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peb

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Posts posted by peb


  1. I have always bisque fired to ^06 but have recently begun doing some "naked raku" for which bisque firing to ^010 is recommended. I have tried both, and the naked raku results for pieces bisqued to ^010 are nicer. My question is, how will pieces bisqued to ^010 behave in high fire (^10 gas reduction)? I would like to avoid having to conduct separate bisque firings, but I haven't been brave enough to try glazing and firing these ^010 bisqued pieces in high fire. Thanks in advance for your help!


  2. I make my birdhouses out of Highwater Clay's Stans Red clay because I do majolica decorating on them. I researched the size hole and depth of a birdhouse and make mine to those specs and also make them so they can be cleaned out at the end of the season. Birds nest in them every summer and people who have purchased them have emailed or called me about the birds nesting in theirs. I do tell them to place the birdhouse in a shady location and to be sure to bring it in during the winter months.

     

     

     

    From my 12 years experience in the construction of wooden birdhouses for Sparrows, Parus major, Parus caeruleus, Blackbirds, White Wagtails and Tawny Owl, I would have to agree with the importance of researching into the size of hole and depth of birdhouse in order to assure the suitability and success for habitation. I used the Latin names (above & linked to Wikipedia) because this website censored out the common names I originally supplied (also used by the English speaking world as well as Wikipedia!) This always trying to maintain the politically correct aspect for the Puritans is total BS..... biggrin.gif

     

     

    Anyway......I've maintained 15 birdhouses on our small property for the past 5 years and by researching and building to meet their needs, I have insured full habitation in each of these houses for the selected breeds throughout the entire year (except for the Wagtails who favor migrating to sunnier/warmer Africa for their winters).

     

    It's very important in construction of birdhouses that are intended for actual habitation, as Mossyrock mentioned, that a means is built-in that allows for easy clean-out on an annual basis. When I clean out my birdhouses, I can visually check on the brooding season's success. Normally these birds will have three to four broods of four to six eggs during one summer season. The clean-out will show each brood level (similar to a soil stratification/profile) with an occasional abrupt end of nesting if one of the young or fledgling has died in the nest, for some reason. Occasionally I've found one or two eggs in one of the lower levels that remained unhatched, as well. After the nesting season is completed, generally the bird house is too full of material for continued nesting the following year, hence the importance of vigilant yearly clean-out/maintenance.

     

    Our birds are most always finished with their last brood of nesting by early to mid-August. I wait until about the end of September (end of October for the Tawny Owl) to clean out the nesting boxes of old material and any insects, so that the birds will have ample time to gather fresh dried grasses, moss, etc. to rebuild their insulated winter nests, which I will witness them doing so within a couple of weeks. These birds continue to nest year round through the snowy and cold winter, while I supplement their feed with about 100 pounds of blended wild birdseed, tallow and apples. Some of our sparrows have nested continually in the same house for the past four years, so they are almost like family... biggrin.gif Just this morning as I was taking sunflower seeds out to the feeder I noticed a little sparrow head poking out of its bird house awaiting its breakfast. No sooner had I closed the door, it and its mate were at the feeder indulging in vittles. This particular couple (pictured below during early August) has the best view of all our bird houses and are seen throughout the year just sitting together on their house, soaking in the rural ambiance. Being close and visible from the house it is also easy to keep tabs with their 'goings-on', as well.

    enjoyingtheview.jpg

     

     

    Note the size of the hole (in the picture) compared to the size of the sparrows. The hole is 25mm in diameter and from the appearance of the birds it looks to be too small. The birds are mostly feathers and air-filled lightweight bones and squeeze in quite easily. The small hole allows for greater security towards the young.

     

    I would add that it may be equally as important to furnish habitat during the winter, as well as the summer months, but this may be more specific to the particular region and type of birds the habitat is geared towards (ie, they being migratory or not).

     

    My thinking with constructing a ceramic birdhouse would be to at least glaze the exterior top to provide a more secure waterproof shelter if one desires to offer winter protection as well. But as Mossyrock pointed out, the size of the hole is imperative as well as the interior dimensions, if one desires to attract nesting birds. I've found that a hole varying just a few millimeters from the specific range of size required by a distinct species of bird can and will determine whether or not the birdhouse will have borders moving in. The actual finished size of these requirements need to be taken into consideration along with the appropriate compensation for clay shrinkage through the drying and firing cycles. Myself, I haven't built any ceramic birdhouses because I always have an abundance of scrap wood to build with and wood is a better insulator from heat and cold then ceramic. My wooden houses, I believe, tend to offer cozier habitats against our cooler climate here in Scandinavia.

     

     

    An additional note... Birdhouses do not need a post sticking out in front of the door for the birds to land on. I've never seen these even in the forests, where the birds find their natural nesting habitats as well. It is for the most part a detail that most avian aficionados would eliminate as it provides a perch for predators like magpies and squirrels to rest on, while feeding on eggs or young chicks.

     

     

    Wow. These are wonderful responses and ideas. I guess I have some research to do too. I so appreciate the generosity of this forum. Many thanks. ~p


  3. The well known (and used) Willamsburg, VA Bird Bottles are made of earthenware and when I have mine out they get a lot of use. The dimensions are 8-3/4 inches tall with a 4 inch opening, and are thrown in a vase shape. The bottom of the vase shape is cut witha a half circle under a vee shape , for cleanout and hanging. There is a tab for a stick perch and the underside has a hole punched parallel for the stick to go into.

     

    The originals were hung under the eaves in colonial Virginia and were said to attract birds, who were supposed to control the insect population.

     

    John

     

     

    Thanks John. Another great idea. I'd seen these a long time ago and but had forgotten about them. I'm excited about all these ideas and hopefully will have some to try this spring. ~p


  4. Probably any clay you use should have an absorbency rate between 1.5 -3.5% in order to survive freezing. This precise % has been debated and is very subjective..some believe a bit of porosity is good others think it should be minimal. Read Hamer and Hamer then decide for yourself.

    I would recommend firing terra cotta to maturity depending on the terra cotta, that could be as high as ^2.

    Alligator Clay in Baton Rouge has a ^2 terra cotta.

    Some suppliers sell Terra Cotta for ^04 but it can be fired hotter to ^02 maybe ^01...you have to test.

    Do absorption test...

    process has been discussed in the past. Check archives.

    Marcia

     

     

     

     

    Thanks for those tips Marcia. I'm not familiar with Hamer & Hamer, but I'll look into it. ~p


  5. I have been told that birds will not nest in ceramic birdhouses ... too hot in summer, too cold in spring. I made decorative ones in cone 6 porcelain that I have in my yard and never have seen a bird do anything more than rest on top of them. So do them for yard art but don't promise that birds will use them! In which case just use whatever clay body you like best for the look you want. I have a lot of ceramic yard art in all kinds of clay bodies and they all do well ... This is in North Carolina so your results may vary.

     

     

    Interesting. Thanks for your feedback and advice. ~p (Indiana)


  6. I am Indianapolis ceramic artist with a niece who's interested in taking classes in her area. She lives in San Francisco-proper. Any recommendations?

     

     

     

    Hi,

    I know of several places that your niece might want to check out.

     

    First, is SF City College. They have a ceramics studio at the historic Fort Mason (which was originally established as a militray fort in 1776 by the Spanish). It's right next to the bay with great views of Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and Angel Island. It's also probably the cheapest place to tryout ceramics in SF. The studio is nice, lots of regulars and newbies, supportive environment, all that good stuff. She would't have a lot of freedom in terms of doing her own thing but probably doesn't need it since she would be just starting out. If she really digs clay, she may get the chance to participate with her school at the annual Califorinia Conference for the Advancement of the Ceramic Arts in Davis.

     

    Second, Sharon Art Studio in lovely Golden Gate Park (Think NY's Central Park only smaller with fewer homeless). This is a smaller studio but vary quaint. They are more expensive then city college and offer 10 week courses but she would be allowed to do her own thing in less time. I had some friends take classes there after they graduated from SF State and they liked it. The biggest problem is that there are a ton of people trying to go there making classes fill up on the first day of registration. So, you have to get there early, like, 7am early. The upside, after class you can hone your bocci ball skills at the near by bowling green.

     

    Third, Ruby's Clay Studio a non profit ceramics studio in the Castro. This is probably the most expensive option but they are the most centrally located. I went to school with a few of the teachers there and know they are talented but I have never visited the studio.

     

    Hope this helps:)

    Spring

     

     

     

     

    Thanks so much, Spring. I will forward theses ideas to my niece.

     

    ~P

     

     

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