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Member Since 02 Apr 2010
Offline Last Active Aug 01 2015 11:25 PM

#89713 Qotw: What Makes Something Qualify As Hand Made?

Posted by Pres on 28 July 2015 - 03:57 PM

I have been to this place so many times before:


1987-designing a course to teach computer animation and computer music with a music ed. colleague. Others in the art department argued that it should not be in the department, it was not art, and animation was not either. Even digital paintings were not. . . art. Fade to 1995 and you get the same argument, that high resolution digital paintings were not art, and therefore should not be accepted as such in the local juried show. Step forward to 2010, and 3D printed work was not acceptable.


Personally, I look at the computer as a way of creating by hand, even though multiples of the same item can be printed, but 3D is crossing into industrial product/design. A digital painting is very often with a multitude of strokes, brushes, colors with extreme value manipulation. Layers of underpainting can go into the production of the work until completely finished. The digital tools allow for easier visualization that meets the artist's expectations. Like a traditional painter though, it is the knowledge and the skill of manipulating the tools that allows the work to happen. Problematic is that all too often a digital camera image is used as a starting point and manipulated with the tools to a final image. Is the one completed as a painting stroke by stroke, less or more than the camera image manipulate in the photoshop type program? Didn't we have this argument at the turn of the 20th century?


So here we are today, where yarn is most time purchased already spun, clay already mixed, paints already prepped, glazes already mixed, jewelry bits to choose from and so much else available. Does the definition of handmade mean that the item starts from raw to finished, only the purest of the purists would say so. Does it start with a base material of some refinement and go to a finished piece? Most would agree it does. However, does that same footing yield commercial cast products, hand painted and fired as being the same? Most of us would think not, I believe.


I think in the long run, when the essence of the creation is hand created by the craftsperson/artist, then the piece is hand made. When either the form and the surface is created already, one cannot consider the piece. . . man-made.

#89657 What To Do To Stimulate Creativity?

Posted by Pres on 27 July 2015 - 08:57 PM

Creativity is one of those things that art teachers are expected to teach in their classes, all too often the expectations fall short, and the times it seems like it happens, is the luck of the draw. You try a series of exercises for searching for shapes, exercises to enhance color intuitiveness, or even differences in pattern and texture in a single piece. Many times you end up teaching the student usable tricks, like looking through a window at a page full of random doodles to find shapes, when you get one really nice, is it that you have taught creativity, or taught them by a law of averages a way of looking for shapes that finally worked. Maybe only once! I could go on and on, but in the long run, there are those of us that muddle our way through piece after piece constantly working, growing, looking, learning, striving to be creative. In the long run, it may be again just a series of numbers with one piece or two rising to the top. I don't know. Can you teach someone to be intuitive? Knowing what comes at the next corner, before it comes?  These things have been argued over the centuries. Great minds and artists, Einstein, Picasso, Socrates, and others have bandied these ideas about, but maybe it is as simple as Chuck Close who said. . . .Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up for work.

#89555 What $70 Got Me.worth It, Or Not?

Posted by Pres on 25 July 2015 - 12:04 PM

What are your plans, for the rebuilt kiln, you are working on?

Kiln I am rebuilding is in great shape, fired once or twice. Bricks in bottom broke out letting coils drop. Replaced bricks in bottom shelf will allow full use. Smaller than my other kiln could be loaded full for bisque, load would be equal to glaze in big one. Nice thing is, no staying home all day and night to baby it along! I still would not go out/away, but would definitely be able to do other things while it was firing.




#89528 What $70 Got Me.worth It, Or Not?

Posted by Pres on 24 July 2015 - 06:53 PM

So I had a phone call from an old colleague and student in my adult classes. Seems her daughter was wishing to get rid of an American Beauty AB-18 kiln. Price was $50 with some other things included. I went on line to check on the kiln, and found that the bricks with slight changes would fit the Amaco Gold that I am rebuilding the bottom layer in. Picked up the kiln today, all in decent shape, 230V24A, lid crack 4 varied shelves. There were also several boxes of kiln furniture wire stilts, pyro bars, oodles of brushes, sponges and assorted other items. So when all was loaded in, I gave them a fifty dollar bill, and added a twenty to it. As I told my granddaughter later, I would have felt like I had stolen it from them even though they might have been happy, I would have worried over it, this way I am feeling fine, as I know they are.


