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Chris Throws Pots

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Everything posted by Chris Throws Pots

  1. 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. C
  2. Makes sense, Benzine. Looking ahead to my "some-day" studio, would a polished concrete floor have the same need for paint?
  3. 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?
  4. Thanks schism and Marcia, I confirmed with Ward that Rectorseal is the right product. I'm all sealed and ready to fire on Monday. C
  5. 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.
  6. 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? Thanks! C
  7. I have used Minspar 200 in substitution for F4 in several ^6 ox glazes with success. I have seen no differences in the results between pieces glazed with the original or adjusted recipes.
  8. 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.
  9. Hi ayjay, I'm entirely unsure as to how to treat a wooden handle, but given your project I thought I'd share this: http://walterslowinskipottery.weebly.com/teapots-with-branch-handles.html I stumbled upon an exhibition of Walter's branch handle teapots while visiting family in Southern Vermont and was blown away. He may share some wisdom via email. Otherwise, just enjoy the eye candy. C
  10. 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. C
  11. 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! Chris
  12. I use the Euclid's Choice TileBatt system (http://www.euclids.com/index.php?item_id=TBTTE), which is essentially MDF board with a space routed down 1/8 or 1/4 inch for a 6x6 tile. I really like this product, but like all of the choices out there, it has its pros and cons. PROS: -Price. Less than $15 for the master bat and one tile. Additional tiles are $2.32 apiece. -Self-releasing. The tiles are bisque, so they absorb water and release pots when they're ready. CONS: -Proprietary tile size. The Euclid's site says it's a 6x6 tile, but the tiles are a hair under. Hence, rather than being able to buy any 6x6 bisque tile, you need to order theirs. Or sand down commercial 6x6 tiles. Or, like I've done, cut your own tiles from Masonite using a band saw. -Tiles are brittle. I broke a few while I was getting used to the system. I've put about 3 years of heavy use on my TileBatt and it's beginning to warp. The tiles are getting harder to get into the master due to the bat drying to a slightly convex shape. But for $15, well-worth just buying another. Another one to check out is the Versa-Bat System made by Great Lakes Ceramics Supply (http://www.greatclay.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=VRBTSYS&Category_Code=WA) which takes both 6x6 and 8x8 tiles. Pricey but versatile.
  13. Hi David, Not to beat a dead horse, but practice is the best thing you can do for your trimming. The tap method that others have brought up is great when working on a new form, but once you've thrown and trimmed the same form a bunch of times, you'll just start to know how much you want/need to trim. Here's a link to a video by Hsin Chuen Lin focused on achieving even thickness through trimming. He shows you how to make an easy DIY measuring tool that is more accurate (albeit more complicated) than basic calipers. Cheers, Chris
  14. I just unloaded a "strinking" test from this morning's bisque. I sent pice which had been single dipped in an iron rich glaze and fired to ^6 back through a ^07.5/^06 bisque. Incredibly different results. I wish I'd taken a before picture for comparison. Before it was an ugly brown with spots of tomato soup red where the glaze was a bit thicker; high gloss finish. It sounds like I have very similar results to Babs. Now it's a very consistent orangey-red with a slightly less glossy finish. I'm excited to now try a piece that had a nicer red glaze coat after the first firing and see how that compares. I'm on the hunt for a foodsafe true red.
  15. I just upgraded the studio's Ohaus triple beam to an Ohaus digital CS-2000. It's like we've moved from the RV in the desert to the lab beaneath Gus Fring's laundry. We keep 14 glazes in 10,000 gram batches on the floor for member/student use at all time, so it has already become a huge time saver. Of course the triple beam will stay put for 100 gram test batches.
  16. I made a test tile wall for my community studio using small bowls thrown off the hump. They are all paddled flat on one side so they sit flush against the wall. They also all have texture made with a fork on one section (inside and out). Glazes can behave differently on the inside and outside of the same form, so I see using bowls as a big advantage in this department. The bowls also do a great job communicating the way a glaze/glaze combo breaks on rim. The downside is that the bowls collect dust, so it needs to be cleaned more frequently than our old board with traditional extruded tiles. The grid on the left is with our white body; on the right our red body. We keep 12 stock, house glazes that are all numbered. We also mix two rotating glazes to keep things fresh. These all have laminated tags velcroed to the wall beneath them. Here's she is:
  17. We have a rack someone built years ago. I added the top section for posts. We have 3 kilns, 2 of which are in use, hence plenty of open slots in the rack. Extra shelves and shelves that need to be ground get leaned against the wall.
  18. Daniel Pink addresses this topic directly in his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. It's a great read.
