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Tumbleweed Pottery

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About Tumbleweed Pottery

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    Northern Wisconsin

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  1. My husband brought that idea up. How do you get around having finger smudges on your wet glaze? I have tongs, but they don’t seem like they’d fit the bill here.
  2. I have a commission for 12 slab built platters. I am using a new GR pottery form I have, and the two I have as greenware right now look awesome. They are roughly 8x13 rectangles. They do have feet, but not all the way around the plate. Just enough to keep them off the ground, and one to support the middle. I plan to wax these feet and glaze the rest of the piece one color. My client (my cousin, hence why I’m probably doing more for her than I would another client I don’t know from Adam) wants 3 different glazes (4 of each). One of them we have in my communal studio, and two others we don’t. I planned to buy 25# dry mix of one of the glazes (because it’s cheap, and I like it enough to use in my personal studio), but only 5# of the other because I just don’t like the color and don’t plan to use it afterwards except for commission pieces (watch this be my most popular color!). I plan to dip 8 of them in the 5 gallon pails, half and half if there’s not enough glaze to cover all 13” of the plate. But on the other color, how should I go about glazing with only 5# dry mix? I have considered pouring onto the piece, catching the excess in a pan. And then there’s brushing on the glazes with some CMC gum mixed in, but I’m way out of my element there. Any brush on glazes I’ve bought have been pre-mixed with gum (ie Amaco pints). Plus, I would then render that small pail of glaze forever a brush-on glaze. How would you all handle this larger, more awkward piece for those remaining 4 pieces?
  3. Things are moving along in setting up my home (basement) studio. One thing my husband and I are very aware of is the need to vent our kiln. He has a vent he will be engineering to fit our kiln, but he's not convinced he will even need to drill holes in the top of the kiln. He thinks that the kiln is so old that it might not even be "air tight" like some. It's a 1969 Cress B-23-H. Are there kilns out there you can vent directly and still not need to drill holes in the top brick for? I'm not convinced. I think we will have to drill holes. Thanks!
  4. Hi all. I just acquired my c. 1969 Cress B-23-H. Elements look great, brick looks great. Seller fired it this week to cone 05 and cone 6, and it worked beautifully. She started to fire it up for me, and the elements heated nice and even. She showed me how to use the kiln sitter, so that's how I know it was intact when I bought it... but transport was not kind to it. Every other part of the kiln made it just fine, but the jostling/vibrating of a 3-hour car ride caused part of the tube assembly to chip off (yes, the kiln was empty when we transported), and subsequently a bracket fell out. It cannot be put back into its original position, because that part of the tube is just chipped away. See below: It seems to me that as long as I can replace the tube assembly, all should be good. It is a model mfr-j. What do I need to look for in order to replace this? Which part should I order? My husband is an engineer/electrician, so replacing complicated parts is like second nature to him. As long as I order the right part, he should be able to replace it. Is getting a new tube assembly going to require us to get a whole new kiln sitter? Am I going to have to cannibalize an old kiln to find one this old? Any help is appreciated. How disappointing to open up the kiln, and see this... ETA: I think I need to acquire this tube assembly, but need to remove the current one to measure the correct length. Would you all concur?
  5. Sounds like the best way to figure things out is to buy a 25lb bag, and fire a few test tiles with my intended glaze? Then if that works well, move to a small vessel?
  6. I'm looking for some clay bodies that are DARK. I have an idea in mind, and I'd like to have a clay as dark as something like cassius basaltic clay. But I've seen that it's SO finicky, and a lot of people have their glazes crater on that clay. I would like to achieve this kind of contrast between my clay and glaze: Sorry for the blur. Does anyone know of a reliable, tested clay body that is dark chocolate or near black, and fires to cone 6? *I know these clays can sometimes contain high levels of manganese. Does this render the piece non-food safe?
  7. The woman I’m buying from is firing it today to test. I will ask her if she is glaze firing. I only fire to cone 6 anyway. But that does concern me about the new elements. I plan to fire using Amaco Potter’s Choice and celadons, which I know are 5/6. She is liquidating her studio and selling me all her commercial glazes (pints), kiln furniture, kiln, like-new Shimpo RK whisper, tools, ware boards and bats for $1,400. She has a modest little studio, but the deal seems considerable. My husband is an electrician/technician for the FAA and works on landing equipment. He could replace the elements pretty easily. How much am I looking at for all new elements in the kiln?
  8. Hi all, I am buying my first kiln, a Cress B-23-H with a kiln sitter, this weekend. Won't have the wiring done for a while yet, but I'm curious if you can fire one of those old bad boys to cone 019-018? I am interested in some metallic overglazes, and I've never used them before. Any insight is helpful!
