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#114900 Epic Fail Making Slabs

Posted by Pres on 19 October 2016 - 03:06 PM

I will admit there is a certain amount of addiction to the whole throwing thing. It is a meditation, a dance with the clay, a feeling of nirvana, a sensual exploration or so many other things. So much so that many do not return to handbuilding because of the need to . . . throw. However, there is something more defined about slab building and other hand building. 


When I taught classes in the HS, I stressed the idea of creating a sketch in an orthographic projection showing the front, right, and top view of an object. each in scale to the first drawing. This gave the basic plan for a 3 dimensional construction, could be a box, a house, a sculpture, or any other object with height and width an length. Measuring, decorating and assembling the slabs needed for this took several weeks, but in the end there was much satisfaction from the student. It was not immediate, it was not easy, but it was a steady process that you could get as lost in doing as you can on the wheel.


Slabs that are basically flat, are much a different story. However, even here one can get more than a little creative. Do you decorate just before shaping; or do you decorate, stretch and then shape. Do you add handles, or add in a thrown rim for a softer look; do you work with slips or engobes, or do some form of monoprint on the surface. Much of this can cause a simple platter project to become much more of a challenge. Sometimes it takes raising the expectations of where something as simple as a platter might go.




#114839 Qotw: Is It "hands Off!" In Your Studio?

Posted by Pres on 18 October 2016 - 06:57 PM

Ha! No one goes into my studio! This is not because I have a closed shop rule, It is because half the time they can't get in the door, as I will have moved something around to do something else, and the door is blocked! At other times, they can't stand to be in the studio because I turn the TV up so I can hear it, as I often take the hearing aids out to listen to it. Between the two, people don't visit.


Now when I was teaching, I always set a starting demonstration aside for students to look at it, I encouraged them to touch it, feel the wall thickness of the wet clay, and even lift the bat it was setting on to tell how the weight was from thrown to trimmed, to leather hard to dry to bisqued, to glaze pot. Crazy enough never lost a piece to student. . . sloppiness. At the same time I only kept about 10% of my thrown pieces to finish as most demos were cut for inspection right after throwing. Tools, I used the same as the students. equipment the same as them also.  Completely finished work was given to administrators, adult students as door prizes for the adult class, and as an occasional commemorative pot of a retiring teacher.





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#114391 Qotw: Are You Ransacking Trash Bins?

Posted by Pres on 06 October 2016 - 09:09 PM

Sad to say, but I have been forced to start. . . walking by. I have been a hoarder for so many years that I find my shop too crowded to get around in. I have old wooden boxes that came with the house, doors and molding over the rafters, an old car axle that I was keeping to build a kick wheel, bins and tins of all sorts of hardware, and a mess of other crazy things, including the female sweater manikin that hangs next to the bar clamps before you get to the kiln. Yep, been there done that, but not any more!   Oh wow Fall cleanout is coming up, maybe I'll take a walk around the block.







#114093 Qotw: Mirror, Mirror On The Wall?

Posted by Pres on 30 September 2016 - 10:23 PM

Never used a mirror! What a marvelous idea. this old dog can learn new tricks! Thank you Evelyne and all!


Now where do I mount the mirror?! In my studio there is . . . very little bare wall space. Maybe on a cabinet door, or elsewhere.




#113768 Do You Like....?

Posted by Pres on 25 September 2016 - 03:06 PM

Ahhh, I love the inferences here, and the topic does pull on me in some odd ways. As my understanding of the terms asymmetric vs symmetric goes if my memory serves me: Symmetry is base more on geometric balance, whereas asymmetry it more of a visual balance. No where in any of this is there a judgement, only visual vs geometric, no right or wrong, perfect or imperfect.


Now to return to the original topic of ware that is - unrefined, vs. refined, I do have some thoughts that relate to my personal preferences in choosing or making pottery for my own use. First a little of my own search in my own work. I have been a very tight, symmetric wheel thrown type of potter, who has always much admired work that showed more of the movement of the wheel with some natural decoration that relates to that movement. I have been trying to get more of an unrefined look in my own pottery without losing certain aspects of symmetry while allowing some of the piece to by asymmetric.


There are certain aspects that I believe are better when dealing with any type of functional pottery. I have seen all of the arguments about cups for holding for those that walk with a mug never setting it down, but those individuals are few.


