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Idaho Potter

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Everything posted by Idaho Potter

  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
  16. I have to go with Bob Coyle on this one. Using Sculpy clay is the easiest method for stamps. It takes imprints from found objects, and is easy to carve--even after it's baked in your kitchen oven. Durable and until it's baked, you can still work on your designs. Available anywhere art supplies are sold. Basic pink is fairly inexpensive considering how many stamps you can get from one package. I use dowels (glued in place after the modeling clay is baked) so that makes for more material for stamps. Shirley
  17. It's one thing if you are just going to demonstrate the raku process, and totally different take if your want your friends to experience raku. As to what type of work to fire, I'd suggest throwing small tea bowls/cups off the hump and having them bisqued, ready to go. I would also limit glaze choices and discuss the unglazed portion of the pots/tiles because negative space has a lot to do with the finished product. As people arrive, I'd have the kiln working on its first load so that all the preheating is almost done, and the following firings could well be down to approximately 15 to 20 minutes. I'd not bring forth the drinks (except for water) until after the firings are completed. Then they are celebratory. I've had groups of kids (5th grade) and/or adults help during a raku firing, but not until they've done a dry run. When you have a group of people, you really need choreography so the procedure becomes more of a ritual dance. You don't want people stepping on the gas hose; bumping into the table (or kiln) with pots; running into others while they are handling hot pots; etc, etc. Putting all the difficulties aside, I, personally, think that raku is a participant, not a spectator sport. To break the ice, have two good friends come over a day or so before the party and walk them through the procedures--without heat. Then fire up the kiln and have them actually handle removing a pot from the kiln (with tongs!) and placing them in the smoke pots. When the "party" starts, have them help again, and tell your other guests to watch how the work flows from glazing table, to preheat, to kiln, to smoke pot--and see who else wants to help. I never have more than two new novices learning and keep the helpers to only essential participants--in other words, rotate your crew. Anyone who is timid about being around fire or heat, should become the rooting section. If you quench with water have them plunge in a water filled 5 gallon bucket (been using the same one for over 25 years). Part of the process is cleaning the pots afterwards, and they can do it at your house or at theirs. Have green scrubby material either by it self or as one part of a sponge. When your friends discover the glint of copper, gold, or silver hiding under the soot, their grins will light the neighborhood. Hope you all have fun, 'cause that's what a raku party is. Shirley
  18. This has been a most entertaining thread! Years ago I traded fad and fashion for comfort. Sweats + T-shirt and Birks in summer, spring and fall. Winters I add a sweatshirt on top and socks on bottom. Everything covered as best I can with an apron. Dress up is for weddings and funerals--I don't like going to either one. When mingling with folks at the grocery store, I trade sweats for jeans and wash up. Reading about the critics reminded me of a potter friend of mine who had Dragon Lady fingernails and her hands always looked like she'd just had a manicure. At a show, I heard a "customer" dispute the fact that she had produced all the pottery exhibited in her booth had been done by her--because of the length of her nails. She responded with, "It is because of my martial arts training. I can throw pots, or disembowel an opponent just as easily." I wanted to applaud. Shirley
  19. I bought a Peter Pugger Power Wedger (de-airing pugmill) in 2003, when I was 68. It has saved me time, and body parts. Buying a large piece of equipment like that is more of a mental problem than financial or physical. Once you've decided on the purchase, in your mind it's already in your possession. Sort of like buying a house or a car--you have to make the mental commitment, first. Until the object of your desire becomes a high priority, you'll keep waffling. I cut the pugged clay off in 3 to 4 pound sections. If I need 6 lbs. I slam two three-pounders together. I seldom wedge--that's why I spent the big bucks! I have never kept track of which end is up because I take the pugged cylinders and gently form them into squares and then balls. Small items using 1-2 lbs are thrown as Mea said, in soup can orientation. The only time I get S-cracks is when I haven't compressed the base well, and that's usually when throwing off the hump. I envy those who can comfortably wedge clay. It was always the start of any pot and I'd use the time thinking and planning the how and what. I actually miss it, but arthritis, age, and a bad(sad) result of a shoulder operation forced me to reassess my priorities. I don't regret my decision. Shirley
  20. I work with raku a lot, and the third picture is dazzling--in my opinion. I've never tried or heard of sugar raku, but I would be happy with the pot in picture #2, and overjoyed with the outcome in #3. Shirley
  21. Wow! Lots of good info. Went to my pottery supply shop and found Laguna now has a water based latex resist that is used by students taking their classes. Talking with the instructor, found that the pots are frequently left for a week or more between application and removal of the latex. That's plenty of time for me. I'll post the outcome after glazing the pots. Thanks for the info on the peel off wax resist. I'll give it a try on some pots that I don't have so much time invested in decoration, to see if it does leave some wax residue in the clay. I really like the idea of peeling it off, and the little video makes it look simple. Once again, Thanks to all of you, Shirley
  22. More digging and all the ceramic suppliers online have the ammonia scented latex. All that I found say to remove ASAP or removal becomes a problem. I even delved into my past life as a painter, and researched Frisket type masking. Reviews and info lean towards watercolors and paper--not ceramic. So, Peter, what's the waiting time on Copydex? If it gives me more time (I'd like to be able to mask 10 - 12 pots, then spray glaze on ALL of them before having to remove the latex) it would be worth the extra expense. Shirley
  23. Thanks to everyone who responded. Peter, are you on the other side of the "pond"? I like the idea of a water-based latex, but Copydex doesn't seem to be readily available here in the U.S. Finally found some at Amazon (why was I surprised?) but it's quite spendy and I had to find an equivalency chart to find out how much 125 ML is in ounces (4.667). No, I don't have a clue when it comes to the metric system. Mark, the stuff I've used in the past was Laguna. Using a dental pick (Diana) it was still difficult to remove as it would easily tear. Perhaps I left it on too long, so I'll try moistening it (Marcia) before peeling it off the pots. Benzine, the Laguna went semi-solid on me, but it was old. I was just hoping to find thicker and without ammonia--which literally takes my breath away. Rubber cement is also not good for inhaling. I'll hit some more websites tonight and will probably end up with Laguna again. Once again, thanks to all of you for your help. Shirley
  24. I know this has been discussed many times before, but combing through the archives has not given me the info I want. I've used it as a general search, and got nothing. Went to members pages--who I thought had been in on the discussions--and there's just too many items to plow through. My eyes have given up and my nether regions are numb. Hopefully some of your memories are better than mine. The latex I've tried before is really thin (even with additional coats) and is difficult to remove. Is there any specific brand that may go on thicker, thus being easier to remove, than what I've used? I've even considered rubber cement, but it is really too gloppy for my needs. I have around thirty raku bowls/vases where I want the rims to be free of glaze so as to get a deep black color. Tried using masking/painter's tape, but it was taking me an hour per pot to make sure everything was covered, and I maintained a sharp demarcation line. Wax resist burns out, but causes the clay to be a dark gray rather than black after the post-firing reduction. Any and all suggestions would be greatly welcomed. This old lady thanks you in advance, Shirley
  25. I concerned about you using household drains to cleanup studio messes. The sedimentary residue from clay, glaze, and other stuff will eventually block your drains and could cost you a lot of money to repair. That stuff sets up like concrete. Cink's are expensive. However, you can make something similar using laundry tubs with standpipes under your stainless sink. I've been using mine for over thirty years, never had plumbing problems, and when I moved to Boise, brought the whole thing with me and set it up in my new studio nine years ago. I use twin tubs, so once a year, I bail out water from one side--let it go dry, and scoop out the sediment into the trash. Then I do the other side. If you are interested, I could probably come up with some drawings. Basically it is based on a deep sink with a standpipe that was designed for cleaning up plaster from molds, etc. Works like a charm, and cost is low--laundry tubs, some PVC pipes, and enough room under the tubs for a P-trap. (my stainless sink is set high, and I cut the legs off the tubs to lower them but keep space for the P-trap) Shirley
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