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Chris Throws Pots

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Posts posted by Chris Throws Pots

  1. TA,


    Congrats on your studio! In my opinion, the most important requirement for any studio is something that can't be bought. It's also something that can be very challenging to keep up with. It's a diligent committment to cleanliness and heath/safety practices. Especially in a private studio, where your decisions and actions only really impact yourself, it can be easy to get lazy about this stuff.


    Scrub and sand outside.

    Lift with your legs.

    Good posture at the wheel

    Replace your respirator cartridges when they're due.

    Vacuum often.

    No brooms.


    It's easy to say you'll follow the rules. It's harder to follow through and hold yourself accountable. It's something I struggle with and I can't imagine I'm alone. You're investing in your studio, take care of that investment by taking care of yourself.



  2. As for the three tea bowls, I'm in camp throw-facet-stretch. I do not think they are carved.


    Michael Merritt AKA Try Pottery has a very quick YouTube video that shows a variation on the process that I find more effective that the Mark Peters way version. Check it out here:

    . The big difference is that in the Peters video from CAD, you go directly to a thick cone, then stretch to a bowl. In Merritt's version, you throw a thick bowl, then cone it back in before faceteing and stretching. Peters' end product is GORGEOUS, but in trying to learn this process I found initiating the bowl's curve from the start made for a more bowl-like form. I continually ended up with a nasty learner's curve/shoulder when going at it the way from the Peters video.


    There is another video I'd highly recommend that touches on this process. The Goldmark Gallery has a video focused on Lisa Hammond - her pots, process, studio, life, etc - that can be found here:

    . The faceting/stretching business starts at about 3:30, but the whole video is a great watch. Really all the Goldmark short film spotlights are great.





  3. Six months down. Wow. How are we doing? I've done well with some, not so well with others. But there's still another 6 months to go. Outside of the goals I established in January, I was invited to guest on "The Potters Cast" podcast. Episode 10 if anyone is interested.


    Thanks for the promt Chris! I have a lot of ideas and plans rushing through my head, and taking some time to focus on what's most important and most reasonable is a great way to start the year. My list:


    - Learn about decals - how to print them, how to apply them

    * I done a few decal firings over the last month with results I'm very happy with. And as a corollary benefit, I've become much more fluent in Photoshop.


    - Teach what I've learned in 2013 about silkscreen transfers

    * I have taught two formal one-day silkscreen transfer workshops and have a three day class beginning in a few weeks.


    - Have better posture at the wheel

    * I haven't been to the chiropractor all year, so I'll take that as a good sign.


    - Fire the wood kiln twice (spring and fall)

    * Spring has come and gone with no firing. But I am firing on July 26 and September 5. So two scheduled, just on a different timeline.


    - Participate in at least 6 weekend shows throughout New England

    * I've done Dedham Open Studios (Dedham, MA - May), Hudson River Exchange (Hudson, NY - June) and 5 Corners Farmers' Market (Essex Junction, VT - ongoing). I'm scheduled for Newfane Heritage Festival (Newfane, VT - October) and Burlington City Arts Holiday Artist Market (Burlington, VT - December). And I have a handful of applications I'm waiting to hear back about.


    - Launch (relaunch, really) my Etsy shop by January 31 and keep it stocked throughout the year

    * Fail. Maybe by Cyber Monday.


    - Keep my current galleries stocked and happy

    * On track.


    - Establish relationships with 2 more galleries (ideally one in Vermont and one in Massachusetts)

    * Next week I'll be stocking work at the Bridge Street Emporium in Waitsfield, VT. Still putting feelers out in Massachusetts.


    - Submit to a few nationally juried exhibitions - LUX Mugshots, Slipe Gallery Drink!, Baltimore Clayworks Shake it Baby!

    * Rejected From Slipe Gallery "DRINK!" Dropped the ball on applying to Lux. Decided not to make salt and pepper shakers for BCW. I need to get back on track in this department. Anyone know of upcoming call for entries?

  4. I don't have a great electrical understanding, but I can share this. When I suspect I have an aging or shot element, using my multimeter, and with the breaker turned off, I measure the resistance. Based on conversations with Skutt techs, I know that I am supposed to look for a resistance reading within 1.5 ohms PLUS or MINUS the the specs. Anything outside of that range is the cue to replace the element. By that logic, resistance value could increase as the element wears out.



    You can print on any laser decal paper with an hp laser printer. You can do a search to find wich printers work the best.

