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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Offline Last Active Today, 02:48 PM

#88469 Put Your Lips On...

Posted by neilestrick on 07 July 2015 - 12:53 PM

A thin lip is more comfortable to drink from. It's easier to get your lips on, and the liquid jumps off the lip better than a thick lip. However, it should still be rounded and smooth- it's just a smaller radius than a thick lip. I find the thick lip on #2 to be uncomfortable, and our brains see that thickness as being the thickness of the entire pot, which makes it look heavy. The problem with #3 is that it is not smooth and rounded, and flares out too much.

#88467 Quality Of Work Sold?

Posted by neilestrick on 07 July 2015 - 11:49 AM

I have participated in many art fairs where the booth across from me was a potter who makes less than acceptable work and sells it for a third of the price of mine. I have sat there in my booth for hours and hours watching the line of people wanting to buy their $8 mugs and $12 baking dishes. At first it drove me nuts and made me angry. Now I just ignore it and focus on what I'm doing. We will never be able to educate the entire buying public on what makes a pot good or bad, nor convince every potter to take a few more classes. It is what it is, as frustrating as that can be.

#88458 Crazing

Posted by neilestrick on 07 July 2015 - 08:58 AM

Every glaze does not fit every clay. Not even close. You've either got to do a lot of testing of clay and glazes to find matches that work, or you can alter the glaze. Increasing the silica in the clay will reduce crazing. Take 200 grams of powdered glaze and add 3% silica (6 grams) to it. Blend, dip a tile, add another 3%, blend, dip a tile, and repeat until you've reached 15% silica. It's not super exact in the higher amounts, but it will get you close. Once fired you can see which tile is best and do another round of more precise tests to get it perfect.

#88412 Crazing

Posted by neilestrick on 06 July 2015 - 03:40 PM

Crazing is due to the clay and glaze having slightly different shrinkage rates. Run some tests, adding silica in 3% increments up to 15% by dry weight.

#88129 Insuring Merchandise To And From Shows

Posted by neilestrick on 30 June 2015 - 01:23 PM

I think the bigger question is: Are you insured if your booth blows over and destroys some of your neighbor's work, or if one of your pots breaks during use and someone gets injured as a result? For potters, the cost of materials is generally insignificant compared to the cost of labor. All the pots I take to a show have a materials value that is less than the cost of an insurance deductible. To break it down simply, I can probably fit around 300 mugs in my booth display (not that I only have mugs in my booth, but it gives us a good baseline). With porcelain that costs me about 55 cents per pound, that's $206 worth of clay, plus glazes which might add another $30. It's not enough to worry about. Compare that with a $100,000 lawsuit because a handle broke off your mug and someone got scalded by hot coffee, and you get the picture. You should be protecting yourself against liability to others.

#87845 Reusable Practice Clay For Transition Into Fired Ceramics?

Posted by neilestrick on 27 June 2015 - 02:30 PM

Oil based or polymer clays do not feel the same as real clay, and won't teach you anything about proper construction techniques and such. You can get clay for 30 cents a pound or less. Just get the real stuff and go for it.

#87205 Question: Mixing Porcelain And Stoneware For Slip Casting

Posted by neilestrick on 15 June 2015 - 05:37 PM

If you mix two clay bodies from the same firing range, then they will be fine. Many clay manufacturers sell half-and-half bodies, a porcelain/stoneware blend. They are generally very nice. Start mixing ranges and you'll have to do some testing. As for mixing slips, the same rules would apply, however I'm thinking that the viscosity of the slip could possibly be affected when they are mixed together. Just a guess. It's worth a try.

#87193 "would You Be Willing To Accept Less For It?"

Posted by neilestrick on 15 June 2015 - 12:47 PM

I am open to haggling on my more expensive pieces, like those that are $200 or more. They really don't take much more effort to produce than the $150 pieces. I also give discounts to students, because I remember how frustrating it was to never have enough money to buy nice pots when I was in college. If someone buys 3 or more of something and they ask for a discount, then I will usually give it to them, but rarely for just one piece. If someone is paying cash and comes up a couple dollars short, then so be it. All of the prices we set are totally arbitrary and open to adjustment. We hope people think it's a fair price and are willing to pay it. It's not like buying wholesale and marking it up 30%. I'm always adjusting prices because the market is a mess right now and it's hard to know what people are willing to spend. I won't give a discount to someone just because they're cheap, but I'm open to the idea that my prices might not be set correctly for the current market.

#86764 Ian Currie Test Tiles Forums?

Posted by neilestrick on 08 June 2015 - 04:16 PM

That is the kind of learning we should be focusing on here, not picking holes in it.  Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but I feel like you are spending a lot of time here trying to dismiss, distort or otherwise undermine this testing technique whlle the rest of us are trying to learn about it and share information and images and experiences and make a POSITIVE contribution which benefits all.  


Of course you can tweak or alter Currie's technique to test anything you want, but once you change it enough it is not really a Currie test anymore, but probably some kind of quadraxail, triaxial or or other method, or your own concoction.  No problem with that, but there is already a lot going on in a standard Currie grid.  I would suggest that anyone looking to extract maximum value from this technique concentrate on learning everythying it has to offer first, before making major changes.


