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AmeriSwede

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Everything posted by AmeriSwede

  1. It sounds like what started out as a possible ensuing tornado-like nightmare (circumstances with the Artista wheel), actually has turned into a wonderful 'yellow-brick road'. Now starts a great adventure with your progress down that road, with a myriad of wonderful discoveries to be made, muted with the occasional 'flying monkey' encountered. Congratulations and good success! --Rick
  2. smokin pots... your failure was extremely minimal. Just two overlooked 'typo' errors. When next you, or any other member, have a little extra time (coupled with the desire), by all means don't hesitate to play around using my last posted tip (quoted below). You can learn so much more and on a quicker learning curve, than just trying it whenever you next desire to post onto a thread.
  3. My apologies in advance for correcting you here, confused_yet_curious, but a slight reiteration to Marc C's post above..... The word 'engome' is a non-word.... the term is 'engobe'. Just so any other new ceramic interested people pick up on this, we need to teach them the correct information... better from the get-go! The original poster had a mis-spelling of the term. Incidentally, all of the colors on the stoneware fishhead cup pictured as my avatar, excluding the main bluish color of the fishhead, are done with engobes.
  4. Yes indeed... much appreciated Thanks, Phill. Sometimes, it does seem the postings are unnecessarily long, with included full body quotes, a result probably from the lack of knowledge in editing the HTML script. A further note is.... there are TWO different REPLY buttons. The REPLY button, as described by Phill, within the boundary of the post... and the button ADD REPLY at the bottom of the page between the two brown header bars. As Phill mentioned the REPLY button within the post will add THAT posting as a 'Quote'.... while using the ADD REPLY button merely allows a new posting addition to the thread without adding a quote. At times it appears that some select the wrong REPLY button as there are needless inclusions of quoted posts beginning the replies, though it also seems this has abated somewhat more recently, probably as members become more accustomed to posting and operating within the program. Myself included.... smokin pots.... I'm not sure exactly what you were attempting, though I think you were doing a hands-on test of what Phill outlined above, using his last passage..... If so.... There were two errors you overlooked that prevented it from looking like this..... (if not your intention... my sincerest apologies for erroneous assumptions....) The first error was that the single quotation mark must be made directly before and after the quoted member's name, within the first pair of brackets... Example ----- 'Phill' Second error was a missing left-side bracket - [ - that should have immediately followed Phill's name and directly preceding the (end of quote) backslash (at the end of the 'desired' quotation). Without this bracket the HTML code is not notified that this is the end of the quote and so sees it only as another type character. However, it is good that you tried doing it anyway, as that is certainly the best way to learn. One thing that I do on many postings, where I may include quotes is to first use the PREVIEW POST button (right of ADD REPLY button) to see first-hand how my posting will actually look once posted. If it doesn't appear the way I intended, than I go back and re-edit until it does post as intended. At that time, when I am satisfied with how it appears, I select the ADD REPLY button. To really learn all this techno-hocus-pocus... ... one can play around with all these buttons in a makeshift reply while using the PREVIEW POST button to see what and how the editing functions work and then use the CANCEL button when finished, so the rest of us will never know that you are secretly becoming a Forum HTML 'supergeek'.... ----Rick
  5. Probably feels great to be back on the wheel again.... Glad that all is working out! ---- Rick
