Thursday, May 26, 2016

a really...really...really long walk

I feel like this thing I'm doing, the clay thing, is a really...really..really long walk. (title drop!!!)  Or a ladder.  A really really tall ladder... to...where?  To a place that doesn't exist.  Nowhere.

Each pot, or kiln fired.. or whatever involved is a step I take in some direction, or a rung in the ladder I climb.  One pot leads to the next.  I can't really take any short cuts either.  Getting to what I think is the end can't happen by skipping any steps.

I can't be good at glazing without messing up a lot of pots learning how to glaze.

....Or I can't become a good thrower without flopping cylinder after cylinder.

I can't get to step 5, without first going through steps 1, 2, 3 and 4.

I asked some friends today what it would be like to be in a room and see every pot or sculpture they've ever made in sequential order.  Can you imagine?  Maybe you've made thousands!  ...  Imagine the way you'd see the newest pot you've made at the end of that line and compare it some other pot, being able to touch it and hold it and see it up close.  Hmm.. crazy I think.  

So I'll keep on walking around I think.  I'm glad I'm headed in a direction.  Any direction is better than no direction.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

cutting shelves

About a week ago I spent some time taking care of some big old shelves.  48 x 24s...about 12" too long for our biggest kiln.  If  you didn't know it's possible to cut up kiln shelves....well, it is and I'll share with you how I did it.  

All you need is a hand held circular saw and a masonry blade.  The blades don't last a super long this case only about 3 separate cuts.  but that's ok..they're pretty cheap.  Just a few bucks at the hardware store.  Buy a few extra.

Here's a few tips to make your life a little easier while you do this:

  • it's not possible to cut silicon carbide shelves in this way.  i've never tried to..but i've been told not to do it, so i just don't do it.  but if you think about it, silicon carbide shelves are going to be so much harder then this type of  yah, it won't work.  only use these on the softer, clay type of kiln shelves.
  • wear eye protection.  this one is a must.  bits of sharp, very hot pieces of shelf and parts of the cutting blade will be flying around so keep your eyes protected.
  • wear a respirator.  this is seriously dusty.  you don't want to breathe in any of this stuff.  and if your going to do multiple cuts be prepared to get dirty.  wearing a hat or something to cover your head is a good idea too.
  • use ear plugs.  this is loud.
  • adjust the cutting depth accordingly to the thickness of the shelf.  have the blade cut just enough..maybe a quarter of an inch deeper. 
  • support each side of the shelf while cutting.  if you slice off a part of the shelf without proper support once you get far enough the weight will cause the shelf to snap off, creating a jagged, broken edge or snap off, ruining both pieces.  
  • go slow.  pushing really hard will ruin the blade quickly and your cut probably won't be straight.  also there's the possibility of causing the blade to seize up, which could be dangerous.
  • be aware of obstacles around your cutting area.
  • use a dry wall t-square to draw your cutting line.  9 out of 10 times the side of kiln shelves will be pretty when you use one of these you'll have a super straight line to follow.
  • don't forget to adjust your measurements for the blade thickness.  if you're  a stickler for details and you cut straight down the line that you've drawn at 12", your finished shelf dimension will be 1/8" shorter..or longer..or whatever.  so watch out!
  • when you're finished cutting, if you have access to an air compressor, use it to blow all the dust off the shelves.  then use the air on yourself, you'll need it!
  • Once your newly cut shelves have been dusted off, inspect them closely for cracks.  all the jarring and cutting will sometimes reveal a problem spot before you have a problem later in the kiln.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Shino firing

Last Friday we unloaded the big Shino firing.  Lots of browns, reds and carbon.  It turned out well.  I really reduced the hell out of it in the beginning of the firing- more then I ever had in these Geil kilns before.  I think I'll keep hitting the reduction like that from now on and do my best not to go past cone 10 and a half.  We got such deep colors...  and the copper reds turned red.  I'll admit the copper reds we've been using have been elusive to say the least.  Copper reds.... god everybody loves them!  Deep down I have a soft spot for them too.  I really love the copper reds of Brother Thomas Bezanson and Tom Turner.  If you want some real eye candy, go ahead and google them.  Make sure your parental setting is off because their pots are super hot.  zing!

Here are some photos from the firing.

After we finished unloading  I couldn't believe my eyes! Could it be?  Were those bricks all put away like that?  Man..these guys I'm lucky to work with are good.

Monday, May 2, 2016

good ole Mondays

Monday's are good for me.  The studio is closed to members and students.  The only clay folks walking around are staff and resident artists.  We don't even answer the phone. So please leave a message will you?  We'll get back to you on Tuesday or Wednesday.  Monday has been designated the "do it or lose it" day.  Nah, I just made that up.. but it's kind of true.  Most Mondays you'd find me loading kilns or mixing glazes.  Without interruption I can load up these two kilns and mix up a few glazes or unload something else.  Today was the kiln day.  We have a "shino" firing going in the big one (we call that kiln the 40), which is great because so many people glazed work for it..and a regular reduction cone 10 in the medium kiln (called the 20).  All in all it's about 60 cubic feet of glazed pots waiting for their finish fire make-over.  Tomorrow I'll be firing both kilns for a bit..and around 3 pm I'll had the reins off to Heidi and Cj to fire off.

When so many people out there dread the Monday, I feel lucky when it is.  The rest of the week is a whirl wind of people and energy, which is a totally different ride full of fun and excitement.  I never really know who might walk in or what might happen.