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Member Since 02 Apr 2010
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#74213 Favorite Lessons With Little Guys

Posted by Pres on 27 January 2015 - 02:56 PM

I did the animal thing with K while student teaching(I had a career in H.S.). I followed up the glazing with a paper project of wheeled animal cages, and all of the pieces went on display in the hall showcase with carnival trappings. Great with all of the kids. So many older ones wanted to know why they didn't do it. It did take a while, but well worth it. The animals went happily home in their cages after parent night.


Older kids(4th to 6th) did recipe boxes, decoration and lettering was important, as were a nice fitting lid cut. Some classes opted for the other option, dresser boxes, and bath bead boxes for in bathrooms.

#73832 Difference In Digital And Manual Kilns

Posted by Pres on 21 January 2015 - 10:51 PM

Hey folks, part of your answer is already answered. If you check the Orton cone chart you will find that at a rate of climb of 108F./hr is 2232 for a ^6 cone. Check that against a small ^5 and that is 2230. So you could fire a kiln at moderate climb and get cone 6 equal to cone 5. At the same time, they call for a ramped firing(10 min hold).

#73754 When You Throw, What Do You Aim At?

Posted by Pres on 21 January 2015 - 09:27 AM

"When You Throw, What Do You Aim At?"

The wall?

Forgive me, I just couldn't resist.

I'm still very new to all of this playing in the mud, so my goals are pretty much just being able to make a recognizable cup/bowl/plate or whatever. So far, so good. I do hope to get to the point where I can reproduce something that pleases me or others. i.e. a set of cups. It may not sound like much, but at this point, it's a fairly lofty goal for me.

Looking at this from another angle. When I throw, I have a set idea in my head of what I am throwing visually. Whether a mug, vase, bowl or other type of piece. If it is something to be assembled from pieces like a teapot of other form I also have a set idea of the style I want. Point being I get on the wheel to throw that piece or pieces. I don't just start with a cylinder and then decide it should be a vase or a jar, but start the form with specifics in mind so that I open up with the right proportion, make the pulls with the shape in mind, and keep the rim ready for what is to come in shaping.    When you have come to deliberately throw a shape from sit down to take off, then you are truly in control.

#73656 Throwing Reclaimed Clay

Posted by Pres on 20 January 2015 - 09:07 AM

I have been reclaiming for years. Heck even my clay out of the box could sometimes be considered reclaim as I store clay outside in the Winter. Hmmm Standard Ceramics boxes say Do Not Freeze. However, I have gotten used to wedging clay well after opening the box, and often letting it sit for a few days before actually throwing. I also use throwing scraps and slurry in bags twisted and turned up side down so weight seals them. Small amounts of water do dribble out. One or two months of this and it is ready to wedge into stiffer clay from bags or other reclaim. Labor intensive, but then it is good exercise! As I am retired I really don't mind the time.

#73516 Looking For Help With Teapots

Posted by Pres on 17 January 2015 - 11:16 AM

Teapots are tough, and the functional potters test. I hope this image I created for students will help you out. It should also open conversation with others about what makes a workable teapot. This is the basics, with no attempt at design.



#73511 Firing of pots with cracks made with Sodium Silicate

Posted by Pres on 17 January 2015 - 11:04 AM

As I look at the pieces done with sodium silicate, have seen some crazy things that get me to consider not the firing itself, but the surface treatment in the glaze fire. I have seen pieces fired in wood, raku, and soda/salt fire where the natural glaze of the process allows the effect to come through quite handsomely. I have also seen pieces glazed with transparent/translucent glazes that mimic or act the same as the before mentioned surface treatments. I have seen a few pieces where the surface was glazed with opaque glazes wiped and glaze again. Some successful, and some so putrid as I would consider them failures. . . who am I to judge. Personal taste.


The point is, when working with this technique one must be watching ahead to how to treat the surface in the final firing. Glaze the inside, leave the outside unglazed, glaze the inside, glaze parts of the outside, glaze in a transparent glaze, or work in some other direction. hmmmmm. ...

#72959 An Observation

Posted by Pres on 06 January 2015 - 12:24 PM

Being in front of 25 high school students with a demonstration of some sort is not for those faint of heart or short of knowledge. Being able to stand balance that with the ability to  clearly deliver the material in an interesting manner is also on the top of the list of priorities. However, if you don't know what you are doing, the students will sense it like fear by a pack of wolves! Wo be he who tries to snow them with the emperors new clothes!

#72946 Any Recommendations For The Best Tools And Supplies Companies?

Posted by Pres on 06 January 2015 - 09:50 AM

A lot of clay supply companies are regional. If you post your region, you may get more help with specifics like clay, glaze materials etc. These items are freight, and as such you are better off to buy local if the materials meet your needs. Most clay suppliers will send you samples to help you make decisions about clay.

