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Chris Throws Pots

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Everything posted by Chris Throws Pots

  1. Hi Sakura, I'm with Pres. Sounds like bloating to me. I've been dealing with this issue off-and-on for about a year with a few different clay bodies... I was actually greeted by some heavily bloated pots this morning when I arrived to the studio. First time in a while. Are you venting during the bisque? I believe the source of my clay's bloating issues is linked to a lack of offgassing during the bisque. How fast is your bisque program? Moving very slowly up to 1600F has helped significantly. And leaving the top peep open. As Pres mentioned, overfiring can be a culprit of bloating as well. Good luck! Chris
  2. My studio sells 4 different Laguna bodies (90, 66, 55, 16). All throwing slop and trimming scraps get mixed into a fruit punch clay that we pug and use for camp/afterschool/drop-in programming. We also sell it for 75% of the cost of the fresh clay. Some pople love it. While we're on the topic, this recycled clay tends to be short... I don't know if this is the proper term. There's not much elasticity to the clay making it tear easily. Is there something I could add to the mix when pugging? Would aging the pugged clay help? The vacuum on our pugmill has been nonoperational since well before I started here almost 7 years ago. Would having vacuum suction help with the elasticity/structure of the clay, or would I just get rid of the air bubbles? Thanks, Chris
  3. I use 50% EPK 50% Alumina. By weight, not volume.
  4. A teapot traded to a friend perusing an MFA in a 2D concentration for her Soldner S100 wheel... I tried to give her more. A set of 4 cereal bowls and an olive oil cruet traded for logo and business card design. For a while I was trading pots for chiropractic care and massage therapy. I like the barter system.
  5. Hey rebbylicious and All, Here are two resources for pottery pedicures which I've found particularly interesting. I still haven't started messing with the process - I finish the trimming of every pot by burnishing the foot with a green Sherrill Mud Tools rib and/or a polished stone - but some day... 1: Hsin Chuen Lin's extra fancy, arguably over-complicated, but ultimately super cool method that turns your wheel into a wet grinder. It requires a bunch of equipment, including an extra splash pan, but it's pretty slick. 2. Jeff Campana's writing "Foot Fetish" about his trial and error process of grinding feet for a glass-like finish. http://jeffcampana.com/blog/ Enjoy Chris
  6. For sure. The layer on the paper rehydrates the image, and the layer on the vessel pulls everything off the paper. Thanks for the kind words about my work!
  7. Hi Mel, Over the last year much of my work has included screen printed slip transfers on thrown forms. I, like a few who have already responded, have found newsprint to be a great vehicle for the transfer process. I get end rolls from the local newspaper. If I'm going to do transfers the same day as I print them I will use basic newsprint. If I plan a printing day with a transfer day to follow I'll use the advertisement paper... like what the supermarket circulars are printed on. This paper is a bit more absorbent and prevents the image from flaking off the paper once it fully dries and sits for a while. I apply one thin layer layer of base slip over transfer image and another onto the vessel. The key is getting the timing right. Ideally both slips set up at the same pace. Once the slip loses its shine I'll carefully apply the transfer to the vessel. I've been doing a lot of all-over prints, so typically I'll just roll the vessel on the transfer. It picks up the paper and sets the transfer in place. I pat it down with my hands, pop any air pockets with annexacto blade, then use a red extra-soft Sherrill Mud Tools rib as a squeegee to fully set the image. Once the paper is almost all the way dried out I will peel it off the form. I went through a pretty long trial and error process to dial in the details: consistency of the slip, how to brush it on without distorting the image to be transferred, timing the two layers of slip, etc. Play, practice and patience. Hope this helps some. C
  8. I had a custom stamp cut by 4clay.com and am extremely pleased with the result. It's laser cut from steel. I use it as a maker's mark on the foot ring of all my pots. It's tiny and precise.