  19. Paul, My understanding about laser-jet decals is that you'd fire your ware to ^10 first. Then apply your decals and re-fire in a much lower firing. If your're printing your own from an HP laser print or similar, I believe you'd want to fire to ^04 to set the decal. There would be no need to glaze overtop of the decal. Justin Rothshank is a decal master and shares tons of information regarding printing and firing decals on his website. Check out: http://rothshank.com/justins-work/decal-resources/ --- BetsyLu, Check out that link about info for decals. If you don't already have a laser printer the up-front investment may be a bit steep, but this would probably be the easiest/time saving/most consistent route. I do a lot of slip transfers, which provide a similar look to decals but without the extra firing and with less materials cost. Transferring 14point text will mean some practice/trial and error to get the lettering to transfer without smudging, but it can produce great results. Carving by hand seems like a LOT of work with a lot of potential for mistakes. I have a thought about the pasta: Could you arrange the pasta on paper so you could transfer whole words or sentences at once? If you attached the pasta to paper with wheat paste I would imagine everyhting would just burn off. No doubt this is still a lot of work, but perhaps a help/time svaer. Good luck! Chris
  20. In with Norm. I prefer oxide to carb. Someone taught me to mix it in very strong green tea... Their argument was that the acid in the tea helps the mix/adherence. I'm unsure if this actually makes a difference, but I've always enjoyed the results so I've never bothered to try mixing in water.
  21. Sub zero and very fine snow all day in Burlington, Vermont. My car read -14 this morning on the drive in to the studio. The high was -6. Not a great day for the heat to be broken without any kilns running. It's supposed to climb into the balmy mid 30s by Sunday. It'll feel like spring skiing!
  22. Brian, At present, my relationship with clay exists in both public and private studios. I work at a studio along with about 45 hobbyist clayers and a team of 15 studio assistants, a few of whom are working on a semi-production level. At home I have an incomplete studio set up on a three-season porch: wheel, wedging table, clay storage, drying rack, storage for finished pots - no kiln or glazing setup. April to October I do almost all my wheel work at home and transport my greenware to the community studio to fire. In the cold months I rely on the community studio for the entire process. I spent the summer after my first clay class working in a small shared studio. A sculptor working in wood and a ceramicist had a studio and took pity on my clay withdrawls until I moved back to school. I pitched in for rent, produced a lot and kept very little. It was rare any of us were in the studio at the same time. It wasn't the most equipped studio, but it kept my hands muddy and I picked up a few tricks from my much more experienced studio partner. Reflecting on this experience continues to give me perspective on what works best for me in terms of size of studio, the need (or lack of need) for the social community component of a workspace. I've done it all three ways, and I look forward to the day I have a fully-equipped, entirely private studio. It's not that I don't play nice with others, I just know I work better, and enjoy the process more when I'm solo. I enjoy the community space for teaching and taking classes, but to get any real quantities of work produced I do much better on my own. That said, I imagine that a step along the way to my dream studio in the woods (with a mini ramp, of course) will be a return to the semi-private setup like what what you're considering. Some important factors for me would be: - Not partnering with a friend. If a friendship develops with a studio partner, that's great. But what's on the table is business. Mixing friendship and business can work, but can just as easily ruin one or both. I'd post an ad and treat it like hiring a co-worker. - Set clear expectations about your standards for cleanliness, studio etiquette and the size footprint a studio subletter is buying into. For all the positives about the small shared studio, the guys whose names were on the lease had little concern clay dust. It irritated me to no end and scared me, frankly, but all I could do was encourage better practices. The validity of my requests was acknowledged, but no changes were made, nor did I have any power to demand changes. - Get it all in writing. - Start with a short-term trial period. 2 or 3 months should be enough time to figure out if it works or doesn't. - Don't be afraid to break up. Hopefully you won't have to, but go into it knowing you might. Good luck! Chris
  23. 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 - Teach what I've learned in 2013 about silkscreen transfers - Have better posture at the wheel - Fire the wood kiln twice (spring and fall) - Participate in at least 6 weekend shows throughout New England - Launch (relaunch, really) my Etsy shop by January 31 and keep it stocked throughout the year - Keep my current galleries stocked and happy - Establish relationships with 2 more galleries (ideally one in Vermont and one in Massachusetts) - Submit to a few nationally juried exhibitions - LUX Mugshots, Slipe Gallery Drink!, Baltimore Clayworks Shake it Baby!
  24. Hi Terry, The organization for which I work has a student liability release form that must be completed prior to participating in any of our classes (pottery, print, photo, painting). We have an adult version and a youth version. I can email you the forms if you'd like. You'd have to tweak the language a bit to fit your business' name - and run it by your lawyer, of course - but I think I have what you're looking for. Shoot me an email at christophervaughnpottery@gmail.com andI'll send them your way. Cheers, Chris
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