Sunday, August 26, 2012


     Though not an olympian I have had my own marathon of sorts and needless to say the work in the studio has taken precedent over keeping current with the blog so I will be channeling Mo to catch up since so much is happening.

It took much more time than I expected to resource and get in all the clays, glaze materials metallic oxides etc. It became clear that I would need to recreate the highly specialized and specific material and technical concerns of my studio to make what is needed for the 3 videos on my work in preindustrial ceramic technology I'm doing while here.

Navigating the surprising differences between English and American ceramic materials was not something I anticipated but it has been a strange and wonderful journey. Thanks to the great people at Bath Potters Supplies, Pottery Crafts, Valentine Clays and CTM Potters Supplies I have the likes of everything from industrial porcelain to euturia marl and Mike at Bath sent me the last 5 kg of Gerstley Borate in the UK. I started making and testing things right away with what was on hand and as things came in since my first video on making a puzzle jug was within 2 weeks of arriving.

First bisque in the large kiln 

Little test kiln sent from heaven!

In order to do a puzzle jug video you have to be able to make a puzzle jug! The clay I have at home for delft is one that is not easy to replace, consistency is very important to a form like this that has a refined
shape and requires a hollow rim and thinly potted to enhance the piercing around the neck.

I had surprising trouble getting a clay to work well most of the english clays came very soft and when doing a video you don't want to get three quarters of the way through and lose the piece at the critical point. In the end I had stiffen the clay up which of course has to be done gradually or you end up with a worse problem different consistencies ie lumpy clay.

The wheels were also a consideration since heel down on my wheel of 25 years is stop and heel down on the larger wheels here is go real fast. That can be a problem- again at a critical moment you press your heel down to stop visa vi habit and the pot fly's off the wheel. No worries they had 2 wheels that were much like what I have at home but they had not been used since purchased so the pedals were very stiff and you had no control between slow and fast. All I needed was a wrench but in an organization this big you need to put in a request to Janet (most helpful ever) at the Estate Help Desk and then they will schedule a technician to come and investigate. The good news is the Help Desk comes by it's name honestly- they are a huge help and are very responsive to requests! With one turn of a wrench I was in business and now it was time to make puzzle jugs, 4 or 5 actually as you need to have ones in different stages of ready to film all parts of the process in one day- and for screw ups which so far had been abundant.

 These little things were not so little and what I could do with some ease in the studio became a lot of hours of making it work as Tim Gun would say.

Comparing my first attempt to the original Liverpool puzzle jug I selected for the case
and the film which proved to be a challenge and a really great piece.

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