Thursday, March 25, 2010


The new pots are up in the etsy shop. If you're a blog reader that's purchasing something let me know and you just might get a little something extra.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

etsy preview.

I'll have a bunch of new pots up on etsy tomorrow late afternoon/early evening, all from the latest firing. So until then here is a small preview of some of the pots. Enjoy!


porcelain for the people review.

I've seemed to misplace my camera yet again so simple words will need to suffice.

I'd decided to jump on the bandwagon and try out some "Matt & Daves Porcelain for the People." I bought 30# for $30 shipped(pricey? yeah.) I'm toying with having another porcelain phase and I'd heard good things about it and decided to give it a shot.

Immediately out of the bag the clay failed the coil test,(rolling a coil and making a tight circle with it) it didn't just crack, it fell apart. It also has that rubbery feel that PV clay imparts along with the fact that if you slap 2 plastic pieces(right out of the bag) together they don't stick. Some of you may know what I'm talking about, not sure of the best way to put it in words.

I wedged it up and made 4 yunomi, 8 mugs, 4 dessert plates and a 4# pitcher on the wheel. I will say that I give this clay and A+ for throwability(is that a word?) It throws really well, thin if you want it to all while in a soft state. It doesn't take constant wetting like a typical porcelain either. Honestly it throws better than my stoneware.

Trimming was fine, average, same as any porcelain I've used. Handles are a whole other matter. Remember the coil test? That is a pretty clear sign telling you how the clay will behave with handles. This clay pulled some of the worst handles I've experienced, unaged clay from the mixer pulls better than this stuff. They cracked and split really bad. Only massive amounts of babying the clay helped. So handling I give a D. The bigger handle on the pitcher pulled much better than the smaller mug handles but still suffered from the same issues but I think its mass helped. Could be I had a "bad" batch because I haven't heard of anyone else having problems with it yet.

I haven't dried or fired any pieces yet, I don't think I'll have issues with either of those. Porcelain by its nature needs to be babied a little and dried slow, so I'll dry them under plastic. I left a couple of mugs out to see if the handles would pop off as they can do if dried too fast just for curiosities sake.

The clay is ok, but not right for me and how I need it to behave. So if your work and work habits are different than mine you should disregard my review. If all I did were throw pots it would be a good clay, but I need it to do other things(I imagine it would absolutely suck for hand building)so for the price it's not worth it for me. I'll stick to my own blend.

I'll end with this video someone pointed me to on youtube a few years ago. Unrelated to the post but, shall we say interesting?


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

clay body stuff.

I received an email asking about my claybody today so I thought I'd share it here.

Hawthorn Fireclay 35 Mesh 50
Hawthorn Fireclay 50 Mesh 50
Goldart 15
OM4 Ball Clay 25
EPK(or Tile6) 33.3
Silica 200 Mesh 5
Custer Feldspar 15
Grog/Mullite(50/48Mesh) 25

This is a personal modification of a pretty standard fireclay based clay body. I use several different clays so I have a variety of particle sizes. Here's a little blurb from Hank Murrow via clayart about particle size:

"I am pleased to introduce you to the "Room Full of Basketballs" theory of clay formulation. The theory goes like this: imagine a room full of basketballs. Now fill the spaces between with tennis balls, then the remaining spaces with shooter marbles, and peas, and buckshot, and sand grains, and fine sand. The idea is to make sure that there is a very wide range of particle size available, so that all particles are touching each other(or as nearly as may be configured) so that all particles are just separated by the water that can be held(by molecular attraction) to their surfaces. The reason folks use several clays is to insure(in our age of over-'improved' and therefore mono-sized clays) that there is such a range of particle sizes. "

In my experience basic clays don't need to be weighed out to decimals or even real precise amounts(except for spar and silica), general amounts seem to do just fine. The above formula is one batch in my blunging barrel. To save time the main ingredients are either full bag amounts or some variation, half-bag, 2/3 bag so that the next batch can be weighed out faster. I've recently had a few pots with lime popouts...probably caused by the 35 mesh fireclay. One of these days when my stash is exhausted I may switch to all 50 or 45 mesh. The next time I buy clay I'm going to try some new things, I'd like to try Kentucky Stone in place of the goldart and some of the ball clay...I'd also like to try C&C Ball Clay in place of OM4, it's supposedly cleaner and whiter than OM4.

