With the price of inflation going up and the cost of gas sky rocketing I was forced to make a few changes and try new things to save money rather then raise prices at the pottery. One of those ways was to try something I have always wanted to try but put off, was firing the pots only once in the kiln.

This would mean I would need to practice glazing green-ware for at least the smaller items. The cost savings would cut my fuel bill almost in half. Other potters do use the single fire or once fired method but I never have. I was prepping for a show in Lake Carey PA in the Old Carter barn. It’s a real nice old barn that was refurbished to hold weddings and small local concerts. I had a load of bowls to fire out so I decided to try a single fire.

Raw Fired Pots:

 

I first took the bowls that were bone dry and glazed the insides of them all. I waited until they were dry then carefully dunked the outsides. The process was quite delicate and I did end up breaking three but it was not to bad for a first try.

Once all the bowls were glazed inside and out I then made sure the bottoms were clean by cleaning off any drips with a damp sponge. I let the pots dry some once more and went and had a coffee. Next I put large square plates down and loaded the bowls onto them in case anything blew up it would onto stick to the shelves. Being this was my first single fire, I had to be extra careful.

I started the kiln off with a two hour warm up on low with just the burners and kept it under 200F. My next time turning up the kiln I did so just until the burner barely lit. I let the kiln fire this way and slowly warm for another hour. When the alarm went off on my timer I did another turn up, this time until I could just hear a light flow of air being sucked into the burner vents. At this stage the kiln is temperature is at about 800F and it smokes some burning off the organic material. I set my timer for another hour then go trim pots or watch Bridezillas.

On the next turn up I open the valve until I can hear air being sucked in at a study flow and the flame is blue. At this point the flames should reach about half way up the kiln. After another hour I turn up the kiln until the flame in just over the top shelf and just under the lid. By this stage the kiln is normally near red heat and there is no longer any black smoke and all the carbon, if there was any, is burned off the pots and out of the kiln.

For the last turn up I like the flames to be licking about 8 inches out of the top of the lid. I let the kiln fire checking every thirty minutes,, then every fifteen minuets towards the end until the cone bends in the center peephole then I shut everything down and cover the top hole in the lid.

The process I just mentioned above worked out great as the slow manual trun ups were slow enough to allow the pots to both bisque and later become glazed all in one firing. If the single firing is done to fast issues can develop between the wall of the pot and the glaze as gases from organic matter did not have time to escape. This can cause a bit of blistering. I was very relived when I lifted the lid to see all the pots looking back at me in one piece.

I was so happy and let everyone I know all about it. I also had some ash glaze tests in there that turned out great and I was able to take all those pots and sell them at the sale at the The Carter Barn at Lake Carey PA. I also was real happy to know I could now do the single firings and maybe save a few dollars without raising prices.

However, I was not the only one making transitions to new things. Down at the Wright Choice Diner some were not all that use to change and were feeling a bit uncomfortable about it, that is, until things were worked out.

 


Transitions:

 

 

It was 6:00 A.M at the Wright Choice Diner and Milk Man Dan was there early like he was every other morning when he did the milk run. Dan would sip coffee and eat eggs over easy with toast while he waited for the boys up at the Clemmer Farm to get done with milking at 7:00 so he could make his first stop. Milk Man Dan was always a bit late everywhere he went, because in that type of profession showing up early meant waiting for some farmer to finish up so you could pump out his bulk tank. So Milk Man Dan always made it a habit in life to show up fashionably late everywhere he went just to give folks time to ready themselves for his arrival.

It all worked out in the wash as Milk Man Dan applied the same timing methods on Sundays. Showing up late meant you got to sit in the back row at church during the baptist sermon. And if you were the last one to the sermon it was far to late to have the preacher change things up and make the preaching all about you. So even if the good minister came down hard on folks for being late for church Dan was sure to miss half of it while his wife nugged him to stay awake. But this morning Milk Man Dan was not eating his eggs like normal for some reason.

The eggs and toast were getting cold on Milk Man Dan’s plate as he sat with his elbows on the counter and chin in his hands looking at them. We all were not to sure what the issue was as we glanced over.

“Hey Bob..your eggs taste alright?” I ask, leaning in to whisper.

” Taste fine to me.” Says old Bob picking up a piece of bacon and putting it in his mouth.

“ Yeah mine are fine. Not sure what’s going on with Dan down there.”

