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Everything posted by Pres

  1. I slam wedge to begin with, love using a wiggle wire for this process as if needing water the little wave are perfect to spray into. I slam wedge soft and stiffer together, block up and repeat about 10 times, then I cone wedge it 200 times 10# at a time. Put it into a bag and twist flip onto a pile that I use later. Have done it for years, still have good wrists, but arthritic thumbs and some fingers. I do not do large volumes of work anymore and would probably do differently if I really did volumes at this point in life. In the early years I couldn't afford a pug mill, but used a Walker pug at the HS. Never recycled my own clay in it. Too much trouble transporting it there. best, Pres
  2. @Mark C.You point out by your post that much of your success is more about playing the suppliers like one would play the stock market. Buy low, sell high, stock up for rainy days and consolidate/control shipping costs and other costs. More than a potter you are a manager of your entire business. Many of us do not have your business sense, but can certainly learn from your example. best, Pres
  3. I didn't have any idea about ADHD until my son was diagnosed, as many of his habits were mine. These would amount to disorganization, sloppy desks, missing appointments, and others. Over the years though, I had found ways to cope, excessive note keeping and rewriting notes, Keeping things simple where it mattered, but allowing myself to soar when it came to new ideas, I still do the same things like pitchers behind the glaze it goes with, glazes numbered not named and in order of application. Separation of pieces with different glazing steps so that I did not mix things up. Finishing one task before moving to the next. . . throw chalice stems first, then bowls, trim stems, then trim bowls and assemble after each is trimmed while still on the wheel; sign before removal. Everything is much easier for me this way, but then don't "normal" people do the same things, just don't have to do them consciously? best, Pres
  4. Hi folks, I was at the Standard Ceramics store in Pittsburgh on Monday. This was a buying trip for materials, as I have not been there since the last NCECA, and have not really purchased much in glaze materials in nearly 20 years. Last order I had stocked up on a lot of items, probably more than I needed. However, this time I was in need of replacing frits, oxides and a few other chemicals. Add to that the common novelty shopping for ribs, cutting wires and other tools and it is easy to drop $500 or more. I was a little shocked, but considering what I had heard out there had braced myself for a surprise. Seems like to me that the frits were nearly double what I had paid when I bought 200 lb of each. Oxides I knew had gone up, but cobalt carbonate seemed higher than I had expected. This got me to thinking about what the community has noticed in the way of price increases over the years. I would especially be interested in the opinions of @Min, @GEP, and @Mark C.. QotW: What have you noticed in the rise in prices for materials over the last 20 years? Has the cost of glaze materials progressively increased or is it a steady rise? best, Pres
  5. Yeah, but there is a downside to that sometimes. My classroom in the basement in the beginning had a wood shop, and across the hall from them was the severely handicapped children. My worse time was when the shop teacher was planing a lot of cedar, and mix that with the urine a poop smells out of the spec ed room. . . . as I was down the hall from both, and the loading docks for the central supply was at the opposite end; I felt like I was living in a hamster cage! By the time I left though revenge was sweet, as the shops closed down. . . much to my chagrin and I took over the two rooms that the spec. ed had been in for my new computer animation classes. When this art teacher retired he had the most real estate of any one in the school district at the educational level. best, Pres
  6. Perlite was used to allow overnight drying, and then raku firing, body was very open. This was at a state level PAEA conference. best, Pres
  7. Amazed by the amount and quality of light just replacing my old flourescents with LED units. Same size, but twice the light! best, Pres
  8. I have used several different raku bodies in the earlier grad school years, Dontigny used one that fired to cone 9-10, but I had one from another teacher that was cone 4. I also used a fast fire clay body that use perlite as a filler along with saw dust, and grog. This clay was made for cone 4 max, and was H on folks hands so sandy. best, Pres
  9. I use a liner glaze, then I also use a blue, light beige/brown, and semi transparent green glaze. As these last glazes are sprayed over the bare bisque or the liner, I get a wide variety of color combinations that are mostly organic. At the same time depending on the amount of bare clay and liner, I may get golden yellows and deep almost black browns. Over the years I have considered other glazes for ease of glazing, but always stick with these. I should mention, that when in college, and later when teaching HS, I had a wide variety of glaze choices, and in the beginning used them all often. In the HS, I believed it was my place to know the glazes and what they did. I had advanced students mixing our glazes, and had them also do glaze test tile series with 1,2, and 3 glazes to some of the tiles. These were placed on boards to help others know what to expect. best, Pres
  10. One final issue is the clay itself. Many of the raku clays fire below ^6, so you may have bloating or slumping issues. All in all, your best bet if to try a refire of raku, or to dump the idea. best, Pres
  11. Maybe not, as sometimes honing in is a natural process, not to be forced. If you can't keep up with the work you will hone in eventually, it is just natural to have to do that. However, often when you have a lot of pieces with your name on them that represent a lot of diversity, choices sell, especially when looking at higher end work. best, Pres
  12. Hi folks, I have unloaded a bisque of new plates for the communion sets this year, and find myself pleased and yet dismayed. All of the plates are beautiful, but all are different. Some do share a texture format, and some brown slips, but they are all different, thus requiring chalices to be made to match each plate/paten. This and some other posts from individuals makes me wonder about the shotgun effect I am having on my work of late. When I was doing festivals, my work was centered around thrown forms with organic images mixed with lace remnants from glazes atomized on the surface in natural greens, blues and browns with occasional flashes of tin/chromium. Lately I have moved into much more actual texture making the pieces more tactile even though I spray on the blues, greens and browns from different angles to enhance the textures. Make me wonder what folks are doing, shotgun or more narrowed rifle shot at what they are trying to make do. I also realize that the shotgun effect will not get you anywhere when applying to craft shows. So QotW: How did you arrive at your present place in your pottery, by a focused approach, and experimental approach, or other direction? Please include examples, or even pictures to illustrate your journey. best, Pres
  13. @MorganYou don't say much about this "full time job"! I consider myself retired now, and doing more pottery than I have in years, just because I have the time. Do I need the money? Just enough to keep the pottery from hitting the family budget. Do I need to sell? Not really, but I do. Do I have a set style or format. . . somewhat as I am all about texture on the thrown forms and about form on the handbuilt ones. I like to have fun with the pots, and when working with a form for a week or two, will have several iterations that follow the same idea, but then the next time I return to the form it may be completely different. It just happens. I am using one white clay now, but working with a brown slip over that clay. . . sometimes. I will run out of the white soon and move over to a hazelnut brown clay. Things change, its all fun, about the clay, the feel and the finished product. If they sell they sell and most do, if not they get gifted. All good. best, Pres
  14. Latest bisque with cone offset of -35F. shows that the kiln is still slightly hot, as the witness 06 was down, slightly relaxed instead of arched. Much closer to where I want to be. The next offset will be -40F. best, Pres
  15. Old old tale of the Native American potter at the road stand. . . New York city dweller comes to stop at the stand. After perusal of the ware buys a $20 pot. Summer, Fall and Winter go by, and in the Summer the New Yorker returns, excitedly asking for 20 more of the same pot as he had bought. The potter says. . . .$100 dollar each! Why! I cannot charge for the joy of making the pot as it is priceless, but to make 20 of the same. . . .I have to charge for the pain of making all the same! Discounts? Nope, fair prices, good value, and the real joy of making something that someone else will enjoy! best, Pres
  16. I also wonder about your glazing/firing steps. Are you firing the glazed pots immediately after glazing and clean up? If so, the absorbed moisture in your glaze ware could cause explosions in your kiln especially if firing fast. Another question might be what your bisque temp is to. Pictures may help, as would a more in-depth description of your process. best, Pres
  17. Before I started teaching, I worked first year after graduation and marriage as a clerk in a small convenience store. I did not have many problems with customers, as in a store pricing is as expected and no one bickers. However, one incident sticks in my mind. Father and son came into the one room store, separated to look at things of interest. I kept watch through mirrors and regular eye. I really didn't expect anything, but happened to notice the son probably 12-14 push a novelty frozen ice cream down the front of his pants. I waited until the father was doing done and came to the counter placing his purchases, I rang everything up, including the ice cream. He looked at me saying he hadn't purchased that. I told him it was his son's. He looked at his son, and said he didn't have anything, and I looked at the son real sharp, he started crying. Pulled out the ice cream, father paid for it. They went out to the car, and I watched that car with foggy windows shake for the next 10 minutes-windows were fogged up because of the cold. I thought hard of how to have handled it better, and in the future let know anyone trying something sneaky that they didn't want to do that. Making a scene, embarassing a customer either because of what their children or they did, does not play well even though you are in the right. At the same time any craftsman should not have to deal with penny pinching rudeness or idle customers that loaf in their booth. best, Pres
  18. Putting my bisque firing off until at least the weekend. Started firing yesterday, but gas explosion caused loss of electric. Area soil is full of nat gas. . . one of reasons electric was off for 24 hrs.