  6. so StareDownMeg... (et al) You can see the quandary on attempting to act on information derived from internet forums (and for the most part-the world at large), with the diversity of knowledgeable and seemingly knowledgeable answers. There is the range of information from the acute and exact information derived from (untainted) scientific research extending to that of people that seem to have seemingly first-hand knowledge derived from their own personal (time-based) experiences. Only unbiased scientific research can truly give one the correct answer to the question..."are hand-made (glazed) ceramics safe for use in fish aquariums"... if all the parameters one is concerned about are indeed included in the research (ie., species included, type of clays/glazes, durability of the specific ceramic/glaze of the item, fresh vs salt water, tolerance limits of specific contaminants possible from the specific glaze, pH of water environment, general life expectancy of the species, etc.). Not to downplay the input of other participants contributing to this discussion that have personally made 'glazed aquarium ornamentation' for their fishes, but even having done so with no outward signs of negligent effects from their fish after a few years, still does not answer the question posed. A case in point... my father smoked cigarettes for 40+ years and I never recall him exhibiting any outward signs of it having an ill effect on his health. So at any point during those 40+ years if one had asked me '... is cigarette smoking an activity harmful towards human health?'... I could use his case as a case that it wasn't. Any time during the ensuing decades from his first cigarette experience, my support favoring this argument (based on first-hand time-based experience) would be valid. However after these 40+ years he (suddenly) begins having all kinds of respiratory and throat problems associated with this unhealthy addiction. So in retrospect, I would have to say that now my first-hand time-based experience tells me that there are negative (accumulative) health effects to tobacco use. The actual fact was that it was inherently unhealthy during all those 40+ years, even when he displayed no ill effects. So to answer the question.... ' are home made (glazed) ceramics safe for fish in an aquarium?' My reflection on this would lead me to believe that there has unequivocally been no research done to ascertain the truth in this matter as the parameters seem much too expansive and as research is expensive I personally see no payoff (the capitalist support mechanism for the research) that could be derived from such a study. Bottom line... if you are truly concerned for your fishes health & safety and are truly not willing to risk any additional chances against their health, I think the highest fired (non-glazed) clay body with the lowest possible absorption rate, as I mentioned earlier, makes better sense. However, if one assumes some kind of moral judgement as that... then other aspects need also be addressed with concerns of the total environmental control over a subjected species. Is the commercially packaged fish food going into their regular diet really the food that the species naturally eats in the wild or is it just what the profit based 'industry' sells, which may or may not have been researched in regards to actual health impact of that species? The agri-business food industry itself has shown that the concerns are more about profit than nutrition/health, and that is in regards to the food packaged for us humans. Should we look at other environmental aspects as well ...such as the relatively small and enclosed artificial environment that the species is contained within and any affect that may have on the individuals or the group? At what point do we give up our true concerns for a species regarding what is good for them and decide that their concerns aren't as important as what we desire? They are held in captivity solely for our benefit and amusement, not for their health and enjoyment of life, so how much genuine concern does one really need to show? Moral dilemmas about best welfare are generally not a consideration when one species subjects itself over another species/race, for its own purposes. People have and will possibly always maintain their own limits of what they feel are best for others (pets included). So it goes for having 'dominion over....!' And it seemed like such an innocuous simple question posed.....
  7. I've no idea really, though the pitcher form has a slight resemblance (with the striped pattern and style of both handle and top) to a blue and white pitcher form I had seen once, attributed to P.Picasso. The platter though doesn't remind me of anything I've seen by Picasso, so I really can't say. As Frederick... I like both as well! Thanks for posting those Lucille.
