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QotW: Do you draw a line in the sand about technology when it comes to your studio or anything Ceramic?


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1 minute ago, liambesaw said:

If that's the case, why does the printed one still look empty.

That's your opinion, and I respect that. A lot of it does look empty, but I'm also a fan of mid century design and those clean lines and simple forms that show no signs of being touched by human hand. A lot of the work that I make has very few marks from my hands. And I totally agree that much (most) of the 3D printed work I see isn't good, and mostly it's a case of not designing in a way that takes advantage of the nature of the process, no different than any other process IMO. You choose a process because it lends itself to achieving a certain look, and the wrong process can result in poor work. I think this piece by Keith Simpson (@EarlyAmericanRobotPottery on instagram) is a great example of embracing the nature of 3D printed ceramics to achieve a beautiful result. I don't care how it's made, it works. And if you take a look at his Instagram page, you'll see that he has to deal with cracking and collapsing walls and all those others issues that have to be dealt with when working with clay in any other method.

 

Early American Robot Pottery.jpg

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I'm of the opinion that just because I may not be inclined to use a piece of tech in my own practice, that doesn't make it an invalid approach. I've seen some really interesting things done with a 3D

I've searched for examples of 3-D  printed ceramics online.    Many were  delicate, aesthetically pleasing  extruded coil pieces arranged in every configuration the computer and printer will allow, an

Interesting how the discussion quickly centered on 3D printing! I like what Tom noted about how much technology we use in the first place, and have ever since we figured out how to light a fire. I had

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I think this quote from oliver van herpt speaks to what I'm saying.  He is a 3d printed ceramics manufacturer:

"The 3D Woven collection comprises of a weave pattern reminiscent of the days of artisans. 3D printing ceramics has the potential to bring back the unique and individualized objects that artisans make. But, this time it is a machine who manufactures the final product. Each unique vase in this collection shows us the potential of cutting edge technology while reminding us of the days of yore."

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After 45 years now throwing pots I think I'll order a 3 d printer and run it from the couch. No more getting hands wet and muddy.

I will also match it with one of the new Geil or Bailey auto fire car kilns. I'm just waiting for the auto glaze machine and then I can operate it all from my phone from a tropical Island while diving. Maybe an autonomous vehilce to  deliver the wares.  Just a few months away from the big investment of Ai stuff.

finally after 10,000 yaers of Manual ceramics I'll be free of actually touching the clay. No more dry cracked fingers -worn out bones, worn out cloths and shoes. No more aching back, no more dust . Just a few swipes on an I phone 18 small enough phone to fit thru an airline door.

No more pesky watching the kiln. Soon I will have to call the fire department to come and  flip me when I weigh 400#s on the couch and have run thru all of netflix content.

I can for once be free of that clay desease that invected me in 1969.Finally a cure

Somehow I'm wondering if this is  all linked to corona virus cure???

Edited by Mark C.
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2 hours ago, Mark C. said:

I will also match it with one of the new Geil or Bailey auto fire car kilns

I refuse to build an automatic kiln control, only monitors so one can learn to master their trade and more clearly asssociate what you see and hear with what is going on. I am speaking reduction of course, automatic kiln controls for electrics have already destroyed teaching rates and  schedules and what happens when and why. 

 See the reduction level? Now look at the flame every time and draw experience from it. Automation and gauges and pyrometers all good tools to help you learn things so you can go experiment and apply your artful thinking. Master your 3 D printer, meh. Does it allow you to learn ceramics, maybe. Maybe it forces you to master the 3D thing, which is ok I guess. I am pretty good at Autocad  and it’s a nice tool but buildings get built well when folks master their trade. Autocad is a small component of the lifetime of knowledge one needs to be effective.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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As @Bill Kielbsays "I refuse to build an automatic kiln control, only monitors so one can learn to master their trade and more clearly associate what you see and hear with what is going on. I am speaking reduction of course, automatic kiln controls for electrics have already destroyed teaching rates and  schedules and what happens when and why. " However, just as it is important as a teacher to teach the skill of centering a pot on the wheel, before allowing them to cheat with a Griffin Grip, teaching color of heat is important also.

I believe that technology needs to be backed up by physical and mental skills before depending on it. When I was teaching computer animation, my basic teaching guide was the Disney book of Animation written by one of Disney's original animators. The skills taught in the book about the Principles of Animation, and ways to grab the audience were invaluable. As with that, much of what has been written in the past about Ceramics is paramount to understanding much of what we do. However, learning from personal observation and careful analysis of that observation is a personal way forward.

best,

Pres

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11 hours ago, liambesaw said:

Now there are actual systems designed to the point where you don't need to know anything about the material.  So you buy a white mix or a red mix or whatever, mix and load.  I've seen someone answer the question "is that porcelain or stoneware" with "I have no idea".  I mean come on.  

I don't see this as being all that different than people who use commercial glazes and don't know anything about glaze formulation. Or the hobbyist who simply presses the buttons on their kiln controller without having a firm understanding of how cones work. Or students at a community art center who never fire the kilns at all (my students). Or people who buy pre-mixed clay bodies, which are 99.9% of the people who work with clay. Do we need to give someone a test of their ceramic knowledge in order to judge the quality of their work? The examples of people who work with clay and lack technical knowledge about ceramics are much greater than those who know a lot. This forum is proof of that. The fact is you can make beautiful ceramic pieces without knowing anything about formulating a clay body or a glaze, whether your'e working on a wheel or 3D printing. A friend/customer of mine has been a full time potter for 20 years, and has never mixed her own glazes. Wouldn't know a si:al ratio if it hit her in the head. She doesn't know anything about fixing her kilns, either- she calls me. I don't think that invalidates her work any more than buying pre-mixed slip for 3D printing. And even though one may not know the technical points of the material, they still have to learn how each one works with the process of 3D printing, how it fires, how glazes work on it, etc. Pieces still crack, warp, slump, etc. even though they are 3D printed. It simplifies one aspect of the process, but it's not magic.

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I've searched for examples of 3-D  printed ceramics online.    Many were  delicate, aesthetically pleasing  extruded coil pieces arranged in every configuration the computer and printer will allow, and I think that's where 3-D printed ceramics is right now. 

I'm the type of person who likes leave a mark by swiping my finger across a frosted cake.  Perhaps some potters will  begin to manually alter these

as they have done with wheel thrown pieces.

 I could never build coil  pieces like these by hand.

 

 

 

 

 

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20 minutes ago, karenkstudio said:

 I could never build coil  pieces like these by hand.

All good arguments! I think true to the question though is where is your personal limit and perhaps why. As far as hand made? Don’t give up on human capability even without a computer and some exacting stepper motors. Lots of amazing things out there made / carved  / painted / thrown by masters of their craft that would make a printer blush. ( oh, out of magenta again $#@!)

18CA1191-C172-4A77-B197-BB2B01C91AD9.jpeg

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9 hours ago, Bill Kielb said:

automatic kiln controls for electrics have already destroyed teaching rates and  schedules and what happens when and why. 

I would argue that digital controllers have had the opposite effect on electric kilns. Prior to digital controls, we did Low-Med-Hi then waited until the Kiln Sitter shut it off. Although we had a cone and a very basic understanding of the cone melting process, we had no idea what was going on during the firing. Since the advent of digital controllers, we are now aware of the rate of climb of the kiln, and how to design a firing schedule based on specific ramps and holds, going slow through quartz inversion, how the speed of the final ramp relates to cones, etc. We now do things like add holds at the end of a firing to add more heat work, slow cooling ramps to increase crystal growth, fast glaze firings, slow bisque firings, etc. Digital controllers have brought us much more awareness and control compared to manual firings.

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Wow.

As for (my reading of) the question, lots of tech in my Studio already, which is absolutely dependent on electricity to power lighting, wheel, kiln, audio system (yeh, it's important!), pyrometer, and mixing tools. I'm not interested in:

  working by natural light only (nor by candle light);

  kicking or otherwise powering the wheel myself, nor using a wheel less sensitive, consistent, precise, and powerful;

  isolating myself from media whilst working (although shutting off the system, and rolling up the door to the sounds o' birds, wind, neighbors, ocean can be a nice change);

  firing ware by burning stuff (not even the available natural gas, as there's just nowhere to put a gas kiln at our house, 'cept the courtyard, which ain' happenin');

  working without a pyrometer;

  mixing slurry - glaze, slip, reclaim - by hand.

Without "the internet" my journey into clay would have been much more ...stark; books and magazines are great, sure, as is meeting, working and sharing with others interested in clay, however, the depth and breadth of info, instantly available, as well as the lifetime of vids (some of which are worthwhile!) - amazing resource.

These advantages are all within the arc of my life, if one includes their parents' experience...

 

My list of tech to add includes:

new kiln, as current kiln is well worn, and when the time comes, with controller, to cut down on the back and forth to/from the kiln whilst firing.

That's all that comes to mind just now, although I am interested in mixing clay, seeing how rewarding mixing glazes has been, and how "wrong" so many clay bodies seem to be...

As for other machines, tech, tools, etc. exploring wheel thrown forms was (still is) the whole point - for me; very little hand building, no extrusions (yet), no molds, no nothin'! Hence, perhaps it's not "...drawing a line..." for me, rather just doing what I want.

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1 hour ago, karenkstudio said:

Perhaps some potters will  begin to manually alter these

as they have done with wheel thrown pieces.

Exactly. Use the 3d printer as another tool in the tool box. If you don't like the aesthetics of the majority of the current style of 3d work then use the tech how it works for you; just like any other tool. Use it to make framework or armatures for example. In comparison to the centuries that handbuilding and wheelthrowing has been practiced the time potters have had access to this technology has been a blink of an eye. Instead of walking away from it we could be looking at how to make it work for us.

