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Member Since 08 Apr 2010
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#111757 Element Fail / Question About Shutoff Temp

Posted by GEP on 21 August 2016 - 11:40 AM

I think one of my top zone elements just failed. My elements were approaching their life span, and there was one spot on my second-to-top element that looked more worn than everything else.


This morning I found my kiln was still firing after 12 hours, when it usually takes 9. The top zone was way behind, and the ramp was climbing at roughly 30°/hour. Normal program is 120°/hour for the final segment.


I looked at a cone chart, and the closest the data I could find for my situation was:


cone 5 at 27°/hour is 2118

cone 5 at 108°/hour is 2167


This is pretty close to the ramp I was getting vs the one I'm used to. The difference between then is 49°.


My final temp was supposed to be 2180°. So I subtracted 50 and shut the kiln off at 2130°.



Does anyone have any sense that I did the right thing? If not, it's ok, I'll find out tomorrow morning when I open the kiln. If the top shelf or two is underfired, while the rest of it is ok, I'll consider that a victory.

#111665 Can I Get Away Without A Test Kiln?

Posted by GEP on 19 August 2016 - 11:35 AM


 If you want to sell them even faster, attach a little bird on the rim... 

Haha, so true!



Uh, but please everyone, don't fall into the "Put a Bird on It" meme from Portlandia. Just do a google search for "put a bird on it portlandia" and prepare to cringe (while laughing).


I put birds on some of my pots, but I am careful not to be twee about it. 

#111523 Qotw: Are You Showing Us The Best Piece You Made When Starting With Pottery?

Posted by GEP on 17 August 2016 - 09:06 AM

First pot I ever threw, in a community center class in 1994. Now it lives in my studio holding the stretch loops I use when packing/shipping.

Attached File  image.jpeg   101.28KB   4 downloads

Edit to add one more photo. Although I think my first attempt at throwing is not too shabby, my first attempt at trimming is really embarassing. And yes the pot was accidentally busted at one point, and lovingly glued back together.

Attached File  image.jpeg   104.88KB   3 downloads

#111282 Supplies To Buy When Buying A First Wheel?

Posted by GEP on 12 August 2016 - 01:49 PM

Lots of needle tool users here. What do people use that thing for? All I ever did with it was add blood to my pots. Not to hijack as it is useful for Nerd to know as well, just curious what good is that darn needle finger poking tool.

For measuring the thickness of the pot's floor. And for leveling off a rim.

#111266 Supplies To Buy When Buying A First Wheel?

Posted by GEP on 12 August 2016 - 10:28 AM

All throwers need sponges, towels, and buckets. All other tools are a matter of personal preference. I suspect many throwers, including me, own lots of tools we never use. You don't know until you've tried it. Then you settle on a small number of favorites.

I would start with three trimming tools, in various sizes and shapes. And maybe five ribs, in various sizes shapes and materials. I would also get a needle tool, calipers, and a cutoff wire.

#111146 Chip Card Readers. How Do You Like Yours So Far?

Posted by GEP on 09 August 2016 - 09:45 AM

I don't think a massive wifi signal is feasible. Besides, cellular data is fine for mag stripe transactions. It's the chip cards that are the problem, not the internet.

#110900 Qotw: Clay Poem Anybody?

Posted by GEP on 03 August 2016 - 11:00 AM

I wrote this a few years ago:

A poem for my pugmill

my shoulder and wrists remember
wedging all they could withstand
drove 400 miles with a dozen benjamins
to buy you secondhand

took practice to get to know you
at first too messy, sticky, or dense
years later your virtue is measured in tons
my gratitude more immense

recycled is better than new
perfectly soft and already round
easy to center, easier to portion
two inches equals one pound

a potter's work can overwhelm
mindful of fatigue and morale
a little help from heavy machinery
my indispensable pal

#110865 Qotw: Are Our Expectations Too High?

Posted by GEP on 02 August 2016 - 09:17 AM

I guess I'm going to be the contrarian in this conversation. Though admittedly I have skimmed some of the responses, so maybe I'm not alone.

I don't see this problem, at least not in a generalized sense. When I taught pottery, of course I met some students who expected too much, or thought it would be easy. I can count them on one hand. For the ones I got to know better, I learned they were the product of some severe enabling by the people close to them. Unique situations, not general. I had dozens of students over the years, and most of them fully embraced the long term nature of learning how to throw. In fact, it was part of the appeal.