  8. Like all internat forums, there is some inaccurate stuff mixed in there amongst a few accurate pieces of info (simply from a ceramics point of view). Paul Lewing and I have presented at NCECA together along with Ron Roy many years ago.... Paul knows his stuff..... so listen to him. The last posting (when I just read it) mentions that lead and barium are regulated by "law". This is untrue... unless something has changed in the VERY short term that I do not yet know about. The only two compounds that are regulated in fired glazes in the USA are lead and CADMIUM. Barium is not. If you use lead and cadmium and you sell your work in the USA you need to comply wit thhe FDA's regulations. See FDA.gov for info on how to comply. (If you sell in California, they have tighter standards.) best, ............john An additional note regarding the "answers on that linked posting"… …. is that the FDA's regulatory term 'food-safe' ONLY refers to lead and cadmium [this information is derived from Hesselberth/Roy's book 'MASTERING CONE 6 GLAZES', alluded to by P. Lewing in his response and clarified by John's posting above). Of course, California has more stringent regulations in the area of 'food safe', which would probably be a better guide considering the known corporate corruption existing in the FDA. Also as John mentioned earlier the 'pH level of the water'… in addition to the durability of the glaze has much to do with the "fish" safety as well. Fish are not people and being organisms to the scale of n/hundredths less in mass can be affected by significantly smaller quantities of pollutants/heavy metals than we are. Also the FDA's regulations of leaching limits vary as to what the intention of the ceramic article is designed for (ie., flatware, hollowware, pitchers, cups & mugs, etc.). As 'food safe', we're concerned with ingestion only. The fish would not only be subjected to ingestion but also by direct contact/absorption through their water environment itself, if metals leaching occurred. This could possibly result in scale (skin) lesions or possibly other maladies as well. We only have our natural environment to look at for evidence of this. Since most commercial glaze recipes are trade secrets one is left in the dark as to the knowledgeable use of cobalt, copper, chromium, etc., that may be used for colorants and whether or not their 'food safe' glaze leaches any degree of that. If the glaze is NOT stable on your particular clay and leaching does occur…. How much heavy metal will your fish be able to absorb (in its confined environment) before it is adversely affected? That opens up another door! One will then need to find an expert in ichthyology (also well versed in glaze production/manufacture) to offer the most ideal lower limits of heavy metal pollution allowable (species specific?) for 'aquarium fish safe' glazes! Personally, if I had an affliction for maintaining an aquarium and also had an addiction to create using ceramic, I would just utilize the best medium- to high-fired clay that showed the lowest absorption after firing, with which to make my (unglazed) ornamentation. As time went on and that particular piece became more grimy and couldn't be cleaned well enough for my 'wants'… I would just make a new and different item to replace it. Kind of like changing that painting behind the sofa on occasion….
  9. I also like the soundtrack... wish it was listed alongside the video like most U-tube videos do.... drat! Seeing the robotics in this industry as in most arenas of today's manufacturing, coupled with Injection molding, Ceramic 3D Printing and CMC machines... it is easy to see why so many people that had jobs years ago, now are on the streets. Not many people in the videos, while thousands of things are being produced in larger numbers. Personally I think it gives credence to the 'higher value of handmade!' Just another reason why I'm making my own tiles ... added value with the human touch.... http://www.youtube.c...n&v=LBJVmLTdF_k http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Ecn3Gl3AaZ8
  10. I concur with you on that, Marcia. I have seen some absolutely gorgeous tiled stoves here as well. To me... the most amazing thing about these beautiful tiled stoves is how incredibly efficient they are. One needs only to light a fire, adding several pieces of wood, that will continue to give off a gentle heat for up to 12 hours. Lighting the fire once in the morning and once at night will supply the room with a wonderful warmth for 24 hours, using only 4-5 pieces of wood in doing so!
  11. WOW! Stunning glaze! I really love this style of glazing and the colors that you're using on this style of your glazing. That's an area I aspire to work toward in the coming years.
  12. WOW! I really love the tactile beauty and form of this piece! Nice job!
  13. "... the fact that too many people who really do not know what they are talking about tend to shout the loudest these days. And also that humbleness and civility and respect are kinda' dead in the age of Ren and Stimpy and South Park..." ............................................................................................................................................ So true, so very true, and one of the most annoying aspects of too many forums! Which makes this place seem like a breath of fresh mountain air.
  14. The wood length is nominally best at about 13", though can fit up to about 16". I moved to and lived in Arcata during the month of August '85, during the local 'Marijuana War' with the DEA .... ... a time when hiking in those beautiful forests seemed a tad bit dangerous. I recall at least one helicopter being shot down during that time.... It's wonderful that you were able to remain and continue from school with a successful ceramic venture!
