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  1. Full disclosure: I haven't taught wheel throwing and I am only two years into learning to throw. I do, however, have a background and have taught in human movement sciences. Our eyes are the sensory system that we usually use dominantly, with our other senses as support. We have proproiceptors in our muscles, joints and skin that tell us where our body is in space and where the parts of our body are in relation to one another, as well as giving us the feel of things that we are manipulating - hot? cold? soft? hard. The visual system will predominantly decide whether parts of the body are correct or not. We rarely, other than in wheel throwing, try to keep our hands still against an object that is spinning. If you really want to be the opposite of a good teacher (not recommended) - try having your students throw on a batt that has a spiral pattern on it, rather than no marks or circles - very weird, and probably annoying, if you are still learning. I would suggest that you use all the ideas noted above, from everyone else here - good positioning, anchoring the arms. Then, you could tell the students to close their eyes and feel if their hands are moving. I know this is probably unconventional, but it makes sense - you are removing the dominant sensory system rather than trying to override it. When I was learning, I worked at first centering with open eyes, so I could get the correct hand positions, then I practiced with my eyes closed. Then I worked to throw an entire cylinder with eyes closed. Just a thought.
  2. Chilly, Very interesting question, because after there is digging up the clay from the ground, there could be making a kiln and cutting down trees for wood firing. However, your clothing analogy ends up with you owning the sheep - a serious proposition. To answer your question - I think it would be fun to dig up clay and try to throw it after it has been cleaned, but not for all clay needs.
  3. I use both an excel spreadsheet and a photograph. Each piece has a number. The photograph has both the piece and the number (as noted by Liam as well as other information, such as clay, glaze, and finished size. That way, when I look at the picture, I don't have to go back and link it to the spreadsheet, although I can link it with the numbers, but I have enough information on the picture to be able to identify the piece.
  4. Hulk, Is that a self-cleaning wheel???? There would be a market for that - a Roomba for the studio, too. Sigh. I expect it is too good to be true, but maybe some day. I use a bluetooth speaker, too - listen to audio books, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting) podcasts, and ABC (Australian Broadcasting) podcasts.
  5. I use foam and wrap it around the piece, held in place with elastic bands, then hold it in place with the GG. I use the foam in place of a chuck for upside down vases and non-uniform shapes. It takes a bit of time to set it up, but it stops denting and I can trim at the stage of hardness that I like to use.
  6. Thanks. I will see if I can find the Standard 365 porcelain. Will try throwing what I have, too, because if it works, I get it right from PSH. I agree about the wax not working, unless I do the whole handle, I can't see how it would work, the more I think about it. I don't want to spend all sorts of time putting wax on handles, if I don't have to do so. I had one handle crack right in the middle. Really frustrating after working with stoneware. I will try putting them in a wet box and see if that will help.
  7. Thanks for the suggestion! Using a wet box would make me much happier than having to use wax resist.
  8. Picked up my Pottery Supply House #909 porcelain with Epsom salts today. According to the potter who works there, there is 2% Epsom salts added to the porcelain. It is designed to counteract the thixotropic properties of nepheline syenite and helps to make the porcelain more plastic. The salesperson uses #910, but she is a much better/more experienced potter than I am. She also suggested using wax, at the leather hard stage, around the connections between the handle and the body of the mug, to prevent cracking. I'll give that a try - and open to any other suggestions on that score, as well. Thanks for all of your input!
  9. Ugh. I think I would have stopped at doorstops (sunny side up egg shaped) and never have made it to spoon rests and small bowls.
  10. My attempts with porcelain have been limited, but good to know that some clays might be somewhat less difficult than others for throwing. My throwing is improving, so I'm ready to try porcelain again. Cream cheese, I think I can handle. Hot Velveeta - can't even imagine! My issues before with porcelain were more with my skill (or lack of it) in drying handles; I think I needed to dry the clay more slowly and carefully than I had.
  11. Thanks for the ideas. If Epsom salts will hold the porcelain together and not flop as much, that would be helpful. I will be throwing with it. Good to know about possibly getting carbon trapping in reduction firing because I will have access to a reduction kiln, but infrequently. I will probably stick with stoneware for that kiln. I can do some testing with less important items in the reduction kiln and stick with oxidation for the pots that are more important. I'll let you know what I find out.
  12. I am working towards throwing more with porcelain, at cone 6, mostly in oxidation. The closest source of porcelain for me is Pottery Supply House in Ontario (www.psh.ca). There are two cone 6 porcelains: PSH 910 and PSH 909. When I read the descriptions, #910 says "A bright and white versatile porcelain for use at cone 6-8" and #909 says "Same recipe as 910 stabilized with Epsom salts." I am aware of Epsom salts being used in glazes, but don't know enough about clay, porcelain in particular, to know what the difference would be in the clay by the addition of Epsom salts. Would it be easier (more forgiving) for throwing, or would there be a difference in drying? Or are there other attributes of the clay that would be changed by the addition of Epsom salts? I will contact a salesperson at the company for input, but any help would be appreciated so I can be a bit more knowledgeable when I talk with someone at PSH.
  13. I also don't want to put an inventory number or date on my pieces - I guess just a preference. Instead I keep picture and spreadsheet records. I started taking pictures and putting those in a spread sheet, with data about the clay, glazing, etc., but the pictures were tricky to get into the spreadsheet and were small. Now, I put a little post-it note in the picture with a piece number on it, clay type, and sometimes weight of clay and keep that in Adobe Lightroom (example below). It helps me to have the information in the picture itself, as it can't get lost and is always linked. I take a second picture once it is glazed with the same sticky note on it and add information about the glazes I am using and any other important information. I keep those pictures and label the picture file name by the piece number. I link that same piece number in excel, with other information in columns, such as type of clay, weight, height of the object, glazing, current progress and notes about the piece, etc. so I can sort by pot type, glaze, clay type and anything else. I have only been working at throwing for just over a year, so this information is really helpful because I am trying lots of different shapes, clays and glazes. I expect that when I am producing better work consistently and understand more about what I am doing, that I will be less likely to keep these kind of records as they are time consuming.
  14. I haven't taught ceramics, but have taught in post-secondary institutions in another discipline. I understand your frustration and applaud your actions. One action that was used in an institution in which I worked, was to document, as you are already doing. Then, the student was asked to come in to discuss the disruptive behaviour and read the document describing the action. The student was asked to sign the document, indicating that he or she had read it. There were two incidents of potential law suits, based on the idea that the student didn't know there was a problem, but by signing the document, it was impossible for the person to say that he or she didn't know the issue. I didn't need to resort to that approach often, but it helped sometimes. Another thing I was wondering; if the noise distresses her, what are her coping mechanisms in other situations in which she finds herself? Might be worth a discussion, if possible, with her, as she might have ways of dealing with noise in other situations that would help her in the ceramics course.
  15. The issues of when to start selling - and are the pots good enough - seem to be questions for everyone as they move up in proficiency and quality. The other part of this discussion that I think is important is that these beginner pots didn't end up in a land fill, which is good. I was thinking of digging a trench in my backyard and burying my early work. Maybe an archeologist would find the trench, but then that archeologist would think that this generation had some pretty poor potters. I am at the cusp of deciding my work is "good enough" to sell. It seems that the progression is from throwing door stops, to paper weights, to trinket holders, then to real work. Feedback from experienced potters and instructors has helped me to make the decision to sell.
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