Monday, September 29, 2008

email and apology

my email had been down for at least a couple weeks now, so if anyone has tried to email me i apologize for not responding. my web host has unsuccessfully tried twice to fix the problem to no avail. so if anyone has the need to email me it can be done at i'll change it on my profile as well.

i apologize for the lack of blogging as well. my camera batteries are dead and i only get paid here monthly, so photos will have to wait just a bit longer. the wife and i have decided to cancel our internet service at home since we both get free internet at work. we get to spend little time together at home so we decided to minimize distractions that would keep us from spending time together. i'll be having a firing this weekend-ish and another a week later. i'm firing off a bunch of test pieces for the porcelain tomorrow in a sketchy sorry excuse for a test kiln, so we'll see how that goes. as soon as a i obtain some batteries i'll share all.

porcelain is neat!!!


Sunday, September 21, 2008

what a haul.

a couple weeks ago i received an email from don brimberry, a potter who i have known for a few years. he told me about this lady named jan fleming in austin who was retiring from being a potter and was looking to give away her gas kiln and sell some kiln shelves to a young potter who might need it and he had given her my name. the kiln was about 30+ years old and made entirely of 2300 degree ifb so i figured i might get some useable brick but i was more interested in the kiln shelves. my friend todd who lives in austin accompanied me to disassemble the kiln. jan told us she wanted to save about 100 brick to build a small kiln to tinker with and the rest were ours. this kiln was pretty big, i could stand inside it if that gives any impression. we had the kiln taken down to the last few rows in about 2 and half hours. the kiln was very well built and the number of brick that were too bad to be used were less than 20. so in all i ended up with somewhere between 900-1000 brick, over half of which are in almost new condition. she also gave me 5 old 12x24 and 13 12x12 kiln silicon carbide shelves that she had used in a salt kiln years and years ago. she also had about 100 10x20 silicon carbide shelves that she wanted to sell. i didn't think i was going to be able to afford any but asked her what she wanted for them so i could maybe get a couple. she said $3 each. she initially 30+ years ago only paid $5 for them. i talked her up to $4 and took 12 of them. i tried to take a couple photos of the haul but my camera was dead, wouldn't be that interesting anyways, you've seen one ifb you've seen them all.

so in all i got nearly 1000 ifb,17 full kiln shelves,and 13 half shelves all for $48 and a tank of gas. i am extrememly grateful and feel very blessed. i promised jan that whatever i didn't use i'd pass on to another young potter. i hope someday i'll be able to do the same for someone else.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

whats been goin on.

i've been keeping busy these last couple weeks, classes are good-i'm really enjoying the interaction with my students. a couple of my students were a little put off when they discovered this isn't a class for painting ceramic giraffes and making ashtrays. i wasn't sure what to expect but i didn't see that coming.

here are pots i've been working on. my clay just came out of the racks on sunday so i've been trying to get through the stoneware quickly. i have a big show coming up in 5 weeks and i have to get the wood kiln fired at least twice so this stuff needs to be done this week so it can dry and get bisqued. i've knocked out most of my making list for the stoneware, all i lack is some casseroles, cereal bowls and a few medium size vases. hopefully i'll get those done tomorrow. when in doubt make bowls, actually i'm out of bowls so this will get me stocked up again.

this is a new yunomi shape i've been tinkering with. i prefer the feet on the left to the ones on the right. i think on this shape its nicer to have the foot flow into the piece. i'm going to make some cereal bowls similar to this tomorrow.

couple platters/bowls and some tall vases. those two on the right have lids floating around somewhere.

here is a detail of how i treat the rims of my vases. i treat the bottoms of most my pots this way and i thought it might be a nice to balance that with the rim. perhaps its an acquired taste but i like it.

porcelain plasticity test, looks fantastic!

are those kiln plans? wonder what those are for...

so long for now. we're going to austin to pick up some stuff this weekend, its gonna be a treat!

Friday, September 12, 2008

online interviews

this interview with davie reneau is pretty neat, a lot of interesting things said. i think its something like an hour log.

all of the interviewees are wood firers if thats of interest to you. i listened to the simon levin interview and it was pretty good too, there are several others that sound like they have promise.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


it seems that i have lost my glaze recipe for randy johnston's copper green. i've searched exhaustively for it and can't find my copy or the original source. i thought i'd gotten it out of clay times but i couldn't find it there. if anyone out there has it and wants to share i'd be so grateful. i know the original has a small amount of barium and something like 10% wood ash.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

rain rain rain.

its been raining for a few days here and looks like it will continue to do so through next week. the rain is good, we need it but my clay racks are as wet as when i mixed them. my stoneware should've been out about now. i have a show coming up in just over 5 weeks and need to get work done, if i have to wait another week for clay thats cutting it pretty close. i'm thinking i may find another strapping lad or two and move the clay racks into the kiln room and fire off a bisque. maybe that'll help? any suggestions?

since i have nothing to do other than housework(i'm procrastinating) i thought about some pots that i liked and decided that if i could own any one pot it would be this pilgrim plate by bernard leach. anyone who has held his pots will tell you that he was a mediocre potter at best(technically speaking) but his pieces have so much feeling behind them. i'm not sure what it is about this piece but i never tire of it. he made multiples of this one and there is a better example at the st ives pottery but i can't find a picture of it. i thought it would be interesting to see what other people might choose as their favorite pot? consider this my retribution for not tagging anyone in the previous post.

