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Vince Sansone





Volume 18 • Issue 93 SPRING 2012

Volume 18 • Issue 93 SPRING 2012

From Battles to Bunnies: His Hare-raising Secrets A Thrown & Altered Tripod Bottle Project Autumn Higgins: Emerging Artist at new Clay Times® Fine Arts Gallery Water-washed Decoration with Angelique Tassistro Crystalline Glaze Update William Schan’s Latest Cone 6 Formulas & Forms

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Future exhibition calls now open: Ecumene: Global Interface in American Ceramics (2012 IAC General Assembly in Santa Fe) 2013 NCECA Biennial at the 47th Annual NCECA Conference in Houston, TX National Student Juried Exhibition call for entries opens April 11, 2012

Explore the past, present and future of making... Explore the past, present and future of making... Explore the past, present and future of making... Explore the past, present and future of making...

46TH ANNUAL 46TH ANNUAL of the CONFERENCE CONFERENCE National Council ofonthe National for Council on Education the Education Ceramic Artsfor the Ceramic Arts March 28 - March 31 MarchWashington 28 - March 31 Seattle, Seattle, Washington

Christa Assad, Transformer Teapot See Christa in action along with fellow demonstrating artists Walter Keeler, Christa Assad, Transformer Teapot Tip Toland and in Jason Walker See Christa action along with fellow demonstrating artists Walter Keeler, Tip Toland and Jason Walker

Exhibitions, lectures, panels, Exhibitions, lectures, panels,and demonstrations, commercial d demonstrations, commercial and installations, pre- & post-conference non-profit displays, pots, sculpture, nd installations, ure, pre& post-conference non-profit displays, pots, sculpture, prepost-conference events, theand best night dance on installations, the planet, and so&much more... pture, pre&much post-conference ce on installations, the planet, soFriday more... events, theand bestsoFriday dance on the planet, and so much more... ance on the planet, muchnight more...

n at Registration calls for entrynow at open at en at Registration now open at net

Christa Assad, Transformer Teapot See Christa in action along with fellow demonstrating artists Walter Keeler, Christa Assad, Transformer Teapot Tip Toland and in Jason Walker See Christa action along with fellow demonstrating artists Walter Keeler, Tip Toland and Jason Walker

On-site registration at Washington State Convention Center opens noon PST, Tuesday, March 27.





SPRING 2012 Volume 18 • Issue 93 Cover photo: Bunny Headhunters Signaling for a Left-Hand Turn by Vince Sansone. 12" x 15" x 11". Cover inset photo: Boy Bunny Awaiting Girlfriend by Vince Sansone. 24" x 12" x 13". Cover images and all Sansone featured photographs by Les Stone.



14 COVER STORY: The Hare-Raising Secrets of Vince Sansone More than a decade following the making of his whimsical “Bunny Headhunters” pictured on this issue’s cover, Florida clay artist Vince Sansone explains how his more recent path on the ‘bunny trail’ has led him to an entirely new and challenging body of work.

30 Progression, Form, and Glaze: William Schran’s Latest Crystalline Explorations Bill Schran began crystalline glaze experimentation with a 1980s manual kiln in his one-car garage studio. Although he now has a newer programmable kiln in that same space (still without running water), Schran remains intrigued by the original process that formed the basis for his career: crystalline glazing.

exhibit 22 Emerging Artist Autumn Higgins at new Clay Times Fine Arts Gallery

41 Step-by-step Project: Making A Wheel-thrown & Altered Bottle Jeff Zamek shares his photographed techniques for transforming a wheelthrown bottle into a triangular vessel with tripod feet and a textured, recessed bottom (glaze recipes included). Pictured, top: Waiting Boy Bunnies by Vince Sansone. Bottom: Growing Up Pitcher Set by Autumn Higgins.





Clay SPRING 2012 • Volume 18 • Issue 93





19 AS FAR AS I KNOW “How to Control Drying and Prevent Cracking” by Pete Pinnell

Free classroom issues!

11 WHAT’S HOT Clay world news, events, and calls for entries



“Angelique Tassistro’s Water-washed Decoration” interview by Lana Wilson

A selection of unique works by CT readers



Studio-tested tips to save you time and money

45 POTTERY CLASSES Where you can learn claywork in your community


37 TOOL TIMES “Slabs, Canvas, and Mats” by Vince Pitelka

47 GREAT GLAZES Feature artist Bill Schran shares new recipes for cone 6 crystalline glazing

40 BOOKS & VIDEOS Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint review by Steve Branfman

48 CLASSIFIED MARKETPLACE Goods and services offered especially for clay artists

43 STUDIO HEALTH AND SAFETY “Glaze Safety FAQs” by Monona Rossol

50 ADVERTISER INDEX A quick reference to find your favorite ceramics suppliers in this issue (as always, please be sure to mention you found them in Clay Times!) 6

“Springing Forward With a New Kiln” by Marc Ward

30 Above: One of William Schran’s newest crystallineglazed forms. Wheel-thrown, assembled white

stoneware with crystalline glaze colored with nickel; refractory slip; stoneware glaze. 13½" x 6". 2011.

49 AROUND THE FIREBOX “Burning Up and Burning Out” by David Hendley






Clay Editorial & Advertising: Polly Beach Circulation Manager: Rachel Sherman Accounts Manager: Nanette Greene Proofreader: Jon Singer Regular Columnists: Steve Branfman, Books & Videos David Hendley, Around the Firebox Pete Pinnell, As Far as I Know Vince Pitelka, Tool Times Monona Rossol, Health & Safety Kelly Savino, Around the Firebox Bill van Gilder, Teaching Techniques Marc Ward, Kilns & Firing Lana Wilson, Beneath the Surface Contributing Writers: Vince Sansone William Schran • Jeff Zamek ✦ Printed on 100% FSC-certified and 75% post-consumer recycled paper ✦ Published by: CLAY TIMES INC. Post Office Box 100 • Hamilton, VA 20159 800-356-2529 • FAX 540-338-3229

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n honor of art education month and art educators & clay guilds everywhere, Clay Times is introducing a very special arrangement so all can share in the knowledge and inspiration that comes with each issue of our magazine: For a limited time this spring, Clay Times is offering a special educational institution subscription rate of just $99 to cover a full year’s worth of issues for not only your school or clay guild library, but also an additional box of (44) extra free issues per edition to be shared with members of your classroom or clay guild! That’s right — your one-year $99 educator subscription (or new educator/guild renewal) qualifies your school or clay guild to receive a total of 45 issues of the magazine every season, for the entire upcoming year! Now why, you ask, are we doing this?

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Simply log on to subscribe-renew.html or call our toll-free subscription line at 800.356.2529 (purchase orders welcome). Note: Please remember, this offer is for a limited time only and is available only to recognized art educators and clay guilds in the U.S.A. Meanwhile, to all of you students and guild members: time to nudge your teacher or guild director to order your group issues today! Questions? E-mail: CTcirculation@ [ — Polly Beach, Editor

Visit for full schedule.

Joyce Michaud East Asian Coil Technique June 2-3

Ceramic Sculpture June 18-29

Kevin Crowe

Throwing Large Forms July 9-14

M.F.A. Exhibition

Evgenia-Vallentina D. Rementelas Coralations: Coral Relations, Core Relations, Correlations April 20-May 20 Reception: April 21, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Whitaker Commons Gallery, Hood College Hood College Graduate School Art Department (301) 696-3456 ∙ Fax (301) 696-3531 Hood College subscribes to a policy of equal educational and employment opportunities.


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Course and Workshop Offerings



Find Your SELF

in SILVER CITY Grant County, NM


AUGUST 3–5, 2012

Get Down to Earth




Workshops, Demos,


Lectures, and Exhibits



Applications must be submitted by mail or online by June 1, 2012 or by midnight June 10 with a late fee. For more information and the 2012 SFPN application:


Call for further information: 717-560-8816

Exhibit is held at Kevin Lehman’s Pottery at 560 S. Prince Street in downtown Lancaster.

Funded by Silver City Lodger’s Tax





© 2012 Strictly Functional Pottery National. All rights reserved. • Design – Joanne Cassaro Design


Castle Hill


Wally Assleberghs

Wally Assleberghs Hayne Bayless James Brunell Linda Christianson Forrest Lesch-Middleton Hannah Niswonger Jeff Shapiro Mark Shapiro Kala Stein Brian Taylor Sam Taylor Paul Wisotzky Joe Woodford Mikhail Zakin

Fall Clay Intensive: Hayne Bayless

or call (508) 349-7511 PO box 756,Truro, MA 02666

JACK TROY 2012 Mary Barringer 2011 Bill van Gilder 2010 Pete Pinnell 2009 Linda Arbuckle 2008 Malcolm Davis 2007 Tom Coleman 2006 John Glick 2005 Susan Peterson 2004 Wayne Higby 2003 JACK TROY 2002 Linda Christianson 2001 Ken Ferguson 2000 Warren Mackenzie 1999 Cynthia Bringle 1998 Val Cushing 1997 Phyllis Blair Clark 1996 Chris Staley 1995 Bill Daley 1994 JACK TROY 1993


Opening Reception: January 21, 2012 at 7p


Go to Sam Taylor


Summer & Fall Clay 2012

1st, 10th & 20th Juror

John Mason, Ken Price and Peter Voulkos 1956 - 1968

Download a prospectus for our Juried Shows at


Scripps College - Claremont, CA

^ Conferences

‰ NCECA 2012, the 46th Annual Conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, takes place March 28-31 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington. Renowned guest speakers and ceramic artists including Christa Assad, Walter Keeler, Tip Toland, and Jason Walker will be demonstrating their techniques at the show, while manufacturers and suppliers of clay-related goods and services will offer their wares and expertise in the exhibit hall. On-site registration will be open daily at the convention center. For up-to-date conference programming and last-minute details, visit Information on available accommodations appears online at: http://www.nceca. net/static/conference_accommo dations.php

‰ The 32nd Annual Convention of the American Art Pottery Association takes place April 19-22 in Cleveland, Ohio and will include a two-day show and sale, tour, and art pottery auction. Seminars on understanding and collecting art pottery will feature Van Briggle pottery, Pillin pottery, and art pottery tiles. The tour will include the Museum of Ceramics in East Liverpool, as well as the Homer Laughlin China Company. All activities are open to the public (fees may apply). For details, e-mail anccats@yahoo. com or log onto ‰ For the fifth year, many of the Smoky Mountains’ most talented studio potters will gather to participate in a juried event to exhibit, sell, and demonstrate their craft during the Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival. The event takes place June 2 in Townsend, Tennessee, gateway to the Cades Cove entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Highlights include 25 pottery booths showcasing a wide variety of styles and techniques. There will also be raku firings, handbuilding and wheel-throwing demos, an educational children’s tent, music, food and more. To learn more, visit http://www.smokymountainfestivals. org/#/pottery

Calls for Entries

Tile Show to open during the Silver City Clay Festival Aug. 3-5 in Silver City, New Mexico. Alfredo Ratinoff will jury the show. Download the prospectus at: wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Clay CalltoArtistw-4-30.pdf ‰ Louisville Clay is calling for entries of ceramic bourbon bottles and shot glasses through May 1 for Bluegrass Bourbon: By the Bottle, By the Ounce. This national exhibition will be juried by Matt Long and will take place Nov. 2, 2012-Jan. 5, 2013 at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. To learn more and download a prospectus, visit ‰ The Workhouse Arts Center of Lorton, Virginia is accepting entries through May 2 of functional and/ or sculptural ceramic art for the Workhouse Clay National Ceramics Exhibition 2012. This year’s exhibit will take place July 25-Aug. 26 and will be juried by Peter Held. For details, visit www.workhousearts. org. To apply online, visit www.juried ‰ The Kansas City Clay Guild is accepting entries through June 1 of teabowls 9" and smaller for its Teabowl National, to take place Aug. 17-Sept. 28. Bede Clarke, professor of Art at University of Missouri, will jury the show. Entry fee: $30. To learn more, visit or e-mail

‰ Entries are being accepted through April 30 for the Juried Art continued on next page


‰ The 23rd Annual California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Art (CCACA) brings the ultimate ceramic sculpture event to Davis, California from Apr. 27-29. Featured this year are 50 student exhibitions and three days of demonstrations and lectures by renowned artists including Janis Mars Wunderlich, Tony Marsh, Judy Onofrio, and John Roloff. For more information, visit id=334

• ceramic art world news • events • • calls for entries •

Hot Stuff I News & Events

What’s Hot


Hot Stuff I News & Events

What’s Hot (continued from previous page) ‰ Online entries of ceramic art made by California residents are being accepted through June 1 for the Orange County Fair Ceramics Competition, to take place July 13-Aug. 12. Accepted entries must be hand-delivered on June 29. For more information, visit or e-mail

‰ Entries are being accepted through June 2 for the Associated Artists of Southport’s annual Summer Regional Show, to take place June 18-July 14. The event will showcase North and South Carolina 2-D and 3-D Artists, with awards to total $1700. Download the prospectus from the Website at http://www.franklinsquaregallery. com/2012sum%20pros%20rev2-22.pdf.


