Posts made in March, 2012

Pottery on Board

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in How-to | 2 comments

Confessions:  1. I am not a good driver (a lack in skill)  and 2.  I am not a patient driver (a lack in character).  To compensate for point 2 (since there is really nothing I can do about point 1 at this stage of life), I tend to listen to audio books, podcasts, or sermons while driving because these help to temper my impatience.  But, when I have guests in the car, I don’t listen to the IPOD since it feels anti-social. The other day, sous-potter Jeff was riding with me when I lost it.  The pokey drivers were going well under the speed limit – to which I exclaimed; ‘ What are they doing?  Do they have pots in the car?’  Jeff found this humorous and asked if I drive differently when I transport pots.  Well of course I do (silly sous-potter).  I have to take corners more carefully and stop more gradually – considerations that can be dispensed with when there are no pots on the car. This got me to thinking about the potters at the Art Center.  This class session we are focusing on teapots and I have recommended that they take their pots home so they can assemble the teapots at an appropriate dryness.  I don’t think any one has taken my suggestions and I suspect it is because they are nervous about damaging their work during transport – which is a valid concern. However, there are easy ways to transport pots without breakage or damage.  My pots travel on a regular basis between Firetower Studio East, Firetower Studio West, arts shows, stores, and the Art Center.  Julie is a master packer and I have learned a lot from her; but, I have figured out some things on my own.  So I thought I would share some transportation tips: Greenware – quite easy to transport Wet, recently thrown pots transport best uncovered.  Cover them after they arrive at their destination to avoid distorting them. Leave them on the throwing bats and place them on a flat surface in the car. Leatherhard pots – optimal transportation time Place on wareboards (heavy side down) and set the wareboards on a flat surface in the car.  Drive carefully so they won’t slide around. If there aren’t a lot of appendages, pots can be stacked. Pots can be wrapped in plastic or bubblewrap and nestled in boxes.   I avoid newspaper because it isn’t as pliable as plastic and can leave marks on pots. Bone dry – avoid transporting With a little planning and plastic, transporting bone-dry pots can be avoided (and it really should be avoided). Pots are most fragile when bone dry so it is best to move them when they are leatherhard.  Get them to their final destination then allow them to dry completely without moving. If you have to move them, place the pots on wareboards and set the wareboard on a flat surface in the car.   Drive very carefully to avoid pot-sliding. Handle the pots minimally and avoid stacking bone-dry pots. Bisque – not difficult Bisque pots are fragile but can be transported relatively easily. Avoid waxing the pots before transport – inevitably, a waxed pot will contaminate un-waxed areas of other pots. Wrap pots in bubblewrap or multiple layers of plastic. I avoid newspaper because it smudges the pots and makes extra work (wiping down and waiting for it to dry). Once wrapped, pots can be stacked or nestled in boxes. If you prefer to transport them on wareboards, you can use a little museum wax to help them adhere to the wareboards. ...

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Timing is everything

Posted by on Mar 27, 2012 in How-to, Teapot | 1 comment

Timing is critical in life and especially in pottery.  After I had taken pottery classes for a while, I realized that if I wanted to make better pots I had to do two things: practice more and control the drying time. But no matter how well-thrown a pot is, if the drying time is not controlled, then the pot will never be as good as it can be.  If pots are dried too quickly, they can crack and attachments can pop off; and, it is impossible to trim a dry pot well.  However, working on a pot that is too wet will cause the pot to be distorted or damaged.  It is a delicate balance. Because of the number of pieces that comprise a teapot,  there are several drying challenges through which to maneuver.  Before I had my own studio, the best way I was able to manage the drying time was to transport the teapot pieces home and assemble them when they reached the appropriate dryness.  Although there is no better substitute for managing the drying time by keeping a close watch on the teapot, here are some tips for navigating to a successfully assembled teapot: Throw the spouts when the teapot is ready to trim; they tend to dry very quickly.  After trimming the teapot and lid, the spouts should be dry enough to attach. Pull the handle and allow it to set up before attaching it in order to reduce the amount of pulling required; this will minimize distortion of the teapot body. Once the spout and handle are attached, check the teapot to verify that it hasn’t been distorted.  Adjust if necessary. Once assembled, allow the teapot to dry under plastic for a few days. Dry with the lid on the teapot to accommodate for best...

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Posted by on Mar 23, 2012 in About Me, Teapot | 0 comments

Teapots are among my favorite pots to make – right behind mugs.  So when there were enough potters at the art center who expressed interest in making teapots, I quickly jumped at the opportunity to spend six weeks sharing ideas and tips about teapots. A teapot is part of my daily routine.  I look forward to morning coffee very much; but, as I rarely drink coffee later than mid-morning, tea is often my choice.  And, I get a lot of enjoyment from making it in a teapot. Teapots are not teakettles.  The teapot is for brewing tea, not boiling water.  I get this question A LOT at craft shows.  Ceramic teapots cannot be put on a stovetop to boil water. The proper way to use a teapot is to boil water in a kettle, add the water to the teapot, swirl the water around to warm the pot, discard the water, add tea, then fill the teapot with hot water, and allow the tea to steep to desired strength. Most people tend to use teabags to make tea because they are easy and convenient.  For the potter, this means that our teapots do not need a built-in tea strainer (sieve).  The teapot can have a large hole where the spout attaches and it will still be very functional for most teapot-users. However, for those who enjoy loose tea (and I contend there is a flavor difference), a built-in tea strainer is a nice addition.  Teaballs, infusers, and such are pretty paraphernalia but not the best choices for brewing quality tea as they don’t permit the tealeaves to expand.  It is better to allow the tea to be loose in the pot and strain it as it is poured.  With all this ritual surrounding its purpose, it makes sense that the teapot is the diva of...

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Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 in Philosophy | 0 comments

Today is the Spring Equinox – which means it is the first official day of spring.  On this day, there is an equal amount of day and night and this has me pondering balance.  Balance is an allusive concept that I have long tried to incorporate into my life.  I strive to have right ratio of work to play; creativity to analysis; socializing to private time; etc.  As I have gotten older this is what balance means for me.  It doesn’t mean having equal parts; it means having the right amount.  And, when I am living in balance, no one area of my life overwhelms me. In pottery, balance meant allocating the right amount of time making, finishing, and glazing.  As a novice potter, I used to spend so much time at the wheel making the pot that finishing and glazing seemed to go quickly.  But the ratios have changed as my technical skills have developed.  Now I can throw a pot much quicker than I can finish or glaze it.  Recently, I have added a new element to balance – time for planning pots (a step that was beyond my novice abilities).  I need time to develop pots, time to experiment; and time to incorporate more...

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Mug Musings

Posted by on Mar 16, 2012 in About Me, Mugs | 2 comments

Last week, I went to a local coffeehouse to spend a quiet afternoon where I treated myself to their wonderful curry chicken salad and even indulged in a scoop of homemade ice-cream.  After I finished, I ordered a cup of coffee to linger over as I read.  Apparently, they offer a variety of beans (Columbian, Ethiopian, Sumatra, etc.) which completely thrilled me because it is such a rarity. The coffee was amazing!  But it was served in a paper cup.   I found this to be an unworthy vessel for such exceptional brew.  It was a complete shame because I would have enjoyed the coffee logarithmically more had I been sipping it out of a handmade...

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