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Everything posted by Benhim

  1. When I test a new glaze I put it through the ringer. I scratch at the tests with forks and knives and pottery shards which I know will leave a mark in most glazes to check glaze durability. Once I've soaked it in water, thrown it in the freezer, microwave and oven, then dropped it on the floor and eventually broken it, I know what my customers can expect to receive. If the pots don't seem to hold up, to normal wear and tear like in a recent case I don't use the glaze for functional ware. I've got a beautiful glaze which is completely safe, however it's a bit soft when wearing on it with flatware. I go beyond what's considered normal use so that when a customer has a problem I know how to handle it. Generally it's much easier and cheaper to help a disgruntled customer by replacing ware that's been damaged or broken. The difficult part is figuring out whether you've got a real problem in your work or not.
  2. It takes about 10,000 hours to master anything. Once one spends this amount of time doing something they should be able to press the outer limits of the field. However I believe that you can call yourself a potter if you are currently practicing pottery, whether you are a master or a novice. When you make your first real investment in the tools and materials to make pots and then use those tools to turn the materials into pottery, you're a potter.
  3. I find it an odd notion that people would choose to ignore all those who have come before them. I've have found much insight from previous potter's works, in all aspects of the ceramics process. Notably form and function, as well as a wealth of knowledge about glaze chemistry from the thousand years or so I've been able to research of pottery history through books, images, web pages, and knowledge passed down through word of mouth. This has dramatically changed not only my work, but my process and my mindset toward ceramics as a whole. I have lived during one of the best times in Ceramic art history. The industrial revolution has led to manufacturing processes that make my job as a ceramic artist possible with out having a dozen or so men working in my studio preparing all the various parts of my process. I can be a one man band in the field of ceramics which is very liberating. Once we understand how far we've come, and where we are, it's easier to see where we're going. Even if where we choose to be is back mixing our own clay and glaze from hand dug materials in our local area like the potters used to have to do.
  4. 1) If you have a wheel my advice is to make slabs on the wheel. It's very quick using soft clay to slab it out on a wheel. The slabbed product has better aligned particles that will resist warping much better than anything rolled with a rolling device of any kind. 2) Make a plaster bisque of anything that's already glazed if you like it that much. My best slump or hump molds are made with bisque, but if you're not able or just have a shape you like plaster cement like hydrostone works pretty well. I dislike No. 1 Pottery Plaster as it's too soft for this type of mold. 3) Use porous molds to allow quicker setting and more even drying. Uneven drying will cause warping as the outside dries the surface in contact can't dry. Then when the wetter surface later does dry it pulls on the already drier surface causing warping. You can't really combat this except to not do it in the first place.
  5. I usually tool my pots in the green state. Any rough spots can be knocked off with another tool and an emery cloth at bone dry. The emery cloth is dusty, but I've never been able to get the same results with out it.
  6. Thrown and altered pots of all shapes and sizes, made with mid-range white stoneware and porcelain fired in electric oxidation atmosphere.
  7. Successfully switched from cone 10 heavy reduction to cone 6 oxidation last year. Built a new studio in the garage of a rental. Got a small palette of glazes going that I like, which fit my work both physically and aesthetically.
  8. I draw and take notes in small spiral bound art pads that fit in my pocket. They're really thick, but one can pry the spirals open and pull out half of the paper which makes it fit easily in my back pocket.
  9. Cone 6 white stoneware pottery with runny matte micro-crystalline glazes. I've seen a lot of bulbous forms, in all sizes from mugs to large vases. That seems like "the style" of the times to me anyway.
  10. Right now the only way I'd actually support myself with my ceramics is if I threw an athletic supporter. Maybe one of these days.
  11. The reason a stain is safer in the clay than in a glaze is that the clay will help to encapsulate any colorant. I do agree with you encapsulated or not, I'm not a fan of cadmium.
  12. Wouldn't that change the chemistry of the cone?
  13. I'd like to read a book or two about building them. If you can find a title or two of a good book you can recommend I'd appreciate it.
  14. Got it back together. I put the screws in backwards and mounted the nuts on the front against the plate.
  15. Get yourself a pair of welder's glasses if you don't already have some. They really helped me to see better in the kiln with out damaging my eyes while I was in college doing high fire ceramics. Staggering cones, placement and cleaning out the kiln can make it easier to see. A heat gun can inject clean air that's hot but cool compared to the kiln temperature. Quickly blasting the port with a heat gun can clear the air around the cones and very slightly cool them making them more visible.
  16. My Rheostat was burned out so I wanted to check the power switch to see if there was a lot of carbon scoring. Had no idea they had elves put the switch together.
