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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Random Thoughts and Taller Pots

Stormy here today. This area regularly has electrical storms; we seem to have had a lot of them this summer. Lightening zapping from the sky like a cobra's deadly strike. Hitting the undeserving bushes outside, and once, in the other house, it came right inside, hitting the metal woodstove pipe with a resounding crackling. There's no proper word to describe the sound it made. Loud. Crisp. Zap!
That's a pretty long story telling why i won't bisque fire tomorrow. At least, til i know what the weather intends to do.

Last week, bisque-fired every other day filling the small Paragon to capacity each time. This wee kiln, which has such trouble reaching glaze temps, does a bisque fire very well. Was going to post a photo of all that was done, but realized it was nothing to brag about. In a large kiln, it would only have been half a load.

Transferring photos from my camera to the computer has now become a "situation". Not a situational comedy, mind you. Just a troublesome situation. I should have been paying attention, but wasn't -- when my cockateil, Kama, chewed the connector cord. Now, it's "iffy" whether the photos will transfer or not, even with electrical tape wrapped round the wires trying to heal the partially severed copper strands.

Here's a couple of pots thrown and altered this past week. Haven't a clue why it occurred to me to throw a square teapot. Spent more time trying to configure spouts, handles and lid -- on the square -- than the finished pot is probably worth !!!


Am about to take another detour. Have gotten to the point in life where i intensely dislike detours. They are always so time consuming !!! Average lifespan for American women is 68-years old. So! There's little time left to accomplish a mark in the world of pottery. Two? Maybe 3 years? Less? Guess, even a detour is better than sitting here fretting about wasted time.
The detour?
Learning how to sagger fire. It's not what i want to do. I'd prefer a straight-forward glaze firing. But neither kiln will "get there". It was only within the last couple of days that i realized i had options. Saggar firing is one.

Promised my friend, Gay, that i'd post what i knew about throwing taller pots. I'm afraid what i know about the subject isn't much. But here goes:
Here are 3 links (courtesy of John Lowes of Pottery by John) which give videos showing how to throw taller:
(1) This one was the most inspiring for me:
Throwing a tall fluted porcelain vase by David Cuzick
Throwing a big clay pottery vase by potter at Ingleton Pottery
Simon Leach - Learning from Guy Wolff

In the discussion between John and i, we noted:
1. That is a good comment about the type of clay making a difference. David is using Aardvark Nara Cone 10 porcelain. They also have a Cone 5 Nara porcelain.
2. Also notice that David keeps control of the rim of the pot all the way up with his left hand. He also uses his fingers on the right with the sponge to create a ledge under the clay as he pulls up and as you observed the left is pushing out hard stretching on top of the ledge.
3. The inside hand is just above stretching out the clay and the bottom hand is guiding it up and in, at the same time making the claybody wall thinner.
4. Collaring is a big help too.

In Tom Bivins workshop, i noticed that he applied most of these techniques. He starts with approx. 6 and 1/2 pounds of clay (it may have been more than this) , opens a fair amount, then cones up. Tom uses a lot of water. A very wet sponge which he slowly squeezes over his v-shaped inside fingers to focus the water along the sidewall. Using the techniques above, he brings the pot up; then, cones the clay again. Repeating the process until he has these gigantic pots.
Tom advises: "Don't pay attention to the wobbles. Ignore them and continue to bring the clay up."
He also sets his rim early on. Says it helps stabilize the pot.

You'd think with all the above info, i'd be able to throw tall pots. Not so. The tallest i've managed so far it 9-inches. The taller pots you've seen me post, have used the age-old technique of throwing the tallest pots i can manage, then stripping them together into one pot.
Last i heard tho, John is having much better luck! And better skill
If you're trying to throw tall pots -- good luck and good skill to you . . . .

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