Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fairview Pottery Sale - Fall 2015 - NEW LOCATION, NEW DAY, NEW TIME!!!

In case you were wondering, the sale info is below. Note that the location has changed, as has the day and time.

Little bowls are for the birds

I was recently approached to see if I could make 100 little bowls to be used as canary nests. The bowl itself is simple, it is the dimensions that need to be pretty accurate. The bowl fits into a round wire hanger that sits under the rim of the bowl so that it can be hung in the bird cage with a round piece of what looks like felt, or something similar, to act as a liner for the nest. The hanger is a fixed size, so the bowls can't vary much in diameter. They also have a few holes punched into the bottom. Easy Peasy, right? I have a fired bowl to use as a reference, but as it has already shrunk, I can't use it for accurate measurements, so instead I used calipers and eyeballed an additional 1/3" on either side of the bowl. I am using a plainsman terracotta and they provide excellent data on all of their clays regarding shrinkage rates and the clay I am using has an approximate shrinkage rate of 9% going from wet to fired (^04). I plunked 22 pounds on the wheel this past Saturday and threw 23 bowls off the hump. That took about 1 hour to do, give or take. I then threw another 23 bowls on Sunday from the remaining 22 pounds. So in 2 hours, I threw 46 bowls, it took another 10 or 15 minutes to thumb the bottoms and punch 3 holes at the bottom of each one. What I am really amazed with is how accurate I was throwing of the hump as I don't do a lot of this type of repeat ware, I usually wedge individual balls of clay for the piece unless it is lids and spouts. I throw those off the hump all the time. There were a few that were smaller and a few that were larger than the average, but that was mostly depth, the width did not vary much as I had the calipers to guide me. There is no way that I was going to wedge 100 1 lb balls of clay for this, the profit margin is pretty skinny, if present at all, so I needed to save time by not wedging and not trimming. The first 46 are drying now and I will soon know if my measurements were correct, fingers crossed.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Another new body

I picked up a new ^6 clay body on the weekend. It is black and it fires black, should be interresting. It was a pleasure to throw, very smooth and very plastic. I was able to achieve height and width without much difficulty too. I guess it is not recommended for heating in the microwave as it contains black iron oxide. I guess I wont be making mugs out of it, but I did get a casserole, 6 coin banks, 1 large bowl and a pitcher thrown out of just over half a box. I will trim tomorrow night, we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Changing Seasons and Clay

I took this shot of the the evening sky just at sunset on Friday night looking towards the west. Autumn can make for the most beautiful and turbulent skies. It has been a bit turbulent inside the studio too. I have been spending every spare moment I can in there making, glazing and firing as much work as possible before the big sales at the end of November. There was some drama for a few weeks at the studio when our clay supply chain broke down for a while. I wont go into those details, but the end result was that the studio was without clay for about 3 weeks. Our clay supplier ended up getting some clay from out east to tide their customers over until they worked out their supply issues. I took a box of Tuckers Mid White and half a box of the Tucker's Bright White to test. I find it very gooey in comparison to Plainsman Clays and there really is no comparison to BMix. I don't use Plainsman much, but I spotted the differences right away. This clay sits right back down on the wheel and will slump very easily and any height is hard won. It will take me a while to get used to these differences and I think heavy trimming will be required to achieve the lightness I am used to. I'll know more when these pieces get fired. If they take the glazes well, if the body really is as white as they say, etc etc. for now, I am on the fence with it.
This pitcher was thrown from the Mid White.There was a lot of trimming involved with this one to achieve both a pleasing shape as well as to make it usable. It still has some heft, but not nearly what it was.