Asheville, NC


Charlie & Linda Riggs May 30- June 1 3-Day Workshop Naked Surfaces & Alternative Firing Cynthia Consentino June 4-8, Interpreting the Figure Fong Choo June 11-15, Diminutive Teapots Sang Roberson June 18-22, Soft & Shiny Slabs Akira Satake June 25-29, Imperfect Beauty Suze Lindsay July 9-13, Going Vertical Curt LaCross July 16-20, Sculpting the Human Psyche Jason Burnett July 23-27, Graphic Clay: Cut, Copy & Paste Susan Filley July 30- August 3, Porcelain: Form & Finesse

Cynthia Consentino

Susan Filley



‰ The Market House Craft Center of East Petersburg, Pennsylvania is accepting entries through June 2 (or through late entry deadline of June 10 with late fee) for the 2012 Strictly Functional Pottery National, to take place Sept. 15-Nov. 4, 2012. Jack Troy will jury this year’s show, which is open to residents of all U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Submitted work must be functional and offered for sale at prices up to $600. Eligible works must also have been produced during the past two years. Size may not exceed 30" in any dimension, or exceed 20 lbs. in weight. For full show details, log onto: http://www.

Akira Satake



Questions? E-mail Joyce Grazetti at

Curt LaCross Suzy Lindsay

Sang Roberson Fong Choo

Jason Burnett

‰ Entries of ceramic work made in the U.S. are being accepted through June 13 for Ecumene: Global Interface in American Ceramic, to take place Aug. 29Sept. 20. The event is organized by NCECA and will be held in conjunction with the International Academy of Ceramics at Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe, NM. Jurors are Jane Sauer, Linda Ganstrom, James Marshall, and Clark Baughan. Entry fee is $20 for NCECA members; $40 for non-members. To find out more, visit www.nceca. net or e-mail Linda Ganstrom at ‰ Entries are being accepted through June 14 for the Silver City Clay Festival’s Juried NeoMimbreño 2012 Exhibition, to take place Aug. 5-Sept. 5. Dr. Harry Shafer will jury the show, to feature awards totaling more than $1,000, plus signed copies of Dr. Shafer’s book, Mimbres

‰ Entries of all interpretations of the bowl are being accepted through June 15 from ceramic artists east of the Mississippi River for the 2012 East Coast Battle of the Bowls, to be held by the Academy of Fine Arts of Lynchburg and Amherst County High School, Amherst, Virginia. For prospectus, visit http://eastcoast ‰ Ceramic works created during the past two years by artists worldwide are being accepted through Aug. 1 for the 2013 NCECA Biennial. The event will be hosted by the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft from Jan. 26-May 5, 2013 in conjunction with the 47th NCECA conference.

Jurors: Cristina Cordova, Namita Gupta Wiggers, and Richard Notkin. Entry fee: $20 for NCECA members; $40 for non-members. To learn more, visit the Website at or e-mail ‰ Entries are being accepted through Sept. 13 for “Craft Forms 2012,” the 18th International Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Craft, to take place Nov. 30, 2012-Jan. 26, 2013. More than $4,000 will be awarded. Digital entry fee: $40. For details, visit www.craftforms

‰ Entries of ceramic work made by U.S. students are being accepted through Sept. 20 for the 2013 NCECA National Student Juried Exhibition, to take place Feb. 15-Mar. 23, 2013 in the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, Texas. Jurors are Bonnie Seeman and Kevin Snipes. Entry fee is $15 for NCECA members; $30 for non-members. To learn more about this annual show, log onto or send an email to Linda Ganstrom at lganstro@ [

Hot Stuff I News & Events

Archaeology at the NAN Ranch Ruin. To download the prospectus, visit

To list your events, clay conferences, calls for entries, exhibitions, or ceramic news items in Clay Times®, please e-mail complete details to:, or click the events link at to fill out an online submission form.


BLUEGRASS BOURBON by the bottle / by the ounce Nov. 2, 2012–Jan. 5, 2013

Juried by Matt Long Entry deadline May 1, 2012


A national juried exhibit of ceramic BOURBON BOTTLES and SHOT GLASSES


Watermelon Bunny by Vince Sansone. 24" x 8" x 11". Stoneware clay, 2011.

Boy Bunny Awaiting Girlfriend. 24" x 12" x 13". Stoneware clay, 2010.


Hare.Raising Secrets



abbits have appeared in my artwork before this current excursion into “Bunnidom.” About 12 years ago I made a whimsical series entitled Armored Cats. Wearing funny hats, several little, pompous, self-absorbed men sat in a large, tank-like, armored cat. Intent upon their mission, this comical group of characters was usually bent on some sort of mischief. One of my favorite sculptures from this series was called “Bunny Headhunters Signaling for a Left-Hand Turn.” The men wore bunny-head hats and signaled only for left-hand turns with their bunny ears. Thus, they only went in circles and never bagged their prey.

Last year, 2011, was the year of the rabbit in the Chinese calendar. That spurred my making as many rabbits as I had the time to make. As is often the case, my ideas for sculptures in this series were sparked by a play on words (i.e., alliteration, puns, rhymes). Alliterating the word “bunny” gave me the ideas that led to Buddha Bunny, Biker Bunny, and Bozo Bunny. Word play also became the inspiration for Hare Plane, Dust Bunny, and Karate Rabbit. The rabbits I have made over the last few years have taken on more and more human-like characteristics. To look in the eyes of one of these bunnies is to stare into the eyes of the character being reflected by the name. Doing this affords me endless ideas and personas to convey through the rabbit sculpture. In the Boy Bunny Awaiting Girlfriend series I have developed a story line behind the multiple forms I have sculpted of this one rabbit character. The boy bunny is eagerly awaiting his girlfriend, then getting bored

Pictured on this page, clockwise from top left: Vince Sansone assembles wheel-thrown bunny parts; “Rattle Brains;” “Buddha Bunny;” “Karate Rabbit.”


My rabbit-making lay dormant for about a decade as my teaching, preparing for other shows, and earning a living consumed my time. The impetus to resume sculpting rabbits came four years ago when I was invited to exhibit my work for a show called “Totems in the Garden” at the Orange County Library here in Orlando. Because I wanted animals as well as totems for this show, I decided to make rabbit sculptures for the garden.

Two- to three-feet tall, these rabbits were stout creatures, which were sitting upon their haunches and looking up at passersby.


as time passes, and finally starting to eat the carrots he brought for her. By the time his girlfriend shows up, the boy bunny has only one carrot left to present to her. Getting my inspiration from words works well for me. Word play becomes clay play. The transition from word-smithing to bunny-sculpting is comfortable yet challenging. I find each idea brings its own challenges, which, in turn, keeps me pursuing solutions. To me, each piece is practice for the next. Being challenged is what keeps me, as a working artist, searching for solutions. I began working with clay in 1968 while in college, and continue working with clay today because it remains challenging. With each piece I make there are always many more ideas that go unmade because my time is limited. An idea can come in a flash; however, each idea takes days, even weeks, to complete. So, I must choose which idea to pursue. Bringing my ideas into the world is to take a journey down a never-ending road with many detours and turns. Some ideas resist coming to fruition. It may be they have a longer gestation period, or I have not yet acquired the right skills or approached it from the right angle. There are some ideas I have lived with for years because no matter how much time passes, if they still seem like good ideas, there is still hope I may be able to make them happen some day. In the meantime, they sit on the back burner waiting for the right time.


After I choose an idea, I take the verbal concept and begin making simple sketches—basically cartoon drawings—of the rabbits. As the rabbits have become more anthropomorphized, their bodies and expressions have taken on more human-like characteristics than my earlier rabbits. To make rabbits do things no rabbit would do, (e.g., sitting like a person with its leg crossed over the other leg and holding a carrot in its hand), I have studied pictures of humans doing what I desired the rabbit to do. If I could not find the right picture, I would position myself in front of a mirror to figure out the correct proportions and positions of appendages, and then make my basic sketch.


Once I have drawn the figure, I make a maquette in clay. I include this step in the process so I have the opportunity to figure out how I will go about making the piece in its larger size. I do this by reducing the body parts of the rabbits to simple forms I can throw on the wheel. When I have completed making my miniature version of the newest rabbit, I have a better idea of how to proceed. It gives me something to look at as I put a larger version together.

As I begin the task of sculpting my large rabbits, I know I need about a week to accomplish throwing, assembling, and trimming one of these sculptures. Throwing is the most efficient way for me to make these forms. At the wheel I throw about seventeen pots of various size that will become the rabbit’s body parts: the torso, neck, head, one closed form for two ears, tail, two legs (one or two pots for each), two feet, two arms (two pots for each), two hands. Scraps of clay are needed for the two eyelids, two eyes, and the 20 pads on rabbit’s feet and hands.

The Assembly Process Fifteen pounds of clay will yield a medium-size rabbit that stands about two-feet tall. This size rabbit is easy to handle, especially when trying to fit the rabbit in the bisque kiln. I have found larger rabbits cumbersome, as well as difficult to get in and out of the kiln without something getting bumped or broken. After I throw the parts on a wheel, I place them on a ware board to dry outside. A sunny morning in Florida dramatically helps speed up the process. Putting the thrown clay pieces in the sun for 20 minutes is all that is needed before I am able to begin trimming and assembling. If I am able to put together most of the rabbit in the first day, the next day’s hand-building goes more smoothly as everything has had time under plastic to allow the moisture content to equalize. Even with the most thorough planning, there will be problems that arise. Some parts will turn out too large or too short. However, if I take some time to live with the piece for a while, I usually can see where to make adjustments, (e.g., making a leg thinner by cutting out a dart or adding a section to the neck), to properly shape and size the body parts. When assembling the parts I begin by putting the pads on the hands and feet of the rabbit. I then shape the face and put the eyeballs in place. The head is the first part I attach to the body. Next, I attach and position the ears. When the ears are in place I turn and tilt the head to project the desired emotion. I then add and position the other body parts. It is important to keep the sections or parts of the rabbit close to having the same moisture content to avoid having cracks. If I keep the rabbits under plastic for a second night I will have the opportunity to fine-tune the surface by making sure the texture of the fur is consistent and in every place it needs to be.

Once I have completed the rabbit, I will wrap it in plastic again so that it can dry slowly over the next several days. During this time I will remove the rabbit from the plastic for an hour or two each day until I feel it is safe to leave it out to dry completely. From start to finish, it takes me about a week to make a rabbit and get it into the kiln to bisque. After the rabbit is out of the bisque I can knock off any rough edges with a piece of coarse sandpaper. Most of the coloring added to the piece is done with underglaze. • The rabbit’s belly, tail, area around the eyes, and the muzzle are done with Amaco LUG-10 White. • The nose, footpads, and eye pupils are done with Amaco LUG-1 Black. • The irises of the eyes are done with Amaco V-390 Bright Orange. • The outer portions of the eyeballs are completed with Amaco LUG-31 Mahogany Brown. • The rest of the rabbit’s body is unglazed except for the inside of the ears, which I brush with a glaze called “Peach.” • If the rabbit is holding a carrot, Amaco V-390 Bright Orange is brushed on first, followed with a thin coat of the “Peach” glaze over the orange. • For the leafy part of the carrot a glaze called “Lime Green” is used. I fire the rabbit in a downdraft reduction kiln to Cone 11, about 2400° F. A typical firing takes eight to ten hours. I start the firing with one-and-one-half hours on low heat. Then I adjust the gas/air ratio by sound. (The gauges never last more than a few months, so I stopped replacing them years ago.) In a couple of hours or so—depending on how good my hearing was when I set the burners—I start the body reduction when Cone 07 is flat. Reduction is for one hour. Then I go back to oxidation. Once out of reduction, it takes about four to five more hours to make it to Cone 11. The glazes we use at our school react well to this firing schedule. After about twenty-four hours I unstack the brick door. It takes a lot of restraint to keep from taking the pots out when they are still hot. There are three tiers of shelves in the kiln. I always put the rabbits in the back tier on the top shelf with their legs dangling over the side. The legs are all I can see until the kiln is unloaded. I know, however, it is best to wait until the next morning to unload. No gloves are necessary by then, and I can unload with less chance of breakage.

PEACH GLAZE Translucent to opaque* Cone 10-11 Reduction Silica Soda Feldspar Dolomite Whiting EPK Kaolin

35.0 34.9 15.4 5.3 9.4 100.0

add Titanium Dioxide 20.0 *When thinly brushed on pottery, this glaze is a yellow-gold satin matte. When thickly applied, it becomes shiny.

LIME GREEN GLAZE Opaque • Cone 10-11 Reduction Nepheline Syenite 43.7% Barium Carbonate 36.1 Ball Clay 10.9 Silica 9.3 TOTAL: 100.0% add Copper Carbonate 4.4 Bentonite 1.1 Titanium Dioxide 5.0 Vincent Sansone uses the above glazes on Laguna’a Miller stoneware clay #901 fired to cone 10.


A whole night has gone by and the suspense has been building even in my sleep. After so many years of making stuff out of clay I would expect to be used to this by now. We have gone through a lot already before I have offered them up to the fire gods. The fire will make them or break them. (I hate using that word when I am talking about clay). The rabbits could come out toasty or fried. When I lift a rabbit from the kiln and see a bright, perky rabbit—whole and strong—I know we have done well. The fire gods have smiled upon me again! [

Vince Sansone holds an M.F.A. in ceramics from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He currently serves as Ceramic and Sculpture Department Director at Crealdé School of Art in Winter Park, FL. He may be reached via e-mail at:; Website at: www.; or Facebook Page: Vince Sansone




How to Control Drying & Keep Work from Cracking


Instructions for Drying Ceramics: Go away! Do not return until the object is dry!


n theory, that’s all we have to do. However, as everyone finds out in their beginning class, successfully drying a clay object isn’t always as easy and straightforward as my facetious instructions would imply. This is because of two qualities that we’ve all noticed: when clay dries, it shrinks, and not all of that drying (and shrinking) occurs everywhere on the object at the same time. The average pottery body shrinks anywhere from 4% to 8% (linearly) when it dries, which is a pretty sizeable amount. Thin areas dry first, thick areas later. Areas that are exposed on both sides dry faster than areas exposed to the air on only one side, and both dry faster than areas that are completely enclosed and sheltered from the outside air. When we plan drying (and yes, we do need to plan drying), we always need to take into account how the object will dry and where the resulting shrinkage might create stresses.

When clay dries, water evaporates from the surface. Water within the body migrates to the surface to replace it, lowering the total level of water in the clay. This process continues until the level of moisture in the clay matches that in the surrounding atmosphere1. We know that the thicker parts of the piece will take longer to dry than the thinner parts. In addition, the forming of clay can sometimes create an alignment of clay particles, sort of like the grain in wood. Because it’s easier for water to follow the grain than cross it, water migrating to the surface can sometimes take a fairly circuitous route to the surface, further slowing down drying in certain areas. There are other variables, of course. Some portions of the object may be exposed to the air on only one side—say, the outside of the torso of one of our heroes—while other portions may be covered on both sides of the wall, like the soles of the two men’s boots. In the case of walls that are only exposed on one side, all the water must migrate to the outside surface, since almost no evaporation will take place into the closed interiors of the figures. In the case of covered portions (like the boot soles I referred to), all the moisture in the clay must migrate all the way to the exposed edges of their footwear in order to evaporate2. Taking these things together, you can see that the portions of our figures will tend to dry at very different rates. One of the figures is pointing, if you remember, so the index

finger will dry (and shrink) first, along with their ears, shirt collars, edges of clothing, musket barrels, and any other small, thin or highly exposed portions. Other portions of the figure—especially those that are thick and “trapped”—will remain quite wet, often long after those exposed portions are bone dry. The situation I’m describing here is referred to as a moisture gradient. We’re concerned about forming a gradient because of shrinking: when the parts of an object dry (and shrink) at different rates, then the resulting stresses can cause parts of the object to crack, especially at junctions between dryer and wetter sections. This is why we so often see cracks at the intersection between say, the body and the handle of a pitcher or mug. There are a number ways to deal with these stresses. First, if a clay body shrinks less, then there’s less stress on the piece, regardless of any moisture gradient present. Ceramic artists often add grog or other non-plastic filler to clay bodies. Pottery clays can contain up to 10% grog, and sculpture clays often contain up to 25%. This addition can both decrease shrinkage and help the clay to “stand” better. Another reason to add filler to a clay body is that these large, coarse particles tend to break any particle alignment created during the forming, making it easier for water to migrate from inside the wall to the outside surface where it can evaporate. Without the addition of these coarser, non-plastic particles, clay can be an excellent waterproofing material: the thousands of “earthen” dams in this country, some over a century old, stand as testament to the ability of clay to resist the


Imagine I’ve made a life-size statue of Lewis and Clark. The two figures are standing majestically, holding muskets and pointing into the distance (as artists like to do whenever portraying Lewis and Clark. Not to get off the topic, but if those two were anything like my wife and I, they’re probably pointing at an Indian and saying, “I don’t know how to get there, either—Let’s ask him.”) Now that I’ve finished building the figures, they’re ready to dry. Being an experienced ceramic artist, I know that I can’t just build a big object like this solid and have any hope of ever firing it. So, I’ve carefully built the figures hollow, leaving the walls a bit thicker where they need to be for structural reasons and thinning them out where I need to save weight or add smaller elements (a collar or cuff, for instance). What

would happen if I followed the instructions above and simply walked away? From my experience, the pieces would almost certainly crack, and might even fall apart.

Perspectives I As Far As I Know

A Very Dry Topic

continued on page 20


Perspectives I As Far As I Know CLAYTIMES·COM n SPRING 2012


Crack Prevention (from page 19) migration of water. In more contemporary use, clay is used to line toxic waste dumps to prevent the contents from leaching into the surrounding groundwater. A clay body that contains little or no filler will tend to dry unevenly, and will be much more prone to blowing up in a bisque firing from trapped water turning to steam. Fairly fine-grain fillers (such as 50- or 100-mesh grogs) work just fine for this if you want to avoid the texture of coarse grogs in a throwing body. Otherwise, the standard 30-mesh grogs that are commonly used work well for most clay bodies. Besides altering the clay formula, there are a lot of ways to control drying to prevent moisture gradients. The easiest is to orient the form differently once the object is stiff enough to support weight in an orientation other than vertical. For instance, an open form (like a bowl) will dry more evenly upside down, exposing only one side to the air. This is also the best way to keep the rim soft enough that it will remain flexible until the foot is trimmed. Complex objects can be turned on their sides onto soft foam to expose other sides to the air. One of my colleagues keeps his eyes open for old chairs and couches that students are always throwing out in college towns, and grabs the foam cushions. The covers can be discarded and the foam blocks trimmed or cut up. A band saw works beautifully for this, as does a sharp utility knife. I often have my students selectively wrap thin parts of pots or sculptures with plastic kitchen wrap. It’s a solution that I came up with 25 years ago when I first started making porcelain mugs. If I put a long pulled handle on the mug (that reached from near the top to near the bottom), an unacceptably large percentage of these handles would crack. I could see what was happening: the handle would dry first, then later the body of the mug would dry (and shrink), forcing the handle to bend after it was already rigid. My first solution was to paint the handles with wax when they were about half dry, delaying their drying until after the body dried. That worked, but the wax left a residue on the piece (even after bisquing) that made it difficult to glaze. Wrapping the stiffened handles in plastic wrap worked perfectly— you just need to remember to remove the plastic wrap before bisquing. Plastic bags work well to keep things wet, but they can also be used to slow down drying on fragile pieces. You can buy very thin, .5 or .6 mil transparent plastic trash

bags. (I buy the 16-gallon size—about 24" x 31"—for the students here. They’re sold online in boxes of 500 for less than 10 cents each.) The plastic in these bags isn’t thick enough to prevent evaporation, just to slow it down. Place the delicate piece on a slightly absorbent bat (like hard board) and put it into a bag. Inflate the plastic like a balloon (so it doesn’t tough the piece), seal it well and make sure it stays out of the sun. Depending on the relative humidity it can take a week or more for the piece to slowly dry. The bats can tend to grow mold, but I just wash that off and it doesn’t seem to harm the bat. A similar trick is to “tent” the piece in paper. For a small piece, simply put it into a paper bag, gently fold it shut so that the paper doesn’t touch the clay, and leave it. The paper slows down evaporation enough that the piece will dry evenly. This can even be used with very large pieces: tape newspaper together to create large sheets of paper, then fold and seam these to make a tent for the piece, making sure that the piece is completely enclosed and there are no openings in the tent. A paper-wrapped piece will dry faster than a plastic-wrapped one, but still very evenly. My friend and colleague Eddie Dominguez makes large-scale ceramic sculpture. He wraps his work in cloth and that works very well for him. Eddie often wraps a very large piece in a blanket, and he says that a polyester blanket slows down drying more than cotton or wool blankets. Cotton bath towels work well, and a double layer slows things more than a single layer. Bed sheets slow things down just a bit and sheets with a higher thread count will slow down drying more than a cheaper sheet. He doesn’t go out and buy any of these things new, of course— all of this stuff can be found inexpensively at thrift stores. In summary, we need to drive the process rather than simply abandoning the work and impatiently waiting for it. We need to look at each object, predict how it will dry, identify potential problems, and take action to prevent those problems. If cracking occurs anyway, try to analyze why it happened so you’ll know what action to take next time. In time this skill becomes automatic and you’ll find yourself cringing when you see work drying improperly, a sign that you’re mastering yet another part of our craft. Next time I’ll follow up with bisque firing and how to prevent cracking and save money. [

1. We call this stage “bone dry,” but clay may not be completely dry at this point, unless the air is completely dry. If the air is humid then there will still be some water in the clay. That’s a point we need to take into account when planning how to fire, and will be the topic of a future column. 2. Of course, several pinholes should be poked into any trapped interior spacing to allow air and moisture to escape during drying and firing. Peter Pinnell is Hixson-Lied Professor of Art at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. You can reach him at or through his Facebook page at

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Perspectives I As Far As I Know



Mix and Match Shot Glasses. Porcelain; luster. Each shot glass 2" tall. 2011. Sandwich Plate. Porcelain; luster. 7¼" x 7" x ½". 2011.

Photo captions here

Tea Set. Porcelain, variable heights from 3" to 7½" tall. 2009. Biking and Boozing Condiment Bowls. Porcelain; luster. 3½" diameter. 2011.

Club Scene Serving Plate. Porcelain; luster. 10" x 10½" x 2½".


Whiskey Set. Porcelain. 8½" tall. 2011.

Emerging Artist Spotlight:


Fresh. BOLD! Original. and


These are but a few terms that come to mind when encountering the porcelain art of Autumn Higgins, a grad student from Oregon presently pursuing her M.F.A. in ceramics at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Based on controversial themes mixed with childhood innocence, her work reflects her interest in “humor, absurdity, randomness, embarrassment, playfulness, and touch.”

“My work is meant to be used and enjoyed, and I want people to relate to it. I want them to have fun while they eat, and laugh while they drink their morning coffee.” Several of Autumn’s most recent pieces are presently on display at the new Clay Times Fine Arts Gallery in Hamilton, Virginia. Come check it out in person, or discover more online at the link below. [ To view additional images and learn more about Autumn and her ceramic art, log onto

Cream and Sugar Set. Porcelain; luster. 6" tall. 2010.


Salad Bowls. Porcelain; gold luster (on left), 4½" x 9" x 7"; (on right) 4½" x 9¼" x 9". 2011.




Technique: Angelique Tassistro

Step 2

Perspectives I Beneath the Surface


This is the second column on Angelique Tassistro’s unusual technique, developed by watching what happened when she washed off a mistake.

The significant lesson: Pay attention for possibilities in mistakes!

Step 3

Think: Can you use part of Tassistro’s process or vary it or cuddle up to your mistakes?

Wilson: Could you please explain each of the eight steps in your process? Tassistro: I tend to stick to a pretty structured process, but I have played around a lot. The variety in color is my favorite part of the process. I find the possibilities are endless ... and I have been doing this technique for about six years. 1. I wash a cone 05-bisqued piece off extremely well, and let it dry.

3. I coat it with a top color, and while it is still wet I carve designs into the top color, exposing the base color. Then I let it dry. 4. I add accent colors, usually three of them. 5. I draw designs in the wet accent top colors that are actually the third coat. Then I let the piece dry overnight. (Note: After


2. Next I cover the piece with a base color — a turquoise blue for the pictured butter dish — and let it dry again.

Steps 4 & 5


Perspectives I Beneath the Surface

Angelique Tassistro (continued from previous page) Tassistro demonstrated to my class at Penland, we didn’t let some of the pieces dry overnight and it did not work at all as well.) 6. Now the surprising water washing step: I wash the piece under water while doing repeated wipes with a sponge. Then I let it dry completely — at least overnight.

7.  After the drying period, I take a cloth and rub firmly over any bumps or air pockets that are left from the water. Afterward, I outline shapes and colors with a black underglaze pencil.

Highwater white earthenware. My current favorite color is gray. I’ve been using it as a base, and love it! The other colors I love are orange, pink, and green. Wilson: You inspire me to watch for any mistakes and think about the possibilities. What do you currently enjoy making the most? Tassistro: Right now, I’m working on all new forms for an upcoming show. I’ve recently gotten into yoga; I wanted to know more about its origin. In the process, I have fallen in love with Indian culture, the colors of hand-dyed fabrics, the landscapes of India, the wooden handcrafted boats, and the architecture—especially the doorways and window trims. I saw a cool, old wooden boat in a magazine that said something about sailing in India. I looked online for more images, did some sketches, and then moved on to making test pieces. All of these elements have become inspiration for a new body of work. New forms keep popping up, and now that’s all I want to make! I do like to keep it fun; I am always trying something new. [ I repeat: The significant lesson: Pay attention for possibilities in mistakes. Think: can you use part of Tassistro’s process or vary it or cuddle up to your mistakes? Learn more about Angelique Tassistro and her techniques at Columnist Lana Wilson may be reached via her Website at



8. Now I let the piece dry for at least a day, sometimes more, before the glaze goes on. I use Amaco Glaze LG-10 Clear Transparent and fire the piece to cone 06. If there is any moisture left in the piece, it will cause problems. With this technique, I’ve also fired to cone 6. However, the colors were too ‘milky,’ so I’ve returned to low-fire.


Wilson: Can you offer a few more details on the colors and glazes you use? Tassistro: I do a higher bisque firing at cone 05, then glazefire slightly lower at cone 06 (the usual system of the bisque being higher than the glaze for low-fire work). I use mostly Amaco Velvets, and I mix a lot of them: I take the Velvet Hunter Green, add a little Bright Yellow and a little Blue to make my own green. I use Amaco Glaze LG-10 Clear Transparent. I’ve tried so many glazes, both commercial and mixed in my studio, and this one fits the best on my

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Shop Talk I Firing

Springing Forward

with a New Kiln BY MARC WARD

To begin with, can you build the kiln where you want to? Do you live in a neighborhood with strict association rules? Do you need zoning approval? Does the building inspector need to get involved? Does the fire marshal? Start at the lowest levels to begin making your inquiries. Ask the gas supplier (natural gas or propane) about the feasibility of building a kiln. These folks are going to sell you gas, so they have a strong reason to be positive about your plan. Many times, they can help direct you to the hoops you have to jump through. If you know a contractor, they may be able to help you on an informal basis with any regulations you might be unaware of. And, of course, seek out any potters in your area that have built kilns and learn what steps they had to take. Do these things first as there is no point in planning something that won’t happen. Kiln plans are hard to come by. They are out there, but they may be plans to a kiln you don’t want or need to build. Be prepared to modify any plans you may get. Its like a recipe? Changing some of the ingredients won’t ruin the dish and might make it better. Build your kiln around your work? Here’s what that means; Your work is going to dictate the size and type of shelves you are going to buy. Believe it or not, this is the very first part of your kiln plans. You build the kiln around the shelves and their footprint. You don’t build a kiln and then buy shelves. Look at shelves at suppliers or at other potter’s kilns. Pick them up. Hold them out in front of you. Bend over holding them. Are these shelves you can live with? Are these shelves that you can use day in and day out? If these shelves are going to work for you, you can now figure out how many of these will go on each layer, how tall each layer will be, and how many total layers you’ll have in the kiln. Once you have all this, you’ll have a good idea of the size and shape of your ware load. The kiln is the thing that goes around this.

So, you’ve determined you can build the kiln. You’ve figured out what shelves you’re using and how big the kiln is going to be. And, you know you can get the gas to fire it. Now you need to know what burners you are going to use to fire this beauty. Don’t assume the four burners you scored at a yard sale are going to fire your kiln under some of the parameters that you’ve already set out. They may, but don’t go merrily building your kiln with four burner ports only to find out you need six burners. If you do some advance planning, you’ll have a far better experience building your kiln and the chances of it working well are vastly improved. [ Marc Ward is owner and operator of Ward Burner Systems, PO Box 1086, Dandridge, Tennessee 37725. He invites you to sign up for his free newsletter, and can be reached by phone at 865.397.2914 or through the online catalog and Web site at: www.

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OK, you now have a good idea about the size of the kiln you want. Are you going to use natural gas or propane? The size and construction of your kiln will determine how many BTUs you’ll need per hour. Know this number before you start buying and building. This heating number may stop your project cold. This number will determine things like meter capacity and pipe size in natural gas systems. The BTU number will also determine propane tank size. If the natural gas infrastructure in your area can’t support the kiln you want, there’s no use in building it. If the propane tank you need to fire the kiln won’t fit on your property because of size or setback requirements, there’s no use in building

it. Some of the saddest conversations I have is with folks that didn’t investigate this. They’ve put their time, money, dreams, and labor into building a kiln only to find out they don’t have a way to fire the kiln. Do your homework first.



f you’ve never built a kiln before, it can seem like a daunting undertaking. What makes it even more daunting is the fact that most folks don’t know where to start. You visualize the kiln, but not the steps to get there. You dream about what you want and need, but can’t conjure up the bones of the project. Where to start?






Above: Wheel-thrown, assembled, white stoneware. 11" x 5½". Crystalline glaze colored with nickel; refractory slip; stoneware glaze. 2011.


At right: Wheel-thrown, assembled, white stoneware. 9½" x 6". Crystalline glaze colored with rutile; stoneware glaze. First development of combining crystalline and stoneware glazes, 2005.

In response to a message I recently posted on the ClayArt discussion group, Clay Times columnist Vince Pitelka wrote: “Your post should be the basis of an article. It is great material, spoken quietly from the heart.” ClayArt moderator Mel Jacobson wrote, “It is process. Different potters like different processes. It does not make them more noble, or better than, or wonderful. It is just their process.” Here was my response to Mel’s post: “I am one of those persons with the small electric kiln in my garage—uh, I mean, studio. I have a 1980s manual kiln, and a newer programmable kiln. I have a potter’s wheel, table, wedging/reclaim board, and lots of shelves all around. A one-car garage, with no water—perfect for one potter.”


work with crystalline glazes. Most everyone I know works with these glazes at cone 10. There are perhaps a couple hundred of us around the world working just on crystalline glazes. We have our own crystalline glaze online forum. There is so much information about the process now that anyone can get results first time out. But the process is so time-consuming and so technique-intensive, very few continue.

Above: Wheel-thrown, assembled, white stoneware. 13" x 6". Crystalline glaze colored with cobalt & copper; stoneware glaze. 2011.

At left: Wheel-thrown, assembled, white stoneware. 9½" x 6". Crystalline glaze colored with nickel; refractory slip; stoneware glaze. 2011.


My circumstances created my process. I did not have information that is now available. I did not have equipment, at the time, that could reach cone 10 fast enough. So I began exploring the possibilities of crystalline glazing at cone 6 with a manual kiln. If I had a 25% success rate, I was happy. More than a decade later, I still work at cone 6. Although I now have equipment that will fire to cone 10, cone 6 crystalline glaze firing has become my process. Why do I stay with crystalline glazes ... and why am I still firing to cone 6? It is the challenge. I now know a great deal about the process, yet I also know there is much more that I don’t know! As soon as I have one thing figured out, I’m ready to move on to resolve the next unanswered question. In preparation for an exhibition of my crystalline-glazed work, I have been making wheel-thrown forms based on the concept of a cone and sphere. The forms have evolved from rather simple, two-piece pots to what are now five-part assemblies. I am so excited and invigorated by this new work that my focus has been solely on these forms for the past six months. (Some of my clay pals have seen some of this new work on FaceBook.) I’m looking forward to putting a “coat of many colors” on my new forms. I feel like I’m back in graduate school, getting it together for my Master’s thesis. But I’m just a guy with a small electric kiln in my garage. It’s not what you have; it’s what you do with what you have. It is my process. It was in the September/October 2000 issue of Clay Times where my first published article, entitled “Crystalline Glazing at Cone 6,” appeared. In that article, I wrote about my introduction to crystalline glazes and how I developed the process that, after a decade of testing, now continues to evolve.


Much has since changed in the realm of crystalline glazes over a relatively short period of time. Artists from around the world have published several articles and books describing new discoveries about the process. A crystalline glaze online forum has been active since late 2008. William Melstrom developed this forum to allow the exchange of ideas and a place for artists to ask questions, resolve problems, and present successes. The forum URL is:


All threads can be read without registering, but if one wishes to post a question or respond to an existing post, registration is required. Several international crystalline glaze exhibitions have also taken place in Europe and in the United States. I was invited to participate and present at “Lattice Structures,” a crystalline glaze show and symposium organized by Jesse Hull at Red Star Studios, Kansas City, Missouri in 2005. The site for this event is:

Wheel-thrown, assembled white stoneware. 14" x 5½". Crystalline glaze colored with nickel; stoneware glaze; 2011. This image shows how Schran fires each piece with removable pedestal and glaze catch plate.

Bill Campbell organized and hosted “Krystallos 2007,” an international crystalline glaze exhibition and workshop at Campbell Pottery Studio & Gallery, Edinboro, PA. It was from this exhibit Sidney Swidler purchased one of my crystalline-glazed pots. Mr. Swidler subsequently donated his entire collection of 20th-century ceramics to become The Sidney Swidler Collection of the Contemporary Vessel at the Crocker Art Museum,

Sacramento, CA. My work is now in a museum collection (and I didn’t have to wait until I was dead!) I organized and hosted a crystalline glaze exhibition and workshop with international participation entitled, “The Crystalline Spectrum, A Journey from Student to Master” held at Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria Campus in the fall of 2008. Other exhibitions and workshops continue to take place around the country, highlighting the latest discoveries and growth in understanding and controlling crystalline glazes. In recent years, several changes have occurred in the materials we employ in our glazes. For a long time, Pemco frit #283 and Ferro Corp. frit 3110 were the mainstays of fritted crystalline glazes. When production of Pemco frit 283 was discontinued, General Color and Chemical Co. began producing frit GF 106 as a direct substitute. When GF 106 was no longer manufactured, Fusion Ceramics, Inc. began producing a direct substitute, F413. Fusion also produces a frit similar to Ferro’s frit 3110. Fusion’s substitute is F75. Fusion also began producing a frit specifically for crystalline glazes, F644. Though I have yet to investigate this process, several artists working with crystalline glazes have now begun to explore reduction firing of crystalline glazes—especially glazes containing copper. Generally, zinc oxide will volatize from the glaze when exposed to a reduction atmosphere, but if the glaze is heated in oxidation to form and grow the crystals, then exposure to a reduction atmosphere at lower temperatures (1700F°-1200F°) can produce remarkable results. Some artists re-fire their work after the crystalline firing using a small fuel-fired kiln. William Melstrom describes his post-firing reduction process on his Website at: http://www.handspiral. com/Post_Fire.htm Other artists have begun to introduce vegetable oil or alcohol into the cooling electric kiln to achieve reduction effects. I would personally caution against this, even if you properly seal your kiln against any leakage and are in a very well-vented environment. Recently, a colleague, Terry Fallon began building and retrofitting electric kilns with an automatic system that introduces a small flame fueled by propane. Information about his electric-reduction system, called the “Fallonator,” can be found online at:

Wheel-thrown and assembled white stoneware by Bill Schran. 12" x 6½". Crystalline glaze colored with cobalt, rutile, & manganese; stoneware glaze. 2011.

Through years of research in technical journals, discussions with colleagues, and literally hundreds of glaze tests and firings, I have a great deal more information under my belt that has led to a better understanding and control of the process. (Meanwhile, I’m still just a guy with a small electric kiln in my garage.) [

Current Crystalline Glaze Firing Schedule 6 Segments/Ramps

William Schran is a studio potter and Assistant Dean of Fine Arts at Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria Campus. His Website is: www.; e-mail is: View the expanded version of this article in full detail online at:

Home studio of crystalline glaze potter William Schran — a.k.a. “just a guy with a small electric kiln in his garage.”