    I think Bel and Decal paper dot com intentionally leave out that detail because someone holds that patent for fired laser printed decals.

    It will not work with color, and looks like a sepia print when fired

    To determine compatibility with laser printers, look up the MSDS sheet for the toner cartridge the specific model uses. Some laser printers use polymers as the main pigment ingredient. These won't work. Others use iron, listed as ingredients beginning with the prefix "ferr." This what to look for. The HP I have uses 45% iron in the toner pigment.


    As I understand it the polymers, when melted, are the binder of the colourant to the paper in laser printers.  Originally carbon was used as the colourant for black and this is still used by most laser printer manufacturers.  However HP definitely uses iron oxide (also written as ferrous/ ferrous/ferrite) for their MONO laser printers.  To add to this, the reason a colour laser is not suitable, is that the printer drum has to go to a higher temperature to melt the polymers used for the other colours.  This higher heat melts the laser decal paper onto the drum thus rendering the printer useless. 




    Thanks for clarifying, Johanna. I suppose I made a bad assumption when reading the MSDS sheets for incompatible printers. The high percentage of polymers led me to infer that this was a pigment source. Do you know if the polymers can be embedded with iron-based substances? The MSDS sheets I read for Brother printers showed the polymer making up 80%+ of the total toner material and carbon as only 5%-10%. I am surprised that this low percentage of carbon would give saturated enough color for effective printing. But then I don't know how the carbon reacts with the polymer once the polymer melts. I'm curious if you know whether the polymers can hold iron (or other pigment) or if it is simply a vehicle for the carbon.

  6. You can print on any laser decal paper with an hp laser printer. You can do a search to find wich printers work the best.

    I think Bel and Decal paper dot com intentionally leave out that detail because someone holds that patent for fired laser printed decals.

    It will not work with color, and looks like a sepia print when fired

    To determine compatibility with laser printers, look up the MSDS sheet for the toner cartridge the specific model uses. Some laser printers use polymers as the main pigment ingredient. These won't work. Others use iron, listed as ingredients beginning with the prefix "ferr." This what to look for. The HP I have uses 45% iron in the toner pigment.
  7. For all interested about decals, both commercially printed and at-home laser printed, explore Justin Rothshank's website. His work often features decals, and his website has a full section dedicated to decal resources. http://rothshank.com/justins-work/decal-resources/


    There is also a Ceramic Arts Daily DVD available that is hosted by Justin and focuses on the use of decals. Here's an excerpt from the DVD showing how to prep and apply full-wrap decal to a mug: http://mobile.ceramicartsdaily.org/bookstore/ceramic-decals-2/

  8. I've had similar bloating issues with Laguna #65 and #90.


    It's interesting to hear that the presence of manganese can be a cause for bloating. At times I'll find a bag or two of the #90 that appears speckled with manganese, even though it's not supposed to be in there. It's almost as if the mixer or pugmill wasn't thoroughly cleaned after the batch before the #90 was mixed. If I see more bloating in this clay body I'll make note of whether it's (unexpectedly) speckled.


    At the studio where I work we often have tightly packed kilns full of thick-walled work made by youth. Surprisingly these were rarely the pieces which bloated. We'd see it in thinner, balanced, well-thrown pots... Maybe the kids' pots were so thick the bloats never made it to the surface. We'd been firing to ^07, and a bump to ^06 helped correct the issue. Our program is slow - I like to see 14:30ish - with a 4 hour hold at 200F and a 25 minute hold at peak (1800F).

  9. Hi Jammy,


    Some swear by wax, and I recognize its merits... I was initially taught to use cold liquid wax applied by brush to everything. For better or worse, probably worse, I'm just not that skilled with a brush. My glaze lines would be sloppy and my pots would end up communicating a lack of control over the material. So I started thinking about how to avoid the need for wax altogether and arrive at feet that communicated intention and control.


    By no means have I mastered the foot or anything like that. I am always experimenting with feet of different shapes and visual emphasis. But one detail remains constant across all my pots' feet that allows me to skip the wax yet arrive at a clean glaze line. I trim a tiny beveled edge on the outside of the feet of my pots. It is usually cut at about a 45° angle, and the plane ot the beveled surface is about 1/16" wide.


    Like Neil mentioned in an earlier post, this bevel elevates the piece from the kiln shelf giving your glazes some wiggle room and it creates a visually pleasing shadow between pot and table. Also, while the bevel doesn't catch glaze in a negative space the way Pres' diagrammed foot shape does, it does create a spot where glare can safety build up, particularly in a thick application. I find that once my glazes flux out, they only like to move in one direction. Gravity causes the glaze to move, but once that movement reaches the edge of the bevel, the glaze tends to stop rather than "turn" and run inward on the beveled plane.


