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Chris Throws Pots

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  1. All my Corelites have warped badly. If you're willing to go without kiln wash, buy a set of Corelites and save the money (and potential hazards... see Norm's response) you'd spend on the Advancers. Just mark the shelves A side and B side with RIO wash and alternate which side is up. I fire to cone 6 at least once a week, but in my community studio there are enough mishaps that I won't skip the kiln wash. Hence I can't flip my shelves without either totally grinding them or risking kiln wash falling into the wares. I've seen warping in the Corelites as quickly as 10 or 12 firings, so I've stopped buying them and have switched back to high alumina shelves. Which also warp but are much cheaper.
  2. Hi B, Welcome to the forum and Happy Holidays! A bit more information about you, your process, your firing method, etc would be helpful. Your profile is pretty empty, and I've found the forum to be most helpful when the responders know who they are responding to. I primarily work in stoneware fired to ^6 in an electric kiln. An issue I've experienced that sounds like what you're describing has been bloating stemming from underfired bisque. If you're lid is particularly tight fitting, this could be a contributing factor to bloating issues. If you're working in low fire clay or atmospheric firing I probably can't be of much help. There are a few threads about this already on the forum that you may find helpful. Check this out: http://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/4904-strange-raised-bumps-on-plates-help/?hl=bloating&do=findComment&comment=44183 Pictures of the pots in question would certainly help diagnose and troubleshoot. Best, Chris
  3. Nancy, The name hasn't escaped you... it is Frog Hollow. They have some great work in there, including pots made by some close friends of mine. The BCA studio used to be called Frog Hollow, as did the Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury and Middlebury Clay and Craft; it was a wheel with 4 spokes. When Frog Hollow consolidated to just their gallery on Church Street, the City of Burlignton stepped in to make sure the clay studio remained a resource for the community. Pretty awesome! BCA's galleries, darkroom and digital media lab are about a block down Church Street from Frog Hollow. The clay and print studios are two blocks away, on the corner of Main and South Union.
  4. Hi Becca, Why not just load the four bowls at the bottom and shelf over them. It would be a waste of some space, but certainly nowhere close to firing the four bowls by themseves. This way, even if there was an explosion, the glazed wares would be shielded by the shelves. This would definitely give enough distance so that gas interaction would not be of issue. Good luck, Chris
  5. Hi Nancy, Thanks for your kind offer. The organization I work for has a dedicated development department that already does a significant amount of grant writing and fundraising. In addition to the clay studio, we have community printing, photo and digital media studios that offer monthly rental and classes like the clay studio, a painting studio, several contemporary art galleries and an art sales and leasing program. Some of these programs generate a significant amount of revenue while others are supported by the successes of the stronger programs. We are a division of the City of Burlington, Vermont and also hold federal non-profit status. The city supports us through administrative costs like payroll and employee benefits and through providing us the space to exist, but we are responsible for a little over 80% of our annual budget. Check us out online at www.BurlingtonCityArts.com, and if you're ever in Burlington, Vermont stop in and say hi! My initial question about bringing the clay back to life had much more to do with effort than dollars. I'm not suggesting being wasteful or that we don't have a budget to stick to, but at the point the clay is "dead" we've already sold it to our patrons at least once (in the form of fresh, bagged Laguna clay), if not several times (as reclaim). If there was an easy solution like adding some ball clay, I would have gone that route. But given the testing required for essentially making a new clay body would have been far more expensive and time consuming than just starting fresh. We slaked down about 500lbs of trimming scraps (thrown only once) last week and pugged the first of it this past weekend. Our afterschool instructors have been very happy this week, as the clay is elastic and the kids are having success on the wheels. Sometimes a fresh start is in order.
  6. After cycling through the process so many times, the clay loses much of its plasticity/elasticity. In the case of my reclaiming dilemma, much of the creamy clay has been washed down the drain and the grog is left in the slop bucket. The lugged clay becomes fiberous and short... very grainy. Not enough stretch for throwing, not enough body for handbuilding or sculpting.
