Well let's be honest here Chris and Adream were already pretty good friends. I worked with Chris for two years at Mark Hewitt's in North Carolina. We've stayed pretty close ever since, Chris even officiated our wedding. However after receiving this little beauty:
They've certainly secured themselves a position as our best friends. Of course it's just here on a temporary loan, still.... pretty good. Thanks guys!
For those of you who aren't potters reading this blog what you are looking at is a de-airing pug mill. To put it simply it eliminates the need to wedge clay (though I still do wedge for bigger pots). I'm guessing the pug mill will say me personally at least an hour a day. Not to mention Christy's wrists...
Might just be we'll have to purchase our selves a pug mill when Chris needs his back (no rush Chris), though they are pretty costly. Definitely something worth saving up for though.
As a little aside for those of you who don't know one inch out of a four inch pug mill is one pound of clay:
Yes, that's right folks not only does this machine save you hours by wedging your clay it also eliminates the need to weight you clay after wedging:
Five pound bowls anybody? Well enough of that, needless to say we're pretty excited.
In other news I picked myself up a fluting tool. I've never used one before so it might take a little while before I really get the hang of it. Still pretty fun:
In less exciting news we picked up materials to mix more clay with. We made the following changes. We removed 16% ball clay and added 16% 50mesh Hawthorne bond (the way our formula ended up one full bag of clay is approximately 8%, thus the 16%). This is the finest mesh they offer. Our thinking being the finer mesh fire clay is least likely to interfere with the flashing that we like so much. Also less likely to contain contaminants that could cause problems. Also after Ron's comment about the neph sy I looked into it a little more and ended up changing the neph sy to G200. According to Jack Troy's wood firing book neph sy does give the clay more sheen, but at the expense of the contrast that often comes from the flame moving through a cross draft kiln. I had noticed when using clay other than our own that the other clays tended to have more distinct dramatic flashing. Less sheen but more variation... we'll see. Either way neph sy certainly melts at a much lower temperature than other feldspars, so it maybe leading to a little bit of the slumping that occurred in our last firing.
Lastly our good friends Jeff and Steph asked about the cracking in our clay body. Which I probably should have posted pictures of earlier:
It usually only occurs in three or four pots a firing, always the pots in the front of the first chamber. It usually does not go all the way through the pot. We bring the temperature up quite slowly. I'm hoping it will be solved with the addition of fire clay. If this batch have the same cracks I'll probably try the larger mesh fire clay. Of course if anybody as other thoughts or idea, I'm all ears.
Well back to making pots. We're joining in a firing with our good friend Krista Loomans at Bethel Horizons where she and Aaron Weaver work. They've got a nice anagama kiln, with a catenary arch on the back. We start loading next week. Should be fun. We'll post pictures of the kiln during loading.