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Idaho Potter

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About Idaho Potter

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    Learning all the time
  • Birthday September 5

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  • Location
    Boise, Idaho
  • Interests
    Sculpture, pottery, reading, cooking

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  1. #2 if the lip had just a little bit more of an outward roll instead of so straight. Less dribbles because your lower lip has caught them before they even form.
  2. A lot depends on the size of your birds. If you are doing life-size song birds, brazing/soldering rods will probably suffice, and you can make feet by soldering smaller pieces together. Look at photos of birds to see how their legs (angle, position) extend from their bodies, and make holes in the clay to accomadate the wire. I'd also look into craft stores and see if some clever person has made bird feet for sale. Lots of woodcarvers and potters make birds, so maybe someone has anticipated the need. Shirley
  3. If, as you have written: " Having 6 individual molds is just to big and unwieldy I've found." is true, you will really learn what unwieldy is when you handle a mold for three vases. If you intend to reuse the mold multiple times, as quickly as possible, you need to make the plaster between the vases at least as thick as the outside walls of the mold or there will be moisture problems. Interior walls will take longer to dry, and that means any casting will take longer to set up because the plaster will be absorbing moisture from both sides. Most working molds need walls at least 1 1/2" thick (refer back to comments made by bciskepottery) and double that to 3" between what you cast . Add up the depth of plaster needed, plus the size of vase (I've allowed 2.5") and you come up with a length of 16 1/2 " , width of 5 1/2", height of 5"; plus the base plaster which also needs to be at least 1 1/2" thick. Actually, if the base is to be 16 1/2" long, I'd make it reinforced with burlap, or mesh of some sort and another 1 1/2" of plaster. Hope you are strong, in good shape, and have a friend to help. Because when you fill the mold and have to dump the excess slip, I'm not sure the word unwieldy will any longer suffice. Shirley
  4. I've used plaster that's over five years old and the only difference I found was that it took longer to cure. I keep it in it's original bag in a galvanized garbage can in a room away from moisture (I live in a fairly dry climate). If the powder is lumpy or anything coarser than flour, I'd dump it, as it has absorbed moisture to some extent and in all probability will not cure (set up). I'm with oldlady on how to mix. Use about the amount of water equal to how much finished plaster you want, and sift the dry plaster onto the water until an island of plaster is showing. Then--with your hand--gently mix the plaster into the water. Try to avoid making bubbles as this weakens the end result. NEVER use a whisk or briskly agitate the mixture. If you are checking to see if the plaster is still usable, I'd start the mix with one cup of water and go from there. If it hasn't pretty well set up in 15 minutes it might not be usable. You should be able to feel heat from the plaster--if there's no heat, the plaster should be thrown away and you need to buy some new. I know many people on the forums use pottery plaster, or dental plaster and consider those the only ones fit for their work. Unless I am trying to replicate something with really fine detail, I buy my plaster at Lowe's or Home Depot and it works just fine. Even if I need detail, I might put the first two thin coats of plaster using the expensive stuff, but then use cheese cloth and my industrial strength plaster to finish out a mold. No problems so far. Just my thoughts, Shirley
  5. This past weekend I listened to the TED radio hour (you might be more familiar with www.ted.com ) that discussed creativity from the point of view of a scientist, an educator (this was the only name I remember--Sir Keith Robinson), and performance artists. I will go to the TED website and look into it further. The main premise was that artist's brains, during the creative process, light up in certain areas like a pinball machine, but their frontal lobe actually almost disconnects at the same time. Seems we artists need to get out of our own way so that the process can continue. Creativity works better when we subdue our subconscious and quit worrying about failure and/or what anyone else may think of our efforts. We all need art. Robinson said that education is now being operated the way a Fortune 500 corporation would handle it. Corporations no longer hire people with only one degree they want more paperwork to flap about. He also said that the more education leans that way, the less innovative the corporations will be because they will have eliminated any creativity that doesn't fit the "bottom line". Boy, I hope not. Shirley
  6. I happen to work in the "decorative art" of ceramics, because that's where my heart and background come together. I would love to be able to make a teapot, casserole, or anything functional with ease that I see (or infer) in works by other potters. I am in awe of those of you who can sit down and make six bowls that not only look like a set, but stack one within the other. I make functional work sometimes that I'm willing to sign my name to, but not on a regular basis. Because my background is primarily in sculpture & painting, I tend to use clay for those purposes--either as a sculpture or as a canvas for painting. I hope that there are potters who, like me, work in a narrow slice of ceramics art and fully admire those whose sense of art has broadened their interest and endeavors. Regardless of whether you consider yourself an artist or artisan I hold you in high regard for the simple fact that once you entered the art arena, you've not backed up one bit. Shirley
  7. I missed it the first time around, but am intrigued by it. With all the ceramic sculpture "creatures" being made today, this doesn't come anywhere close to being disturbing. If Picasso had been working with clay during his blue or pink period, he would have done something similar. I don't think it was done by a beginner because there are too many refinements to the clothing and the finishing touches on the stockings. As to the small hands, I've been sculpting for over 40 years, and most people make hands & feet too small in proportion to the rest of the figure. The main reason for this is because we observe the hands and feet moving or gesturing, so when they are still, the artist has to make the feet or hands larger than what their sense of measure would have them be. Even if you measured the size of a hand in relationship to the size of face/head, you would have to increase the hand's size to satisfy the viewer's eye. Check out some of Rodin's or Michaelangelo's sculptures. Oh, yes, I find the Saturday Night Live character very disturbing. Shirley I second Babs question. What happened to the figurine?