  7. Thanks Norm, Neil and Pres. I just bagged and pitched about 90 gallons of thick slaking slop and another couple hundred pounds of terrible fiborous clay that we recently pugged... and wasted our time doing so. The clay was so worked from repeated reclaiming (probably 2 years since we've started fresh) and I was not inclined to spend a lot of time testing and tweaking additions of ball clay and vinegar when clay is so cheap. The reclaim starts from slop and scraps from fresh clay we've already sold, so any exta use is a bonus. That said, we'll continue to reclaim clay for use in youth programming and drop-ins. Recently an independent ceramicist donated a few hundred pounds of trimming scraps to the studio, so I started new barrels of reclaim slop with these. Where this clay has never been reclaimed it should start us with a good fresh batch and give us some nice plastic clay. Thanks for confirming what I was secretly hoping the answer would be. C
  8. Hi All, The studio where I work collects everyone's throwing slop in large garbage barrels to reclaim into clay for youth programming and drop-ins. The clay is feeling like it's met its limit in terms of reclaim cycles and the kids are finding the clay impossible to work with. The clay is very fibrous, tears easily and lacks elasticity. I'm thinking about adding dry ball clay and vinegar to the mother barrels to bring the dead clay back to life. Will this work? Is it worth my time? How much of each to add? Should I add something different? I'm fearful that mixing in ball clay will throw the chemical composition way off and will leave us with clay that doesn't fit our glazes. The current reclaim is a mix of four ^6 Laguna bodies (90, 66, 55 and 16) and lots of the cyclically recyled clay. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Chris
  9. Knowing that all of your elements are getting hot, I'd start by testing your relays. Do you have a multimeter? You'll also need some wire and a 9V battery... or you can just use your car's battery. Shut down the breaker and remove the relays from the kiln, marking each one's position. Start by measuring the resistance (multimeter set to ohms) and confirm with the kiln company that the relay's resitance is in the right range. Next hook up the relay to the battery. Connect the negative side first so as to ground the charge. Then connect the wire to the positive contact point on the battery. Lastly, touch the free end of the positive wire to the positive contact point on the relay. Does it click? When you break the circuit does it click again? Do it a few times. Is it consistent? This will tell you whether you have a sticky or stuck/broken relay. If everything reads properly, then you may have element issues, though from my experience those don't come back to life. When they're broken they're broken. Good luck!
  10. - 30ish brand new kiln shelves to replace the terribly warped one I've been dealing with for too long - A shed for the raku kiln - A bandsaw
  11. Marcia, Like most of the lot here, I'm not a fan of M-Mix. I threw a couple hundred pounds of B-Mix 10 w/Grog for a wood firing last fall. I did find it unpleasantly sticky. I also found it to be intolerant of rushing the process and finicky with handle and spout attachments. I quite liked my final results using a Korean Celadon, but working with this body wasn't very fun until I unloaded bisque. C
  12. Hi Peachy and All, Like Weeble, I'm the studio manager at a non-profit, community-based clay and print studio. We have 14 wheels, a large handbuilding area with a slab roller, an extruder and 3 PK Skutts which are rarely cool silmultaneously. We have a raku kiln and an off-site wood kiln. Our clay studio is roughly 2000 square feet. We mix 15 glazes from our own recipes (12 that we always have, 3 that rotate to keep things fresh). All clay fired by us must be purchased through us. Glaze chemistry and firing costs are built into the price of clay. People participate as either renting members or students. All participants can access the studio during open hours... I aim to have 30-35 during the academic calendar and 25 during the summer when we have summer camp programming all day every day. All open studio hours are scheduled in 4 hour blocks and are hosted by a studio assistant. Assistants trade 4 hours of work for a set of keys to the studio and waived studio rental dues. We offer wheel throwing and sculpting classes and have recently started doing more advanced workshops including woodfiring weekends and one-off lectures. We partner with the public school system for some afterschool classes and a local college for 3 undergrad and 1 grad level course per year. Every month we have about 100 renters and adult/college students accessing open studio hours, and another 40 or 50 coming in for youth programming and drop-in nights. We have A LOT happening at our studio, and while accidents happen, most accidents can and should be prevented. In my studio, most are. Participation in a class at my studio is not just about learning how to throw, trim and glaze. As a teacher I put a lot of emphasis on learnign the studio as well. I build in bits of studio etiquette to the curriculum. I encourage other instructors to do the same. I rarely