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Member Since 01 Apr 2010
Offline Last Active Aug 16 2016 02:01 PM

#13589 Plus minus ratings system

Posted by AmeriSwede on 15 February 2012 - 03:32 AM

Don't even like herring with sour cream ... Vodka chaser? :)
You are so obviously not the type to hit a button and hide ... I always enjoy your posts

As one of those people living within the Swedish culture.... I'm starting to think... why are we now getting drug into this issue and 'put down' on this board ... it wasn't enough that the Republican party had to continually slam this country as being Socialist (aka Communist in their eyes), though it is actually a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy that maintains some social programs just like the U.S. (i.e., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment, etc). It no longer supports that earlier 'Cradle to Grave Welfare system' that so many of those talking heads keep trying to frighten the American populace with... though in retrospect it is nice to know that the lack of homeless and starving people in the country is because of a more compassionate state of awareness.

HA HA! .... Just kidding, Chris! I take no offense to your remark or anybody else's as far as that goes! And having grown up in the desert area of Eastern Oregon where fish was not a staple of the diet, I have also learned to eat and LOVE herring (we call 'sill'). Not with sour cream...(as Charles said, 'yechhhh!')... but with a wonderful mustard sauce or tomato sauce and not with Vodka but with a good shot of Schnapps. Posted Image But we all have different tastes, because we ARE human!

On topic, I understand how some could be offended with the 'sophomoric' point rating system attached to this website. Too bad the programmers of this system won't remove it. For the most, I think those that are actually using this site are beyond the infantile thinking that desires to have a 'likability' factor association. I too, feel it has no place here, as this forum has proven itself to me to be more helpful than any other that I've ever been linked with. The amount of wisdom, sharing, professionalism, and consideration of other members rates the highest I've personally witnessed. With 6,950 registered members (at present and growing), there will always be some that, through a measured level of anonymity that these forums and the internet maintains, feel that apparently they are a part of 'the group' by voting on comments, without having to make comments. I've seen the diversity of answers/responses on this forum as being a great boon and enjoy the fact that people don't mind posting alternative answers, that they've gleaned from their experiences.

Like others, I was unfamiliar with this 'voting' thing until it was pointed out earlier ... along with the 'stars' (whatever they're supposed to symbolize). The communal sharing of advise/experiences has nothing to do with these type functions.

However.... we should Bless people (I won't mention any names, Marcia--Posted Image) who 'in consideration of total fairness' elect to give themselves negative points. What a kind soul!Posted Image

I'm sure we can continue on this website with the same level of professionalism and considerate sharing of advise and experience that has made this site such a treat. And I do hope and know that we will continue to attract other serious and professional ceramic minded folks as the one that we just sadly lost with this issue.

Meanwhile, maybe Sherman, Jennifer and/or Bill could press upon the programmers to eliminate this annoying little feature. As artists, don't we get enough criticism from the public and art world through our sales and exhibitions? Should we really feel content with the anonymous unsolicited/unwarranted criticism from our supposed ceramic peers?
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#12506 Terra Cotta

Posted by AmeriSwede on 21 January 2012 - 08:20 AM

I make my birdhouses out of Highwater Clay's Stans Red clay because I do majolica decorating on them. I researched the size hole and depth of a birdhouse and make mine to those specs and also make them so they can be cleaned out at the end of the season. Birds nest in them every summer and people who have purchased them have emailed or called me about the birds nesting in theirs. I do tell them to place the birdhouse in a shady location and to be sure to bring it in during the winter months.

From my 12 years experience in the construction of wooden birdhouses for Sparrows, Parus major, Parus caeruleus, Blackbirds, White Wagtails and Tawny Owl, I would have to agree with the importance of researching into the size of hole and depth of birdhouse in order to assure the suitability and success for habitation. I used the Latin names (above & linked to Wikipedia) because this website censored out the common names I originally supplied (also used by the English speaking world as well as Wikipedia!) This always trying to maintain the politically correct aspect for the Puritans is total BS..... Posted Image

Anyway......I've maintained 15 birdhouses on our small property for the past 5 years and by researching and building to meet their needs, I have insured full habitation in each of these houses for the selected breeds throughout the entire year (except for the Wagtails who favor migrating to sunnier/warmer Africa for their winters).

It's very important in construction of birdhouses that are intended for actual habitation, as Mossyrock mentioned, that a means is built-in that allows for easy clean-out on an annual basis. When I clean out my birdhouses, I can visually check on the brooding season's success. Normally these birds will have three to four broods of four to six eggs during one summer season. The clean-out will show each brood level (similar to a soil stratification/profile) with an occasional abrupt end of nesting if one of the young or fledgling has died in the nest, for some reason. Occasionally I've found one or two eggs in one of the lower levels that remained unhatched, as well. After the nesting season is completed, generally the bird house is too full of material for continued nesting the following year, hence the importance of vigilant yearly clean-out/maintenance.