  15. Thanks, Mark. It's been a fun project that will add more charm to this old house, of which I think it's now 'reeking with' (well... in a positive way). Certainly has more character than most new built factory stamped homes. Personally, I'm more impressed with the glazing on your tiles.... Though they wouldn't quite fit my plans of trying to maintain a basic (beginning) 1900's traditional feel into this renovation. That sink bowl is gorgeous! I've lately been contemplating the construction of a Leach style treadle wheel sometime after this house work is finished. Probably will start teaching myself to throw better at that time... and that sink looks like a nice goal to set out after. Thanks for posting it! The cast iron stove, called a kronspis (crown stove) because of the top adornment, is indeed a beauty! It was included with the house when we purchased it. Though it had years of neglect and rust to overcome, a couple of full days of rust removal via wire brush/elbow grease and an application of carbon black restored its beauty. It was cast (25 pieces- weighing about 300#total) around 1890-1920 at a local iron foundry near here. Surprisingly these stoves are prolific in the resale market in Scandinavia and can be picked up for about $100 for a three-foot tall model or about $200 for one near this size of about 5-1/2 feet. I think the Norwegians actually took the prize, in the aesthetics arena. Real sculptural stuff from them. This one is a jewel as it has the sliding doors (midway in the picture) that allows one to put in this hand-hammered copper kettle of water for coffee or tea or for the insertion of a cast-iron waffle maker built to replace the cover rings, literally becoming part of the structure. It also incorporates some of the features of a traditional kakelugn (tiled masonry stove) from the 1500-1600's. Even Benj. Franklin had remarked about the incredible efficiency of these stoves. The hot smoke/gases travel a serpentine interior channel of cast iron, which yields a greater surface area for heat retention. Even the 3-piece stove pipe behind the stove connecting to the chimney is cast iron. Incredible! Almost as efficient in heat output as a 'rocket stove.' As the concrete slabbed underflooring serves as a thermal bank for the hydronic radiant floor heat, it turned out that wood, because of its insulating characteristics is not the best choice for surface. So sadly we elected to put in a (6mm) laminate floor in this room which allows better heat conductivity and looks like the 'real' wood we wanted to use. So though it looks like Birch, it is actually a very strong (35 year life) synthetic laminate product. As the bedroom should be a cooler environment we did choose to lay in a beautiful floating floor of oak in that room. The remainder of the house is finished with some manufactured ceramic floor tiling , but most is with the 1" thick handmade antique terra-cotta tiles. A wonderfully warm & cozy feeling on the bare feet during the winter.... for sure... and with easy maintenance. Reminds us of all the castle floors in the classic Disney animations (ie, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc). Incidentally, I think that area you live in is phenomenal in beauty. I moved there decades ago for grad school at HSU. After three weeks there, settling in prior to the start of school, I ended up moving on to Alfred NY, my first choice (late notification from the school). A part of me always wanted to return to live in your locale as it seemed so incredible!
