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Marcia Selsor

What Is The Most Challenging Aspect Of Working With Clay?

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Patience!  As a part-timer, I rarely have the opportunity to make a large number of similar objects and wait for them to dry to be suitable for bisque, so I am always rushing things through to fill a kiln, sometimes with predictable missteps and losses. Then after firing a load of bisque, the glazing well, versus glazing quickly, dilemma arises.  For a time, I tried going the once fire route, but that has its own hazards and issues.

 

John

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wish i had a small test kiln for glaze tests.  i know the base glaze is great but i want to try new colors for specific items.  the temptation to just put some colored stain in and glaze a pot or two at the same time as the test in a firing for a show is really hard to resist.  did it again today with tiny angels for christmas decorations.  if the colors are pale, that is all that matters.   i will know on thursday when i can open the big kiln. 

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  I would also say glazes, I have a test kiln and still find  a differences between the test tile and a piece fired in a larger kiln.   I have a 4' bisqued fountain waiting for glaze, I have been testing for months and still haven't found one that I think will work on it.  I made special test tiles with the texture the fountain has on it and a 12" miniature to test the final glaze.  I'll probably pick one in few months and call it good, settling once again.  Denice

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Hahaha, @JBaymore...that does sum things up nicely.

For me, the challenge is to not get too excited/complacent over my skill level.  Many of us remember the feeling of pulling 6" cylinders with some level of consistency the first time.  As good as that feels (and worthy of celebration), I need to remember that there is a sense of accomplishment as I reach each new level of complexity with clay ...and each one of those levels seems to point out yet another level even higher than the previous. From all of that, I would sum up my biggest challenge is to hang onto a child-like level of curiosity and enthusiasm.

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The most constantly difficult area for me is one I would call "Finding a balance". It covers so many daily, weekly and yearly areas of my time in clay.

Finding a balance ....

Between making what gets noticed or what sells

Between learning new things or making work

Between finding time to read books, watch videos, etc and the demands of daily life

Between blogging, posting or making pottery

Between working comfortably or pushing the limits

 

I always seem to be choosing ... This is probably why I advocate having a written plan for each year.

Without one I would be constantly wandering the short attention span highway.

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Chris, that kind of balancing act is why I can't see myself making pots for a living. I just want to throw pots... but as soon as one starts selling "seriously," there's suddenly all these things that *aren't* making pots that you have to deal with. Cultivating sales, pricing, bookkeeping, finances, choosing between making what brings me the most happiness versus what brings me the most income. I'm an introvert, and pottery soothes the introverted soul... selling requires going against that nature, putting myself and my work "out there" where I'm less comfortable.

 

To answer the original question, as an amateur, I find the most challenging part of working with clay to be timing... I have a batch of mugs that don't have handles because I forgot they were drying until it was too late. I have pots that should have had foot rings but don't for the same reason. Someone working full-time can establish a rhythm in the studio that is much harder to do when you've only got an hour or two a day, and don't always have a lot of control over exactly when you get that hour. I recognize that timing is something everyone has to deal with, but I find that's my biggest obstacle.

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Glazing...not that glazing is hard but just sitting down and glazing. I love the designing, the throwing, the trimming, the finishing, the hand work, the carving, etc its that glazing i have a hard time wanting to do. I can't sell it til its glazed so i have to eventually sit down and glaze but the bisque piles up and i ignore it calling me to come glaze...i can hear it even now as i type this...come glaze me, come glaze me.

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Lately, it has been firing. Seems I have been missing cone temp by +1 to 2 cones in the last few glaze firings, and about +3 in the last bisque. Time to rethink a bit, either that or clear out a cluttered schedule of other activities so that I can be there 24/7 for a firing. :unsure:

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Chris, that kind of balancing act is why I can't see myself making pots for a living. I just want to throw pots... but as soon as one starts selling "seriously," there's suddenly all these things that *aren't* making pots that you have to deal with. Cultivating sales, pricing, bookkeeping, finances, choosing between making what brings me the most happiness versus what brings me the most income. I'm an introvert, and pottery soothes the introverted soul... selling requires going against that nature, putting myself and my work "out there" where I'm less comfortable.

 

To answer the original question, as an amateur, I find the most challenging part of working with clay to be timing... I have a batch of mugs that don't have handles because I forgot they were drying until it was too late. I have pots that should have had foot rings but don't for the same reason. Someone working full-time can establish a rhythm in the studio that is much harder to do when you've only got an hour or two a day, and don't always have a lot of control over exactly when you get that hour. I recognize that timing is something everyone has to deal with, but I find that's my biggest obstacle.

Make yourself a damp box Carl, lots of too dry stuff can be resurrected without drama, best make it in a clear container so you remeber stuff is in there...

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