bring it up that explicitly, but I find that being able to navigate the studio in a manner respectful to the space and the other people here is as important as developing a skill set for throwing or sculpting. When someone walks through our door for the first time, they are often new to clay; it's a foreign thing; it's intimidating. I find overwhelmingly that students want very much to do the right thing, want to learn the bigger process. And they don't want to piss anyone off by wrecking someone else's work. Additionally I am selective when hiring studio assistants, and make sure to train them thoroughly on studio operations and etiquette before asking them to do anything. If a studio assistant sees a student or member doing something that would be detrimental to our equipment or someone else's work they use it as a teachable moment and help that person; nothing punitvie, just learning. I bring all this up because if you haven't already, I'd strongly encourage you to give feedback to the studio where you took the class. As the studio manager here, I want to hear what's going on. Sure I love positive feedback, but hearing about areas for improvement is equally as important. My worst fear (as it relates to my job) is that someone leaves a class with a bad taste in their mouth and doesn't give us a chance to remedy the situation, or at least learn from the situation. With all this in mind, I very much enjoy my small, incomplete home studio set up. I have a wheel and shelving, but transport everyhtign into work to fire. I've been based out of the community studio for 7 years, first as a student, then as a studio assistant, now as the studio manager and an instructor. There are times when I have my own work to attend to and don't necessarily want to stop to help someone with a throwing technique or process a credit card for their rental dues. That said, there are plenty of times when I relish in the fact that I don't always work in a silo and can work amongst a diverse group of clay people to with whom I can share conversation and bounce idas off of. For me, these times when I'm glad to be in the community atmosphere tend to be when I'm doing experimental work. I like to be alone for production. I have a three season porch on which my wheel lives. From May to October I can sit at the wheel with the company of my morning coffe or evening beer and Netflix playing on my laptop. But it's December and for better or worse I'm doing all my work at the community studio until spring. So I tend to snowboard more in these months than I do make production volumes of work. C
  13. One idea I have that hasn't been mentioned is to throw a glaze reservoir to exactly meet your needs. In the short term it will slow your process down as you wait for it to be ready, but this way you could make something that truly syncs with your process. Choose a high gloss glaze so that clean up is easy and you lose as little glaze as possible when returning it to the mother bucket. You could make something tall and narrow that either tapers out or has somewhat of a bowl shape at the top to catch dripping glaze and make it easy for you to get your hands in position on the piece you're glazing. Good luck, C
  14. I do not use wooden boxes, though the idea of it, particularly for higher end items, is very appealing. When I do a show I wrap purchased items in plain newsprint. I used to bring an end roll (free from the local newspaper) and tear off pieces as needed. I always felt awkward/unprofessional tearing the paper as it's very loud and would interrupt the small talk with customers that usually comes with a sale. So I went to a Christmas Tree Shop and asked the manager if I could buy one of their packages of newsprint sheets used at checkout. After some gentle nudging I left with a ~2000 sheet pack of 24"x18" pieces for $10. I have been using paper kraft bags with handles, color matched as best as I could get, to the colors in my business card and booth banner. I have logo stickers that I put on every bag. Everything is branded very intentionally. I gave two sizes of bags, a small bag for one or two mugs, a small bowl or olive oil bottle, and a large bag for serving bowls, platters, or purchases of more than a few pieces at once. It is very gratifying seeing people walking around a show, bag in hand, advertising for me.
  15. I recently showed my very first pot alongside a mug I made in the last few months in a show called Then & Now. I titled the piece Dumb Lucky. It's an attempt at a ceramic maté gourd that I made in 2007 during my first clay class at St. Michael's College. The form is a little clunky, but overall pretty well thrown. I got... well... dumb lucky with the glaze, as I had no idea what I was doing. I'll never part with that one. It was on a bookshelf at home for years, but after showing it a couple months back I have been keeping it on my desk in the office at the studio. I spent the next six or so months making far less successful pots... HEAVY, unbalanced forms I like to call robber stoppers. My parents have a bunch of these, mostly bowls, that inevitably get broken out for family dinner when I'm visiting. Much to my chagrin. Most everything else from that era has been turned into mosaic material.