Just then Big Jimmy the cook and owner came out for a chat and noticed Milk Man Dan not being hungry. He went over to find out what the issue was. Big Jimmy knew the eggs were fried to specification. You fry them until they turn solid white then flip them and count to four. That’s how Milk Man Dan told big Jimmy how he liked them way back and Big Jimmy knew today he counted to four, he seen the kid helping do it.

“Hey Dan, you not hungry today? Did we all mess up your eggs?”

“Nawww it’s not that.” Said Milk Man Dan mumbling.

“I don’t eat eggs made and served by those kinds of people.”

At that big Jimmy went over for a closer chat.

“What do you mean “those” kinds of people Dan?”

“Well, on Monday when I was here that kid you have working came out and gave me my eggs and his name was Ricky ..but just now today that same kid comes out with a name tag called Emma. And you can’t tell me the guy got it mixed up. Just saying.”

Big Jimmy’s neck was turning red and we all at the bar went back to eating like normal as we knew something big was about to go down. Whenever Big Jimmy’s neck turned red you knew someone might be on their way to getting tossed from the Wright Choice Diner, or if not that , walked out to the back steps where all types of things were worked out the hard way.

Big Jimmy was now standing directly in front of Milk Man Dan at the counter. His large body casting a looming shadow over Dan and his plate of cold eggs.

‘”So what’s it to you Dan? Who cares what the name tag says.”

“Are you telling me your eggs are different from the ones you had here on Monday Dan?”

“Like do you think that because a person has a name change or transition that they would mess up frying eggs?”

“The kid counted to four Dan, just like you wanted. I was there to be sure. And yeah the name is Emma. Now you gonna eat those damn eggs or not?”

Big Jimmy looked down the counter at the rest of us with his red face.

“Hey Guys! Those eggs Emma brought out they were fine and all, correct?”

“Because maybe..just maybe..I could be loosing my mind and messed up the eggs today for some strange reason. So you all are telling me they were good?”

Now when big Jimmy asks you a question like that it’s important to answer quick and not keep him waiting or cause trouble.

“Sure were Jimmy!” I say.

“Tasted just like the ones we had here yesterday I would say. Easy over is how I like them and all and the kitchen nailed it for sure? Right Bob?”

“Umm Hummm!” said old Bob with his mouth full.

Big Jimmy looked back at Dan.

“Well Dan, I’m kind of hurt that you don’t like the eggs Emma fried today. And because of that I think your payment for that money I loaned you for those new tires out on the milk truck just might be due right now.”

When we all glanced over and we could see Milk Man Dan’s face go a bit white. We all knew Dan did not have the rest of the truck tire money as eight-teen wheels cost quite a bit and Dan just had them put on two weeks ago. They were nice tires. Michelins, all of them, over seven-hundred dollars a pop. We also knew never to ask Big Jimmy where he got the money that he was always kind enough to lend out if you had hard times. Big Jimmy had a big heart as long as you did.

“So this is what I’m going to do Dan. I’m going to go back into that kitchen and finish up helping out cooking, and when I come back in twenty minutes I want an answer on what you plan to do because I only need to make one phone call to a guy to have that whole milk truck out there up on blocks, because I know you don’t have the money. And also let me know if I can get you a to go container for your eggs if you decide not to eat them here but while walking home.”

With that big Jimmy turned and angrily walked past us all back into the kitchen, to let Milk Man Dan come up with some kind of action plan. It didn’t take long before Dan started eating his eggs cold and in no time flat had cleared his plate. When Emma came out for a small break and a coffee like nothing happened, we all thought we heard Milk Man Dan say the eggs were good when she asked. We though big Jimmy might have set it up that way and had a good chuckle. He was like that. Always one step ahead when he could be. Unless it was the IRS.

Now there may not be a Emma or a Milk Man Dan, but somewhere, someplace, someone was transitioning though something as the only thing constant is change.  We can face change the hard way or the easy way. We get to decide almost every time. Some changes take a bit more effort then others, but it all goes down much eaiser with a large glass of empathy.

 

Written By,

Al Wayman

Artist/Owner

Creek Road Pottery LLC

If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for our newsletter and become a raging fan.