  9. Hi All, In about a month I'll be participating in a woodfiring, and I'm hoping to find a few recipes for cone 9-10 glazes. The kiln fires FAST! Cone 10 in 12 hours. Its design was based off of the Phoenix Fast-Fire built in New Hampshire in the 70s. The speed of the firing is great, as we'll be firing as public demonstration in downtown Burlington, Vermont, but it doesn't allow a lot of time for ash build up. Some, but not enough to just rely on the ash for aesthetic. With this in mind, I'm planning to glaze my work. We'll also introduce some salt through the fire box at the end of the firing. I've only fired on wood a few times, so I haven't had the opportunity to mix, test, tweak my own glazes. I work primarily in functional forms, so food safety is super important. Any help will be greatly appreciated! I'm looking for: - a tenmoku to be used as a liner - a clear to be used over silkscreened slip transfers - a celadon - a shino - anything anyone feels like sharing Thanks! Chris
  10. Hi Lsapakoff, I have no personal experience with Bailey electric kilns (my friend loves his but I've never used/worked on it), but have cautionary advice about the L&L products. The studio where I work purchased a pair of matching L&Ls about 7 years ago and they have been a source of countless headaches. Like Neil mentioned, the element holders used by L&L will help preserve the softbrick far longer than in the Bailey. But from my experience constantly doing repairs and replacements, that's perhaps the only plus side of the L&L. Will you be firing to cone 10 or just buying a kiln rated for cone 10? Firing to cone 10 in an electric kiln will tend to wear out your elements quickly. Replacing the elements in an L&L is a nightmare (unless the design has been changed recently... perhaps Neil can weigh in). Sure they drop into the element holders easily, but once they thread through the brick, connecting the pigtails to the posts which deliver power is a real challenge. It's easy to mess this up and the result can easily lead to arcing electricity (and cut up hands). Our L&Ls have had constant issues with their relays and thermocouples. Each has an internal volume of roughly 10 cubic feet and has 3 thermocouples. I get the logic, but in practice it's a design flaw. Three thermocouples in a kiln of this size make for two absolutely unnecessary opportunities for misfiring. It also makes loading a challenge, as you have 2 unnecessary thermocouples to work around. It makes for more parts to replace, hence a higher cost of ownership. My sense is that all electric kilns can be susceptible to relay issues, as the manufacturing of these parts are outsourced to Chinese factories with poor quality control, but I've never heard of anyone having relay issues like ours. Perhaps we got a pair of lemons. I know your debate is between L&L and Bailey, but I'd encourage you to consider Skutt. We bought a Skutt about 4 years ago to replace a dilapidated oval (brand unknown to me) kiln. It's a beast. Last summer I replaced one of the L&Ls with another Skutt and will replace the remaining L&L with a matching Skutt this fall. The few repairs I've had to do on the Skutts have been predictable and an absolute breeze. And despite having only one thermocouple in a 12 cubic foot kiln, the firings are more predictable than in our L&L... mainly in they don't misfire all the time. As for the retailer from where you'll buy your kiln, I order much of our studio's equipment from Sheffield. I have nothing but good things to say about these guys. Bailey's too. I order much less from Bailey's, but when I do they are always super helpful, ship fast and don't hold it against me when I rib them about their website. Good luck!
  11. For a drop-in bat pin, the exact product at a hardware store is a "1/4 20 Socket Cap Screw" and its matching wing nut. Go to the hardware store and ask the clerk. Every hardware store stocks this product. Spend the extra fifty cents per piece to get stainless steel version. I'm unfamiliar with the Harbor Freight wheel Big Lou has, but common a common length is 1". Brent wheels require a longer pin... 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" I believe. My own wheel's (a Soldner S-100) wheelhead is drilled with threaded holes for bat pins. When I got it second hand, it came with threaded holes, so I'm unsure if this is part of the Soldner design or was added by its first owner. I made a regrettable uneducated guess as to the thread size and ended up messing up one of the holes with improper bat pins... the screw ripped as I tried to remove it, essentially leaving a shiv protruding from the wheelhead surface. I had to have this ground flat and two fresh holes drilled. I had it ground drilled at a machine shop to ensure precision. Between my lack of experience with the tap and die process, and my lack of the proper equipment, it was well worth paying to have a professional do it. Like Big Lou, I couldn't get the wheelhead off (at least easily), so I just brought the whole wheel to the shop. I had the machinist drill the holes to fit the standard 1/4 20 socket cap screw. I am VERY happy with the result. No wing nuts, no wiggle. Hope this helps! Chris
  12. Thanks All! Lots of good suggestions. I just drillpresed a bunch of dowels and am going with some 150LB test fishing cord. @Ben Lots of of beginners and kids = lots of careless treatment of tools. It's just the nature of our studio.
