I have been busy in the Fall of 2018 with work in the shop, and doing some work on an article that was co-authored with Madeleine Coomey. This article started with some posts on the Ceramic Arts Daily forum involving my problems with my thumb, and the use of a hand held extruder. The rest is explained in the article that I can now post. I hope that those of you that are looking for a smaller extruder, or a hand held power extruder will find this of help. It has certainly helped me with my arthritic problems.
I have been busy making lids for honey jars of late, and found that trimming the flat style lid that fit into a gallery difficult with the size of the lid 23" and the handle that is a hollow globe or cone shape. After a little bit of experimenting with using cushions around the handle and the Griffin Grip holding it, or using a cup or mug held in the Griffin Grip, I finally ended up with a solution. Several folks out there would say just to throw a chuck, and then trim using the chuck to hold each lid in place. However, I have always found that the amount of clean up after using a wet chuck was too time consuming.
My solution again comes from the plumbing section of the hardware store. The 3" reduction collar shown has a narrow 2" and a 3" diameter. Two for one so to speak. At any rate, the plastic will hold a nice damp rim from the sponge, the lid may be set in center or tapped if needed. Once center press down lightly to seal. The Griffin Grip holds the collar in place well, and I was able to use my favorite band saw flat blade to flatten the bottom of the lid, and to join on the stem thrown for the spoon for the honey jar. After removing the lid by lightly prying one edge, I use a piece of thin pipe to cut the spoon and add a drizzle hole to the back side.
I had posted a tip on the Ceramic Arts Daily, Community Forum where I am a moderator. The folks at Ceramics Monthly believed it to be of value and asked me to write it up. Above is the article that appeared in the September issue. It has been a busy Summer, and I am finishing up another order for Savannah Bee, and have orders for berry bowls, and have finished up an order for mugs at Oak Mountain Hideaway, an airbnb. I have been doing teapots, mugs and honey jars for Savannah Bee, and will be glazing for a few weeks to deliver in October just before a long vacation trip.
Honey jars on the left are base glazed with a white
It has a busy Spring, even though Winter seemed to hang on for way too long. I received and order for honey jars and mugs from Savannah Bee based in Savannah, GA after Christmas. This company a large honey company that makes many products using honey as a base and also sells a wide variety of honeys. I started into production of 50 of each type of form in late March as soon as some warmer weather started up. At the same time this is the time of year for Communion sets purchased by the Order of St. Luke for graduation awards. Most of these had already been completed in the Fall, but there were several that had need of glaze firing and some that needed to be thrown.
The days of glazing after bisquefires started on the 23rd of April, and went until May 3rd to complete the order for Savannah. We packed up and were on the road that Friday, to return on Sunday. Great day on Saturday spent with my nephew. We had breakfast, and then went to one the offices of Savannah Bee to drop off the pottery, and do a little shopping in their store full of honey based products. The rest of the weekend was uneventful, but great weather, great company and food. Savannah is a foodie haven, and a walking city with lots to see.
Bisqued mugs, patens pitcher and bowl
Mugs stored in kiln until bottoms are ground
The mugs on the right are ready for glazing after bisque firing. I use a base liner white, with 3 over sprayed glazes; spraying from different directions with the first two then spraying over all with a Rutile Green. The mugs here in the kiln are waiting the grinding of the bottoms, and final quality checks.
This year I have had to make a change in some of my work habits and ethics. I used to believe my pulled handles were really nice, and that I would never do another type of handle. However, age, and the visitation or arthritis in my right thumb has made me start using extruded handles for my mugs. These handles are made with a commercial die that I modified greatly with my Dremel tool and a grinding tip.
Mugs with extruded handles
I believe if you compare the mugs on the left to my earlier posts that you will see very little difference in the handle shape. These are of the extruded type, and the older posts are of the pulled handle type. I also believe the extruded handles to be somewhat stronger than the pulled ones.
Honey jars were part of the reason for the order from Savannah Bee as I had sent a few down to Savannah with some relatives to be delivered as proof of concept to the company. The jar lids do not have the usual notch in the lid, as I wanted something that was more bug safe than the jars with the traditional honey stick in the jar with a notch in the lid. My lids are thrown with a hollow handle to be lighter, but with a thrown spoon with a hole in the side opposite the spoon notch to drizzle the honey onto biscuits or other food. I have been playing around with lots of different forms for this, and find this closed form to work quite well as the spoon.
You will notice in the pictures that the stem has a hole opposite of the spoon opening that allows one to tip the spoon and drizzle the honey onto the food.
The Communion Sets are given as presentation sets to new inductees into the ministry at various seminary schools across the country. This years sets have been stunning, and I am pleased to be finally sending out the last of the orders as the last load is cooling.