#72888 An Observation

Posted by Pres on 05 January 2015 - 08:03 AM

Yep, teachers are perceived as not being artists. Artists are hungry starving individuals immensely creative, driven by their art, and one day usually when dead, quite famous. How can a teacher who only teaches art aspire to such greatness. :unsure:

  • TJR likes this

#72749 Best Stool,chair For Throwing And Glazing

Posted by Pres on 02 January 2015 - 10:06 AM

Hi all,

I sit for hours because I hand paint or have to hand layer Potter Choice glazes with a brush)  but each has left me with back pain. I have used a low potters stool with the very slight back on it, a totally backless stationary stool and recently bought a kind of hairdressers stool which is adjustable height and has a back on it but I am still suffering with a lot of pain. What do you use?

There are a few solutions to this sort of problem. 1) use the stool at different heights throughout your work period. This will help to change pressure points along the spine. 2)force yourself to get up every 30 minutes or so and walk around, do a little wedging or some other physical activity. 3) get into yoga, or some other exercise that helps to align the back and strengthen muscles. I do a simple thing-hang from an overhead bar by the hands, and wiggle the hips-this will help to align the vertebrae, strengthen the arms and the back/shoulders. A few minutes a day can to wonders when done a few seconds several times a day.


All of us deal with pain, and soreness. There are two types of soreness, one is from inactivity or poor activity, the other is the burn from having a good workout that lasts for a day or two.

#72713 How Do You Develop You Own Aesthetic?

Posted by Pres on 01 January 2015 - 02:07 PM

Personal aesthetic? Hmmm seems like I make gifts for folks that are more traditional, nice round forms, shiny glazes, useful, utilitarian, very functional. . . pots. When left to my own devices, I make things that interest me, tell stories, invoke mystery, and are meant to be decorative. Heaven protect the one who has to dust them. As for them selling, I doubt if they ever will, most people seem to find them interesting subject matter, and question them, which is how they are meant.

However, crazy as it sounds it is group taste and aesthetic is often like bowling. You can throw the same ball for several frames, be in the pocket, and not strike. Then the same ball does nothing but strike for several frames... ... because the alleys caught up to you. Then later the same ball no longer strikes, because the alleys have moved on, and you have to adjust. I think the group/societal aesthetic is much the same, with many examples of artists that caught on after creating the same thing until for some reason or other it caught on, then as something else came along was no longer in vogue. Art is so capricious!

#72559 Who Gives Their Own Work As Gifts?

Posted by Pres on 29 December 2014 - 12:35 PM

Looks like it boils down to tradition, and whether you have learned to give something you made when growing up. Seems like a lot of us will sell, but when it comes to a gift we are reluctant not knowing how the individual we care about will take our giving something that only cost us time to make. Hmmmm how much is time worth?

#72556 Firing Light Loads ?

Posted by Pres on 29 December 2014 - 11:06 AM

I usually remove one section of my kiln for light loads. This way the density of the pack is closer to being 3 sections. When i have a really tight load, or not enough space I add a fourth section. If you have sectional options learn to use them to adjust your kiln pack. :lol:

#72511 Adventures Of A New Wheel Teacher

Posted by Pres on 28 December 2014 - 10:34 AM

I believe that throwing on the wheel has very little to do with a priori knowledge. Like riding a bicycle for the first time you really don't have a whole lot of skills and knowledge to bring to the bike riding to help you learn it. You know how to balance from walking, but balance on two wheels, pedaling at the same time, and steering to keep from hitting something-tough. With the wheel there is nothing you have done before to help you understand how much pressure to apply to the clay to get it to center and move, how much wheel speed to keep it from flying apart, where to position your hands and hold them to get it to move up in a pull. So much more to it than even that, and all of it is new knowledge. Steeper learning curve than learning to program in C++!

#72474 Adventures Of A New Wheel Teacher

Posted by Pres on 26 December 2014 - 12:10 PM

My first clay experience in college was during a 9 week Summer course. I could not center for 3 weeks, working 3-5 hrs every day, frustrating. Then I through everything out up to the 7th week as never pleased. We were required to throw 9" 3#  cylinders before we kept anything. I was able to throw these in 5th week, upping my schedule to 6 hrs a day. I kept everything the 7thweek and 2 days of 8th. Ended with 13 pieces.


How did this experience influence my teaching career would be a good question. 1 I required the same throwing requirements of my students. 2. Unlike my professor, I reviewed and hovered, correcting hand and body positions every day, especially in the beginning. 3. I did not pressure the students on grade, only requiring that they be throwing or preparing to throw(wedging) every working class period. 


I loved working with the kids, and had several over the years that bought their own wheels, some that did shows, and some that went on to colleges in either BA, BFA, or B in Art Ed. Most were pleased to come back and tell me that their first ceramics class was so easy, because they were already wheel savvy. I had told them, never to go into a class acting knowledgeable to the prof, to let them find out, and ask questions. That way if it never came up, no assumptions made. If it did come up, then they had topic for discussion.