  9. Interesting to see you tried the recipe route but it became its own monster... What's the company in the northwest you use? 75-80 for 4gal of glaze is phenomenal (I'm looking at local companies like Minnesota Clay and their cheapest glazes run at 125 for 25# of dry mix).
  10. As I am starting up my pottery business, I’m starting to consider what my venues for sales/exposure are. I know the traditional route of craft shows is probably not for me. In my area, you get a lot of lookie-loos, but all my potter friends say they go in the hole at those shows and fairs. I have my wares in a local boutique, and while their commission is modest (20%), they charge “rent” every month ($75). It’s not a long term plan, unless I am turning out mad sales. And at this rate, with a full time job, I can’t turn out that much work. I know some in my vacation town do an open studio style of sale, but my home studio will be in my actual home, not an outbuilding. So, not for me. Are many of you doing mostly online sales? Instagram linking to your Etsy? What’s been most lucrative for you?
  11. My mentor makes his own, and his studio is this mass of 5gal buckets of chemicals. Really impressive stuff! But he’s amassed these chemicals over decades. I believe he said he bought all his cobalt in the 70s before the Rhodesian mine shut down. I went to his studio and helped make a glaze, and it’s not been turning out well on our clay bodies. It’s very frustrating for someone like me. He was a chemistry teacher once upon a time, so he tweaks and adds more cobalt here or more what-have-you there. I doubt I will ever know even a 10th of what he does about glaze chemistry. For now, the commercials are fine. I happen to like the colors that are more expensive to make (apparently tin oxide is expensive, but makes up a lot of the colors I like), so I figure it’s a wash, buying commercial or making my own. When I’ve had my operation up and running for a while, I will start mixing up some test glazes. It’s too bad the proprietary glazes are... well, proprietary.
  12. I’m in Northern Wisconsin. I do go to my mentor’s studio now and then. I’m happy with cone 6 electric firing for now. When I learned, my studio fired up to cone 10 in a huge kiln you could walk into, but I’ve seen some lovely results out of our cone 6 glazes, and love the Amaco cone 5/6 glazes. I scoured Facebook marketplace last night and found a potter 3 hours away liquidating her studio due to health restrictions, and I’m snagging a basically-new Shimpo RK whisper for $750, and she has a few kilns for sale. Baby kilns really, but I’ll get more info soon. Probably will want a larger capacity because I’m throwing so much lately, I don’t want to have to do 4 firings in a week just to catch up. She also has some of the clay I work with (continental clay), and ware boards, etc... I am going to hopefully make out like a bandit.
  13. Oh wow that’s excellent advice. I will stop by my bank today. I haven’t registered a business yet... don’t know anything about that side of things yet. But I’m stopping by the bank today so I’ll pick my banker’s brain about what I need to do.
  14. Hi all, I’m back in the pottery game after 5 years away from a wheel. I’ve been using a local communal studio at a community art center and paying $25/mo for studio fees. I pay $64 for a 25lb bag of clay. The cost of firing I’m assuming is why the clay is so expensive. I’ve found a niche market with one commission I keep getting, and my work is getting some attention in this niche circle. There are new commissions coming in from family members too. It’s enough that it’s got me thinking about the limitations of this communal studio. I cannot bring outside glazes into the studio, even if they are commercial, proprietary glazes. My client wants a specific color for her pieces, and the glaze we have in the studio that was that color has almost run out, and it’s been discontinued by its creator. I have a very limited palette here otherwise. Nothing that inspires me. I have peers who have home studios who have offered to “rent” kiln space, but I’m not just wanting to fire a single load and be done with it. These are the glazes that I want to work with full time. So I’ve reached the decision we all inevitably reach... should I set up my own studio? We have the space in our basement. We would need to get the electrician out for the 240, but the kiln would be right next to the breaker. There’s running water down in the basement, so we could set up a slop sink, and dump the clay water in the woods out back, or on the driveway (my husband’s preferred disposal method, to help with potholes, since we have very sandy soil anyway). But, as you know, it’s a big expense. Even if you get a secondhand kiln or wheel, it’s a lot. I may be selling at a boutique in town, and I may be getting commissions now, but as any artist knows, it comes in waves. You can’t guarantee your market. I do have a full time job, but it doesn’t pay much (I work at a non-profit). I think in a few months I could have enough saved up for a new wheel (I like the shimpo whisper, and I’m willing to splurge there). I will NOT be quitting my full-time job anytime soon, but I’m finding the constraints of a communal studio (scheduling/time away from home/glaze limitations) are making this hobby less fun than it started out being. (I’ve reached my quarter-life crisis because I feel like I’ve finally found what I was meant to be doing...) What tips or advice do you have in setting up a home studio? Where should you improvise/“make your own”, and where do you need to buy commercially? What was your breaking point that made you start your own home studio? Was it worth it? Has it paid off? Thanks for helping the new fish out.
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