  13. Hi Folks, I manage a community clay studio which serves roughly 100-200 people each month - students, renters, beginners, professionals, kids, adults. We provide all the tools one needs to work in clay, and for the most part our tools stay in good shape. That said, I struggle to keep our wire tools in decent condition for more than a couple weeks. I have been buying the Kemper Cut-Off tool (~$2.50 each), but with such constant use, the wire frays and becomes uncomfortable/painful to use pretty quickly. Getting poked with frayed wire is an annoyance to our long-term customers and a turn-off to studio participants new to clay. Does anyone have suggestions for a DIY wire tool? Past attempts: * Deep sea fishing line/wire - When the smaller gague Kemper wire frays or splits, I'll use this heavier gague wire in the Kemper dowels. These last longer, but ultimately suffer the same fate. * High test thread tied to washers - These do a great job and take much longer to brek down, but they tangle something awful. These feel like i'm just trading one problem for another. Current DIY ideas: * Kevlar string/thread - I'm fearful this will tangle just as badly as the last thread. * Hemp string - I think this would probably break down with repeated exposure to water. * Tennis racket stringing - I don't think this would tangle or kink, but it's generally very thick. The wire tool may simply be pottery's version of the foul ball... constantly lost and replaced. But I'm on a mission to figure out a better way. Any advice or ideas will be appreciated. Thanks much, Chris
  14. Sorry, old foggie language. Firing the kiln with lid propped, or peeps out. Some call it candling, I have always known it as water smoking, all a matter of semantics. Thanks, Pres!
  15. I only use stoneware clay that can be fired up to 1300C and glazes cone 6-9 (1240-1280C). What I understand is that 500C-800C (cone 022-015?) range is really important because this is when you finally get rid of all the organic matter including carbon, sulfur etc. Pro's write it's good to go through that temp range "slowly" but they never bother explaining what "slowly" means in this context. 100 C per h? 150 C/h? What is "slowly"? Insuffucient offgassing, and the resulting bloating issues that only make themselves known after the glaze firing, have been an issue at the studio where I work. Last summer we introduced a new clay body (Laguna #65) which presented lots of bloating... which in turn presented the need for lots of research and troubleshooting by me. To note, we are primarily an educational studio, running very tightly packed kilns, often with many thick pots within the load. The advice from Laguna was to slow down the bisque. I didn't have to tweak much... mostly in that critical range leading up to 1600F. The suggested "slow" was 200F/Hour (93C/Hour). While I eventually gave up on the #65 clay (swapping it for #66 which has presented none of the bloating issues) I have a bisque program I am quite happy with: 50F/Hour to 200F - Hold 4:00 200F/Hour to 1600F - No Hold 500F/Hour to 1800F - Hold 0:15 The exhaust is mounted to the lowest ring of the kiln. I leave the top peep open to create a stronger draft to help clear out the offgassed organics. If you are firing your bisque with a looser pack, or full of pots you know to be totally bone dry, you could probably safely shave time from the front end of this program... a short hold, or not hold at all after the first ramp. Hope this helps some. Chris
  16. Everyone has a right brain! Some people just need the proper encouragement, mentor, setting, exercises, medium or combination of factors to access it. Cheers, Chris
  17. Hi Nelly and All, This is an issue I have been fascinated with over the last few years... When taking my first introductory wheel throwing course, my instructor encouraged everyone to sign their pots, both as a mark of the maker, but also as a way to identify one beginner pot from the next in the sea of beginner pots. We used ball point pens; full names, initials, a design, whatever. I've never been terribly happy with my handwriting, so I quickly shifted from a poorly scrawled "CHV" to a design resembling a rose window covering the entire bottom of each piece, achieved with a loop ribbon tool. I liked the aesthetic whether raw clay or glazed and I liked the added textural component of the pot, so I stuck with this. As my pots progressed and began to stand out amongst the sea of pots made by students, renters and studio assistants working in the community studio, I received lots of positive feedback about this mark. Once I started showing my work, the foot detail/signature was something that those checking out my work would almost always make note of. Repeat customers would often tell me about their appreciation of this detail both in terms of aesthetic, but also in their relationship to the piece... carrying the It has become clear to me that I have worked myself into a corner... though a corner I'm comfortable hanging out in. The addition of this signature means I must trim every piece. It also takes an extra minute at the end of trimming. It's important to me to keep this step despite the efforts to produce it. About a year into my relationship with clay I started seeing pots emerge from the kiln with similar markings on the bottom; pots which I had not made. What initially