Sunday, April 29, 2012

More Self Promotion

Last time you stopped by I told you about Spring Pottery Fair. Imagine my surprise to see one of my pots getting featured on the news today!   Check it out at  Thanks

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Just a couple of quick notes today. First, I decided to add a diagonal brace to the new shelf unit. It had just a little wiggle in it, probably because I used the cheap poplar dowels instead of the stiffer birch ones. It wasn't going any where but it bothered me so I screwed a 1x3 scrap across the back. It's rock solid now.

 I also have been getting ready for Spring Pottery Fair next Saturday. It's our club show and we have over 50 members showing. We get a good crowd and have very good sales.I already have more pots than I know what to do with but there are a couple of big'uns I want to take so I am making a bunch of kiln filler pots to go around them. This year's new filler item is pet bowls.I'll have about 20 ready so we'll see what happens. If you are in the area, the show is at Madison and Woodburn in Cincinnati and we open at 11AM. Don't miss it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Magical or Tragical?

Opening a kiln always makes me excited and apprehensive at the same time. Like Schrodinger's cat, all the pots are outstanding until you open the lid. I had fired the cone 6 electric kiln over the weekend so today was time to peek. I had made up an ash glaze with 50% Ohio Slip, 25% Wood Ash, and 25% Whiting and I was not sure how much it would run. I got lucky and it seemed to work very well with my iron red "Ketchup Red" ( Google it if you want the recipe). The Xavier's Warm Jade is very dependable. My blue is Hansen's 5x20 with 10% zircopax and 2% cobalt carb. It works well if you get enough of it on the pot. One nice long dip does it. All in all the load came out very well with only a couple that will need refiring.Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shelf Construction Part Two

OK kids this is the post that makes the last one make sense (especially the pictures). Yesterday we made a pair of ladder framed uprights for the end pieces of our shelves.They are wider at the bottom and the front slants back to make the upper shelves more narrow as we go up. This makes for a stable shelf assembly with a low center of gravity. We also made a back panel to keep our uprights, well, upright.

Today we are going to assemble the frame and make the shelves themselves. Match up your two uprights so the rungs line up. Then take a big framing square and mark where to trim your feet so they sit flat on the tabletop. This also ensures that the back post of your upright stands vertically and does not lean to the front or back. Sand, file or whittle a small bevel around each foot. This really helps keep them from splintering as you drag them around.

Clamp your back panel BETWEEN your uprights and trim to match your uprights. Putting it between the uprights helps keep the frame from racking side to side. Drill through your back posts and back panel posts for 1/4 "x 3 1/2" carriage bolts, fender washers, and wingnuts that hold the pieces together. Alternately, you could hinge the uprights to the back panels but I think the carriage bolts allow less wiggle.This completes the frame.

I used fence boards for my shelves. I cut them 6" longer than the frame so there is 3" overhang at each end. They are 5/8" thick and need stiffening if you span more than 3 feet with them.( If you buy nominal 1" cedar planks you do not need stiffeners.) The stiffeners are just strips of cedar 1 1/2" wide and stood on edge then glued and stapled to the rear of each shelf. If you cut them to fit between the back panel posts, they will help brace the whole frame and keep the shelves from sliding if someone bumps them. I also included a simple system to display plates on the bottom shelf. Just look at the picture and you'll see how it works.

All in all, the finished unit is stiff enough to get the job done without sagging or wiggling too much if you set it up on a level table. My guess is that it weighs about 20 pounds total and it assembles with 4 wingnuts. It looks good now and a few dings and scratches won't even show on this surface. The roughsawn finish of the shelves will also keep my pots from sliding around. Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your shelves.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shelf Construction Part One

Last year I built a new set of shelves for the booth. They are a table top design and people seem to like them pretty well. My friend Toby asked me to blog on how to make them and I have finally gotten around to doing that while I make another set. They have angled fronts for stability and an attached back panel that is either hinged or bolted to the ladder framed uprights.They are not difficult to build but you need to work carefully. Angles need to match and holes need to lineup.I am posting part one today. Part two will follow in a couple of days. Annotated pictures follow the text.

When I think about shelves for shows, they have to be stiff, stable, stowable, and lightweight. They should also look nice and take a beating without needing any upkeep. Western red cedar is my first choice of wood. It is not the cheapest wood to use but it is light, stiff, easy to work with, and looks good with no finish on it. As a bonus, it makes your van smell great.

For a tabletop unit, you can make your uprights out of 2"x2" balusters for deck railings. They come in 42" or 36" lengths. Look for straight pieces with a minimum of knots. You can use 3/4" dowels for rungs. Depending on how long you want your shelves and how much weight you plan to put on them, you can use 5/8" fence boards ( cheap but they need stiffening strips) or 1" stock ( stiffer but more expensive).

