As I may have mentioned before, buying the pugger/mixer was probably the best decision I made last year. It has made my life easier in so many ways. However, it has made things more difficult in one way: it is hard to keep track of all the claybodies that go into the kiln. Especially after they are made into something and drying on the shelves, it is very difficult to tell them apart.
When I fired with the gas kiln, stuff didn’t pile up all that much, because I fired frequently. Now with the wood kiln getting fired 3 times per year, things tend to stack up, and labeling is essential to avoid hideous mishaps. I try to keep types of clay consistent from wareboard to wareboard and label each board, but packing pots in the kiln to bisque them means losing the labels and taking extensive notes, because bisqued clay looks even more similar than green.
The other day, I was wishing I had a way to label the pots better, then it came to me: a labeling app on my smart phone with which to label photos in my gallery. I downloaded a free app (there are lots of different ones), and viola!, pictures taken of my bisque load shelf levels are now accurately labeled and instantly backed up to my home network, so I know I won’t lose them.
Now if significant time passes between firings, or just unloading a bisque, I can refer to my pictures to figure out what everything is.
Here are the first of a bunch of water jars and flower vases that are going into the kiln this early fall. I really needed some practice coiling, paddling, and collaring in necks on the kickwheel and 船徳利 funadokkuri (boat flasks) are the perfect shape for it. Traditionally these were used as flasks for oil, etc. on boats. They needed to be hard to tip over, hence the wide flat bottom. Now they are mostly used for flower arrangements.
All of the water jars will have wooden lids made for them. I’ve done one or two in the past with surprising positive response from viewers/customers. The lids are fun to make, since they are a non traditional item, you can play around a bit with them. I’ll post some lids later on, if the pots make it through the firing.
The last slab of the bunch is the biggest at about 10kg/25lbs. I wanted an ocean motif and started out with ideas for iron brush decoration of waves and ocean birds, with a clear feldspar glaze. Somewhere along the way it changed into two opposing wave patterns, one stamped and the other carved.
The pattern is identical, but the exterior wave pattern was made with my paddle, carved with a wave pattern and used like a bench chisel, placing it on the clay and tapping it with a mallet to create a repeating pattern. The center wave pattern is the same as what is carved into the paddle, but varies more because it follows the changing width of the center swath.
If I can get this one to dry without cracking, it should take the firing ok. It will be glazed in either a white ash glaze or a green ash glaze. A nice runny ash glaze should fill in the texture and accentuate the pattern nicely.
It has become increasingly obvious over the last year or two that a major remodeling of the studio was going to be necessary. As output has increased and work habits have changed, and the fact that I want to put in a wood burning stove for winter heating, changing the configuration of the studio has become unavoidable. I’d been putting it off for a long time because it is going interrupt, but I last week it finally reached critical mass and I decided to bite the bullet and get to work. So…
First order of business is to get the stairs into a more manageable place, and add some floor space to the second floor. Here is a series of photos of the project:
Interesting note here: when I removed the floor and started taking things off the shelf so I could dismantle it, I found my studfinder that I’d been searching for since, well since I put in that floor section 4 or 5 years ago. I looked everywhere for that thing!
I’ll still need to remove and redo the shelving at left, but for now just removed enough to get this project accomplished. Baby steps…
The ‘beam’ is actually two 4.5 cm thick boards screwed together. In my rush to get the beam in place, I forgot to move the stairs to a place within the work area. Doh! Stairs 1, Homo Sapiens Sapiens 0. But it all worked out ok, I threw the rope over the newly placed beam and used it to lower the stairs to the ground, then slid them over near to their final resting place, without destroying any discs in my back. Yes! Stairs 1, Homo Sapiens Sapiens 1. Take that, stairs!
This is my first project where I have discovered the forbidden delights of the Simpson Strong-Tie. I’d seen them before in the States, but only recently in Japan, and only at one of the home improvement stores. They saved me all kinds of time, since I didn’t have to cut all the joints for the floor joists, and as an added bonus, they’re cheap.
I secured all of the floor boards from below, so there are no screws or screw holes visible on the floor surface, and no need for wood plugs or putty.
As you can see, the stairs come awful close to the remaining shelving at left, but they are accessible. Moving the shelving is on the to-do list. Still, looking good from here…
Nice expanse of natural wood with no nails or screws visible.
All finished. This is the view from the doorway side of the shop looking back toward the stairs. The original part of the second floor at left. Stairs are up against the wall, and the studio already feels roomier.
The pizza oven is finally finished! Not quite dry yet, but that will happen. The last bit of work involves uncovering the oven, letting it dry out, and paddling it to compress the clay. This helps keep the cracks smaller and the clay to be more dense (better heat retention, less insulating).
Before firing it the first time, we will use a scraper and brush on the floor to get the little bumps and grit knocked off, then it will be good to go…
Will keep you posted on how the oven holds up over the next few years.