Find my post on cost and a free cost analysis download spreadsheet by viewing the post “Pottery Cost Analysis Spread Sheet”

My Pottery Management Tools:

I spent the afternoon avoiding pottery to create worksheets and journal print-outs that you can clip into a three ring binder that should better help you track your clay journey.
I created PDF of each sheet so you can print them individually and put them in your binder as needed.  Below is a description of each sheet and some background information on how to fill it in.  Even though I am not getting anything done due to procrastination, I do hope the sheets can help at least one of you in some way.

My Pottery Goals:

The “My Pottery Goals” worksheet has section to fill in ten year goals, five year goals, three year goals, and one year goals.  The ten-year goals can allow you to dream big.  Write in where you might wish to be.  All of these goals can change as you move forward, so no need to worry about what you put in as long as it is something you dream of achieving. As you narrow down the years you can also work to refine the goals more for the short term to make actionable steps to the over all big goal.  The one-year goal can be made by comparing advancements or opportunity areas to last year. Be sure to fill in as much as you can, as each day when you do tasks in the next worksheet, you can see if those tasks and projects you do either help you towards where you would like to be or not.  This helps to weed out those annoying projects you might take on because you are not able to say no.  I have to admit that I am still working on this with custom orders. But at least now I have some type of framework to follow step by step even in small ways and to assess how far I have come and what I might need more practice in.

I have also included your “Why”. Your “Why” needs to be more than passion.  As when you lose a kiln load of mugs you might not feel all that passionate about making pots but you still need to do the work and be action driven to reach your goal even on the bad days.  There are some great posts on finding your “why”. I discuss the topic in my post on balancing work and pottery here.

Another section I felt was important was to include ” If I live to be 86 from today , I have _____ days left.”  This section sounds a bit morbid, but I thought adding the idea of just how short life is and how we spend our time was very important.  Time is something we spend and give each day and a thing we never make up or give back.  When we are born we have a full “bank account” that dwindles down each day.  So knowing and seeing the end along with our long and short term goals might help us reevaluate and choose better what we will spend time on and how we tell our story.


My Pottery Journal:

This idea came from Donald Miller and his Story brand/ Business Made Simple website for business leaders.  I took a workshop on business and loved it. I reformatted the journal page to fit the artist and those who enjoy pottery so they could work to have some type of direction planning their daily tasks.  On the Journal page, there is space to list 3 critical tasks. It is thought that any more than three tasks becomes a distraction and can make one feel overwhelmed. These three tasks should be tasks that are critical to your pottery and towards your goals.  It is always important to review your goals each day.  Next are the secondary tasks.  These are small tasks that you can do that do not require much effort.  Then comes your reward for working so hard.  This section is called “Things I get to enjoy.” Here, be sure to schedule in a few things that you do that is relaxing. This section is also a good place to write in what you are grateful for.  The fourth section is “If I was living yesterday over, I would have..” This section gives you another chance to look at some things you might need to improve on and begin break cycles that hold you back.  This idea comes from the writer Victor Frankel and his book “Man’s Search For Meaning” .   The “Summery” section of the journal sheet allows you to write down any thoughts or ideas you might have about the previous day or the one that is to come.  The last section of the “”My Pottery Journal” page is that question again “If I live to be 86…”  just to remind us once more just how precious time is.  Lastly, there is a question on if you are enjoying life or not. I do hope you are!


My Pottery Project:

This journal print out page is for those projects you wish to start and keep track of. In the large open section you can draw out sketches of your idea and in the bottom of that section there is a list of art descriptions to help you think about what to add to your work to make it communicate better.  Some of those terms are form, shape, texture, asymmetry, negative space, functionality, and a few others.  The middle section allows you to write in the project name, due date, clay type, glaze, and important dates dealing with firings. At the bottom is a notes section where you can jot down ideas that come to you while you work things out.  Having theses all in a binder will allow you to flip back and forth to see due dates for planning, project progress, and your work has evolved.


My Pottery Kiln Log:

I made up this sheet to make it easier to keep track of firings. When holes are punched in the sheet it can be put in the binder for future reference.  Even if the power goes out you will still have good records of your kiln that you can go back and look at to make changes or to run the same program or schedule.  Simply place a dot on the grid and mark the time and temperature when you check your kiln.  You will be able to see if your kiln is staying on schedule or if you need to make adjustments.  When starting to use a sheet I would fire normally to get a good centerline record of what the kiln does.  That way you might be able to detect issues earlier if you see things going out of the base centerline schedule.    At the bottom of the “My Pottery Kiln Log” is a section to write in the time, warm up , soak, and other important information. The note section will allow you to write in observations or learnings you had while firing, any changes you made, or what issues you might have had during the firing.