  16. Pattial, Get yourself a Williams Tool while you're there. Awesome trimmers. Cheers, C
  17. Hey Peachy, I'm in Vermont and am lucky to have a clay supplier, Vermont Ceramic Supply, within a couple hour drive. But for most everything other than clay and dry glaze chemicals, I purchase through online retailers. My go-to is EuclidsChoice.com. They are based outside of Toronto and make my "can't-live-without-it" trimming tool, their Williams Tool. Only $4! I use their Tile Batt system just about every day (though now I cut my own tiles from Masonite rather than buying more bisque tiles made by Euclid's). They have a great selection of Kemper, Sherrill Mud Tools, Dolan and Dirty Girls, as well as a bunch of cool tools that they either make in-house or just aren't branded... their chattering/jumping irons are great. Because of international shipping, I tend to place larger orders with them once or twice a year and use Bailey's or Sheffield for the times I need one or two items quickly. But to answer your question directly, Euclid's Choice is my go-to. Welcome to the forum, and the world of clay! Chris
  18. *To the Admin: This topic could probably also be posted in the In The Studio or Potter's Council section of the forum, but due to my use of Instagram for business I've started it here. If it should live somewhere else, please move it. Hi All, Who's using Instagram as part of their clay life? For me, it's been a really helpful, monetarily beneficial, and FUN tool. It's helped me connect with fellow artists and customers, and it's played a large role in building my brand. I've had a great experience with the tool, and I figured I'd share. For those using the forum who don't have Instagram on their radar, it is now. In short, Instagram is a photo sharing application that allows user to upload, edit and share photos with the Instagram community at large, or (by using the private profile option) specific users who have been granted permission. The application also allows users to "filter" photos to make them look like they've been Photoshopped. Users can include a caption when they upload a photo, as well as hashtagged terms (ie #pottery #ceramics #puppies #tacotuesday) to make photos easy to locate using the application's search feature. Users "Follow" other users to subscribe to their photos; the homescreen is populated by the most recent uploads from all the users one follows. Users can "Like" and/or leave comments on photos. The application is available for iOS and Android and is primarily used on smartphones and tablets; recently a view-only version became available for folks using a traditional notebook/desktop browser. Mixed in with all the users posting pictures of their kittens, babies, hipster parties, adventures with bacon, etc is a large community of ceramic artists sharing pictures of their daily process and their pots. I open Instagram on my phone and scroll through my homescreen feed a few times a day, and I'll be greeted by pictures uploaded from folks like Adam Field, Michael Kline, Alex Matisse, Birdie Boone, Brett Kern, Justin Rothshank... The pictures are visually fun to look at, and give a look into the life of the artist and process behind the work. For me, Instagram has been a versatile tool, and a source of both give and take. I get inspired by posts made by others, and others (hopefully) get inspired by posts I make. Through comments left on photos, I have gotten a lot of quick troubleshooting support and have provided a lot of this as well. I have found potters who's work I've begun collecting, and I have received a good bit of business from customers who find me via Instagram then connect to my website. It's also a great tool for promoting an event or an Etsy sale code. If you're not on Instagram, give it a try. Whether for business, pleasure or both, a lot of us are already posting daily, sharing images of our studios, processes, firings, pots and lives. If you decide to take the plunge, here's my shortlist of 20 clay-related must-follow accounts to get you started: @adamfieldpottery @alexmatisse @archie_bray @ayumihorie @btotheb @brettkernart @chris_throws_pots (shamelessly, me) @dougpeltzmanpottery @el_ceramica @forrestmiddleton @jrothshank @kilngod @klineola @kylecarpenterpottery @lornameadenpottery @lyonclay @pdxceramics @shinygbird @stvdiobrooklyn @williambakerpottery Cheers, Chris
  19. Al, Are you trying to screen directly onto the clay, or make transfers? Are you doing this before or after bisque? I do a lot of screenprinted transfers, and just the idea of trying to pass a wax resist through a screen without it getting gummed up almost immediately is making my head hurt. This is a very cool concept, and I'm interested in hearing about your progress. Keep us posted. To speak to your specific questions: - What emulsion to use likely depends on your wax. If you are using a water-based wax, I'd use an emulsion design for water-based inks. I use Ulano LX660. If you are using oil-based wax, I'd imagine an emulsion designed for use with plastisol inks would be a better fit, though cleanup with water might break down the emulsion. - I'd suggest a wide mesh screen. Something 156 mesh or lower. I use 230 and sometimes 305, but I need to sieve my colored slip and the screen tends to get blocked up after 10 or 15 passes. I really should get a lower mesh screen, but I have been using what's already at my studio. Wax is only going to block your screen up faster, so wide mesh is going to be your friend. Good luck! Chris
