 3), and also as a Educational Staff member working for the Professional Ski Instructors of America.  Was sponsored by Atomic for most on my time doing that.  I still ski for fun. Still not too bad for an "old guy".





#109127 Artsy Babble Translation Please

Posted by JBaymore on 21 June 2016 - 10:13 AM

FYI.... my artist's statement for an upcoming solo exhibition in February and March:


"I have chosen the demanding approach of wood firing for finishing my work because no other firing process allows the mark of the flame to be documented in such a direct and literal way upon the wares. Ceramics is formed from very basic earth materials and is based upon the same kind of metamorphic forces that have helped to form our planet. I try to capture some of this materiality in my works, as do many artists I have met while working in Japan. Like the diverse textures and subtle colors of desert and canyon landscapes in the American Southwest which have served to inspire me, there is much to explore and find if you take the time to let your eyes wander and explore my works. Sometimes a wildflower grows in the most unexpected place. Other times one finds the clear marks of the formation processes that create the forms. Occasionally, one even finds a little tiny bit of gold. My pieces are intentionally quiet and subtle, often layering the stark contrast potential of differing types of ceramic materials. With each new firing of the wood kiln, I continue to learn."





#108996 Hiring Studio Potters Question

Posted by JBaymore on 18 June 2016 - 07:23 PM

Would it fly in today's society?

Absolutely, I would say average people still need jobs and it could work if you are willing to deal with the sheer numbers of the people it will take to find one good potter looking for a steady pay check.


BUT....... you are competing with this:  https://www.youtube....h?v=kUuJF9xUof4





#108918 Qotw: What Is Your Biggest Safety Fault?

Posted by JBaymore on 17 June 2016 - 09:53 AM

When loading large kilns... I do not typically wear a respirator.  I know I should. 





#108880 K26 Versus K23

Posted by JBaymore on 16 June 2016 - 09:01 PM

If you don't have a wet cooled brick saw................. one of the best saws for cutting IFB is a 24" bow pruning saw.  The snarly teeth rip right thru the bricks... and it is easy to grind new teeth into it when needed (metal grinder).


Takes a little practice to get straight cuts.... but works great.





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#108445 Startup Cost

Posted by JBaymore on 08 June 2016 - 07:14 PM

Also, when I did this I still had another full-time occupation, so I didn't need the pottery studio to provide a livable income. If your pottery studio is your only income, you also need to have enough capital to live off until your pottery starts to make money, which could take a few years.



That is some of the most important advice in this thread.  :)






#108415 Looking For A Food Safe Orange

Posted by JBaymore on 08 June 2016 - 02:15 PM

Uranium oxide in a high sodium environment.  ;)   "Out of the frying pan, into the fire."