I came up to the studio today just to put these little handles on the covered jars pictured below. I'm supposed to be chopping wood for the upcoming firing but sitting around on a saturday listening to wait, wait... and cartalk on npr sounded much more enticing. To further the procrastination I decided to post some photos of some recently finished pots.
Detail of handle on jar...I really like fat handles.
The racks are nearly full again. I've already emptied these racks once, looks like I'll be doing it again soon. I've got a couple dozen pots under plastic for handling/trimming tomorrow and then this work cycle will be coming to an end. I'm sure I'll have some last minutes pieces being produced Kline style.
Here is a texture detail of a big platter I made the other day. I'm pretty pleased with this, it took nearly half an hour!
I'm running a special on shipping over in my etsy shop...you'll have to go look to find out what it is.
This last weekend we had a customer in our showroom that made a comment about my mugs being heavy. I mumbled something about better heat retention and left it at that. So today for curiosities sake I decided to measure and weigh one of those standard straight sided mass produced coffee mugs.
Let me preface with this: my mugs are made from one pound of clay and then have an attached handle. After firing they vary in size and shape and hold about 12 oz give or take. After firing they weigh around 13 oz and the walls at the thickest are 3/16" thick.
The mass produced mug holds exactly 12 oz. The walls are consistently 1/4" thick and taper to 1/8" on the rim and it weighs exactly 1 pound. They have possibly the most uncomfortable handles known to man.
What is with this notion that thinner is better? Thin cups chip/break easier and they lose the heat/cold faster. Functional pots should function properly.
Pottery workshop with UNT Professor of Art Elmer Taylor. HSU Frost Center, Abilene, TX Nov. 5th 10am-5pm. Free for students $5 for non-students. Lunch provided but bring your own beverages. RSVP @ firstname.lastname@example.org For more info on Elmer go here.
I recieved new kiln shelves for the university today. We ordered from Larkin Refractories, a place where I've gotten the majority of my kiln supplies since I left school. I ordered a bunch of their 12x24 "Fines Bonded" silicon carbide shelves many years ago(chinese imports)and I have been more than thrilled with them. 30+ salt firings, 15 wood firings, never flipped, never cracked, flat as when I bought them. In salt firings the salt just beads up(or foams up) on the surface and is easily scraped with a rub brick, never once had to use a grinder on these from the salt kiln. The salt and ash combo from the wood kiln can require the use of a grinder but it never takes away any of the shelf, they come out looking brand new. They are 1/2" thick and have relief cuts that are supposed to keep them from warping & cracking, in my experience it works. So at $45 each I thought they'd be fantastic for the school.
The new shelves come with a kiln wash already applied. It's powdery so I'll just scrub it off and apply my own...I don't like not knowing exactly what's on them(can someone say"control freak"?)
I've heard some rumors on clayart over the last couple years that these kiln shelves often show up slightly warped, I thought this may be a fluke since mine were fantastic. I don't know if Larkin changed the supplier or if the supplier changed their quality control but many of ours are warped. You can see in the photo below the gaps between the shelves as they rest up against eachother. About 1/3 of these are warped enough to notice, but still much flatter than the shelves we use now. If they're anything like the shelves I use they shouldn't go any further out of shape. If I were a production potter making lots of flatware(plates) I probably wouldn't buy these shelves. On the other hand for student work, small work, or kilns where the pieces are wadded I think these are a great buy. Hopefully they're just as study as mine, they'll go into rotation real soon so I'll keep you posted.
I haven't been making too many pots this last week which is okay considering I have nearly 500 pieces waiting to be fired. The next firing is set for early November...soon! I picked up a few loads of wood last weekend and will have a few more this weekend. I'm going to start cutting/chopping/sorting this week as well as getting the kiln ready. It's been sitting idle for six months so it'll be nice to get it going again.
I spent a good amount of time this last week doing glaze testing..about 35 tests. I fired them up with student work in the gas kiln and wouldn't you know there was a little oxidation pocket right on my glaze tests, geez. Fortunately I was looking more at the surface than color so it's not a big deal. I've been modifying my main ash glaze as well as a couple other glazes I have. They've not been coming out so well in my new kiln so I've been tweaking them to see which ones show promise and then I'll test a few of those in the next wood firing. I have a couple really nice new glaze ideas...I have the test pieces at home so no pictures yet.
Here are a bunch of pots I finished up this weekend. Baking dishes, mugs and large bowls.
Some large platter/bowls I made today...just for the heck of it. The biggest is 23".
This is a nice little cup one of my students picked up this last weekend at the Texas Clay Festival. It's by a fella named Patrick Veerkamp, if you've been a long time reader you know he is one of my favorites. This is a nice piece, a celadon over a crackle slip and soda fired. Similar to some work I'm doing right now.
Here are some teapots I assembled today, there was a sixth but he didn't make the cut. I have a bunch of bowls to flute but I spent all my free time today assembling these guys, nearly 3 hours...way too long. My "standard" teapots take about 10 minutes each to assemble, these were about 25 minutes.
I'll take a video of this process another time when I can produce a piece start to finish. This will have to suffice for now.