  16. Beautiful tile and sink, Marc. Seeing that sink, makes me wish I had more skills in throwing large. Hope your recuperation is on track, with no problems! As I am still in a renovation mode of 'this old house' I agree with a number of your remarks. The underestimating of the amount of work was very quickly an eye opener for me, though I did know prior to beginning that it would take a good deal of extra time. It's not near as quick as a drive down to Home Depot ® to pick up some of the 'tiles of the month special,' by any means. And though mine is still a work in progress, I would reiterate to everybody, your statement, '… if you have the time to consider say a backsplash or other projects for your home- Do not let inexperience keep you from trying.' Not having any education and little experience in 'throwing', I've opted to focus on the production of field tiles, molded relief tiles and extruded border tiles to accent the uniqueness of this particular old house. I've posted four pics below showing some of this tile work up till now as well as there being a couple of pictures on my profile page showing some of the relief border tiles I've produced to accent the antique terra-cotta floors I installed last year. Those were part of my learning experience that I will continue production of later, with regional sales through the supplier of the antique terra-cotta floor tiles. A possible 'bread & butter' item. The first three photos shows these terra-cotta floor tiles bordered by some of the extrusion tiles I made. I was forced to design and extrude my own as I found nothing on the market that would cement to the floor, adjoining the floor tiles, yet have an overlapping front edge to cover the bordering (6mm thinner) laminate wood flooring. As the laminate is a floating floor above a hydronic radiant floor heating system it is certainly necessary to maintain a gap to allow for future movement as the floor breathes. My extrusion profile allows for this, while softening the edge of the floor tiles as they meet the wood flooring. The second photo is a floor pad of the terra-cotta tiles bordered by the extruded border tiles, I used as a 'fireproof' pad (and pedastol) for the antique 'kronspis' (crown stove) This cast iron wood-burning stove remains a functional backup heating source. Behind the kronspis is a traditional adobe (clay) wall which represents another learning technique for me in the clay processes. After stripping the old adobe blocks bare, re-plastering and smoothing with fresh adobe I then mixed up a traditional paint (1700's) using pigment, lime, horsehide glue and water which was applied on a remoistened wall. It turned out absolutely beautiful but was much more work than painting with todays materials/methods. The last photo is of my present on-going project in the kitchen. It is of the backsplashes to the wood and electric cook stoves and counter. The focal point (border tile) behind the electric stove is of an organic design (Jugend-style) from the late 19th century which befits the house. Also this design repeats the motif of the backs of the Jugend style dining room chairs that we have. I mixed and used a stoneware glaze on these field tiles that I found in Stephen Murfitt's book,'The Glaze Book', which is very close to an actual wall color that was used in Scandinavia during the same time period. Glazing was another learning experience, as though I have the educational background in glass chemistry, I've none in ceramic chemistry. After two trial firings, I quickly honed in on better and more consistent results, for these tiles at least. I'm certainly eager and open for a lot of additional learning situations that I know await me in the future. After I finish up the kitchen, which will include another molded relief tile that will serve as a baseboard, accenting this terra cotta floor, and some inlaid ceramic trim on the counter edging, I will move on to the bathroom area where a couple of months work, in regards to tile design and production, will commence. Bottom line is a RE-reiteration of what you (and I) stated earlier '… if you have the time to consider say a backsplash or other projects for your home- Do not let inexperience keep you from trying.' The amount of satisfaction that I've gleaned from these projects goes beyond any description of satisfaction, and though it has/will take(n) longer than initially estimated, I would certainly do it again, for both the learning experience and the satisfaction of doing. Over the coming decades, I look forward to being able to look back and reflect on these works, as you did in your posting.
