Fake Snow

Posted by on Sep 15, 2013 in Maintenance | 2 comments

Part of studio maintenance includes cleaning kiln shelves.  This is a messy job and not one of my favorites.  I use an angle grinder with a masonry blade to remove all the kiln wash which kicks up a ton of dust.  I wear a face mask, ear plugs, and protective eye-ware; I also wear a bandanna around my hair to keep the dust out.  It is quite the ordeal so I when I do scape shelves, I do all of them.   Here’s my process: Get dressed in shelf scraping outfit Gather all the shelves Use angle grinder to remove all kiln wash and glaze If glaze has bled into the shelf, I grind it until it is completely gone Once the shelves are bare of kiln wash, I wipe them down with a large, moist sponge I allow the shelve to dry before applying a thin layer of kiln wash I apply a layer kiln wash and allow it to dry approximately 10 minutes I apply 2-3 layers of kiln wash I allow the shelves to dry completely (at least a day) before using them in a bisque fire I have been using Jeff Campana’s kiln wash recipe.  The first few times, the kiln was was very thick and cracked quickly.  This time, I thinned the kiln wash and sieved it before applying it to the shelves.  So far, no cracks have...

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Inventory Maintenance

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Craft Show, Maintenance, Philosophy | 0 comments

“I would rather be prolific than perferct.” – Abel James Since the Bele Chere show, Julie and I have been throwing together when our schedules allign and independently at other times.    This is our show season so we have pots to make.  This is also the time of year we look at our stores and begin rotating pots and increasing inventory in anticipation of the holidays.  (Holidays!?  It is still the sweltery summer – it has taken a few years but we realize that the holidays come so quickly that they might as well be next week). How does this work?  I look over the sales and evaluate what sold – largest number sold, highest grossing, average price point, etc.  Then we consider the customer comments and our inventory.  As a consummate list maker, I make a list of what we need.  Then we divy up the list.  Although we throw together and independently, we glaze together.   After a few years of doing shows and knowing what we like to make, we had a good idea of what we needed to work on this past winter.   At this point, in order to get ready for the next show, we make pots to replace the pots we sold at last show.  The fall is a very busy time for both of us (we average a show per month), so it is much easier if we can work this way. I talk to a lot of developing potters who often say to me that they don’t want sell because they don’t want to have to make particular items.  Actually, I hear this from a lot of hobbiest in various media.  And, I understand it.  If it doesn’t bring you joy, than don’t do it.  But for me, the shows drive me to make pots and the result is I make more pots of better quality.    For some potters, Christmas functions as a driving force for them to get into the studio and work.  I have seen Christmas lists that would overwhelm a crew of elves.  But, the list keeps the potters focused and throwing.  Shows do this for me and they give me the opportunity to make more pots than I could otherwise...

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Kiln Down

Posted by on Apr 3, 2012 in Kiln, Maintenance | 0 comments

When I first began making pottery, I was a member of a community studio where wheels, space, tools, and glazes were accessible for a small fee.  And, all the firing was handled by the studio assistant.   For most potters, a community studio is an ideal option because it allows them more time to work on making pots and helps defray the costs of their hobby. Then, for a short time, I worked as the studio assistant which was a great opportunity for me to learn the other side of things like firing and mixing glazes.  It also gave me confidence to buy a wheel and kiln.  Since I set up my own studio, I have been firing and maintaining my own kiln.  I love it, but it does take time and money to maintain. Before Christmas, we had our first kiln failure which resulted in purchasing some kiln bricks and element holders.  Since then, we have had to replace the elements in both kilns, install a new thermocouple in my kiln, and patch a few bricks in Julie’s kiln.  And, yesterday, my kiln failed  during a bisque-load.   Although the pots can be fired once the kiln is up and functioning, the delayed firing means the seder set that I was working on won’t be completed in time for this weekend. None of this is surprising.  It is simply a part of pottery.  Kilns are fired to very high temperatures which puts a lot of stress on them and makes them susceptible to failure.  Components are bound to wear out and need replacing with usage and time.  This is all part of having a studio but I must admit, it is well worth all the small...

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A Make-over for my Kiln

Posted by on Dec 31, 2011 in About Me, Maintenance, Studio | 0 comments

I live in eastern NC where we are often blessed with mild winter days.  Today was such a day.  With the promise of a warm afternoon, I decided to finish giving my kiln a make-over.  A few weeks ago, I put fresh, new elements in my kiln.  Yesterday, Julie started grinding the kiln shelves while I mixed up a recipe for self-leveling kiln wash that I’ve been wanting to try.  Because I was applying a new kiln wash, I needed to remove all of the old kiln wash before I could paint them.  This meant I spent several hours sanding the shelves (I am very thankful that I have a sous-potter who lets me use his power tools!).  So my kiln got the ‘spa’ treatment… exfoliation, buffing, and cleaning.  Now, if only I could get a...

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Mid-May Maintenance

Posted by on May 14, 2011 in A Bit Off Center, Maintenance, Spring Snow | 0 comments

Our first craft show is over, the stores are stocked with inventory, and there are no gifts to be made at the moment.  It is a still time for A Bit Off Center.  We have a few orders to fill; but, for the most part, there is nothing pressing.  It is a nice reprieve – one that I have filled with lists. There are several projects that I have wanted to work on; and I plan to work on a few of those.  But, there are lists of non-pot-making things that I will be focusing on this month. Maintenance (non-pot-making tasks) feels cyclical to me.  We are out of one of our basic glazes so I need to mix it up; and, the other glazes could use sieving.   After our glaze-athon, the kiln shelves are desperate need of attention.  We have buckets of clay that are waiting to be recycled; and, the slip should be replenished.  The studio has been very neglected so I plan on cleaning it.  I spent most of today taking pictures of pots because we want updated photos to accompany craft show applications.  And, the website needs some freshening up. These are not complaints – I really enjoy all aspects of ceramics.  I am also very thankful that I have a partner who splits the maintenance with me so I can get back to my most favorite aspect – making...

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