Here is the base piece. The bottom up to the wide point was thrown in one piece and above that is a coil that I attached and threw yesterday.
The "coil," thrown on the wheel, it is thrown upside down and flipped onto the piece. This is about 5# which was too much but that's ok. Notice the flange on the rim, that will sit over the rim on the base to help make a better joint. Leave it attached to the bat.
The coil set on the piece and then cut off with a needle tool.
With the bat removed.
Smooth in the joint and start pulling.
If I wanted to make a vase it would start looking like this, I wanted a covered jar and had too much clay so I cut some of this off.
I learned a little trick from Willem Gebben: Adding these little ridges to where the joints are helps hide any irregularities in the joint and the form, it's also a nice decorative embellishment.
I've finished up all the big pots except for one. I'll get that one finished tomorrow. I'd really like to make more but I can only fit so many in my kiln and big pots don't exactly fly off the shelves, so I'm set for awhile.
Variations of an idea...these are in the 16" range. Not a clue if I'm going to slip and/or glaze these ones.
The tallest on the left is 23". The jug will get a nice tenmoku and I think the tall guy would look nice with amber...maybe? For the past 3 years I've been using predominantly one slip and 2 different glazes every once in awhile. That made choices easier, now I have to make more decisions.
Tomorrow I'm going to start back with some smaller items. I've wanted to make some one-person teapots so I'll do that, and maybe some new/regurgitated bowl shapes.
I've been working on some "big" pots last night and today. I save these pots for when I teach the sectional/coil & throw methods to my advanced students. The two on the right that look finished are sectional pieces, the back two are pieces that have had a coil added to them. For reference the tall jugs there are about 16" and made from 12# of clay. All of these were made on my kickwheel...there was no way I could handle that much clay on my treadle wheel.
I finished up these butter dishes today as well. I really like these. I tend to stay away from what I call "use specific" pieces, meaning pieces that really only have one specific function. A lot of these types of items tend to be novelty items(french butter dishes, chicken bakers, etc.) and I've found that a lot of the time when people buy them they are buying the novelty and not the pot. Anyways, I don't mean to sound elitist, it's just my personal take on things. So yeah, butter dishes, pretty cool.
More pots! You may notice that most of this work isn't slipped, I'm going to do a "glaze" firing in my kiln this fall. I've been working mostly with slips since I've left college and while I will continue that work I want to try some new things.
I'm pleased with these feet.
These pots below are by my two second semester ceramics students. They've produced about 60-70 pieces each in the last 5 weeks. I push them pretty hard but the results speak for themselves. In the second semester we work a lot with repetition, not exact reproduction but rather exploring forms through multiple variations. That's why you see lots of the same thing. My philosophy is that you'll never learn anything by making just one or two of something(technically or formally.) Make 8, 20, or even 50, then give them an honest critique and toss the weak ones and move forward. The way I set their "quota" for an assignment is based on the amount of time they spend in the studio out of class. For cer.2 I expect 6-8 hours minimum per week out of class, and if I'm not getting that then I raise the amount of required work. In their third semester I expect double that. Fourth semester and beyond it's their full-time job. I ride them pretty hard but the goal of these two students in particular is to get into graduate school right after undergrad. Gotta instill that work ethic.
In true Texan fashion we have had an old refrigerator sitting in our carport for about a year and a half(at least it wasn't on the porch!) We got a new one awhile back and I'd been saving this guy to store clay in. After I took the university job and moved my studio up there it's just been sitting all alone unused. Now I have over 2000# of mixed clay with another 1200# on the way and not enough space to use barrels to store it all so I brought the fridge up to the school. I removed everything inside and sealed up all the little holes with silicone. I think it will hold about 8-900# and another 150-200 in the freezer. Classy.
Here are some jugs I just made a few minutes ago. 4# of clay. This is not a "standard" shape for me, I made a few like this several months ago and came across one I had set aside and really liked so I thought I'd make some more. It's a tough shape to make work, I made 8 but scrapped 3.
The original. This guy has a serious case of the dreaded slip cracking. I liked it too much to send off to the seconds table so it went into the studio to become a source of inspiration.
Here are a bunch of yunomi I've made for what is going to be my variation of the C.U.P. project.
I've had this idea for awhile to give pots away to people who might be interested in the whole handmade thing. I've struggled with the best way to go about doing it. My solution is to give away 2 cups to people who make purchases at our next 2 home sales(dec/may). The first is to give away to someone who is not yet a believer in all things handmade but might become one. The second is a gift to the purchaser for their continued patronage as well as helping to potentially further my customer base.
I could potentially be giving away a lot of product here but like lots of potters I can make waaay more pots than I can sell if I choose to. Mugs seem to be the better choice but I can make yunomi twice as fast as mugs and can squeeze more into the kiln. The longterm benefits may or may not be worth it...I'll let you know in a year or so.
My next brilliant idea? Pots for clunkers. Bring in your mass produced dinnerware set and get 40% off a new set from me. I've not worked out the kinks in this one yet, but be on the lookout.
Time to go drop my aesthetic biases on a group of aspiring potters ;)