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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 04:20 PM

#56757 The Dangers Of Advice Without Experience

Posted by neilestrick on Yesterday, 01:23 PM

Nothing wrong with the untrained coming up with ideas. That should always be encouraged and never be squashed. But ideas and theories are just that. Until they have been proven they should not be told as fact.

#56380 Wheel Issues

Posted by neilestrick on 09 April 2014 - 12:33 PM

Put a bag of clay on the wheel table next to the wheel head. Stick a needle tool into the clay so that the end rests just above the wheel head at the outer edge, like 1/16". Turn on the wheel and see if it runs at a consistent level from the needle tool. If not, then either the head is not flat (which can be tested by putting a straight edge on it), the head is not mounted properly, or the main shaft is bent.

#56318 Glaze Not Uniformly Glossy On Cone 04 Body

Posted by neilestrick on 08 April 2014 - 11:58 AM

Did all of the pots of this clay body have this problem, or only some? If it was all of them, then I would be looking at the clay body rather than the firing. I have seen clay bodies that do absorb the glaze in odd ways. And you're dealing with a somewhat unusual body here, so it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility. We had another thread here recently where someone was working with a body made from local clay, and it had a similar problem. As to why it happens or what exactly is happening, that is beyond my realm of knowledge.

#56230 Standard 266

Posted by neilestrick on 07 April 2014 - 09:36 AM

It is a total nightmare to clean up. Once you think things are clean, a film of red will form as they dry, over and over and over. But it's a dream to throw and beautiful when done. Just be aware that it is not typical of most cone 6 clays in regard to glazes. Lots of testing is in order. That clay can do nasty things to some glazes. In my studio we tend to use it raw a lot, with just a liner glaze.

#56229 Wooden Handles.......

Posted by neilestrick on 07 April 2014 - 09:32 AM

You can finish those however you want. You can stain it, oil it, whatever. Oil finishes are great, as they look more natural. I used to make steam bent teapot handles and just finish them with boiled linseed oil. Any oil finish will do the job.

#56228 How Do You Sit At Your Wheel.

Posted by neilestrick on 07 April 2014 - 09:30 AM

Thanks, Babs. If you notice in the video, I use a regular ol' wooden chair that I got from Target. I prefer a chair with a back rather than a stool because it allows me to sit back and rest. I've put rubber furniture feet on the back legs to lift them up slightly, since the chair seat slopes backward a bit.


As mentioned above, the most important thing is to keep your back straight, with your pelvis rolled forward. Also take lots of breaks. Only prepare enough clay to last 20 or 30 minutes. That way you're forced to get up out of your chair and prep more clay. Prepping for 30 minutes and sitting at the wheel for 3 hours is not good for your body. Keep moving. If that means only prepping one ball of clay at a time, so be it. I sometimes prep enough to throw for an hour, but I can't remember a time when I actually got to throw for an hour uninterrupted by a student or the phone.


Technique and body position are very important to throwing. With good technique you can compensate for lack of strength, which means less stress on your body. Work smart.

#55899 Stacking Cone 6 Greenware In Bisque Firing

Posted by neilestrick on 01 April 2014 - 01:17 PM

The key to stacking pieces in bisque it to make sure forces aren't applied in directions that could cause cracking. When stacking bowls and plates, make sure the foot is resting in the bottom of the piece below it, so there is no outward pressure against the lip. You can also stack foot to foot, or lip to lip.

#54946 How To Turn Cobalt Blues Into Something Much More Subtle?

Posted by neilestrick on 18 March 2014 - 02:28 PM


I almost always cut my cobalt with either red iron oxide, rutile or copper carbonate, sometimes more than one. Depends on the base glaze as to which one gives me the color I want. Most of the time I use 0.3%-0.5% cobalt, and about 2% iron, 2-4% rutile, 2-3% copper.

Thanks Neil, I'm guessing that gives richer, more three-dimensional colours?