Attached File  70PURCHASE.jpg   133.46KB   1 downloads



Did I do OK? I think I did, but then maybe I'm just a patsy.


Best, Pres

#89228 Stretching Your Limits

Posted by Pres on 21 July 2015 - 07:25 AM

Sounds like you have the project well planned, post some pics sometime, you have my curiosity piqued!





#89098 Stretching Your Limits

Posted by Pres on 18 July 2015 - 09:17 AM

We have seen a lot of discussion over the years about throwing larger, developing more texture, breaking out of slumps, becoming more creative. I was wondering how you prepare for doing something new, or returning to something you have not done for a while. I have been reading a fantasy novel lately where the character is constantly trying to improve his strengths by doing a little more "exercise" each day. I find that when I am trying to throw larger, especially of late :wacko:, I try working with larger and larger amounts of clay over a series of weeks til I get to the point that I am throwing at a limit, then I push for a little bit more. The same goes with shaping(inflating) the form. Larger forms have a tendency to be standard columns with some shaping for the belly, shoulder and neck, but I try to inflate the forms more past what I am used to by careful working of the form to get a much larger diameter even though that causes a loss of height and sometimes collapses completely. There are other examples of how to "stretch your muscles" what do you do?

#88978 Do You Throw Straight Out Of The Pugger?

Posted by Pres on 15 July 2015 - 06:42 PM

By the time you are done with your career Ben you will have explained it many times also. It really only matters so much here with adults as they are able to put descriptions of fine motor skills into action-sometimes. It does take practice, but good descriptions made when one is throwing, corrections in body position, hand positions and pressure really help a cognizant beginner make major strides. I used to hover over my adults at least 15 minutes to watch their entire process, making comment and adjusting little things like fine tuning an older car! :rolleyes:

#88957 Do You Throw Straight Out Of The Pugger?

Posted by Pres on 15 July 2015 - 09:21 AM

Why can't I make a pull without water?  it just grabs and then tourques and is then of center.  What is the essential skill to doing this?

Less water, more drag. Smaller area of contact with the clay, less drag. I use the tip of my index/pointer finger reinforced with my thumb and other fingers on the outside. On the inside I use the index/pointer supported by the fingers, thumb out of the way. Pull in the beginning with the inside finger more above the outside finger. As the walls thin, move the two closer together in the vertical line of the pot, this will lessen the tendency to pull more or torque the walls.  Hope this helps, it works for me, but then I have been working on it for lots of years.

#88650 Quality Of Work Sold?

Posted by Pres on 10 July 2015 - 10:12 AM

I have had several discussion of quality with other art teachers over the years, and family members. There are those out there that have such high opinions of their work that can not be challenged and not worth my effort.There are also those that have such low opinions of their work that they would never venture to sell anything, even though they should. It is frustrating to deal with the highs and the lows of egos.


It is even more difficult to deal with those that for some reason or other have had high acclaim from teachers or professors on the quality of their work when I see obvious immature flaws in design elements involving line, color, value etc. Seems to me that sometimes misdirected praise must have other concerns rather than the work. Just wonder what the reasons are. It is one of the reasons I tried to grade student work on the work, without looking at the name, then if need be adjust the grade. Sometimes a piece would be over and above their usual work and thus better grade. Sometimes too the work would be worse, and thus appropriately adjusted grade.


I believe all of these thoughts pertain to the present discussion. Yes, people get inflated egos when told "you should sell, this is great!" When they go out and sit for hours after the first show and go to the next with lower prices, selling much more, does it vindicate them, or the system. Yeah everyone out there is looking for a bargain. Some people know a real bargain when they see it. Others do not.  A good reason to have craft fairs/shows juried. I mean really juried, no "Oh he is a member of the guild, we let him in." Another reason why guilds have juried members and non juried members. So there is a need in our own dealings to ensure that the organizations we belong to set values for the organizations shows, and proper rules to support those values.


You asked for it, you got it,    . . . my humble opinion




#88311 Chalices

Posted by Pres on 05 July 2015 - 09:32 AM

Hi all, Hmm seems the one day I was away, every one seems to be clambering!  Thanks for the vote of confidence. At any rate, I can give you a few tips about the chalice and patens.


  • Throw off of the hump, first stems, then bowls.
  • Throw the stems upright as if they would be used. Use ribs to put in grooves and decoration. I usually add a little bloated area in the upper third of the stem, as it makes it easier-more comfortable to grip.
  • When throwing the bowls leave a little extra at the base for a trim fit cup. More on this later.
  • Trim the stems first. Best is to throw a chuck column that they will fit into. Try to keep the top edge of chuck dry and place stems upside down in the chuck, and trim. I try not to trim through leaving a small hole in the bottom of the stem for air passage.
  • Trim the cups with one stem in mind. I trim them so that a particular stem fits into an area of the base. This is a cup cut into the base the diameter of the stem top, only about 1/4-1/2" deep. Then score and magic water or slip. Place the stem into the cup and while wheel is turning level up and firm up the cup/stem join with a wooden or rubber rib.  I try to design the stem and cup join so that they don't look joined there, but higher on the cup.
  • Remove from wheel and set upside down covered for first day then turn upright and uncover.

There are a few pictures and videos on my blog at the posting

Chalices for Communion sets, my way


Best of luck, I have been doing it now for over 30 years, and only time, research, and trial and error have gotten them here. I have seen these done several different ways, so as my post says, these are mine-my way. :)

#88138 Centering A Large Mass Of Clay

Posted by Pres on 01 July 2015 - 06:09 PM

How much clay are you speaking of? I center 25# in one lump using my rt arm on the side and wrist/fist over the top, lft in traditional position. I begin by slapping in place until close to center, then finish as mentioned.  For larger amounts I have coned first with base wide low cone, then slammed second piece on top. this for pieces that were 35# to 40#. Most larger pieces though I took the easy road and threw two or more forms on bats, then joined them together to make complete shape.


Worse problem with larger pieces as I was never more than 180# and am now 145, is body support. I find it easiest to either attache the stool to the wheel some way, or to hook my lft foot behind the front leg of the wheel while centering.





#86537 Shipping

Posted by Pres on 04 June 2015 - 03:17 PM

Have not had problems with mice etc in nearly 30 years. Only had one grouping of pots break, but then my son packed them when I was away. I do not use the popcorn for anything overseas or out of country. As most of my boxes are delivered USPS in 2-4 days, I really don't think they have time to sit in a warehouse long. Sealed boxes have little in the way of problems. If I end up with problems, then I will change the situation. For now, for me, it works.




#86338 Chattered Bowl..

Posted by Pres on 02 June 2015 - 08:13 AM

Congratulations on the wedding and the bowl. Best wishes to you and yours!

#82712 Drying Bowls - Rim Up Or Rim Down

Posted by Pres on 28 May 2015 - 10:13 PM

I always speak to my pots, especially jars and vase forms. Something about the echo timbre that tells me if the pot is thick or thin, or if there is enough expansion in the belly or can I chance a little more. It works for me anyway.

#82677 Drying Bowls - Rim Up Or Rim Down

Posted by Pres on 28 May 2015 - 09:41 AM

Just finished throwing a few bowls yesterday. I even left one, last of day, right on the wheel head to stiffen through the night. This morning it is 67F but humid, went out to check on pots from yesterday, casserole sides and base, 5# wide bowl on wheel head, 10 mugs sitting on drywall ware board. Mug bases were stiff, and rims were nearly leather hard, flipped them over onto rims. Bowl sitting on wheel head, rim is stiff, cut from head, and flipped onto head, wheel off! Casserole walls cheese hard, cut from wooden bat, placed on separate base, ovaled it, marked outer edge, lifted off and on base added magic water with toothbrush working up good slurry, added walls and ribbed onto base, trimmed outside excess and place clean bat on top to flip whole mess over onto rim. Bottom was still a little damp, but firm enough to hold shape. Once this dries to leather hard I will scrape edges, but later today I will re-flip it and lay a decorated slab over rim slumped to form the lid. This is my first attempt at an oval casserole, so I am learning as I go. Does not seem to be much of a problem.


So from this, yes I flip, to dry evenly, and to protect the rim, and make certain rim is even flat. Sometimes I even thumb an extra flair into a cheese hard rim at this stage. I like bowls that have larger rims that flair out to allow for easy lifting out of hot oven, or hold in arms while mixing. this always seems to allow missed flour or such to hit the bowl instead of the table! :huh: