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Hope someone can help me! Shivering problems! My business is at stake


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When I was a tech for A.R.T. Clay, we would occasionally see shivering happen on low fire white talc bodies. Sometimes it was because they had been recycling the clay a lot and had altered the clay body through that process. But most of the time we couldn't come up with a reason why it was happening. We've seen it here on the forum a few times, too. Usually it would happen on the edges of the work, occasionally on the whole piece. I've seen crawling happen due to lotion from hands getting on the bisque ware, but I don't think shivering would come from that. The only thing I can think of is if the clay wasn't mixed well enough, which would be near impossible to prove.

As for them not keeping itemized sales records, that's pathetic. It's 2020 and they don't have a computerized system that stores itemized sales? How do they track inventory? I've been doing it since 2004. It's called Quickbooks, and it only costs $180.

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2 hours ago, Benzine said:

I had some shivering-like problems on my low fire white, that I have used for years.  It was a handful of projects, and with specific underglaze colors. 

Haven't had any issues since. 

I remember that. It seems to be totally random when it happens, which is why I think it must be a clay mixing problem. It may only be in a few bags from a batch.

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Okay, I've been gone all day, getting replacement clay so I can get started tomorrow morning.    

Neil, thanks for the info.  Perhaps you didn't see an earlier post:  It turned out that my clay supplier had given me "paper clay," instead of the white eartheware I have been using for many years.  The "paper clay" boxes were mislabeled, so I thought the slight difference in texture when I was working was due to its being more moist than my previous batch.  And, yes, I completely agree with your comment about their not keeping better records.  Fortunately, and I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but I did finally find my receipt from that clay purchase, so I am at the very least insisting that they refund my purchase price.  And if they want their paper clay back, they can darned well come and get it.  I have no use for it but am not driving hours to return it.  Their error has cost me untold numbers of hours of work on products that I can now not use for my commissions.

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Benzine, thanks for your comment.  This had to be a specific problem as it occurred very suddenly in my work.  See my comment to Neil above regarding the clay switch pulled on me by the seller's error.

KristinaNoel, thanks for the suggestion.  I've dealt with Clay Art Center in Tacoma in the past and really, really like them.  Today, unfortunately, I went the other direction, to a place in Spokane, thinking the drive would be easier.  It wasn't.  And I ended up buying clay there from Clay Art Center anyway!   So in the future, I'll be going to Tacoma.  I just hate the crowded drive to get there , but it will be a lot less driving for me than today.  Plus, since these people were buying and reselling clay from Clay Art Center, I ended up paying more for it.  But I am desperate to get back to my commissioned work as I now have only one month to do 11 (one extra, just in case!) large sculptures.  I received the commission nearly a month ago and was nearly finished with building when I thought I should glaze fire a couple just to get some moving through the process.  They both had shivers all over them, totally useless.  I have 8 other green ones sitting there, waiting for something . . . . .

So tomorrow, I am hitting it early and every single day until I have them all done.  They have an absolute due date of delivery by Nov 1-3.  I think I can do it if I really give it my best!

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I had the same thing happen about 10 years ago with 400 decorative tiles,  I was using the same Laguna  clay and glaze  that I had been  using for years,  I was lucky another potter found out that Laguna was getting the talc from a different pit.  I  made up my own clay that didn't have talc in it to finish my project,  I didn't trust any of the wet package clay at this point.   Denice

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Okay, here goes:   I lay awake all night last night (well, I might have slept three hours at most), thinking about my mess, and I came to some realizations that I feel  embarrassed about.  The main one is that I realized that I already had the shivering problem by the time I went to Seattle Pottery in August.  In fact, that was the reason I made a special trip there:  I was going to completely replace my clear glaze in hopes that that would solve the problem.  The problem had begun to occur just a week or two before I went, but all this means that even if I do have "paper clay," it appears that it didn't cause the initial problem -- or even exacerbate the original problem because it's no worse and no better -- just there on pretty much 100% of my pieces.  (It is much, much more prevalent on my sculptures, as I think I've mentioned before, than my wall-hanging pieces.  

First, I have written to Seattle Pottery and have apologized for my inappropriate outburst before I knew the entire story (yes, they  spoke poorly to me, too, but that doesn't mean I should behave in such a way (I was insistent that they replace and refund my money for the purchase of what clearly appears to be "paper clay" instead of what I ordered and was given.  And when they refused because I didn't have a receipt (which I think I have already said that I found -- and sent photos to them), I just lost it.  I didn't think it was fair.  Also, darn it, I was stressed over this commission (actually two commissions now), which I really, really need because of, well, Covid, and it's 2020, and I just lost it and said I would "smear their business," etc.  I'm so sorry.  It was inappropriate, not a reasonable way to solve a problem, and definitely beneath the standards that I want to hold myself to.  

I'm waiting to hear from them and will advise.  In the meantime, I did contact Amaco  Company to request some problem-solving advice if that does happen to be, part or completely, the problem.  There are just way toooooooo many variables in this problem for me to figure out how to solve.  And in my limited time, it makes it all the more frustrating.

Okay, 'nuf said, I guess.

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Know you are under stress, always a positive to acknowledge your errors.

Keep constructing orders

I would make test tiles. And change one thing at a time 

Check if all colours shiver.

If can isolate the culprits, I think from above it may be only a few.

Add frit or some of your glaze to those colours in measured amounts and apply

Then you may have some solutions.

Maybe not for these projects  as you are so constrained for time.

All the best.

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Hi, Neil.  Thanks so much.  

It's the same temp as the regular earthenware clay, 06-1 or 2, I think.  

Amaco responded to my request for assistance, so that's encouraging.  I gave them all the information they requested, so I expect I'll hear from them on Monday.  

Makes me want to quit clay altogether.

 

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1 hour ago, Dottie said:

Hi, Neil.  Thanks so much.  

It's the same temp as the regular earthenware clay, 06-1 or 2, I think.  

Amaco responded to my request for assistance, so that's encouraging.  I gave them all the information they requested, so I expect I'll hear from them on Monday.  

Makes me want to quit clay altogether.

 

Nah!

Character building!

And not boring!

Just a road hump. Next year you'll wonder what that was all about, and you will be wiser!

Bed  for sleep! Not sure what a potter's equivalent of counting sheep is...the clicking of relays?? 

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13 hours ago, Dottie said:

Makes me want to quit clay altogether.

This is exactly why the supplier who relies on your business should have been a bit more empathic to your situation, regardless of whose fault it was. 

Nothing against Amaco...

But Mayco Stroke and Coats are twice as fast, no Clear needed!

Mayco is like that cousin that doesn't come around as much, but dresses way better and never steals.

Sorce

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Dottie

Problems crop up in ceramics all the time its part of the whole process.

Just when you think you have the tiger by the tail you can get bit.

On a much larger scale I was firing 35 cubic foot car kiln loads of funtioinal wares in the 80s. The clay was from Laguna Clay co.

(by the way I'm still firing 35 cubic foot kiln loads)

A few whole loads started to bloat. They said to bisque hotter and it was not their issue it was mine .No way could it be the clay-which was porcelain.

Next glaze fire bloated I took the whole 35 cubic foot load and put it in Three large boxes (old TV size) and shipped it off for $100 at that time via UPS with zero padding to the owner. It filled my large truck pickup bed turns out UPS took it to his upstairs office and dropped it off. He came to work and opend the heavy boxes full of bloated broken pots and he had to carry it all to the downstairs dumpster. He was steaming mad but he did get it at that moment that it was not my isssue it was theirs. I heard about the end of this story 25 years later at an art opening where I live which is 12 hours north of that clay company location. Turns out they had a change in material in that clay body that did this.

If nothing elese I felt great about it.Meanwhile I switched clay for a time until they fixed the issue.

In ceramics its many times overcoming issues-whether they are glaze or kiln or clay.

I was and am a full time potter so I have seen many things go sideways. The key is working thru it as they will always go sideways sooner or later.

Edited by Mark C.
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@Dottie, not that you have much free time to read, but here is my recent blog sharing a similar story. I developed a pinholing problem last winter, and had to figure out where it was coming from, and how to fix it, all with a deadline looming. It was not fun. But my point is, we've all been there and understand what you’re going through.

https://www.goodelephant.com/blog/there-are-times-when-pottery-is-not-fun

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Dottie, sorry to hear of your difficulties. I learned through the school of hard knocks to always buy more clay well before it was needed, and to test it thoroughly before I running out of the batch in use.  Any potter who does not do this, is frankly just asking to be punished. As you now know.

The clay companies are notorious for making mistakes and/or substituting materials without telling customers that they have changed their formula. (It is always the potter’s fault, somehow!) To my knowledge, there are only two clay companies in North America who test their clay regularly before selling it. Plainsman (Alberta, Canada)and Tucker (Toronto). If other clay companies exist who test please let me know...in the states the #1 customer for clay companies are public schools...the price is more important than the quality...if you want to survive in this business take the time for due diligence...buyer beware! Never take any prepared ceramic product for granted. Premixed clay and glazes absolutely need to be tested every time you need to replenish your supply. 

Best wishes!

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Hi to all.  Just a follow-up, which I hope doesn't come back to bite me!  I have been doing many, many tile tests, and I *think* I finally have my problem solved.  First, I have all my 12 (one  or two extras, just in case) sculptures built (oh, I might not have mentioned before, but I got another!!! order for more dog sculptures while I've been testing).  And I kind of wimped out, too, on solving my problem:   Under such stressful circumstances, I bought ALL new materials from another supplier.  All the test tiles I did, unfortunately, showed no definitive specific problem but did show a few specific underglazes that are going to be tossed (mostly ones in the blue/green and violet range for some reason, it seems).   I still have much  more testing to do, but I feel with all new materials, I can at least get my custom orders out the door -- and on time!  I even learned quicker ways to build due to the large numbers of similar pieces I was building -- and I made a nice drying box to help get the sculptures ready to move through the system a little faster -- but not too fast.  

Later, I'll try to analyze what went wrong in the first place, but now, so far anyway, it looks as if I'll be able to get my two big orders out!  Thanks again to all of you who helped me get through this.   I know I was panicking and sounded really bonkers at times (which I probably was under the circumstances).   So thank you, thank you!  I learned so much from all of you.

 

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