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Seasoned Warrior

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  1. One of the greatest drawbacks for me in the use of a wood-fired kiln is the long time it takes to complete a firing. I basically work by myself and Anagama type kilns I have visited in Japan and elsewhere typically take several days to bring up to ^10 consuming several cords of firewood and take the involvement of a small village to run. I just can't stoke a kiln for several days: for me it's just physically impossible. The other day a friend passed on an article from a kiln building workshop held at Lake Superior Community College in which the instructor built a wood-fired kiln described as a turbo kiln which the instructor learned of from potters in Taiwan. The item that really caught my attention was the statement "...it reached cone 12 in an afternoon, and cooled enough to be opened the next day...", an afternoon??? Now that is a time frame I could live with easily. Does anyone know the basic design of this particular type of kiln? the article in "Ceramic Times" didn't give an adequate description nor show enough photographs for me to be able to come to any conclusions as to the dimensions or the configuration. Regards, Charles
  2. The photograph of of an item from 1181 might possibly be copyrighted but not the item being photographed. I believe that every artist should strive for originality but there are works that are inspired by other works. There is an excellent article on just this subject by David Hendly in the Opinion section of Clay Times called "Around the Firebox" in the Winter 2010/11 issue entitled "Take Pains and Pleasures in Constantly Copying" Mr. Hendly postulates that it is a necessary process to copy as a learning tool. Mr. Hendly goes on to suggest that only by copying can a student grasp the techniques of the master. I found it to be an interesting discussion of he entire copying situation. As far as the copyright for life, Mea, I completely understand that the copyright for life is the law NOW! It wasn't until recently and the chart applies for those works produced before the law was enacted. An interesting conversation is arising out of the conformation to the Berne Convention. Recent court decisions have maintained that the artists has certain rights in their work even after the work has been sold to a customer. One of the recently upheld arguments regarded how the work is displayed wherein the artist believed that theyr work was being compromised by the method of display. The artist sued and won and the owner of the art had to compensate the artist. Recently we saw a work in San Diego County where the City had ordered a work of art to display on the bluffs overlooking the ocean and then decided that the work was not appropriate to the location. The City had to pay the artist to take the work down so as not to compromise the integrity of the display. We live in interesting times.
  3. High heat should not be a major factor in switch design for a kiln but high current certainly is. The switch you took out should have its rating stamped or printed on it you need to match or exceed the voltage and amperage or wattage number correctly or the switch will overheat and melt or worse. There are a number of places where you could find the switch. Graingers likely carries switches that can handle the load. I contribute maintenance to my local community college and I have actually had very good luck getting parts as reasonably as any place else from Skutt, I am not familiar with your manufacturer. Good luck Regards, Charles
  4. For some reason there is a great deal of misinformation about copyrigths. It's not that hard, copyurights are not forever! Look at chapter three of the copyrignt law entitled 'Duration of Copyright." subsection 302 states: (a) In General.—Copyright in a work created on or after January 1, 1978, subsists from its creation and, except as provided by the following subsections, endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author’s death. Note that the copyright is for the life of the owner and expires after the owners death as stipulated by the law but this is only for works created after January 1, 1978. There are many works in the public domain and usually if the work was published before January 1, 1978 and at least 60 years old it's probably in the public domain. Cornell University has an excellent chart that graphically depicts copyright expiration dates succinctly at http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm It helps no one to give out bad information, there are myriad works in the public domain and therefore unprotected. I do agree with Chris however and I wold think it better to create your own original works. One other point, your copyright or anyone elses is only as good as the depth of your pockets and the skill of your attorney. Defending a copyrigh is expensive, difficult and lengthy and you have to go to court to defend it, the Government won't do it for you. A particularly noteworthy source for graphics and images is the Library of congress at http://www.loc.gov/index.html
  5. I use a precision balance for mixing glazes but just about any scale will do for weighing lumps of clay. For me rather than having an absolute weight I'm usually looking for repeatability since I want to be able to weigh out lumps of clay similar to each other so it doesn't matter if the scale is right on; at least not to me. I use a kitchen type scale with a platform on top and a big dial in the front. they are cheap and seem to last. A spring scale also varies with elevation so it measures differently in the mountains of Colorado than it would in the low deserts of California, that's why balances were used for trade. Regards, Charles
