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A Treadle Wheel:

 

I made the trip from Laceyville, Pennsylvania to the beautiful upstate New York though the farm land with my father to pick up an old time treadle wheel. I found the treadle wheel on Facebook marketplace for a great price. I always wanted to try one, and having one would make my pottery off grid. It was a stand-up treadle wheel that was rather large and heavy, with a one-hundred and twenty-five pound fly wheel.

The previous owners were very kind and were more then happy to sell it to me as they knew it was going to a good home. We tipped it up and rocked it back on to the truck bed in the rain. Me and dad made the trip back, which was a great day out for him. As a farmer in the past, it gave him an opportunity to scan the landscape and comment the corn crops, soybean fields, and farm equipment. The over all assessment was the corn and crops were dry and much of the beautiful land was not being used for farming anymore.

The ride was filled with great stories as Dad’s memories of milking cows were jogged. We stopped at a town diner to eat. Dad named it the “Disgruntled Employee Diner” as the staff was about to close up early due to having short help, and they seemed rather agitated. They gave us no menu, but asked what we wanted. Dad decided not to cause any trouble and said he would just have a burger and fries like that guy by the window, and I said the same. The disgruntle waitress wrote it all on her pad and slapped down the slip at the grill where the cooks were. I think ours was the last order for that day. The staff scribbled out a closed sign and taped it to the door.

Once we made it back to the pottery, we rocked the treadle wheel off the truck and set it on the ground in the driveway. We made it spin some. Everything worked great still but Dad and I could tell in needed to be greased up, and some bolts tightened and a few parts needed to be reattached. Dad thought I could put the grease gun to it as the zerk fittings to the bearings still worked. I felt real happy and could not wait to get it inside, make the repairs, and start practicing making pots on the new old wheel. Dad wondered how many pots I would need before I made good ones on it. I thought at least a hundred. Dad said the bearings still looked and sounded good. I would just need to push the old grease out with new.

The next day I tried my first pots. I threw ten one pound mugs first. It took getting use to, as any movement made showed up in the thrown form. Any uneven speed or movement of my hands if unsteady, due to pushing the wheel treadle with my leg, made a few wobble rims and uneven pulls, and even a few bottom heavy mugs. I hand lifted the pots off the wheel head onto a board to take a look. I enjoyed the change already from electric to the foot worked treadle. I enjoyed the look of how the pots were beginning to turn out. I had ninety more to go.

I was in the middle of making work for my Fall show. I decided to push out the rest of the pots using the treadle. As time went on I found the whole manual process to be relaxing. By pot fifty, the forms were starting to come in. I decided to try some larger pieces with some soft clay. I also took time to watch Simon Leach on his wheel throwing and his techniques on how he pushed the wheel up to speed and when he let it coast. I threw a few five pound casserole dishes and pie plates. By pot ninety things were going well, but it slowed down my pieces per hour by half. I believe I needed to slow down. It felt great and relaxing to push out work off grid with my new old treadle wheel fidget spinner.

I sent a few images of the treadle pots to a few friends and they found the look to be quite nice. While I don’t depend on compliments to make work, I do find them enjoyable to hear at times. You can get them from Darrel every Wednesday morning from 7:00 A.M to 10:00 A.M. down at the Wright Choice Diner in town.

 

 

Darrel’s Compliments:

 

Every Wednesday morning from 7:00 A.M to 10:00 A.M. Darrel Cline sits at the corner table in the Wright Choice Diner with a coffee in his brown 80’s corduroy suit, matching vest, and wing tipped shoes and hands out compliments. Darrel worked jamming radar in the Navy. He wears the metals to prove it. You can see them pinned on his suit coat.

Darrel then spent his time after in the sky putting up towers for television, radio, and phone signals until he decided to retire one windy day way up and simply came down, leaving it all behind in a rather sudden fashion . Some say his tools are still up there on the last tower he worked hanging, and with a good pair of binoculars you can see them from the lookout up on old rout six.

”Your nails look beautiful today, Missy!” says Darrel as his coffee is poured.

”Why thank you, Darrel. That is very kind to say.” says Missy

“Stressed, blessed, and nail obsessed!”

” You got that right Darrel!” laughs Missy.

At 7:00 A.M. a line starts to form with folks getting coffees to go before work. It’s the perfect time for Darrel to hand out compliments like candy. If you’re new to the Wright Choice, the kindness can catch you off guard some. If you’re a regular, you know to drop your change into the cup marked “Darrel’s Compliments” next to the cash register. It was the least folks could do to honor the veteran and contribute some to his coffee refills.

”You do a great job with the mail, Robby! It was all folded real nice in my mailbox.”

”Hey thanks Darrel. We work mostly for Amazon now. They don’t like us taking to much time to care. But for guys like you, we fold it up nice.”

” The mail must go though! No matter if it rains or snows, the mail must go though.” sings Darrel.

”Haaaaa! For sure! You got that right! You have a great day now, Darrel.”

Next up was Jimmy Carter.

”Hey it’s Jimmy Carter! Great job drilling those wells!

”Morning Darrel! Thanks for your service. Your metals look great this morning.”

”Thanks Jimmy, but because of you everybody can get a drink as there’s lots of water in the sink!”

” That’s a good one Darrel.” laughs Jimmy, tossing a few dimes in the cup at the counter.

”You stay happy and warm, Darrel. It’s getting cold out.”

”Will do Jimmy! Work safe!”

I was next in line. One large coffee with cream to go. The wind was blowing the leaves of Fall outside and the air was crisp. It made the inside of the Wright Choice feel extra cozy today.

” Hey it’s the pottery guy! Those last mugs you made up looked great! Loved the blue!”

”Hey thanks Darrel. Hope you have a great day. Are you getting ready for winter? Seen the price of fuel was supposed to be high this year.”

”Yes Sir! Got the heating oil locked in. Your right about everything being sky-high. It’s supposed to be a cold one. It’s always great to see your mug around here.”

”Haaa! That’s great Darrel. You be well, and I’ll see you next Wednesday.” I say dropping some change in the cup.

While Darrel was handing out compliments to one and all, out back on the wooden steps of the Wright Choice, big Jimmy the cook was getting ready to hand out a bit of retribution. Two big dump trucks almost ran him off the road on his way in. And by luck or fate there they both sat parked down back, out by the tracks.

