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Idaho Potter

Member Since 26 Aug 2010
Offline Last Active Nov 27 2015 07:58 PM

#74226 Multi-Piece Slip Cast Mold Help

Posted by Idaho Potter on 27 January 2015 - 06:07 PM

If, as you have written:  " Having 6 individual molds is just to big and unwieldy I've found." is true, you will really learn what unwieldy is when you handle a mold for three vases.  If you intend to reuse the mold multiple times, as quickly as possible, you need to make the plaster between the vases at least as thick as the outside walls of the mold or there will be moisture problems.  Interior walls will take longer to dry, and that means any casting will take longer to set up because the plaster will be absorbing moisture from both sides.  


Most working molds need walls at least 1 1/2" thick (refer back to comments made by bciskepottery) and double that to 3" between what you cast .  Add up the depth of plaster needed, plus the size of vase (I've allowed 2.5") and you come up with a length of 16 1/2 " , width of 5 1/2", height of 5"; plus the base plaster which also needs to be at least 1 1/2" thick.  Actually, if the base is to be 16 1/2" long, I'd make it reinforced with burlap, or mesh of some sort and another 1 1/2" of plaster.  Hope you are strong, in good shape, and have a friend to help. Because when you fill the mold and have to dump the excess slip, I'm not sure the word unwieldy will any longer suffice.



#67367 Who Needs Art . . .

Posted by Idaho Potter on 06 October 2014 - 09:29 PM

This past weekend I listened to the TED radio hour (you might be more familiar with www.ted.com ) that discussed creativity from the point of view of a scientist, an educator (this was  the only name I remember--Sir Keith Robinson), and performance artists.  I will go to the TED website and look into it further.  


The main premise was that artist's brains, during the creative process, light up in certain areas like a pinball machine, but their frontal lobe actually almost disconnects at the same time.  Seems we artists need to get out of our own way so that the process can continue.  Creativity works better when we subdue our subconscious and quit worrying about failure and/or what anyone else may think of our efforts.  


We all need art.  Robinson said that education is now being operated the way a Fortune 500 corporation would handle it.  Corporations no longer hire people with only one degree they want more paperwork to flap about.  He also said that the more education leans that way, the less innovative the corporations will be because they will have eliminated any creativity that doesn't fit the "bottom line".


Boy, I hope not.



#62799 Aesthetically Pleasing Garments For Clay Workers.

Posted by Idaho Potter on 19 July 2014 - 07:20 PM

Thrift stores frequently have sweats for sale cheap.  I've bought a couple pairs and altered them slightly.  Waist band intact, cut off back side (butt & legs EXCEPT a two inch strip for behind the knee, and the cuff or elastic at the ankle).  These fit well over jeans, shorts (indoor or outdoor) or anything else you wear (or not).  Let them dry and next time you throw take them outside and scrunch up the thick clay areas and start throwing.



#62793 Image Envy ...

Posted by Idaho Potter on 19 July 2014 - 06:28 PM

I'm sure we all have image envy, but personally find it too hard to sustain.  I have an attention span shorter than the life of a fruit fly and have a bad tendency to get side-tracked easily (if you saw the movie UP! and understand "squirrel!", you know whereof I write).  I am not a multi-tasker.  I have a one-track mind that occasionally jumps the rails.  All the great ceramics I've seen, books I've read, music I've heard and conversations I've had with others are filed away somewhere, but I can't remember the password to access those files most of the time.  Soooo, I'll continue to drift through the years and every once in awhile have an AHA moment when I recognize an object or idea that clearly rings a bell--too bad I can't find that door to answer.


Now, what started this thread?



#61521 10 Cool Trends In Contemporary Ceramics

Posted by Idaho Potter on 29 June 2014 - 08:05 PM

Benzine's comments on page one of this thread took me back a few (nay, much more than a few) years.  Back in the 1950's when I was trying to learn something about technique in painting, I took a class at San Francisco State in oil painting.  I'd been fortunate to have a really great teacher in high school that taught me composition; challenged my imagination; inspired me; and made me work at art because he believed that to produce art you at least needed an idea of where you wanted to end up.  Not so, the college instructor.  