  6. Getting involved in education was quite an eye-opener. It all started when I was still heavily involved in my engineering business. One day we had an open house at the college for the Chamber of Commerce members to see what was going on. I used to get the regular mailers from the College and just peroused them casually but I was talking tot the Dean and he was telling me that they were having financial problems because of lack of students. The next semester Ana and I decided to sign up for classes to see if in some small way we coldl help. The college has three electric kilns (Skutts) and two gas-fired kilns as a well as an electrick test kiln and a gutted small Skutt they use for Raku. Out of the three electrig kilns only one was operating. I bought elements for both and replaced them since the school had no budget for it. I also had to rebuild the relay train for one of the Skutts' electronic controllers. I learned that the Ceramics professor was only part-time and had been part-time for 27 years becuase the school could not put him on full-time because of the retirement programs. Also the school was going to cut the Ceramics Professor's hours becuase they did not have enough students signing up for ceramics to have a class during the day and one at night, so the night class was going to be cut. We got busy and got the community to support the night class. There is an adult ceramics class taught by a non-degreed individual that was untouched during this time. As I found out the adult class was fully funded by the tuition from the class and agreements with the teacher while the class taught by college staff (MFA) was partly funded by government monies. I thought it was rather short-sighted of the college to cut classes taught by the more qualified professor while still expecting him to support the firing schedule for the adult classes on his own time. We are slowly getting things back on track and the school is realizing the value of the ceramics classes taught by qualified teachers with our involvement but it took quite a bit of effort. It has been an education to see how an institution of higher learning is hamstrung by its funding sources. I have a friend who teaches jewellry at a community college in San Francisco and I undertand that the problem is widespread. I have been able to get a few grants for the school and last year we had a resident artist (an MFA) in Ceramics and by holding specialized workshops it actually increased the visibility of the school and as a result we are getting students from out of our immediate area this semester. So we are making progress but it is painfully slow.
  7. Charles, Yeah... I do that stuff . Last large wood kiln building design/workshop is did was summer of 2009 in Japan. As Joan Rivers likes to say... "Can we talk?" I'll contact you via PM soon and then we can use email. Your situation just sounds like it is "prime" for firing with wood. I kind of assumed that you'd be doing that from what you were saying about the rest of your situation. There may be some potential permitting issues around those parts.... but we can discuss them and see "what is what". best, ..............john I do believe that my situation is prime for a wood fired kiln. In actuality I don't do a lot of high-fire work at my studio. We have a small community college (College of the Redwoods, Mendocino Campus) and I do most of my firing there. We have a problem with having enough students (income) to support the art programs at the college and many have been cut. I donate maintenance on the kilns including parts as necessary, I sign up and pay for courses each semster and I donate both time and money as needed. Ana (my spouse who largely does the same as I) and I actually take an active part in the College operations so that the College can continue to provide accredited classes in art. We have one ceramics professor (part-time now), and one who specializes in art other than ceramics (about to retire). We have one of the foremost fine-woodworking programs in the world, the college is well known with woodworkers and we are trying very hard to get similar recognition for the other arts. I am afraid that without continued input in time and money we will lose the art department and a very valuable resource for our area, that being said I really would like to have a wood-fired kiln and I'd also like to have the kiln as a resource for the art department at the college. there is very little in the annual budget for the college's art programs. Best regards, Charles
  8. No John, not yet. Is there a chance I can get you to do a workshop building one on the Redwood Coast in Mendocino? I'd be glad to beat the bushes for some participants. I have been studying the concepts for some time and while we have two Anagama type kilns in our area (Mendocino College has an anagama at Red Clay Ranch in Ukiah and there is a private one at Flynn Creek in Comptche sponsored by the Mendocino Art Center http://julesstout.com/ ) but I understand that there are much more efficient wood kilns. I know that you fire with wood and I see that Mark Issenberg does also. I still haven't decided on the design. I do have a steep hill next to my studio on which on could get a great updraft from a kiln bilt along the grade such as an anagama. I have no experience with wood kilns. I have used wood to generate steam for use in a canning retort (about 10hp). Currently I bisque with electricity and high fire with propane or #2 fuel oil using burners I've built or modified. I guess it's not as eco sensitive as I could be but I bicycle to my office in town and for most everything else including grocery shopping (my own form of carbon credits, cap and trade???) and use a car only for long trips. A wood-fired kiln is definately in the offing but I don't want to re-invent the wheel so I am still looking at designs. However this Summer... Best regards, Charles 39°26'6.50"N Lattitude 123°46'50.28"W Longitude
