Category Archives: process

Keepin’ On

Just a quick update.
– I’m making steady progress just using what time I can find. Sometimes it’s just 30 min., sometimes more.
– Concentrating on the past few firings in the gas kiln, while beautiful, have reminded me why I had turned to more primitive low-fire techniques.  I need to find time for both.
– I tweaked this site to be more mobile-friendly. I added a mobile theme for anyone coming here via smartphone, iPad, or such.
– I’ve also been working on a corresponding Google+  page. If you haven’t already, head on over there and check it out. I use it more for shorter, quick updates and pics of works in progress. Just click the ‘Google+’ button on the sidebar to get there.


Terra tests and bat issues

Over the long weekend I finished preparing my terra sig that I started in the garage way back in January. It’s been settled and siphoned off 2 or 3 times so should be extra fine. I got my test pieces prep’ed and ready for firing. Keeping my fingers crossed for good results there.  Next I want to do a batch of white terra sig. Maybe this time it won’t take me 6 months to get it made!

So far so good on studio time. This will be week 3 of getting in the studio consistently. It feels good. I’ve missed it.

I tried throwing on a hydrastone bat yesterday. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped for a couple reasons. First, I’m not used to throwing on bats. Isn’t it true we tend to continue the way we were taught? I learned to throw on the wheelhead and that’s just what I do now.  Second, I had some stiff clay. Just not helpful when learning something new to be fighting your clay.  Third, the bat seemed very ‘grabby’ – sticking to the side of my hand as I was trying to center, etc. I did try and wet the bat down with my sponge, but should I have maybe soaked it?

Put a lid on it!

I got back to the studio this week and started some lidded pots. I haven’t made a whole lot of lidded pieces before. I’ve never been good at throwing the lids, but I also know I won’t get better until I start throwing more lids!
So I watched a few youtube vids to get some ideas and different techniques and styles and dove in. And what do you know, I did actually start getting better at it! Why do we avoid doing things like lids and pulling handles anyway?  Practice makes perfect and all…
And, it gave me a chance to try out my new lid caliper — It’s a California Pottery Tools caliper. I like that it locks, and has a measurement ruler right on the tool so it doubles as a regular ruler too.  I remember reading someone else liked this particular tool but couldn’t find one. I tried to find the blog post but struck out. If you’re out there – Bailey Pottery Supply sells them here :

I still may end up getting a LidMaster (I’ve used the community one at the studio), but I really like the CPT tool.

I’ll be back today, to hopefully trim and fit my lids and see which one fits best.

Pricing in a bad economy

Just read a blog post about the temptation to lower your prices when things aren’t selling.
Assuming your prices are set correctly (whatever that is) in the first place, it makes a lot of sense.

Looking around, I sure haven’t noticed many other sectors slashing prices. Sure, there are the department stores that have huge retail markup having 50% of sales, but you can be sure they are not selling below, or anywhere near, cost. If they are, they’re making it up elsewhere (loss leader to get you in the store) or they’re teetering on bankruptcy.

I thought this really fit in with a common theme I’ve been seeing out in the pottery blogosphere about how people are doing in the down economy. The thinking that makes the most sense for me is that, yes, the big expensive pieces might not be selling right now, so you might want to offer smaller, less complicated, time consuming pieces if you don’t already. But offer them in addition to your other pieces, because you just don’t know what will sell on any given day.

Check out Molly Gordon’s blog here:
Why lowering your prices doesn’t work and how to resist the urge

Starting again

The blog posts have been few and far between for quite a while now. It’s been everywhere from physically impossible to just painful or inconvenient to do much pottery at all since the accident last fall. While I have been able to keep up with the day job, it just doesn’t leave much time or energy to do the fun part, POTTERY. I really find it hard to blog about it if I’m not doing it.

Since I can’t do much myself, I have been trying to keep up with all the other pottery blogs and see what everyone else is up to. I’ve also spent a lot of time incubating ideas for forms and techniques I want to explore when I get back to it.

And so I began.

First, I had to renew my studio card, which I’d barely used in the past year. Then reacquaint myself with the studio. They’ve changed white stoneware clay bodies 3 or 4 times since last year I think. I still had a nearly full bag of one of the old ones hardening in my locker…. I wasn’t wild about it to begin with, so I got a fresh bag of Loafers Glory, and started over. Little Loafers had been a favorite of mine, so I was happy to see it’s big brother. LG is apparently cone 6-10, where LL is strictly 6, so they went with LG to simplify what they had to stock. I’m actually pretty excited to see what it does in a saggar firing.

I threw a couple 2 lb. ‘vase-like objects’, just to see if I remembered how, and get a feel for the clay again. The first one was hard, nothing seemed to flow. But the second one went a lot easier. This all took about 90 minutes – pretty much the limit of my endurance at this point. I never was the fastest thrower in the world, I like to take my time, but this was slow!

Progress report

After a particularly busy week last week, I finally got a chance to get back in the studio last night.

I threw 2 2lb vase forms with the new Standard #240 white stoneware. I’m thinking it’s at least as good as the old 563, if not better. I didn’t have much trouble controling it or getting decent height from it, and that’s significant given how out of practice and challenged I am right now.
Overall, a very satisfying evening.

New beginings for 2009

I finally got back in to the studio today. It felt good to get my hands dirty again.

My clay was pretty stiff after being there for the past 3 months, but I still had fun. I wedged up 3 pounds, cut it into 3 – 1lb balls and just played, making nothing in particular. Just ventering and pulling up, splitting rims, bellying out until it went wonky, then cutting it in half, and doing another.
I think the scraps are destined to be my next terra sig experiment, and I’ll buy a fresh bag of clay next time
** Update **
I feel like I got kicked down a flight of stairs this morning….  but it still feels good to get dirty again!

Words of wisdom for artists and other creatives

Here’s a little gem I found going through the old posts from the Red Deer College’sArt Blog
The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth:

Some of my favorites include 
4) Love your experiments.
6) Capture accidents.
34) Make mistakes faster
26) Don’t enter awards competitions – ‘Just dont. It’s not good for you’
Check it out for a goldmine of wisdom and sanity.


I’d come across this a couple years ago and it just resurfaced again last week on one of my favorite shows, MythBusters.

A common childhood pastime in Japan is making hikaru dorodango, or ‘shiny mud balls’ by taking a ball of mud and squeezing, packing and smoothing it, gradually drying it out, and slowly adding dry dirt to it, and finally rubbing it to a glossy shine.
The results are nothing short of amazing.
Looking at the process, it seems like what they’re ending up with is a packed, smooth ball finished with an outer layer of finely burnished clay particles, probably not far from terra sig.
Image from: , which also has instructions for making one of these little gems.
There is additional information and instructions here:
and at Wikipedia here: