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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 04:48 PM

#64043 Craft Is Good; Crafter Is Not -- Cerf+ Survey Results

Posted by neilestrick on 06 August 2014 - 12:56 PM

Much of the time (not all the time) when I meet people who describe themselves as an 'Artist', I find that they are the type that dabbles in lots of different media, but doesn't necessarily excel greatly in any of them. They have a 'creative spirit', but haven't focused on any one media or method enough to really hone their craft. Most artists I meet who do have a high level of craftsmanship describe themselves with more detail, such as 'painter', 'wood sculptor', 'portrait artist', 'fiber artist', etc. I think they have a great sense of pride in their craftsmanship.


Personally, I describe myself as a 'potter'. I make pots, so it's a simple, easy to understand description. I have had people say that it's not an adequate description, that I should say 'ceramic artist', but I feel no shame in making functional pots. I'll let my customers decide whether or not I'm an artist or just a craftsman. It doesn't really matter to me.

#63625 Quality Of Firing In Short Kiln Vs Tall

Posted by neilestrick on 31 July 2014 - 10:04 AM

If you don't need the height, then go with the 28" wide by 18" tall. Your back will thank you. The wider diameter will give you more efficient loading space, too. Just remember that you're going to lose about 1.5" due to the shelf you'll put on the bottom. As for the firing, because your kiln will have zone control it won't matter how tall it is.


I'd be happy to give you pricing if you don't have a local L&L distributor that you're working with.

#63526 Used Pottery Wheels: The Good And The Bad?

Posted by neilestrick on 29 July 2014 - 05:26 PM

I'm a Thomas-Stuart/Skutt fan. I've got 11 of them. They run smooth, have the most torque for the money, and the big splash pans keep the studio much cleaner.


For used wheels, just make sure it runs smoothly, and check the belt for wear. Beyond that it's hard to tell if it will run for 20 years or break down in a week. Avoid the Brent wheels with the black control box with smooth/flush buttons. Those were not good- Brent was replacing them if they died, but I don't know if they still are.

#63206 Granite For Wedging Tabletop/element Wire For Fixed Cut Wire ?

Posted by neilestrick on 24 July 2014 - 03:45 PM

Hmmmm.....wondering how many potters/ceramists are also guitar pickers.


I'm a banjo picker, which is why I use guitar strings for a wedging wire. I need my banjo strings!

#63201 Raku - Leaving Pots In Kiln

Posted by neilestrick on 24 July 2014 - 01:02 PM

In addition to the issues of reduction posted above, dumping a bunch of combustible material into the top of a hot kiln is a very dangerous thing to do. It ignites so rapidly that there's good chance of catching a fireball in your face.

#63105 Are Custom Orders On Location A Good Idea?

Posted by neilestrick on 23 July 2014 - 02:32 PM

On average I take one order at every art fair. There is always someone who wants X form with Y glaze and I don't have it in stock. So they pay 100% up front plus shipping, and they wait 4-6 weeks to get it. I will only make forms that I already make, and only with glazes I already use. Nothing custom. I will not copy someone else's form, and certainly won't formulate a glaze for someone. For dinnerware orders I take a 50% non-refundable deposit.

#63080 Flying With Ceramic Material

Posted by neilestrick on 23 July 2014 - 10:28 AM

I would not try to fly with bags of white powder. :unsure:

#62959 Granite For Wedging Tabletop/element Wire For Fixed Cut Wire ?

Posted by neilestrick on 21 July 2014 - 02:35 PM

The clay will probably stick to the granite when you wedge, rough or smooth.


Guitar strings make great cutoff wires. Put a stiff spring on one end. I've got one that's going on 13 years.

#62702 What Can I Make Besides Food-Holding Stuff?

Posted by neilestrick on 18 July 2014 - 10:26 AM

If your glazes are not food safe, they shouldn't be used on the inside of planters, either.

#62667 How Fast Do You Run Your Wheel When Centering?

Posted by neilestrick on 17 July 2014 - 09:05 PM

I've got the TS 1/2 HP and use it at 75% to center, slower for pulling and other work, depending.  I'm asking because I have 3 other wheels in my studio right now and 2 of them are much lighter and slower wheels, with lower HP.  When I started moving around among my beginning wheel students helping with centering, I actually had to work at centering the 2 lb balls on the smaller wheels where on my TS the same clay is instantly centered.  Got me to wondering. And one of my beginner students wants to buy a wheel and I hesitate to recommend the lighter wheels with my experience today. 

Any thoughts?  The TS is very nice, solid, smooth great foot pedal sensitivity. May have spoiled me for the others?


Ultimately, you get used to what you have. But if they plan to use the TS in class, then they might not enjoy they're smaller wheel at home by comparison. The price point between the lower priced decent wheels and the higher priced wheels is only about $300, so it's easy enough for a student to save up for another few months to afford the better wheel. I highly recommend the TS wheels- lots of smooth power, smart design, but not the most expensive. I've got 11 of them, 10 are the 1/3hp, and I haven't made anything that slows them down yet.

#62643 Why Don't Elements Glow Outside The Kiln.

Posted by neilestrick on 17 July 2014 - 05:49 PM

One more question, why does everybody attach all the electrics to the outside of the kiln where it gets hot and moist? Is there a reason not to run wires to the elements from a seperate box or is it easier to manufacture them that way + less wire.


It's easier and faster and therefore cheaper to attach it all to the side of the kiln. Easier to ship, too. There are some kilns, such as the L&L Davinci models, that have all the electronics housed in a free-standing box, however that's because there's just too many parts and big relays to fit into a kiln mounted box. That's a good question, though, because relays, and electronics in general, last longer if they are kept cool. I see more relay failure in certain brands of kilns due to their design.

#62611 Why Don't Elements Glow Outside The Kiln.

Posted by neilestrick on 17 July 2014 - 10:51 AM

The section of the element that goes through the wall and attaches to the feeder wires is called the 'pigtail'. Take a close look at them and you'll notice that they are twisted double thick. That keeps that section from heating up.

#62195 Firing Without A Vent Kit - 2 Quick Peephole Questions

Posted by neilestrick on 10 July 2014 - 09:28 PM

Do not crack the lid. With a zone control digital kiln like the L&L it can cause issues with the controller since the top will be fighting to stay as hot as the other sections. You should have no problem leaving the top peep open through the entire firing. Many of my school customers that only have overhead hoods, not downdraft vents, do it that way. It will reach temperature just fine. There's no reason to plug it at the end of the firing, either, unless you find that it's cooling too quickly with it open. It's unlikely to cause shivering or cracking, but you may find your glazes look better with a slower cooling.

#62038 Wireless/network/remote Smoke Detector?

Posted by neilestrick on 08 July 2014 - 04:04 PM


#61819 Aesthetically Pleasing Garments For Clay Workers.

Posted by neilestrick on 05 July 2014 - 01:54 PM

When I'm done with my jeans, they are not in good enough condition to make an apron. Plus I've never found an apron that keeps me clean enough to warrant wearing it all day. Got plans for converting old jeans into a hazmat suit?