Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Trimming Chalice Stems

I am working on chalices for next year, and have started to do the trimming after some throwing. Pictured here are 8 stems along with a few mugs waiting for trimming.

I have often spoken of doing chalices for communion sets, and even shown a video of me trimming one and putting one together. However, someone pointed out that my trimming chuck for the chalice stems is never shown. I have included several pictures here of my chuck, and the way it is put together. It is pretty simple involving the following items
  • Section of 3" PVC pipe 8-10" long
  • 3" Pipe flange
  • 3" Tank to Bowl gasket
  • 3" Pipe Hub Donut

The Pipe Hub Donut goes onto the pipe that is inserted into the Pipe Flange.

The Tank to Bowl gasket, which is soft foam, is inserted into the Pipe Hub Donut. This gasket was very important, since it is the piece that allows the whole thing to work without damaging or marking up the chalice stem while trimming. I can apply quite a bit of pressure on the bottom of the stem without putting any marks on the outside of the chalice stem. Whereas, whenever I would use a thrown slightly stiffened chuck I would have marking on the chalice stem.

I use a Griffin Grip to hold the entire assembly on the wheel. You could use the same device glued or otherwise attached onto a bat and then use the bat on the wheel head, but this was more convenient for me.

I have shown a slightly out of round uneven stem here ready to be trimmed. I often start trimming with a hack saw blade held perpendicular to the clay to cut and even up the base, and then move to regular trimming tools. In cases like this I might start with a needle tool first. Every piece has to be evaluated for the best trimming technique to be used, at least for me there is no "one size fits all".

I usually do production with 10-20 chalices at a time, trimming all stems first. Then I trim the bowls on the Griffin Grip, adding the stems immediately after adding magic water and to the trimmed area. I also level thing up by using the wheel turning slowly.

It took me a few tries to get this to work for me, but once I worked through the process, I realized that the tool was much better than other techniques for trimming the tall stems I wanted for the chalices.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Spring and Summer of 2016-Ceramics Monthly project

I have been moderating on Ceramics, in the forums for a few years now, spotting spammers, keeping the peace, and making suggestions or giving comment in areas of my expertise. This summer I was contacted by Forest Gard at Ceramics Monthly to write up an article for something I suggested in the forums about using bats on the wheel. I was really excited about doing this as simple as the whole idea was. At any rate I have been allowed permission to post the article on my blog here.
This appears in the December 2016 issue of Ceramics Monthly.

Spring and Summer of 2016, Revisiting bowls

Batter bowl with rolled rim and strap handle

Strap handle with hot pad stamp decoration

I have been doing bowls for several years now, and really enjoy doing them. However, I have used many of these bowls over the years and found some things about them lacking. I really like batter bowls, and yet never believed my handles to be integrated into the form well enough. They performed well, mixed eggs or batter nicely, and were easy to pour from and clean. The handles even worked well, but just did not seem to fit, more added on. 

Top view showing hot pad stamped decoration on handle

Lately on bowls I have been using a flared rim about 1" to 1 1/2" wide, This rim allows a baking bowl to be lifted out of the oven without having to have a handle. One day I decided to roll the rim down making an indent opposite the spout. Adding a strap handle from there was easy, and I believe the result is quite pleasing as you can see from the photos.

Small bowl with stamped hot pad decoration

Decoration was done by pressing a silicone hot pad against the unshaped bowl cylinder, then shaping without outside support. This also gave the bowl a bit of a looser feel than some of my other work.

Serving Bowl

 I like my bowls with a healthy foot providing stability visibility. The problem with that over the years has been how they work in a dishwasher. If the bowl is trimmed properly, and has a deep foot ring, it is problematic when unloading the dishwasher. You usually get everything wet when unloading if you lift the bowls out before all the rest. The deep foot holds water! This year I started using a brass piece of pipe to cut large arcs in the foot rings of other pots like the funiery urn. It just came natural after liking the look on those to try it on the bowls. Worked well.

Mixing Bowl with stamped hot pad decoration

 For those of you that are interested in throwing bowls, I throw the bowls here with 4, 6, and 8 poinds of clay. Both the batter bowl and small bowl are with 4 poinds. The Mixing bowl is using the 8 lb.  amount, and is quite useful for mixing, and with the rim even for cooking in the oven. The flared rim allows ingredients to be dumped into the bowl catching any oversights. When lifting a bowl out of the oven when hot, the rim allows secure grip without worrying bout sliding out of grip.

Mixing Bowl from above

Spring and Summer of 2016 Buial Urn

Greenware burial urn

 I have been remiss in keeping up with the blog site here, as it seems like there is never enough time in the day. I have been working on several different projects the last two seasons and also attended the NCECA conference in Kansas City in March.

One of the projects that was completed n a hurry was a burial urn for a man that my father had been a guardian/mentor for over the last 30 years. I had never thrown a burial urn before so dove into the internet to get some idea of sizes, possible design ideas, and other specifics that might help me design this man's urn. Some of the concepts I tried to put into it was  that often things get lost in time and that it would be good to have name and date for future reference instead of just an urn with nothing to identify the remains. So I believed that some sort of double lid would be appropriate, with the possibility of sealing one of the lids with glue or caulk. Some of this also came about because of my mother's and sister's search into our family heritage, and some or the problems they had with identifying relatives.

Inner Lid with name and birth date

 I used rubber stamps to add the name on the lid in the center area, and as I did not have stamps for the numbers of a size I wanted to use, these were incised. As you can see the lid fits very closely to the size of the rim. It does have a gallery that fits into the pot, it is not just a cover.

 The lid opening is large enough that the ashes in the plastic bag from the mortuary would fit inside with a little effort. This allowed things to be pretty easy for my father to fill the urn, without a lot of mess. The rim is flat at the top with a slight outer edge that is about an 1/8" wider than the neck. Reasoning for this is that it would allow some caulk around the rim before putting the lid on the pot to seal things in place.

The man spent much of his life outdoors, working on a farm, hunting, hiking and doing other things outside. I believed that it was appropriate for some form of decoration that would suggest something of what he was about. So I used a pine tree motif roller to stamp the pine branches, needles and cones on the side of the cylinder before shaping. I also added a few other decorative lines enhancing the belly, and a bottom foot ring on the jar form.

Glazed Lid

The pot was glazed with a glossy white as a base color along with a rust brown and a rutile green,
The white was dipped, and the other glazes were sprayed on.

This is the completed urn, with the lids in place. I believe that the glaze turned out quite well, and that the pine motif showed up well with the glaze technique. The clay body is 211 Hazelnut Brown cone 6 from Standard Ceramics. This was one of the factors I believe was important to this particular piece as the coloring worked well with the motif and glazes.

When I first began working with the Hazelnut Brown I liked its working and drying characteristics but was frustrated with the dull color I was getting with my glazes. I began experimenting with the use of a white slip, and later a white base glaze over the clay. This made things brighter, and I found that a little sanding off of either the slip or the glaze on the decoration helped to bring these out even more. I have just ordered another ton of clay, and half is the 211.