  9. The primary reason that plaster is a good mold material is because in many areas it is plentiful, inexpensive and easy to use. Probably the most important propeties of plaster is its ability to absorb water. The ability to absorb water also makes bisque a useful material to make ceramic molds that being said there are probably other techniques and materials that can be used. If you are interested in making tiles you don't need to have a lot of absorptive properties in order to duplicate the tiles. If you are capable of makig a cavity with adequate detail in a material that is tough and durable such as concrete it wold work if you use a hydraulic press and a virtually dry clay body. If you mix dry clay to a point where it will just hold togoether you can press it into a mold and then placde the mold slightly elevated and hit it with a mallet so that it releases the clay. Remember you only need to have the clay hold together long enough to place it n a kiln to vitrify it. It will vitrify at its vitrification temperature if the platelets are in adequate contact with each other. Also in a very humid climate you can reconstitute plater of paris by heating it to the amount where it changes state again. Plaster is basically calcium sulphate and can be made by heating gypsum (a common mineral) to about 300 degrees F. You can also make plaster from limestone again by heating it, then grinding (pulverizing) in to a powder and re-hydrating it.
  10. It strikes me as an intellectually lazy answer Denice. John Baymore has laid out some excellent ways that one can offset personal energy uses. It does no conversation any favors to throw out incendiary comments that have no basis in fact. The area you live in is your choice as is the form of energy you elect to use. I am a potter but I also own a tree farm. When I was a power plant engineer (nuclear) I devised a plan for a completely sustainable existence. I decided that 10 acres of forest would be able to provide completely sustainable energy for a household. I own 40 acres and actively farm part of it, I have a tree farm on 20 of it and I fully heat my home with wood. I have yet to cut a single tree down to sustain my energy needs. My energy needs are fulfilled with downed trees and normal best practices forest stewardship techniques. I have a non-industrial harvest plan on my property which takes into consideration the basal growth and a completely sustainable yield over a 100 year period. I am allowed to harvest 10% of my timber every decade. In the last 20 years I have only done some maintenance cutting to increase the rate of yield. You need to educate yourself on how energy is made and how it is used and not listen so much to the knee-######## rhetoric of special interests. My property today is in better shape than when I purchased it. I have 27% more board feet of standing redwood than there was 20 years ago when I first purchased it and the property had been clear-cut in the 1950's. Besides the use of downed wood in heating I also augment my other energy uses. I have a gravity feed water system at home. I have a dam up the hill in the woods on my property that provides both domestic water and irrigation to the agricultural operation (I grow vegetables for my own household use and lavender and artichokes commercially). I think that people need to take responsibility for their actions instead of wishing that things were otherwise. Perhaps you should evaluate your choices and your ability to sustain those choices. A realistic approach may indicate that doing pottery is not the best use of your personal resources. We all make choices all the time, our choices impact our lives and those of others. Perhaps we all should occasionally sit down and evaluate our choices and instead of complaining about what others dowe should evaluate our lifestyle. We all need to proceed with our lives so that we impact the lives of others less. Good luck and best regards, Charles http://community.webshots.com/user/FernCreekFarms
  11. That is a very interesting look, I'm going to have to try that. Thank you fro pointing out the tile I hadn't seen it. BTW I really like the photo of you next to the unicorn, is that an installation of your creation? Glad you're back, Happy New year! Best regards, Charles
  12. Perhaps I dont completely understand the process but since one is painting the image on in a one off process what would be the advantage of doing it this way? It sounds interesting. Best regards, Charles
  13. Putting it in the oven would certainly help if you kept the temperature well under 212 degrees F. If the entrained water turned to steam it could split or spall your slab. One of the best ways would be if you had a gas oven with a pilot light to leave it in the oven with only the pilot light on overnight. Do you work in an unheated environment? Others might have different insights. I work in a very humid area (coastal Northern California), especially in the winter but my studio is heated with wood and is usually quite toasty. I've never had the problem becuase the difference ibetween the inside and outside temperatures allows things to dry well. Good luck! Regards, Charles
  14. Looks like I'm a bit late to the party but the company is superlative. Like most of you I too love my Giffen Grip and a number of its accessories. It speeds up trimming and allows me to trim pieces i otherwise wold have a hard time doing symmetrically. Happy New Year to all, may it be prosperous and fulfilling! Best regards, Charles
  15. Great suggestion Chris! I have always been a great fan of business plans and make rather detailed plans which I thne spread in a chart format known a Critical Path Method. Many peopl make business plans and then are frustrated when something doesn't go the way they planned intially. Most of us revise our plans and just as your analogy to the map on needs to check regularly and see how you are progressing and whether you've hit your milestones. I finid it helpful to revise the plan so that it is a true map of what has gone on and where I want to go. The critical path metohd is a way of making a time-based chart with start and end points so that you can see which item becomes critical by seeing where you path is. It sounds much more complicated than it is. Without a concrete plan that is updated and revised regularly one is merely blundering through the landscape. Regards, Charles
  16. One of my favorite styles is the older San Ildefonso (San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico) pottery which I collect. The pottery is burnished and then fired in Cow Manure to create its glossy black coating. No glazes but pottery nontheless.and in my opinion very beautiful pottery. The pottery from Oaxaca known as barro negro (black clay, literally) style is also not glazed but is definately pottery! Regards, Charles
  17. Like Chris, my personal philosophy is to chalk it up to experience and move on, of course that's just me. Everyone makes culls at one time or another and it should not be considered a mistake, it just was an unanticipated event. My excursions from desireability usually become grog. Perhaps you can do something else with the ones you've bisqued and add an interesting glaze design and they just become something else. Best regards, Charles
  18. Don't feel stupid and you certainly aren't a pain. Everyone goes through a bit of stress with any new concept. I have a philosophy with clay that others may not agree with but in my opinion it is really hard to screw up clay. I've had stuff that has come out of the so radically different than what I expected but it was always a learning experience. I belive clay is one of the most forgiving of mediums to work in. Chris suggested a test tile and I think that is a great suggestion. I like to test and I test allkinds of things. I test for shrinkage in different clays and I test glazes, I like to vary components or add components or mess with the ratiios just to see what happens, in fact it's rare that I don't have a few test coupons in almost all of my firings. One thing I have done since I was very young was to keep diaries of the things I do and list all the variables. I frequently refer to my diaries and have them cataloged so I can refer back to them. Ceramic arts are an interesting journey, relax and have fun with it! Best regarrds, Charles
  19. I agree Mea: There are urban areas that not as expensive and yes San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Orange County, Portland, Seattle, Boulder, are all special. You can imagine my shock when last week I was asked to consult on a major engineering project in China. It has been a many years since I lived and worked in Asia and the cost of living in Shanghai makes San Francisco look like a veritable bargain! Best regards, Charles
  20. Hi Mea: Perhaps living in an urban area may not necessarily have to be more expensive than living in a rural area but it is not wholly a myth that certain parts of the country have higher living expenses. For instance here in California with 10% sales tax in some urban areas, gasoline that has to meet an arbitrary composition only available from some refineries and is currently at $3.18 in my town as well as property values that are higher than 90% of the country would make some areas much more expensive to live in than others and in many cases prohibitive. I am fortunate to be able to have other streams of income which allows me greater flexibility to live where I wish but it is not a myth that some areas have much higher basic expenses than others. Potters aren't the only people to live frugally, I could care less about what the Joneses think. I'm frugal by nature and have always bought used cars because cars are such an awful expense and lose a large portion of their value when driven off the showroom floor. I actually bicycle locally wherever I can. I have seen my grocery bill rise 15% since last Summer, in part because of profligate public spending. I'd challenge anyone to live as comfortably on the same income in the San Francisco Bay Area as they do in Fort Smith. Arkansas . Just as a comparison the median price of a home in Ft Smith is $224,000 while in the San Francisco Bay Area the median home price is $628,000 and the average rent for a two bedroom apartment is $2,800/month. To put it into context the median household income for Ft. Smith is $37,000 and in the Bay Area $70,000. Twice the income but three times the housing cost. I have no idea what your area averages but I suspect that many fewer potters can afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area than in the Ft. Smith area just based on the cost of housing. Best regards, Charles
  21. Thanks Mea for your response: I really wan't prying, just tring to put thinggs in perspective. there are many variables including the economic area on lives in. I suspect since you appear to be in the Washington DC area that your expensies and costs of living are much higher than someoone in the heartland. My area also is very expensive to live in here and that needs to be taken into consideration. You are rignt abour frugality being a part of the equation. The fact that you support yourself completely without any input from outside is very important. I really appreciate your keeping track of your expenses and time. I guess with my engineering training and experience everythings gets converted into quantifiable and therefore understandable figures. I love my spreadsheets, and have historical information on most everything I do. Again not trying to pry just professional curiosity and I fully apreciate your privacy. While your numbers don 't specifically apply to anyone elses business there are extrapolations that can be made. I know my numbers, I just like to see if I am doing better or worse than the norm Thanks and Best regards, Charles
