Sunday, December 25, 2011

 A successful glaze firing  from a new kiln load came out of  on the 20th of December. All in all it included over 30 mugs, some bowls, and other pieces. I have included a few examples here. Overall, the load was successful, even though most of the pots did not meet the expectations of the potter. I used a series of glazes that work very well with the brown clay body that I make a lot of my pieces with, but as this load was mixed with white and brown bodies, I was not as pleased with the effect on the white clay. I also used a teal blue color with a breaking green color over top that did not seem to work as expected. As usually happens my wife liked the effect of the glazes on the white clay and did not agree with my critique of the pottery. Different strokes for different folks-or as my dad would say "what do I know?" 
I was pleased with the way this bowl turned out even though I felt the inside running(intentional) was a little too much. the use of the underglazes rubbed into the stamped and incised decoration was quite effective, came through the waxy white glaze effectively and did well with the nutmeg. The bowl was well trimmed and finished with an 11/2"angled accent on the rim. The outside dripping on the bowl worked well, and the foot ring provides a stable base for such a functional piece.

I am hoping to get more of the shop cleaned out in the next few weeks, and begin work on the chalice and paten orders that I have for the Spring. From there I have some lamps to make, and some show pieces for Spring and Summer juried shows.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wiring a Lamp

Several years ago I created a pot to be made into a lamp for my wife. I have spent the time since then trying to figure out just how to wire it, and finish it to meet my specifications. It needed to be lit in two ways, interior, and upper lamp. I also realized that it needed a base to help facilitate the cord, and make it more stable. This last year, I took it to a local electrical shop and was told it was hopeless, and that anything I rigged up would be "crap" as I was not an electrician. So I was challenged to come up with my own devices to complete the project. First I planned out the wiring sketch. It was a simple idea, two interior bulbs, one exterior bulb, and a rotary switch in the base to control the inner bulbs.

Going to a home improvement store to select the partswas not so easy. I needed to connect all of the pieces together with threaded pipe. I needed to provide for wiring to go to the smaller bulbs,  wiring for the rotary switch, and do all of the connecting outside as space inside was tight. Cutting a hole in the threaded pipe was not an option as there would be sharp edges that might cut the wiring. I came up with the following set up.

The threaded pipe is attached to a plastic conduit connector that was altered with a little drilling. the other pieces are stock, including the candelabra sockets with threaded brackets that screwed on to the threaded pipe.

Following the wiring diagram, the finished wiring at the base was pretty simple once I figured to leave enough connection wire to move the whole assembly low in the pot to allow for the connections-tight fit.

Assembling the entire pot was not difficult as I had planned on over-sized washers with rubber washers between the pot and the metal washer and nuts. Although the light coming out of the center isn't too bright at this point, It will suffice to show details on the ruins.

Is it done? Not presently. I believe I need to add a top piece to raise the light socket and shade bracket about 1 1/2 inch higher-back to the potter's wheel. I also have a little grinding to do to the inside edge of the base to make the pot fit a little more level. Final effort will be towards finding a suitable shade to complete the project.

I am getting ready  to create a few more lamps, as people have expressed an interest in seeing more in this direction. This first project will allow the others to be done much easier.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Specialty/Occasion Pots

Lidded Jar 10" X 22"
Over the years, I have been asked, or have had need to create special pots for people to celebrate an event or even say thank you. Often these pots are simple jar shapes with sculptural lids. Sometimes they will have a large foot that extends the size of the pot.
The first jar in this selection was created as a thank you for a dear friend. My grandfather had a violin that had become dirty and looked worn out. When my father asked me if I knew anyone that could do anything with it, my friend came to mind. She is a very gifted violinist, and a wonderful teacher that I had the honor of working with for many years. She took on the job of the violin, and brought it back to life beyond our wildest dreams. I created the pot you see here as a thank you for that effort. Her husband is also a great musician, and a band leader at the school where I taught, His instrument was the trumpet, hers the violin. That was the reason for the two instruments, the lettering on the lid banner, and the decoration like a music staff. This was actually the second attempt, as the first one did not survive the bisque fire.

Lidded Jar 8" X 16"
The second pot here is a wedding jar that I created for a nephews wedding.  It has an abstract dancing couple on the lid and is made of 3 sections, the base, body and lid. The couple is created using pulled clay twisted and sculpted. It also has their wedding date, and names on it.

Retirement Jar 16" X 10"
The last in this series is my retirement jar.  As I was really not certain I was ready to retire from teaching as I was having too much fun! The design of the pot was a little precarious in that the support ring could have collapsed in the construction, drying and firings. I took this as an omen thing and if the pot survived the entire process, then I would use it to hand in my retirement letter. It did, I did.

For those of you interested in this type of pot, the price would start at a $80 and run to $200 dependent on how much detail, time and effort the finished piece would take.

Monday, January 10, 2011

First day of a new Endeavor

Wheel Thrown lidded Jar  22" X 12"
The "Pic" in Pic Works, comes from a brain storming session with my wife and and old friend many years ago, Stands for Personalized Images in Clay.
I have always tried to make pottery to fit the user, and much of my work is functional. Often the interpretation of functional is my own with respect to the shape and placement of handles, design of lids, and accessories to the pottery.  I do throw some larger jars that become super functional, and make a few pots that are combined forms that are more sculptural in many respects than functional.

Slab and wheel thrown 8" X 30"
I started teaching in the Altoona Area High School after college and getting married in 1973. I was responsible for the Ceramics classes for 34 of those years. I retired in 2009 as the time had come, and after handing in my papers one month before retirement found that I had type 2 diabetes. Most of my focus for the last year or so has been on getting healthier. I have remained off of medication, and hope to continue to do so. However, my wife and I have traveled some, and hope to do much more. Our latest trips were to Italy, and Hawaii.

I work in a small unheated studio, a brick single car garage. Obviously, I will be more productive in the warmer seasons than in the Winter, as Pennsylvania does get pretty cold then. When working for the school district, I raised extra money for the school studio by teaching adults on Saturdays in the school.  This year, I am going to take the class myself to give me some time to work in the Winter on some orders I have to complete before the Spring.