Monday, June 15, 2015

Concrete Wedging Block

Out with the plaster - In with the concrete.

Last year we poured a big concrete patio.  John built a smooth form and we poured a concrete wedging block.  

I finally retired the old plaster block.  It was very worn, plus it wouldn't let go of the red clay contamination.

This new concrete wedging block Rocks!  I love it.  No red clay allowed.

Thanks to my Sweetheart (John) for making it for me.

Friday, June 5, 2015

studio happenings

I'm so glad it's Friday.  It's been a long week and I'm ready for the weekend.  

Laguna Hawaiian Red Clay

It started off with throwing the re-hydrated Hawaiian Red Clay.  That clay is so harsh to work with.  I can't believe it used to be my primary clay in years past.  If I ever feel the need to work with red clay again, I'll use Laguna Redstone.  It's a much nicer clay.

I cleaned the studio really well and I'm ready to start working with my porcelain and white stoneware again.

Work shelves are empty and the kiln is loaded ready to bisque fire tomorrow.  It's been a long time since I broke a piece loading the kiln.  I just couldn't quite reach the bottom shelf and broke what was going to be a cute little dessert bowl.  Dang it!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

fun with ladybugs

Yesterday My Grandkiddo's and I set free 1500 Ladybugs in our yard.  We had dozens of ladybugs crawling all over our hands and arms.   We put them on trees and flowers.   It was so much fun!!

Ladybug Garden Bowl
by DirtKicker Pottery

Saying "sorry no" to custom orders

It's been a couple of years since I said yes to a custom order.  That custom request helped me make a decision.

The order was for 10 large (24 ounce) custom glaze mugs.  When it came time for the customer to buy them, he declined because the mugs turned out to hold 2 ounces less than what he wanted. Even though I had previously disclosed that the capacity would be an approximate.   He wanted me to start over and make more, but I was done with him and done with requests. 

Stormy Mugs
by DirtKicker Pottery

I won't say that all of my custom orders were a bad experience, but most were overly time consuming due to the back and forth planning and confirming that I understood the customers vision.  Custom request orders were never a good fit with my work style, plus they stress me out really bad. 

Even though I no longer make special orders, I still get 1 or 2 requests a week.  I have this little blurb that basically says.. so sorry, I don't make custom requests, but I appreciate your interest in my pottery.    

Most people are fine, but some are not so nice about it.  Some take it personal.  It's especially concerning if the request comes from a return customer.   I often feel guilty saying "sorry no".  

Faith Mug
by DirtKicker Pottery

Once in a while I'll get a request for a special piece for someone who is very ill or someone who is going through an extremely difficult time.  Often those requests will grab my heart and I will immediately come up with an idea of what I want to make.  These customers had given me total creative freedom which resulted in very heart felt pieces.

Some potters thrive on the challenge of a custom order.  Unfortunately, that's me.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Getting the rehydrated clay workable

After 10 days of the rehydrating process, I removed the red clay bags from the buckets of water.  The results were different for each bag. 

I like this rehydration process, but there is a bit of trial and error involved.  How much water you add really depends on how dry your clay is.  Also, if it's really hard clay you may need to leave it submerged for a full 2 weeks or longer. 

Hand-built Red Clay Mugs
by Cindy Gilliland

The Laguna Redstone Clay turned out very soft on the edges, but still firm in the center.  It was wedgable and I used the entire 50 lbs in just a couple days. Redstone is a nice clay.  It's great for throwing and handbuilding.  Attachments are effortless, no babysitting required. 

So, today I opened the 2 bags of Laguna Hawaiian Red Clay.  What a flipping mess.  One bag was way too soft and the other was very firm.  I decided to combine the soft and the firm in layers and homogenize it by wire wedging and hand wedging. 

This process just proved to me again why I wouldn't be making pottery if I didn't have a pug mill.  My neck is screaming at me.  Btw, I didn't use my pug mill because I didn't want to messy it up just to wedge 100 lbs of red clay.

Wire wedging soft and hard clay

I got lots of practice improving my spiral wedging skills.  I'm still not a pro.

50 lbs of wedged Hawaiian Red Clay - Whew!

I know, I'm a wimp.  But I'm a wimp with a bad neck.  Next week I plan to use this clay to throw large bowls and pie dishes.  
After this, I'm done with the red clay for a long while.  It's beautiful, but it stains everything.  It's a pain dealing with very red clay in a primarily white clay studio.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I'll start with throwing a few mugs

.. and the cycle begins again.

I do love the beginning of a new making cycle.  After reflecting on the good and bad from the last firing, I can now go forward to make even better pots and incorporate new ideas.

I love making mugs, so I always start a new cycle with my favorite form.  I must admit that I was hesitant to post these photos because my hands are looking pretty weathered these days.  Oh well, that's life :)

Throwing a DirtKicker Pottery mug

Pottery tool review -

Last month when John and I were in Los Angeles, I checked out the Aardvark Clay Supply Store.  It was one of those kid in a candy store experiences.   Shopping pottery tools in a brick and mortar store is rare for me.  To pick up a tool and feel it in my hand before deciding to buy it, is very nice.

They had everything!! I wanted to buy out the store, but I was good.  I only bought some latex resist and this ultra nice Xiem Rib.  

I knew when I held it in my hand that it would be perfect for smoothing and compressing slabs.  I tried it yesterday and it worked so great.  The rib is kind of thick and the edge is very subtle and smooth.  I love mudtools for throwing, but this Xiem tool is king for smoothing slabs.  They are priced very reasonable too.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rehydrating hard clay - Mother's Day Camping

Cute Honey Pots
by DirtKicker Pottery

My last 2 firing have been in my old kiln.  My old kiln really came through and fired some nice pieces.  It felt good to open the kiln and pull out beautifully fired pots.     

This weekend I started the process to rehydrate 150 lbs of rock hard clay.   I haven't used red clay in about 3 years and I'm really looking forward to throwing it again.    
Rehydrating rock hard clay

The rehydrating techinque I'm using is from a Janis Hughes video.   If you haven't seen Janis' youtube videos, you really should check them out.  She's a very talented potter with a fun sense of humor.    

Rehydrating hard clay

Add a cup or two of water into an air tight plastic bag containing the hard clay.  Then submerge the bag in a bucket of water up to the top of the clay.  Remove the air and tightly close the bag.  Allow the clay to ryhydrate in the bucket for a couple of weeks.  

We spent Mother's Day weekend camping. Our family enjoys camping, but it's still pretty darn cold in the Sierra Mountains.  My Daughter Bobbi and her 3 kiddo's tried to sleep in a tent, but in the middle of the night they got so cold they had to bunk in the camper with John and I. All and all it was a fun camping trip, except that we didn't catch any fish.   Next time!