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About rayaldridge

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    Once and future potter

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  • Location
    NW Florida and the North Country of New York
  • Interests
    Sailing and sailboat design, writing and editing, web design, stained glass design, beekeeping, gardening, cooking, travel, and what's left of the counterculture. Someday I hope to be a pretty good potter.



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  1. You might look on youtube for a video of Michael Cardew centering in his 80s. As I recall, he makes the classic point that as one ages, one loses some strength, which one must make up for by increased cunning.
  2. When I was a young potter, I threw many tons of clay that was dug with a backhoe and and run through a tub mixer. It came in 25 lb blocks, but before I could use it, I had to force it through a stainless steel screen to remove the tree roots and large hematite nodules. It threw beautifully, could be fired to Cone 12, and was pretty much trouble free. It's certainly worth a try.
  3. Well, maybe not politically correct, but I find that pipes are small and fit well into spaces between larger items.
  4. Well, I don't really know... just guessing. It might be a combination of slip in the conventional sense, and glazes. Conventional slip doesn't move much in the firing, and those pieces, to my eye at least, seem to have a lot of movement. If you look carefully at the work, it appears that on horizontal surfaces, the decorative work (resembling slip work) doesn't seem to move much, but on vertical surfaces it moves quite a lot. This is how glazes react to firing, but most slip work is as immovable as the surface of the clay. I mention slip glazes (to be used on leather-hard work) because it's a lot easier to get slip to flow on damp pots than to get glaze to flow on bisque.
  5. Doc, if I had to guess, the bowls you ask about might have been done by using not only slips, but slip glazes. Slip that is close to the body in terms of shrinkage and fired density rarely moves in the way those slips seem to have. Slip glazes designed to move a little in response to the fire might look very much like what you've posted. For brilliant examples of slip combing and other forms of slip manipulation, Google "English slipware" and "Thomas Toft."
  6. We're up in the North Country in our little hovel. I'm getting the new studio site ready, putting in a garden, and working on the hovel. There will be no clay until fall, so I'll have to live vicariously through the forum.

    1. Joseph Fireborn
    2. oldlady


      if there are two of you, it is not a hovel, it is a lovenest.

    3. rayaldridge


      I will relay your comments to my lovely wife! Also, she says it is definitely not a hovel.

  7. They're for storage of things like spices and herbs. They're based on the idea of medieval pharmacy containers.
  8. One way you can approximate the sensation of a curved bottom is to trim it round, and then elevate it with three tiny legs, in the form of little balls or pinched and pulled legs. All but the very bottom of the feet can be glazed, so that the pot rests in the hand like a glazed ball, with the minor distraction of the feet. I have frequently used this approach with bowls, and with hand-held pipes. One little advantage of the three-foot solution is that such bowls don't trap dishwasher water in their foot rims. Another is that fettling the glazed pots is very easy. You just wipe a sponge across the bottoms of the feet and you're done. And to oldlady's point, a three-legged bowl is very stable sitting on the table. One thing you might consider is that if you don't glaze the rim, silverware may make an unpleasant noise as it scrapes across the rim. On the other hand, some of the greatest bowls ever made were fired rim to rim in stacks. If you're only using chopsticks, it would be less of an issue, but also remember that you will have your lips against the unglazed rim if you are drinking broth from the bowl. From an esthetic point of view, I would miss having a glazed rim, because it is such an expressive element in a pot, and especially in a bowl. Glaze can used to accentuate or define the rim in a great many ways. And that's probably true of an unglazed rim, too. Were I trying to design such a bowl, I think I would try to make the naked clay a forthright element of the overall effect. I'm putting feet on a pipe in this snapshot. I've also recently done a bunch of tiny amuse bouche platelets for my son the chef-- shallow bowls elevated on little feet.
  9. My first book was Leach. But my second was Rhodes. This was back in the early 70s, when there weren't that many clay books to read. I'm self-taught, and apart from Ceramics Monthly, there wasn't a lot of info available. A couple of the glazes I used for many years were modified from recipes in Rhodes.
  10. I've used glass melted into recesses in porcelain pieces, but I would not use the technique on surfaces that might come in contact with food. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that you don't really know what is in the glass you might be using. The other reason is that the expansion co-efficients are so different between glass and clay that the glass will craze wildly, and these cracks could cause problems with food residue, and in some cases, bits of glass breaking loose.
  11. Excellent post, Diesel. I'll just add a small observation-- if you are selling a unique item, rather than a line item, you may find that you get diminishing returns on the time spent in photography if you get too fancy and creative with the way you accessorize your piece. I've been taking all my pictures against a gradient background, because as a dabbler, I can make each piece unique, and not care about economies of time and scale. But that may change in the future, and your suggestions are pretty terrific, so I'll keep them in mind.
  12. Joseph, it's my opinion that you are correct-- that a substantial hold at the end of firing produces superior glazes.
  13. I used to use lusters, and very beautiful work can be done that way. But I gave it up because one of my concerns is permanence, and luster eventually wears off of much-used ware. Dishwashers are hard on lusters. If, like me, your ambition is to make ware that will be much-used, it's a point you might consider. For sculptural forms, it isn't a significant drawback.
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