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Brenda Neall

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About Brenda Neall

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  • Location
    Powell River, BC, Canada
  • Interests
    Dirt :>) ..... as in clay (potting), soil (gardening), sand (beach walks)
  1. My hubby (Tim the Tool Man) built me the best little cupboard to hold my kiln shelves ... Pic attached
  2. Hmmmm ... Looks like I'm in the minority here. I have used the Western mid fire BMix for ~5 yrs now and other than one batch that seemed to have a quality assurance issue, I really like it. To me it feels buttery not sticky. In my experience, joining and drying haven't shown it to have any major issues. The only significant problem I've run into is a tendency to 'flatten/sag' when using it for larger hand build or molded pots. Now, for those pots, I've been experimenting with the BMix with sand version combined with another clay but the jury is still out as to whether or not that's the final solution. The other issue, which I've mentioned in a previous post, is it doesn't handle refiring all that well, again producing blisters. I have tried some other white mid fire clays but always end up back with BMix. Re the QA issue, I was getting random blistering on pots over a period of about 3 months. In subsequent discussions with other potters, I found other folks were having similar experiences. The problem disappeared with my next batch of clay.
  3. I should add that the issue with refiring hasn't deterred me from continuing to use BMix. It has many positive qualities and continues to be my clay of choice. I've just learned its best to toss the pots that might have benefited from a refire.
  4. I use Laguna B-Mix, cone 5 as my primary white clay and Plainsman M390 as my primary red. I've learned the hard way refiring the Bmix is a crap shoot, with blistering happening more often than not - I've experimented with bisque temps and firing schedules as well. On the other hand I can refire the M390 more than once with no issues.
  5. I use a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol (I purchased it in the spray pump) and it works great. I scrape the area first and then sand and rub the wax away. Re-apply and re-work as needed.
  6. I soften up all my clay before using it. I live in a small, isolated town and don't have easy access to a pottery supplier so I often have to store clay for awhile before using it. I also like my clay to be soft when I throw. This means that I have to soften my clay just about every time I open a box (and btw - Plainsman Clays don't use twist ties - they use an extra long bag folded over which keeps the clay fresh longer - I wish all suppliers used this method). As a result of having to soften my clay often, I've come up with a process that works well for me: For one box of clay: I use 2 old large cookie sheets (one per bag). I put a piece of thickv apour barrier plastic on the bottom which keeps the pans from rusting. Then I put down a large piece of the light plastic I use to wrap my pots. I soak several pieces of old t-shirt material in water. I slice a block of clay into .5-1 inch slices. I put down a layer of wet t-shirt material onto the plastic, add a layer of the sliced clay, spray with water and then put down another layer of material. I keep adding layers until the block is gone and then finish up with a layer of material on top. I use the light plastic to wrap the whole works up. I let it the trays sit for at least 48 hrs before wedging. Also, again because I have to be resourceful about my clay supply, I add 1/4 to 1/3 of processed recycled trimmings to the new clay when I wedge it up. I keep my scraps in water in large buckets and use a framed plaster drying bat I made to get the recycled clay to wedging state.
  7. Hello Brenda,

    your pottery journey sounds a bit like mine only I have much less specific training. I live in a small coastal town at the southern tip of New Zealand (pop. 2000) and am loving learning about clay. Currently I am experimenting with locally dug clay of which there are widely varying types from low grade earthenware to white ball clay inland.I'd love to hear from you.

  8. In Canada, it costs a fair bit to get an incorporated company up and running (legal fees, etc). Plus the tax filings, etc are much more complicated and often require accountant assistance - another added expense. The reasons for having an incorporated company are primarily to do with taxation (the business income is separate from your personal income and business tax rates are often lower than personal income tax rates) and liability. We started an incorporated company for my husband's business (building and construction trade) due to liability concerns. For my pottery business, I chose to do it as a sole proprietorship. It was simple to set up and simple to maintain. With a sole proprietorship, your income from the business is considered to be part of your personal income. If you are just starting out, I expect your expenses will exceed your income for some time and even if they don't and you're like the majority of us potters - you aren't about to make a ton of money :>). From a personal tax perspective, it will most likely be advantageous to have the additional write-offs/loss. Plus, at least in my case, my accountant fees are a third of the cost for my husband's business. Hope this helps. Brenda
  9. OK, I'll bite - I too like early mornings with coffee in hand, surfing blogs and websites of my fave potters! My blog is Down to Earth Clayworks Blog I'm not a prolific blogger but I try to post at least once a month. Brenda
  10. After reading the posts for this, I gotta tell you how much I love my Cone Art Kiln and Bartlett controller. I purchased a 2327D in 2008. It comes standard with 3 zone control (thermo couplers placed in the top, middle and bottom sections). The biggest bonus is the ability to use the Bartlett controller settings to adjust the thermo couplers to register higher or lower overall by cone or more important, different in each zone if your firings are uneven between top and bottom.
  11. I agree that slow, careful drying is the answer. Most of the tiles I do are relief tiles so the stacking on and in between sheets of drywall isn't feasible. I found that drying my tiles on wire shelving units works well - see attached pic.
  12. I live in a small town that is a ferry ride and a one hour drive from the closest pottery supply outlet, so I buy several boxes of clay at a time. This means my clay is often too hard by the time I get down to the last 3 or 4 boxes. If your clay is not yet rock hard, my method of reclaiming and softening clay might work for you. You will need a cutoff wire, old cotton t-shirts cut open so they will lie flat, an old cookie sheet (larger the better) and plastic wrap. Using a cutoff wire, cut the clay into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Line the cookie sheet with a large piece of plastic wrap followed by a layer of soaking wet t-shirt. Lay the first layer of clay slices on the fabric, spray with water and then put another layer of water soaked fabric over the clay layer. Repeat the process until you have a total of 3 layers of clay slices (equivalent to 1 bag of clay). Cover the final layer of clay with soaked fabric and then wrap the whole works up in the underlying plastic and let it sit for a couple of days - and then wedge 'er up. I slam wedge as I find it is easier on my wrists and hands.
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