Our birds are most always finished with their last brood of nesting by early to mid-August. I wait until about the end of September (end of October for the Tawny Owl) to clean out the nesting boxes of old material and any insects, so that the birds will have ample time to gather fresh dried grasses, moss, etc. to rebuild their insulated winter nests, which I will witness them doing so within a couple of weeks. These birds continue to nest year round through the snowy and cold winter, while I supplement their feed with about 100 pounds of blended wild birdseed, tallow and apples. Some of our sparrows have nested continually in the same house for the past four years, so they are almost like family... Posted Image Just this morning as I was taking sunflower seeds out to the feeder I noticed a little sparrow head poking out of its bird house awaiting its breakfast. No sooner had I closed the door, it and its mate were at the feeder indulging in vittles. This particular couple (pictured below during early August) has the best view of all our bird houses and are seen throughout the year just sitting together on their house, soaking in the rural ambiance. Being close and visible from the house it is also easy to keep tabs with their 'goings-on', as well.
Posted Image

Note the size of the hole (in the picture) compared to the size of the sparrows. The hole is 25mm in diameter and from the appearance of the birds it looks to be too small. The birds are mostly feathers and air-filled lightweight bones and squeeze in quite easily. The small hole allows for greater security towards the young.

I would add that it may be equally as important to furnish habitat during the winter, as well as the summer months, but this may be more specific to the particular region and type of birds the habitat is geared towards (ie, they being migratory or not).

My thinking with constructing a ceramic birdhouse would be to at least glaze the exterior top to provide a more secure waterproof shelter if one desires to offer winter protection as well. But as Mossyrock pointed out, the size of the hole is imperative as well as the interior dimensions, if one desires to attract nesting birds. I've found that a hole varying just a few millimeters from the specific range of size required by a distinct species of bird can and will determine whether or not the birdhouse will have borders moving in. The actual finished size of these requirements need to be taken into consideration along with the appropriate compensation for clay shrinkage through the drying and firing cycles. Myself, I haven't built any ceramic birdhouses because I always have an abundance of scrap wood to build with and wood is a better insulator from heat and cold then ceramic. My wooden houses, I believe, tend to offer cozier habitats against our cooler climate here in Scandinavia.

An additional note... Birdhouses do not need a post sticking out in front of the door for the birds to land on. I've never seen these even in the forests, where the birds find their natural nesting habitats as well. It is for the most part a detail that most avian aficionados would eliminate as it provides a perch for predators like magpies and squirrels to rest on, while feeding on eggs or young chicks.
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#5823 I Wonder Why?

Posted by AmeriSwede on 31 March 2011 - 01:09 AM

... we stick our hands in mud, walk around with terra cotta stained hands and make trips to hardware stores like it was Disneyland? We never get manicures; our hands are always in clay and besides what’s the point? We think about clay, talk about clay, write about clay, we design and draw clay pieces. We are in love. And that’s nice.

Posted Image And some people even spend hundreds to thousands of dollar just to soak in mud (clay) or have mud (clay) splashed on their faces, just to stay as young looking as all the ceramists.....

Beauty is around the eyes, of those who spend time with clay...Posted Image

#5803 Slip Casting Cracks

Posted by AmeriSwede on 30 March 2011 - 06:01 AM

First my disclaimer, tluvs. Posted Image Though I don't profess to be a professional with or know all about slip casting, I do have a few years of experience under my belt, all with commercial molds though. Additionally, I've many many years experience with casting wax, metals and glass, and some problems seem inherent in some of these materials as well. One thing that I've learned through the years is that when one has interior planes intersecting at sharp interior angles, because of shrinkage of the cast materials, this can often place additional stress on the material, resulting in cracks. The cracks normally show as an extension of the planes themselves... pretty much as the cracks in your cross tiles.

In this illustration the forces of shrinkage (magenta arrows) show how the clay cross is drying and pulling away from the sides of your mold. Notice that this force can continue at the acute interior angle as the forces of one arm of the cross pull away from the forces on the adjoining arm at the same corner (red dotted circle). If this occurs it would be reasonable to expect this to happen on more than just one corner and most probably on all interior corners, as it seems your photograph illustrates.

Posted Image

One thing that I've learned over the years to help alleviate this problem is to build up the problem area with a little more of the material that will be shrinking... sort of a reservoir of material reducing the stress levels on the direct corner. This can be done in the design stage to incorporate the addition as part of the overall design or can be designed so that it will be easy to eliminate after the form is removed from the mold.

In regards to your cross... if I chose the latter solution, it would involve softening the sharp acute angle with a soft curve (gray lines in the following illustration) of additional clay before making the mold. As you already have your mold cast, it would involve the careful carving away of plaster on those interior angles to produce soft curves, leaving possibly 1/8" or thereabouts of the acute corner still showing on the design face of the mold. This will give you a good reference then, for carving the added clay away from the area, resulting in the interior acute angles that you desire... once the cross is pulled from the mold... while the clay is still moist and easy to trim.

Posted Image

And as Chris suggested, 'Your slip make-up, timing in the mold and drying times are crucial...'

My outlined solution, should help eliminate some of the stress on the cross and possibly from you dealing with the problemPosted Image, though it will involve a little more hands-on labor for each item cast... the trimming away of extra clay! I've seen many commercial molds that have included areas to be trimmed, etc., so it really isn't an alien idea in slip casting to do additional 'finish' work. Good luck!