It has been many many years since I ever heard anyone at an art festival express that pottery must be easy. The last incidence I remember, a man started complaining loudly and laughing about the price of one of my pieces. But here's the whole situation. There were two other customers in my booth at the time. One of them was contemplating making a nice purchase. This man made such a (bleep) of himself, it somehow solidified her decision. "I'll take this."

Again this shows that rational and normal people do not think this way. People like this are rare.

Not only do I not hear "that must be easy" sentiments anymore, I constantly hear "I've tried this and I know how hard this is!" Sometimes they did pottery many years ago and gave it up for some reason. Sometimes they are only six months in, and struggling with centering, but madly in love. Sometimes they are five years in, and contemplating a career change. They all express copious respect.

I think that many of you have met a few people who behaved cluelessly, and are mistakenly attributing this to "people in general" or "kids these days" or something. When the truth is these types of people are very rare.

#110784 New To Wood Firing

Posted by GEP on 30 July 2016 - 09:12 PM

Make pots with thicker walls than you would typically make for cone 6. Warping and stress cracks happen a lot more in a wood kiln. So don't try to make delicate pots. Make sturdy pots.

Wood ash will land on horizontal surfaces. Try to design forms that have horizontal surfaces on their exteriors, such as shoulders and lids. This is another good reason to try firing a pot on its side, as Bruce suggested.

If you plan to glaze the exterior of any of your pots, don't glaze all the way to the bottom. Any glaze can become unexpectedly runny in a wood kiln, because wood ash is a flux. Consider adding a "glazecatcher" near the bottom. A glazecatcher is either a ridge or a groove that circles the pot about an inch or so from the bottom. If your glaze starts running down a pot, the glazecatcher should stop it before it runs onto the shelf.

Not sure if you will get to participate in the work of firing the kiln. If you get to help, wear natural fibers on your arms (synthetics can catch fire or melt), and shoes that are comfy but will also protect your toes if you drop something heavy.

#110483 Skutt or L&L?

Posted by GEP on 24 July 2016 - 01:40 PM

If you think a speech impediment was relevant to your customer service experience, then I find it hard to take your opinion seriously.

#110404 Not So Messy Clay For Beginners?

Posted by GEP on 21 July 2016 - 11:02 AM

When I taught pottery classes, we had three clays available for the students. No matter what clay they used, some potters got really messy and some stayed really neat. I think it has more to do with the potter rather than the clay.


I also think that beginners should use a lot of water. It helps to overcome a lot of hurdles during the beginner phase. It also makes you much messier. As you gain skill, you should use less and less water, which gives you more control. 


When I throw, one of my habitual movements is regularly scrape my hands clean on my splashpan or bucket. And to regularly clean off my batt of excess clay or slop. 

#110365 Chip Card Readers. How Do You Like Yours So Far?

Posted by GEP on 20 July 2016 - 09:31 AM

When everything went chip, the credit card transactions all slowed down too, and the transaction times are nearly identical.

This is true, when I use a chip card in a retailer like Target or Home Depot, it takes longer to process than a swiped card. Maybe I shouldn't blame that on Square.

#110247 How To Mark Your Prices.....

Posted by GEP on 18 July 2016 - 09:27 AM

I did a show this past weekend, using the Sharpie/dry-erase pen combination. It was awesome! I did not have to fix a single price marker, even though customers touched them as much as usual. The few times when I needed to erase and change a price, it was a piece of cake. I am really excited to have this problem solved. Thanks again Giselle!

#110036 Do You Wrap Your Tools To Make Them More Comfortable To Hold?

Posted by GEP on 12 July 2016 - 03:37 PM

Pipe insulation and rubber bands. I have not had any hand pain since. See a photo on my blog:


#109833 How To Mark Your Prices.....

Posted by GEP on 07 July 2016 - 06:38 PM

What I read is that all flammable liquids shouldn't be stored in a hot car. Sometimes my gear stays packed in my car for months.
I might try a combination of Mark's approach and Giselle's idea. Small, clear, removable labels, and a Sharpie. When I need to change the price, I can peel the sticker off.

Coloring over it with a dry erase marker will work too and then you don't have to worry about the flammable liquid. That might work better for you. The reason I discovered how to get rid of Sharpie marks is that I drew out a schedule with permanent marker on a white board thinking I was so clever but then discovered that the dry erase marker made it come right back off!

Holy cow, Giselle ... this works! It's a little time consuming, but I think that will be offset by all the time I save not fixing the erased prices. I will try it at my next show and see how it goes.