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drmyrtle

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  • Location
    Madison WI
  • Interests
    Functional Cookware, porcelain art

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  1. Simple things to consider: Try taping the thumb that hurts to the rest of your hand. It's one thing to "try not" to use it, vs. "not able" to use it. Awkward, but it works by forcing you to use everything else but your thumb. If tape adhesive bothers your skin, put a non-latex glove on your hand, then tape that together as above. I suppose a plastic bag would do the same, but the goal is only to trap the thumb, not your whole hand. If you're throwing more than 7-8lbs of clay, use the butt of your left hand (clay spinning counterclockwise) while holding your thumb out of the way with your right hand. Think of "persuading" the clay, rather than forcing it, since you'll have no counterbalance. Also think of putting the force down towards the wheel head and curling under it with your left palm. When the load is centered, tape your thumb as above. (There are probably videos of this technique on the intertoobs.) Get an ice pack, and ice your thumb (where it hurts) after you throw whether it *hurts* or not. Be super careful not to freeze your skin, by keeping some type of cloth between the ice bag and your skin. This just helps back the swelling process off just a tad. If this injury continues, play with gentle heat if that feels better. Massage the muscles all over your hand, fingers, palm, etc. including the wrist. Enlist helpful beings if necessary. Dogs with big tongues can be helpful (I suggest Newfoundlands, but I'm partial, and they're so handy for me.) Finally, although no one has mentioned this I think, strongly consider getting a referral to an Occupational Therapist from your doc. OTs deal with hand issues, and they can give you more in depth information about exercises to counter balance the weaknesses that have caused this. (Don't be surprised that they start working on exercises for your shoulders; it's very likely that you are overusing your thumb because the general strength in your arms and shoulders is inadequate for wheel throwing.) It's worth paying for a session for the exercises, do's and dont's that they dispense, and way easier than getting shots or surgery, depending on the diagnosis.
  2. I was imagining a series related to the sea/wind idea: Imagine making either a collection of 5 individual pieces, or one piece incorporating, each of the five Chinese Wu Xing 'elements' or phases: earth, metal, water, wood, fire. You could use the words concretely or metaphorically, constructively (as listed) or destructively (earth, water, fire, metal, wood). Mixed media, illustration, etc all part of the challenge. Limitations: you have to include all five phases in your final entry, and you cannot submit your final entry until your entire contribution is complete. (By this, I mean that the image you submit might contribute to your vision, so if it's a collection, the final entry has all of the pieces arranged by your hand as the final image submission.) BTW, my name is Myrtle, which was already taken upon sign up to the forum ;>. The dr part simply adds biographical information not otherwise necessary.
  3. I think an easy answer for you/your partner is to invest in mayco's Stroke n' Coats. They are sold in small sets so you can try them out. The advantages: 1. The colors are unbelieveably firm all the way to cone 10 with reds and brights staying true to color. Amazing chemistry there. 2. They are easy to paint with, as they glide onto surfaces, and don't get as tacky as other commercial glazes on application. 3. They can easily be used on already vitrified tiles, meaning you can go and get a box of tiles intended for a bathroom or such and paint right on them, refire and poof=results. My local grocery co-op had consumers paint-yer-own tile and then installed the finished pieces on a wall. Who knew. 4. You partner will not need to learn about china paints and all of the techniques therein. The disadvantages. 1. Highly addicting, and hard to feel as though you aren't cheating the alchemy goddesses somehow. 2. They will not give you quite the finesse that china painting will give, because (I think) you can't overlayer/refire and to get the depth and complexity possible in china painting. However, not as basic/flat appearing as underglazes, and does not require an overdip of a clear overglaze. 3. Might not be a disadvantage, but I believe they apply fairly opaquely, so you don't get translucency. The also fire to a high gloss. I personally use neither china paints nor Stroke n' Coats. The first because my painting technique isn't up to snuff, and the second because I am trying very hard to clear out some of my glaze inventory before I launch into a whole new world of these glazes. My studio colleagues use SnC's to magnificent effect. My other suggestion, if you are working on bisque tiles and are looking for a watercolor effect, is to check out Georgies Clay. Their pallet of glazes makes Monet watercolors happen on pots, and are very reliable colorwise. Not as creamy to paint on as SnC's, but worth the effort if you want translucent results. Love to see some of her work if you get something she likes.
  4. Some researchers feel that bacteria and clay, kaolin specifically, are inseparable. In fact,the formation OF kaolin may be from the elemental digestive process of bacterial action on minerals such as silica. This field of research is called geomicrobiology, and it's pretty fascinating reading, actually. The increase in plasticity that comes from aging clay is actually a bacterial formation of slime which coats and creates bridges between minerals. Electron micrographs actually show the bacterial slime forming little mineralized bridges, with the bacteria integral to the structure. When you throw such clay, the plasticity is the slime, which creates physical slide and stickiness at the same time. Neat. To reiterate, any moist clay, slop buckets in particular, are teeming vats of microbes of surprisingly diverse types. E. coli? Got it. Staph, strep, klebsiella--you bet. Not to mention fungi, protozoa, (swimmy little critters), and I don't have a reason why viruses aren't in the mix. Let's be complete by adding the bacteria that cause tetanus. So, yes community clay can be contaminated by someone with MRSA. Yes people who are immunosuppressed for any reason can get serious infections from moist clay of any source. I'm always shocked when I hear otherwise well intentioned teachers tell students that there is nothing in clay that can hurt you. However, if you're relatively healthy, just treat it like something you shouldn't drink and wash your hands after working in it. If you have open sores, wear gloves or use some antibiotic ointment as suggested by my colleague above. If you poke yourself with something sharp (anyone use needle tools?) then go get your tetanus booster. It absolutely sucks to be treated for tetanus, and isn't always successful.... So scrub up, and bubbles to you all. P.s. Many artists are health professionals--you'd be surprised how many.
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