  22. Fortunately many newpapers are going to soy-based inks, check to see if your's is!
  23. Hi Mea: You have an excellent project here which shows a relative return for the various types of venues you participated in. For me it wold be more valuable to see the hourly return placed in the context of an annual income since hourly returns can be quite high for a short duration yet not provide a sustainable income for a longer period. I don't need specific figures but it wold be nice to know if your annual return from your potter was in say the mid 5 figures. Knowing the annual reurn would porvide a context for the hourly figures. I know from my analysis of my own production I have very high income periods intertwined with very low or non-existent income periods. Best regards, Charles
  24. Good point, John. Sometimes it's easy to forget that not everyone is hooked in to a T1 line. It's not necessarily a straight-up either/or decision, but it's a bit like making your current body of work in both earthenware and stoneware. Sure, they're both clay, but I don't need to tell you how different they are from the perspective of the potter. Each format we pursue requires us to handle the content again from the very beginning. I mentioned above that the sky is the limit once the content is digitized, but I only meant that many things become possible, not that any of them are necessarily easy or cheap. Whether it's a CD sent through the postal system, or digital packets sent through a fiber-optic line, each has a separate set of technical specifications, workflow organization, file size and configuration limitations, navigational structures, and a host of other things. That said, we'll try to determine what will likely be the most useful format in the long term and begin there, with the idea that we can add formats or channels (call them what you will) as we go. The end game may very well include all formats, from CD to DVD to online to mobile apps to print---aaahh, the ideal world awaits! Sherman Interesting comments all. I know from my standpoint I am very fortunate in having a high speed DSL line even though I am in a very rural area but that is only because we are in very close proximity to a node. Dial-up was an absolute nightmare here before. That being said I know that my preference would be a searchable database online with the ability to buy specific material and download if via a Portable Data File (pdf). I would imagine that if the files were online as pdf files then it might be fairly easy to compile and sell CDs in the pdf format from the database. Anyway it will be a nice resource to have whichever way you decide. Bests regards, Charles
  25. During the process, I would like to freeze my work at the leather hard stage, the light soft sheen, the rich brown color, the mark of my hands in the clay, even the simple burr that doesn't cut. Alas, no firing or surface will keep that look. some try by using a dark colored clay body, but it just isn't the same. Could someone who is not a potter understand that aesthetic appeal? Both are very thought provoking comments. A while ago I read that there was a difference in the way people think and some are linear thinkers and others seem to be able to process multiple lines of thought simultaneously, kind of like a parallel processor. I know that when I start a clay project I start at the end with the finished product and plan the process to fit the end result. I have had others tell me that they pick up the clay and see what is in it (a completely baffling concept to me). I have a good friend who teaches pottery at the local Junior Colege and he is quite happy to discover what is waiting for him inside the lump of clay. I suspect that there are other people than potters who might like the aesthetic appeal of various parts of the process but they would have to be able to understand the process intimately to be able to achieve that understanding. After reading your comments I will study the process more carefully to grasp the aesthetics of it more completely. The journey would be much more enjoyable if one had an appreciation for the scenery one passes through. I have a new perspective now. Thanks! Best regards, Charles
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