    1. Min


      Have a safe weekend. Don't need something like that happening twice in a lifetime. My husband worked in a mill years ago where a lot of fine sawdust was generated. There was a fire by one of the machines and the operator shut the big fans off. This caused the fuel to oxygen ratio to increase which resulted in an explosion. Running a fan while firing the kiln might be an idea so any remaining gas doesn't accumulate. 

    2. Pres


      As my thinking follows never assume, I went to mayor's office on Wednesday, asking about firing the kiln. Mayor told me to go down to the guys working on the street from the gas company, and ask. Top guy there told me that there was no problem with the gas now at my side of the block evidenced by the road being opened and that their testing showed that the soil was no longer saturated. I explained that I was in a garage in back of the house with the firing and the garage was over the river tunnel. He said all of that had been cleared. Fired the kiln that day. The cone adjustment of -35 is not quite right. Next firing will be with cone adjustment of -30. Getting there.

  19. @MadMetal I have owned/used several sectional kilns over the years as I was an art teacher in a large HS, and as a department chair went to the JHS's to help with kilns and firing for those teachers. I have owned an L&L J-2336 for years, just recently replacing it as it had and end. The new kiln is also an L&L as I really like the element holders, and the fact that the old kiln lasted for 36 years. Looking at the website, there seem to be several kilns that would fit under your electrical limit, the K-E-18MX/31 e18M-240-1Ph, being one assuming you have single phase in the shop. As @Hulksays, venting would be important if wanting to work in the shop while firing. At the same time, I would look at getting the Genesis controller. For a slightly larger kiln,' K-E-23S3/41 e23S-3-220-1Ph good luck on your search, best, Pres
  20. @Mark C. in a recent Qotw mentioned attitude being everything, but then went on: attitude is everything unless the customer crosses the line (been there as well) Refusing service always is a last resort but I have done it more than once-this may be another topic? Good topic I would think as people get into doing more shows(if Covid allows). Attitude is everything when dealing with customers, and I have had some interesting interplays with customers as I am sure if you do shows you have also. I can always relate to the folks that could never find the right colors with my pots to match their decors, or those that wanted me to pull out all of my stored pots so that they could find the perfect piece and yet leave with nothing. I have also had those that seemed to want to get out of the sun and just stand in my booth. . . making me request that they move along. Then there have been the young people that got into an argument that was about some non festival related topic that I feared would get violent, so I asked them to take their problem elsewhere. I do remember one very particular person that came down the Penn State Festival booths with a bucket of water and a ladle. He stopped at every potter and wanted to test their teapots for pourability! Some potters turned him down as it was a very busy day, sometimes crowds 4-5 deep at my booth. He had not bought a thing, and had tested out some pots up from me maybe 4 booths before he got to me. He had a daughter with him in her 20's he appeared to be in his early 50's. He introduced himself and asked if he could test out my teapots. Big crowd, do you turn him down? I didn't. He poured water into a teapot, and put the lid back on, noticing the rim notch. then he poured form the pot a few times with quick and slow angle stops. He repeated this for 6 teapots (all I had out), setting all aside and not saying a word. When finished he and his daughter looked at each talking about aesthetics and color etc. In the end he bought 3 teapots from me, and he proclaimed to the crowd that all were excellent! I was relieved, but better yet by the end of the day I had sole 4-5 more. Attitude is everything, whether on the part of the customer or the vendor. QotW: Attitude being everything; how do you deal with customers that cross a line of sorts, and have you ever denied service to someone? best, Pres
  21. I have used one last year, I did drill a hole in an old plywood bat that made a flush surface with just the image sticking up. I then placed the mug on this over the stamp, using a piece of plastic pipe with an end plug, and a sock. I was able to get a good image. Lots of work, not sure it was worth it, so until I can think of a better idea, doing in the old way-sgraffito. Maybe a smaller stamp would work, don't know. best, Pres
  22. Bought one of those for the HS I worked at. Great wheel, solid, good motor and controller. For most potters it would do well, but for the HS with 50 min. periods and clean up at the end, better to have the other version with the removable splash pans. Next 3 were those. best, Pres
  23. I have not gotten around to making a plaster damp box, but use a large plastic container with a damp sponge in the bottom and a plastic tray on top with a lid to finish. This will keep chalice stems and bowls from drying out for two weeks. I used to have an old fridge that I used for years when doing the festivals and other things. The freezer would keep things "forever", where the fridge would be good for about a week. It sat outside the shop the entire time. best, Pres
  24. We used to go to the Pot shop at PSU around 7pm and work until 1 or 2am. Often in nothing but shorts and T, sometimes even just shorts, gals wore swim suits. . everyone hosed off before going home. This was in Summer of the 70's. best, Pres
  25. Bottom edge of glazed area indicates movement and thickness. Have you tried spraying the glaze on, and as @Bill Kielbsays crystallization is apparent nullifying the transparency, so a faster firing could help solve part of the problem. best, Pres
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