got me pretty flustered I have learned to take as a compliment. Particularly since beginning to teach adult wheel throwing courses last year there are often "copy cat" signatures being used right next to me same studio. One studio member actually approached me to have a dialogue about my comfort with this (he teaches courses on intellectual property at a college in town). The conversation was very thought provoking... his justification in "stealing" (his words) my mark was that he would never be producing work to sell. In the end, what could I tell him other than, "I'm probably not the first to use this signature (though I haven't seen it elsewhere) and I probably won't be the last. And who am I to tell you how to sign your pots?" That said, I have added a very small stamp mark on the bottom or inside wall of all foot rings. I had a colleague draw up a logo for me to have printed on business cards and on a banner for my canopy at shows. It is a very simple "CVP" for Christopher Vaughn Pottery. I had the stamp made by 4Clay.com and I love it. It's technically a PMC stamp that was custom laser cut from metal. It's about 1/8" in height and a little more than 1/4" in length. It's subtle, allows me to keep the all-over design within the foot ring and provides me continuity with things like business cards, banner, website, etc. Cheers! Chris
  18. Hi Potterylady, Gil raises a very good point. If you have to buy a replacement wheel after a few years, you really haven't saved money. You've bought a headache... two potentially. My initial thought is that if you are truly in need of a full horsepower motor on your wheel, you should not be seeking a bargain. My understanding of higher horsepower on different wheels is primarily there for centering weight capacity. If you are putting your wheel under the strain of centering 100+ pounds, I would encourage you to invest in a higher end product. If cost is the most important factor: I can't speak to the Speedball wheels, but I can point you in the direction of a Pacifica GT400. It is about $150 more and a half horse less than the Speedball version you're currently considering. We have 12 of these at my studio. Under HEAVY daily use by hundreds of students and professional potters alike, these tend to hold up for about 8 years. If you're buying strictly for personal use, it should live a lot longer than that. The GT400 is certainly not as nice of a wheel as the Brent CXC or the VL Whisper we also have at the studio, or my Soldner S Series that I have at home, but for the price it could be a good fit for you. Good Luck! Chris
  19. You don't need a pugmill. Is there a community studio in your area? I manage a non-profit community studio with a pugmill. A few local small volume potters bring their trimming scraps by once or twice a year and get a receipt of donation to use as a deduction on their taxes. With fresh clay as cheap as it is, this seems much easier than investing the time, energy and money into a pugmill. Thought it is dependent on the proximity of a registered 501©(3) studio that wants the scrap.
  20. Check out Jeff Campana's work. http://jeffcampana.com/
  21. Hi Nelly, I share your compulsion for form and I have very much enjoyed reading through this thread. The responses by Chris Campbell and OffCenter really resonate with me. Chris' sentiment that, "it takes as long as it takes," is the stance I've taken in my own work, as well as in my instruction of other potters. I find this particularly true when trimming and while babying handles and spouts. While I generally strive for forms that follow "the rules," the idea that there is a set-in-stone checklist of qualities for a form to embody in order to be considered proper is not something I subscribe to. OffCenter's comment about making dishes versus making anyhting else speaks to this. For me what is most important in a piece of pottery, whether functional, decorative or sculptural, whether a traditional shape or not, is that the maker's intention is achieved. The majority of my work is in making dishes. I generally don't sit down at the wheel with an intention to make wonky, aesymetrical forms. If I make a bowl that is unbalanced, off-center, asymmetrical, etc it reads as a mistake. It is rare that I let these pots make it as far as the kiln, but the ones that do just seem "off." For anyone with a basic knowledge of the ceramic process, upon holding a piece like this, they can tell it's not exactly what I was going for. In line with some of the comments made throughout the thread, I do think a lot of pots are unsuccessful. It's frustrating for me to check out other potters' work at shows, shops, galleries, wherever, and know as soon as I pick a piece up, that the pot does not truly reflect the intention of the maker. The heavy bottom, the wonky lip, the sloppy handle attachment are the usual giveaways, but the real issue is a disconnect between intended aesthetic and achieved results. Some of the pieces which speak most to me are unbalanced, asymmetrical, etc, but upon inspection of these pieces, it becomes clear that the "broken rules" were done so with clear intention. In an artform where final results all begin simply as balls of mud, the only rule I really subscribe to is to strive for pots with which I feel I've acheived my vision and intention. So Nelly, keep being compulsive; I will too.