The class was entitled, Techniques of Oil Painting.  I wanted to learn technique--the application of paint to canvas--whether using a brush, knife, forearm, my nose, or any means necessary.  Regrettably, the class I'd signed for ended up more about painting large swathes of paint next to equally large areas of paint with no thought as to application, color, composition or anything else.  When the instructor kept referring to his work as "abstract", I finally spoke up and asked what was he abstracting.  His response was to shout he didn't need to explain himself to a "child" ( I was almost 20 and he was probably about 30). I said if he couldn't explain what his subject matter was, then it wasn't an abstract, but merely planes of color arranged in some manner that suited him.  


I got bounced out of that class so quick!  Had a heck of a time getting my tuition fees returned, too.


That episode did two things. (1) Made me rethink taking classes in higher learning.  (2) Made me realize that if you throw cow poop at a barn wall and end up framing it , it's still cow poop!  


Before you rag on me, let me state that I like Jackson Pollock, Mondrian, Picasso and a whole slew of other non-traditionalist artists.  BUT, their early work shows that they studied and then departed from traditional aspects, but with an idea of where/what they wanted to achieve.  No art speak, just a view of where the work would end.


I'm sure all of you have experienced throwing a pot early in your career and having it collapse in a strange way or fold in on itself.  Sometimes it even looks good enough to keep.  However, those happy accidents are few and far between.  Students would ask if they could keep it.  I would say, can you produce another?  Most often, the answer was no.  We work hard and every once in awhile serendipity gives us a gift.  Most often, the gifts come about by perfecting our techniques to the point where we no longer have to rely on happy accidents or serendipity.


my two cents,



#59088 Raku Party - How Can We 'do It Up Right'?

Posted by Idaho Potter on 22 May 2014 - 08:40 PM

It's one thing if you are just going to demonstrate the raku process, and totally different take if your want your friends to experience raku.  As to what type of work to fire, I'd suggest throwing small tea bowls/cups off the hump and having them bisqued, ready to go.  I would also limit glaze choices and discuss the unglazed portion of the pots/tiles because negative space has a lot to do with the finished product.  As people arrive, I'd have the kiln working on its first load so that all the preheating is almost done, and the following firings could well be down to approximately 15 to 20 minutes.


I'd not bring forth the drinks (except for water) until after the firings are completed.  Then they are celebratory.


I've had groups of kids (5th grade) and/or adults help during a raku firing, but not until they've done a dry run.  When you have a group of people, you really need choreography so the procedure becomes more of a ritual dance.  You don't want people stepping on the gas hose; bumping  into the table (or kiln) with pots; running into others while they are handling hot pots; etc, etc.


Putting all the difficulties aside, I, personally, think that raku is a participant, not a spectator sport.  To break the ice, have two good friends come over a day or so before the party and walk them through the procedures--without heat.  Then fire up the kiln and have them actually handle removing a pot from the kiln (with tongs!) and placing them in the smoke pots.  When the "party" starts, have them help again, and tell  your other guests to watch how the work flows from glazing table, to preheat, to kiln, to smoke pot--and see who else wants to help.  I  never have more than two new novices learning and keep the helpers to only essential participants--in other words, rotate your crew. Anyone who is timid about being around fire or heat, should become the rooting section.


If you quench with water have them plunge in a water filled 5 gallon bucket (been using the same one for over 25 years).  Part of the process is cleaning the pots afterwards, and they can do it at your house or at theirs.  Have green scrubby material either by it self or as one part of a sponge.  When your friends discover the glint of copper, gold, or silver hiding under the soot, their grins will light the neighborhood.


Hope you all have fun, 'cause that's what a raku party is.



#58033 Expectation And Appearance

Posted by Idaho Potter on 06 May 2014 - 08:29 PM

This has been a most entertaining thread!  Years ago I traded fad and fashion for comfort.  Sweats + T-shirt and Birks in summer, spring and fall.  Winters I add a sweatshirt on top and socks on bottom.  Everything covered as best I can with an apron.  Dress up is for weddings and funerals--I don't like going to either one.  When mingling with folks at the grocery store, I trade sweats for jeans and wash up.