  17. As one of those people living within the Swedish culture.... I'm starting to think... why are we now getting drug into this issue and 'put down' on this board ... it wasn't enough that the Republican party had to continually slam this country as being Socialist (aka Communist in their eyes), though it is actually a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy that maintains some social programs just like the U.S. (i.e., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment, etc). It no longer supports that earlier 'Cradle to Grave Welfare system' that so many of those talking heads keep trying to frighten the American populace with... though in retrospect it is nice to know that the lack of homeless and starving people in the country is because of a more compassionate state of awareness. HA HA! .... Just kidding, Chris! I take no offense to your remark or anybody else's as far as that goes! And having grown up in the desert area of Eastern Oregon where fish was not a staple of the diet, I have also learned to eat and LOVE herring (we call 'sill'). Not with sour cream...(as Charles said, 'yechhhh!')... but with a wonderful mustard sauce or tomato sauce and not with Vodka but with a good shot of Schnapps. But we all have different tastes, because we ARE human! On topic, I understand how some could be offended with the 'sophomoric' point rating system attached to this website. Too bad the programmers of this system won't remove it. For the most, I think those that are actually using this site are beyond the infantile thinking that desires to have a 'likability' factor association. I too, feel it has no place here, as this forum has proven itself to me to be more helpful than any other that I've ever been linked with. The amount of wisdom, sharing, professionalism, and consideration of other members rates the highest I've personally witnessed. With 6,950 registered members (at present and growing), there will always be some that, through a measured level of anonymity that these forums and the internet maintains, feel that apparently they are a part of 'the group' by voting on comments, without having to make comments. I've seen the diversity of answers/responses on this forum as being a great boon and enjoy the fact that people don't mind posting alternative answers, that they've gleaned from their experiences. Like others, I was unfamiliar with this 'voting' thing until it was pointed out earlier ... along with the 'stars' (whatever they're supposed to symbolize). The communal sharing of advise/experiences has nothing to do with these type functions. However.... we should Bless people (I won't mention any names, Marcia--) who 'in consideration of total fairness' elect to give themselves negative points. What a kind soul! I'm sure we can continue on this website with the same level of professionalism and considerate sharing of advise and experience that has made this site such a treat. And I do hope and know that we will continue to attract other serious and professional ceramic minded folks as the one that we just sadly lost with this issue. Meanwhile, maybe Sherman, Jennifer and/or Bill could press upon the programmers to eliminate this annoying little feature. As artists, don't we get enough criticism from the public and art world through our sales and exhibitions? Should we really feel content with the anonymous unsolicited/unwarranted criticism from our supposed ceramic peers?
  18. This is a picture of the hand sprayer that I borrowed from a friend a few years ago that works quite well. I'll be buying one for myself this next summer. Unfortunately, this particular one is sold (as far as I know) only in Scandinavia from CEBEX / CERAMA. I would think though, that someone in the States must offer a similar product.
  19. I, like Lucille, had noticed no vertical bands which I would consider equally as important as your horizontal. An easy binding tool one could make (illustrated below) from 1/2" (minimum---thicker would probably be better) plywood would be as illustrated. Since you are working with the same forms (in thickness- relatively even thickened pieces I would assume), it would be easy to measure the thickest total height and cut these interior dimensions of the plywood with a little extra play or 'wiggle' room. A number of thin wood (not plywood) shims, some flat, some possibly with a little wedging angle would suffice to bind the form solidly together. I would imagine three or four of these around the exterior of your form should suffice, dependent upon how and where the horizontal parts are positioned with their 'rubber bands'. Just a thought.... I like the potential in your project. Thumbs up! P.S.... Yeah bellonart, the massive sized pictures you have linked were a bit hard to see at one time without manually moving the picture around the monitor. If you use unedited pictures straight from a camera (millions of MB) it generally looks this way. If you use a program like Photoshop, or the free Open Source software GIMP to edit the size down to 600 x 800 or thereabouts it always reads much better.
  20. ...Another possibility without glazing could be to apply a waterproofing sealant to the terra-cotta. Recently while laying our antique terra-cotta floor tiles, I needed to use a product to remove dried cement from the tiles. A old Spanish company supplies a product for doing this and while I was researching their products I also noticed they had a waterproofing material for porous exterior surfaces, which I had seen used on exterior terra-cotta floors previously. The company, Monestir, also describes the material, Hidroclay®, as Product indicated for waterproofing all types of brick, stone and concrete facades. Graffiti-proof and material strengthener, this no-shine treatment prevents the appearance of damp and salt stains. Colours remain unaltered. It does not form a layer and allows the material to breathe. The question then becomes, the availability or finding a supplier stateside. Or another manufacturer that makes a similar product.