I think everyone understands your preference for vertical test tiles.  As I have said, I regularly use vertical test tiles myself for all sorts of things and I am sure many others here are the same.  However, like Currie tiles. they are only one of the arrows in the quiver, and there is no need for anyone to have to choose one over the other.  They all have their place.  I think the reason many people are following this thread is because most people ARE NOT familiar with the Currie technique and how it is done, but would be interested in knowing more about it and maybe even joining in the discussion. So can we please focus on Currie tiles and what they CAN offer rather than what they cannot?


I am in no way trying to dismiss this method. I apologize if you feel that way. High Bridge noted that he was having different results on his flat tiles vs his vertical tiles, and I made a comment pertaining to that issue. But when you responded that you "haven't seen much difference" between flat and vertical tiles, I felt that will lead people who are not very experienced with glaze testing to think that is the norm, which I feel it is not. And that is my point, nothing more. You asked me to give examples supporting that point, which I did. To then claim those examples do not pertain to the definition of a Currie test does not make them invalid. Glazes do behave very differently depending on whether or not they are fired vertically or flat, and I feel flat tiles are very limiting in how much information they give about a glaze.


I studied Curries method in grad school, and I have used it off on on for the past 20 years, and I think it is very worthwhile. I apologize if you got any other  impression form my comments. But even if I did not think it was worthwhile, or if I had ideas on how it could be improved (which I do), this is a public forum and it is important that anyone be able to add to the conversation, whether it fits your definition of what you think the thread should be or not.

#86518 Basement Studio Lighting

Posted by neilestrick on 04 June 2015 - 09:56 AM

The nice thing about drop ceilings is that you have access to all the electrical, plumbing, gas and heating lines that live there, so if you ever need to make a change it's super easy. And with a studio, there's a good chance you'll need to make a change at some point, like if you decide to get a new piece of equipment and need to put in another outlet. I've had to do that for my wife's sewing studio in our basement, as well as get to some plumbing when we had a leak. Drop ceilings are not as pretty as sheetrock, but you can get some really nice ceiling panels nowadays. With can lights they actually look really good. I've even seen one where they used nice maple plywood for the panels with black frames. Do not use big fluorescent light boxes, as they look awful and make the ceiling feel lower. We replaced all the boxes in our basement crop ceiling with cans and I'm very happy with how it looks. Put the ceiling in with as little drop as possible so you don't lose a lot of height.

#86467 Pottery Festival In Cambridge Wi

Posted by neilestrick on 03 June 2015 - 01:03 PM

I'll be there as well. It's a fun show. Hopefully someone else will start a show to replace it.

#84743 New Kiln

Posted by neilestrick on 31 May 2015 - 09:12 PM

In addition to conditioning the elements, the first firing will set the mortar in the lid and floor slabs, as well as make sure everything is working properly- making sure nothing was knocked loose during shipping.

#84418 Electric Kiln Firing Help

Posted by neilestrick on 30 May 2015 - 08:44 AM

The sitter does not set firing duration. It is simply a countdown timer that will turn the kiln off when it hits zero, regardless of whether or not the kiln has reached temperature. It's a safety backup in case the cone doesn't shut down the kiln.You'll need to do a firing with the timer set too high, like 15 hours, to figure out how long a firing takes. Then set the timer for about 1/2 hour longer than that for all future firings. That time will be different for a bisque than for a glaze firing. You'll want to bisque to around cone 04.


The clay you have purchased seems to be a cone 10 clay. You really don't want to fire that high in an electric kiln unless you have to, which you don't. Going that hot will burn out your elements much faster, and wear out your kiln much faster. Most folks who fire electric kilns fire to cone 5/6. You'll want to get a clay that matures at cone 5/6, not cone 10. The range of temps they show for you clay is misleading, because the clay will not be fully vitrified if you fire at the low end of the range.


For the firing itself, most people put the kiln on low for an hour or two, then medium for an hour or two, then high until the cone drops. You can estimate that by the numbers on the dial.

#83655 How Long Do The Effects Of Epsom Salts For Flocculation Last?

Posted by neilestrick on 29 May 2015 - 01:01 PM

Unless something changes with the chemistry of the water, it should last forever. I suppose if solubles in the glaze material slowly leach out over time and deflocculate the glaze, then you could need to add more epsom salts, but I've never had to do that.

#82589 My First Booth

Posted by neilestrick on 27 May 2015 - 11:38 AM

neil, my first attempt at the bluemont fair in va came just as i was starting to build a house out there.  i had a shed but the roof was not yet on and i spent the night in a sleeping bag under flimsy plastic that blew off in the rain.  the pots were in the car so i could not have slept there.  and i was on the mountain in the woods so a locking door to keep critters out was most important.  dry clothes felt SO good in the morning.


One of my big rules for art fairs is to always have a full change of clothes. Socks, underwear, everything. I have need them on several occasions due to rain storms. Even when the weather is good, it's nice to have a clean shirt to put on after getting all sweaty loading the truck after the show.