My Pottery Troubleshooting Guide:

I wanted to include this in with the packet to make it easier to think through issues you might run into. The system I used is one that is used in manufacturing, and it is called the 6W2H.
By asking Where, When, Why, What, Who, Which, How, and How much, problems can be narrowed down and bring you to root cause. This video explains 6W2H at length if you can withstand to hear the robot reading to you. The middle section of the troubleshooting worksheet allows you to put in the root cause when you find it and what you did to fix it.  I also placed in a section for part numbers,  help numbers, and other important information so if the issue happens again you will have a sheet on file right in your binder. This will save you time by saving what the fix was rather than trying to remember.  This sheet also can help with reminding you to do preventive maintenance, or doing checks on things before they fail, causing you downtime before that big show.

The full “My Pottery” packet of PDFs can be downloaded below for free at no cost to you!  Let me know how I can make it better and also let me know if it helps you in any way.  Now I need to go make pots as I am way behind.  Happy potting!

PDF sheets for download are listed below:

MyPotteryGoals
mypotterykilnlog
mypotteryproject
potterytroubleshooting
mypotteryjournal

If you enjoy these worksheets sheets and tools, you may also like the Pottery Cost Analysis sheet I made up here.

Written By,
Al Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for our newsletter and become a raging fan.

 

“Thereafter beginning from the left he poured drinks for the other
gods, dipping up from the mixing bowl the sweet nectar.
But among the blessed immortals uncontrollable laughter
went up as they saw Hephaistos bustling about the palace.
Thus thereafter the whole day long until the sun went under
they feasted, nor was anyone’s hunger denied a fair portion,
nor denied the beautifully wrought lyre in the hands of Apollo,
nor the antiphonal sweet sound of the Muses singing. ”

– The Iliad, By Homer, Book 1 

 

 

The Mixing Bowl

 

One of the most useful pottery forms (besides common mugs or soup bowls) are mixing bowls. Mixing bowls are diverse and can be used in many ways. A large bowl makes a great centerpiece, like on a kitchen counter or dining table with fruit inside. Large mixing bowls are also useful for baking and mixing recipes, raising bread dough, or soaking beans.

 

 

To make a mixing bowl, I start with 8 to 10 lbs. of clay. I knead the clay to get the air pockets out and mold into a cone shape. This makes it easier to center on the wheel. In the past, I have also added smaller lumps of kneaded clay on top of each other to make the cone while it’s on the wheel head.

I then place the large cone on the wheel head and turn the wheel by hand, slapping the cone while rotating the wheel to center it. I stand to throw and have my wheel up on blocks. This helps me prevent back injuries from being hunched over. 

 

Throwing the Bowl

 

When the lump of clay is centered on the wheel, I cone it up and down a few times to center the clay throughout the whole lump. I then flatten the cone on the top, pushing down to compress the clay. Now it is time to open the clay.

I roll my thumbs in and push down until I have about a 1/2-inch base. I pull the clay out, creating the floor. I still leave the clay narrow (like making a vase) and pull up for height before pulling out. At this point, it is important to compress the sides and rim after each pull up. 

 

 

Once the height is achieved, I pull out the sides and create the bowl shape the way I like. Sometimes I use a small mirror on the other side to see the shape from the back. Once the shape is how I want it, I then compress the sides and top some. I take a rib and compress and shape the inside, removing any ridges or grooves that could catch a spoon. For this, I use a large throwing rib or a plastic pizza cutter.

 

Now the inside is compressed and shaped, I cut the top rim with the pin tool to even it out. I then compress the rim and thin it to prepare it to be rolled. I carefully roll the rim over and compress the underside. A rolled rim seems to strengthen the bowl, which helps it keep shape during drying and kiln firings. I cut the bowl off the throwing bat with the wire tool and let it stiffen up.

 

Drying and Trimming

 

Once the bowl is stiff enough to handle being flipped, I turn it upside down and expose the bottom to air. It is important to let the bottoms dry first. Once it’s leather hard, I trim the bowl and make sure it has even thickness in both the sides and bottom. Even thickness prevents cracking from uneven drying. 