  20. Hi High Bridge, This past spring I had a kiln scare in which even when the controller was showing idle, the elements were heating up. I have very little knowledge of wiring/electronics, so I am unable to weigh in on your diagram and any other thoughts shared so far on the thread. That said, my relay failed on. Basically it soldered its own connection point in the on position, so unless the kiln was turned off at the power source (in my case the breaker), the elements were receiving power. I would start with replacing the relay as Neil suggested. If the same issue happens again there is likely something wrong in the wiring. And that potential issue in the wiring could be making your relays fail on. Good luck! C
  21. Neil, Moving forward, yes, use witness cones to verify heatwork. But for the test piece you've already fired you could do a porosity test to see if the clay is fully vitrified. Make sure your piece is totally dry and take a very precise measure of its weight. Then soak the piece in water for an hour or so. Dry it off completely and measure the weight again. If there is no difference in the weight you're dealing with a fully vitrified piece. If the piece is heavier after soaking the clay is still somewhat porous. Porosity of .5%ish is acceptable, but the lower the better. Cheers, Chris
  22. Hi Lucas, I'm with ayjay in that a French cleat seems the best fit for the project. I have a fiend who just hung an incredibly heavy framed tile/mosaic piece using a French cleat he made from stud boards (~$3 for a 6 foot 2x4 at any hardware store that sells lumber) and it worked great. The best part was that he didnt have to hang his work perfectly centered on a stud... I think his cleat spanned between 2 studs due to the width of his project. You could create notches in the backside of the sheep's head where one half of the cleat would sit and then cut your board to fit exactly once the piece is fired. This method will allow your piece to sit totally flush on the wall. Good luck! I looks great so far! C
  23. Hi PotterGrl and All, As JBaymore mentioned, plastic is king. I start with a beginning till of $50-$100 (depending on the size of the show) in 1s, 5s, and 10s in a bank envelope in my front pocket... good luck with taking that. But at least 1/2 of my transactions are completed with credit cards. Local farmers' market to large weekend shows... plastic always accounts for at least half. An option that hasn't been mentioned is ProPay. I used a Square reader to accept credit cards for a few years, but recently registed for some weekend shows in rural areas without data/wireless service. Square is great if you always have a connection, but if you're off the grid you're SOL unless you keep a knuckle buster with you to process those separately through a processising service... even though you can physically punch in a card's information into Square and process payment it is technically in violation of the Square contract. It was not something I was willing to gamble with. I've also been at shows where the signal is spotty, and I've had to trod around with my phone in the air hoping to catch a wave of 3G for a transaction to go through... awkward/embarrassing for me, annoying for the customer. MarkC also mentioned being in situations where the Square server gets overloaded. So I recently switched over to ProPay's JAK Reader ($20 hardware), which just like Square, uses an app supported by Android or iOS. I use an iPhone5, but any Driod phone or tablet or iPad will work as well. The real advantage to ProPay is that you can run it in "Suspended Mode" when you're in an area without service. This stores your swipes to process later. In this mode, everything looks the same: card get's swiped, customer signs and provides and email for receipt. Once you have data or wireless service you open the app and process the stored transactions. The risk of a declined card is still present, but no more so than with a knucklebuster and you only have one (modern, clean, quick) system to navigate. When operating in an area that has spotty service I've found it helpful to run my phone in Airplane Mode so the card reader doesn't get confused by the in-and-out signal. The annual cost of the service is $50 and the percentage (2.7% for MC, Visa and Disco - 3.4% for AMEX) per swipe is comprable to Square. Transfers to your checking account cost $0.35 whether you are sending the funds from one transaction or a whole weekend's (or year's) worth... I do this once at the end of a show. There is no flat rate "per-swipe" cost in addtion to the percentage. Cash is a must. Security of your cash is as important as the cash itself. But not having the option to take a credit card is a recipe for lost sales. If you're only showing/vending in areas with consistent service, Square is great. But if you're like me and sometimes show in more rural settings (or don't want to rely on 3G/wireless service at every show) ProPay is definitely worth considering. Cheers, Chris
  24. Hi Sean, I keep a few oxide washes mixed at my studio. As mentioned above, the percentage of oxide is a matter of preference and aesthetic. I generally add about a tablespoon of RIO or BIO for every 6-8oz of water. I will often add a small amount - maybe a 1/2 teaspoon - of vee gum to help help suspend the oxide in the water and thicken the mixture up a bit. For cobalt oxide, a trick I've picked up is to use potently brewed green tea rather than water. The thought being the acidity of the green tea helps to bring out the desired blue. I'm not sure if it really has any effect, but it sure smells nice. I tend not to use vee gum in the cobalt wash. Cheers, Chris
  25. Marge, I hold for 5 minutes at 2215F then run a controlled cool at 200F/Hour down to 2115F (35 minutes combined hold and controlled cool). I am firing a Skutt 1231PK (1 thermo) and get very pretty even results with ^6 down and ^7 bending. Everyone has their own tricks and figures out the quirks of their own kiln. This works for me. Maybe it will for you too. Cheers, Chris
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