    I skip waxing and glaze the entire piece. Using a yellow Mud Tools rib I will scrape the glaze from both the bevel and the plane that will sit in contact with the table. With a wooden knife I will scrape the glaze from the inside plane of the foot. A quick wipe with a clean damp sponge takes off any remaining bits of glaze. This also thins the glaze right at the edge of the foot ever so slightly, and helps prevent unwanted and often costly drips. A key for this method is to scrape the glaze from the foot before it is fully dry so that glaze dust isn't created and sent airborne.


    Hope this helps and isn't too redundant.









  10. 1.   What type of utility sink will be sufficient-will "plastic" hold up?

    Plastic will definitely hold up. We have 3 of the deep, hard plastic utility sinks at my studio. They take an incredible amount of daily abuse from kids, adults, students and experienced potters. Aside from some minor discoloration from iron in some of our glazes they are in perfect condition. I've been at this studio for 7 years and the sinks were there before me. We use a commercially manufactured trap. The DIY bucket systems that have been suggested are fine, but compared to what we have they seem (to me) overcomplicated. I'd suggest research into commercial products.


    3.  About how much room should I leave around the kiln in a separate room for stacking, maintenance, etc.

    18" from walls in every direction for fire safety. Make sure to leave enough space behind the kiln to open the lid the whole way so you can load and unload comfortably. I found this out the hard way when helping a friend install her Bailey electric kiln... We were very proud of ourselves for having successfully leveled the kiln on a very uneven concrete basement floor, only to open the lid and realize the whole thing needed to be moved another 6" or so. In terms of space for loading, unloading and maintenance just consider how tight of a space you're comfortable working in, how much space you'd ideally like, and the priorites of your build. Make sure you have ample space to open and work in the control box for thermocouple and element replacements.


    4.  I'm building a 4x8 studio table.  Any suggestion as to a material for the top?  I am considering hardboard.  But would a Formica-like product be better.  I am concerned about moisture and warping.

    I use tables in both my home studio and the community studio where I work that are 2x4/4x4 construction topped with plywood and covered in canvas/duck cloth. They work quite well and they're very cheap to construct.


    5.  Cleaning floors:  I know damp mopping is best but should I vacuum up the dust first with a shop vac?  If not, wouldn't I just be pushing around mud even if I rinse frequently?

    If you mop you can use a squeegee to consolidate the mud and wipe or shop vac it up.


    6.  I plan on painting the concrete floor with appropriate paint.  Should I leave the kiln area unpainted?  

    Why paint the floor?

  11. I have offered two freebies. One is to help get people into my booth checking out my work. The other is to build a returning customer base and to cultivate referrals.


    Freebie #1: Fresh Lemon Water

    I made a water crock for a 3 gallon jug to sit in/on. Wood fired to cone 10, salt, with a garden hose hookup spigot for dispensing water. It's a piece I'm quite proud of. It, a stack of small disposable cups, and a small handwritten sign encouraging people to help themselves sit on the corner of one of my tables at most shows I do. It brings a lot of traffic to my booth, especially on hot days. Some people are just thirsty, but for others, it's a great icebreaker to get them looking, asking questions, and buying.


    Freebie #2: Screen Printed Ad Card

    Last year I screen printed a run of 5"x7" cards to give away at shows. One side featured an image of a bottle I'd thrown (Photoshopped down into two colors) and the other side had my contact info, website, Instagam handle and a list of shows I'd be participating in throughout the summer and fall. One side was essentially an expanded business card, the other a small piece of original art. I got a lot of positive feedback about the cards last year and I'm planning on a new run with a new image for this year.



  12. Hi All,


    I'm in the process of doing some upgrades to the studio's Raku kiln and equipment. The burner head (a Ward MR100) was all rusted out so I ordered a replacement, but I have a question about sealant used on the threaded connection.


    When I removed the old burner head from the valve section of the rig, I noticed some sort of sealant had been used where the male and female sides meet. It had deteriorated over years of use, but it was obvious something had been applied. What is this stuff? Is it necessary if the connection is tight? If necessary, how is is best applied? Once it's on there, is it permanent?





