Saturday, September 27, 2008

My new large-heavy-platter flipper

I've been making some large platters for a couple of years, using a plaster mold to hold the shape while I impress designs of trees into the surface. You can see how I make the platters on my website here. While making the 25-inch platters, I've got to flip them three times, and they are quite heavy. My shoulder began bothering me so I came up with the following gizmo to help me out, thanks to Jeffrey Sheer, who came up with the idea of using an mechanic's engine stand. I bought it at Harbour Freight in Greensboro, NC, for $49. Basically, the engine stand is designed to bolt an engine onto it and be able to turn the engine at any angle to allow access to different areas on the engine. I stopped at a machine shop in Asheboro and had someone attach four metal tubes onto the part of the engine stand that you would bolt the engine to (see picture below). You can click on images for larger pictures.

This is the part of the stand that turns.
The machinist pounded the tubes into
the sleeves.
By loosening the bolts, I can adjust
the arms.

How I flip

I lay a board on two of the metal tubes, my platter (in its plaster mold) on the board, a foam bat on top of the platter and another board on top the foam bat, and adjust the top metal pipes snugly onto the top board. Jeffrey had the idea of a small inner tube laid down between the first board and the plaster mold. When everything's bolted in, I use a small hand pump to pump up the inner tube. This snugs everything up firmly enough to allow me to flip the entire stack of boards, platter, plaster.

Small inner tube. There's a hole
in the board so I can reach stem of
inner tube to inflate and deflate.

Plaster mold and my platter on top of inner tube

I use thick foam bats to lessen the weight.
The foam bat goes on top of the platter,
and a board goes on top of the foam bat.
Now, it's ready to flip.

After flipping, I let air out of tube,
then loosen top metal pipes and slide the top board off,
then the foam, and then the platter inside the plaster.

Mugs for dentists

A sample of the logo stamp I created

Just a few of the 150 mugs I made

I finished up an order for the North Carolina Caring Dental Professionals (NCCDP), 150 mugs with their logo on them. I was up until 2 a.m. firing the last batch of mugs. NCCDP is holding its 2nd annual Fall conference this weekend in Charlotte.
NCCDP is a nonprofit, independent agency whose mission is to identify and assist licensed dental professionals who are experiencing the consequences of chemical dependency and/or psychiatric disorders.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mixing my local clay

Today I finally got around to mixing some local clay that I had slaked down with water more than a month ago. My mixing equipment is anything but sophisticated. The picture at the left shows me pouring a clay slurry into a sieve I made out of window screen and an old bucket.

I started the process in August when my son, Levi, and I took the lawn mower and its trailer and a wheel barrow (Levi pushed the wheel barrow) to a piece of my property where I discovered the clay. After transporting the clay back to my workshop, I let it dry out completely, then chop and smash it into small pieces with a shovel and a tamping tool.

I then place the dry clay into shallow tubs and cover them in water. I usually let this solution sit for a week or so, and then I scoop the mushy clay into one of the blue buckets shown in the picture. I usually add some more water and mix it with a paint mixer attached to my drill. Then it's 30 minutes of sieving as I'm doing in the picture, only I start out scooping the slurry out of the big bucket with a small bucket until I can lift the big bucket and pour as I'm doing in the picture. I've also got to shake out the rocks and sticks as they clog the sieve.

When I'm done sieving, I pour the slurry into tub with a thick plaster slab on the bottom to soak up the water. It takes a week or two to dry enough to handle the clay. But today, I had some slurry left over, so I was able to pour it into a shallow plaster dish and it might be dry enough to use by tomorrow or the next day.

I'm thinking of making a pot out of it and giving it to another potter to glaze and fire in his kiln as a piece for the collaborative auction at Celebration of Seagrove Potters. I'll keep everyone updated.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Irishmen Take Break from Golf to Visit Seagrove

Paddy Gavin snaps a picture of Larry Hogan
at From the Ground Up. Hogan is holding a hurley.

Sixteeen golfers from County Westmeath, Ireland took time from their golfing in Pinehurst to visit a few potters in Seagrove today. They stopped at From the Ground Up and one of the first things someone spotted was a hurley, sporting equipment that is to an Irishman like a baseball bat is to an American. Hurling is a popular sport native to Ireland where the ball is hit with the hurley in order to score either through the goal posts or past the goal keeper and into the net. My wife's four brothers all played hurling when they were younger. Her oldest brother, Dan, still plays at age 43.

So, while the lads were busy checking out the hurley, I chatted with Paddy Gavin about his trip to America. He told me his group of friends belongs to the Mount Temple Golf Club outside a small village known for its golf course in the midlands of Ireland.

"It's got one pub, one church, one school, one shop and one golf course," Gavin said setting down a candle stick to purchase.. "One of each."

Seems the Irish group of golfers came to America a week ago to play against their Amercian friends they met in Ireland two years ago. The Americans were members of Pinewild Country Club in Moore County and everyone decided after the Irish beat the Americans in that first game in Ireland, that the Americans would take "the cup" home with them and the Irish would have to come to America to get it.

"We had a cup made and we called it Ryder 2," Gavin said.

They played again earlier this week and the Americans won.

"They beat the (bleep) out of us," said Gavin, adding that their American friends will have to come to Ireland to get the cup, as the Irish are bringing the cup home with them this time.

Kirk Tours of Pinehurst transported the group of Irish men to Seagrove. Thanks Sally Larson of Fireshadow Pottery for recommending they stop in my place.

Friday, September 19, 2008

more bacon

Back in August, I was busy helping to publicize the Celebration of Seagrove Potters. After weeks of working on and finalizing a logo, we spent another couple of weeks working out details for a sign for the new festival of Seagrove potters. At last, on August 12, potters met at the old Luck's Beans cannery in Seagrove and spruced up the grounds while the sign was being installed. Luck's began as a small canning facility in 1947. Among their stock of vegetables and chicken and dumplings, they created some great pinto beans. When my brother came down from New York to visit, he always left with a case of pinto beans.

During a break in the clean up back in August, Meredith Heywood of Whynot Pottery told potters that when she was a little girl, her father would have everyone in the car roll down the windows when driving past the Luck's cannery and yell out the window....