  8. I agree with all comments/replies to your question. To me the most important part of raku is the post-firing reduction. As Marcia said, a copper based glaze can give you so many iridescent colors and luster if the pot is removed from the kiln and placed in the reduction can. If you want to let it cool gradually, do it in the reduction can with the lid tight so the glaze doesn't re-oxidized--'cause then you'd just have a green pot. Also, try under-firing and/or over-firing to get different effects with the same glaze. What a difference of two minutes either way can make in the outcome. So, if you don't like the outcome, just re-fire (maybe even layer on a different glaze) raku is fun and surprising, so enjoy it.
  9. Right hand outside left inside, wheel turning counter-clockwise. Until I had a 14 year old student who could not handle those positions. Spent several hours teaching myself to throw left hand outside, right hand inside, wheel turning clockwise. For the most part my left hand & arm are just there for balance when walking. Although when right hand was out of commission for most of a year, the left hand signed checks for bills. The signature was on a par with fourth grade attempts at cursive writing. The bank didn't care. Shirley
  10. Thrift stores frequently have sweats for sale cheap. I've bought a couple pairs and altered them slightly. Waist band intact, cut off back side (butt & legs EXCEPT a two inch strip for behind the knee, and the cuff or elastic at the ankle). These fit well over jeans, shorts (indoor or outdoor) or anything else you wear (or not). Let them dry and next time you throw take them outside and scrunch up the thick clay areas and start throwing. Shirley
  11. I am stumped! Why would you encourage him to buy a wheel? Surely, he needs months--not days--of practice before considering the purchase of a wheel. If it turns out he's prolific in throwing on the wheel, where is he going to fire the pots he produces? Are you going to do it for him? I am always astounded at the number of people who immediately run out to buy a wheel, before considering the purchase of a kiln. A kiln is far more important to establishing yourself as a potter. Handbuilding, tiles, sculpture can be produced in clay, but until the objects are fired, it is still mud (dried). Permanency means a kiln. As a friend, you owe him the information needed to fulfill his desire to work in ceramics. Give the lessons, but temper his enthusiasm with reality, or prepare yourself to fire his work with yours or instead of yours. my two cents, Shirley
  12. I'm sure we all have image envy, but personally find it too hard to sustain. I have an attention span shorter than the life of a fruit fly and have a bad tendency to get side-tracked easily (if you saw the movie UP! and understand "squirrel!", you know whereof I write). I am not a multi-tasker. I have a one-track mind that occasionally jumps the rails. All the great ceramics I've seen, books I've read, music I've heard and conversations I've had with others are filed away somewhere, but I can't remember the password to access those files most of the time. Soooo, I'll continue to drift through the years and every once in awhile have an AHA moment when I recognize an object or idea that clearly rings a bell--too bad I can't find that door to answer. Now, what started this thread? Shirley
  13. Jayne, I, like you, prefer raku clay for sculpture because of its ability to stand up to sudden or severe temperature changes without falling apart. If you like the smooth finish that it gives when producing anatomical sculpture, groggy sculptural clay may not give you that result. I also use B-mix (no grog) for sculpture, but have found it doesn't like the sudden temp changes in raku firing. Perhaps you could leave the work in the pit to cool (when doing pit firing) using any brown/tan sculptural or stoneware clay so it wouldn't have to survive thermal shock. Are you also wanting to use this as a primary color for your sculptures of people? If you find the right clay, this could ease some of your problems you've had with stain applicatons. JLowes wrote that he got pink pigs from bisqued (pink?) with a clear crackle glaze. My raku bisques to a pink color, but when raku fired with a clear crackle, the glazed areas are white. Did I misunderstand the post? Shirley
  14. Benzine's comments on page one of this thread took me back a few (nay, much more than a few) years. Back in the 1950's when I was trying to learn something about technique in painting, I took a class at San Francisco State in oil painting. I'd been fortunate to have a really great teacher in high school that taught me composition; challenged my imagination; inspired me; and made me work at art because he believed that to produce art you at least needed an idea of where you wanted to end up. Not so, the college instructor. The class was entitled, Techniques of Oil Painting. I wanted to learn technique--the application of paint to canvas--whether using a brush, knife, forearm, my nose, or any means necessary. Regrettably, the class I'd signed for ended up more about painting large swathes of paint next to equally large areas of paint with no thought as to application, color, composition or anything else. When the instructor kept referring to his work as "abstract", I finally spoke up and asked what was he abstracting. His response was to shout he didn't need to explain himself to a "child" ( I was almost 20 and he was probably about 30). I said if he couldn't explain what his subject matter was, then it wasn't an abstract, but merely planes of color arranged in some manner that suited him. I got bounced out of that class so quick! Had a heck of a time getting my tuition fees returned, too. That episode did two things. (1) Made me rethink taking classes in higher learning. (2) Made me realize that if you throw cow poop at a barn wall and end up framing it , it's still cow poop! Before you rag on me, let me state that I like Jackson Pollock, Mondrian, Picasso and a whole slew of other non-traditionalist artists. BUT, their early work shows that they studied and then departed from traditional aspects, but with an idea of where/what they wanted to achieve. No art speak, just a view of where the work would end. I'm sure all of you have experienced throwing a pot early in your career and having it collapse in a strange way or fold in on itself. Sometimes it even looks good enough to keep. However, those happy accidents are few and far between. Students would ask if they could keep it. I would say, can you produce another? Most often, the answer was no. We work hard and every once in awhile serendipity gives us a gift. Most often, the gifts come about by perfecting our techniques to the point where we no longer have to rely on happy accidents or serendipity. my two cents, Shirley
  15. I learned the hard way that outdoor ceramics need to be fired to at least cone 4 to survive harsh winters--and definitely glazed or taken indoors before the first hard frost. Kudos on the gargoyle at the front door. Style points! Shirley
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