  • So my first requirement in functional ware is a solid base, where as most of us sit at tables, and eat out of dishes on the tables, even flat bases on the bottoms of ware allow for balance in the food-staying in place, and stability in cups that don't tip over.
  • Secondly, I have also found that rims on drinking vessels are usually better if round or close to round or to some degree rounded. It seems to fit better with the mouth-to be more specific, the down profile of the rim.
  • Bowls are something that I have a quirk with. There are (to me) bowls and dishes. Bowls have a rounded inner curve that goes from the rim down to the center and back up to the rim on the opposite side. Dishes have a curve that moves from the rim to a flat base inside of the bowl. In both cases a well thrown dish or bowl has a curve that is constant, not reversing or having a high area, more constant and even. This does does not mean the bowl is symmetric or asymmetric, just following an even curve.

Over the years, when I think of pots I eat out of, those requirements seem to hold most true. I have eaten out of all sorts of other pottery, some held better in the lap, some designed to set in a bed of sand, some meant to be held like a palette and many others. Yet I always return to what works in the most circumstances. . . sitting at at table eating without the worries of tipping, enjoying the food, the hand made pottery, and good company.

#113758 Qotw: What Form Do You Least Enjoy Creating, Whether Thrown Or Handbuilt, And...

Posted by Pres on 25 September 2016 - 09:55 AM

Ssydney g throw a chuck which will allow your pot to be trimmed to nestle,secure it with a few dobs of clay and be supported by its shoulder. Can use the chuck again and again

A thick smoothed out bead of a silicone on the top/inside edge of a bisqued throwing chuck will do two things of help:


Less damage to the pot being trimmed as the silicone is cushiony,

The silicone will hold the piece in place a little better.





#113651 Qotw: What Form Do You Least Enjoy Creating, Whether Thrown Or Handbuilt, And...

Posted by Pres on 23 September 2016 - 07:53 AM

Made some large bowls in grad school 28" diameter. My sister in law has been using it as a magazine rack for years. They were as folks have said. . . boring. I am now making some bowls that use texture before shaping. They are pretty cool, but again with the larger ones you don't see much of the outside. 





#113460 Equipment/tool Shaming/bullying

Posted by Pres on 20 September 2016 - 08:12 AM

Being a teacher, I went the full gambit of using different tools, and adapting tools for students. I had students in wheel chairs, I had students with all sorts of muscle problems, and had to make adaptations. In some cases, I made centering aids to help them on the wheel, straps and board set ups. I made tools smaller for folks that could not use a full size paddle or rolling pin.


Heck I even had a wheel chair student roll his wheel chair over two  plywood boards with two spacers in between. In the beginning it made poor slabs, and then when we warped the top board in a wide curve, things worked much better. He could get large slabs rather easily, even though someone else had to wedge it for him.


So when it came to whether or not to get a griffin grip, or some other "easy" tool, I did not hesitate. However, when teaching, the student needs to know that the tool may not be in any studio, so they need to know the "hard" way to do things in the beginning before they use the other tool. Surprisingly enough, I had students come back years later thanking me for teaching them the "hard" way, as most studios did not have the "easy" tool.




#113438 Equipment/tool Shaming/bullying

Posted by Pres on 19 September 2016 - 09:57 PM

Tool elitist? Equipment frowning? I really don't recall a whole lot of that here. Am I blind? I have often stated my opinion on the type of wheel I prefer, the type or brand of kiln, and the pros of the line I use or have experience with. However, I taught HS for over 30 years and most of that was with a poor budget when it came to equipment and tools. This also included upkeep for the equipment that I was lucky enough to get a hold of. So I had to do a lot of improvising, by making a lot of wooden and metal tools using the wood shops and a torch and old saw blades, band saw blades, packing straps, old silverware, and other "found/rescued" materials. Far from being an elitist at the use, or the dis use of equipment, I would often make mistakes that would make an elitist cringe at even the mention of it. However, in the past I have admitted to almost every way under the sun that I have erred. 


During those years as I had little budget I started teaching adult classes on Saturdays to boost my budget with an account that did not follow the regular budgets-where it ended at the end of the school year. I saved, and bought wheels, and other equipment from a variety of manufacturers and distributors. Work benches from Sam's club, potters wheels from Bailey, other equipment from Bennett. Always at low price, most bang for the low buck. I was able to experience a variety of wheels, a few different extruders, slab rollers, and other equipment when dealing with my classroom needs and my grad student time at PSU. My own studio has a CXC in it for the main wheel, but also an Amaco used motorized kick that I used for many years, because it was all I could afford. 


I still make some of my own tools, but have been able to purchase a wide variety of trimming tools, ribs, and other tools. I still work with pieces of broken plates for throwing bowls, or chop sticks for trimming tools or incising tools, hack saw blades to trim bottoms even, and even an occasional found object for decoration. Nothing to me is sacred, when it comes to adapting something to the studio. Elitist, hardly, and most of us here are the same as I.


Now then, where did I put my Griffin Grip, I need to trim some chalice stems!





#113174 Qotw:how Do They Put Up With You?