 

 

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Interesting how the discussion quickly centered on 3D printing! I like what Tom noted about how much technology we use in the first place, and have ever since we figured out how to light a fire. I had never seen anything 3D printed and had a terrible time even grasping how you could end up with a physical dimensional object. My potters' guild had a meeting at the University of New Hampshire ceramics studio (literally a year ago) and I was introduced to these pieces. They were the first ones that one of their student's had successfully printed after many weeks of study, designing, trial & error etc.  I do not find them cold or empty or "too-too" computerized--I am in awe that this can be done with clay via some weird process via some weird machine! And I am grateful that I won't be drummed out of the club because I use commercial materials, use mostly pre-programmed programs in an electric kiln, and have no clue what a si:al ratio is (and, gasp, don't care either). At one time, W.G. Lawrence's Ceramic Science for the Potter & Daniel Rhodes Clay & Glazes for the Potter were my bibles and I actually knew/practiced the stuff! Does lacking that knowledge (now) make me not an artist? You bet your sweet bippy it does not.  My cognition/memory retention is shot to smithereens due to minor (relatively speaking) TBI. Doesn't change my motivation, taste, ethics, vision or desire to satisfy Self and others with what I make; as such technology is just a tool and one I'm grateful for. I'd love the chance to use a 3D printer, at least as a starting point-that Simpson piece is luscious!!  I ain't scared of no bot overlords.

20191117_135030- (3).jpg

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Electric and gas fired kilns were once considered new technology over wood fired kilns. I'll bet there were some debates about that once upon a time

Wood fired kilns were once considered new technology over cooking fires because it was easier to control the heat. I'll bet there were some debates about that too

Electric wheels with gas pedals compared to the old electric wheels that had maybe one or two different speed settings  were once considered new technology

When someone first mounted an electric motor on to a kick wheel it was probably considered blasphemy over the previous method of kicking a stone around. Yes that was considered new technology.

When the wheel was first invent and installed on a animal drawn cart and when it passed by someone who was making coils of clay to make a pot thought "Eureka! I could use a wheel to make pots!" I'll bet there were some harsh word that the pot looked machine made.

We all have choices and we all embrace them based on our own esthetics. Personally I can't wait for Star Trek replicators to be invented

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, Pres said:

Huh! Think about how much discussion we have had over the Griffin Grip over the years! Tech will always advance new ways, and good ceramic practitioners will constantly learn to incorporate the tech to their purposes in the best manners possible.

 

best,

Pres

But do you consider a giffin grip technology? Or something that fundamentally changes the way pottery is made?  I don't really think its analogous.  The same for electric kilns or kick wheels or electric wheels.  They're all improvements or changes to traditional pottery techniques and don't remove the craftsman from the crafting.  Since I seem to be alone in my opinion, I feel like I need to clarify.  I'm not a traditionalist or technophobe.  There is definitely space for 3D printers in pottery, and I have examples of what I consider a proper use for them.  But fully printing pots is not one of them.  If you designed something, that does not mean you crafted it.  You don't call an architect a builder.  You don't call a fashion designer a seamstress.  Of course they can be both, but being one doesn't make you the other.  When you fully print a pot, it is outsourcing the labor to a machine.  Just like a building developer would outsource design to an architect and the building to a carpenter. 

 

 

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4 hours ago, liambesaw said:

Since I seem to be alone in my opinion,

I think I can agree with your point. Personally for me I like technology but also dislike when that same technology replaces basic learning. It often can serve to improve learning but as folks get lazy their skills go away, even for teachers. It’s just a personal thing with me as a teacher. 3D printing likely makes you a better ........... 3D printer using clay as a medium. It’s ok, just not all that impressive or indicative of ones mastery of pottery.  The griffin grip, electric kiln, controls, natural gas, propane .......  arguments are a bit weak in my opinion as they replace manual skills or basic brain skills or are  just another fuel source.
Very few folks have a clear concept of firing rates, now why is that? How can you finish school and not be able to at least know the basics of bisque firing and glaze firing or how do cones work. Maybe they are not discussed because we automated all of that out and it’s boring to teach, or learn?

It’s interesting in twenty years of  adjunct teaching HVAC my first question in a balancing class was always how do you pick the size of the very first piece of ductwork. Similar to asking the basic stages of clay construction. The answer is super simple, the answers I received were never even close. These were adults in the very last portion of the program. All of that had gone by the wayside in teaching and learning I guess.

And no , no technophobe here, just finishing probably 500 lines of Visual Basic for some significant energy worksheets right at this moment.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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If technology can provide me with a tool, such that I can produce something,  with less stress and pain caused to my body, I'm all for it.

It's a bit like the photography argument.  Digital cameras and photoshop doesn't make you a good photographer, it makes you good at producing a finished picture.  A good photographer can produce a good photograph on scene, and doesn't need to spend another hour sitting at a computer removing/enhancing.

To me, a potter is someone who makes pots.  How they are made, how quickly they are made, doesn't really matter.  So long as they "stand-up" to the role.  A mug has to feel good, keep liquid inside, not burn the hand that holds it.  A sculpture must look good, not fall over/explode/disintegrate.

Going back to 3D printing.  I know nothing about it, but, is it faster?  I see it can make shapes that the hands would struggle with - as pictures above.  But, can it make a dinnerware set faster than a wheel-thrower can, or a factory producing slip-cast/jigger-jolley ware?  I don't think so, not yet, therefore it is not a replacement for traditional pottery, but who knows what the future holds.

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