Patens are made larger and a little deeper to handle a bread loaf.
Chalice and Paten
Close-up of chalice with combination of New white base, Cream rust, and Variegated blue, with Rutile Green over spray.
Bowl and Pitcher
Occasionally there is a need for a different type of award, and this year there was a request for a pitcher and bowl for a Deacon.
So it is official, as Pic Works pottery mugs and honey jars should become available on the shelves of Savannah Bee stores in May.
I have lately been throwing some Apple Bakers off of the hump. These are interesting forms in that they have a narrow cone in the center of a bowl. When done right they can stack in the cupboard and will hold a large apple on a stem with spices and other garnishes to be baked in either the microwave or the oven. I am diabetic, so instead of an apple dumpling, with all the dough, I fix these without sugar, just a mid sweet apple.
For the potter experienced, these are a small challenge, for a beginner a great skill builder. The pot has techniques that will help to develop the throwing double walled pots and other items like candle holders with a base bowl to catch wax drips.
Apple Baker showing center stem for cored apple to be placed over. Center stem allows for heat to cook inside of apple for more even heating.
Stacked Apple Bakers showing how the hollow stem allows for multiple stacking in the cupboard.
Apple Baker shown with spices and butter with water into the bowl. I use 1 tablespoon of water, one teaspoon of butter, cinnamon and ginger. However, you could use any number of garnishes, like raisins or cranberries, nuts, granola, sweeteners(honey, sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup).
Teachers. .. I have no problem with you printing my guideline below to use in the classroom, or share, just don't take credit.
I have been working on a burial urn for a gentleman the last few months. These are particularly difficult due to the double lid fit. The idea behind the lid fit in this manner is to allow the information like name and dates to be protected by the outer when buried in a vault.
Even though glaze should hold up indefinitely, I believe the extra protection is warranted.
This particular piece is interesting because it is to be large enough to hold the ashes of his 3 dogs also. This presented a bit of a problem. . . how do you figure the volume needed for such an urn?
Thankfully, I found this link that allows one to figure the size of an urn based on the weight of the individual to be buried in it. http://www.mainelyurns.com/what-size-cremation-urn.html
So I figured the man at 200 pounds, and each dog at 100=500 pounds. The conversion utility shows this to be 500 cu. inches, or 34.6 cups of water. Easy way to judge the size of a pot after glaze firing. However, how do you figure the size before glaze firing or as a freshly thrown pot? Add the amount of shrinkage for your clay, or multiply by 1.x where x equals your clay shrinkage factor. I usually add 1-2% more above the clay shrinkage factor..
I have also been playing around with berry bowls. These I have been throwing various sizes with about 2-4 pounds of clay, with a small platter/dish that starts with about 2 lb.. These are kind of fun bowls, and I have been experimenting with different pierced patterns for the water drainage openings. These are thrown with Standard Ceramics cone 6 Hazelnut Brown clay.
The glazing is done with a single dip of a white liner glaze, and a sprayed on Cream Rust, Rutile, and Variegated Blue glazes. This allows me to use some artificial and natural plant elements for decoration as a mask for the spray glazes. The white liner glaze lightens the Hazelnut Brown, but allows the texture and color underneath to show through and break over edges.
Some of the last forms in this last load included Honey Jars. Years ago, when doing Honey Jars, I thought about doing the standard jar with the hole in the lid, and the wooden swiggle to dribble on the honey. However, upon thinking more about the idea of honey, with an open hole, often having it outside with bugs, and the thought of bugs in my honey, I decided to try something different. So these are the latest in a long line of Honey Jars. The picture at the right shows how the lid has a stem attached that acts as a spoon, with a hole in the back side to drizzle the honey out of the hole. This does present some problems for the potter, in firing, but the simplest solution for firing the lid/spoon is to fire it upside down on the pot. This works quite well.
I have also been throwing mugs a little differently as of late. These are made from thrown cylinders that have been heartily stamped with different stamps or textured materials, then shaped and finished.
Glazing again is done with the base white liner glaze and sprayed on glazes over top.
The texture on this comes from a kitchen silicone hot pad. It looks much like a honeycomb pattern, and works really well if not pressed too deeply into the cylinder as I have at times ended up creating a hole in the form because of the stretching of the texture on shaping. However, this texture becomes quite handsome the more it is stretched.
Spring found me sending out new Communion Sets and a Flagon and bowl. These are to be a graduation award for new graduates from seminary schools all over the country. One special person from each college gets the award. The schools are in the all over the country, East coast, West coast, Central, North and South. Just as I was finishing up the last of the Communion Sets, I was approached by an very good friend to make a burial urn for her mother, whom I have known for several years. So it was back in the shop for that, which took about a 1 1/2 weeks. Talking about it in a private club to one of the managers brought another job in . . . a burial urn for him and his 3 bird dogs, still not yet finished.
However, I do have many of the pieces mentioned above for display here, beginning with the Award sets for the Seminary Schools. I have often done bowls for this for those people in Seminary that are not going to become ministers. This is the first time I have been requested to do a flagon and a bowl.
I have also included several Communions sets, with close ups of images I believe to be of interest.Each of these is shaped and decorated and assembled individually so as to be one of a kind. All of the patens are stamped with the logo of the non profit group that contracts the commission.
Flagon and Bowl Honorary Award
Bowl with stamp for organization
Flagon(pitcher) to the bowl set. Decoration done with commercial rolling stamp and silicone hot pad before shaping.
Serrated plastic rib carved from credit card around and arc
Decoration detail of chalice bowl, which was thrown off the hump, trimmed and joined to the stem.
detail of above paten showing stamp and decoration detail
The pieces here are using a commercial roller stamp for the decoration before shaping.
The funerary urn was thrown from seven lbs of clay with the two lids thrown off the hump for the body of the pot. The cylinder was raised, and then decorated with the commercial rolling stamp of pine needles, and a silicone kitchen hotpad with a hexagonal pattern in it.
The lid was also stamped after soft trimming with a commercial rolling stamp.
Inner lid with full name and dates for genealogical purposes
Lid to complete form, cover and protect the inner lid .
This bowl set was created for a wife's retirement from nursing. The husband had seen some other bowl sets that I had done and asked me for a set for his wife. So again one job led to another. The bowls are shown in order, and the first is from 6# of clay for the Mixing bowl, then 4# for the large serving bowl, and 3# for the smaller bowl and the batter bowl. the flared rims and cut feet have pretty much become a signature attribute to the bowls for me.
Batter bowl for ret
The last jar is something that just happened as I was throwing all of the other jars that I have been doing. This one was from 4# of clay, including the lid. I have a tendency of throwing lids off the hump of the piece of clay I am throwing the pot with. When throwing jars, lids come first off the same clay, as with teapots, lids and spouts come first then the pot itself. This seems to keep me focused, and at the same time the clay used is of the same consistency for each piece.
As you can see from this view, the foot for the jar is carved using the brass pipe as I have been doing in many of the bowl forms. I believe this gives a more elaborate effect to the lift of the form.
Most every year, around March, I have an order for Communion sets from a non profit organization. These are given to graduates from colleges across country pursuing a career as an ordained individual. I have been doing business with this group now since the late 70's. when my chalices were short more like goblets, and my plates were much less than they are now. I have 20 chalices to choose from for sets this year, and am in the process of throwing the plates or as others would know-patens. As communion has changed over the years, the patens now are larger to hold either a whole loaf of bread to be ceremoniously broken , or one already broken in to smaller pieces. At the same time the chalices are a little wider in bowl size than I would normally drink from to allow for Intinction from the chalice.
The past year or so, I have been experimenting with more texture on mugs, and bowls. This experimentation has led me to texturing the cylinder before shaping it. So when doing a mug, I throw the cylinder approximately the height I want the mug, then texture most of the surface with scraper,rollers or stamps of some sort. Then I shape the mug form using only my hand or a tool on the inside of the mug. Then I finish up by pulling a smooth curving lip that partially re-centers the top of the pot.
The new bowls, and chalice bowls follow the same process. I will try to include some close-ups of the chalice bowls so that you can see how the texture is working. I especially like the way the textures get larger yet softer with stretching the clay to shape it.
The logos are rubber stamped and I use it only on the orders for this organization as it is their logo.
I have not discovered a way to make the stems use the same texturing process, or the plates. However, I am happy using the texture repeat on the plate so that the two pieces match up with matching glaze color.
The bowls are a similar situation, as they are using a silicone kitchen hot pad pressed into the cylnder after it has been thrown. It has taken a bit of experimenting on how thin to throw the cylinder before texturing as this is to be a bowl. Too extreme a texture and the bowl will end up with holes all the way through the wall, too thick a cylinder and you will have to trim too much of the texture off of the bowl.
The bowl shown here is a retirement gift for a clients wife. I was asked to put her Name and retirement dates on the bowl. This is one of 5, and is thrown of 6 pounds of clay.
The second bowl to the set is a 4 pound bowl that is thrown to be used as a large serving bowl. This bowl is decorated in the same style on the rim, and on the outside.
The next bowl is a 3 pound bowl that is another part of the set and is meant for smaller serving bowl or for an individual salad.