 

It is possible to speed dry if bottoms are put to heat to dry first. Some set their large bowls upside down in the sun, upright on a kiln lid, or set on metal shelving over a wood stove to heat the bottoms and dry all the way through.

 

When the bowls are bone dry, they can be loaded into the bisque kiln. Center and top shelves are good for bowls, as they need more even heating. If using a gas kiln, they need to be protected from the direct flame and the kiln needs to be heated slowly until just after red heat. Once the kiln reaches bisque temperature, the bowls should cool slowly to prevent cracking from thermal shock. Now the large bowl is ready to glaze.

 

Glazing the Bowl

 

I blow into the large bowl to remove any dust, then fill the bowl to the rim with glaze from a 5-gallon pail after stirring it well with a paint mixer attachment on a drill. Then I dump it out. Depending on the glaze’s gravity, it may need to be done twice if thin. I let the bowl dry completely.

 

To glaze the outside of the bowl, I dump glaze into a large tub, then hold the bowl upside down and at a slight angle. I dunk the bowl and then turn it straight to create an even glaze line about a 3/4 inch up from the bottom. I pull the bowl out and let it dry. Wait for the drips to stop before carefully turning it upright. 

 


 


Firing The Bowls

Once dry, the bowl is ready to fire. I make sure no glaze is on the bottom and even up the lines if I need to. I load the bowls in the kiln. For my kiln, a gas firing takes about 6 hours to reach cone 6 or 2223F. The kiln then cools for 24 hours before it is opened and unloaded.


After being unloaded, I check the bowls for cracks. I then wash them out and send them off to their new homes, post them online, or take them to area shops for sale.

 

I do hope you enjoyed this little post on how bowls are made!   Have you tried to make large bowls?  How would you use a large mixing bowl?  Let us know in the comments!

Written By,
Alford Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

Edited by:
Erika Sickler
Content Writer/ Editor
Creek Road Pottery LLC

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You Can Do It!

By firing manual you can get to know your kiln, better understand the firing process, and even manipulate the work by making changes to the firing schedule. This is good practice especially for beginners learning the firing process and firing techniques. It is my opinion that when firing out work in a kiln you need to be there through the whole process as it’s like giving birth. It is quite simple to do but just takes a bit of monitoring and being able to see the correct cones inside the kiln when it is hot and knowing when to shut the kiln off or start the warm down.

The Sermon

Even though many kilns are digital or use a cone sitter, I am a hardcore manual kiln fire guy. Which means I fire all my kilns , even bisque fire, with shelf cones. Now I will not preach at you like a baptist minister if you choose to fire digital shut off or use a sitter, but in my opinion you are depending on luck to shut down each load. Mistakes like putting in the wrong cone number digitally, wrong hold time, improper sitter set up, improper cone set up in the sitter, or the sitter cone melting in a strange way and not shutting down all can cause a kiln to over fire. I witnessed a kiln melt down when I was a young wart hog and ever since fired manual. Kilns can be like children playing in a sandbox next to the road. For the most part they will be fine but if you forget to check on them in no time flat they will be out playing in traffic. You do not want your kiln to be out playing in traffic. Forgetting your kiln could result in a melt down where all the work shelves and posts become like taffy stuck in there. If you simply do a google search for kiln meltdown you will see some amazing images of things that happened when folks had a bad time with their kilns. You will still have a bad time with your kiln even if monitoring it but those bad times will be less painful and disaster averted by taking corrective action. Amen.

Proper Setup

It depends on what types of shelf cones you have. Cones measure both temperature and work heat. If you use a pyrometer to check your kiln, you will only know temperature. Pyrometers do not measure work heat. Some shelf cones need to be placed in a cone pack while others are self standing. I like to use self standing cones in the peepholes and place them on a small piece of kiln shelf or post. When placing them in the cone pack, be sure to research the recommended angle by the cone manufacture. I set the cone almost to the edge of the shelf, so they are easy to see inside when things heat up, and it all looks the same color. At high temperature, you might be able to make out just a slight outline. Some say not to place it near posts or near elements, but I like it right out in front. Be sure your cone will not attach its self to a pot when it bends, cones like personal space.

Looking in There

When things heat up hotter than a goats butt in a pepper patch it might be hard to see the cone. When you look in there it is best to use welding glasses as you do not want to damage your eyes over the long run. Also, if firing with gas pull the plug and wait a bit as if the kiln is in reduction you may have flames shooting out the peephole. So when you look in there be aware of that flame or you can lose eyebrows or catch your good flannel shirt on fire. Now look in there real slow and find the outline. I try and place the cones in front of a pot to see it better. Another technique is to shine a flashlight in the and have the light reflect off the cone. You can also blow into the hole to slightly cool the cone to see the outline. At times if I was not sure and cold not see it I shut down the kiln to be surer than restarted.

Reading the Cone

Be sure to look at the chart put out by the cone manufacture. Orton has a free chart that you can download here.

Also, be sure to check the cone manufacture bend chart. You can see an example here.

Checking the Kiln

Each kiln is different But here is the schedule I use for both bisque and glaze fire to cone 5/6 when firing manual.

Hour 1 & 2 – Check each hour
Hour 3&4 – Check each 30 min
Hour 5 to Cone Drop – Check every 15 min

Below are some examples and tips on what the cone will look like inside the kiln and suggestions on when you might want to shut it down.

When to Shut It Down

Each kiln is different and the rate of the cone drop will change based on temperature and work heat.

If you have the cone that matches the firing, say a cone 5 shelf cones and you want a cone 5 firing, you want to shut it down at the slight bend.

Below is what a slight bend looks like base off the recommended bend chart of Orton.

If you have the cone that matches the firing, a cone 5 shelf cone, and you want a cone 5.5 firing, you want to shut it down at the half bend.
I go to the half bend for most of my firings. By going to the half bend you can properly bring to temperature shelves that may be running a bit cooler slightly.
A half bend for a cone 5.5 firing will look like this:

If you have cone 5 shelf cones and would like a cone 6 firing, you would do a full cone bend. It will look like this:

If you are all out of cones and only have a cone 5 shelf cones and would like to fire to cone 6.5 you would do a full bend plus 15 min.
It will look like this:

If you missed a check because you fell a sleep or the cows got out you can still tell about how much time you missed as you will have hard full bends and soft full bends. A soft full bend the cone will look like melted chocolate but be blistered and bubbled out but not a puddle. It will look a bit like below. Here I was out of cone 6 but used a cone 5 plus 30 min to reach a cone 7 for a bottom shelf. So I intentionally over fired to bring to temp a cone 7 glaze test on a bottom shelf.

All the checks might seem excessive, but help to catch mistakes early and also allow you to make correction. In my gas kilns I can see if the kiln is heating correctly, if the firing is going to slow or fast based on color. Also, when testing firing techniques or a new shelf configuration, how big or small the load is or doing holds. All the checks paid off and saved loads and prevented over fires. I have over fired, but only from falling a sleep and missing the last 15 min. Thank goodness my wife woke me and I only lost 1 shelf of pots to blistering. You can also check cone that did not bend to get an idea of how much off you were on the under fire. A cone that did not bend but at all might be like glass and have gloss say it was close to reaching temperature for example.

Do you fire digital or manual? Do you have any questions about firing manual? Let me know!

Al Wayman
Artist/ Owner

Creek Road Pottery LLC

If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for my newsletter and become a raging fan.

 

Using stains to enhance your work and define texture.

For the last few years I have been working with oxide stains and have enjoyed the results.  I mostly use red iron oxide and back wipe it once applied to bring out the highlights in texture patterns I press into the clay on the work.  When fired in reduction the oxide goes to a leather looking color that I find appealing. I choose functional forms that can be used with no glaze and simply just stain. Things like  shave brush handles, the outside of mugs , bowls, and handles I leave raw at times to stain.

I found early on a problem traditional wet shavers had been that glazed shave bowls were slippery and users would drop them in the sink.  This allowed me to work up a design with texture patterns on the outside of the bowls to help with grip and I decided to leave the outside raw to give it a rustic look.  I then used red iron oxide to bring out the texture patterns in a more pronounced way. I was able to experiment with many patterns and styles over the years and also save money as I was only glazing half the pot. Red Iron Oxide was far cheaper than any glaze recipe but just took a bit longer to apply.

I also enjoyed seeing the raw clay next to glazed areas and patterned areas in contrast to smooth. I found that lettering looked quite nice when red iron oxide is applied and wiped back leaving the valleys dark and peaks a lighter color.

Applying Stain to the pots.

I put some red iron oxide powder in a dish and add water. The more iron the darker. So at times I may add less or more water depending on the look I might be going for. I then apply the red iron oxide wash with a brush on the bisque ware then back wipe with a sponge. After I am done applying the wash I let the pots dry some and then glaze the other areas last if I decide to glaze at all.

The end result can be quite amazing. I do enjoy seeing the toasty brown color of the clay after opening the gas kiln after the glaze firing. For classes, I give it is possible to have the students make pinch pot planters and have them impress texture patterns in them and later bisque fire and stain them. This can be done for those who wish to only take one class and only return for pickup. In the video here I am loading the kiln full of stained pinch pots done by students. The outcome was quite nice! Below is an example of student work from my last class. The possibilities are endless on how to use stains to make work look interesting and communicate without using glaze. Have you ever used stains? Let me know in the comments!

 


Thanks to all of those who came out to the opening and attend the show, March 17th to April 14th at the Slanted Art Gallery in Montrose, Pa.
For those who were not able to make it to the show here are images of the collection.  Kathy Taylor, jewelry artist of comingupdazees , created the enameled copper jewelry pieces for the raku pots.  She did a wonderful job!  Also thanks so much to the buyers as four of the eight have sold.

This project was a bit different for me as it has been some time since I fired raku pots. When I seen Kathy’s jewelry I thought it might be nice to do a show at some point. Kathy Taylor did an excellent job at matching up colors and style. Each jewelry piece can be removed and worn.
The stress from the raku process was hard on the pots and many of them fractured and should get the hammer. But many protested at the thought and after some debate it was decided that maybe the cracks added to the piece and that the buyer should decide. So all pieces will be clearly marked.

Below are the images of the pots. I hope you all enjoy them. Thanks Kathy for the great job you did and also for taking the photos.

Below is a link to the raku pots when they came out of the kiln.

A Blog post from a buyer and collector!  Thanks so much for the support Gere!

Blog: Connections More: Mine!

Here are process photos of the collection of pots being made:

A video of the pots in a live feed from the gallery show:

Enjoying the Sunshine – 2/27/2021

 

Critical Tasks:

Trim bowls after waking up from working nights. Start throwing bakers while bisque kiln fires. <–Not completed

 

Secondary Tasks: Clean Studio <—Not completed

I worked 12 hours at the paper factory nights. I slept until 1:30 pm then made a plan. I decided to finish trimming bowls and then start the bakers as I need about 40. I also planned to run a bisque of raku pots.

But then I went outside and the sun was shining. I sat on the porch with a cup of coffee in the sun for an hour. Then I felt like playing my guitar a bit. By then it was getting late and I ate dinner with my wife and we watched a fun show together on YouTube.I was able to come to my scenes that I was watching someone else’s story and not my own. It was much easier sitting on the couch having a drink watching someone else tell their story then creating my own. So I preached a big sermon to myself on it like a baptist minister and thought it far better to be living and creating my own so I went and trimmed the rest of the bowls and planned to start the bakers in the morning while running the bisque load I didn’t get done.

 

If I was living yesterday a second time:

I would have made more realistic goals. Working night shift is a bit more challenging plus I need to plan in a bit more fun time so I don’t get burn out. The world will still spin without my pots in it. It’s not like I’m making a vaccine or anything.

Things I enjoyed:

I enjoyed that cup of coffee in the sun after working nights. I enjoyed strumming my guitar and dinner with my wife. I enjoyed trimming out those bowls.

My story summary:

Realistic goals could get more things accomplished when I stick to them but at times resistance to doing a thing or to change might talk us into not doing things or making it easy to stay far longer than we need to. Like Aeneas staying long with Dido or Odysseus with Calypso resistance can delay our journey or deny us of reaching our destination and the adventure along the way.

Trimming Bowls Before Work – 2/26/2021

 

Critical Tasks: Trim bowls before work 12 hour nights at the paper factory. <– Completed

 

Secondary Tasks: Cover work so pots don’t dry out to fast. <—Completed

 

If I was living yesterday a second time:

I would have done everything the same as far as clay work and glad I stuck it out making the bowls. I might take the scenic route into work as it’s a real nice drive through back country farmland.

 

Things I enjoyed:

I had a nice time trimming pots while watching Kara Burtin YouTube videos on Etsy SEO. I also enjoyed reading “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life” by Nir Eyal while on break at work and the chicken and potatoes my wife helped me pack for lunch. Work went better and things ran smooth.

 

My story summary:

I woke up at 1:30 pm after working 12 hour nights at the paper factory and chatted with my wife some then trimmed pots until 3:30. I was able to get about 25 bowls trimmed out before work I covered the other 30 that were left then got ready for another night of work.  I can do quite a bit if I schedule my time better. I need to work out a life plan and short term goals after the March shows are over. I would like to get some hiking and camping in.

A Wet Kiln Firing – 2/23/2021

Yesterday I had the day off from my job at the paper factory. At 8:00 am I went and filled 3 gas canisters at Tractor Supply because they charge by the gallon and not by the fill and it’s much cheaper. They also fill them all the way up. I loaded 10 raku pots for bisque and could not fit all 13 in. I normally fire with a full shelf 1.5 inches down from the lid but the pots were to tall so I over fired the bottom to make up for it. They will be fine as they are somewhat large raku.

I ran a 2 hour warm up to let the kiln steam out a bit and went through the firing process. Hour 2 I found a leak at the tank nozzle and had to switch it out and restart the firing. I did a slow climb until the cone 06 bent all the way down at 5:00pm.

I got no other critical tasks completed as the gas kiln needs to be monitored every 30 min which is how I caught the leak. Some of the pots were a bit heavy also but having them on the woodstove was a huge time saver and help in drying them.

If I was living a second time:

I would have held off the firing until today as I could have used the day to throw and trimmed pots today between checks. I would have help to pull that person out of the ditch as 10 years ago a kind guy did the same for me. Knocking on doors 6 am to ask to borrow a chain. Out there that was a good way to get shot at but kind and I never forgot. In the winter out here a person should always have winter clothing, boots, gloves, snow shovel and chain in the trunk. I took out all that to load in the propane tanks. I would have got hoses to connect to the large tank as driving to get propane is a huge effort and time loss.
Things I enjoyed:
I enjoyed steaming out that wet kiln even though it was more effort and seemed to take a bit longer. Between checks I watch youtube instructional videos and spent time with the wife. After the kiln went down The wife and I went out to eat and food shopping. I talked to my sister from Update NY for 30 min. When My wife was ready I went in the store to help a bit as I try to stay out of the way. She lets me pick out the Mrs. Dash seasoning, meats , and coffee.

On the way home there was a lady who was stuck real bad in a ditch. I drove home and got my snow shovel and chain and winter gear while my wife unloaded the groceries. Then I went back out and a few other were there with one chain but it was not long enough. I used my shovel and with my chain added the two kids that stopped were able to show off a bit by pulling the lady out. So in short they had a truck pull at 9:00pm on a corner. They must have known each other as they were talking a bit of smack and the one kid said that he would let the other guy go first and finish the job when they both end up stuck..I’m thinking maybe a Ford/Chevy riverly.

My Story Summary:

Getting scheduled tasks completed can be a challenge. There will be plenty of resistance to working new ways and getting use to keeping on track.  There is only so much time in the bank and you should spend each penny of they in ways that are productive and enjoyable. If you do not make your own journey and plan others will make them for you no trouble. But you may regret not having a choice in the matter later.  What hero’s journey are you on?

 

A Wet Kiln – 2/22/2021

Yesterday after 12 hours work at the paper plant I had dinner with my wife for an hour then had to dig out my gas kiln Hera from the snow bank.

I realized I also left my shelves out there and the lid was stuck. I put the burner under and ran it on low for 2 hours to warm things up and to u freeze the lid. I also had to build a fire in the big wood stove to dry the shelves but all the wood was wet from being buried in the snow. I had to use my winter camping skills to start the wet wood by splitting it enough to give the flame a dry edge to start. I put the shelves inside to dry out.

If I were living today a second time:

I would have covered everything before we had snow and brought the shelves inside. As it took until 1am to get done. Huge effort loss on time. I also need to put up a kiln shed ASAP and get my big kiln Rosie hooked up to the big tank.

The things I enjoyed:

I was reading “Indestractable” by Nir Eyal on my breaks. I took the scenic route home from work and watched a YouTube show with the wife. I also did enjoy all my sufferings in some strange way. I super need to get it together. Hope to get the bisque firing going.

My story summary:

I have a huge problem with effort loss due to poor planning and decision making that is costing me a ton of money effort and time. Also I need to weigh opportunity cost. Just because it sounds like a good idea it does not mean it will be.