Friday, April 4, 2014

March Hints of the Week

March 2nd Hint of the Week: Corn Starch Blotter, found on by Cindy Gilliland.
“The tip I read for making a corn starch blotter, instructed me to put the corn starch inside an old sock, but I'm sorry, old socks will not be used as a tool in my studio. I have to draw the line somewhere. Instead I cut a square of organic cotton scrap material, put about a half cup of corn starch in the middle, pulled up the corners and twisted a rubber band around it. It's cute and works awesome.

This metal stamp has my logo. I use it when making the little magnets that I include with purchase. (I don't plan to use corn starch with my bisque stamps, since I don't have a problem with them sticking.)

If you have issues with sticky stamps, try using corn starch, it's worth the extra step.”

March 9th Hint of the Week: Aging Clay By Beth Peterson in About.Com Pottery

Aging (verb) clay gives clay more strength and increases workability and elasticity. It is done by storing moist clay; extra water in the plastic clay is advisable, since the aging process will stiffen the clay. It is always easier to dry out an overly moist clay through wedging than it is to add water.

Several things occur during aging:
Full water penetration - It takes time for water to get mixed all the way through the tiny particles that make up the clay body. Even after mixing or pugging, a newly-moistened clay body will not have water saturated and present between all the particles.
Compression - Aging allows the clay platelets to compress, giving the clay more strength. (A thorough run through a de-airing pugmill also compresses the clay bodies and adds strength.)
Souring - Bacteria in the clay have a chance to break down all organic material. This thereby releases amino acids which act as flocculants, causing the particles to become attracted to one another. (The opposite of deflocculation.)

Also Known As: souring

Examples: When the clay smells like a swamp, it has probably aged enough. When mixed from dry ingredients, aging clay at least two to four weeks will greatly increase its workability.

March 16th Hint of the Week:
Write Down Your Glazing (taken partially from a notebook! No matter how much you think you will remember what clay you used, how thick you put on a glaze, what sequence you put multiple glazes on, how many coats, how many dips, or how long you dipped, or even what glaze you used to begin with, you will forget! And scraps of paper get lost. So use a permanent notebook, spiral notebook, 3 ring binder, composition book, etc. Write down everything you do, as you do it. I number my pieces so I can write down all the details of a particular piece. I can pick up a piece two years later and wonder how I did it. With a number I can go back to my glaze book and find out. But what I have learned over time is that I never write enough. After it is fired make notes too. I always look back and there are things I wonder, things I wish I had written down. But I am getting better. I am writing down more and more details while I am making and glazing a piece. I am trying not to let a piece leave my studio until I have recorded the results. And in many cases I am taking a photo of the piece with a digital camera. These things are already paying off.

March 31st Hint of the Week: Plates and Platters  Many people find firing goes much better when they notch or drill the plates' foot rings, which allows the trapped gases and heat to escape from under the plate. When they’ve used this technique the warping, cracking, and s-cracks were easily eliminated. The notches provided a way for air trapped under the foot to escape. Just make small, U-shaped or V-shaped notches, as the Japanese potter’s do, at the bottom of your foot ring. Instead of or in addition to these notches, you may want to drill holes in the foot ring. This will allow the gasses and heat to escape, and also allows for a wire to be used for hanging. This is especially nice for plates that are too large to fit into standard upper kitchen cabinets. Some people use a single hole, others two close together, others 3 or 4 spaced evenly around the platter.

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