My body used to have no free silica in it but my ash glazes didn't look nice on that body and a small addition of 2.5% made a huge difference. That's something I did in the last year. I've never tested the absorption of this body...the feldspar is technically on the low side but it's vitreous and doesn't leak.

It'd be really cool if I could find a local clay to add to my body for a little bit of local flair but this is red clay country and I don't want a dark body.

Well, wasn't that exciting stuff? Cheers!

Monday, March 15, 2010


It's spring break here so I can finally catch up on some things. I'll be mixing clay, glaze and bisquing for the students as well as a little spring cleaning around the classroom. I'm fairly intolerant of messes left in my classroom but I've been so busy that I've not stayed on top of them like I should. The extra classes I'm teaching are requiring so much of my time that the classes that I'm here to primarily teach are suffering. A good friend of mine is here doing some clay work in the classroom and he's helped to pick up some of the slack this semester for which I'm grateful.

I just pulled a batch of clay out of the drying racks, about 550# and I'm about to mix another batch. I don't think I'll get back to the wheel anytime soon but I want everything there and ready to go for when that time comes. It's been a month and a half since I've made any new work...too long for me. I don't like it when my racks are empty.

I've been trying to sell the idea of blunging clay for a few years now. The only downside I've found is that the clay doesn't all dry at the same rate. If you have a pugmill this is no problem, I don't have one so I have to cut and slap(the real wedging) all the clay that comes out of the batch to homogenize it. The clay will be fairly stiff on the edge and super wet 3 inches away. I wonder if this is less of a problem in a more humid location? I keep my racks out of the sun but dry Texas heat... Anyways, still faster than mixing and far better clay.

Clay right out of the rack...

550#...after cutting and slapping. Most of these blocks are in the 40-50# range. You're never really lifting the whole piece up at once so it's easy and a time saver to do a large block at once.

Well, I'll be having an etsy sale this week, new pots...lots of mugs and yunomi. If you would like to see anything else on there feel free to request it.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

kiln stuff.

Our show last weekend was a bit of a bust...we sold some work but the crowds were minimal and we were rained out on sunday. What can you happens.

We finished up the car kiln in class today. We put fiber with a stucco coat over it on top of the arch but no photo of that yet. The burners will get hooked up some time soon and we'll fire it up and see how it works and then on to the salt kiln.

Front view, hard brick around the spyholes to resist wearing, they're also offset because the shelf posts go right up the middle, something I didn't take into account with the first car kiln I built.

Side view, the sides are exposed more to the weather so we covered them with a layer of steel to help out. The car rolls so smooth, I can pull it out and push it in with one butter.

Clamp detail on the door. The first gas kiln I ever helped fire had these and I've finally had the proper tools to build and incorporate them. They're suh-weeeet.

If you want your very own I can build it for you in 5-6 days. I'm free this summer.
Clay drying in the racks...more pots soon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Art in the Square in Frisco!

For anyone in the Dallas area this weekend we'll be showing at Art in the Square in Frisco. Come on out and get some pots...we'll have plenty!

PS: The firing was good...I won't have a chance to post photos for a couple days.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Firing VI

I just finished off firing VI. The firing was very problematic, lots of unevenness, damp wood, 4 of my grates broke around 2150 degrees and it ended with a visit from the fire department. I ended up with cone 10 flat on the bottom, 9.5 on the top back and 8 down on the top front, that's the worst I've had though it's not terrible. We had a lot of rain yesterday and even though my wood was in the barn and covered it was still a little damp and I went through a lot of wood to get it to temp. The fire dept. showed up right at the end of the firing, once they saw the kiln and I told them what was going on they just kinda hung around asking pottery questions. It makes me nervous though...I always wonder if the fire marshal is going to come out and put an end to it. Even though it's permitted they can pull it anytime they want.

Well anyways, I'm not too discouraged( i am about due for a bad firing though.) There are always at least a few pots that make it worth it. I'll be unloading Thursday morning...lets keep our fingers crossed.