Saturday, November 28, 2015

Shelves Again

People ask me about shelves all the time. I am reworking an old unit this weekend so I thought I would show a few points. I like for the frame of the unit to have four feet and bolt or hinge together to act as one unit when in use but easily go flat to transport. For indoor shows, this is not so important but next summer when you take one of those fold out units that have separate" towers" with 3 feet each and try to shim them on uneven ground, good luck. The system for this unit is simply two ladder style units made from 2x2 and 3/4 inch dowels that are very stiff . These are carriage bolted together with a lightweight frame in between.
The unit is strong and stiff but very light weight

The rectangular frame bolts between the uprights
with carriage bolts and wing nuts that stay on the frame between uses

Rear view, arrows insure correct assembly
note corner reinforcement and notches in the vertical stiles of the frame
Each joint has glue and two 3 inch screws holding the joints together
The unit is sized to take standard 1x10 lumber for shelves. I love red cedar for shelves but they were $23 each and pine was $4.75. It's going to be pine at least until I see if I like how this works out. As always, when you load your shelves, try to put heavy stuff down low for stability. I'm going to finish touching up the paint and take these to Cincinnati Clay Alliance Holiday Fair next Saturday on Clifton Ave. about half a mile north of U.C. Stop by if you are in the area.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Everyone Struggles with Handles

I've been at this stuff for 10 years and have learned a thing or two. Can I make a decent handle that looks good and feels good? Usually. Have I ever made a perfect handle? Probably not but I keep learning and refining . I was taught to make a handle, shape it let it set up then attach it. I have tried putting a plug of clay on the pot, then pulling and I can do that but what works for me is a hybrid of the two. I pull handles, put them flat on a 1x6 and let them (or force them) to get dry enough to handle without marking them up. I score my mug, apply a little slip and while that settles in I cut the top end of my handle at a shallow angle and trim a half circle on the lower end. I hold the handle almost upright and blend the upper attachment area together. Then because the handle is still flexible, I make my loop and attach the bottom of the handle. A little clean up and refining the loop and it's done. P.S. I can pre cut the length easily because that 1x6 is 5 1/2 inches wide. I use that as a gauge and all my handle straps end up the same length. The best tip I can give is "attach the handle at the angle you want it to end up at and don't change it once it is stuck on the pot"

My handles have not always pleased me, some days they still don't.  I dug some oldies out of the back of the cupboard to review and discuss. The pictures are quickly snapped but should serve the purpose. Also I don't understand the optics of it but handles almost always look larger in a picture than in person. Go ahead and chime in in the comments section. I'm a big boy, I can take it.

Basic D handle This droops a little and could be a little beefier

The body could be shaped better. The handle is set too high but the size and shape aren't bad

pulled on the mug. upper end needs to be a little heavier.
 I think this method is easiest if you come off the mug at 90 degrees
 but that doesn't always look good.

Nice negative space and placement , but it is a little thin for a mug this size

Handle too heavy and there is a slight kink in the curve

Large soup mug Handle droops a little but works very well
the weight of the full mug has leverage that is counteracted by fingers under the loop.
In this style, the finger(s) inside the handle keep it from tipping and
the fingers outside the handle support most of the weight.

another big soup mug
Happy with this one

Good negative space, fingers are not forced against the hot mug

current handle I'm trying the lower placement and like it so far

Good negative space

Very large mug, beefier handle, even curves and
almost symmetrical teardrop shaped negative space
Pleased with this one

big 30 oz mug
I would like a little steeper rise where it attaches

Pretty happy with this one

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WNCPF Trip in Review

Last week was awfully busy. I'm trying to get orders done and get ready for CLAY ALLIANCE HOLIDAY FAIR but all that had to stop for a few days. The first Saturday in November is The Western North Carolina Pottery Festival in Dillsboro NC. This is the best clay festival I've seen and potters come from Texas, Minnesota, New York and other far away places every year to sell pots for 6 hours. My friends Mike and Karen Baum do the show and I take the camper down so I can be there to wrap pots for them.

On the way, is the Raccoon Valley Escapees Campground and on Thursday night folks come down from the hills and play music there. Most of them are older and some are in their 80's. When you hear them play you know what 60 or 70 years of practicing will do for your pickin ! Each of us do 2 songs until everyone has had a turn then we do one each until it is time to go home. Nobody passes. Nobody scratches their head trying to come up with a song. When it's your turn you stand up ( some of the older guys have a mic at their seat ) and get it done. It is a very nice group of regulars and I have played with them once or twice a year for 5 years or so. It is an honor to play with people who sound so good and make it look so easy.

Not our rig but there were 3 like this in the campground, Sheesh!

Friday started with an easy drive to Dillsboro. If you go, take 40 to Waynesville. then west on 74. You do not want to go through Pigeon Forge !!! I got down there about noon and started running into old friends immediately. I helped get some tents up for the clay Olympics and the fun started about 1:00. Twelve potters competed for tallest 5 lb cylinder, Widest 5 lb bowl,Tallest 2 lb in 2 minutes and a blindfolded challenge. Everyone had a great time and Featured artist Sarah Wells Rolland took the overall championship.
Some pots Sarah Demonstrated on Saturday.

After the Olympics there is a lull of a few hours that a lot of the potters use to go check into hotels and such since they cannot set up until about 7:00. John Bauman, Roxie Clark and I have used it to make music the last couple of years. John brings the pickin skills, Roxie brings the voice, youth, and good looks, I bring the nerve.. It is a lot of fun and a good chance to get to know some people beyond their pottery. After we played, I saw more friends and went to dinner with Mike and Karen before setting up. Pitching the Craft Hut, unloading 60 boxes of pots and setting up displays took us to 9:00 pm and I was ready for bed but four women came beating on my door. What's a guy to do? I let them in.

Overnight, we had a hard rain and Saturday we had off and on mostly light rain all day. We started stocking the shelves about 6:00 and were ready by 10:00 when they opened the gates and people started coming down the street. This is a destination show. You don't have a bunch of townies out to walk their dog. People book a room a year in advance and come out to buy pots. They don't come from Knoxville or Atlanta to go home empty handed. We were slammed until about 2:00 then it was more manageable til we closed at 4:00. Late in the day I managed to get out and take some pictures.

Jim Rhinehert

John Bauman

John Bauman

John Bauman

Sarah Wells Rolland

Tom Wirtz

Tom Wirtz

Laurie Faye Long

Laurie Faye Long

Tony and Mindy Winchester

Tony and Mindy Winchester

Tony and Mindy Again

Courtney Tomchik

Courtney Tomchik

Doc Welty

Roxie Clark in Doc's booth

Royce Yoder

Travis Berning

Richard Aerni

Rob Withrow. That;s Rob on the left. He never looked better

I also picked up a couple of bowls to take home

John Bauman

Royce Yoder

The show closed at 4 and with a ton of help from Evan Allhands and fiance' Lauren Canfield we got knocked down and loaded by 6:30, a new Baum record. After the show there is dinner for everyone and a party if you have the strength. I made it through dinner and stumbled to the rig in the darkness. Sleep came soon after. By 7:00 am I was motoring north on the slow road. I took the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville and had most of it to myself. No large game sightings but some nice views and 3 different flocks of turkeys totaling about 30 birds. From there I picked up 81 and 25E to slip through the Cumberland Gap that my ancestors had walked through 200 years ago. It was an excellent trip even with the rain . I see more old friends and make more new friends every time I make this trip. Sometimes it is exhausting work but people bond through shared suffering and these are great people to bond with...Also all guys know that if it doesn't hurt the next day (or two) you didn't really have fun.