Big Jimmy reached into his pocket and pulled out the valve stem remover he always carried in case he needed to even things out a bit if life was made cruel by others. A dog barked in the distance, and a lonely train whistle could be heard as big Jimmy relived a few tires of air.

Now there may not be a Darrel or a big Jimmy, but somewhere, someplace, someone was spreading kindness without working at it to hard.  We may be able to choose what we put out, but can never be sure of just what we will get back. This is my town and my story. So I get to tell it how I like.

 

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.

 

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”

You can do it! You are ready now! It might take some time and loads of practice and hard work, but in this post I will go over a few things that you can do to make your art cohesive. Making art cohesive is not as necessary as it used to be. Like with the old music industry that went bankrupt, the internet has made it possible for you to show and reach others with your work in very cost-effective ways, eliminating many of the gatekeepers that used to have a grip where and how work was shown. So here is a no bull sh*t approch to creating art in a cohesive way.  There might be grammer and spelling errors but I am an artist and not a teacher so give me a pass maybe for all the free information packed in here for you.  If you do not get anything out of this I’ll be sure to send you a refund at the end.

This article will cover the topic of creating art that is cohesive for those looking to submit work to galleries, shows, venues, platforms, or collectors that require a cohesive body of art work to gain access to their buying community. However, know that if you can buy cars and 52 inch flat screens online and have them delivered to your home, you can also market your art in very much the same way. There is no such thing as talent. Just practice and hard work to build skill.


Build Skills In The Basics

Just like riding a bike, there is no way that you would simply hop on and Lance Armstong it out and get big wins on day one. Creating art that is cohesive takes time to build and to learn skills, techniques, and processes. I have no idea what bad art might be, and only a little about what it is not. But I do know that poorly done work with lack of attention to construction, detail, composition, shape, color, size, materials, texture, line, research, and others can give you a real bad time. I would suggest making a lot of what you make, and then make a lot more of what you make better. Repeat all of that a bunch of times.

It may take fifty, one-hundred, or maybe a thousand or two to get the basics ironed out, but it is very important on your way to creating a cohesive body of art work if you wish. The start to making art cohesive is simply making a lot of bad work as practice, finding and pushing boundaries, finding what might work best, taking chances, putting yourself on the hook, being brave, and working to eliminate any resistance that always crops up. But you can do it! You are ready now! Start by making your first pieces right now! Give yourself permission to mess it up bad and go to it. Just do something! And do it a lot! Once you simply start things will begain to work out and you will feel great creating the work. Even the terrible stuff. It’s all practice.


What To Say To Whom

The next step I would say in making your art cohesive, is after creating a bunch of work, and building the skills in the basics, is to find out who you would like your art to be for and why. Take some of your the strongest work and have a look at it all from way back. Also think about what you wish to say and why. Answering all these whys is very important as it will assist you in whom to show the work to and create work that matters for the folks who care.

No need to make work for everyone but for the minimum viable audience. You only need maybe ten people who care to start. If you are successful in communicating and what you create speaks to that community and they enjoy what you did they might tell another ten folks and before long you have a few raging fans or collectors. It sure makes it easier to sell work or submit pieces to art shows, galleries, art shops, and online platforms if you have some idea what your work might say or how it is read and knowing your “why”. A great book on the topic is “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” by Simon Sinek listed below.

.All of this might take a while to work out and you may ask other how it is read. I would suggest not asking friends and family, as they will lie to you to just make you feel better and not enjoy being honest if they believe what they truly think might cause you to have a bad time. So I would have some folks you might not know, who might be the ideal person the work is for, to give you feedback. Social media groups are real helpful in this area at times. Then, take what those folks say and go back and rework things and show them again. At this point it might be fine to start submitting work to a few shows and galleries as their feedback can be helpful in knowing what they belive you need to improve on, and how well your work is communicating.

After looking at some of your strongest work from way back you might now be able to see some type of themes throughout them all. A cohesive body of art will start to filter out and you will be able to start to see similarities between pieces in a few different ways. At this time it might be good idea to now emphasize those similarities a bit more while at the same time keeping what you wish to say to who in view. Now go make a bunch more work with your discovery of the themes in mind and repeat the process, and then show that finished work that matters to those people who care. You may not get it correct every time, and you may need you to rework things and not feel good about it, but do not stop! Creating work and finishing things no matter how poorly they turn out is far better than all those who simply thought about making work but never did! You’re doing great!!!

 

Layer Up Like An Onion

After practicing your techniques and skills and messing up a lot real bad and taking the least bad that are now good and finding the commonalities it is time to build creating art and a cohesive body of work that is created for a specific reason , with a specific goal, that might say a specific thing to a specific group, to the least viable audience. Since there are a million ways and combinations this may feel overwhelming at first but after you work it out a few times you will become much better at it. For me personally I enjoy layering the work up with technique and meaning so that I am able to communicate with my audience I am trying to reach.

Others may simply have one of two layers to enjoy communicating simplicity. I find it easier to make a list with columns on a paper with those things that you found common in your work. Then list out the thing you might like to say to who using the many techniques, subject manner, lighting, line, sound, symbols, texture, patterns, planes, shape, depth, height, weight, size, history, research, and many other ways to communicate. To me personally good art is simply a form that communicates clearly and/or in some interesting way. Next layer things up in a way that communicates best based on the goals you are trying to achieve.

It is possible to become cluttered and have to much going on in the work to where it is a distraction. But if you chart out the project first you can begin to add or subtract even before you begin taking the time in constructing the actual body of work. At this point it might be good to make up a few small samples, test pieces , or studies to work out a cost analysis and to decide how many to make in the collection on the particular topic and also to begin to help visualize what it might look like.

Can you see the collection in your mind? Visualize how it might be if you walked though a room at a gallery or shop that was filled with your work. How would you want it to feel to the viewer? What can be done to make an impact or to communicate what you might like to say? Once you are able to visualize it in your mind then you might be able to have a better feel for how to set up the collection and the way it communicates. Also think how it can communicate on other platforms, like when on a website for example. How will you shoot photos? What feeling do you want the online viewer to have as they click though the gallery?


Do The Work

With all the planning and testing completed it is now time to do the hard work of doing the work. Actually doing the work can be the most challenging part as many things will start to crop up on why we should not do the work. A lot of resistance and issues will arise that will give us excuses not to complete the project. Self-doubt, imposter syndrome, material issues, issues with technique, and other set backs will stop by every day for coffee but keep going!

After some time when you reached the amount of work that you planned for make a few extra pieces so you have the option to choose what to use to fill out a showing. It is also at this point of doing the work you might want to show others who care about what you are doing what you are working on to build interest and excitement about the project. It might even benefit you to post updates to your email list or do social media posts and live streams of the process to get those who care invested in what you are created and trying to communicate. It is my belief that the total work is the planning, the construction, the showing, and the buyer enjoying it .

Doing the work might take days months or years but be sure at this stage to have good project management as no collection is complete if it is only partially done. And remember at times done is better then perfect. While it is very important to pay attention to details, fine craftsmanship , and technique do not let waiting to release the work until it is perfect become an excuse. Keep working though the dips, both the good times and bad, and wrangle it out.

Doing the work is the most intense part and can be a struggle but keep climbing the mountain. While doing the work take small breaks at certain planned stages along the way to review what you are doing and that you are staying on message and reaching your goals. Reward yourself at certain stages and be kind to yourself. Creating a cohesive body of work is no easy task and sharing work that matters with people who care can feel like your are exposing yourself some to the world but push on you almost are ready to put on the finishing touches and show your work as a collection!


Show The Work

Great job! You did it! Now you have a bunch of work sitting around your studio, basement , or in storage. Now it is time to show your work to people who care if you have not started the process already. Take all that work someplace and set it up and look at the collection all together if you can and start to decide which work should be shown together, separate, or not at all. Some pieces will be stronger then others so take note on those things and why to remember for next time. It might be beneficial at this point to create an artist statement about the work for promoting the work and explaining the project, technique, and ideas and also some background about yourself.

Depending on the platform you might be able to get help with these types of statements based on what the gallery or selling platform requires. It might be beneficial to see how other artists have gone about this process. Planning this all out now will help later and make things run more smoothly if you work should be accepted into a gallery or on a platform for a show. There are a verity of ways to show a collection of work to people who care and one way would be to find a gallery or selling platform that might be a good fit for you and can help you show your collection to people who care. Like writers you should ready yourself for rejections, these rejections can be beneficial as they can provide feedback on what you might need to think about when creating. On the other hand the work and message you are tying to tell may not simply be for them or a good fit so keep going and try not to feel down about things. You have created a cohesive body of work and that is far better then all those who simply just sat and thought about it but did nothing.

Some may disagree, but you may need to separate yourself from your work in your mind so that you are able to sell it better. Your work is not you but simply an extension. Just because others might misunderstand, misinterpret, or simply dislike the body of work that does not mean they dislike you personally. I try not to take anything personally and if others reject the work it simply was into for them. However, if your goal was to agitate or upset and you caused a ruckus then congratulations your cohesive body of art work is working!


Ways Around Gatekeepers

Think of different ways around gatekeepers. Many might say they enjoy the work you do but have no room or you may not get into shows due to other reasons due to a jury rejection. I have heard some artists being rejected for the way their booth looked or how their set up or display was done. If needed work on what they suggest if you need to but also work to break though the gatekeepers. One way to work around gatekeepers is to build your own community of people who care and collect your work.

If a ten year old girl in Tennessee can gain one million subscribers on social media doing a milkcrate challenge then you as an artist should be able to muster up a few hundred or thousand people who care. Like the old music industry that refused to change and went bankrupt, or the book industry, you can also like the song writers, producers, singers, and writers; have opportunities to put your work into the world in many different ways on different platforms to reach those people who care.

There are some challenges you will need to work though but once overcome can give you leverage in promoting your work and speaking what you wish to say. While they are helpful, you no longer absolutely need galleries, art shows, shops, or the old ways to show your work to the world. You can do all of that with your own website or online shop. Size does not matter. A person can buy a car and have it brought to their house and a 52 inch tv shipped to their doorstep. So times have changed and your thinking as an artist may need to also to take advantage of these great opportunities that you now have available to show your work.


What Are You Waiting For?

Time is short and the only thing we never get back and you are the only one who can best tell your message and story to the world though your work!  At the time of writing this if I live to be 86 I only have 14,104 days left. If you do not tell your story someone else will and it might not be the story you want told in the way they tell it. I hope you found some of this helpful and can better  plan in creating your art in a more cohesive way that you can feel great about and also work your buyers enjoy! Below is a reading list of books that I found helpful. I recive no payments or kickbacks from posting this material. I write these articals because I enjoy helping folks just like you at no cost. If you enjoyed this post and got somthing out of it feel free to check out my gallery and shop or just say hello at creekroadpottery@gmail.com.

 

Here are some great books I have read!

Seth Godin:

The Practice: Shipping Creative Work. 
This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See.
Purple Cow.

Stephen Pressfield:

The War of Art
Do The Work

Simon Sinek:

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Steve Blank:

The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company
The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win

Free Class:

How to Build a Startup

Donald Miller:

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
Hero on a Mission: A Path to a Meaningful Life
Business Made Simple: 60 Days to Master Leadership, Sales, Marketing, Execution, Management, Personal Productivity and More

Joseph Campbell:

The Power of Myth

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Victor Frankl:

Man’s Search for Meaning.

 

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.

 

Founder’s Day

I went to a show in my hometown to show up in my hometown to push the pots and say hello to folks. I had to do all of that after working all night at the paper factory. The night at the paper factory was a long one because nothing was running right. So I super rush home and showered and loaded the pots. My wife was a big help as she was so kind and had all the pots that came out of the kiln packed. I almost was late to the show from hugging her and all. So we packed everything in the car and went to the show 40 min away and followed the instructions..

So they had teams of folks there to help unload with set up, so we pull to our spot and unload, and they all help, and we move the car and then start the set-up. Now I don’t have a normal show tent but one that is 5 sided and once up it for sure did not fit in the 10×10 spot but was well over it and was all up in my neighbor’s biz and Even though I was exhausted I quickly realize I was becoming that guy by holding things up. So I say “Hey It’s not supposed to rain so we don’t need the tent, thanks everyone. ”

But the director of the show said to me “Well you might want shade from the sun.” and I said “I got nice trees here so I’m good thanks and I don’t want to be that guy and hold you all up.” So we wasted time and argued a bunch, but she was very kind and overly helpful. But after some thought she told me that she had 2 slots of folks who did not show, and I could move all the stuff to that spot and put up the tent. By this time things were very stressful as we just needed to get set up to look good and all

So we wasted more time and that of the helpers when the kind lady had us all move all the pots and the stuff to the other double space and us and them got the tent up thanks goodness and one helper dropped a container of pots and I told him not to worry as everything on the bottoms are always seconds anyway and all the million dollar pots were home and the ones here were just mugs and all. None of that was true, but I just didn’t want to waste time with him going on about how bad he felt and all and for sure I don’t have any million dollar pots. So we got set up and the work put out on the flip shelves that set up fast and my wife helped me put out all the pots she packed up so nice in nest format from the boxes, and before we knew it we were saying hi to folks who started to stop by and poke around.

After we got set up my wife said she would find me food and coffee while I did some pricing adjustments. She asked me what I wanted in my coffee and I say just cream because you’re helping me added the sweetness and I might have a mouth full of cavities, call the dentist. So after my wife came back with food and coffee, she thought maybe I should shoot a pic and post to social media, so the peeps could come say hi if they were in town. So after six shots of me not sure where my arms should go we finally got a nice one, and then we sat out there all day in the shade in the hot sun and had a nice time chatting with folks and talking about how pots are made .

I was able to sell quite a few pots and made back my booth fee and believe it or not a few hundred over. And I was relived that I had the right stuff for the right folks, as I always worry about it. I appreciated each and every sale as no one owes me anything and I had some strong interactions and also a lady who wanted to learn to fire gas kilns as she only does electric. So I told her to stop up sometime.

Then I walked around a bit to wake up while my wife watched the booth when things slowed and bought a mug off another local potter who had some real nice work and had nice hand-builds. So over all it was a nice time as I sold some work and got some money and a sunburn. We then went home and I went to bed then got up and worked on the Hebrew pots for the opening on Friday, July 1st. Twenty of those pots are drying now, flipped in the sun.

 

Clemmer’s Tractor

I was not the only one out in the sun that day. A cool breeze was mixed in with the heat, so it was a great day for drying hay. They had plenty cut up on the Clemmer place, and they needed to get the hay raked and baled due to threats of thunderstorms. Old man Clemmer was using his new Oliver tractor.

Old man Clemmer was able to purchase his new Oliver tractor with the insurance money he got from when his pole barn full of bedding straw burned down. After the big investigation of the burning hay pile they went with Clemmer’s theory that sunlight from his pickup truck mirror reflected into the barn and set the bedding straw on fire. It also helped out if you were good friends with the fire chief and those who worked the fire company as then there was no need to look deeper than you needed to into things.

Some at Millie’s bar thought the fire up at Clemmer’s was a bit strange, and they all were talking about how much young Davy Clemmer loved fire works. Every year when the night went warm, it would sound like Chinese new years up on the hill. Davy Clemmer would save all his money and have his older friends buy fireworks. Before Facebook, fire working was a form of entertainment for a lot of folks. When M80’s were no longer big enough, there was always quarter sticks to relive folk of the burden of having all 5 fingers. Davy Clemmer was down to three fingers now but was still going strong as he still had a thumb.

Davy Clemmer lost his second finger in a heroic effort to save a friend’s life. Somehow, a quarter stick that was lit got dropped on the floor of the side by side the friends were driving up on Turkey Trail road. And while they both in a panic tried to find a stick among the empty beer cans, the fuse was much shorter by the time Davy Clemmer came up with it. Davy for the better got the stick to the window as the side by side he was driving rolled into the ditch. Davy lost a finger and part of his hearing that day when they crawled out from under the vehicle and celebrated being alive in pain. “So I think Davy Clemmer set that fire up there, and you can’t tell me any different.” said Bob as he took a sip of his beer. “I don’t care what the investigation found. If Davy Clemmer was around the place and there was a fire, you can almost bet that kid was part of it all somehow.”

But Clemmer’s Oliver was real nice and worked much better than the last tractor he had. It always seemed he was working on the old one more than he was using it, and when you had nice days on the farm, it was time to get things done rather than mess around trying to be a mechanic. The rain held off for Clemmer and he was able to bag everything he had down. It was almost like a miracle happened as when the dark clouds gathered a hole seemed to open up over his field. “How lucky am I!” thought Clemmer as the rain went up the other side the road.

Now there may not be an old man Clemmer or an Oliver tractor, but somewhere, someplace, someone was forced to appreciate life a little more. This is my story about my town, so I get to tell it how I like.

Written By,

Al Wayman

Artist/Owner

Creek Road Pottery LLC

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It sure was a hard time getting started but I was able to make it into the studio to start some outstanding projects. The weather is nice enough to have warm days to do yard work but still cold enough to have frost. The studio was a bit cold so I used hot water in the tossing pail. I was brainstorming on finding ways to keep my clothes clean some while throwing and thought I would try aprons made for dishwashers and they worked great. I have for years simply clayed up cloths then took them to the laundromat after soaking them in a pail of hot water. Way back I remember my mentors soaking their cloths in hot water and vinegar. I have since learned to not enjoy the smell all that much as potters use vinegar for almost anything; in their slip, cleaning, mop water, handling mugs, and anything else it seemed they can dump it into. If you asked the reason they always have one for sure but it may not make total sense but that’s just fine as long as it makes them feel good about what they might need vinegar for.

Warm Days Cold Nights

I was able to fill a bunch of grow bags with soil to start a garden later. My wife and I decided to use grow bags because the soil here at Creek road is very rocky once you break through the sod. It took about 10 bags of dirt, the was a bit expensive due to inflation but we got it done. All we need now is a fence to keep out the rabbits and deer. The rabbits have no fear of us and we can almost walk right up to them and I’m sure they all would have a great time munching down the lettuce when it sprouts. I hope to plant around Memorial Day.

I have a few summer shows planned that should be fun to attend and meet people of the area. Work-life balance has been a challenge as I had a schedule change and things are going well but I have been a bit tired on my days off. I hope to get back on the straight and narrow and keep looking ahead as if you look back to much things can get crooked some so no need to be perfect. Just make your first furrow as straight as you can with your eyes looking to some landmark on the far side of the field and it should for the most part come together. It’s Spring and the plowing should be done but the fields were a bit wet to get on. Many couldn’t wait any longer to plow or things would come up late; “knee high fourth of July” for corn. But Rusty Clapper was having a real bad time getting started this year plowing with the horses.

Rusty Clapper Breaks a Leg

When Rusty came to he lifted his head a little. The sun was bright and warm up in the twenty acre plot on Crow Hill. He could make out the looming dark shadows of his three large workhorses standing ahead, their heads shaking off the black flies and getting impatient.

Rusty could feel the cold damp earth as he lay on his back in the six inch deep furrow. He tried to move some to see if he was all right but he could not feel his left leg. He reached down with his left arm and a thousand prickling pins raced up the limb, telling him he must have been laying there long enough to cut off the circulation. “Hooo!” Rusty said to his team. They were older horses, well trained, which may have saved his life. Rusty propped himself up on his elbow to have a look at his situation.

Big Sam was smart enough to stop the team when they hit the rock plowing. A younger team might have spooked and ran, killing Rusty and breaking the plowshare. Rusty loved having big Sam in the furrow as he set the pace for the other two horses. He could see the evener had came right off the plow and the pull beam lay on the ground, The trip for the plow might have been rusted up some as it never sprung when it collided with the huge rock. He sure was a lucky guy a little. But he was in a great deal of pain in his left leg. He winced and lay back down as the horses shook their heads, annoyed by the flies swarming around them.

Rusty and Evelyn always had a rule that they would eat dinner together no matter what at 6 P.M. sharp, and if one was not there, each should go find the other. The boys had their own jobs off the farm now, so it was just the two of them and a basset hound they called Sherlock, who mostly laid under the table. Rusty left a note for Evelyn that we would be on the Crow Hill lot plowing with the horses. When rusty checked his watch out in the damp furrow under the big sky it was only 2 P.M. So he had some time. He knew it would be a long fours hours.

It sure was a nice day up on Crow Hill in the field, in furrow, under the sky. A few clouds moved slowly over head as Rusty lay there on his back. It had been some time since he lay on his back looking up at the sky. He thought maybe the last time he had the pleasure was way back when he was 10 or 12 years old when his cousins and he would go swimming in the pond out past the barn in the pasture. Out by the big gnarly oak tree where the cows would lay in the shade on those warm summer days. All the kids would lay out also on the soft grass by the pond after a swim before milking, watching the clouds float by.

The tree had a large bough that reached out over the water and if a kid claimed up there and if he was brave, a good cannon ball splash could be made from leaping off. Out in the pond where you could play all day knocking each other off the big tractor tire inner tube, out where you could scoop up tadpoles and minnows in your hands. A cloud drifted over top Rusty that look like a plow. “Real funny.” said Rusty out loud to the Lord. “Real funny.”

The horses were being quite good, standing still as they all spent time out there together, on Crow Hill, while they all waited for Evelyn to get home and come to find them. Rusty was doing better than expected with the pain as he lay in the furrow. There were a lot of things he might have done differently in his life now that he had time to think about it out there on the ground as he watched a few sparrows dive and dart above his head.

Rusty Clapper thought maybe he should call his brother as he reflected some. Maybe he was a bit to hard and judgmental way back when Randy decided to sell his half of the cows and leave the farm to take on a factory job. Rusty seen it as a bit selfish, and a betrayal of what their father worked so hard for all those years. But maybe the guy just wanted to be happy, and plus Mama would be disappointed with the falling out they had if she were still alive. Rusty must have dozed off some in the furrow behind the horses with the plow with thoughts of his mother’s comforting smile.

’Ruuuustttty! Rusty!”

Rusty thought he heard his name but was not sure until he heard the barking and yelp of old Sherlock , his hound, coming his way.

Rusty Clapper! Are you OKay?

Rusty propped himself up onto his elbow. ‘I’m over here!” he yelled back.

It was Evelyn, she came out to find him. Tears welled up some in his eyes as Sherlock waddled up wagging his tail and licking his face pushing him back to the ground. ‘Ohh come on boy not now. Ouch! Not that leg boy! Off me now!” Rusty reached in his pocket and gave Sherlock the treat he was looking for. Rusty always kept one in his pocket in case Sherlock needed to find him. He knew Sherlock worked for food like the rest of us. “Now lay down boy or you’ll spook the damn horses.”

”What on earth happened out here! It looks like you could have been killed!” said Evelyn as she made her way over the turned clumps of plowed earth. “ I’m doing okay but I think I might have broke my leg” said Rusty, as Evelyn stumbled towards him.

“Mercy! How long have you been out here like this!”

”Ohh just a few hours..you know..I just laid down and had a little nap is all.”

”Rusty I told you to sell those horses. Your going to get yourself killed!”

”Now Evelyn I need you to listen carefully because I need you to unhook Abe and take him back to the barn and hook him up to the rock sled. Then come back so I can get to the road. I’ll tell you exactly what to do.’ Rusty instructed.

“First unhook the evener from the tug line on the back of Abe here and then the line connecting his bit to Jacob. Next unhook the evener from the other side and then last unhook the neck yoke. Always unhook the neck yoke last in case they take off.

“Rusty Clapper your going to be the death of me! Back Abe..back..back.. Abe a little… Hooo!”

Once Evelyn got slack in the line she unhooked the eveners on both sides of the team and then went to the front and unhooked the neck yoke. It made a heavy clink as it dropped it to the ground. She unhooked big Abe and led him back beside the plow. Standing on the plow tire, she swung up on the tall horse.

”Okay I’ll be right back! You don’t move Rusty Clapper! Keep Sherlock here with you and the horses.”

”Be careful hooking to the sled. Remember, always hook the neck yoke first. Abe is good with the sled and knows what to do. He won’t give you to much trouble but go easy!” Said Rusty, shading his eyes to see Evelyn on top the tall work horse.

”Okay don’t worry I’ll be right back. Abe.. step up..easy Abe..good boy!”

The large workhorse knew his way back home. As a matter of fact, a little to well. Anytime Rusty had the horses standing, he knew if big Abe was in the team not to have him stand in the direction of the barn or he might feel the need to return home a bit early.

Evelyn returned no time flat and helped Rusty roll out of the furrow and onto the sled. On the somewhat painful and bumpy ride home, with his hound and the two other large horses, Sam and Jacob trailing behind, Rusty thought himself quite lucky. After having worked so hard and coming so far he thought maybe he even enjoyed his sufferings a bit. What a great day to be in a procession with horses stepping slowly down the road and being alive to enjoy it.

There may not have been a Rusy Clapper, Big Abe , or a corn field on Crow Hill, but somewhere someplace someone was forced to have a time of relection. This is my story about my town so I get to tell it how I like.

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.

 

I had a whole week off from my job at the paper factory, and I should have used that time for making pots. I have a few shows on the way, but for some reason, I did not feel like going into the studio. I did many things to avoid making pots, and then tried to justify the things I was doing to validate myself. I began to wonder if I was beating myself up too much about it. I did take time for self-care. I read some great books, went to visit family, helped at a small vendor show, and made out direction-setting plans for the pottery. I even wrote a few blog articles. But even still, I felt as if I got nothing done.

Work Energy

I decided to read the book Work Energy by Jim Harmer. Jim is a blogger and runs the web content business called Income School. He had some terrific tips for working things out on the topic of procrastinating. Harmer in his book thought that at times we might be overwhelmed by a bunch of ideas. He suggests starting a bucket list, even if you are not sure you will do everything on it. Harmer says you should think about the list as things you might dream about. Then Harmer suggests picking one of those things you wrote down and make one small step towards the goal, no matter how small. Harmer believes just taking the first step towards a goal may prompt us to do a bit more.

Another great idea in the book Work Energy was to try an idea for a month or more to see if you enjoy it or not. This gives a person time to work though the issues rather than giving up too early. Harmer thought we might need to get through the boring period before we start seeing progress. He calls this period “groundhog day.” Like in the movie Groundhog Day, things repeated. When tasks become repetitive, we may need to put our head down and “groundhog” through the issues and boring parts.

The book also pointed out how we might get distracted by new ideas and feel overwhelmed. This means we should put our heads down and concentrate on the things that get us 90% of the progress before we try other ideas or modifications. A lot of patience is needed, and plans should be made for the long term. Many times, we may procrastinate by thinking we need more time to get ready, but no time like the present! Today is a suitable time to start. Work Energy was a delightful book to read and Harmer’s rags-to-riches story on writing blogs and giving photo classes online was inspiring in showing how simply taking the first step can be the solution to ending procrastinating.

 

Organize Tomorrow Today

 

Another book I read was Organize Tomorrow Today by Dr. Selk. & Tom Bartow. I thought I was procrastinating because I was disorganized. I tried everything under the sun to work things out and make things easier so I would stop procrastinating. Organize Tomorrow Today has eight ways to retrain your mind. Now friends, I’m not sure about you all, but anything that makes such claims I end up being skeptical of. But the good Dr. Selk had a list and some things on it merged nicely with the last book we discussed above.

  • . Organize Tomorrow Today
  • . Choose Wisely
  • . Maximize Your Time
  • . Win the Fight Through
  • . Learn to Talk to Yourself
  • . Learn to Talk with Others
  • . Be Abnormal

The book has processes for each of the eight sections. To go through them all would take time so I will just cover one section of the book that was most helpful to me. The section “Win the Fight Through” was about working past the first few days when the task is easy and continuing when the task gets hard. In my experience, when I first start something, it might be easy to do the first few days but gets harder as time goes on.

For example, one time I thought it would help my procrastination to show up for myself and each day make up ten pots. Ten pots for seven days is seventy pots a week. I was able to push through at least three days of making pots, but then I had a rough day at the paper factory. I was really tired and did not want to make pots that day. So, I missed a day and then became comfortable and missed a few after that. Winning the fight through, according to Dr. Selk. & Tom Bartow, might take a few tools. If I were to ritualize the task and schedule it in no matter what, it may help in pushing through the challenging times.

The next tool is recognizing roadblocks that keep us from doing the task we wish to do each day. Once you know what is blocking you, it is easier to plan a way to counteract the issue. Dr. Selk. & Tom Bartow say to ask yourself the questions, “How would I feel if I were to do the task?” and then “How would I feel to not do the task?” Next, think about your quality of life and how the decision for change might affect you.

 

Do The Work

 

I was still having a tough time as I enjoyed reading about procrastination far more then working on it and all those pots still needed to be made. Then came the real hitter. Do The Work by Steven Pressfield. Folks, let me tell you, this was hard to read because Pressfield was not shy about pulling punches and telling me what I needed to work on. The book was on the topic of resistance, or all the things that might keep us from doing the work. Pressfield went all out like a Baptist minister telling me my faults and what I needed to do to overcome procrastination. He even mentioned a bunch of other issues I didn’t even know I had.

I was at the paper factory reading Do the Work and it told me that I needed to go all in if I wanted to be happy and do my true calling. This book almost made me quit my job until I remembered Pressfield would not be paying health insurance for my wife as I was the sole bread winner. But what he was saying was all true. I did not need better systems, better apps, better scheduling, or better time management. I needed to simply do the work.

 

2-minute Rule


A video I  enjoyed was the 2-minute rule. This idea has you complete tasks that are two minutes or less to get you started working.  The video below explains it in a real good way.

 

 

What I discovered is that each person might be different and have varied reasons why they procrastinate. Some may have a fear of starting due to the fear of failure. Others worry about what others may think of them if they mess up. Many may justify doing other things instead of what they know needs to be done. I decided to simply show up and make five mugs. If I could make five mugs, I might be able to make ten. And ten mugs would be a great start.

I promised myself I would not define myself by my last mistake. Today is a new day, another chance to take a step towards finishing my goals. I learned I do not need to be perfect; I can go slow as its the turtle that wins the race. I need to stop comparing myself to others and not take personally what others think (unless they are good friends and are trying to help me out). We are all working on something, even if it is working to avoid the work we need to do.

How do you deal with procrastination? Let me know in the comments!

 

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

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

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Eating your own dog food was thought of as positive in the past. It gave owners, creators, and makers of a product a semi customer based view of a product before release. However, many times the testing and feedback was heavily influenced by corporate culture where many issues went unnoticed. Now days, it is thought that taking it straight to the customer in a small sampling without influence yields the best results to see how customers actually use the product and what problems they solve. In “eating your own dog food” creators may be blind to usability and may have the knowledge to make their creations work that a normal user will lack. “If I am only for myself, what am I? ” – Hillel the Elder, Mishnah Avot 1:14

“I don’t want to talk about my idea because someone else might steal it.”

In short, this is simply a list of things that will not get done. If you eat your own dog food in this area, you will not be able to network and collaborate those key elements you need to produce an end product to the customer. If you keep all these earth-shattering ideas to yourself, you will not be able to hire people who are far better than you to formulate and run the many parts of development you might be terrible at. We also learn by messing up and having patience. Keeping everything under lock and key means creating or launching when everything is perfect, which translates to not launching at all. At times 70% is fine and done is better than perfect. The user and customer will tell you what changes and improvements need to be made. But keeping everything in a vault locked down is a sure way to not be action driven.

“I don’t like to copy work, so I try not to expose myself to remain original.”

Not exposing your self to other ideas or work to remain original can sink you like a rock as it closes you off to finding solutions to fix problems in a better way based off of existing products or ideas. While you remain original in your cave, things on the outside are always changing while you only see the shadows. This in turn can run your business into the ground, eating your own dog food as you refuse to pivot or take advantage of a flaw your competitor might have. Once your style has run its course over time, you will wonder why sales are tanking as your customer base dwindles or dies off. Some creators are songwriters and others are Disk Jockeys. There is a need for both. Jay-Z doesn’t have the time to work wedding parties. It’s ok to expose yourself and soak up the world and what it has to offer like a sponge, and let that run out in your creativity and imagination. Stuck on what to do next for your work or product? Ask the customer.

“I had this great idea, but it was already done by someone else.”

Another list of things that did not get done. Those other people may not have produced it the way you had in mind. You could still run with the idea and make a great competing product with better features or simply better advertising. Some great products failed because they launch to no one, and others who made junk did well as they showed it to people in a far better way. Coke and Pepsi both are huge players in the soft drink industry. Imagine if John Stith Pemberton did not move forward with his idea of a soda. Simply because a thing was already done does not disqualify others from engaging and staking out some market share for yourself.

“I only use products I create.”

Many times I have heard creators and product based businesses say they only use products they themselves create. This has always been strange to me as “eating your own dog food” limits your exposure to the competition and features others may use in problem-solving. Fencing yourself off with only your ideas can be a sure way to sinking a great idea or product, no matter what you make. It also closes you off from being able to change in real time to solve problems customers are having, as the only thing that breaks you from the echo chamber of group think is bankruptcy. There are chefs and there are cooks. Chefs create the recipes the cooks follow. You need to work out which you are and own it. There is a market for both cooks and chefs to the right people. Not to many high-end chefs run catering businesses. They hire it out to cooks. Today, community building and giving value is far more important than dog food, and profit a by-product. I need to go work on some berry bowls a customer helped me design. Did you know the holes had to be small so the blueberries do not fall out the bottom? I had no idea! It’s a good thing I asked!

Artist /Owner
Al Wayman
Creek Road Pottery LLC

Further Reading:

“The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce.” November 6, 2015 By Tim Urban.

The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition Paperback – Illustrated, November 5, 2013 by Don Norman.

The Nature and Aesthetics of Design Paperback – Illustrated, September 28, 2007 by David Pye.

“Business Made Simple: 60 Days to Master Leadership, Sales, Marketing, Execution, Management, Personal Productivity and More.” Paperback – January 19, 2021 by Donald Miller

Hey reader! Let me know what you think on the topic by leaving a comment!

 

The Dark Forest

 

 

“Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.”

– Canto 1, Inferno by Dante Alighieri

 

The Guide

 

 

“When I beheld him in the desert vast,
“Have pity on me,” unto him I cried,
“Whiche’er thou art, or shade or real man!”

– Canto 1, Inferno by Dante Alighieri

 

The Journey

 

“When I beheld him in the desert vast,
“Have pity on me,” unto him I cried,
“Whiche’er thou art, or shade or real man!”

– Canto 1, Inferno by Dante Alighieri

 

The Ascent

 

‘We mounted up, he first and I the second,
Till I beheld through a round aperture
Some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear;
Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars”

– Canto 34, Inferno by Dante Alighieri

 

By:

Alford D. Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

Creating Authentic handmade pottery in the hills of the Blue Ridge Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania.

Notes:

Annie Reneau – “A trauma psychologist weighs in on the risks of ‘motivational’ pressure during quarantine”

Divine Comedy, By by Dante Alighieri Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, Divine Comedy English Translation

Frankl, V. E. (1984). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Miller, Donald.  Building a StoryBrand, 2017 (Harper Collins Leadership), Marketing Made Simple, 2020 (Harper Collins Leadership)

 

 

 

20160822

Carbon coring or “black coring” can be an issue when firing clay bodies. While doing some experiments with reduction firings I had many pots that were cracking in the process and had no idea why. It seemed that the cracks were from fast cooling, as they were clean breaks through the glaze with sharp edges. Little did I know that this cracking was caused by carbon coring or “black coring”. I did some comparisons wth cross sections of the broken pots and noticed that this discoloration did not happen in my oxidation firings but only in reduction. I dug out my ceramic books and searched online to find out what this issue might be.

Shattered By Black Coring

While researching I found a post by the Lugna Clay company entitled ” Bloating and Black Coring”, which seem to suggest that I may need to bisque fire my clay body properly.  The theory behind the article suggested that not all the carbon was burned out of the clay body and the kiln also may need to be vented better in the bisque firing. The clay body I was using was AMACO high-fire warm brown 58-M stoneware clay. I only had issues with bloating when I accidently overfire it a few times on the bottom shelves while trying to reach cone 6 in the middle of the kiln.  The clay body was high in iron content which, I later found, created the issue with black coring when I reduced the updraft kiln to produce a body reduction. The iron in the clay and the reduction process was a bad combination and would produce a bad kiln load of pots.  Bowls shattered as they cooled.

