Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Workshop (with a/c)

This heat wave convinced me to set up a workspace in the log barn part of my old showroom, including a window air conditioner. The unfinished space I was in was open to the elements, which was nice is some respects, but not in respect to keeping cool. So, I bought two livestock watering tubs to use as splash pans. The above picture shows only one because my Pacifica wheel didn't fit in a 100-gallon Rubbermaid. I had to drive to Tractor Supply and switch one for the 150-gallon version. I'll set that up tomorrow.

The picture above shows the other side of the room. It took a while to move all my current work from shelf to shelf, move a shelf, then move some work, then move another shelf.... I think it'll be a nice space to work in. The logs are from several different buildings I moved many years ago, the majority of which are from an old barn I bought in Advance where the guy I bought it from told me folks used to gamble in it.

I plan to get up early before the sun rises too high and prepare clay balls for the day in the space I was in. I'm past the halfway point of making 195 foot-soaking bowls, and I hope to be through with the order by the end of August. Maybe then I'll have time to finish the unfinished workshop.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Foot Bowls off Schedule?

In the post below, I said I had three bowls cooling in the kiln and another three glazed and ready to replace the ones cooling in the kiln. Well, I unloaded the three bowls and they all had cracked feet. They didn't blow up, which tells me it wasn't water in the clay turning to steam and blowing up the pots. So, why did this happen?

I didn't reload the kiln. I'm thinking maybe the fracture is developing because I'm loading green pots on hot shelves and the heat is fracturing the unfired clay early in the firing. I've been opening the kiln at 130 degrees F. and unloading when I can pick them up bare handed. I wonder if the shelves might be hotter than 130 degrees. Who knows? There are so many variables in the process, it's hard to figure it out. Just when I think I've got it figured out.

The bottom line is that I'm pushing these pots more than I would like to because of the deadline, and it's up to me to make the judgement of when I'm pushing too hard. I think I remember lifting the shelves when loading this kiln and thinking they might be too hot to handle.

Any potters have experience with this - unfired pots fracturing on hot shelves?

Foot Bowls on Schedule

To date, we've shipped 32 foot-soaking bowls. We've got 20 new ones packed in bubble wrap and boxes in front of the shop, about 30 waiting to be packed in our tool shed, three cooling in a kiln, three firing in another kiln, three glazed and ready for the kiln that's cooling, six glazed and drying for tomorrow, 10 I just turned upside to complete the drying process, and five drying slowly under plastic. So I should be able to meet the July 27 deadline to have 85 packed and ready to ship to New York.

I've really have to stay on top of things to keep the production going. I think I'm beginning to finally get the shape down.

Another 79 to go!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I made something other than a Foot-soaking Bowl

Here's a pot that I created when I was attempting join a freshly thrown section to a drier section when making foot-soaking bowls last week. I was trying to cut out adding coils of clay to two previously thrown sections that were at the "leather hard" stage of drying. The wetter section wasn't cooperating, so I just kept stretching it out and had a very wide bulbous shape to which I added the top section the next day. I decided to stamp a few trees inside the vase once it firmed up a bit. The piece is close to 20 inches wide. I'm not sure how I'll glaze it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Tools

My new Kuhn-Rikon Original Peelers

I had three of my foot-soaking bowls that busted in the kiln. I think it was the rain we've been having that caused the pieces to dry slower. I've got quite a few pieces that didn't make it through the firing. Mary says I should make a waterfall for the garden out of them. Now, there's an idea. Several of them just lost the feet on the bottom.

I'm sick and tired of these bowls, and I'm just on the other side of the halfway point. I threw 10 platter sections today, and then I attempted to throw a large bulbous pot, but it flopped. The clay was too soft.

On a more positive note, I got a set of new tools the other day in the mail. I'd long ago bought this vegetable peeler somewhere, and it's come in handy for a number of things that need trimming, off the wheel. I've been using it during the foot-soaking project to trim the edges of the two pieces so they fit well. The one I've been using is wearing out, so I finally found them online. I ordered three for $10 plus $5 shipping.

If any potters out there want to give them a try just click here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Seeing Hotel with my Bowl Gives me a Boost

I found a picture of one of my foot-soaking bowls at a website designed for reviewing hotels, There's also a film of one of the rooms and my footbowl can be seen right at the end of the clip. In case you haven't read any of my previous posts, I'm working on a commission of 195 foot-soaking bowls for the new Andaz Hotel on 5th Avenue in New York. They came and picked up 32 bowls for their grand opening the weekend of July 4.

I had to laugh at one review of the hotel room, when I read: "
Listen up, because this is important: the bowl on the floor is not a toilet." Actually the bowl is located directly beneath a low waterfall faucet, and adjacent to a stone bench (on which lies one jar each of bath salts and a foot salve).

To actually see the bowl in the room gives me some impetus to keep plugging away at the bowls. It was a scorcher today as I worked on the bowl section of the two-piece foot bowl today.

Softening up clay with my Peter Pugger
sure makes it easier working with 15
or more pounds of clay at a time.

Here's the little film clip of the hotel room:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Making a Mess of the Shop

Before I started work on the commission for 195 foot-soaking bowls, my plan was to finish my tool shed and "future workshop." The deadline for the commission, however, allowed no time for finishing the workshop. I wired up a 100-amp box, ran a wire for the pugger and one for the wheels, moved in two wheels, a wedging table, shelves and went to work. I work on two rubber mats, the kind with holes, so at least I'm not creating a lot of dust when I'm at the wheel, although it's time again to empty the holes.

The pieces I'm making don't allow me to use my splash pans, so I just set a big block of upholstery foam on the deck of the wheel so the bat I'm throwing on rubs against it. This catches a lot of the slurry, but there's still some that gets spun out away from the wheel.

When I trim the pieces, I try to catch most of the trimmings and throw them into a bucket, but there's plenty of trimmings that fall around the wheel. I suppose I could clean up directly after a day of throwing, but I'm too tired, and to tell you the truth it's just not how I work. I'm kind of messy. It's kind of cool to be messy sometimes.

This chimney block is where I set my tools and
slop bucket.

I've begun to leave these outside the house.

I like working on a clay floor.

There's piles of this everywhere. When I need the
room, I put it in bags.

I've found if I let this sit overnight, I can
scrape it up and use it as slip for joining
the pieces together.

I have to go outside and hose off
my apron several times a day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Working with the World Cup

My son Levi and I put together another 10 foot-soaking bowls today while watching the world cup. I set up the television in front of us. Here, we're preparing the two parts for joining.

Increasing Production (plus a video)

Video below

I should be putting together some more foot-soaking bowls, but I wanted to post again on the blog since it's been a few days.

The first 32 bowls should be in the hotel by now. They came Thursday and picked them up in a U-Haul truck. Meanwhile, I've upped the number of bowls per production run from six to 10, about every three to four days. I also went back to using the original clay. I had decided to add grog and kyanite after a couple of bowls cracked at the joint, but I had two pots with the grog that cracked or developed small S-cracks in the middle.

I don't know if I can have another 85 of the bowls ready for shipment by July 15, but I'm giving it my best shot. I could make some more bats and try throwing 15 or 20 at a time, but that's pushing the envelope.

Ten completed bowls drying on rack

Ten platters covered

Ten tops covered

Mary's been working in the garden every morning this week.

The following video shows my current technique in making the top for the foot-soaking bowl. It's a bowl shape without a bottom, diameter at the wheel head is 14 inches and at the top of the bowl, 20 inches. The outside curve of the bowl shape is important. It needs just a slight curve, so I am using a long metal rib that has a slight curve to shape the bowl.