The back posts are vertical and the rungs go in at 90 degrees. The front posts are angled and the rungs need to be angled as well. As shown in the pictures, you decide how wide you want your top and bottom shelves. I wanted an 11 inch bottom shelf and a 6 inch top shelf. The difference is 5 inches. I set the tops of the posts together and swung the bottom out until the angle between the posts sloped 5 inches from top shelf to bottom shelf. Then I put my square on the back post and drew lines across both posts for each rung. If you drill for your rungs using these lines as guides, you don't need to know the angle, just drill carefully. Use a 3/4 inch bit and go 1"" deep in every hole. A drill press makes this much easier but you don't have to have one.

Cut a pair of dowels 2" longer than the width of your top shelf and another pair 2" longer than the bottom. Dry fit both uprights together.  Don't assume that a 3/4 " dowel will fit in a 3/4" hole. Don't force them, just whittle or sand the ends until they fit. Once you are sure everything is square and the uprights match, measure between your posts, and add 2" for your other rungs. Dry fit for good luck, then assemble with a little glue spread around each hole. Don't use too much glue or you won't be able to push your dowels in their holes. Make sure the dowels are well seated, square everything up and let dry.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Tale of Two Jugs

One of the nice things about coming home this week was that I had a kiln waiting to be opened.There were a bunch of red clay pots that I had glazed with my blue that was too thin. Not terrible but not great either. These have been reglazed and I'm firing them again.They may not work out but I didn't have much to lose by trying.The other pots included these jugs that had been sitting around for a couple of months. The taller jug was dipped in Ketchup Red then sprayed with my ash glaze (50% Ohio Slip 25% wood ash and 25% whiting.) The shorter one was sprayed with the same Ketchup Red and the same ash glaze.Same clay and they were fired side by side to cone 6. The difference? Where it is thin, Ketchup breaks to blue or black. The sprayed glaze was thinner giving the two pots totally different looks from the same glazes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Home Again

My whirlwind tour of the Carolinas continued after leaving Seagrove. I rolled into Charlotte on Saturday evening to spend some time with our daughter and her husband. Sunday started with a nice brunch and moved into a trip to Home Depot and planting a little garden in the afternoon. It was a nice low key day with plenty of time for catching up. Monday was the big day of the visit. Kate teaches Art at Hough High School in Cornelius and it was time to start the unit on Ceramics. I was guest lecturer and demonstrated wheel throwing for a total of about 125 students.They were attentive, well mannered, and we all had a good time. It is nice to feel like your grown children still need you.

Tuesday morning I headed off for home with a detour through Asheville. My friend Lori Theriault is part of VILLAGE POTTERS in the river Arts District and she was happy to give me the grand tour of her new studio. It is a big old factory building and the potters have a beautiful flower garden at the entrance that welcomes you as soon as you drive up. The building is totally renovated inside with a nice little gallery, studio spaces, kilns (including a new gas kiln), classroom space, a glaze area and just about anything a potter could want. It's on Lyman not far from 12 Bones BBQ. I met several of the other potters and everyone seemed very nice as well as very talented.If you are in the area, stop by(or stop and buy.)

My final stop in North Carolina was Highwater Clay. I was very pleased that Cobalt Carb. is on sale at $19 a pound ( Cobalt oxide $33) This is way down from a year ago so I stocked up a bit, got some of my favorite Forbes Wax and headed for home. I did make a stop in Campbell County Tennessee but it did not require a trip to the courthouse or the woods this time. Quickstop Beer, Bait and BBQ looks just like it sounds but it has the best lunch in the county. You can get well fed for the trip to Ohio for about $5 and it is just off I-75. Just don't go for the ambiance.

Here are a few pictures including a very nice mug that Mark and Meredith gave me and a jug from Sid Luck. You are not allowed to take pictures of the faces of High School students so there is only one from Monday.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Saturday morning came several times thanks to my neighbors at Motel6. For some reason folks were coming and going all night with noisy cars and sub woofers blasting . What was that old Dr Pepper slogan 10, 2 and 4? That was my schedule. The morning was frosty in Winston Salem and I was anxious to get down the road to Seagrove.

I had gorgeous weather and smooth sailing so it only took another hour or so to arrive at the North Carolina Pottery center. I love to see their collection of both early and contemporary pots. Useful first and beautiful in their usefulness. I particularly like the old jugs and churns that show skilled hands producing enough ware to make a living. Ware that is solid and true not fussy and pretentious. I was permitted to take pictures inside but many pots were behind glass so pardon the reflections. I highly recommend a stop if you are ever in this part of the world.

From the Pottery Center I visited a few shops in town, then I made my way out to Whynot Pottery to meet Mark and Meredith Haywood. We had a very nice visit and I got to take the grand tour of the operation. It's so nice when you meet old friends for the first time.I went out to Sid Luck's and got a tour of his groundhog kiln. Then went to Bulldog Pottery  Bruce and Samantha were out but I got to see their work and had a nice chat with Ed. A few stops later, I met Michele Hastings and saw the Potter's co-op in town. What a nice bunch of folks I met on this trip! I really enjoyed my day and am now in Charlotte with my daughter. Tomorrow I will be showing her classes how to throw or should I say turn clay on the wheel then heading for Asheville Tuesday.