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Friday, February 19, 2010

bone dry nightmares and moist salvation

A pretty good day today despite how I was thrown into the day.

I went down to the studio this morning to check on Rowan's tiles in the kiln and found the door to the studio cracked open. It means a cat had broken in. Usually when a cat breaks in I find someone has jumped up and walked across my latest work, or someone has decided the corner by my wheel is the cleanest neatest and biggest litterbox they have ever seen. This time I got lucky. They just walked in and walked out. BUT while looking for damages I found the door being open had changed the drafts in the room enough to completely dry out the tops of the round mugs I had made the night before.

Normally They are not completely dry on top by noon, but these were bone dry on the top. I was unbelievably upset. I can always just trim them and leave them without handles, but then I am short on mugs.

For those who are not familiar with claywork, the pots have to be in the stage called leather hard to attach a handle. If they are completely dried out like mine were the handles simply won't stay on. They crack and fall off. This has to do with the moisture of the still wet handle clay rushing into the bone dry clay, drying out the joint and then simply falling off because there wasn't enough moisture to act as a binding agent.

The trouble with stoneware clays is once all the moisture has gone out of them, they don't reconstitute very nicely. Porcelain's kind of cool, you take a bone dry vase, soak one section with a wash cloth and within about 15 minutes the section you soaked is easily manipulated again. But stoneware just breaks down unless the moisture is reintroduced very carefully. Even then it gets kind of ugly.

I decided to try to save them and dipped them all in water, and covered them in plastic for 15 minutes, then dipped and covered them again. In about 1/2 hour I sprayed them all down again and in another half hour they were holding moisture with minimum breakdown of the clay. I got really lucky. I trimmed them all and covered them again and got to work on the handles, keeping them covered as I went. I got lucky and everything worked out really nicely. I have all of those pieces drying slowly under plastic so the clay doesn't get stressed out by one part drying faster than another.

I took a break and mailed out some more orders from Etsy, dropped Ro at the Oasis, did a little shopping then came home and got started again. I finished up the handles from earlier, I was even able to add some medallions and make some more really nice Oak and Acorn mugs.Then I started throwing again. 40 more mugs thrown tonight, 20 round, 20 travel. Tomorrow I'll trim handle and throw more tankards and xl round mugs. Then I think I'll be doing some glazing.

I am happy to report people still seem to be loving the items on Etsy, It's so nice to know people are loving the things I make and even nicer that I am able to buy the groceries.