Friday, March 29, 2024

Let's Talk About Slip!

Sgraffito tile with decals

The word "slip," in a clay context can be kind of confusing, in that it can be applied to so many different things that are similar in form but vastly different in function. Slip refers to any mixture of clay and water, so, the lumpy slurry that we use to attach handles is slip; the smooth, deflocculated mixture that one would pour into a plaster mold to make ware is slip; the yogurt-thick material used for decorative trailing is slip, and so on. These each require different proportions of clay to water, different clay material ingredients, different additives.

A key thing to know about your slip: what clay condition is it meant to be applied to! key thing to know about your slip: what clay condition is it meant to be applied to! Leather hard (or wetter) is pretty common, but by no means universal, so make sure you know before you mix or use a slip: is it for wet/leatherhard clay? Greenware? There are even slips intended to go on bisqueware....Read more

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Got My Handles Done!


I mean, at least I got that done. 

I also won an epic battle with MS Word to force it to comply with my Mail Merge request, & Doug & I have been plugging away at getting the snow shoveled away. There's a lot! Like 13 inches ,and it's heavy as hell - I broke a shovel on it! 
There's more to do, too, so I better get on it. 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Mail Merge & Handles & Snow, Oh My!

 That's basically my to-do list for today. 

The mail merge is for the Maine Pottery Tour postcards that need to get out to the studio early next week, so they can get them out to their mailing lists. It seems like a long time since I've had an office job - and in fact, it has been a long time! - but I still sometimes use skills gained during that era. Excel is one of them. 

I hope I have the right mailing labels in, though, because I am not going out in this snowy mess today. After a mild, dry winter, Maine is gifting us with one big storm now that it's spring. I find I don't mind! (Ask me later, after I've shoveled, or if the power goes out! You might get a different answer.) The whole of next week will be above freezing, so it won't last. 

And last but certainly not least, I have to get handles on some mugs I threw on Thursday. I am planning to do a short handle-pulling video to post to my new Patreon. If you are interested in demos, tutorials, glaze recipes, tips, & techniques, follow me there! I have several videos available at the free subscriber level, and a $5 membership tier that will give you access to more videos, first access to shop updates, and the occasional coupon code for discounts on Fine Mess Pottery. If you like what I do & hope I can keep doing it, becoming a patron will help ensure that. You can check out my Patreon at this link. Thanks in advance!! 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

New! A Patreon Page


So, I got a wild hair this morning & decided to create a Patreon page. I hope to share videos, tips, & tricks gleaned from my 30+ years as a pottery & ceramic educator. You can join the page for free - eventually I hope to have paid subscribers but I haven't figured that bit out yet. (This is another opportunity to LOL ALL DAY at the folks who think I'm soooo tech-savvy! I am whatever the opposite of that is.) 

I've posted an instructional video this morning, on throwing a mug. Check it out

*Actually I just realized: it would do my page a world of good in terms of visibility if you would join, even at the free level! More popular pages rise in the search. Thanks in advance!  😘

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Monday, March 18, 2024

Maine Pottery Tour, May 4th & 5th


Regular readers know that I annually organize the Maine Pottery Tour. I'm in the thick of it right now, ordering postcards, making ad buys, gathering up longitude & latitude for each studio on the tour. My favorite part is always creating the postcard. I'm especially pleased with this year's version. These postcards have become collectible! Shoot us an email at if you'd like to receive one in the mail. 

We expect to have more than 70 studios on this year's tour - the largest ever. We have somewhat less funding than in previous years, so we're having to skip the spendy magazine advertising, & will need to double up on free and low-cost social media & small newspaper ads. 

As I have for the past few years, I will be doing a kiln opening Saturday morning of the tour. There will also be wheel demos, plates for visitors to paint, a drawing to win a piece, and - new this year! - bonuses for folks who rack up visits to 5 or 10 studio on our new applet, launching next week. I'll announce that here when it's ready to go. 

I'm hoping to see you at the 2024 Maine Pottery Tour! 

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Reeves Green Glaze recipe


cone 10 reduction


Sunday, March 3, 2024

So Long, Solenoid!

This winter, man. I don't even dare to ask what more could happen. 

We've had car trouble, dental trouble, veterinary trouble - one of my elderly cats passed away in February. A dog I loved like family died last month also. Losing the pets was devastating, of course - the rest is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and sometimes expensive. 

Add one more to the list: I was supposed to fire a couple of weeks ago - my annual load of student work - but a solenoid on one of the burners died. I don't actually know why it did - it looked like it melted from the inside out. Burners are not my area of expertise (to say the least! LOL) but I had watched Tyler Gulden - who does know a lot about burners - replace this very solenoid two years ago. That time I knew what had gone wrong - it was, let's say, operator error. I left the power burner out in the rain! 

Anyway, I had a pretty clear memory of that process, and I emailed Tyler to refresh that memory, just in case. Replacing the solenoid is a 3-step, 3-step process: remove the plug - held on by one screw; remove the metal clip holding it in place; slide the solenoid off the spindle. That last was the hardest part, as it did not want to come off, maybe because there were melted bits on the inside holding it in place. Then do it all in reverse.

See that weird melty blob? 

Took the plug & the little metal clip off...

...and pulled the solenoid off the spindle
Easy peasy! 
So, with that out of the way the firing could finally proceed. It was blessedly uneventful! Cooling now. I won't be able to unload Monday, because I've got classes all day, so Tuesday it is. Again, this is mostly student work, so there won't be a web store update. I plan to fire again the last week in March. 

If you had any plans to buy a t-shirt, though, or a tank or an apron, now would be a great time to do that - help get some of these car repairs & dental bills paid. ("Buy my product, I need the money!" Some pitch, huh? I suck at marketing.) More colors & styles here

Here's hoping spring is a luckier season.