Monday, July 31, 2023

Mind the Gap

Details matter! The image is of the gap between the kiln shelf & the bottom of the pot, which is raised up by three wads of high-refractory clay material (called wadding*) which prevents the pot from sticking to the kiln shelf when the soda coats everything in the chamber with soda glass. After the firing, the wadding just pops off, leaving pale marks where it previously stuck. 

I find the higher this gap is, the more glaze gets deposited on the bottom, creating some color & sometimes a bit of shine. The wad marks - pale dots where the pot rested on the wadding where no soda vapor could get deposited - are often quite handsome. 

Wad marks on a mug

Because the wadding is basically wet clay, the weight of the pot tends to squish it almost flat. It will still do its job of preventing the pot from sticking to the shelf, but the bottom won't get any soda, so will just be white. Not the end of the world, & not the end of the pot, but I do like the ones with more distinct wad marks better. 

To achieve this, I find I have to make the wads ahead of time, so they are a bit drier & stiffer when I place them on the pot. I can't make the wads too early, because if they dry to much, they won't stick to the bottom long enough to get the pot into the kiln. Like a lot of things in clay, the pots are fine if I don't do it, but they are just a little bit nicer when I do. 

Speaking of things that I should really remember to do ahead of time: I was supposed to fire today, & I would have, except my cone packs exploded! Regular readers must get tired of hearing all the ways I manage to screw up, but maybe you can draw inspiration from it: If a ginormous fuck-up like Lori can do this, so can I! Actually I don't know if I screw up more than most people, but since I am a ceramic educator as well as a potter, I believe in being open about my mistakes. I make em! A lot. But then I fix em & move on. 

The culprits. You can just tell they are plotting something.

I fixed the exploded cone pack by unloading the entire kiln to dump out the little bits of debris inside the pots, then reloading the whole thing. I was mad at myself at first - the exploding cone pack was definitely caused by my dumbness - but it's summer in Maine, I was outside, the birds were singing, & loading kilns is fun! If that's the worst mistake I make this week, I can live with it. Anyway, the last firing was absolutely picture-perfect, the cones falling in synchronicity, so I was overdue to have a Murphy's-Law firing. 

Anyway, once I got over calling myself a moron & started enjoying the work, I decided that, far from a moron, I am in fact a genius! (LOL ALL DAY) Or at least reasonably clever in this instance, as I realized that when I scheduled the firing I built in some time in case something goes wrong! So I'm still on schedule. 

Barring some other mishap, I'll be firing this load on Friday, probably unloading Monday. I hope to have new work in the online shop on Wednesday! 

*Wadding Recipe

1/3 Kaolin

1/3 Alumina Hydrate

1/3 Coffee Grounds

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Coming Soon, I Promise!

Weirdly, I had a Facebook post go mini-viral this week: more than 3/4s of a million views, 23k likes, hundreds of comments. It was just an ordinary, throw-away post: a pic of the footring of a bowl in which I sliptrailed a little filigree. I have no idea why that one took off when my posts usually get 20-30 likes, at most. I tried for days to keep up with the comments, but just couldn't get to all of them. out of like 850 comments there were maybe...8? negative ones. Of course those lodge in my brain. It reminds me that there is a person behind every social media post. Being publicly negative about a handmade item just seems like a jerk thing to do. Like, why go out of your way to ruin someone's mood? 

One can't predict virality, of course, even of the mini variety, so I was completely unprepared to take advantage of it! Many people have messaged or emailed me, wanting to buy pots...and I don't have any, because I'm in the middle of the making cycle. I make stuff, then I sell it. I don't just leave it laying around! I respond that I expect to have ware for sale in mid-August, and give them a list of stores where they can find my work; but I can't help but feel like this was a missed opportunity. 

This was the post: 

See what I mean? Perfectly ordinary post, nothing amazing. Has this ever happened to you?

Anyway, firing a bisque this week, glaze next week, post for sale the week after that! Hope your summer is going amazing. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

PINCHED at Maine Craft Portland

 I missed this opening, but the show is still up for the rest of the month. Ingrid is a friend - I met her when I worked at Watershed - and a rare professional pinch potter. CHeck it out! 

Monday, July 10, 2023

Goodbye Twitter, Hello Threads!

If you do the socials at all, I'm sure you've hear of the slow, unscheduled disassembly of twitter as its new owner, Elon Musk, methodically eliminates everything that made twitter fun and replaces it with Nazis & bitcoin pushers. I deleted my Fine Mess Pottery account months ago, stopped using my news-&-politics account then too, and just deleted that one today. I kept it for so long because when Musk purchased it I had just gotten to the coveted 5k followers, which meant I could follow other accounts with reckless disregard for the ratio. I held out hope that he would hire somebody competent or just get bored with his toy & sell it. 

I have accounts on alternative sites - notably Post & Spoutible - but neither of those sites has enough active users to generate the level of activity that makes it fun. Enter Threads! 100 million users strong after 5 days. Yeah, yeah, I know - Zuck. You don't like him, you don't trust him, he gathers your info, etc. But I'm already on FB & Instagram, & as an artist those are very valuable ways to reach people who are interested in what I do. If, in exchange, some algorithm learns that I like superhero movies, home organizing listicles, and that I often click on but rarely buy boho clothing, well, I guess I am ok with that. YMMV. 

Anyway, if you followed Fine Mess Pottery on Twitter, you can now find me at lorikwatts on Threads! Currently there is no desktop version, so I can't link, but I hope to find you there. I am following all the clay people & craft artists that I can find. Let's make a community! 

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Throwing a One Piece Lidded Jar


Next week I'll have a video of the trimming and decorating process! 

If you found this post valuable, toss a coin to your witcher potter at this link

Thursday, July 6, 2023

A Potter's-Eye View


After a couple of false starts - including wearing the thing backwards, generating a long, close-up video of the top of my head - I've figured out the GoPro I bought secondhand a couple of years ago. I originally got it for outdoor adventures, but I'm starting to see some professional social media uses for it as well. Only problem - and I know there must be a way around this - is it takes hours for the GoPro video to upload.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Outlook: Headache

 Guess what I am spending my afternoon doing? Did you say, Rebuilding your entire Outlook contact list? You're right! I am rebuilding my entire Outlook contact list, hundreds of addresses, because of an update that provided me with a new "view" tab. I do not give a shit about a new "view" tab! I absolutely DO give a shit about my entire fuckin contact list! 

There might be some technical fix; I've tried several. It finally occurred to me that it might be faster to just rebuild it than continue to try things that don't work. 

Doesn't mean I'm happy about it. So, Microsoft, do us all a favor, huh? Don't update for shit that doesn't matter - nobody cares about a new "view" tab, nobody, AT ALL - and in future make sure your updates don't fuck up what's already there. 

Love, Lori