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Everything posted by Isculpt

  1. I build my sculptures from slabs and I love my Bailey slab roller. I'm having a problem getting a large slab without a seam running lengthwise down the middle, and I'm wondering how others do it. I cut a 25 lb block of clay into 1.5" slabs, and then lay out 4 of them in a square and roll them through the Bailey (twice) to get the final 3/8" slabs. I try to push them together before they go through the slab roller the first time, but I still end up with a weak join running lengthwise down the middle. I've tried using a mallet to pound the 4 pieces together, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. I guess if I turned the slab 90 degrees before I ran it through the second time, it would help to smush that seam together, but how do you lift the slab off the canvas and turn it after its first run-through without it tearing apart down that seam?? And for that matter, if you're not supposed to handle the slab without the support of the canvas, how in the world do people turn it 90 degrees before the second pass? Jayne
  2. Thanks, Roberta, for the compliment. My mentor taught me that there is no such thing as a ruined sculpture and I have taken that as a challenge, devising lots of ways to fix my mistakes! Tenyoh, the reason that the woman holding the bird has such a matte finish is that I used a wet sea sponge and when the piece was leather hard, dabbed her face, neck and hands so that it had a velvet-like "nap" to the surface. I've only used that technique once, but I really liked the effect. It's nearly impossible to do on a small, detailed sculpture, though. That piece wasn't large (maybe 12"), but it didn't have lots of nooks and crannies to try to get the sponge into. Using watery washes works best on a piece that hasn't been fired to vitrification. I have hard water, but I have a salt-based water-softener unit, which may have something to do with the white spots. It seems somewhat logical that applying water softened with salt could cause a similar effect to "scumming". I wonder ...... jayne
  3. Beautiful, creative sculpture! I've had the same problem on red earthenware pieces that I didn't intend to glaze, but was then forced to color with underglaze to hide the white spots. One option, if you don't want to fire it again, is to touch up that area with watered-down acrylic craft paints. It's a slow process and difficult to match the color of the fired clay, which is why watering down the paint is a necessity. On occasion, I have had to color the entire piece with watery acrylics that still let much of the clay color show through, in order to get a consistent color. (See image of woman holding bird) Another option, shown on the "Brazilian" bust, is to use a watered down ivory colored acrylic paint to dry brush the piece, hiding the over-bisqued areas and adding texture and depth while leaving the natural clay color exposed. (On both of these pieces a second firing was done at 06 after I added a copper carbonate wash to create the black shaded areas. That firing was done before I added the acrylic washes.) I haven't tried firing the pieces to cone 5, but I'd be surprised if that resolved the issue. I think High Bridge is right; the area is over bisqued, and it's not likely to revert to a uniform color. But please let us know the outcome if you do fire it to cone 5. jayne
  4. Chad and Benzine, thanks for the compliments. I have to say that I haven't had great success with pit firing or trash can firing since those early attempts. Chad's website is full of helpful information offered in an entertaining way. Chad's site lists a number of potential colorants, with the usual suspects like banana peels. I always hear that banana peels are good for color in a pit fire but I can't help wondering how a person stockpiles enough banana peels to make a difference! As for the other colorants -- Well, Chad, I'm just not sure I'm ready to start stockpiling road kill!! Jayne
  5. Benzine, I bow to your knowledge about clays. I am a rank beginner with a grain of knowledge and a lot of good intentions! But when I first started working with clay 4 or 5 years ago, I used white earthenware. Sometimes I used smooth earthenware, sometimes I used earthenware with just a little bit of grog. Not knowing that I couldn't or shouldn't, I pit fired these ladies without a kiln, and they survived. Was the success of that firing sheer beginner's luck? I don't use that clay anymore, but you've made me curious! Jayne