Posted by Pres on 14 September 2016 - 09:29 PM

Ok, so I was just reading an old Qotw about "Are we Crazy". I was mentioning it to my wife, and it occurred to me, How has she put up with me over the years.. . . . let me explain. So we know we are Passionately Crazy about clay, but what does that mean.

  • I believed in Rt/Lft Brain theory, it explains much of me. I will go into the shop at evening, and start working, and not realize how late things are until early mid or late morning. Working through the night. Even did that a few times while teaching, not getting in til 2 or 3 a.m. and then getting up for work at 6:30.
  • Firing a kiln up and down without a programmer or a setter means strange bed time antics, alarms going off every few hours, staying out of be til way late, and doing other weird things at night and then sleeping in.
  • Tracking clay into the house on the bottoms of my feet after she has just mopped!
  • Dusty or muddy hands and clothes leaving finger prints all over.
  • Glazing on the deck with materials and pots everywhere when some would like to enjoy a nice day also. ... in quiet, without mess, or splatter!
  • Laundry that wears out the washing machine a few years early.
  • Rejected pots laying around everywhere, for her use, always gets the seconds.
  • Overly persnickity and picky potter that always sees something wrong with a pot she wants to buy, even as I say, I can throw you one. . . Why not?
  • I can go on and on, but I am sure you all get the picture.

So when I ask her how she puts up with me, she just smiles and very quietly says: because I love you. Go figure!


How do those around you put up with it, deal with it, adapt to it or just overlook it?




as always,




#113085 New Teacher ..help!

Posted by Pres on 13 September 2016 - 09:39 PM

1-2 week projects, one of multiple pinch forms have the students fire the best 3, one coil, one slab(pre-planned from sketches), last two weeks of glazing, firing and studio clean-up. I would start with wedging and pinch pots-1-2lb at first work up to 3-5. Show them about rolling by inserting a dowel in to the ball or lug, pinch irregular forms, regular forms, make joined forms, and whistles, do what you are comfortable with. coils teach them that this is an "extended pinch technique" show them to pinch the coils into the coils before for stronger joins, show them the use of slip to join coils in stiffer manner. Finally do your slabs with joining with slip, I had them do preliminary sketches after some intro during the coiling time so that they had time to do sketches for planning the project at home. I did fairy houses, and regular houses, slab boxes with pressed decoration, slabs over river rocks about 4" in diameter, then cut lids and decorative forest or imagination handles.


You can really have fun thinking up ideas for the group, think about  what may interest them and tie it into historical contexts from other cultures. It will be a whirlwind, but lots of fun for them and you. Use lots of visuals to introduce each project that will help them with ideas.




#112877 Throwing On Bats. To Cut Or To Not Cut?

Posted by Pres on 11 September 2016 - 09:01 AM

When you say you will "make" some bats, that leaves a lot of open space. I have made plaster bats with a mold that I do not wire off, letting them set up on the bat, I have made plywood bats, that I cut after they have set to cheese hard, and then put a fresh bat on the top of the pot and flipped the entire thing over to remove the bottom bat. This allows more even drying of the piece. So I guess what I am getting at is that whatever you use for the bat material will help determine what you do about cutting off. Absorbent, porous materials, I would leave the pot on, much less absorbent, cut the pot from once the rim has firmed up.





#112765 How To Attach Glass Globe To Stoneware Base

Posted by Pres on 07 September 2016 - 09:11 PM

Another option to this if you are good with your math like Fred suggests, is to throw a thick rim, split it with a wooden rib into two rims with a galley in between to set the rim of the glass globe into.




#112347 Qotw: What Single Caveat Was Passed To You Or Would You Pass On To A Newbie?

Posted by Pres on 31 August 2016 - 08:32 PM

When in college, I had shifted majors a couple of times. When I came to Ceramics, I was stricken by the feel of the clay, the sense of accomplishment, and the sensuous engagement I found working in the studio. For the really first time I felt a. . . .knack. I wanted to learn everything, immerse myself in the whole thing with nothing else and became frustrated when I couldn't throw that form or create what I perceived.For a long time I depressed myself with this driven need. Then one day I realized that I should not worry about the now, but enjoy the journey to the then. Some things I will never master, it not being in me, but I have things that I can and should hang on to those, and find help on the few I do not master. In the end, I guess you should enjoy the journey with the clay day to day, it will sustain you.








#112192 Qotw: Epic Failures Anybody?

Posted by Pres on 29 August 2016 - 08:58 AM

Learned not to use the wheel as a shop table for use with the circular saw. Cut a very small notch out of the wheel head. Good news. . . after years I have found that the notch makes a perfect place to lift bats from with a trimming tool. In the future, I would put the notch in the bottom of the bat! :huh: