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Jack-Snelling

Easy To Understand Help Please

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Hello everyone,

 

Brand new member here and I am seeking the most basic advice please.

 

VERY short intro and background, may make it easier in the long term.

 

I'm a 56 year old male, disabled in as much have very bad balance problems. Can not get out easily and need tutoring on a written basis because of Neuro problems also.

 

I have decided to to take up 'pottery' as purely a hobby and have absolutely no idea how to begin and so looking for a great deal of help from this forum if possible. PLEASE.

 

I chose this forum from a whole list from a google search. Therefore, if I have joined the wrong sort of forum for this type of assistance then please forgive me for wasting your time.

 

Luckily I have a nice sized studio where I paint and do some wood turning. I have plenty of space for workbenches, kiln, wheel and storage. I have picked the kiln and wheel I would like but have not yet purchased.

 

Initially I am going to try to make some 'plaques' to hang around my garden, and I have a list of things below that I would like help on please. ANY help is most appreciated.

 

What types of clay are there and which one is best for 'plaques'?

After the slab is made do I use 'slip' to add letters etc? What exactly IS slip?

Once made, what do I do then? Leave to dry? Fire? Paint? Glaze?

What exactly is 'bisque'? Is it the stage after drying or firing or both?

What paints do I use and what glaze?

Plus any other related question I'm to dumb to have thought of lol.

 

I so hope I am in the right place to ask these questions and will be awaiting any responses there may be.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this begging post.

 

Jack

 

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Jack,

 

Welcome to the forum!  I think you are in the right place...people of all skill levels are members of the community and I hope you will feel comfortable reading and contributing.   Many of the questions you ask are covered in posts that you can get to using the search feature (upper right-hand corner of this page).

 

You might want to connect with Shawna over at JSB Arts http://jsbmaine.com/about-me.html  She is a military medic with combat related disabilities that has discoved the value of clay therapy.

-Paul

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Here are a few documents that I have collected, not sure they answer all your questions but could be good to read.
 
Firing: What Happens to Ceramic Ware in a Firing Kiln
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZldESiqt7z1gIpV-AS80_nA_MRtHKc3MC1SKBew_Y1o/edit?usp=sharing

 

Major Oxides

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uNNIyESjMwv4tUn50A6lhbRquP3cGWqR9hlYBZMWjAM/edit?usp=sharing

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Welcome to the forum.

 

A few quick answers. The best clay to use for outdoor wares, is one that is fully vitrified (Won't absorb water). This is especially true, if you live in a region, where the temperature gets below freezing. If you use a porous ware in a freezing climate, the absorbed water expands, cracking/ disinegrating the ceramic body. So any mid to high fire clay will work. Even a well glazed low fire piece could still allow moisture in, so they are not advisable.

 

As you stated, you can slip additional pieces on, once the slab for the plaque is made. Slip is simply a very watery, "liquid" clay, that is used for both adhering two pieces of clay together, and surface deocration on wares. Some ceramicists don't use slip, opting for plain water, or even nothing at all, when attaching pieces. If both pieces of clay, have a similar level of moisture, using water or nothing at all is OK. Personally, I slip everything, because I teach high school and have preached the use so much, I use it naturally. Using slip never hurt anything, and it's easier to always require slip for students, than let them think they can skip the step, which will lead to poorly constructed projects tht fall apart.

There are also other materials such as "Magic Water", that ceramicists use on joined pieces. I've never used it myself, but many swear by it.

 

Once you have everything attached, you can carve in, if you like, or simply clean up any "rough" areas and let it dry. You can then use underglaze, if you choose. Those are essentially a colored slip, used for decorating. I almost always apply my underglazes before the first firing, but they don't have to be. They then go into the bisque firing, which is the first firing, which hardens the clay into ceramic, by removing the chemical water.

 

After the bisque, the wares can be glazed, and fired again. With low fire clay, the bisque firing is slightly hotter, than the glaze firing. With mid to high fire, the glaze firing is quite a bit hotter, than the bisque firing.

 

No "paints" are used, for wares going into the kiln. Standard paint would burn off at normal firing temeratures. Instead there are; underglazes, glazes, stains, enamels, overglazes, etc.

 

Welcome to the ceramic world. There is much to see, do and learn. Carefully not to trip over the broken pieces of failed works littered everywhere.

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Jack you need to list your location or least what part of the US you live in or what country.  Different clays are sold in different areas and learning to work with clay that is available to you locally is much cheaper.  Potters can recommend the clay they work with but you would probably need to ship it to get it.   Denice

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Hi Jack

 

I'm also in Essex, right down in the south !  Whereabouts are you?  You can message me if you don't want to be specific on the forum.  You say you don't get out much, but there are two places in Essex where pottery takes place that would be worth you're getting to if you can, even if only very occasionally.  First is Pitsea Leisure centre on Wednesday or Thursday mornings where there is a pottery class, and you can play and get some materials.  Second is in Silver End - Brickhouse Ceramics, open Tuesday to Saturday, where you can buy everything you need and also have lessons or studio time.  Working with people is the best way to learn, we rub information from ear to ear and eye to eye..

 

I suggest you get hold of some library books and have a good read.  Essex County library does have a decent stock, I've probably had them all out at some time over the past 10 years.  Some you will like, some you won't.

 

Good Luck

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Thanks so much to those who have responded so far.

Benzine - so if I understand correctly mid to high fire clay IS vitrified and is suitable for outside use. (so sorry, motor function probs slow down my clarity)

Denice - Sorry, have updated my profile now I think. I actually live in the UK.

 

Really looking forward to getting started

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They are nice people at Brickhouse

http://ckwarner.wix.com/brickhouseceramics#!lessons/c1hl

 

It can be a little tricky to find first time. It's on Sheepcotes Lane some distance out of Silver End.

On the map below drive out of Silver End on Sheepcotes Lane until the road takes a sharp left hand

turn (marked by the arrow). Turn right there through a gate into Brickhouse.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=581462&y=220432&z=110&sv=581462,220432&st=4&ar=y&mapp=map.srf&searchp=ids.srf&dn=563&ax=581462&ay=220432&lm=0

 

Regards, Peter

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so if I understand correctly mid to high fire clay IS vitrified and is suitable for outside use.

 

Any clay can be vitrified if fired to the right temperature but most mid to high fire clays are designed to be vitrified. Different compositions of clay require a different temperature to vitrify.

 

If you heat up a low fire clay hot enough it will vitrify and then if you keep going it will melt.

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Welcome to the wonderful world of clay!

 

I first learned to throw on a wheel, etc., in college decades ago, when I was in college.  I took it up again a few years ago.  In some ways I was a beginner. In others, intermediate. 

 

There are hundreds of pottery videos on Youtube.  They have helped me very much.  My favorite Youtube potters include Hsin Chuen Li, Youdanxx, Simon Leach and all of the artists who are on the Ceramic Arts Daily Youtube channel.

 

I want to add Sandy Pierantozzi  to the list of favorites.  She makes wonderful, whimsical hand built (not on a wheel) pottery.  Hand building is a great place to start if you don't have your own wheel, yet.

 

Cynthia

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Hi Jack and welcome!  Hope you have a long wonderful journey into clay.  Just reading the discussions on this forum has taught me so much over the last few years.  I have found that even questions that don't particularly interest me at first glance often end up teaching me something new.   You can also look up topics, but honestly I haven't found the search function to be especially useful.  Just keep reading everything...forums, books, whatever.  Then go have fun.

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