  6. It's all well and good to tell someone that they can buy a used kiln for $400, but if they have no means to wire it, or if they can't put their hands on $400, other solutions can be found. If you will Google "Youtube Pit firing" you will find dozens of videos showing the many ways that other people make pottery without a kiln. You can certainly make pottery without a kiln, but you will need to use a strong clay, with grit. Raku clay is designed to withstand thermal shock, so it's a good choice. It is certainly more difficult than firing in a kiln, and the losses are much greater due to cracking in the fire, but it can be done and has been done for millennia. My husband's tribe uses no kilns, but they do warm their pots in an electric stove, a modern version of setting the pots around the fire, then moving them closer and closer until they are warm enough to be placed into the ashes and embers of that first fire. Using the electric stove, they slowly raise the temperature from the stove's lowest setting, keeping the temperature below 200 for the first few hours. But then over a matter of 4 or 5 hours the temperature is slowly raised to get to the maximum heat setting, usually 500 degrees. Then the pots are loaded in a towel-lined basket or even a cooking sheet and quickly moved to the ember and ash-filled remains of a fire that was built when the pots went into the oven, and that has since burned down. That fire was built from brush topped with roughly 2" diameter branches or split dried wood. Whatever bits of wood are left in the fire "pit" are pushed to the sides, the pots are laid into the ashes and then split dried hardwood or branches are laid over the pots. The wood quickly catches fire from the embers and ashes, which raises the temperature of the pots further, and tree bark is immediately laid over the pots to cause reduction. This is only one method; many other variations are available on Youtube. But as mentioned before, these pit-fired pots are fragile and meant to be decorative items only; they will not hold water. Jayne
  7. In Mea's post, "Why is Our Work Better than Imported Work", she wrote "handmakers can surpass mass-producers in the following areas: quality and buying experience. People buy my somewhat pricey pottery because it is better in terms of functionality and attractiveness. And I make sure the experience of working with me is fun and rewarding." What I'd love to hear is how Mea and others make the experience of buying from them 'fun and rewarding'. Marketing is something many of us have only vague ideas about. At its most basic, marketing is selling, and we could all use help with that. I've read lots of posts about providing nice packaging and using varying heights and spacing to display work at a craft fair. But I'd like to hear some creative ideas and techniques for making the buying experience meaningful, or fun and rewarding, for the customer. Jayne
  8. thanks, Neil. I'm probably not the only person grabbing my notebook to write that formula down.......Jayne
  9. Stellaria, I made my living for 15-20 years carving wood with a flexible shaft dremel. That dremel and I were great friends, but you are smart to be a little afraid of it! I have had a hank of hair get caught in the spinning dremel head and leave me with a painful bald spot. I've had the dremel sanding burr get caught in a bind so that the shaft became rigid and smacked me in the face with shocking force. With the tool hung on a stand beside me, I've lowered it towards the floor, letting go of it as it was slowing/stopping and had the dremel burr catch in my dog's fur. He quit sitting beside me in the studio after that! I have numerous scars on my hands from holding small items while the dremel burr, instead of drilling down into the item, ran across it and across my fingers. Trust me, flesh is no match for a coarse dremel burr. I've lost several fingernails because the burr ran around my finger and paused long enough on the nail to sand it down to the flesh. Pres has the right idea, although I could never get used to clamping my work in a vise. Whatever you do, don't work on small pieces unless you have experience and good control of the tool. I had both, but it didn't stop me from getting my hands ripped up from time to time. A dremel doesn't make a nice clean cut, it chews flesh, and those injuries take much longer to heal and are much more painful. I still use a dremel in my clay work on occasion, and I promise that a dremel won't kill you (probably), but it can definitely leave you in a world of hurt! Jayne
  10. I'm confused! After Marcia's warning about the dangers of manganese, I spent a couple of hours researching the subject and found the same concerns mentioned elsewhere, including old posts here on CAD. Perkolator's similar concern sent me back to my research. I was ready to forget the whole manganese idea until I visited the Amaco website where I found the product that had been recommended to me: Amaco Ceramic decorating Wash, Manganese, WA-44. It carried the AP seal, which is detailed as : The new AP (Approved Product) Seal, with or without Performance Certification, identifies art materials that are safe and that are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems. This seal is currently replacing the previous non-toxic seals: CP (Certified Product), AP (Approved Product), and HL Health Label (Non-Toxic) over a 10-year phase-in period. AP glazes are intended for use in grades Pre-K and up. So.....Did I mention that I'm confused? Jayne
  11. Thanks, Peter. That makes complete sense. Enquiring minds just want to know, y'know? Jayne
  12. Isculpt

    Golden Bough

    From the album: Sculpture

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