  21. From my 12 years experience in the construction of wooden birdhouses for Sparrows, Parus major, Parus caeruleus, Blackbirds, White Wagtails and Tawny Owl, I would have to agree with the importance of researching into the size of hole and depth of birdhouse in order to assure the suitability and success for habitation. I used the Latin names (above & linked to Wikipedia) because this website censored out the common names I originally supplied (also used by the English speaking world as well as Wikipedia!) This always trying to maintain the politically correct aspect for the Puritans is total BS..... Anyway......I've maintained 15 birdhouses on our small property for the past 5 years and by researching and building to meet their needs, I have insured full habitation in each of these houses for the selected breeds throughout the entire year (except for the Wagtails who favor migrating to sunnier/warmer Africa for their winters). It's very important in construction of birdhouses that are intended for actual habitation, as Mossyrock mentioned, that a means is built-in that allows for easy clean-out on an annual basis. When I clean out my birdhouses, I can visually check on the brooding season's success. Normally these birds will have three to four broods of four to six eggs during one summer season. The clean-out will show each brood level (similar to a soil stratification/profile) with an occasional abrupt end of nesting if one of the young or fledgling has died in the nest, for some reason. Occasionally I've found one or two eggs in one of the lower levels that remained unhatched, as well. After the nesting season is completed, generally the bird house is too full of material for continued nesting the following year, hence the importance of vigilant yearly clean-out/maintenance. Our birds are most always finished with their last brood of nesting by early to mid-August. I wait until about the end of September (end of October for the Tawny Owl) to clean out the nesting boxes of old material and any insects, so that the birds will have ample time to gather fresh dried grasses, moss, etc. to rebuild their insulated winter nests, which I will witness them doing so within a couple of weeks. These birds continue to nest year round through the snowy and cold winter, while I supplement their feed with about 100 pounds of blended wild birdseed, tallow and apples. Some of our sparrows have nested continually in the same house for the past four years, so they are almost like family... Just this morning as I was taking sunflower seeds out to the feeder I noticed a little sparrow head poking out of its bird house awaiting its breakfast. No sooner had I closed the door, it and its mate were at the feeder indulging in vittles. This particular couple (pictured below during early August) has the best view of all our bird houses and are seen throughout the year just sitting together on their house, soaking in the rural ambiance. Being close and visible from the house it is also easy to keep tabs with their 'goings-on', as well. Note the size of the hole (in the picture) compared to the size of the sparrows. The hole is 25mm in diameter and from the appearance of the birds it looks to be too small. The birds are mostly feathers and air-filled lightweight bones and squeeze in quite easily. The small hole allows for greater security towards the young. I would add that it may be equally as important to furnish habitat during the winter, as well as the summer months, but this may be more specific to the particular region and type of birds the habitat is geared towards (ie, they being migratory or not). My thinking with constructing a ceramic birdhouse would be to at least glaze the exterior top to provide a more secure waterproof shelter if one desires to offer winter protection as well. But as Mossyrock pointed out, the size of the hole is imperative as well as the interior dimensions, if one desires to attract nesting birds. I've found that a hole varying just a few millimeters from the specific range of size required by a distinct species of bird can and will determine whether or not the birdhouse will have borders moving in. The actual finished size of these requirements need to be taken into consideration along with the appropriate compensation for clay shrinkage through the drying and firing cycles. Myself, I haven't built any ceramic birdhouses because I always have an abundance of scrap wood to build with and wood is a better insulator from heat and cold then ceramic. My wooden houses, I believe, tend to offer cozier habitats against our cooler climate here in Scandinavia. An additional note... Birdhouses do not need a post sticking out in front of the door for the birds to land on. I've never seen these even in the forests, where the birds find their natural nesting habitats as well. It is for the most part a detail that most avian aficionados would eliminate as it provides a perch for predators like magpies and squirrels to rest on, while feeding on eggs or young chicks.