Black Coring – The Cause

The answer to the problem came from an excellent research report entitled “Calcium and sulphur distribution in red clay brick in the presence of a black reduction core using micro X-ray fluorescence mapping”. by L.Gredmaier, C.J.Banks , and R.B. Pearce. These findings can be found on page 2 and 3 of this report:

“The following factors determine the extent of black reduction coring in red clay ware:

- Firing time – a longer ring time can eliminate the black reduction core.

- The oxygen atmosphere during ring. Lack of oxygen promotes the formation of black reduction cores.

- Iron oxide content in the raw clay.

- Carbon content and burnout or oxidation of carbon during firing of the raw clay.”

The research in this report stated also that the red iron oxide was converting to magnetite.

To the potter, according to “The Potter’s Dictionary of Materials & Techniques” by Frank and Janet Hamer, on page 26,  means this conversion created weakness to the clay body caused the clay to vitrify at a lower temperature due to the red iron oxide and carbon converting to black iron oxide and carbon dioxide, which creates an active flux . The pots become brittle and fragile.  One mug I took from this load popped apart while I poured coffee in it as a test, sending shards across the table, because it could not withstand the thermal shock due to black coring.

Black Coring – The Solution

The solutions to black coring from the article link to above would be to use a clay body with less iron content.  Also, it is suggested that bisque firings should be slower and to the correct temperature to allow carbon burn out.  I personally found that in my high iron clay body, if I skipped the body reduction of the firing and reduced the kiln towards the end of the firing, I still got reduction glazes to look great without black coring.

If any of you who read this have found this helpful or have your own findings, feel free to leave a comment!

 

 

20160512_185726
Al Wayman
Artist /Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Firing out the Amaco AG40 is great for raku , but I sure had issues with the higher temperatures.  When I was working towards my degree and also was an apprentice at a pottery when I  found a little Amaco AG40 updraft kiln in the classified section of the paper.  The kiln was owned by older gentlemen and hobby potter about two hours from where I lived.  This gentleman had the kiln installed above his garage he was using as a studio.  He had a ventilation fan that came with the kiln and everything was in great condition.  A family member and I loaded this little kiln onto a truck and carefully drove it home.

The kiln had no instruction manual, and we had to learn how to light it from the label on the side.  We had the gas company bring out two tanks and connected both with 2 lines running into one hose with a connection to the regulator.  After following the directions, we were able to fire the burner and bring the kiln to life. That summer, and for the next two years would use the little kiln to run a raku line of pots.  Those were the best summers.  We ran a Spring and Fall show with demonstrations for the public.  It was three days of fire, smoke, and pottery.

 

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Dusting off the AG40 Updraft

After graduating with a B.F.A. in Ceramics and leaving the pottery, I put all my equipment into storage. I had to find work to pay off student loans.  When my wife and I bought our home, I put in a small clay studio with the encouragement of friends and family who were into the wet shaving hobby.  These friends wanted lather bowls and brush handles.  I hooked up my little Amaco Kiln again and looked online for a manual. Amaco was able to send me an old manual.   I only fired this kiln to a midrange temperature with this kiln once but could not remember the schedule to repeat it.  The manual had a suggested firing schedule, so I started tinkering.

I had the gas company come and hook up a tank large enough to prevent freezing.  The first few firing were terrible simply because I was not able to properly regulate how much gas was going to the kiln’s burners and I had a broken gauge.  I started with a simple bisque fire but knew I had to make some repairs before I went to a full first firing.

At times I was almost ready to roll the kiln over the bank.  I had a whole cone or more difference in temperature between the bottom and top, with the bottom shelf being hotter.  The kiln would also stall out.  So I saved up some money and bought a converter kit.  The kit had a stand with an updraft burner which allowed hookup to a twenty-pound propane tank.  This helped out a great deal because I now had more control over the amount of gas and temperature of the kiln because this had a gauge that worked.

With the conversion kit, I now went back to square one and used the firing schedule out of the manual and completed a midrange firing.  I still had a large temperature difference between the top and bottom.  To fix this issue, I widened the glaze firing range so that the top of the kiln would not fall under fire.  I was able to get a few good pots using this method; that is until I accidently overfired on Christmas day.

Over Firing The Amaco AG40

Meet the Kilns

On Christmas Eve 2015 I prepped and glazed a load of shave bowls that I wanted to have completed as Christmas gifts.  I wanted to wrap those gifts right from the kiln for dramatic purposes and hand them out a few days later. Glazing ran later than expected and the firing stalled out climbing to cone 5/6.  I left it run for an hour longer than usual, but the cone was not bending.  I realized that the gas had dropped off.  After fixing the issue, I went back inside. It was now 3 am Christmas morning, and I had an alarm set to go off every 15 minutes, but instead it went off after another 45 minutes.  While I nodded off with”visions of sugar plums dancing in my head” the little Amaco AG40 was over firing.

I jolted awake and looked at the time and realized the problem, then rushed to the kiln and looked through the peephole.  The bottom shelf was running real hot, and the middle shelf cone was now all the way down.  Thinking I caught it in time I started the 2-hour cooling cycle the manual recommended. All was fine until I opened the kiln about 30 hours later.

The bottom shelf was severely warped with cone 5/6 clay pots melted to it. It appeared that the shelf might have gone to cone 9 or 10.  The second shelf of pots had blister marks in them, so I suspect this shelf reached cone 7/8.  The top shelf was perfect.  I was able the salvage five good shave bowls to give to friends.

All of this was great practice on how quickly things can escalate even if minor adjustments are made.  I am still working out temperature differences, and the little Amaco AG40 needs new bricks and repair work done.  But the kiln has grown on me, and I enjoy firing it out in both reduction and oxidation firings.

Click here for the manual for those who may need it. It’s quite old but had some good information in it.  If you would like to add your experiences or tips concerning the Amaco AG40 or updraft kilns in general, feel free to comment!

 

20160512_185726
Al Wayman
Artist /Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC