Confessions of a Quantifier

Posted by on Sep 29, 2012 in About Me, How-to, Scale | 0 comments

I admit that I like to quantify things – by weight/volume/ whatever – give me a number to associate with it and it feels more tangible.  In fact, when I cook, I use 2 timers – one counts down based on the prescribed time to doneness but I also use one that counts up – so I can KNOW how much time it really took to doneness. I believe this neuroses of quantification is a good thing for potters.  By weighing clay, a potter can gauge how efficently she has thrown a pot.  I weigh my clay and often make note of it – I do this as I get the clay balls ready for throwing.  And, when I am developing a new form, I use these data to help me select the amount of clay I should start with. For any potter who is struggling to throw better, throwing with the same amount of clay will help her focus on her technique by removing one...

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Production Pottery – Tools

Posted by on Jan 28, 2012 in Class, Dinnerware, How-to, Multiples, Review, Scale, Tools | 0 comments

There are two fundamental challenges to making dinnerware.  The first challenge is to make similar pieces look similar (i.e. one salad plate should look like all the other salad plates).  This is accomplished by making pots that are the same size and shape.  Making pots that are the same size will help them look like they belong together; and, it is easier to replicate size (height and width) than it is to replicate shape – the key is to measure.  Fortunately, there are a few tools that can help potters in their quest to make place settings. A good scale is indispensable when making sets.  Starting with the same amount of clay will help a potter make subsequent pots in a set.  I have two Escali scales and recommend them highly (they also come in a variety of fun colors).  For more elaboration on what to consider in a scale, refer to the blog entry “Potter’s Tool Kit – Scale“. A ruler is very basic but essential tool.  Measuring height and width will help potters make sets and will help develop a ‘recipe’ of important statistics. Calipers will make measuring diameters more accurate and with less distortion of the pot. Pointer or chopsticks can expedite pot production because after you set the height and diameter, you can throw each pot to those dimensions without stopping several times to measure.  Although these help, it is still a good idea to measure the height and width in case the pointer or chopstick gets bumped during throwing. I recommend keeping a studio notebook where you can record measurements and notes.  This is a good reference in case you need to make a replacement plate or bowl in the...

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Christmas List for a Potter

Posted by on Dec 14, 2011 in Books, Gifts, Holiday, Scale, Tools | 1 comment

During gift-giving season, many people are searching for the perfect present.  So, I have been commissioned by the elves to help.  To that, here are some suggestions that would surely make any potter smile on Christmas morning. Stocking Stuffers: Sherrill Mud tools Dolan Trim tools Metal and Wooden Ribs For the VERY Nice Potter: Wheel Kiln Giffin Grip Under-the-Tree Gifts: Throwing Bats Tile Bat System Clay Scale Set of three sieves Sampler sieves For the Literary Potter: 500 Book Series Subscription to Clay Times Subscription to Pottery Maker’s Illustrated For the Experimental Potter: Glaze Sampler Set MKM Wooden Stamps Gifts that can be bought anywhere: Containers with lids – various sizes Apron Drill with mixer paddle Angle grinder Dremmel Tool Sand paper sponges Buckets Sketch books Camera Kitchen tools – large spoons, spatulas, rolling pin Paint brushes – various sizes Sponges – natural, various sizes Gift Certificates: Bailey Pottery Big Ceramics Store Clay King Local Craft Store Local Art Center (supplies/workshops/classes) You can direct the elves in your life to this entry for quick links or you can print out this Wish List for them to take with them when they go...

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Potter’s Tool Kit – Scale

Posted by on Apr 29, 2011 in Multiples, Philosophy, Review, Scale, Tools, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I am often asked about what tools I recommend.  And, I have been intending to write several entries highlighting the tools that I find most helpful.  Tools are very personal and every potter’s kit is different.  There are no perfect tools; and, acquiring tools will not make better pots – but practicing with the tools will. Yesterday, my new scale came in the mail.  So I am completely inspired to share this wonderful and essential tool. The best way to improve throwing skills is to practice – and practicing with the same amount of clay will help increase efficiency.  By throwing one-pound balls of clay in succession, a potter can focus on uniform wall thickness and pot shape without constantly adjusting to variable amounts of clay; and, pots will get larger because the clay is being used rather than left in the bottom. A good scale is an essential tool for beginning potters and potters who want to throw consistent pots or sets of pots.  I use the Escali Prim0 Digital Scale because it does all the things that I need. Here are some things to consider when purchasing a scale: Capacity – What size pots do you throw? If you make large pots, then you need a scale that will accommodate your upper limit.  Some kitchen scales have a 5 lb. limit (a bit low for me) and some have an 11 lb. limit. Precision – Digital scales are more precise than analog.  This is more important with smaller scale pots (ex.  4 ounces of additional clay in a 1 lb. pot is an increase of 25%; but 4 ounces of additional clay in a 5 lb. pot is a mere 5% increase) Units of Measure – Get a scale with a unit of measure that makes sense to you.  Some kitchen scales measure pounds in decimals – ex. a read out of 1.5 lbs. is 1 lb. and 8 oz.  This is not an intuitive way of thinking for me.  I prefer a scale that has a read-out in lbs. and ounces (1 lb. 8 oz.).  Some digital scales offer multiple options: grams/total ounces/lbs. Batteries – I like scales that use ordinary batteries and have an automatic shut-off feature to preserve the batteries. Portability – I carry my scale to studios so a compact scale is key. Platform size – The area needs to be large enough to accommodate for the clay that is being...

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