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QotW: How do you define technology involved in the production of Ceramics?


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I think it would be a good idea to come to some consensus on the meaning of "technology" I would propose that we collaboratively write a statement of what "technology" means to us in the Ceramic community, or at least in the ICAN Community Forum. As a starter I will present what it means to me.

Technology for me as involved in ceramics is basically anything that makes my life easier when working with clay. This could include anything that makes my life easier, that I may have had another way of doing, but something technologically innovative would be helpful. 

for Example:

  • when cutting stencil to spray glazes through I started with commercial stencil, went to hand cutting my own, then to using a cricut type cutter controlled by my computer to cut them.
  • You all know about the handle pulling problem I have with my rt thumb, and not being ambidextrous to use my lt hand, I tried using a hand held putty gun type extruder. That was too much for my hands, even though it worked, but cranking out 100 handles in one day was tough. I switched to a modified battery powered putty gun modified to extrude my handles and other small sections for pottery.
  • At school, I used a setter to fire the kiln, took a step backwards to not have a setter on my own kiln because I wanted to fire up and down. Now days a kiln controller will fire pots up and down and do so much more.
  • I use a scroll saw to cut the dies for my hand extruder, used to use a coping saw. Two years ago while teaching the adult class at the high school someone needed a die for the handheld extruder at the school. Another teacher taking the class took a drawing of what  she wanted down to his "shop" scanned the drawing into the computer, took it into a cad program and cleaned up the scan scaled it and then hit print. A laser die cutter had the die outside cut and the inside extrusion area cut in about 3 minutes! Whole process took maybe 10 minutes.
  • I use a Griffin Grip, today that is old tech, but when it came out in the 80's I think it was like WOW to me. In a little bit of no time I realized how much faster I could trim pots. Even though I knew all of the tap centering tricks and was quick, this thing was quicker, and it would handle odd shapes with a little creative help. Now days with pieces of plumbing parts I can trim stems and chalice bowls and assemble in short time. Also use outer edges of some parts to trim to exacting diameters. Easy and Quick.

So to me, unless I can afford or justify the tech, it is not any good to me. Surprisingly enough, the laser cutter, are dropping in price to where cutting the dies will be cost effective. The teachers cutter was about a 24 X 36 table. Pretty big for home use.

I will pose a starting point for a definition:

Technology for Ceramics may be defined as any advancement in a process that will allow a cost effective, easier or quicker, way of doing traditional processes with the aid of a new tool or piece of equipment. This could be some form of evolutionary technology building on traditional methods and equipment or completely new technology.

Please edit, or completely rewrite it. . . .and as we go along, maybe we can come to a consensus. 

QotW: How do you define technology involved in the production of Ceramics?

best,

Pres

 

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Back in the day pots where made all by handbuilding/coiling etc or a kick wheel  driven with a foot  or a stick or a treadle (later invention) or by someone else 

handles where rolled or pulled or slabbed

Indoor plumbing came along as well

Since those days and much of this has been in my lifetime its all changed.(not the indoor plumbing)

Power wheels extruders slab rollers  pug mill and clay mixer and combo machines-they even come all with  electric power now

Pres story on extruder dies sums up how far this has come-I cut my pulled clay handle in 1/2 traced it on the aluminum die and cut it with my jewelers saw from collage jewelry class.

I most likey would still do that way as I like the craftsmen ways still. sure I have power wheels and electric slab rollers but filing it smooth and completing it feels good still to me.

I embrace the parts that save time and my body as a professional potter.Even with all that stuff I'm still been beat up by clay. I'm missing 3 bones in one wrist from overuse after a fall injury long ago I do not recall. Soon to have a bone removed from my other thumb (later in January) no cartilage  between bones from overuse.. (centering I think )as that hurts the most

I will add that clay has also kept me in shape. Moved 1/2 ton today into studio. Keeping moving at my age is a good thing.

The part of clay that has not changes much is how much we have to move it. At least 12 times for me before its sold or dropped off. That adds up over the decades .Especailly when it 10 tons a year. I would love this to be different but even If I had a better studio set up it still would be 10 moves at least .

If I made less stuff -non production potter I would not think about this.I learned long ago not to make my own clay as it was killing my body when I did.Now its more a slow death by clay.

Griffen grips power mixers and wheel all add up to  time and body savings. I'll all in for that. I sponge up all labor saving I ever see from other potters no matter how small from glaze tongs to hot waxing-it all adds up to less time.I do not claen my  throwing wheel much anymore whats the point it gets used to much to bother time wise. I keep my trimming wheel clean as its easy.

Leanring from others was and is a high priority for me. Technology for me is all about Time/labor saving .

I still like paper and lists so some old school left in me.

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Pres said:

I think it would be a good idea to come to some consensus on the meaning of "technology

I think the traditional definition of the practical advancement of knowledge within a discipline is very appropriate. In the current day the meaning often has been the use of computers some way. I think the original definition is still appropriate and all encompassing to include any advancement in knowledge whether process, ease of construction, better quality, more quantity etc.... I think the original definition seems well thought out.

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6 hours ago, Bill Kielb said:

I think the traditional definition of the practical advancement of knowledge within a discipline is very appropriate. In the current day the meaning often has been the use of computers some way. I think the original definition is still appropriate and all encompassing to include any advancement in knowledge whether process, ease of construction, better quality, more quantity etc.... I think the original definition seems well thought out.

Technology for Ceramics may be defined as any practical advancement of knowledge within a  ceramic process that will allow a cost effective, easier or quicker, way of doing traditional processes with the aid of a new tool or piece of equipment. This could be some form of evolutionary technology building on traditional methods and equipment or completely new technology.

Taking some thoughts from @Bill Kielb, and adding a few into the first definition above. . . . . any better?

 

best,

Pres

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1 hour ago, Pres said:

with the aid of a new tool or piece of equipment

I think of wifi as being intangible but feel it would need to be included also. Or is the wifi the tool? Tough definition to nail down. Perhaps separating into old and new technology? Old could be anything that has been in use for X number of years, new technology after that?

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Wikipedia entry has seven paragraphs under "Definition and Usage" subheading in their technology article, hmm.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology

How we/you/I use the term - depends on context, experience, intent ...lots o' things. Per last week's QOW, one may lean heavily on what's new in their own lifetime, or what's new just since they themselves were gettin' hooked on clay, or what's new within the arc of their nuclear family's life (ya, that was me). I'd guess that each person's use o' the term has, and will, change as time marches on and the situation warrants.

Ceramics, well, that's a technology, eh? I discarded "ceramicist" for "potter" rather early on, for I'm interested in making pots, wheel thrown pots in particular. Casting, jigging, jollying (heh ...nah), industrial stuff/application, deep chemistry and physics, numeric control (excepting simple kiln controller ...someday) - mostly "uhm, not right now" for me.

Is "pottery" a technology? Yes, says I.

Soo, I'm not helping with the definition. Hulk try: in "... aid of a new tool or piece of equipment." the word new, I'm hesitating on that, and omission of "process" after "...aid of..." (although process is used twice). "...practical advancement that will allow a cost effective, easier or quicker way of doing with the aid of tools, equipment, material, process." Without and, nor or, suggests and/or, eh?

The discussion, and the thought provoke-ness, aye, that's more than agreeable, thanks!

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Technology for Ceramics may be defined as any practical advancement of knowledge within a  ceramic process that will allow a cost effective, easier or quicker, way of doing traditional practices with the aid of a new system, tool or piece of equipment. This could be some form of evolutionary technology building on traditional methods and equipment or completely new technology.

@Min I tried to include wifi under new system. . . understanding that there are a lot of different definitions out there as to old and new and types of tools.

@HulkGood thoughts, I understand that potters are interested in pots, sculpture sculp, hand builders don't throw, designers look for form. However, I believe it best to come to a broad definition that allows us to cover all. I did not catch the double word use of process and processes, so I changed it to "practices" in second usage. Seems to fit better also.

 

best,

Pres

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I think some of the issue is coming from the fact that some older designs are still timely and useful (treadle wheels for example). Perhaps some of this could be better articulated as a low tech vs high tech definition. 
Low tech is typically a simpler design, although may be considered out of date in some instances (various kiln controller advancements, for example). High tech can be defined as being relatively new or having more advanced features (treadle wheel vs one with an electric foot pedal). As far as last week’s discussion went, a 3D printer is basically a jazzed up extruded with a lot of extra features. Incorporating the internet into your daily working life is an evolution of a number of different ways of accessing an audience. 
 

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@Callie Beller DieselThe problem of low tech vs high tech is that it also has a history component that makes defining technology difficult. There are some who would say stick turned wheels are low tech as compared to today. but then they are a big improvement over the cave wheels of egyptian use. To try to rate and configure this would be a monumental direction. If someone could come up with a statement for it, then please present one .   I really can't figure a way to define it in a few sentences. My best effort would probably be several paragraphs.

 

 

best,

Pres

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15 minutes ago, Pres said:

@Callie Beller DieselThe problem of low tech vs high tech is that it also has a history component that makes defining technology difficult. There are some who would say stick turned wheels are low tech as compared to today. but then they are a big improvement over the cave wheels of egyptian use. To try to rate and configure this would be a monumental direction. If someone could come up with a statement for it, then please present one .   I really can't figure a way to define it in a few sentences. My best effort would probably be several paragraphs.

 

 

best,

Pres

Well high technology deals specifically with electronics, so a stick wheel would be low tech no matter the era.

I don't think a pottery specific definition of technology is particularly useful or intriguing.  The standard definition works well.  The more interesting and useful discussion is the philosophy of the relationship between craftsman and tool.  At what point on that spectrum do the craftsman and tool trade places?

Less definition and more nuance.  

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With all due respect @liambesaw I do think it's a useful dialogue to be having. From last weeks QoTW and the topic "Do you draw a line in the sand about technology when it comes to your studio or anything Ceramic?" it was your reply "I think 3D printers are the only real new technology to hit pottery since I was born, so maybe this is more a question for the older people here then?" that brought to my mind the possibility that we have different definitions of technology as it relates to ceramics. To me wifi enabled controllers that have only been available for a few years now would fit Pres's definition and yet it doesn't apparently fit yours. (or was an oversight)

I believe Pres is very open to suggestions for a QoTW, yours sounds like an interesting one.

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1 hour ago, liambesaw said:

Well high technology deals specifically with electronics, so a stick wheel would be low tech no matter the era.

I think that distinction is often blurry. For instance, say someone uses the latest computer technology and high-tech NASA materials to create a hammer that drives nails with 50% less effort. Is that hammer low tech because it's still a hammer that doesn't have any electronics, or is it high tech because of how it was designed and manufactured? I think materials alone can make something high tech even if it doesn't have electronics.

I think technology has a lot of smaller categories- new tech, old tech, low tech, high tech, etc. I suppose something is old tech as soon as  something newer comes along. Digital kiln controllers were the latest tech for 25-30 years until the touch screen controllers came out. Now they're the old tech, but they're still high-tech compared to Kiln Sitters. It's all relative. And high tech isn't automatically better than low tech. Digital kiln controllers are the easiest way to fire, but witness cones are still the most accurate. Some people prefer high tech, some prefer low tech. There's room for a lot of personal choice. Low tech solutions are beautiful in their simplicity. High tech solutions can blow your mind. It's all good. I think of technology as 'any object, tool, or system that simplifies, expedites, or automates a process'.

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58 minutes ago, Min said:

With all due respect @liambesaw I do think it's a useful dialogue to be having. From last weeks QoTW and the topic "Do you draw a line in the sand about technology when it comes to your studio or anything Ceramic?" it was your reply "I think 3D printers are the only real new technology to hit pottery since I was born, so maybe this is more a question for the older people here then?" that brought to my mind the possibility that we have different definitions of technology as it relates to ceramics. To me wifi enabled controllers that have only been available for a few years now would fit Pres's definition and yet it doesn't apparently fit yours. (or was an oversight)

I believe Pres is very open to suggestions for a QoTW, yours sounds like an interesting one.

But that fits the normal definition of technology.  And it's also just a slight improvement on existing technology.  It's not new, it's a new feature.  

3d printers fits what I was saying much better due to the fact that there's been nothing like it before, and it fundamentally changes the process itself.  Although it extrudes clay, it in no way resembles a wall mounted extruder, nor is it's application similar.  I don't buy that its just an improvement on an extruder.

I don't think the definition of technology changes based on the application or industry.  But being overly concerned with the verbage used isn't really the bigger point to me.  I think the qotw was maybe worded too broadly when the word "technology" was used, it is too easy to follow trails of technology back and try to find a point at where you believe it should have stopped. But it's all technology, right?  Maybe we should focus on categorizing things into low or high tech, or finding the point where low tech may change into high tech.  Or does it matter?

@neilestricki get what you're saying, but I think that all falls more into jargon than it does definition (as far as new tech, old tech, this tech, that tech).  So maybe the question should be, what is a good definition of high tech in pottery, and what is a good definition of low tech, what are our jargons, and what is the delineator.  Since I think we all grasp the definition of technology now, thanks to everyone above.

 

 

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1 hour ago, neilestrick said:

It's all relative.

Bingo.

1 hour ago, liambesaw said:

But that fits the normal definition of technology.  And it's also just a slight improvement on existing technology.  It's not new, it's a new feature. 

To me a wifi enabled controller is an improvement/advancement of existing technology that makes firing the kiln easier. 3D printers are simple tech compared to current computer / robotics technology from which they are derived. Under Pres's definition of technology (as it relates to all things ceramics) both would qualify. @liambesaw , may I ask what your "normal definition of technology" is? 

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19 hours ago, Bill Kielb said:

I think the traditional definition of the practical advancement of knowledge within a discipline is very appropriate. In the current day the meaning often has been the use of computers some way. I think the original definition is still appropriate and all encompassing to include any advancement in knowledge whether process, ease of construction, better quality, more quantity etc.... I think the original definition seems well thought out.

Bill posted it earlier, and then there's the dictionary definition as well:

the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.

"advances in computer technology"

machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge.

"it will reduce the industry's ability to spend money on new technology"

the branch of knowledge dealing with engineering or applied sciences.

Edited by liambesaw
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Much of what we have today is evolutionary, yet once in a while something comes about out of the blue that is revolutionary. To say that one is higher tech as compared to the other seems to be irrelevant especially when you consider that the revolutionary had assists from the evolutionary, and the evolutionary has a distant ancestor that was revolutionary.     Duh.. . . think I got all of that right, but now my head hurts>

Technology for Ceramics may be defined as any practical advancement of knowledge within a  ceramic process that will allow a cost effective, easier or quicker, way of doing traditional practices with the aid of a new system, tool or piece of equipment. This could be some form of evolutionary technology building on traditional methods and equipment or completely new or revolutionary technology.

 

best,

Pres 

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Technology for craft Ceramics may be defined as any practical evolutionary or revolutionary advancement of knowledge within a ceramic process that allows a more efficient method for traditional practices with the aid of a system, technique, tool or piece of equipment.

 

I just thought it read a little more concise without changing the definition much.  

Edited by liambesaw
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My favorite  off subject analogous technology debate has been what technological advances have had the greatest impact on golf for the entire golfing community, public and private. The typical answers are computers, radar and spin analysis, high speed video, swing science,  range of motion, golf ball physics and engineering, high tech clubs, moment of inertia, boron graphite shafts ............

One of the most popular agreed upon answers - agronomy!      Cut the lawn, water it and fertilize. Low tech, high tech however you view it it has impacted the game significantly over the last 50 years or so.

I wonder how much claybodies have changed things and glaze science and ........... well Boron has to be huge in there somewhere since cone six is a thing  for reasons still unknown why six?

Just sayin 

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Bill: cone 6 rose up in the early 80's because of power shortages/costs. Ceramics/pottery uses extensive technology; but we only end up seeing the consumer product results. Mines use slurry technology, magnetic separators, and power sievesthat do tons per hour. Orton cones are based in technology (chemistry). The pentameter Laguna uses ensures clay remains reasonably consistent. K26 brick, magnesium insulation, advancer shelves, controllers, relays, and thermocouples.

T

Edited by glazenerd
spell checking
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38 minutes ago, glazenerd said:

Bill: cone 6 rose up in the early 80's because of power shortages/costs.

I never could find out why 6, not five, or four or seven? And energy, only anecdotally.  Cones are a great one but credit Hermann Seger.   I like all those examples though, hidden game changers right in plain sight.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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