I've used very few glazes over the last 20 years that looked good with just cobalt. It's too bright, intense, flat. Deeper, more complex colors are achieved by adding other oxides.

#54926 How To Turn Cobalt Blues Into Something Much More Subtle?

Posted by neilestrick on 18 March 2014 - 09:09 AM

I almost always cut my cobalt with either red iron oxide, rutile or copper carbonate, sometimes more than one. Depends on the base glaze as to which one gives me the color I want. Most of the time I use 0.3%-0.5% cobalt, and about 2% iron, 2-4% rutile, 2-3% copper.

#54893 Squeeze Bottles Make You Crazy?

Posted by neilestrick on 17 March 2014 - 04:43 PM

Your best bet is to not leave the small tip on when not in use. Aftosa sells little squeeze bottle that uses a mechanical pencil tip that can be removed when not in use so you can cap the bottle.

#54720 Artist Statement

Posted by neilestrick on 15 March 2014 - 10:15 AM



Here are my various versions of my statement, for show applications that restrict the length:


50 characters or less (this one also works for 5 words or less)

Functional pottery, modern Asian rustic.


100 characters or less

Functional, food-safe pottery, mostly wheel-thrown, fired to 2200°F, modern Asian rustic.


20 words or less

Functional, food-safe pottery, mostly wheel-thrown, fired to 2200°F. Modern Asian rustic, with Korean and Maryland roots.


Mine are a lot like this, too. Seems most of the shows want 100 characters or less, so there's really not a lot you can do. Don't think of it as an artists statement in these cases. It's simply a short description of your work and process.

#54719 Cobalt Spreads To Other Glazes In Kiln?

Posted by neilestrick on 15 March 2014 - 09:44 AM

You've got some crawling going on in the middle photo. Applying the second dip while the first was still wet is likely the culprit.


I wouldn't expect the cobalt to vaporize to the extent that you're mentioning. Also, it usually doesn't speckle, but rather blushes blue. It will typically only happen if the white piece is right next to the the blue piece. It looks to me like your white glaze is a titanium white, applied very thickly. What you're getting is titanium blue, which can happen with certain glazes that are high in titanium. It's probably also the cause of the pinholes. Also, if the white is applied on top of the blue (can't tell if this is the case), the blue will come through and discolor the white.

#54660 Raku Clay For Functional Teapot ?

Posted by neilestrick on 14 March 2014 - 11:28 AM

You'll have to test it to be sure, but most raku clays I've used will go to cone 10, meaning they will be a little loose at cone 6. Not ideal, but functional for a teapot.

#54488 Ash Glaze

Posted by neilestrick on 12 March 2014 - 09:17 AM

Regarding the traditional inconsistency of Gerstley, I heard that when Laguna bought the mine and reopened it, they mined a bazillion tons of it, ground it, and put it all in a huge warehouse where they shoveled from end to end with dump loaders until it was all uniform. Thus, they now have many years supply of a consistent product. The analysis is slightly different (and published on their website) than before, but it is now a known quantity and reliable product. If anyone has heard differently, please advise.


Yes, the current supply is supposed to be pretty consistent. We've had a lot of conversations here about Gerstley, some quite heated. I started using Gillespie when it came out and just kept with it.

#54403 How Can I Add A Metal Rod Or Pipe To A Ceramic Sculpture After It Is Fired

Posted by neilestrick on 11 March 2014 - 03:27 PM

Shrinkage will depend on your clay. Stoneware, about 12%. Porcelain, 14-16%. Earthenware, 6-8%.


As for your large sculptures, I would spend some time in the plumbing section of the hardware store. There are dozens of fittings that can be used for screwing pipe together at many angles. The main difficulty with using pipe is getting the pipe threaded to work with the fittings.


You could also use tube steel with slip-on fittings, although they are more expensive than regular black pipe fittings. HERE are some other possibilities. Welding is always a good option, too. You can pick up a little flux core wire feed welder that runs on 120 volts for $200- $250 that is quite simple to use.