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    Mt. Pleasant Studio - Brookport IL
  1. I had a Skutt "Thomas Stuart" for 5 yrs and finally sold it for half what I paid for it. It had the SSX drive, large removable splash pan, extended height wheel head etc. The motor was smooth and powerful plus I liked the large removable splash pan as well as the fact that the wheel head was easily removed. The wheel head on most other brands I've used locked into place over time and couldn't be removed. If you're consistently throwing large amounts of clay up to 75+ pounds then the Skutt can easily do it. But the days of me throwing macho pots have long passed. The game changer for me was the excessive noise that the motor made. I've thrown on nearly all the different brands of wheels but the loudest is the Skutt. It's a high pitched whine that becomes unnerving over time. When I called Skutt tech about it they told me that the noise could be lessened by running the wheel at the highest rpm, reversed, overnight. The tech said that that would even out the brushes on the motor. The fact that they had a work around told me that I wasn't the first to complain about the noise. Nevertheless, I took the advice and ran the motor wide open over night and it did help lessen the noise for about 2 weeks. The noise was so loud and distracting that I couldn't hear music or the news through my sound system in my studio. That plus the fact that I have tinnitus only exacerbated the problem. Eventually I had to sell the wheel and bought a Shimpo Whisper. I love the Shimpo and haven't missed the Skutt at all. The Shimpo also has an easily removed wheel head but the splash pan isn't very well designed so I built another better splash pan for it out of Lexan. I intend to stick with my Shimpo now for the duration.
  2. Two of my four Pacifica 400 belts have broken so I'm going to replace all 4. I've been online checking on how to do it and it seems that there are two different sized belts for the same Pacifica 400 model. All advice says to measure the belts to be replaced in order to know which size to buy. However, nowhere is there advice or instructions on how to measure the belts. Do you measure the length of the broken belts? Do you measure the belts when folded in half as they are on the pulleys? Exactly how does one go about measuring the belt? It may seem to be a simple task but I'm stumped since no matter how I measure my belts, none of the measurements match the two options offered.
  3. I know I'm coming to this thread late but wanted to add my two cents worth based on recent experience. I'm a potter going on 50 yrs. I've thrown on nearly every wheel out there including many kick and treadle wheels. I bought a Skutt/Thomas Stuart wheel in 2005 based on reviews as well as throwing with one at the store. I liked the splash pan, easily removed wheel head, wheel head extension height, and power/torque. However, within 3 yrs the Stuart became the noisiest wheel I've ever thrown on. I have tinitus (constant ringing in the ears). The noise from the Stuart is a high pitched whine that gets louder with increasing speed thus exacerbating my tinitus. After spending 2+ hours on it, I'm nearly deaf. And forget listening to music in the studio when using the Stuart because you can't hear anything but the wheel. I contacted Skutt tech about the noise and was told that it was due to the motor's brush wear (so they were obviously aware of the problem). They told me to reverse the motor and let the wheel run at full speed overnight in order to equalize the wear on the brushes. I followed their instructions and it worked for a couple weeks but the noise eventually came back. It got to the point that I began to dread working at the wheel. So I broke down last week and bought a Shimpo Whisper VL. I'm well aware of the lack of torque described above regarding the Shimpo but since I'm past the age or need to throw macho big pots, the lack of torque isn't an issue for me. Most of my production ware rarely exceeds 5-10 pounds. Now my time at the wheel is serene. I can listen to music as well as concentrate on the task at hand without distraction. I'm building a large plexiglass splash/trimmings pan to replace the awful splash pan that comes with it but I would have done that anyway. It did take some getting used to since I sometimes gauge the wheel speed by the sound but it didn't take long to get used to the sounds of silence and adjust accordingly.
  4. From what I understand, Penland did not make a "minor" or "honest" mistake. It was an ongoing pattern. Their agreement with John to correct it was a tacit admission that they had knowingly and deceptively shorted their employees. The statute of limitations may be up for a court of law but the court of public opinion has no such limitations.
  5. So, to be clear, you glaze the pot as described then put the unfired glazed pot in the styrofoam for two weeks before the glaze firing? The styrofoam actually touches the unfired glaze on the bisqued pot?
  6. Thanks much to John for the info as well as health warnings. As in nearly every aspect of clay work, safety is a consideration. It is taken for granted that building any type of kiln will bring with it certain safety hazards that have to be considered. Fiber is no exception. Of course when installing the fiber an approved respirator is a must. But then the same was true when I insulated my studio with fiberglass insulation. Moreover, I had the advantage of living near a friend, Wayne Bates, who had 30+ yrs of building and working with fiber kilns. Add to that the fact that I also have a friend whose job it is to periodically rebuild the kilns at a local factory that makes concrete cement. Furthermore, it is worth noting that fiber technology is improving and changing fast. When or if I do have to change out the fiber in my kiln, I will probably go with the newer rigid fiber board instead of the "cloth". In fact, if I'm not mistaken, Geil Kilns are using fiber board in their line of kilns now instead of cloth. Plus, I do know studio potters using fiber who have made the cloth surface rigid with ITC. There is information out there, even if hard to find, that covers nearly every aspect including safety when building and using a fiber kiln. The safety issues can be as adequately addressed as other pottery issues like free floating silica in the studio are addressed. The point of my post was not necessarily a how-to of all the details in building a fiber kiln but the fact that there is little to no discussion, including recent books, on the benefits of fiber over brick. We live in a time of increasing energy costs and the day is fast approaching, if not already here, in which it will be a primary factor in kiln building. In my experience, fiber is the most energy efficient material for kilns. Industry has already recognized this all over the world. The student I mentioned earlier who was on sabbatical in China was surprised at how many fiber kilns were being built and used in China. Any discussion or consideration of 21st century kilns that does not include fiber is incomplete.
  7. I've heard that Murrow's kilns are most excellent. BTW my fiber kiln, which I built myself with some help from Wayne, cost around $4,000. However, my brother did the welding for me in trade for pots. Fiber kilns are the true 21st century kilns. Thanks.
  8. I've built my last kiln for the rest of my life and it was fiber. I will never build another brick kiln and I've built many in the past from catenary arch to sprung arch to flat top, salt, soda etc. Unfortunately, there are no books out there as far as I know, that teach how to build a fiber kiln for a studio potter. In the past two years alone three kiln building books have been published for studio potters and none cover how to build a fiber kiln. This was a major oversight in my opinion but old habits die hard. I know that among some potter's circles moving to a fiber kiln is heresy but my experience dictates otherwise. Most industry is now going to fiber and for good reason, primarily it consumes the least amount of energy if done right. Like any kiln, fiber is not suitable for all situations. For instance, in a classroom setting brick is best because of inevitable student wear and tear. However, for a studio potter who is the only one using the kiln and thus taking the appropriate care in loading/unloading, fiber is best. I get exponentially more firings from a propane tank thru my fiber kiln than I ever did from any brick kiln I've had. And I'm expecting to get at close to a thousand firings from it before I have to replace the fiber, which will be easily done due to the modular design of my kiln. Regarding how my fiber kiln fires. It is perfectly even top to bottom. I fire bisque, glaze, 05 overglaze, reduction, oxidation. With reduction I get perfect copper reds, celadons, blue chun, etc. It's the most dependable kiln I've ever had. It combines the best aspects of both updraft and downdraft. Moreover, there's no bagwall and no stack to have to build. It's worth noting though that there is a learning curve to firing a fiber kiln just like any kiln. For instance, a firing in a fiber kiln will cool down much faster than brick because the fiber doesn't hold heat. That's easily addressed with experience. Regarding cone 10. I'll never fire cone 10 again either. I now fire exclusively cone 6 both oxidation and reduction. For almost 40 yrs. I fired cone 10. I have a binder of hundreds of cone 10 glazes that I've accumulated over that time. Most of them work at cone 6 with some tweaking and some without any tweaking at all. However, due to the efforts of wonderful people like Marcia there is a full palette of cone 6 glazes available for any situation or style. I consider cone 10 to be a holdover from the days of trying to emulate Chinese/Japanese/Korean glazes. Plus many of the porcelains and stoneware clays being fired in China come directly from the soil without additives to lower the firing temps. I have a former student who did a lengthy sabbatical in China and the pottery "village" fired everything to cone 12 because of the particular indigenous porcelain they were using. Most academic institution continue to teach cone 10, I suspect because they don't have to pay for the fuel (the college pays), and most of the teachers would have to relearn what they were taught when they were students. Plus, I could be wrong, but I suspect that there's a certain amount of machismo attached to cone 10. To date, no one has been able to distinguish between my cone 6 and cone 10 pots. Add to that the time factor, which is of utmost importance to a studio potter. The amount of time that it takes to get to cone 10 from cone 6 is almost as long as it takes to get from the beginning of the firing to cone 6. FYI, here's a page from my website with pics of my fiber kiln under construction. The design was a collaboration between me and my friend & potter extraordinaire, Wayne Bates http://www.waynebates.com who has been firing in his fiber kiln for over 30 years. http://craigrhodes.u...hodes/Kiln.html I hope this helps in your quest. Craig Rhodes http://www.craigrhodes.us
  9. I've been using Standard 365 cone 6 for years with no problems. Excellent to throw, translucent, reduction and oxidation. www.craigrhodes.us
  10. You may not want to invest in a Talisman sieve but it is well worth the money. I finally broke down and bought one and it has reduced the time spent in sieving by almost 90%. Plus it works well with any size container. Time is money.
  11. I would suggest using Axner's line of overglazes. Go here for a description: http://www.axner.com/axner-glaze-overglaze-pens.aspx Go here for examples: http://www.jcrhodes.com/Mt._Pleasant_Studio_-_Craig_Rhodes/Mandalas.html I apply the overglaze with an Airpen. http://www.baileypottery.com/studioaccessories/airpen.htm Hope this helps Craig
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