  22. I run a community clay studio that has a dozen Pacifica GT400s, a Brent CXC and a Shimpo VL Whisper. The Brent and the Shimpo are the favorite wheels (no surprise) amongst our members and students. One thing to consider, as it sounds like your new wheel is headed for a classroom: The electrical connection on the Whisper is a bit delicate. It's almost like a big cable coaxial cord. We shift wheels around the space from time to time... our Whisper's cord broke in one of these reconfigurations. It was easily repaired with superglue, but depending on how often you move wheels to clean/reorganize your space/set your space up for specific classes, it would be something to keep in mind. The new splash pan design is great and the noise level... what noise?
  23. Hi Estelle and all. Lots of great discussion already, but I figured I'd chime in. I manage a community clay studio in which we have a Shimpo VL Whisper and a Brent CXC. I use a Soldner S-100 at home. I can confirm that a Brent splash pan fits the S-100 perfectly. However, the larger half must be placed at the front of the wheel. On the Brent CXC, you can position the splash pan with either half closest to you. I really like having the smaller side close to me so I can remove it to slide pieces off the wheel without standing up. I pop it right back on and throw my next piece. Throwing at home on the Soldner, it's a bit more of a process... I end up needing to stand up and set the larger piece of the spash pan aside before sliding my piece off the wheel. Inconvenient and a bit messy... but nothing's perfect, right? The Shimpo's splash pan has it's own issues. For a while, it's design leant itself to coming apart randomly and often, resulting in messy feet and floor. The design has been changed so that the two halves of the pan snap into a locked position. This is a huge improvement, but if you're like me and often remove the splash pan, it's still a bit of a hassle. If you are thinking about a used Whisper, look for one with an updated splash pan, or plan to buy a replacement. Shimpo was very helpful when we figured out there was a new design. Old Shimpo Splash Pan Design: New Shimpo Splash Pan Design: For me, the Soldner has a couple of other strengths which make it a superior wheel: - The holes in the wheelhead are threaded for 1/4 20 bat pins. No more wing nuts! Your bat pins will never loosen again, as they screw right into the wheel head. But don't crossthread! I didn't know about this feature when I got my Soldner wheel used and forced a bat pin with a different thread. The pin ripped in half when I tried to remove it, leaving a jagged piece of metal sticking out of the wheelhead. I ended up needing to take it to a machine shop to be ground down and new holes tapped. -The pedal is ultimately responsive and smooth. Best I've ever used. -It feels like a stronger wheel, capable of reaching a faster top speed and handling more clay. Given that you're working small, this probably isn't a huge concern. -The legs of the Soldner adjust super easily. One knob on each leg loosen and tighten in seconds. I set my wheel up on a roof one summer and this feature was great in levelling the wheel on a slanted surface. The Shimpo adjusts, but only to a few different settings. Each leg has two phillps screws that must be removed in order to adjust height. My only major complaint with the Soldner (it's been said already in this thread) is that it is a beast to move. On occasion I have taken my wheel to farmers' markets and craft shows to do demos... these events are almost always followed by a trip to my chiropractor. The underside of the Soldner has a cage/grate thing to protect you from the belts and the belts from you. But it's sharp in spots and can make carrying the wheel awkward if you're doing it by yourself. When I'm at the community studio, I almost exclusively use the Brent CXC. In addition to the CXC and VL Whisper we have 10 Pacifica GT400s. I love it almost as much as my Soldner. The pedal is great (though not Soldner great), it has a strong motor and a smooth drive. It's easy enough to move around. In order to adjust height, you need to buy leg attachments, or keep some bricks handy. It needs an uncommonly long bat pin due to the design of the wheelhead's underside. It has a smaller deck than the Soldner, but it's plenty of space for tools. Hope this helps. I can send a picture of the Brent splash pan mounted on the Soldner wheel if you haven't yet received one. -CV
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