  13. I do name my combinations, but mostly for my own tracking/inventory sake. I keep a detailed inventory of every first-quality piece that comes out of the kiln. In order to keep track of what I've made, what has sold, what's out at galleries, I update the inventory every week or so, and always before a show or a gallery delivery. To keep the "ITEM" column of my spreadsheet from becoming 6 inches wide, I'll give glaze combos names. Floating Blue over Fake Celadon = Floating Celadon. Rose Red over Calypso = Alligator. Old Yellow over Clear = Cloud.

    I'll also name glaze styles/processes/more involved combinations. IE: I make pieces that I'll glaze all over in my "Cloud" combo, then dip the rim in a blue glaze for some contrasting drippy action. I first made a set of mugs in this style for my friend Elise, so rather than naming the colorway "Old Yellow over Clear with Calypso rim dip," I just name pieces "Elise's Mug" or "Elise's Cereal Bowl," etc.


  14. Hi Babs and All,


    After years of taking slams on my snowboard and skateboard, and 20ish years of sleeping on my stomach, I started making pots. It was the perfect storm of low back issues. For a few years I just dealt with the aches and pains. Four years ago, a particularly bad fall on my snowboard landed me in a chiropractor's office having lost almost all movement of my neck. A few weeks of pretty intense massage+electrostim+adjustment and I was back on snow wth full range of motion in my neck. Phew.


    Once my neck issue was triaged and dealt with, my chiropractor suggested we address some of the other spinal issues I'd been living with, primarily low back pain. Music to my ears. My work in clay had grown into a fullblown passion and small business, and simultaneously I'd begun coaching snowboarding... there were many nights where I couldn't stand up straight or walk without intense pain. I was 25 years old and terrified that I was going to have to give up the activities I was best at, and that made me feel the best while doing them.


    I recognize this thread is about body positioning at the wheel, so I'll fast forward about two years, to the afternoon my chiropractor came to watch me throw to help better figure out solutions for my improved but ever-nagging low back pain. After about a minute of watching he voiced disbelief over how bad of an ergonomical nightmare making wheelthrown pottery is... or at least can be.


    Two more years later I have gone from two chiropractic adjustments monthly, to one or two tuneups annually. I still deal with some low back pain, particularly when I get sloppy, but for the most part I live and play quite comfortably. Here's my list of fixes/preventative measures for taking care of your back while throwing:


    1. ELEVATE. Raise your wheel and your seat. I have found that my body likes my wheelhead to be a few inches higher than my seat. In this configuration, I have had to learn to rely more on my hands and arms while centering rather than using leverage from my back, so I tend to throw softer clay than what I had been. Ideally, my stool is just shorter than standing height and my wheel is way up on cinder blocks. This is how I keep my wheel at home. Most often I'm throwing at work where the set up is lower than this (6.5" lift using Pacifica's leg extension kit), but the wheelhead being higher than the seat is the most important part.


    2. POSTURE. Sit with your pelvis pulled forward to keep it in line with your spine. Once you hunch, you pelvis shifts back and the the spine is unsupported... like the rim of a plate that's been pulled out too far from the base. If it's hanging way out there in no man's land, it's probably going to warp under stress.


    3. ENGAGE YOUR CORE. This one is probably the hardest to keep up with, but treat throwing like an ab workout. Just as you would tighten your core muscles to do a crunch, do this on the wheel. Keep your core muscles engaged the whole time you're seated at the wheel. A little trick to help is to envision touching your belly button to your spine. This will help every aspect of your life, especially getting ready for beach season. ;)


    4. PROP THE BACK LEGS OF YOUR STOOL. Put a ware board or two under the back legs of your stool to help make steps 2 & 3 easier. I have a length of 4×4 board that I sank 1" deep holes into for the back legs of my stool to sit in.


    5. STRETCH. FREQUENTLY. Before you sit down, stretch out. Take breaks to stand up, stretch out and keep your body loose. Do a cool down stretch.


    Take care of your back. You only get one.



  15. Hi HBLB,

    I have the same advice as the folks at the college, but with a couple additions.

    -Brush or sponge it on thick. Don't cake it on, but apply liberally.

    -Let it sit for a few. Allow the bisque time to absorb the water in your wash and for the iron to begin staining your piece.

    -Wipe the wash away with a sponge, but make sure not to remove all the oxide. If you want the oxide to show up in the texture, make sure to leave some of it in the texture. Start with a clean sponge. Wring it out as much as possible... I've had the best luck using a sponge that is just the slightest bit damp. Rinse, wring, wipe, repeat as needed.

    Good luck and post results!


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