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QotW: What’s the standard for work you’re sending out into the world? 

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I folks, we have several new suggestions for QotW in the pool, so I will choose the first one from @Kelly in AK :

I’ve seen it addressed in various ways and places on the forum, but with the holidays coming up lots of pots are being sold and it feels like a timely question.  Absorption, crazing, pinholes, % of metallic oxides, barium, lithium... lead??? How about “S” cracks?  Cutting to the meat of the question he asks:

QotW: What’s the standard for work you’re sending out into the world? 

My answer to the question is the same as it always was: To produce the best work possible with my existing knowledge and skills.  This meant even in the beginning, Ring True, No "S" cracks, use well for pouring, drinking eating for functional. Functional and Decorative well fitting glazes, good recipes, well fired. No cracks or loose areas in constructions,  I always refer to my first statement about the quality, knowing that there have been variables that I did not know of, but once known corrected.

Thanks to Kelly for the topic suggestion!




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i have sold things with very minimum flaws, reducing the price if it is one of several standard shapes and sizes.  there is always a label next to the flaw with an arrow pointing out a less than half inch crack that does not go through or a small blister that did not heal if it is not in a critical area.     if it is a $22 butter dish and has anything i can see, it gets a flaw notice and a price of $19.  they always go.  

anything worse meets mr hammer or goes into my kitchen.

Edited by oldlady
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In my outlets-meaning gallery gift shops and organic markets its always 100% perfect. In my shows its 99.9 perfect .S cracks are toast. Any flaws are extremely minimal and saved for later.

I have kept the seconds for my xmas booth these days and let a customer who buys a piece (a first) have a second for free (they are in a box nearby and they go very fast) 

At one time I would take this same box to our local show and have them priced down. They went very fast then as well Now its the  free box for buying customers at xmas. Its also a xmas good feeeling deal

Edited by Mark C.
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Almost all my wares are functional for food service, where all food surfaces are liner glazed*.
Colored glaze recipes are from reputable sources and follow established best practices; all are food safe.

I discount some wares with minor cosmetic flaws, otherwise, flawed ware is drilled for use as planters, hammered, or used in our house.
No crazing (excepting display pieces), no cracks, no crawling.

It has to look and feel right, be thick enough to withstand use without being heavy, be easy and comfortable to handle, pleasant to drink from (for mugs, cups, glasses, soup bowls), clean easily, withstand hot water and microwaving, not absorb water, and be somehow interesting. The hammer or drill is waiting.

Standards can evolve. I'm still looking at, handling, using and evaluating ware - my own, and others, and trying different things, for example, I've set foot ring diameters now, and make the foot rim a bit wider. Standard diameters take away what was a variable - so I can throw to that diameter, the profile can be truer and more consistent, it's easier to trim. A bit wider foot ring doesn't seem to chip as easily but takes longer to polish and is heavier.

I'm also "set" in so many things, heh.
Usage may be the best test, also measuring absorption, heat shock test, lemon juice, banging until it breaks, soak in hot alkali solution, etc.

Still working on culling at the wheel through final placement, it's a process.
I still aim for making twice as much greenware as will fit into a bisque load, then cull and recycle.
Kiln space is precious!
Ware I otherwise liked (a lot) earn a parking spot in a planter bed - there's not many. Some of the teapots that don't pour right are there.

* Low expansion durable clear - enough Zircopax to make it hazy - that goes on well, melts well, doesn't move much, doesn't craze. It's working.
No other colorant.

Edited by Hulk
- one word
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I don't sell pieces that have technical flaws in them, like an S crack or a little crack where a handle meets body. If they're still functional though, my husband and I use them. I try not to break anything that is still functional because I hate wasting things. There are organizations that give household items to people transitioning out of shelters, and they are very happy to receive nice handmade items.  Also, if there is something aesthetic I don't like about a piece (color not exactly right, handle bigger or smaller than normal), I will still offer it for sale because it may be just right for someone else. I'm a bit hard on myself when something doesn't look exactly how I want it, but I've learned not to outright dismiss a piece. Some shows I've been in have a policy about only first quality, no sale items at my booth, which is fine with me because I worry people might start asking for discounts on other things too. A couple minor pinholes don't automatically become seconds, but if I don't like it I refire.

Colors are underglazes covered with my clear or satin glaze to avoid worrying about leaching, except for my vases, where I use colored glaze for the inside and the handles. I've made a clear with a little added mason stain that I've started using recently, and that's been working out nicely though.  I prefer to be cautious in areas where it could be a safety risk. 

Like Pres, I strive to make my best work with the knowledge I have built up over time. It took me many, many years to get to a point where I felt comfortable selling anything, and in baby steps. I've read recently that the clay I use (BMix5) might be more porous than people realize. I did tests on it when I first started using it, for glaze fit and acid testing. I fire it to almost cone 6, but I recently got paranoid about it and I'm going to do more testing, including a more thorough absorption test. Last time, I did a shorter boiling/soaking time and got negligible weight gain. Over the last 6 years since I've been using this clay, the pieces we use daily in the kitchen are still solid, not crazed, and not hot in the microwave. No one has told me of any problems they've had with my pieces, thank goodness. But still, I'm going to use the winter to test some things out to reassure myself. I may even tweak my clay as well, now that I have a pug mill! I've thought of going to half porcelain, half stoneware and maybe adding a little fine grog to make my life a little easier. 

I feel like I need to share some of this stuff with a ceramics therapist... 

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Community Gallery and other outlets the best. Flawed pieces Op shop or, I do a Mark C, or give away to the fence posts in my area. Gallery perfect, well my "sets" are not sets but families. Never my ambition to do the perfect set. Did once upon a time but took the joy out of it for me. 

Refire those that I deem would benefit for another roasting.

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I appreciate everyone’s responses here so much. Very grateful. 

Pots, they shouldn’t hurt anybody and they ought to have integrity. That’s my standard.

Easy to use is a goal, but so is a sensory experience. Always striving for those. When they align, I’ve made good pots. 

Liner glazes that are a good hard glass, with little (2% or less) or no metallic oxides besides iron or zircopax. Sooner or later anything that can come out will. Underglaze for color. 

The clay needs to be vitreous. Pots in a microwave get awfully hot and food stays cold if they’re porous. Also, mold will grow in any crazed areas. I’ve seen it, it’s unsanitary and downright gross. The list goes on. I’ve wrestled with it. Clay should be vitrified. 

Cosmetic blemishes or flaws are case by case. Clusters of pinholes are a hard “no,” but a couple, on the sides not the bottom, can pass. Blisters, never. “S” cracks, I found that not firing them solved the problem of deciding to sell them as well as how to prevent them. Crawling is rarely beautiful, pretty much never. Crazing, on vitrified clay, can pass, but it’s a flaw. Greatly reduces the integrity of the pot. No one will be food poisoned, the pot will die before its time clattering in the cupboards or the sink.

As far as shivering, and I know it should go without saying, but one shivering pot dooms the whole lot. 

Throughout the process things happen occasionally that I don’t expect. If the integrity of the pot seems intact, and it won’t hurt anyone, I ask myself if I’ll accept it. “This happened. It is how things are. This is where I’m at right now. Nothing wrong with this pot, just not what I expected. Can I accept it?” Very heavy stuff, reflective. Like a metaphor, you know? I double check the pot’s integrity with a hammer to be sure.

@kswan, I’ve boxes of pots I won’t sell and can’t bring myself to smash, I’ll do what you do. Never thought of that, thank you. 

Ceramics therapist, I could use one of those. Haha!

Edited by Kelly in AK
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