This last bowl is a batter bowl from 3 pounds of clay also. It uses the same motif for the flared rim, and the same texture from the silicone hot pad as the others. I also curled down the rim opposite of the spout while in the wet state, for the later handle addition. After trimming, and signature the strap handle was pulled , textured, and joined to the batter bowl arching over the area where I had curled over the rim. Works very well that way and is kind of elegant.
Often when throwing a bowl, I found that I was taking a long time to open up a larger bowl 10 pounds or more. While still in graduate school, I was trying to throw large bowls, struggling along until I saw a picture in a book of someone using there elbow to open up. Looked weird in the beginning, but the more I thought about it, I decided what did I have to lose? It took me a few weeks of effort to get down the process, but after wards the entire opening up with the elbow felt quite natural. The elbow is a pretty rounded area of the body, the shortening up of the arm and the bracing of the wrist of the opening arm by the unused hand seemed to give a lot of stability and control. Ever since then larger bowls, which I have been doing more of lately are much easier. Here are a sequence of videos showing the process. I think those of you with experience will recognize how controlled the opening is using the elbow.
When I first learned about throwing in college, my professor told us that there were three forms we were to be able should be able to throw. He started us with the cylinder, and I believe that most students on the wheel start with the lowly cylinder. He also stated that the three basic forms, the cylinder, the bowl and the plate were the forms from which all thrown pottery were derived. Over the years, I have read so much material discussing what made each of these forms, and how each form could be modified to do create a wide variety of functional and non functional forms.
Cylinders seem to be the most adaptable of forms being able to adapt to forming taller forms like pitchers, vases, mugs, jars, and jugs. Lower forms of cylinders include cups, dishes, casseroles and other baking dishes. The other two forms, plates and bowls seem to be less adaptable than the cylinder.
Bowls are a form that is often misunderstood or What makes a good bowl? First maybe we should decide on what a bowl is defined as.
Definition of Bowl
: a concave usually hemispherical vessel;
This as opposed to definition of a dish:
Definition of Dish
a shallow, typically flat-bottomed container for cooking or serving food.
For this exploration of improving the bowl, I hope you can accept my Basic bowl profile as presented.
The basic bowl shape has some characteristics that have made it an excellent piece of functional pottery: the rounded curve into the bottom allows foods or liquids to pool on the bottom for removal by a spoon, the curve also is lacking corners or dead spots where flour of other materials would gather when mixing making it easier to get all ingredients mixed into the batch, and the curve can be adapted for wider or deeper bowls for a variety of uses from mixing to serving.
I have been using thrown bowls for many years in cooking at home, and find the basic shape in need of some updating. My wife and I will often use the dishwasher to clean up after big meals. Often the bowls used for preparation or serving are placed in the dishwasher leaning upside down. Upon unloading the dishwasher the bowl will often have water gathered in the base of the foot ring that drips over other ware in the dishwasher when unloading. Solutions to this problem could include changing the angle of the inside of the foot ring, or cutting the foot ring to the base of the bowl curve. Each of these methods removes the area where water gathers when the bowl is leaning upside down.
The first option is simple in that the inside curve of the foot ring is rounded into the base of the outside of the bowl. Thus allowing water to drain from the foot ring. This option allows for a very simple presentation, but works best for shallow foot rings as the deeper the foot ring the more extreme the curve blending into the bowl base.
The second option is much more useful for deeper foot rings and bowls with more presence on the table than the first option. Often the use of a fettling knife is used to cut away portions of the foot ring down to the bowl curve. The use of a large pipe to cut away part of the foot ring will give an elegant curve to parts of the foot ring that are left, and also allow the drainage of water. I have found this to be one of the easiest ways to cut the rim neatly. I am sure that an experienced potter may find methods to alleviate the drainage problem, but these are two solutions that work without worry of holes filling with glaze or other problems.
Further improvements on the bowl may be found at the rim of the bowl. My original profile had a rim that was slightly thicker at the rim, to strengthen the rim. Another concern though with bowls is lifting in and out of the oven, or microwave. Some would say to add a handle to the bowl, but traditionally a thicker rim with an outside edge allowed for lifting with gloves. This allows for a thicker rim, an embellishment on the outside of the form, and an edge to catch/hold when moving the bowl either with gloves or without.
A second rim modification would be to add a flare on the rim, allowing for easy transport of the bowl with or without gloves. This rim could often be used as a decorative area for lettering, or other stamped or incised decoration. It can also have functional benefits for mixing bowls in that the form will catch materials not quite in the bowl. The rim can also be adapted for spouts, or folded down into the outside of the bowl for a natural area for handles.
This type of rim with the deep cut foot ring has greater presence on a table, or for other venues.
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.