  17. A good tax accountant is a necessity when dealing with state taxes. The issues in my local area with sales taxes have cost several businesses their lively hood in the last year. Often times a state's revenue department isn't on top of things. Especially in good times they don't go after everyone for everything because they don't really need the money. Unfortunately we're in hard times and states are going after delinquent companies. Washington collects sales taxes, and my neighboring State Oregon is one of 5 states in the union that doesn't. Washington deemed that tax should have been collected for sales made to Washington residents over the last decade. They went after one Oregon business this last year for $800,000 in supposed back sales taxes and 1.3 million in interest and fees. I'm really not sure how they can possibly get away with this, but they have. The worst part of the story is the business can't pay, so they closed down. Washington isn't going to get their money and 132 people are going to lose their jobs. The owners and the workers are the big losers here, but they also cost the State of Oregon a lot of tax revenue as well. States have the power to do pretty much anything that want like seize assets. If you're a sole proprietor your own personal assets aren't behind the veil of protection that protects a corporation. Meaning a state can come after your house for back taxes owed by your business. Because of the cost of incorporation I can imagine it's not something that potters generally do. Bottom line $500 bucks is a small price to pay to cover yourself.
  18. I disassembled my power switch which was a mistake because I can't seem to get it back together. I can't seem to find a tool that will fit inside the small holes on the back of the ceramic insulator where the nuts attach to the screws. I have a small socket that fits the nut, but I can't seem to find one that fits inside the hole.
  19. I have the Zakin book Pres recommended. It's a good book which I find particularly useful. The best part of his newest edition is that his glaze recipes are Gerstley Borate free. Most of his glazes just work right out of the book. I've only had some trouble when trying to under fire by a cone or two with a couple glazes, like firing cone 6 at cone 4 etc. One thing I'd like to have myself is a detailed understanding of how the kiln is actually put together (or taken apart and put back together). There is little information on the actual configuration of the parts. I've found some basic diagrams that show the parts in some detail, but no wiring diagrams, or any diagrams that would aid in service of the units. .
  20. I had several of these. I hadn't yet grasped the proper methods of throwing well, and had started using some more difficult white stoneware body that fired a buff color in the salt. Well I hated the pots once they were done. Thick, almost uniform in color with no flashing. Tapering thick walled cylinders with a sort of squared cut off rim. One a couple I'd tried to remove some of the wall thickness and had left some tool marks from trimming. I had invited some people over for a party and had given a couple of these away. Several months later I still had two of these left and tried to give them away to the same two people with out remembering. The woman says, "you already gave me one of those, do you have anything else?" I spent the next year and a half throwing and throwing and throwing. The fact I couldn't even give those two pots away had made me overly critical of my work. I recycled anything before bisque that wasn't thin and well thrown. I don't think I even kept a single pot for the first month of that next term of college. I ended up keeping 2 in 10 pots or so that next year. The couple that slipped into the bisque that weren't good were immediately broken on the bashing wall outside. There was a pile of pottery shards out there. Luckily I'd transferred to a new school to make pots with a man who is extremely skilled. He makes pots with a drive I've not witnessed in many potters. Some of his skill rubbed off on me over those next two years. Through his strict guidance I came to understand what hand made pottery can be. He intrigued me, and then forced me to read for myself and learn how to do the more advanced things I wanted to accomplish. Since then I have made it a habit of reading about pottery at least a few hours a week. I owe the skill, drive and the few good habits I have today to Wally Schwab.
  21. Holy giant jpegs Batman. I have to say I disagree with you about the yuck brown part. You've got some amazing color going on there. You're also very lucky that your clay and glaze both held up to the extended firing.
  22. Hmm, so this is a clay/glaze incompatibility problem?
  23. In any kiln I've ever fired the fullness made a huge difference in firing. When the big down draft kilns are full they fire much more evenly. I often had poor results out of these kilns in college when students who didn't know how to load would loosely pack the kiln. If I could catch it before lighting I'd often get another 50 or more pots into an already loaded kiln. I've never been able to fire a cross draft that wasn't tight on the bottom and evenly packed as possible through out. Any open spot is a flow path that diverts the flame from another section of the kiln leaving cold and hot spots. The salt kiln in college had this problem severely because the stack was huge and would easily draw the small gas flames from the two burners straight through. In my electric kiln any open space is cooler creating uneven heating. This is especially troublesome on larger pots and glazes that have a hard time maturing. Recently I had a pot close to the elements in a loosely packed kiln. Three bands that were close to the element matured, the rest of the pot was under fired.
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