Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Post on Pottery

I've been working on formulating a white, low-fire clay body. I've tried 50:50 Talc, OM#4 Ball Clay, it works well - too plastic, so I've added grog, 48mesh, 1/2% - works well in throwing. Add zircopax and bentonite to taste. Currently, I'm cleaning out my pug mill of all that red clay which has lots of red iron oxide. My initial tests with Talc Nytal have been scrapped, I'm using a new American Talc from Texas, I'm more aware of buying USA made clay supplies as shipping them across the ocean is prohibitive and costs a lot - Wollastonite comes to mind. On tap for the new year: fire inspection of the studio January 6th, formulating business cards, a few shows next summer, and working on lithographic transferring of images onto pottery using mason stains.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Talc, Texas - no more Nytal

I'm formulating a new clay body with Talc. Previously, Nytal-100 was stocked up at my local shop, but due to recent experiments it was believed by some to be an asbestos-like particle. Thankfully, I my experiments use the new Talc, from Texas - so I'm guessing Mike over at Continental will charge a bit more for it. The new Texas Talc is not like asbestos, a scary word. Also, Mike let me have a little sample of his white clay with the new Texas Talc, I'm going to try out their formula, and see how it works compared to the one I came up with, a little bentonite, grog, ball clay, and talc.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Clay Recipe

I'm trying out a new clay recipe after reading a couple books on what constitutes a clay body suitable for different applications. I made a cone 03-2 body, that I can slide up and down with a particular ingredient that is 50lbs per $8.00. I'm hesitant to release the recipe quite yet until I do some testing for fear that someone might think it works right now, and it hasn't been fired yet. Will write again in a few days after some more work on absorption, vitrification, and glaze fit - have a good week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Work in my Online Shop

New work fresh out of the kiln, now available for sale in my online store. Order in the next few days (by December 12th, let's say) , and I'll be sure to get the package to you by Christmas. Most of my new work employees a printmaking technique along with terra sigillata - a very fine clay resulting in a shiny coating. This Marilyn Monroe coffee mug with a candlestick-type handle has Marilyn's image on both sides.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Urban Experiment Part I

I conducted what I consider an interesting experiment today, with humanity in general and also the neighborhood and City in which I live, Saint Paul, Minnesota. The two pictures below speak volumes, specifically people love free things. Today, December 6th, 2008, I put out a table of 'seconds' which potters typically sometimes try to sell at a reduced rate. 'Seconds' are usually considered to have some type of defect in design or manufacturability. To be more specific for example, glaze defects or a crack in the pottery during firing are usually tops on the list, which can compromise the longevity of the product and usefulness.

Back to the experiment now. I left out the above pottery items on Grand Avenue, along with a sign as you can see in the picture that says "FREE POTTERY." Also, I put a jar next to the sign with the words "$ Donations Optional, But Encouraged." 10 minutes later after seeing several families, and a few gentleman on their way to the liquor store, I looked inside the jar and there was $15 plus - with 5 items missing from the table, specifically a large pitcher and a few coffee mugs and butter dish. I took the $15 from the jar, and headed over to the Midtown Global Market where there was an art fair and ethnic foods for sale. I picked up some fruit for smoothies this week, and returned for home about 2 hours later. Now, for the next picture:

An empty table. No pottery left, and no jar with the sign on it. Now, whether there was money in the jar or not, I do not know for sure - someone may have very well wanted the vase, and there was no money in it, but let's both be honest, if in 10 minutes $15 was collected, after 2 hours and 20 pieces of 'second' pottery, there was probably a little. For me, this wasn't frustrating, but a validation of the world that I've always known it to be, selfish. This happened to Warren MacKenzie too, a famous Minnesota potter that used to have his studio wide-open to the public, people would craze after his stuff. I'm not comparing myself to Warren in the slightest so don't even go there, but he no longer sells from his workshop and I believe it's due to the selfish who bought more than they needed, turned around sold them online for triple, and being that he has always sold 'humble pots', closed down his open gallery (Lee Love is an expert on the story, so to learn more go to ClayArt,, and just search for Warren MacKenzie and you're sure to find more information). I bet I felt a little like Warren today, a bit taken advantaged of by humanity, or at least someone with imbalanced morality, but it doesn't turn me away from making great pots. I talked to someone else about my experiment, and they said that every person walking by was probably thinking the same thing, wow, I could steal that money in that vase and wouldn't get caught. I responded with, I wouldn't and does that make me a better person? Hopefully, the vases and mugs and other items people picked up on their stroll are going to be welcomed into their homes and used, and I bet a few stocking-stuffers. So long for now, happy holidays to everybody.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Pottery Pictures - been a long time coming

Here's some new work I've been intending to get uploaded onto the blog. I've ditched the backdrop for the pots for the blog, easier on the eyes. All this work is fired cone 03 in oxidation with a clear, transparent glaze. I'm working on a volcanic ash glaze right now that's beating me up, but I've got 200lbs of the stuff and I'm determined to use it. From what I know volcanic ash = pumice, and for cone 03 I don't need much of it. I've been using Frit3195 and Gerstley line blends, will post some test tiles sometime soon.