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About kswan

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    Advanced Member

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  • Location
    Ellicott City MD
  • Interests
    Throwing with stoneware; a tiny obsession with exactness; simplicity; noticing details that other people might overlook; native plants of the eastern US; birds, bees, bugs, and all the other life that resides together with me in my woods; bringing animals into our home who previously had no cushy, warm, dry places to lay their heads; learning every day, pottery or not, by taking classes, reading, or trying out an idea that is rummaging around in my head.

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  1. Here's one of the rolls of wire you need. They also have the thinner 24 gauge. I use both of them, both for supporting a bead on the rack and for inserting directly into clay. https://www.theceramicshop.com/product/1496/wire-high-temp-17g/ I had the experience of a pile of beads slumped and melted together on the kiln shelf and since mine are heavy, I use this on the rod between bead rack supports to keep wire from bending under the weight. Then I cut pieces of the 17 gauge wire and wrap to fit on the rod to suspend the bead. As long as you don't bend them often you can reuse them many times. I slide them on and off the ends instead of bending them to fit each time. I do some ornaments this way too. One thing for heavy items is to be sure the wire is wrapped once around the rod or the weight will begin to straighten the wire and it may fall. https://www.theceramicshop.com/product/1675/porcelain-rod-6/ I use small drill bits to make my holes in the beads. Sometimes trying to push something through will crack it. I try to get the hole close to the edge so the jump ring fits through easily.
  2. I tried VC 71 on multiple clay bodies and it crazed on every one. I like the look of Marcia's matte, and how color still comes through. I have been using this recipe for about 4-5 years now on B Mix 5. I paint with underglazes and mason stains and I want a glaze that I can see through but has a nice feel in my hands. Some mason stains require a high calcium content for color development, so this works. My kiln is also a manual kiln sitter controlled, but it is 10 cubic feet, which may slow down the cooling a bit. I adjusted this Dixon Satin glaze by adding silica, so if you want it as matte as it was originally, reduce silica. (I think I added about 900 g) Silica 27.17 Nepheline syenite 21.41 Whiting 21.12 EPK 19.18 Ferro frit 3124 8.34 Gerstley borate 2.78
  3. I'm actually using a digital pyrometer right now, giving it a test run. It has 2 inputs but unfortunately I only received one cable so I've got it in the middle ring section. I think an IR thermometer could come in handy in other situations though, like checking the temperature of your lid or rings for leaks, vent piping, sick people...
  4. Sigh. Here is the face of greed. Maybe someone on Amazon is trying to sell TP for $25 a roll. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/technology/coronavirus-purell-wipes-amazon-sellers.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage
  5. I wonder how to tell how well something like that is going to work, though. Are there any brands of pyrometers that measure at least 2 at a time you're familiar with that you'd trust? Or does it come down more to how reliable the thermocouple itself is? I'd always rather get something I think will be more reliable!
  6. Actually Stephen, I am in the same mind frame as you! I should not complain about my finances, as I am not solely supporting myself but adding to our income. I got scared in my early twenties (I'm almost 50 now) when reading about what could happen to women in their older years, so I began putting money away for retirement then. Use this opportunity to invest more in your retirement savings!! I already did so, even though it feels a little scary. I am new to this being my job, but not new to saving money. I also hate debt, and paid off my college loans 3 years early, never carry a balance on credit cards. I think I still live a little bit like the post-college me who didn't know what she wanted to be when she grew up and flitted from one low paying job to the next. I still shop at thrift stores and only buy used cars, but now at least my only roommates are my husband and our pets!
  7. Okay, that makes sense. I guess I will put them in the bottom and middle rings where they already were, since the top ring is closer to what the middle ring usually is and the bottom runs cooler. Thanks for your help with this.
  8. This is my first year to try to do several outdoor shows, and one is already likely to be rescheduled. I was so excited to be getting accepted into a number of shows, and I quit my membership at the cooperative gallery to concentrate on fairs. I hope as well that the summer will start to return to normal. I was hoping to buy a new kiln this year, but that may not happen. We are lucky in that we can continue to work, those with individual studios, and you're right, it's not going to get moldy or rotten!
  9. So then I'd need to find a pyrometer that reads 3 thermocouples at a time, right? So far it looks like they do 2 at a time at most. Or would I just leave one dangling while I'm reading the others?
  10. Thanks, I think I won't go for an infrared then. As to the thermocouple flaking, I was thinking that I'd just insert the thermocouple in the peep holes when I wanted to get a reading, instead of leaving it in all the time. That would help slow down its decomposing and it wouldn't flake so much, I hope.
