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Karen B

Member Since 11 Sep 2010
Offline Last Active Sep 12 2015 07:35 PM

#89438 Large Flat Pieces Cracking During Glaze Firing

Posted by Karen B on 23 July 2015 - 04:28 PM



Hi Again

I have unloaded the glaze firing and i put sand on my shelf... thankfully no cracks this time, but the sand has stuck to the back of the 3 pieces  and also to some of the shelf,  is this normal & should I try to clean it off the shelf or just put more sand on it for the next firing???  How thick should the layer of sand be? Should you be able to see some the shelf through the sand or should it be totally covered.  What kind of sand should i have used?

I have made some small coil rods to try next time, so will bisque these next time.  Once these are bisqued, Should these be placed under the hearts for the bisque firing as well as the glaze firing?

also you talk about a cookies... are these the same size as the piece to be fired or do you place a few smaller cookies under each item.  Sorry for all the questions but am pretty new and flying solo here with my new kiln.  I have lost many pieces to this cracking business and am very keen to rectify it  :rolleyes:  Can anyone post a picture of the cookies they use?



Hi Jojess,

I am going to say grog, (because that is what I use), in place of sand, (what you use). When I have grog stuck to the back of my plates, I rub the backs together and it comes off. Or I can use any fired flat bottom to rub off anything that sticks, like grog or kiln wash. The grog should be thin to avoid unevenness. I do leave the grog on my kiln shelves, however, I do rub the sides and bottom with a clean dry green scrubby before placing in the kiln to avoid any stray grains. 

I don't know if you saw it, but I described how to apply the grog to the shelf above. 


Hi Karen,  thank you for your hints and tips..i used grog on my shelves for the first time and no cracks in my hearts  yay!!  I am now trying paperclay, rather than the porcelain that i have been using as someone suggested that it maybe more suited to my flat pieces.  I have some more hearts drying so yet to see what they will do in the first firing.


 That sounds like a good idea Jo. Let us know how it works. 

#88393 Large Flat Pieces Cracking During Glaze Firing

Posted by Karen B on 06 July 2015 - 12:00 PM




Here are the two I made with severe cracking on bottom layer. They are about 8" across.


Also, getting this figured out is crucial because I had planned to do the same project with the public at the library where I work. Thanks!








Beautiful project!

#88387 Large Flat Pieces Cracking During Glaze Firing

Posted by Karen B on 06 July 2015 - 10:25 AM

A word about putting grog (or sand) on your kiln shelves. I found that it doesn't need to be more than a thin coating. 

The easy way to get an even thin coating is to hold your hand about a foot or more over the shelf and sprinkle as you move

over the entire surface. Of course you are far away from anything that doesn't need grog on it!

Since putting grog on my kiln shelves, I have had no cracking. 

#82153 Your Dream Studio?

Posted by Karen B on 21 May 2015 - 08:22 AM

A studio assistant! 

#78388 Authenticity, My Own Personal Struggle With What It Means

Posted by Karen B on 01 April 2015 - 04:57 PM

The thing about cultural expression is an interesting idea. In Japan the culture was so much more contained, the evolution of the forms so much slower. Here in America, the culture is a true melting pot. To express this culture is not a simple form or idea. It will vary from state to state, town to town, neighborhood to neighborhood. It will never develop like Japanese pottery. That is not a bad thing. It is true. The huge variations and choices we have within our own studios ARE reflective of our culture.


When I was studying art (painting) in NYC back in the early 80's, it would not remain 2D. It broke out in 3D with plaster, chicken wire, wax, wood. The museums and galleries reflected a lot of this genre.


I spent one summer back then in San Francisco in a painting class at San Francisco Art Institute. I gathered mediums for the class, but all I felt compelled to work with was colored pencils and water colors on paper. 


The air, the culture, the smell, the energy, the people, all different. It affected me. 



Maybe one should take Hamada's comment about adding granite to the clay as just about that specific act.


#72406 Who Gives Their Own Work As Gifts?

Posted by Karen B on 24 December 2014 - 01:21 PM

Yes, but only the best pieces. I couldn't bear to go to their house and see an imperfection glaring at me.

The best thing is when I go to a far-away friends house after several years, and they point out something

I made. Usually I forgot I made it and enjoy the momentary objectivity of seeing the piece.

#69502 For Christmas.

Posted by Karen B on 07 November 2014 - 12:08 PM

Coasters, if I can get the darn things to stay flat when they dry (they're hand-built rather than thrown). Also spoon rests (which are thrown) and a couple of sake sets - the sake bottles are too big to be considered space fillers IMO, but the cups are itty bitty.

I make handbuilt coasters. After I cut them out, I smack 'em down on the table. Then put on wheel for a quick smoothing of the edge. They stay flat.

Attached Files

#66978 My First Show!

Posted by Karen B on 30 September 2014 - 08:42 PM

I few days before my first show, I was at a crowded gallery opening for some well known potters (Warren Mckenzie, Mark Shapiro, Randy Johnston...). One of the people in the crowd was Steve Branfman, who I had taken a workshop from many years prior. I was chatting with him and mentioned that I was doing my first show. He gave me a piece of advice that saved me many times over. He said, "If you don't sell anything, don't take it personally, and if you sell a lot, don't take it personally.


Rebekah, I love your pots. Thanks for sharing your experience.

BTW, I loved the plaid cloth!  :)



#64406 Advice For A Home Studio

Posted by Karen B on 13 August 2014 - 05:50 PM

Hope you don't mind a different view Luke, but I would recommend getting involved in a ceramics program in your area. You pay one price and have everything you need plus (usually) open studio time to practice. In this setting, you would get to explore your options and find out about your favorite materials and what you would need, plus, you will have a community with lots of information. With this start, you will not waste a lot of time and money getting things you won't need or will have to move. 

#62599 Image Envy ...

Posted by Karen B on 17 July 2014 - 07:05 AM



I wonder how much of "image envy" comes from the different interaction we have with other people's work than we have with our own.  


First - I have realized that it is very hard for me to be satisfied with my own work. Burdened with expectations of what it should be, I focus on the flaws and failures of my work to meet my ideal. While being our own harshest critic pushes us to be better, it sure doesn't give us a neutral starting point for interacting with our own creations.   Conversely, when I look at other people's work, I'm free of expectations and able to engage with the piece for what it is.  Ever notice that something that would drive you crazy in your own work just isn't a big deal in someone else's work?


Further more, familiarity breeds contempt.   How many times do we look at our own work and say "I wish I made that!"  We discount our own uniqueness/specialness because it isn't unique or special to us.  After all, we work the way we do because that's how we do it.  However, our work may be special to others in the same way that we find other's work special to us.  As you said, there are pots you make and pots you buy.  Let's hope that ours are special enough that someone wants to own them.


Lastly, by the nature of what we do as makers, we are going to look at and analyze other's work. Rather than image envy, I would hope that we can change the mindset to image appreciation.  A friend of mind once commented that instead of being envious, he was happy for other people that made more money then he.  That was eye opening to me, and since then I've strived for an approach where I try not to begrudge anyone else's success (certain outrageous CEO compensation plans excluded ;) ).  Instead of wishing that those images were ours, let's be glad for the maker and that we get to enjoy their creations. 






 This resonates with me big time. At a show, a woman grabbed a colorful bowl I made. Looking suspicious, she asked why the price was so low. I said nothing. To my relief she bought it and thankfully carried it away, out of my sight. For you see, I despised it.

#61598 Tips & Tricks

Posted by Karen B on 30 June 2014 - 11:53 PM

Hi Denice, I have some that is 1" thick. So plenty sturdy, and practically weightless. It came as packing in something I ordered. I am lucky that I have 2 big pieces that are the same size. It actually is polystyrene insulation and comes in sheets that are 2' x 8'.


I edited this post and my previous post for accuracy. So sorry I relied on faulty memory initially.

#61462 Tips & Tricks

Posted by Karen B on 27 June 2014 - 12:47 PM

If you have to flip a large thin slab that is rolled out on canvas, slide the canvas onto a large piece of insulating foam "PolarGuard" and put another over the slab. The foam adds no weight and is strong, then you can flip and peel the canvas off without disturbing the slab.

#56245 Hand-Built Baking Pans?

Posted by Karen B on 07 April 2014 - 11:09 AM

If you have a specific size in mind, account for the clay shrinkage before making the mold or, as you probably remember, you will be quite surprised when you take your tiny pan out of the kiln.

#54874 Trimming A Foot For Bowls

Posted by Karen B on 17 March 2014 - 01:04 PM

I sometimes use calipers on the wall of the bowl. Starting at the wall closest to the foot and slide up to the rim, I can see how much I need to remove. It gives me a good visual.

#52151 How Do You Store Your Kiln Shelves?

Posted by Karen B on 10 February 2014 - 04:57 PM



I prefer leaning them against the wall as well - but we're outdoors so eventually they have to be covered.  Currently that means they go onto a stainless wire shelf covered by a tarp.  It seems every time I go to the studio it has been improved with everything organized in yet a new better way, with new containers so each time I get to relearn where everything is.  It reminds me of a bad joke where Helen Keller's parents would punish her by rearranging the furniture.


Just leaning against the wall next to the kilns.



I share my studio with a guy who loves to redesign and evolve the studio into a well organised machine so I know your pain.


I very much remember where things are by what I was doing when I last used them, not the type of guy to organise things unless a pile of stuff counts  ;)



What I would give to have a guy like that!