this last weekend we met an excellent furniture maker who works mostly with colonial style pieces with traditional tools. he had this beautiful tavern style dining table that he hauls to all his shows as one of his example pieces(all items are made to order). he is no longer going to be making this table and was trying to sell it for a heck of a deal and we almost came home with it(i'm a sucker for traditional crafts). we have no dining room table and have been looking for awhile and i have also toyed with the idea of building one but i have neither the space or time. so now we have been kicking ourselves for not buying it but it turns out he'll be at our next show and said that if it doesn't sell he'll bring it along and give us first shot at it. score!

so long for now.

ps. mark peters has a few cool videos on his website.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

i'm home.

we had a great show this weekend in midland, tx. i'd never been to midland(about 2 hours west of abilene) before and must say that it is sort of a lateral move from where we are. the show was slow but we had good sales, met many new people and sent many good pots to new homes. i'll be getting back to work tomorrow, i mixed up a few hundred pounds of clay on thursday and i'll be mixing up a bit of porcelain tomorrow. whats that? porcelain? yeah, i dabble in porcelain from time to time and i've had all these ideas stored up and i want to see them through, it'll be a nice change of pace.

before i forget, i was tagged by ron so here are six random things about myself.
1. if i weren't a potter i'd be a woodworker, no question. i hobby in woodworking and absolutely love it but have little time for it.
2. i own all seven seasons of the gilmore girls, love that show.
3. i love puppies. dogs flock to me like children to jesus, i don't know why but i'm ok with it.
4. i live for mountain dew.
5. i've never worn a suit in my entire life (jeans for the wedding).
6. i proposed to my wife via text message.

everyone that i would tag has already been tagged so this one will have to die here.

good night all.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

lucky # 7

here you go, photos from firing # 7.

this bowl is about 15" across and is about 4 or 5 inches deep, the photo makes it look flat.

again, 4 or 5 inches deep about 19 inches across.

dinner plates, 10.5 inches. the stack in the middle were all fired upside down. i'm going to experiment with this some more because it gives awesome flashing. i was concerned about all the white area left so we kitchen tested it and it doesn't stain but silverware leaves marks on it but they wash right off.

dessert plates, 7 inches.

teapots. i mixed up a new batch of my ash glaze and ball milled the ash to go through a 100 mesh screen, i like the new surface so much better. on my old clay body the ash glaze looked like a nice jade celadon, on this new body it looks much dirtier, i like dirtier. the teapot on the right is a new slip that showed promise in tests, i like it.

mugs. this is the surface that i strive for. its hard to get and usually i'm happy to get one or two pieces that do this, this time i had half a kilnload that did it.


cap jars, all with the same slip, different spots in the kiln.
atmosphere: neutral-ish/oxidized/reduced

this is something new, it has potential.

for the blushing i've found that it happens best around cone 9, cone 10 seems to wash it out. it also needs light salt, its that fine line of not enough/too much. one of the reasons i ball milled my ash glaze was so that it would look better at cone 9 so i can get better results throughout the kiln. i used to just run it through a 30 mesh and go with it but it would look nasty at cone 9, it really needed cone 11. but now at cone 9 i get a nice matte to glossy surface.

i had a few pots that were over-reduced and over-ashed but they look ok. i have a design flaw in my kiln that causes one area to overfire and over-reduce. we're looking at doing a rebuild here soon so i'll get that kink worked out.

i'll unload the gas kiln tomorrow and then i'm off to a show this weekend(which is why i've been busting my butt this last week.)


reduction firing done.

just finished off the redux firing, it seemed to go smoothly.

i peeked into the wood kiln spyholes this morning at about 700 degrees and saw nothing but rough white surfaces(bad) so i cracked open the door a bit(the advantage to having a swinging door) and saw mostly unflashed surfaces(not enough salt?). i went to see my wife at work and tried to have a pity party but she wouldn't let me(she's a good lady.) we took another peek this evening before my night class and it looked sorta ok. we unloaded later in the evening and the pots were simply magical. there are bare patches here and there but oh baby the pots are sweeeeeeet. best firing yet, easy. and get this...every single pot out of this load can be sold, every single one. that hasn't happened to me in years. definitely a once in a blue moon firing. i'll post pictures in the am, for now i'm going to bed.

Monday, September 1, 2008

firing # 7 done.

i finished up the firing in the wood kiln this afternoon at about 3:30. i had a heck of a time getting temp gain in this one. it kept stalling every 100 degrees or so. about half of my firewood was still wet and wouldn't give me good temp gain so i had to break the 1st rule of woodfiring: cutting, chopping and sorting wood while firing. luckily i had a big pile of firewood that i just picked up that was dry and it got the job done, but what a workout!

i knocked the firing out in about 8 hours, all the pieces were bisqued so i was able to take it up much faster. why so fast? this may be heresy to some of you but i actually don't like much ash on my pieces. i really enjoy the woodfiring process but i fire with wood mostly for economics(its free.) but of course i get great effects that can be had no other way.

i'm loading and firing the gas kiln in the morning, maybe i'll get to rest on wednesday.

i'll unload wednesday and get some photos up.