Monday, October 26, 2009

New Trimming Tool

Yesterday I received my new Bison trimming tool.

My friend John Tilton has used them for years and has nothing but great things to say about them. The tools are made by Philip Poburka in Las Vegas, Nevada. They are made from tungsten carbide and stay very sharp. I love the rounded wooden handle. The shape keeps the tool firmly in your hand as you trim. The Bison tools website is located here.

If you have used these tools please share your feedback.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Getting Centered

This evening was spent throwing a couple of new forms. I have never made 'chips and salsa' platters before and decided to give it a try. I was happy with the outcome:

The walls of the bowl in the middle is higher than the walls on the rim of the platter. After throwing them I stood there trying to determine the best way to trim the bottom. Any suggestions?

Over the past couple of months I have been working with larger amounts of clay on the wheel. As I increase the amount of clay I have found that centering can be quite challenging. As part of this process I have spent considerable time thinking about my technique and paying very close attention to every movement I make (in preparing the clay as well as centering it). This has helped me learn a valuable lesson - DON'T HURRY, TAKE YOUR TIME. I used to try and get the clay centered quickly and had a lot of trouble. It works on two pounds of clay but not on ten. Once I slowed everything down I found that clay is much easier to center on a wheel. Another lesson I learned - PREPARE THE CLAY PROPERLY BEFORE PUTTING IT ON THE WHEEL. After kneading the clay I spend some extra time shaping it into a nice cone. A nice cone shape does so much to simplify centering.

Tonight I felt like I reached a milestone. I was able to center twenty pounds of clay - by far the largest amount I have ever attempted to center. Now when I look at ten pounds, which used to be very intimidating, I have the confidence to know I can handle it without a problem.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Test Glazes

After months of procrastinating I finally made up batches of test glaze. All glazes are cone 10 reduction glazes and are best fired using the R1 firing profile in John Britt's book The Complete Guide to High-Fire Glazes. The glazes I will be testing are:

  1. Malcolm's Shino
  2. John's Red
  3. Rutile Blue 1
  4. Winnie Blue
  5. Choy Celedon
  6. Penn State Shino
  7. Leach Clear
  8. Ice Trap Celedon
  9. Hamada Temmoku
  10. St. John's Black
  11. Tilton Gator Skin
  12. Hanna's Fake Ash
  13. Haynes White
Here is a picture of my scale and empty cups on the new table:

The scale at work:

All the glazes have been mixed and the cups sealed:

I need to fire at least one more bisque load (in the electric kiln) before I'm ready to fire the gas kiln. Trying to find a day on the weekend to fire it has been challenging. This weekend I will be attending a workshop at St. Pete Clay with Elmer Taylor. The workshop is a throwing and trimming workshop with concentration on lids, spouts, and handles. I'm missing the Florida Gators football game vs. Arkansas to attend this workshop. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I must love throwing pots...because I don't miss Gator football games!!!

Just a quick note before I sign off - I've been captivated lately by soda firing. I've looked at a lot of soda fired pots online and I find myself amazed by the colores and textures. I'm starting to educate myself on the soda firing process. In addition to testing the glazes above I am contemplating mixing some slips and having them fired in the soda kiln at Atlantic Pottery Supply in Jacksonville (about an hour and a half away). More to come...