  11. I have an old manual L&L kiln that has an analog pyrometer, 3 thermocouples attached to a central gauge, which recently pooped out on me. I came to realize that I don't need to have them in at all times, since I only need to check the temperatures occasionally in order to turn the switches up or down. They were never really accurate anyway, since I could fiddle with the dial and the needle would fluctuate wildly, but gave me a general sense of where the kiln was. At first I looked for a digital version of the thing I was using, but then since I couldn't find one, I thought that I may not even need that. From what I'm reading, they shouldn't stay in all the time anyway if they're not connected to the control panel, right? And then I won't have little piles of flaky black crust landing on my shelves. So in looking for a pyrometer that I could just insert into the 3 zones, get the readings and remove it, I saw an infrared thermometer that goes well beyond the temperature I'd need. Does anyone use something like this to measure inside your kiln up to cone 6? Is a regular digital pyrometer with a thermocouple better? I just want to have a way to see where I am with my firing, to know when to turn up the settings and watch for cones to start dropping. I'm not doing anything fancy at all with my glazing, and with bisque I pretty much turn the dials at set times and then let the kiln sitter drop on its own. I plan to get a new kiln at some point in the future, and relegate this to bisque only, so this doesn't need to be an expensive or high tech option! https://www.amazon.com/Infrared-Thermometer-Non-Contact-Flashlight-Temperature/dp/B079HHSHLQ/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=digital%2Bceramic%2Bpyrometer&qid=1584029731&s=hi&sr=1-4&th=1
  12. Yes, thank you! At our gallery, we ask people when they make a purchase if they want to leave contact information to receive emails from artists whose work they purchased. They write it in themselves or say no. I hate getting subscribed to emails just because I purchased something. I'm not planning to sell online. I don't like to do shipping, so I'm only selling locally and at shows within a couple hours drive. I plan to send emails once a month to tell people what shows are coming up. I find that the other artists and organizations that send those to me do keep me feeling informed, but not burdened with too much mail. I like the idea of a "call to action". The shows can do that, but people are often asking me about some of my techniques. Their eyes get big when they realize how complicated certain things are, and I want to try to explain a little bit of it in an email that they can read more of on a blog (which I need to get to again!) Maybe I can shoot for the beginning of each month. Same as with a new pair of contacts and changing the furnace filter, I can write an email. I just got an email from a ceramic artist about her weekly blog posts, saying that she is burning out from that pace! I don't want to do that to myself, for sure. Baby steps until I'm comfortable with it. Thanks for your words of wisdom!
  13. Thanks for this insight. I have taken my first steps to set up a real email system instead of just having a list of contacts in my regular email. That way, people can unsubscribe and I can know if they want to receive them or not. I have no way of knowing if people are reading them or if they even want to get them anymore. We have a book where people can write in their contact information in our gallery, so when my pieces sell there, I put it in my email contacts group. It seems to me that people who get an email are going to see it, unlike with social media where it may get lost in the current. I've forgotten to send out emails and just post on Instagram and then friends tell me they didn't know about a show or saw it after the fact. I really need to start collecting emails at shows too, but I've just started doing them more intensely last year. A lot of other artists I know are using Mailchimp, and I started an account with them but haven't sent emails yet. Any tips or advice to offer on using an email program like this?
  14. I took inspiration from how wine bottles are packed tightly with cardboard grid separators. I made my own to fit large see-through plastic totes. I can put my jars and vases into each section without having to wrap each one individually. Then I can take that whole tote with me for a show. It makes me nervous when I hear things clinking together and the cardboard stops that. I made the separators in different sizes so I can just fit the pottery into the right place. I was wrapping up each item but it took me forever to pack them and take them out like that. I'm slow enough as it is! For smaller things like mugs and little bowls, I made a cardboard lift-out tray that sits on top of a lower level. I put a sticky note with contents on the top of the tote for things I can't see through the sides. I'm lucky that I have space to put those totes, but at least they stack on top of each other nicely so they don't take up a huge footprint. It would probably take me a year to make what Mea makes for one show , but I do have those same shelves for my bats and greenware. Also, if you're near an Ikea store with the housewares section, look out for the foam sheet pieces they use to separate their bowls and plates. Most people leave them behind when they buy things and the staff throw those away. So far they have been very nice in letting me have those! They're great for putting in between stacked pieces.
  15. Shawna Pincus in Baltimore does screen printing of underglaze onto a gelli plate, then rolls her clay piece over it. She is @pinkkisspottery on Instagram. She's been doing that for years and has a good method. She has done lots of process videos.
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