Thursday, August 28, 2014

July Hints of the Week

July 6th Hint of the Week
This interesting information from
1 cup takes about 1 pound of clay. 1 pint of glaze will glaze 12 cups
1 mug will take about 1 ½ pounds of clay. 1 pint of glaze will glaze 8 cups
1 bowl will take about 2 pounds of clay. 1 pint of glaze will glaze 8 bowls

These are some more tips from the Big Ceramic Store (copyright 2003, Cindi Anderson,

To keep a piece from sagging while coil building or hand building, you are "supposed" to only build so far, then stop and let it firm up before you continue. But if you are impatient like me, a great solution is Duct Tape! Wrap it all around the piece so it sticks to itself (it won't stick to the clay.) This keeps the form from bulging so you can continue working.

I am always looking for materials to make molds from. A unique method I saw recently was to use hard foam insulation board from the hardware store (the stuff that comes in 4'x8' sheets, usually 1" thick, and is often pink). You can use a utility knife to cut out shapes to use as slump molds. I am going to use this method to make some square plates.
Another method works great for making plates, trays, etc. Find a block of wood (square or rectangular.) Cut a piece of clay larger than the wood. Put the clay on a large piece of upholstery foam. Take your block of wood and press down in the center of the clay. The sides will come up and make nice rims. This looks really great if you impress the rim with stamps before pressing in the center.

By the way, if you don't have any upholstery foam laying around, get some! It is great for cushioning work while you clean and trim bottoms, so you don't damage the rims. You can often get free scraps from upholsterers.

If you like to stamp, look for interesting textured buttons at fabric stores and flea markets. You can add handles by hot gluing thread spools onto the back, or pieces of thick irrigation tubing cut about 1" long.

Another great idea I saw is to tape a small level onto a fettling knife. This way you can be sure you are making straight, level cuts

July 14th Hint of the Week
What can I do if my clay is too dry?

It's not totally dry, but too stiff to work with. Use the end of a broomstick, a wooden spoon, or even a large screwdriver to poke holes in the clay, almost all the way through (leave about an inch at the bottom.) Fill the holes with water. Come back in a day or two and wedge the clay up. It will have absorbed the water and be nice and moist! An alternative method is to cut the clay into slices, soak them in water, then wedge. Or, take a soaking wet towel and wrap the clay with it. Place the whole thing inside the plastic bag. A couple days later, voila! Remember it is important to wedge clay especially when it has been rehydrated, to even out the moist and dry spots. Otherwise you will have difficult throwing, and pieces might warp as they dry. You can also put it in a bucket of water for about a week and dump it in the wet reclaim for pugging.

July 21st Hint of the Week
How to Re-Glaze a Piece
copyright 2000, Cindi Anderson,

First, note that this process is never predictable. In most cases you can make a new piece in less time than you can spend re-glazing it, with much more predictable results. But sometimes there is that piece you can't part with and really want to re-glaze. Here are some things you can try to increase your success rate. The goal, of course, is to get the new glaze to stick to the old glaze.

· Spray the piece with spray starch, let dry, then reglaze.

· Spray the piece with sticky hairspray (usually the cheapest you can find), dry, reglaze.

· Heat the piece first, with a heat gun or in the oven or kiln.

· Brush white (Elmer's) glue on, let dry, reglaze.

· Microwave the piece for 30 seconds. (Some potters say this makes a huge difference, and the piece doesn't need to actually get or stay hot)

· Add some suspension agent to the glaze (CMC gum or Bentonite.)

· Add some detergent / shampoo to the glaze (baby shampoo is good because it doesn't foam)

· To improve your odds further, wash the pot first with ammonia or detergent, wearing rubber gloves, and don't touch it. The oils from your fingers can prevent glaze from sticking. And... Don't use too much of anything. If you get the coating too thick, you may prevent adhesion instead of encouraging it.

July 27th Hint of the Week
Tip from Susan Hickman
What to do with the stack of pots you aren't using? Glue them together and make an end table or plant stand! Put the heaviest widest one on the bottom for stability or start with a plate. Then start stacking. If you have a clean fit, any epoxy, power grab or liquid nails will hold. If there are gaps, use a putty epoxy. Top with a plate, or whatever you want at the top. This one has part of a lazy Susan I found at the thrift shop. When you pick this up to move it, grab from the middle or bottom so you won't put too much stress on the glued joints. These work great for in the house or on the patio. Questions? Come talk to Susan

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