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Member Since 13 Feb 2013
Offline Last Active May 30 2014 11:55 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Real-Time Kiln Advice (Kiln Curently Firing)

30 May 2014 - 11:31 AM

Regarding the stall in temperature rise: Are you sure the burners are properly sized for your kiln?


In my first painful experience with venturi burners, the burners were too small for the 40 cubic ft kiln. We were able to get to temperature after long grueling struggles by people with significant gas firing experience. Some firings took almost twice as long as they should have. Results were interesting. We spent most of a semester doing this before the size issue was identified. Smaller burners were replaced with larger ones, and VOILA the problem was solved.


Now, that kiln was being fired with industrial pressure piped natural gas. But, for years before, the same kiln was successfully fired with two tall bottles of liquid propane and forced air burners in all types of weather conditions including freezing during the winter.


Just a thought.

In Topic: Wheel Issues

10 April 2014 - 07:59 AM

If the bat is not completely flat on the wheel head, that may be the problem. Once the bat is on the pins, use your fists to pound the top of the bat directly over the bat pins. Then, spinning the wheel at medium speed, hold your finger at 6 o'clock on the top edge of the bat as it revolves. If your finger moves up and down, the bat is not level. Some people can compensate for this, but it makes many struggle. I've had some bats fit so tightly on the pins it made them difficult to put on AND remove. Most bats eventually wear enough to solve the problem, but on one wheel we had to replace the bat pins to solve the problem, so maybe we had a slightly large pin?


Also, is your wheel on a level surface? That can also be problematic. Use a level to check the wheel head AND the wheel table. If they are not on the same level, your shaft or wheelhead may be damaged.


The suggestions to try throwing without a bat are an excellent way to diagnose. Sorry you're finding frustration when you should be happily spinning clay!

In Topic: Happy Birthday Warren Mckenzie

02 April 2014 - 08:46 PM

Ninety years old and still potting. Here a great collection of video clips.


Thank you for this post. What a treasure!

In Topic: De-Airing Pugmill Design

02 April 2014 - 07:24 PM


I think the screens are as much about safety as anything else. The only pugmill I've ever used did not have one...simply requires attention to what you're doing and common sense.


You kinda lost me on what you are meaning there, not sure what you mean by safety being the reason for the screen. I believe the screen docweathers is referring to catches any stray lumps if you have rushed the mixing time plus the shredded clay can be thoroughly deaired after mixing and prior to going through the pug section of the machine. 


The pugmill I used came with a "screen" installed over the port where you fed in your materials. Being a pain in the a**, it was promptly removed, but I always believed its intent was to prevent the user from putting their fingers/hands into the auger chamber. We were well lectured about being sure NOTHING but wet clay (stiff and/or sticky) went into the chamber.

In Topic: Teaching Ceramics to Adults

02 April 2014 - 01:46 PM

Individual private lessons are tough when you have a student who just doesn't get how much practice is required, so you have to remind them...sometimes constantly...until they understand. Try relating it to your own path in the medium, and see the paragraph below re: beginning wheel. Remember, a student spending 2 hours a WEEK on the wheel will progress more slowly than one spending 2 hours a DAY. Also, different people learn in different ways. Many people respond well when I put my hands on top of theirs to demonstrate proper position or pressure or pace of movement.


I've taught adults (and kids) in arts/rec centers for almost 20 years. Most of the classes are mixed skill, and we have many returning students. Intermediate students are the most likely to slip through the cracks in this setting. So, after basics, I try to gear more demonstrations to them while working with advanced students on a case by case basis. These classes are very different than the university courses I've taught, both in their content and in the nature of the students and their motivation for taking the class.


At the beginning of each session, students introduce themselves including info on their clay experience and goals for the class. Each class "syllabus" revolves around this information, so no two classes are exactly the same. I know this sounds like idiocy, but it keeps things interesting!


For both throwing and handbuilding, we discuss the properties of clay and how to exploit those properties through handling, construction, finishing, and attention to detail while considering how that all comes together to inform and support the artist's personal aesthetic.


For beginning wheel students: I ask them how long it has been since they've learned something that requires development of muscle memory, then to consider how long it took them to become proficient at such an activity (typing, playing a musical instrument, riding a bike, playing golf/tennis, etc.). I like to use the analogy of playing a piano: you're dealing with a new medium (musical notes/clay) and a new tool (piano/wheel) while you're training your muscles to create the desired end product (beautiful music/beautiful pot). Even though we can hear the music/see the pot we want, it takes practice to achieve the desired result, and we do not all advance at the same pace. Then, we discuss realistic goals.