Reading about the critics reminded me of a potter friend of mine who had Dragon Lady fingernails and her hands always looked like she'd just had a manicure.  At a show, I heard a "customer" dispute the fact that she had produced all the pottery exhibited in her booth had been done by her--because of the length of her nails.  She responded with, "It is because of my martial arts training.  I can throw pots, or disembowel an opponent just as easily."


I wanted to applaud.



#58025 Do You Throw Straight Out Of The Pugger?

Posted by Idaho Potter on 06 May 2014 - 06:46 PM

I bought a Peter Pugger Power Wedger  (de-airing pugmill) in 2003, when I was 68.  It has saved me time, and body parts.  Buying a large piece of equipment like that is more of a mental problem than financial or physical.  Once you've decided on the purchase, in your mind it's already in your possession.  Sort of like buying a house or a car--you have to make the mental commitment, first.  Until the object of your desire becomes a high priority, you'll keep waffling.


I cut the pugged clay off in 3 to 4 pound sections.  If I need 6 lbs. I slam two three-pounders together.  I seldom wedge--that's why I spent the big bucks!  I have never kept track of which end is up because I take the pugged cylinders and gently form them into squares and then balls.  Small items using 1-2 lbs are thrown as Mea said, in soup can orientation.  The only time I get S-cracks is when I haven't compressed the base well, and that's usually when throwing off the hump.


I envy those who can comfortably wedge clay.  It was always the start of any pot and I'd use the time thinking and planning the how and what.  I actually miss it, but arthritis, age, and a bad(sad) result of a shoulder operation forced me to reassess my priorities.  I don't regret my decision.



#55032 Water In A Studio Without Plumbing: Ideas Needed

Posted by Idaho Potter on 19 March 2014 - 09:51 PM

I concerned about you using household drains to cleanup studio messes.  The sedimentary residue from clay, glaze, and other stuff will eventually block your drains and could cost you a lot of money to repair.  That stuff sets up like concrete.  Cink's are expensive.  However, you can make something similar using laundry tubs with standpipes under your stainless sink.  I've been using mine for over thirty years, never had plumbing problems, and when I moved to Boise, brought the whole thing with me and set it up in my new studio nine years ago.  I use twin tubs, so once a year, I bail out water from one side--let it go dry, and scoop out the sediment into the trash.  Then I do the other side.  If you are interested, I could probably come up with some drawings.  Basically it is based on a deep sink with a standpipe that was designed for cleaning up plaster from molds, etc.  Works like a charm, and cost is low--laundry tubs, some PVC pipes, and enough room under the tubs for a P-trap.  (my stainless sink is set high, and I cut the legs off the tubs to lower them but keep space for the P-trap)



#53415 Underglaze Issue

Posted by Idaho Potter on 25 February 2014 - 07:13 PM

Treat underglazes like you would artist's paints.  Mix them.  If a yellow is too brash, add a little white.  If a blue is too dark, add a lighter blue--not white--and you'll find you still have a dark blue, but it won't look black.  There's a great vibrant blue (Marine Blue) that should work great to brighten rather than lighten the dark blue.


 I mix orange with yellow to achieve the interior of an orange, or mix with red to create a beautiful persimmon.  Amaco's colors are so stable, and true to the color on their test tiles, that they can be used in a very painterly way.  The only ones that still give me problems are the greens  and very pastel blues and grays.  If you want a lighter color, white is probably not your best choice.  Want to lighten a red?  Try adding yellow with a tiny touch of white (unless you want pink)  Want to darken a red? try green with a tiny touch of black.


Regardless of whether you paint on bone dry (as I do) or bisque, another firing at cone 06 is wise.  I've never had underglazes run if the ware has been fired after application.



#51481 Going Over To The Dark Side With A Pug Mill-Never Thought I'd Say That

Posted by Idaho Potter on 31 January 2014 - 10:48 PM

The main difference, between de-airing  or no, is not having to wedge the clay.  You turn on the de-airing vaccum while still mixing the clay.  Then, leaving the vacuum working, you switch from mixing (let the auger completely stop) to pugging.  After you have emptied the pugmill, turn off both the vacuum and the pugger.  For heaven's sake, remember to open the vacuum line and release the pressure.  By the way, the vacuum pressure should be between 20 & 25 PSI before switching from mixing to pugging.


