Sunday, March 28, 2021

Wadding in Advance

My new line - at least I think that's what this is - has another advantage, that I didn't think of: because there's no flashing slip on the pieces, nor any glaze on the outside, there's no need to wax the bottoms! Which means I don't have to depend on the wet stickiness of the wads to hold them onto the pots while I get them into the kiln; I can glue the wads on in advance. I can also use smaller diameter, taller wads, because they will be dry & solid by the time I have to put the pots' weight on them. Smaller, taller wads mean more soda glass on the bottom. 

Here's how I dream these: the background - just bare B-Mix 10 stoneware - will be peachy & dove grey & cream. The slip trailing, which is just Laguna's 570 porcelain, will be bright white & shiny. The interior (of these, at least; I may expand on this) is simple Leach White. 

Hmmm...just had a thought. I've never tried gluing wads on waxed bottoms, because I assumed it wouldn't work, but maybe it would! I use paraffin, so a very smooth, hard wax surface; that's why it seemed unlikely. But it's worth a try! 

Mugs with glued-on wads

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Jab 1 is in the Books!


Doug & I got our first COVID vaccine shots today! Such a relief to get this started. It's been a long, hard stretch, but I am feeling optimistic. This feels like the light at the end of the tunnel. 

What it feels like literally is like someone punched me in the arm, like I lost a round of The Circle Game. No other side effects - though I have read that people experience the worse ones with the second shot. We got the Moderna vaccine, which is reported to be 94% effective at preventing COVID-19, and 100% effective at preventing serious illness with the virus - nobody, in tests, died who got the Moderna vaccine. We have to wait 4 weeks for our next appointments. 

In Maine all adults will be eligible for the vaccine April 19th. A week after the first dose, some studies suggested as much as 85% protection! But even if it were only 50%, that's more than the flu vaccine most years. What this means for me is that most people will have a pretty high level of protection from COVID-19 at the time of the Maine Pottery Tour. I am really looking forward to a fabulous tour this year, but I am not an asshole - if it weren't safe, I wouldn't do it.  The governor's mask mandate will still be in effect, which is fine with me; I hope I don't run into any of those anti-mask goofballs. Stay home, anti-mask goofballs! Do not come out on the pottery tour. 

I unloaded a bisque kiln today, and glazed enough stuff to fill about a quarter of the glaze firing. Those pots I was doing with the slip trailed friezes? Super easy to glaze! I thought I would have to charge more for them because they take so long in the wet stage, but the time saved on the glazing end of things might just make up for it. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Update: Maine Pottery Tour

 As every March (well, except last March!) I am currently in the thick of organizing the Maine Pottery Tour. Though I was a little trepidatious (not a word! but you know what I mean) in January when I made the decision to try go forward with the tour, I am feeling much more confident now. Here in Maine we are now scheduling first shots for 50 year olds & up; in mid-April the vax will become available to any adult who wants one. By the first weekend in May the majority of adults in Maine should have had at least one shot. 

So, happily, I am moving forward. Today the giant box of postcards arrived! 2500 this year. Now to get them sorted & mailed to the various studios on the tour. 

Also happening: we are making arrangements to sponsor programs on Maine Public. The Maine Pottery Tour will have 18 sponsorship spots on Maine Public & Maine Public Classical in the week leading up to the tour. Each spot will read "Sponsored by the Maine Pottery Tour, celebrating ceramic arts in Maine with more than 40 studios around the state, including [Studio Name] in [Town]." This approach lets individual studios sponsor individual spots, get mentioned on the air, and spread the cost around. The exact wordinf may change; it has to come in under 8.5 seconds, and the FCC has arcane rules about what you can & can't say in a sponsorship spot. This should be starting April 25 - listen for it on Maine Public & Maine Public Classical.

The Tour is May 1st & 2nd...just 5 weeks away. Still so much to do, not least of which is, making a lot of pots! Hope to see you there. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

It just slipped out!


"Slipped" out, get it?? 

I've been making some rustic, torn-edge plates in class, aiming for a loose, spontaneous, almost found-object quality. My own work is pretty tightly thrown (not entirely on purpose!) and over-decorated, although I do enjoy letting the soda vapor have its way with the piece during the firing. There's a wide world of approaches to clay out there, and I wanted to give my students a taste of a different aesthetic. 

It sorta worked - they got the idea - but then another idea popped up in class, one I had talked about earlier: aesthetic tension. Sometimes what makes a piece intriguing is when two dueling aesthetics are mashed together! With that in mind, and because I can't help myself one the slip bottle is in my hand, I trailed some delicate flowers onto my meaty rustic plates. 

I have to credit a student for the poppies! I mentioned that I had been trying to figure out how to make a recognizable poppy with slip; I turned my back for a sec & when I turned back she had made 2 on the worktable! Victoria is a very talented sliptrailer (and formerly a cake decorator!) I learn so much from my students. 

These will probably not be soda-fired, since students don't have access to the soda kiln so it feels like cheating to use that method to finish my demos. SO, I am thinking, iron oxide on the back & edges, then shino on the front face. 

I'm excited about these & plan to make more at home! 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Cosplay Aesthetics


My usual style is a kind of froufy, over-decorated, more-is-more approach: slip-trailing, glaze-trailing, wax resist, soda. I want my students to learn about & appreciate all sorts of ceramics, tho, so I borrowed an aesthetic from the Upper Midwest. I have some clay roots there, anyway, and while they aren't the sorts of pots I make, I do enjoy them. 

These are made from thick slabs, torn rather than cut, and shaped over a hump mold. One thing I as reminded of, making these: that casual, spontaneous look - as if you could almost have just found them that way? That is an illusion. Unless I really work at irregularity, I get tidy, smooth, almost-perfectly-square plates by default. 

I haven't decided how to fire these. Though they seem like naturals for the soda kiln, I made them as class demos so should probably stick with the firing methods available to students. Maybe a brushed-on- wiped off shino? Just iron oxide on the back, tenmoku on the inside? Not sure. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Black Stain to try (recipe)

 Dropping this here so I can find it again. From the Ceramic Arts Network, contributed by Forrest Gard: 

Black Wash/Stain

  • Red Iron Oxide

  • Wednesday, March 3, 2021

    Best Soda/Salt Brick


    Saving this here so I can find it again.

    best soda/salt brick i have found

    updated tue 19 dec 06


    shane mickey on mon 18 dec 06

    hey all,
    just was cleaning up around my anagama and was seeing all the type of brick around. when i came into my glorious brick purchase back 3 years ago, i was very very fortunate to recieve several pallets of a AP green brick with the name UFALA XCR, i believe the xcr stands for extra creep resistent. i sold a few to a client i built a soda kiln for, gave some to a buddy for his wood/soda kilns bagwall, and have tested a few here and there. The good news is these bricks show very little salt build up and in my gama show now woodfired effects or ash deposits! the bad news is when i called ap green to get a price qoute they were like $5 bucks a piece. but they are clearly the best brick i have ever seen. they are a high fire super duty class brick with a 64% alumina content (i could be off on the alumina) the key is their density. i have talked with refractory folks and they agree with me. density is the most important factor in salt/soda kilns. a more dense high duty will outlast a
    more porous super duty. the only other brick i know of that i have personally witnessed totally resisting salt is one called a crystar or crystalite? linda macfarling has them as abagwall and they show no discoloration or glassing! just two more cents.
    shane mickey
    shane mickey pottery and kiln design services