  22. I had carpal trouble about 15 years ago, and after reading several letters in Ceramics monthly, and in other journals, started taking B-6. It seemed to relieve the problem so I kept it up, and still have had no problems. A few years back a major study was run that debunked the use of B-6, so evidently it doesn't work, but I haven't stopped taking it. There have been several folks with the CT surgery in my area, and there has been mixed results. I have also known of one case with the surgery where some bones were removed, and the persons recovery took a long time. My son had to have wrist fused after a bike/auto accident. It really messed him up, and later the fusing separated, causing lots of pain. Tough in his line of work as he is a chef. Not meaning to sideline the topic, but rather add a little more info to the 'wrist injury' aspect with my carpal tunnel experience. Three years after moving here (Sweden) from the USA I began having problems with both wrists and self diagnosed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as the malady. Coming from the US, I had known numerous people that had this and it seemed surgery was generally always the solution. So that was my thinking, though being a woodcarver, I have a fear of knives being used on me in carving techniques .... Upon seeing a doctor, he confirmed my suspicions but seemed puzzled when I asked what were my options. I mentioned surgery and he just laughed and said, 'we don't do that over here as it isn't reliable.' His only option it seems was to make an appointment for me to see a Physical Therapist. A few days later, I met the PT (herself a ceramist) and she gave me two soft velcroed wrist binding/braces, which looked almost identical to what I've seen some professional bowlers use on occasion. These I was to wear while sleeping and some part of the day for a couple of weeks. Additionally she showed me a number of finger-hand-wrist-arm movement exercises that I was to do for ten minutes four or five times/day. Then after the CTS subsided, I was to continue doing these exercises two or three times per day plus was advised that when doing repetitive hand movements... like in carving, construction or working clay... to take rest stops for at least fifteen minutes every couple of hours followed by the exercises. My CTS problems ended within two weeks of my meeting with the therapist and after nine years I can say that I have not been bothered since, even though I admit being somewhat lackadaisical about sticking absolutely to the exercise regiment. I try to though, really! Certainly saved me lots of money (from surgery plus related costs), lost recuperation time and the trauma from being the new medium for a carving with knives! Now if I can just keep that 'old age' that's creeping on, at bay for a couple more decades, I'll feel I have won out over the CTS.
  23. Benhim... Sorry that I can't directly answer your question with a great solution, but I can say that during the late 80's-mid 90's I also had a SKUTT® 818P and had installed the original model Envirovent® on it from day one. I had never encountered any problems with it whatsoever. Firing to cone 9 temperatures was always painless as I was using the KilnSitter control which used the crossbar cone. The pyrometric test cones that I had used in tests were also just as I would want them to be, showing no problems. My use of the Envirovent was to turn it on when the kiln itself was turned on and to turn it off after the kiln had reached its proper firing temperature, during its cooling curve. There was never a time when it appeared or smelled of any smoke or gases from the interior kiln atmosphere was leaked into the studio space. It sounds almost to me like the fan is blowing in the wrong direction. A quick test with a lit match held over one of the holes drilled into the kiln lid would show if there is enough suction to be drawing the atmosphere out of the kiln (and room) or possibly even pushing it into the room... Edited--- After rereading your post, I think I misunderstood. It seems it certainly is drawing in enough air, possibly even too much if it's cooling to the point that the cones start turning black at the tips. Could it be that there are too many holes drilled or that they are too large. (My assumption only from a lack of information supplied). It has been too many years for me to remember the details for accuracy, but if those neural synapsis are still arcing properly, it seems that there was only one hole (3/16") drilled in the top (center) of the lid and the same for the floor. That was (again if the info was remembered correctly) what SKUTT had recommended for the 818P and they had included the drill bit as well. Hope that can help.... can you supply additional information regarding the setup of the Envirovent. With that type of massive cooling, if it is the vent and not bad elements or other electrical, it sounds like the vent is sucking 100% of the air through the kiln and not the small percentage that the designed 'Venturi effect' would produce. Almost like the larger holes on the plenum chamber are blocked or plugged.
  24. Thank you, John, for this wonderfully clear explanation. I think it's great that you and others with technical knowledge find the time to impart this wisdom onto the rest of us 'sponges'. For me it was knowledge gained decades ago that has just grown dim with the passage of time, but always grateful and receptive for review. Just possibly keeping Alzheimer's at bay... but .... is there any quantitative allowance for Higgs boson in these molecular weights....?
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