I use reclaimed clay for throwing, else why have a pugmill?  Mark, I don't work in porcelain, but porcelain is why they finally came out with a stainless steel Peter Pugger--because it's not supposed to compromise the clay. 


I've had my Peter Pugger for almost eleven years, and my back and wrists thank me.  It may keep me playing in the mud into my nineties, which is better than hanging out at the senior center's bar.



#45364 Fyi Re: Purloined Intellectual Porperty

Posted by Idaho Potter on 08 November 2013 - 10:22 PM

For many years, (painters) artists have set up in museums to copy the works of the masters--with the understanding that the work is attributed to the master and can only be sold as a copy.  Most artists wouldn't even think of selling them, but would gift them to family or friends.  The attribute is plainly shown on the FRONT of the copy/  It is an integral part of the painting. This was a good way to learn different techniques, and the original painter wasn't around to ask permission.  It was accepted with restrictions.


Back in the day when I headed up juried art shows, we would usually have at least three paintings entered that were direct copies of photos from National Geographic.  Those were returned to the submitting artist with a short bit of  literature on copyright infringement.  Some learned from this, others--never.


Copy if you want to learn techniques, but for heaven's sake, learn and burn!



#44802 Sink In My Classroom Solution

Posted by Idaho Potter on 29 October 2013 - 12:07 AM

How deep are your sinks?  If they are over 12" in depth, buy some plastic pipe that fits IN the drain hole.  Drill a lot of small (1/8" to 1/4") holes in the upper one third of the pipe.  Use a good tub caulking to fix it in place (over the weekend so it will cure),  the heavier particles will settle to the bottom and the clearest water will go through the small holes and then down the drain.  I'd still recommend using  a bucket for the first rinse,  At the end of the day dig out any goo, and recycle


My studio solution is regular double sinks positioned over double laundry tubs.  The sinks drain into the tubs  from a straight length of pipe and the laundry tubs have 16" stand pipes with the holes in the top third.  I have been using this system since 1985 and have never had to call a plumber.  (reference:  find directions for a plaster sink setup, and it's all there).  



#43142 First Firing of My Homemade Raku Kiln

Posted by Idaho Potter on 23 September 2013 - 08:26 PM

My first load usually takes about an hour, second is about 40 minutes, after that (kiln is hot by this time) subsequent firings take 15 to 20 minutes.  Another thing is if the day is cool - cold, have a propane heater on top of another propane tank and keep your glazed pots very warm.  I know, everyone says stack next load on top of kiln, NOT GOOD IF YOUR KILN ONLY OPENS FROM THE TOP.  Too much shifting of pots,  I use an old card table next to a propane heater--works fine.


I can't help you with all the science discussed, because I play it by ear--literally.  I have marked the knurled knob so I know where to set the propane for the first setting.  First load, I leave it there for 20 - 30 min, then turn it up according to how the roar sounds.  Can't describe it, it's just one of those things you get to know.  I only do two turn ups of gas and keep an eye on the glaze glossing which tells me when it's ready to pop the top. 


If you're ever in Idaho, stop by and take a listen.




edit:  Meant to also say that I use three soft kiln bricks to balance my shelf (fiber under those bricks and kiln bricks under fiber with hard bricks under those).  My kiln measures 20" dia. by 24" height--including space below shelf.  Over the years, I've decided I'd rather fire smaller loads because frequently I'm the only one doing the firing and pose-reduction.  I can only keep track of limited number of things.  Don't multi-task as well as I once did.

#42164 New Guy, Strange Question

Posted by Idaho Potter on 06 September 2013 - 07:45 PM

Back when I was a woodcarver, I sharpened my own tools, and for the most part used regular sharpening "stones" that either used oil or water to remove the metal filings.  Over time, I found I liked man-made "stones" best because they sharpened faster and gave a good edge to the tools.  I own a ceramic stone--white--that can put a great edge on a flat beveled chisel, but don't think there's any way this could be done in a pottery studio.  The stone is white ceramic approx two inches by six inches by almost one and a half thick.  Surface testure is really fine, and I used it primarily for my detail chisels.  I also have a ceramic "stick" for kitchen knives, but it is brown with a coarser texture.  Whatever you use, make sure you are either using oil or water to flush the metal filings away so you don't nick the edges of any tools.