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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Glaze Kiln and Trimming Big Bowls

This morning Ro unloaded the other glaze kiln, it also turned out beautifully. Here are a few shots of the pieces as they came out.

This afternoon I wedged more reclaim and made 15 more soup mugs. Apparently they are a hot item at the fair and on Etsy, so I tried to get ahead a little and make some more, it seems as if they are getting homes as fast as I make them, though the next glaze kiln will have near to 35 of them and I think that will do for a while.

This evening I started trimming the big bowls. The smaller ones were truly ready, but the biggest ones really needed more time to dry..and it would have been better if I could have flipped them over and allowed the bottoms to dry for a couple hours, but I didn't have enough big bats or unused table space to do that. I trimmed most of them anyway relying on pure pottery black magic to move the exceptionally flexible trimmed bowls back to an upright position. It was an anxious few minutes, but it worked out OK in the end. I did leave one bowl to stiffen a bit more overnight and the last one I trimmed I left upside down on the wheel. My Kung Fu wasn't good enough.

So while I was working in the basement, Ro has been diligently sorting through her possessions and rearranging the attic. The attic looks fantastic right now, There is so much more room than there was and it is organized. There is still a lot more that has to come inside off of the patio, but by the time it has been winnowed it should fit nicely...and we should have an enormous pile of garbage on the next couple Fridays.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday's Fine Work

A good day in the studio today. Trimmed mugs, a few tankards, a few creamers and a few sugar jars. Had a few odd pieces I finished up too. I must have been losing my mind yesterday when I was finishing up throwing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Blog Fail

I don't know what the hell just happened..I got pictures posted and suddenly I was being told my entry was posted..I guess the folks on LJ and Blogger are going to get a bizzarro blog full of pictures with no explanations...

Many more round mugs have been made over the last couple days. Today was trimming and adding medallions. RO came and assisted. She has bbeen able to be so much more helpful in the studio lately...we've really been producing a ton of work. I'm pleased. Kilns have been fired every day this week. We'll be unloading another glaze kiln in the morning. And probably loading another bisc since the shelf seems to be full again.

Since we have been working extra hard lately we've been trying to figure out how to be more efficient too. One of the tricks I came up with has been to pre-make the medallions we use on some of the pieces..the stamped Pirate flags, Greenmen, Goddesses, Spirals and of course the Oak Leaves and Acorns.

Normally Ro or I will just make them as we go along, but since we have so many more pieces, we've run out of table space to devote to rolling out slabs of clay to press out the medallions, So I got the brilliant idea of making them early and storing them in little plastic food containers. We've got a good thing going..the last batch of leaves sat in there a week before we applied them to anything.

So here are a few pictures of today's work...It's looking pretty good. I'll be excited to go down tomorrow and start on the next round, I have more tankards to do, more soup mugs to do, some pie bakers and large bowls. I also have some special orders to work on, including some erotic pieces. Not sure if I should post pictures of those or not..we'll see :)

Everything Moving along...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Whirlwind of work

Somehow the darn greenware rack is full again. So is the bisc rack and we just unloaded a glaze kiln. Our sensible plan of trying to get ahead of the shows is starting to work. Another week and I think we'll be there. Here are some of the pictures :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Today's Shameless Self-Promotion

I thought this was a fine looking tankard -and it's good for the night before or the morning after! The picture links to the Etsy site.

Monday, September 13, 2010

No Flow

Today was a no flow day. Some of you know I had some septic system problems a few weeks ago and I am dealing with scheduling an upcoming township inspection. This posting has nothing to do with that, it's all fine.

This had to do with me simply trying to work in the studio today. I pounded out some reclaim, cleaned my workspace, had clay ready and yet I just didn't feel it. I needed a nap, and had one..I needed dinner and had it..somewhere in the few minutes I actually worked on throwing I produce parts for 10 goblets, 3 sugar jars, a butter keeper, 2 pitchers and a small cup. Not a horrible day, but there are days when a small workload like this is no problem. Today it seemed like the worst, most horrible thing I had to do, but it's done and tomorrow is a fresh day.

PPD, Tallships and Craft

This was another weekend filled to overflowing, however this time it wasn't all work.

Friday Ro and I were scrambling to pack for the event this weekend, Pagan Pride Day in Erie PA. I was finishing up goblets in the studio, she was packing the pottery and the truck and we scrambled to get out of town by 6. Success!

The kids took care of Pepper and the herd of cats for us so besides worrying that they wouldn't we were worry free.

When we arrived in Erie our beloved hostess had wine, cheese, pita and hummus waiting for us. Delightful. And we passed out happy and tipsy and awoke early the next morning to set up the pottery. The sales day was better than we expected and we got to see a lot of our Erie friends. ALL of the Oak leaf and Acorn mugs sold, which was amazing for such a small event.

Ro was a social butterfly..rarely staying in one place too long and we both took a little time out of the afternoon to get 1/2 hour massages. After packing down we went to El Canelo for dinner and headed back to our hosts for more wine and chatting. The next day we all went down to the Bay to tour the tallships.

The tall ships were magnificent. Beauty, grace, craftsmanship and above all functional. Extremely functional. There isn't a lot of space on a ship and every inch counts. My initial reaction was all about rope. It takes a lot of damn rope to operate a tallship.

The Niagara's home port is in Erie and it is a gorgeous ship. Apparently the tallest, largest or one of the tallest historically correct ships sailing under the US flag. We toured her first, the went on to the Bounty, built for the movie Mutiny on the Bounty, then used for Pirates of the Caribbean and Yellowbeard. It was considerably more spacious than the original Bounty because it was built for a movie, but it was gorgeous too.

Rowan is currently obsessed with the idea of becoming crew for a couple tours. It costs 1350 for the training and food for a two week tour and if you stay for another two weeks you only pay for food. Looks like a great experience. I bet Morgan would love it, except for the lack of privacy and the lack of showers..7-10 days between ports. Your only options are soap and swim or a bucket bath on deck.

Sunday evening was a Craft Swap meeting we had committed to months ago and the host had actually moved to this weekend because we were going to be in town. It was fun even though I felt a little rushed to get out of town so we could drive the 4 hours home.

Overall a pleasant and relaxing weekend, now it's time to get back to it and make more!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

There is no waste! Reclaim!

One of my favorite parts of teaching people about clay is when we get to talk about waste. Clay is so magical, there is no waste. Potters reclaim and reuse their scrap clay, which is good, because otherwise we'd all be throwing out hundreds of pounds of clay a year. Often potters put it off and end up with a huge unmanageable amount of clay to deal with all at one time. I prefer to keep up with it as I go. I have a lot right now because of all the plates I made..there are a lot of trimmings with plates. Normally I have one mound or two every few weeks.

Here are a couple of ways to reclaim your scrap clay.

1) Wet trimming and collapsed pots.

Wet trimming is where you trim off a little of the extra clay at the base of a piece before you cut it off of the wheel. I often have a huge pile of these trimmings at the end of a throwing session. When I was a beginner, I used to drop these into my throwing bucket to keep them out of the way, but now I keep them at the end of my ware board and rewedge them at the end of the throwing session. It's usually enough to do a bunch of handles. If I happen to have lose any pieces while throwing I add them to the pile and wedge them up.

2) Reclaiming whole pots.

Sometime you lose a piece while trimming. Leather hard pieces don't reclaim as easily as bone dry ones. They always seem to remain stiffer and can throw off the consistency of your clay, which is OK if you have a pug mill, but I don't.

I set them aside to dry out completely, then drop the pot into an empty clay bag and crush it up and add dry trimmings,which leads me to the next way to reclaim...

3) Reclaiming your trimmings.

Bone dry trimmings are the easiest to reclaim. I simply sweep and gather them up, put them into a used clay bag, then pour in the slop from my throwing bucket. If there is not enough moisture to completely cover them I add more from a fresh source to soak the pieces and then pour the excess back into a bucket. I leave the bag sit for a couple of days, then squeeze it all out into a smooth mound onto plaster bats to dry, it usually takes 3-4 days for it to be ready to wedge.

I always run through the mound with a wire a few times before I start to wedge..I occasionally lose a tool in my throwing bucket and it often hurts to find it while wedging. It will also alert you to any moisture inconsistencies.

If you have a batch with harder and softer pieces after reclaiming cut off thin slabs and restack them in alternating directions to manually pug them, slam it down a few times and then do it again, after 2 or three times the inconsistency will be gone and your clay will be ready to wedge and throw.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Laboring Day Weekend

well..we didn't stop and celebrate, have a picnic or do community service. We worked hard, for ourselves in the basement studio. I think it was one of the more productive times we've had. The work goes a lot faster when I have a competent helpmate who anticipates the next project and preps for it. Together Ro and I busted out a lot of work. In the middle of it all she was cleaning up from the last step and prepping for the next. It was amazing. I am looking forward to having more of this assistance in the future. I've dreamed up a very intense production schedule for the fall and with her help I am sure we'll be able to keep up.

Now that I said all that stuff, I have to admit that this weekend's production had a few problems. I usually leave the work completely uncovered overnight, then turn it over and trim in the afternoon. Plates usually take 2 days to dry enough to trim. This morning as I crawled out of bed anticipating a slow, breakfast, internet, TV then glazing, THEN trimming, Ro came back from the basement with the news that the tops of the XL mugs and the little pitchers were already bone dry. So I pretended not to be in a hurry, finished my Cafe World play and THEN hurried to the basement. I managed to save some of them...I lost about 6 of the XL mugs..I think we saved the little pitchers, but I won't know until tomorrow when they are dry. I did manage to get all the plates trimmed. It was a pretty good day. After the trimming I prepped the glaze area so tomorrow I'll start with glazing them move on to throwing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Endless work and and endless story

Whenever I have a ton of work to do..and I do, I try to entertain myself while I work with an audio book or two while I work..something with 6-8 hours per section. So since I have literally hundreds of pieces to make to get all set for the fall, I pulled out The Wheel of Time again. I'm on Book 3 now, The Dragon Reborn. I think there are 13 total..another due out in November. It has to be one of the most epic and intricate fantasy stories ever written. Every time I read, or listen to it again I catch story changing details I missed before. The story is by a fellow named Robert Jordan, but he actually died before finishing the final books. The family and publisher hired a young writer AND fan of the series to finish it. SO far I am pleased with the new authors style, it's a bit different, but a good voice for the story. I think I've listened to it 4 times now...and read it twice. It's good for the long production run. Which leads me to the rest of MY story...

Yesterday I made 58 round mugs, today I made 54 Tankards. The round mugs are all turned upside down and under plastic. The Tankards are uncovered for the night, tomorrow I'll flip them over and then start on the trimming of the round mugs. Not a bad couple days throwing. The only thing I am unhappy about is pulling all those handles.

After these I plan on throwing about a dozen plates, then sugar jars and creamers, then butterkeepers and goblets..that should keep me till the end of the weekend :) Wish me luck and the opportunity for a massage. I think I will need it.