RAMP / Segment 1: 750° F per hour to 2000° F, no hold RAMP / Segment 2: 125° F per hour to 2195° F, 50-minute hold RAMP / Segment 3: 200° F per hour to 2000° F, 45-minute hold RAMP / Segment 4: 250° F per hour to 1925° F, 4-hour hold RAMP / Segment 5: 250° F per hour to 1825° F, 1-hour hold RAMP / Segment 6: 100° F per hour to 1750° F, 30-minute hold


Readers Share I Art Works

The Gallery

Hearts Two by Two. 5" x 5" x 2". Handbuilt/handblown white stoneware wrapped with copper coil and copper pads, then pit-fired with sawdust, banana peels, and human hair. Maria Pia Minichiello, 28 Erie Street, East Blauvelt, NY 10913. E-mail:


Silence. 25" high x 24" deep x 23" wide. Handbuilt raku clay; built solid, then hollowed out for firing. Low-fired in an electric kiln; cold finish of acrylics and wax in five layers. This sculpture is one of a series of work on Alzheimer’s disease, entitled “Within the Mind” by Cindy Billingsley. E-mail: Website: Facebook page: Cindy Billingsley Sculptor and Painter


Dance by the Light of the Moon. 10" x 8". Wheel-thrown stoneware with underglazes, fired to cone 9/10 in an electric kiln. Thomas Perry and Carolyn Dahl, 2130 Southgate Blvd., Houston, TX 77030. E-mail:; Websites:;

Le Vaz. Wheel-thrown and glazed Highwater Phoenix stoneware, gas-fired to cone 10 in a reduction atmosphere. Roberta L. Couver, Pleasant Valley Pottery, Chantilly, VA 20151. E-mail:

Submit images of your claywork to The Gallery! Send your high-quality color print, slide, or 1050-x-1500-pixel (minimum) digital image to: The Gallery, Clay Times, P.O. Box 100, Hamilton, VA 20159. Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, Website and/or e-mail address, type of clay and glaze, firing method, and dimensions of the work. (Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for photo/slide return.)

Interrupted. 19" x 28" x 17". Terra cotta fired to cones 04 and 06, epoxy resin, seeds, acrylic. Jonathon McMillan, 302 South Harden St., Columbia, SC 29205. E-mail:; Website:

Readers Share I Art Works

The Gallery

Woodfired Platter by Aaron Anslow.

China Redux. 20" x 17" x 8". Handbuilt, wood-fired stoneware. Phyllis Savage, 93 Mill Plain Rd., Danbury, CT 06810. E-mail: Website:

Pitchers. 12" x 6" x 6". Wheel-thrown and altered stoneware, wood-fired to cone 11. Tim Sherman, 3710 Garfield Rd., Smithsburg, MD 21728. E-mail: Website:


Carved Plate. 10" x 10" x 2". Wheel-thrown stoneware carved, glazed, and fired to cone 10 in reduction. Amy Smith. E-mail:

Minding My Manners. 23½" x 28" x 20". 50/50 stoneware clay body with slip; once-fired to cone 6. Slip-dipped fabric, high-fire clay, retractable measuring tape, and puzzle pieces. Jessica Gardner, 1091 NE Orenco Station Parkway, Apt E214, Hillsboro, OR 97124. E-mail:; Web:



Fulwood Measure


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Wild Texture on Pottery! One Tool - Many Results

With off-the-wheel clayworking processes becoming increasingly popular—especially slab-building—I get a lot of questions about canvas and other materials for rolling slabs. I have investigated this pretty thoroughly because my own work has been primarily slab-built for the past 25 years. I’ve assembled some of the most useful information below. All About Canvas


recent article in another ceramics publication stated that canvas texture is not an appropriate finish in slab-built work and should be removed before any desired texture is applied. I have been scratching my head, wondering what stretch of logic could lead to such a conclusion. Why would a canvas texture on slab work be any less appropriate than throwing lines on thrown form or finger marks on figurative sculpture? If you roll slabs between canvas sheets you get canvas texture. Leave it, smooth it, use some other material to roll slabs, it’s up to you dependent on the desired results. It’s a personal choice that must be carefully considered by each artisan. The processes we use often create marks and textures that are expressive and/or aesthetically pleasing. For some artisans, it is a matter of honesty to the material and process to leave those marks visible. More importantly, aside from issues of safety and toxicity, being dogmatic about what is and is not allowed in art does little good because all you do is limit the possibilities. When someone says, “You can’t do it that way” in reference to a particular studio process or technique, they often reveal their own limitations.

Fabric, hobby, and art supply stores often carry unprimed canvas duck by the yard, but the best price is by the roll. Go to html to find a 25-yard roll of 48"-wide #12 natural duck canvas for $125. Get a bunch of potters together and save even more by ordering a 100-yard roll for $350. For most slab rollers, you would not be using strips longer than 48", so with this canvas, just mark off the width you want, make a small cut, and tear off the desired pieces. If you want longer pieces, just get wider rolls. This supplier sells the 25yard rolls up to 96" wide.

Similar prices can be found at www. Just click “unprimed medium-weight #12 rolls” on the left. Allens has 25-foot rolls of 36"-wide #12 unprimed painter’s canvas for $109 and 50-foot rolls for $184. This is what I prefer, since we use Brent SR-20 slab rollers, and I like to work slabs on 20" by 36" canvas sheets. The large home improvement centers and house paint suppliers often sell painter’s drop-cloth canvas, but the quality is variable. On occasion I have seen such drop-cloths that are ideal for studio use, but in most cases it is either too lightweight, or too loose a weave.

Preparing Canvas Before Use It is important to prepare new canvas properly before you use it to roll slabs. If your canvas is 12-ounce or lighter, after you measure off the size sheets you want, cut a small slit at the end of the line where you wish to divide the pieces, and then tear the canvas. The result will be a slight fringe along the edge that will unravel far less than a scissor-cut edge. Obviously, if you get heavier canvas you will have no choice but to cut it with scissors or a razor knife. Also, once you have cut your canvas to the desired sizes, lay each sheet flat on a waterproof table or on a sheet of plastic atop any table. Flood it with water, let it soak for 15 minutes or so, and then sponge off as much water as you can and let it dry flat. You can do this to a stack of sheets as long as you make sure they all remain flat and all get soaked. This is important,


There is a huge range of canvas available for different applications featuring varying density and thickness. The type we normally use in ceramics is unprimed canvas duck, either natural or bleached, and whenever purchasing canvas for use in working with slabs or covering work surfaces, make sure that it is not

primed or sealed in any way. Canvas is sold by the yard, but is identified either by a graded number system, as in “#10 canvas,” or by weight per square yard, as in “10-ounce canvas.” Note that the graded number system is like wire gauge—the lower numbers are heavier canvas—for example, #6 canvas is 21 ounces per square yard. Be careful when ordering, because if you accidently order #10 canvas intending to get 10-ounce, you will be getting 14-ounce, which is very heavy. #12 canvas is about 11.5 ounces per square yard and is ideal for slab work. Make sure you are getting 10-ounce, 12-ounce, or #12 canvas. Any of these is ideal for use with slabs, and I would avoid anything heavier or lighter unless you have a specialized need that requires a heavier canvas. Below 10-ounce the next available weight is usually 7-ounce, which is too thin and flimsy for slab work. Don’t settle for lighter, flimsier fabrics, because they will wrinkle badly in the slab roller and cause other problems.


Shop Talk I Tool Times

Slabs, Canvas, & Mats


Shop Talk I Tool Times

because if you bypass this step and use fresh canvas to roll slabs it can expand or contract differently where wetted by the clay, causing problematic wrinkles. When you are handling damp canvas sheets, it is easy to cause them to develop wrinkles that will be there forever. To clean canvas sheets if they get moldy or badly soiled, proceed as described above but with just a single sheet at a time. After sponging off the water, ensure that they are lying flat with no wrinkles and either let them dry in place or hang from a line with no wrinkles. Avoid crinkling or folding wet canvas, and don’t put canvas sheets in the washing machine because they will emerge badly wrinkled and unusable for rolling slabs (unless you want the wrinkle texture).

Smoothing Slabs Rolled on Canvas There are a number of options for eliminating surface texture from rolled slabs, including various sheet materials used in place of canvas. Even when you roll on canvas, there are several ways to

eliminate the texture. As a general rule, slabs from the slab roller should be cross rolled to eliminate unidirectional grain structure that could cause cracking or warping. With a very large slab roller the slab can be turned 90 degrees and run through again at a thinner setting. Most people just cross-roll with a rolling pin, which also eliminates canvas texture from one side of the slab. In case you missed my recent column about rolling pins, for an ideal rolling pin for slab work, go to and enter “Thorpe Medium Commercial Rolling Pin” in the search box. Other options allow you to remove the texture from both sides of the slab, usually with a broad, smooth edge. A common tool for this is a wide “drywall taping knife.” Go to and enter that term, or just check out the options at your nearest building materials supplier. The same suppliers will have a wide plastic “smoothing tool” for wallpaper that works well, and yet another good choice is a wide, stiff rubber squeegee. Any one of these can be carefully dragged across the slab to smooth the surface. Once you have removed the texture from

one side, slide the canvas and slab onto an appropriate plywood board, cover the slab with a sheet of newspaper and then a matching board, flip both boards over, remove the upper board and canvas, and smooth the other side of the slab.

SlabMats and Other Substrates A popular alternative to canvas is the SlabMat, available from Laguna, Bailey, and other suppliers. You can go to slabmats.htm to view them online. SlabMats are a non-woven material made of fabric-based fibers, sold in sheets up to 30" x 50". The description sounds a lot like fine rag printmaking papers, and in fact SlabMats have a pleasing texture very much like good printmaking papers. As the manufacturer suggests, you can lightly sponge them off but don’t get them soaking wet. One minor disadvantage of SlabMats is that they will get wrinkled if you store damp clay slabs on them; so if you wish to store your slabs for a few days, you should transfer them to a flat board or to canvas lined with newspaper. If slabs are stored

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Shop Talk I Tool Times

damp for much longer than that, whatever substrate they are on will start to grow mold. The same Bailey web page features another product known as “Slab Sheets” available in sizes up to 48" x 72". This is a synthetic material that is smooth but slightly porous on one side, leaving no texture at all. If you consistently want slabs that have no texture on either side, these sheets are a good choice.

I have experimented with smoothing the canvas texture; to me, it reduces the spontaneity. I like the expression of process as represented by the canvas texture. [

Vince Pitelka is professor of clay at Tennessee Technological University’s Appalachian Center for Craft, an active participant on the Clayart Internet discussion group, and author of Clay: A Studio Handbook. Feel free to suggest topics for this column or contact Vince through his Web site at http://iweb.tntech. edu/wpitelka.

The Smooooooooth Alternative to Canvas! SlabRolling mats HandBuilding mats 30”x50” $33 16”x22” $9 22”x50” $20 14”x16” $6 14”x50” $16 NEW! Ideal for small slabrollers

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As a bargain alternative at, enter “Pellon Heavyweight Interfacing” in the search box. For $54 you get a roll 20" wide x 30 yards long. In sewing, Pellon is used inside collars and cuffs to lend stiffness, and it has a pleasant pattern-less surface similar to printmaking rag papers. It is a synthetic material, and should be unaffected by water. Before ordering, go to your neighborhood fabric store and check out Pellon in person. They may not have the heavyweight stuff, but you can buy a yard of whatever they have and give it a try. It does not seem to be available in widths greater than 20". That’s fine if you have a Brent SR-20 or a Bailey or North Star 24" slab roller, but inadequate for a wider machine.

In my slab-built work I use hand-carved, bisqued clay stamps and rollers to impress patterns and textures into freshly-rolled slabs before assembling the component parts of my vessels. I roll slabs on canvas and I like seeing the texture in areas untouched by the stamps. I always re-roll slabs with a rolling pin after the slab roller, and thus some surfaces are smooth while others still have canvas texture. I like the resulting variety of surface, and feel it works well with my forms. To see this effect, go to www. and click “artists” at the top; then click my name. Click a thumbnail to see a larger image, and click that image to see a much larger one. If you have trouble opening any images, click “start slideshow” in the upper left, and click the “full screen” icon in the lower right. On some images you will clearly see the canvas textures on unglazed areas that have received a light soda deposition in the cone 6 soda firing.


Resources I Books & Videos

Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint REVIEW BY STEVEN BRANFMAN

What do I look for when deciding on a book to review? What attracts me? What interests me? I’ve explained my style more than a few times in this column but it never hurts to share it again. I look for books that, in some individual way, stand out. They make a statement either in their content, philosophy, subject matter, or visual quality. Personally I am attracted to books in general, all books, and especially books in our field. Oh. And here’s another important thing to note about my reviews; you will never see a negative one. Why? Because I see more value in sharing information about good books. Books that have value. Books that will impact our lives for the better. Books that we can use. Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint is such a book.


Vicki Halper is an independent curator and former associate curator of modern art at the Seattle Art Museum. She has written several books about artists and craft. Diane Douglas is the former director of the Bellevue Arts Museum. Together they have assembled a notable collection of artists, who, in their own words, share facets about their work and lifestyles. And it is here, in the anecdotes, journal entries, artist statements, interviews, lectures, and conversations shared—that true meaning, passion, struggles, and chronology— where a history of modern craft emerges. One of the unique qualities, and perhaps the single most compelling aspect of Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint is that the content was not written expressly for this book. The editors did not solicit writings based on the subject matter. They did not ask the participants for contemporary contributions. Halper and Douglas researched, collected, examined, and assembled this mass of material covering the post WWII growth of craft from the existing written word.


Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint is organized into four categories: Part 1/Choosing Craft, Part 2/Getting An Education, Part 3/Making A Living, and Part 4/Confronting Craft. In the liner notes these categories are accurately generalized by labeling them inspiration, training, economics, and philosophy. Within each section are sub topics that help present the focus of each section. For example, Part 2/Getting An Education

is broken down into training with masters, studying in the academy, and learning in communities. Each section is presented chronologically. Part 4/Confronting Craft contains contributions from 34 craftspeople. The first sub topic in this section, “Testing Tradition,” has among its 23 contributions a piece by Marguerite Wildenhain written in 1953; Claes Oldenburg, 1965; James Krenov, 1975; Wayne Higby, 1982; Betty Woodman, 1998; and Mark Hewitt, 2000. You begin to get the idea. Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint is not simply a presentation and study of the history of post-WWII American craft, but it goes further. In selecting the writings, the editors highlight the growth of craft alongside the development of so-called mainstream fine arts—sculpture, painting, design, as well as social and political movements of the day. We are given an opportunity to re-live the past 50 years, to experience the life and intentions of craftspeople we know and many who we meet for the first time. Included among the icons of 20th-century art and craft are: Anni Albers, MC Richards, George Nakashima, Daniel Rhodes, Marguerite Wildenhain, Val Cushing, Paul Soldner, Dale Chihuly, Charles Harder, Arline Fisch, Robert Arneson, and Peter Voulkos, to name a few. But it is not just the words from those with whom we are familiar that resonate. For each artist, each piece of their writing and speaking, every bit of life that they share is significant within the context of the subject of craft engagement. Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint gives us much to learn. Writings from exhibition catalogs, letters to friends, articles in craft magazines, lecture notes, and oral histories constitute this amazing historical account. There is an exchange between Arline Fisch and the U.S. Customs Service in which she battles over the classification and definition of art. There is a poem by Nora Narano-Morse in which she describes the clash between making and marketing. Betty Woodman explains the value and importance of the vessel to her work. As head of the design department at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1947, Charles Harder writes about the difficulties and challenges in starting a pottery business. These examples don’t even scratch the surface. The range of subjects is wide and the viewpoints varied.

Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint Edited by Vicki Halper and Diane Douglas University of North Carolina Press • Hardcover • $36.95 Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint is an anthology of writings that in their personality, individuality, subject matter, style, and chronology, form not only a history of post-WWII American craft, but in many ways offer us a reminder about why we do what we do. If ever there were justification for why we devote ourselves to the making of objects, whether it be for the pleasure of others, the stated function of the object, or self gratification and satisfaction—if ever there were a map for the route that our involvement in craft takes us on—Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint is it. The editors’ introduction, in which they lay out the origins, purpose, historical context, methodology, organization, and other notes, is worth the price of the book by itself. Choosing Craft: The Artist’s Viewpoint is a gem of a book that will reside on your night stand long after the first read-through is complete. You’ll return to it for inspiration, purpose, meaning, and direction. The words, phrases, messages, and advice will resonate. The difficulties, struggles, frustrations, and challenges will penetrate and stimulate. [

Making a Wheel-thrown, Altered Bottle




he potter’s wheel offers countless options when creating forms. Some shapes allow further manipulation after completion of the throwing process. Often fairly generic shapes such as bottles can be faceted when they are at the pliable early leather-hard stage. It is interesting to note that when faceting the bottle, other options are created in the foot or base of the form. Simply stated, one alteration leads to other aesthetic and functional decisions that are required in the piece. One function of a bottle should be to store liquid, with a spout that can easily pour out the contents. Additionally, it’s practical to create a form that’s stable in use and at rest.

Tools (pictured at left):

With the wheel spinning slowly, use a needle tool to cut off the top bottle ½" from the bottom. Keep the bottom clay pad to be textured and reattached later.


One of the joys when working with clay is the opportunity to make your own tools or use common objects in the shaping of ceramic forms. In a sense, the finding or making of tools can equal or exceed the subsequent creation of the pottery itself.

Making the template Necessary tools: A potter’s knife, a star tool*, hard bricks, needle tool, rib, sponge, and cardboard template. (*The star tool is made by cutting a piece of cardboard into an equilateral triangle, then gluing a straight wooden stick to each point to create three 120° angles. It is placed on top of the bottle to mark three equal areas for alteration).


Forming the bottle

The altered bottle project is dependent on judging the pliability (hardness or softness) of the clay at each step in the forming process. If the clay is too soft, it will not hold its shape. If the clay is too hard, it will crack when you form the vertical planes or attach the bottom. As usual, begin by wedging, weighing, and centering the appropriate amount of clay. The diameter of the centered clay determines the diameter of the bottle. When pulling up your cylinder, equal wall thickness is essential. A metal or wooden rib placed against the wall of the pot is helpful during the throwing operation. At this point, a sponge on a stick can remove excess water from the bottom of the cylinder. After the cylinder is formed, collar in the top while alternately pulling it into a bottle neck shape (see photo 1). Next, wait until the bottle is leather-hard, then spin the wheel slowly while passing the needle tool through the wall of the pot ½" from the bottom.   Now, remove the top of the bottle (photo 2) and place it in the exact center of another bat. Position the star tool on top of

The bottle is placed on a bat; triangle tool is placed on top to determine equal segments. Hard bricks are pushed symmetrically into the leather-hard, but still pliable, form.


The altered bottle awaits re-attachment of the cutaway bottom pad (process described on page 42).


Collar-in the top ¼ of the cylinder to form the neck. The opening should be large enough for efficient pouring. Allow the bottle to dry to soft leather-hard stage.

Stiff cardboard makes an excellent material for templates. A compass can form the circle, or any round shape can be traced on the cardboard. The circle is then cut in half. It is best to make several different size half-circles. Later, you’ll place the one that fits against the bottom of the bottle to span each side of the form (see photo 5, next page).  


A Thrown & Altered Bottle (cont. from page 41) the bottle to delineate the three sections (photo 3). Place the hard bricks on end in front of each of the three sections and move them toward the center to form the planes (photo 4). When the bottle stiffens, remove the bricks and turn the bottle upside down. Now use the half circle template to mark each cut out on the bottom of the bottle. This will create a stable configuration for the legs of the bottle. A sharp knife works best to make an accurate cut (photo 5). The remaining disk of clay (photo 6) from the cut-off bottle should be removed from the bat with a cut-off wire. Next, roll it out on a flat, absorbent surface or a textured pad, increasing its surface area (photo 7).  The slab and bottom walls of the bottle can then be scored (see photos 8 and 9) and joined together with a small amount of water or slip. Once the slab is set into the bottom of the bottle and the adjoining edges securely pressed together excess clay can be trimmed off and the seam pressed flush to the bottle bottom (photo 10).  

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Cutting away the tripod feet.


Firing the bottle

The appropriate clay body will require no extraordinary steps in the drying process, after which it can be bisque-fired. The demonstration bottle (pictured on page 5) was bisque-fired to cone 06 (~1828° F). Zam BB Dark Brown glaze was poured inside and the excess poured out, after which the top third of the bottle was dipped into the glaze. When dry, Zam Gold oxide overglaze wash [see for recipe] was applied using a fan brush. The bottle was then fired in a soda kiln to cone 6 (~2232° F). [

Bottle bottom to be removed & rolled.


Textured surface makes great impression.


ZAM SPECIAL PF 111, rev. (Brown clay body; soda-fired to cone 6 in reduction) Hawthorne Bond Fireclay Goldart Stoneware Clay EPK Kentucky OM4 Ball Clay Custer Feldspar Silica 200 mesh add Grog 48/f

20% 45 3 15 9 8 TOTAL 100% 7%

Flattened bottom is scored before joining.


ZAM B/B Glaze (Glossy dark brown cone 6 glaze)


Custer Feldspar Whiting Lithium Carbonate Wollastonite Silica 325 mesh EPK


43% 5 5 5 21 21 TOTAL 100% add Red Iron Oxide 3 add Cobalt Carbonate 3 add Manganese Dioxide 2

Author Jeff Zamek is an M.F.A. graduate from Alfred University College of Ceramics, NY, and is a professional ceramics consultant and part-time potter. He may be reached via his Website at

Bottle wall edges are also scored.


After joining, rough corners are softened with a rib.




Dear Monona,

Dear Willy,

First I must say that I enjoy your articles in Clay Times. I read and re-read them regularly. I like the technical and scientific approach you take in developing your comments and opinions. However, I am confused by all the literature about dangerous metals, salts, oxides, and their potential to leach out in functional pottery. For instance, I have read about the Barium debate, but I am still not sure if it is a risk in functional ware. I know I have had Barium medical procedures where I ingested significant amounts of Barium.

Wonderful questions! Let’s approach them one at a time:

Frits are also an unknown factor, and it is difficult for me to determine their safety. I like the glaze section in CT and the check and x indicator [safety rating system] on each glaze. Maybe a simple listing of the most common materials and colorants with this type of rating would be helpful to most potters. In developing a palette of Cone 6 glazes I intend to use on functional ware, I have been searching for a listing of colorants and other glaze ingredients that are considered unsafe—those that may require special attention. I understand that the maturity and glass forming ability of a glaze also has an effect on the finished piece, and I plan to test my products regularly just to be sure.

Thanks for all the good articles. Keep us up-to-date and safe. — Willy S.

You scarfed down a whole glass of "barium" gunk during your medical tests, but the barium was in the form of barium sulfate. This chemical is highly insoluble. Your body picked up only a negligible amount of barium from the procedure. Barium carbonate, used in glazes, is only a tiny bit more soluble, yet the amount of barium it releases makes it an effective industrial rat poison. Barium nitrate is so soluble and quick-acting, it has even been used by murderers! None of these facts have anything to do with the solubility of the final barium glaze. The sulfate, carbonate, or nitrate attached to the barium glaze compound is removed by the heat during firing (one of the reasons kiln emissions are toxic). Now the barium is in the glaze matrix, which is composed of silica, alumina, and a bunch of other metals. Each glaze has its own unique solubility, which is also affected by firing temperature and many other factors. This is so unpredictable that even commercial manufacturers like Lenox and Noritake test samples from every kiln load to be certain they don’t leach. Regarding barium leaching, I have lab reports on a cone 6 barium glaze popular in the 1990s which leached way over 800 parts per million (ppm)—an amount that could easily be fatal to a child in a glass of orange juice. This is also in excess of the 2 ppm maximum contaminant level (MCL)

2. Frits. You can think of a frit as a fired glaze base that has been ground into a powder. Powders have a lot of surface area from which metals can leach. So frits that contain toxic metals are toxic to people if they are inhaled or ingested. But just like the barium compounds discussed above, the frit’s ability to leach metals into your body is unrelated to the solubility of these metals from a fired glaze made with the frit. Once again, kiln firing mixes all the glaze ingredients into a matrix that is very fluid at high temperatures; and the configuration in which it cools will be a factor in how much will dissolve on contact with food. 3. The “check and x” safety rating system. These kinds of rating systems for glaze recipes are useful in assisting potters in making good choices. But remember that these indicators don’t guarantee safety. All glazes have the potential to be toxic unless they only contain nontoxic metals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, and/or aluminum. And even aluminum, a constituent of almost all glazes, is considered toxic if it is dissolved in food or drink. Even a well-formulated glaze (one that usually doesn’t leach significant amounts of any of its metals) can be made unsafe by firing it too hot, too cold, applying it over or under another glaze or oxide that alters leaching, or doing any number of other things that change its solubility. You could even make a safe glaze unsafe by firing it next to a pot whose glaze elements migrate in the heat and change the composition and solubility of glazes nearby. Most potters have seen tin glazes turn bright pink from chromium migrating from pots near them. Lead is even more likely to migrate, and it won’t change the color of the glazes it affects, so you won’t even know it’s there. continued on next page


Reading an MSDS [Material Safety Data Sheet] is daunting and gives a potter a poor sense of the risk involved for both raw materials as well as the various common frits used by potters. Maybe you or someone at Clay Times could do a piece on reading the MSDS? Maybe this is a book?

1. Is barium a hazard? The answer is, that depends on many factors, all having to do with solubility of the material containing barium and the form the barium is in.

for barium set by the EPA for drinking water to prevent chronic health effects over time.

Studio I Health & Safety

Glaze Safety FAQs


Studio I Health & Safety

Glaze Safety FAQs (cont. from previous page) A simple rating system for toxic metals would also be difficult. For example, there are metals that can cause immediate poisoning and toxicity depending on the dose. There are others that aren’t immediately toxic, but that over time can cause chronic diseases. There are still even others that are found to be nontoxic on acute tests, but may cause birth defects if a pregnant woman is exposed, or may cause cancer in humans many years later. So I consider labels like “high,” “moderate,” and “low” that are used in some rating systems and MSDSs completely inadequate for determining glaze safety. 4. Reading MSDSs. You are right when you say that the subject of reading MSDSs could require a book. I will think about how to address this in future columns. Until then, I would be happy to send you (and any reader) an article that provides definitions of the many terms seen on the MSDSs (see how to get a free one at the end of this column).


The glaze safety method I recommend is to send small sample pots regularly to a lab that will use the FDA leach test to measure the release of two or three of the toxic metals in each glaze used on the insides of ware. Then, compare the levels of the metals in the lab report with the EPA maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for potable water. If the pot doesn’t leach out more of a particular metal than would be allowed in a borderline quality public water supply, it is probably safe. Is this a perfect system? Hell, no! But it is likely to work pretty well and will cover metals for which there are no FDA requirements. If anyone out there has a better idea, please sing out! I’d be happy to send you (or any reader) a free article on glaze testing that includes contact information for two labs that will do the test. For this and/or the previously mentioned MSDS article, send your self-addressed, stamped envelope to: ACTS, 181 Thompson St., #23, New York, NY 10012. Thanks again, Willy, for the great questions. [

Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation. Publication Title: Clay Times. Publication number 1087-7614. Published quarterly. Annual subscription price: $33. Office of publication: 52 W. Colonial Hwy., Hamilton, VA 20158. Publisher: Clay Times Inc., PO Box 100, Hamilton, VA 20159. Editor: Polly Beach, PO Box 100, Hamilton, VA 20159. Managing Editor: None. Owner: Clay Times Inc., PO Box 100, Hamilton, VA 20159. Stockholders owning 1% of more of total amount of stock: Polly Beach, Clay Times Inc., PO Box 100, Hamilton, VA 20159. Known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders owning or holding 1 percent of more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities: None. Extent and nature of circulation based on preceding 12 months: a) Total number of copies: 16,074. b) Paid/requested circulation: (1) Outside county mail subscriptions: 7662. (2) In-county subscriptions: 75. (3) Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales and other non-USPS paid distribution: 1,958. (4) Other classes mailed through USPS: 720. c) Total paid and/or requested circulation: 10,415. d) Free distribution by mail (samples, complimentary, and other free): (1) Outside county: 40. (2) In-county: 0. (3) Other classes mailed through USPS: 0. (4) Free distribution outside the mail (carriers or other means): 5248. e) Total free distribution: 5288. f) Total distribution: 15,703 g) copies not distributed: 371. h) Total: 16,074. i) Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 82%. I certify that the statements made by me above are correct and complete. Polly Beach, President, Clay Times Inc.

A Sure Cure for Bat Rage

Design Dilemmas Resolved

After way too many occasions when my masonite bats would get stuck to the wheelhead during throwing, I finally found the ultimate solution for releasing even the tightest bat-to-wheel connections: a simple paint can opener from the local home supply store.

How many times have you made a beautifully-formed pot, bisqued it, then ruined it with your glaze decoration? So many of us can relate to this problem ... but now there's a way to transfer the designs you draw, compose, or scan into the computer directly onto your pots! Simply print out your art, decorative message, or heirloom photo onto ceramic decal paper from your Canon or HP Laser Printer and those intricate designs can be fired right on top of your glazed piece with reliable decorative results. Visit the online store at www. to learn more about this process and how to get the paper. [

Just insert the wide end of the tip between the bat and wheelhead, twist about 10 degrees, and voila! The bat is stuck no more. [A few words of caution, however: the paint can opener is extremely sharp and should be used with care by adults only. Always keep this tool out of the reach of children!]

Submit your clever studio tip to The Slurry Bucket and you could earn a free T-shirt if it’s published! E-mail your tip, photo (if you have one), contact information, and T-shirt size to:, or send to PO Box 100, Hamilton, VA 20159.

Now open in Loudoun County, Virginia!




Since there is no law against it, should we feel free to use lead glazes on our casseroles? No. Instead, we need to know we can be held liable for harming anyone by exposing them to toxic metals— regulated or unregulated.

Slurry Bucket Tips


5. Testing glazes. FDA only regulates lead and cadmium in ceramics. But FDA is fully aware that barium, cobalt, manganese, chromium, nickel, and many other metals are toxic. The FDA proposed regulating other metals in ceramics, yet has never gotten around to it. In fact, they’ve never even gotten around to regulating lead in ceramic crocks and casseroles—items that are even more likely to

leach lead into food when it is hot.

Fine Arts Gallery & Potters’ Resource Center Conveniently located on Business Route 7 at 52 West Colonial Hwy. • Hamilton, VA 20158

Open Mon-Sat 10 to 6; Sun 12 to 4; late Wed ’til 8 (less than an hour’s drive from Washington, DC; Tysons Corner, VA; Waynesboro, PA; Martinsburg, WV; Frederick & Gaithersburg, MD) Watch & www.facebook. com/Clay.Times.Magazine for sales & events!

Check out these listings to find local programs for wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculptural techniques, & more … Classes are listed alphabetically by state

ARIZONA Tucson Clay Co-op — 3326 North Dodge Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85711; 520.792.6263; www.; Fully equipped, sunny studio offering all level classes, rentals, clay gallery, parties, specialty workshops and more. Wheelthrowing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, sculpture, mosaics, classes for adults and children. Friday night clay parties for adults, teen parties on Saturdays.

FLORIDA Craft Gallery & Dixie Art Loft — 5911 South Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach, FL 33405; 561.585.7744;; potteryme@ Gallery, studio & kiln rental. Glazes, clay, glass, tools, books, equipment, and art. Classes in glass fusion, enameling, silver clay, wheel-throwing, handbuilding, and architectural sculpture. Workshops by guest artists.

GEORGIA Callanwolde Fine Arts Center — 980 Briarcliff Rd., Atlanta, GA 30306; 404.874.9351; www.; Located in Midtown Atlanta, Callanwolde offers basic and intermediate wheel and handbuilding classes for adults, as well as electric, gas, raku, and soda firing, plus guest artist workshops.

Johns Creek Arts Center — 6290 Abbotts Bridge Rd, Building 700, Johns Creek, GA 30097; 770.623.8448; Fax 770.623.6995; jcacinfo@bellsouth. net; Located in Johns Creek, GA, the Johns Creek Art Center provides ceramics


Katz, Hannah Niswonger, Mark Shapiro, Gay Smith, Kayla Stein, Guy Wolff, Joe Woodford, Mikhail Zakin – something for everyone.


Pottery Alley — 205½ W. Vermilion St., Lafayette, LA 70501; 337.267.4453;; info@ Pottery Alley offers classes, workshops and open studio in a relaxed, creative atmosphere. All levels welcome! Wheel-throwing, handbuildiing, electric firing, raku firing, classes for adults and children, guest artist workshops, monthly clay dates.

Bodine Pottery & Art Studio — New location: 432 West Frontage Dr., Wiggins, MS 39577; 601.928.4718;; hukmut@; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, kiln building, PMC (precious metal clay), week-long clay camps for adults and summer clay camps for kids. Also a clay supplier and gallery, featuring the work of ten Mississippi artists.



323 Clay — 323 West Maple Avenue, Independence, MO 64068; 816.254.7552; http://www.323Clay. com; Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults, classes for children.

The Red Door Pottery Studio — 44 Government St., Kittery, ME 03904; 207.439.5671;; Year-round classes, all skill levels, monthly workshops, private lessons, retail gallery, shows. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children.

NEW JERSEY MARYLAND Renaissance Art Center — 12116 Darnestown Rd., Suite L4, Gaithersburg, MD 20878; 866.212.6604;; Pottery classes for all ages, teaching wheel throwing, handbuilding, and glazing techniques. Electric firing.

Laplaca Pottery Works — 1002A Trenton Ave., Point Pleasant, NJ 08742; 732.861.2276; www.; Large, modern studio with great lighting and all-new equipment. Wheelthrowing, electric firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children.

NEW YORK MASSACHUSETTS Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill — 10 Meetinghouse Road, Truro, MA 02666, 508.349.7511;; Throwing & handbuilding by some of the best potters in the country: Jim Brunelle, Linda Christianson, Kevin Crow, Marty Fielding, Silvie Granateli, Linden Gray, Randy Johnston, Matt

Artworks at West Side YMCA — 5 West 63rd St., New York, NY 10023; 212.912.2368; ymcanyc. org/westside; We are a friendly, supportive studio on Manhattan's Upper West Side offering classes and open studio time in the visual arts. Wheelthrowing, handbuilding, electric firing, wood firing, continued on next page


Hudgens Center for the Arts — 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Bldg. 300, Duluth, GA 30097; 770.623.6002; Fax 770.623.3555; info@thehudgens. org; The Hudgens is located north of Atlanta and offers year-round fine art classes. Wheelthrowing, handbuildiing, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, classes for adults and children, open studio for students.

instruction for adults and youth with wheel-throwing, handbuilding, summer camps, cone 06-6 electric firing, and guest artist workshops.

Resources I Classes

Community Pottery Classes


Resources I Classes

NEW YORK (classes, cont.) guest artist workshops, stained glass, watercolor, drawing, and beading. Classes for adults and children. Banner Hill School of Fine Arts & Woodworking — 741 Mill St., P.O. Box 607, Windham, NY 12423; 518.929.7821; bannerhillwindham@;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric & raku firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults & children; intensive one-day to twoweek courses in ceramics for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. BrickHouse Ceramic Art Center — 10-34 44th Drive 1st Floor, Long Island City, NY 11101; 718.784.4907;; http://www. Spacious, fully-equipped studio, yearround adult classes, ceramic artist rental shelves, pottery for sale.Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, guest artist workshops, private parties. Clay Art Center — 40 Beech Street, Port Chester, NY 10573; 914-937-2047;; mail@; Clay classes for adults & children and monthly workshops in wheel-throwing, sculpture, & special topics. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops, summer camps, studio space, gallery.

Clayworks on Columbia Inc. — 195 Columbia St., Brooklyn, NY 11231; 917.428.3128;; A not-for-profit clay studio now in its 16th year. Classes for adults & children in wheel-throwing, handbuilding, and sculpture; featuring electric firing plus rental space and gallery for students and members. The JCC in Manhattan — 334 Amsterdam Ave., 76th St., Brooklyn, NY 10023; 646.505.5715; sorr@; The Upper West Side’s community ceramics center with classes for everyone at every level! Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, felectric firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children. We also offer classes for children with Special Needs, private lessons, birthday parties, and bench time for registered students. The Painted Pot — 339 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231; 718.222.0334;; mail@; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture. Supermud Pottery Studio — 2744 Broadway (between 105th and 106th St.), New York City, NY 10025. Year-round classes for adults and children of all skill levels on the Upper West Side. Call 212.865.9190 or visit us at Wheel-throwing, handbulding, electric firing, wood firing, private lessons, private parties, studio space rental with 7-day access, gallery space.


Tom Turner

2-Day Demo Workshop April 14 & 15, 2012

Rising Sun Pottery — 209 South Academy Street, Lincolnton, NC 28092-2714; 704.735.5820;; RisingSunPottery@ Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults, special summer-only children’s classes.



Eric Orr Clay — 22 Blackjack Lane, Lewisville,TX 75077; 940.241.1242;; ericmuddorr@ A complete teaching studio for lovers of clay and glass. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, glass fusing and slumping, classes for adults and children. I work with you individually and endeavor to take you where you want to go on your clay/glass journey!


SUNIN Clay Studio — 13473 Wetmore Road, San Antonio, TX 78247; 210.494.9100; suninpottery@; A full-service working and teaching studio where potters and students express

TEXAS, cont. themselves in clay. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children.

VIRGINIA Art Pottery Studio — 4810 Tabard Pl., Annandale, VA 22003; 703.978.1480;; www. Year-round classes for all ages and abilities; group and private lessons, with special programs for Girl Scouts, cancer survivors, & others facing life’s challenges. Wheelthrowing, handbuilding, electric firing, classes for adults and children, mixed media, sculpture, and specialty workshops. Manassas Clay & Tin Barn Pottery Supply — 9122 Center Street, Manassas, VA 20110; 703.330.1040;;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, sculpture, glazing, raku. Nan Rothwell Studio Pottery — 221 Pottery Lane, Faber, VA 22938 (near Wintergreen); 434.263.4023;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, glazing, firing for ages 16 & up. Round Hill Arts Center — 35246 Harry Byrd Highway, Round Hill, VA 20142; 540.338.5022; info@;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, electric firing, classes for adults and children, summer camps, also classes for all art mediums. Mention Clay Times for a 10% discount on your first class! Open studios for students. Workhouse Arts Center - Ceramics Program — 9504 Workhouse Way, Bldg. 8, Lorton, VA 22079; (703) 584-2982; or; dalemarhanka@lortonarts. org. A collective and highly dynamic environment with the goal of promoting ceramic art through research, education, and outreach. Resident artist program and classes for adults (ages 16 & up) and children (5-15 years old) in wheel-throwing, handbuilding, ceramic sculpture, tile making, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, visiting artist workshops, corporate retreats, and workshops for Girl /Cub Scout troops.

WYOMING Potters Depot LLC — 75 East Benteen St., Buffalo, WY 82834;; www.pottersdepot. com. We have a beautiful gallery and offer pottery classes for adults, teens, and kids. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops.[

The workshop fee is $150. To reserve a space call 412.489.5240 For more information, visit our website at 24 Chestnut St., Carnegie, PA 15106

SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT YOUR POTTERY CLASSES! A full one-year listing of community pottery classes in CT's print & online magazines + Website is available for just $129! For details, visit

Furnished by Bill Schran (see crystalline glaze story and images on p. 30-33). Schran uses these recipes to make crystalline glazes that he fires to cone 6 in an electric kiln, using the firing schedule at top right of this page.

FARA MID RANGE, rev. (revised from original Fara Shimbo) Ferro Frit 3110 55.0% Calcined Zinc Oxide* 25 to 20.0 Silica 325 Mesh 12.0 Spodumene 4.0 Talc 3.0 Titanium Dioxide 5.0 * Calcined zinc oxide should be used to reduce glaze shrinkage during drying and provide a more consistent percentage of zinc in the glaze. Firing in a bisque bowl to 1200°F can calcine zinc. In this recipe, the amount varies from 20 to 25%, with smaller amounts applied to horizontal surfaces)

RICHARD the THIRD, rev. (original Richard the Third by Dick White) Fusion Frit #644 36.0% Calcined Zinc Oxide** 24 to 21.0 Silica 22.0 Gerstley Borate 1.0 Lithium Carbonate 3.0 Strontium Carbonate 10.0 (**adjust for desired crystal/ground mix)

BILL’s BEST, rev. (original was a cone 10 glaze that Schran began testing in 2003; it has been revised several times)

(**adjust for desired crystal/ground mix) All glaze recipes above are listed in parts by weight, and should be tested before regular studio use. [

1. RAMP / Segment 1: 750°F per hour to 2000°F [no hold time] 2. RAMP / Segment 2: 125°F per hour to 2195°F [50-minute hold time] 3. RAMP / Segment 3: 200°F per hour to 2000°F [45-minute hold] 4. RAMP / Segment 4: 250°F per hour to 1925°F [4-hour hold] 5. RAMP / Segment 5: 250°F per hour to 1825°F [1-hour hold] 6. RAMP / Segment 6: 100°F per hour to 1750°F [30-minute hold]


unleash & enhance productivity with design-it-yourself

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fun styles ... sizes s-xxxl


new handmade brushes & more at the Clay Times® Online Store


Ferro Frit 3110 29.5% Fusion Frit 413 25.0 Silica 13.0 Calcined Zinc Oxide** 24 to 20.0 Lithium Carbonate 2.0 Titanium Dioxide 1.0

Program is a total of Six Segments/Ramps

Readers Share I Glaze Recipes

Great Glazes

Crystalline Glaze Firing Schedule for Great Glaze recipes at left


Resources I Classified Marketplace

Classified Marketplace Classes

For Sale, cont.

Opportunities, cont.

• Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine US offers one- and twoweek summer intensive studio workshops in a variety of media (clay, fiber/textile, glass, metals, printmaking, drawing, wood, writing, etc.) Non-scholarship application deadline: April 1. For more information, call 207.348.2306, or visit

• Bailey MXP 50 Pug Mixer — Excellent condition. Mixes, pugs and deairs 50# of clay from wet or dry-recycled or new bagged. Excellent results. Minimum clay dust released in the air. $3300. Pick up only, southwest Indiana. 812.249.0772, text or call Diane Mann.

JOIN AMERICANPOTTERS.COM • TODAY! Be a part of a national, searchable database for FREE ... or an “online gallery/ portfolio” to sell your work, without commissions. If you have a Website, join with a “link” page. All information is editable by you, without Web knowledge. Go to the site and click on “FAQ” for more information.

Events • SMOKE, FIRE, AND FUMES — April 28-29, 2012. This hands-on workshop with Linda and Charlie Riggs will focus on ferric chloride fuming, two types of naked raku, and horsehair firing. A special emphasis will be on the use of pots polished with white terra sigillata. For full details visit www. • The 23rd Annual CCACA brings the ultimate ceramic sculpture event to Davis, CA from April 27 – April 29th, 2012. Interact with top artists in a way not possible at other venues. Three days of demonstrations and lectures by renowned artists Janis Mars Wunderlich, Tony Marsh, Judy Onofrio, and John Roloff with 50 student exhibitions. Visit for more information. • POTTERY ON THE HILL — An exciting new event coming to Washington, DC (our nation's capital!). 16 of America's finest functional potters. October 26 - 28th, 2012. Check out for more details ... and stay tuned! • Check out Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley's pottery and art gallery: The Cooley Gallery is located at 12 South King Street, Leesburg, VA 20175. Call us at 703.779.4639 or e-mail: thecooleygallery@ Watch our Website for upcoming events and visiting artists announcements!


For Sale


• STUDIO — 3,400-sq.-ft. turn-key pottery studio with 3 BR, 2.1 BA apt. 30-ton ram press, powerstar pug mill, kilns, wheel, extruder, slab roller, much more. Coos Bay, Oregon: $195,500. Training and tech support. For information visit index.htm or e-mail:; tel: Darryl 541.888.0272.

• Bailey Studio Model 24/16 Downdraft Gas Kiln and Venco 4-inch De-airing Pugmill. Both in excellent condition. NH 603.763.8756 • Ceramics Studio — 430 + sq ft, Skutt Production Kiln 1227PK, Envirovent 2, Brent Wheel, other studio equipment and supplies, and Home, 2 BR, 2 BA, 1500 sq ft contemporary ranch on 1.84 acres in hardwood forest, wood floors and Lucid Lighting fixtures throughout, located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. $260,000. E-mail: or call 919.259.5662. • If you like to make and sell your pottery, and would like to live in one of the most beautiful homes in Texas, then look at Our home, our gallery, and our studio are for sale. Annual sales of $220,000+ per year. COMPLETELY furnished studio, established customers. $336,000. Call 325.572.5056 • Soldner Pro Clay Mixer 208 3PH — $3,500 plus shipping from Akron, OH. Contact Bob Yost at 330.734.0763 or • Custom Ceramic Molds — For  more than  20 years, Petro Mold Company has been designing molds for some of the world’s most renowned ceramic artists and potters. Our innovative molds will help you improve productivity with your popular designs. We set the highest American quality standards with our sculpting, mold manufacturing and design services. Visit us today at www.custommolds. net or call 800.404.5521.

Opportunities • CALL FOR ENTRY — Louisville, KY: “Bluegrass Bourbon, By the Bottle, By the Ounce” a national juried exhibit of bourbon bottles and shot glasses to take place at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft Nov. 2, 2012 to Jan. 5, 2013. Juried from digital images by Matt Long. Entry Deadline: May 1, 2012. Please visit for more information and to download form.

Tools for Potters • GREAT NEW HANDBUILDING TEMPLATES! A set of 24 durable, flexible, laminated templates to create circular & conical forms. Developed over many years by potter & teacher, Sandi Pierantozzi. Perfect for potters or teachers. Start having fun creating new forms with CircleMatic Form Finder! www. • GLAZECAL — A conversion chart to calculate glaze recipe percentages into the correct gram weight, based on your batch size. You no longer need a standard calculator when figuring out glaze recipes! No math or computer programs needed. It’s portable, too! Reduces error! Visit DEALERS WANTED. • PRIDDY PRESS — Pliable / Reusable Embossing Stamp System. You can make inexpensive, custom, artistic stamps for in-house design work. I can teach you to make your own OR make one for you. Wrap your artwork over and around your pots without the expense of inflexible rubber/plastic stamps. See demos at; tel. 252.504.2622.

Travel • GAYA CERAMIC ARTS CENTER in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia: 2012 Two-Week Workshops with Excursions April 8-21 Hillary Kane and Mary Jane Edelson "Culinary Clay: food and design" May 6-19 Mary Campbell Allen "Baligama Wood-Firing" June 10-21 Deborah Swartzkopf "Constructed Shapes" July 1-7 Gyan Daniel Wall "Anagama Build" July 8-21 Gyan Daniel Wall & Hillary Kane "Inauguration by Fire: A Deep Study in Wood Firing" September 2-15 Candone Wharton "The Art of Raku Firing" September 23-October 6 Fong Choo "Proportion of the Teapot Form." Contact: Candone Wharton, NCECA Booth #436; email: web:; tel: 407.687.8555. continued continued on on page page 50 50

To place your classified ad, call 800.356.2529 or log onto:

Opinion I Around the Firebox

Burning Up and Burning Out... L

ast year, we had a tough summer in East Texas. We suffered through day after day of 100° F+ temperatures and no rain, followed by wildfires. In my area we had a record eighty 100° days, including a string of 60 in a row. For weeks I could smell the smoke from nearby wildfires. It was no fun working in my pottery studio, where it was 85° early in the morning and only got hotter all day and into the evening. Electric fans merely served to blow the hot air around, drying bowls so fast that they were bone-dry on the rims while still wet at the base. This made it difficult to attach handles without having them crack afterward. By the middle of the summer, I was fed up and didn’t want to have anything to do with clay. Add to that the fact that I had no customers at my shop, because no one was out and about in the heat, and I had little motivation to persevere. As the days turned into weeks, my enthusiasm waned even more. If I did manage to make a kiln-load of pots, it would just mean that I would have to fire my wood kiln. This is an exhausting job in cool weather, and would be a grueling and dangerous undertaking on a 107° day with a high firedanger warning. At times like these, one needs inspiration and rejuvenation! It’s inevitable that if you do something long enough, even something you love, you will eventually run into roadblocks, or experience mental or physical exhaustion, waning interest, or lack of satisfaction. Add several of these conditions together and you have burnout. Yes, it can happen to potters. I’ve experienced it from time to time through the years and witnessed several potter friends suffer serious, sometimes permanent, burnout.

If I mention to family or friends that I am feeling stressed or uninspired, they are no help. In fact, most people find it hard to believe that anyone who has the freedom to work as an artist would have anything to complain about. If I talk about jobrelated problems, the response is usually one of incredulous

disbelief. People seem to imagine that we potters spend our days playing with clay in a state of serene bliss. I guess that point of view is somewhat understandable; to them I am living a life that many dream of but few realize, and yet here I am saying I’m unsatisfied. Great, now I feel guilty as well as stressed! So, what are some techniques and courses of action for dealing with feelings of burnout? Again, it seems like the conventional suggestions for job burnout don’t exactly apply. First on most lists is to take some time off. Yes, after a period of intense work it’s always good to take off a day or two to relax. But, and this may sound counterintuitive, I’ve found that if the time off stretches on for more than a few days it can actually make it harder to get back to work. For me, especially in the winter, after a few days of being clean and warm and not having dry skin from having my hands in water, the notion of going back to the studio and throwing again is not too appealing. Last summer, the thought of working in my hot studio was similarly distasteful. Times like these are usually when I will occupy myself with housekeeping chores such as cleaning and organizing the studio or catching up on paperwork, but these are only good for a day or two. After that, the diversions only make it even harder to get started again. continued on next page


It seems like potter’s burnout is not really the same as what is experienced in most jobs. Self-help books and websites typically list the causes of job burnout as overwork, lack of control, lack of acknowledgement, fear of layoff, facing unclear or impossible tasks, and/or dealing with difficult bosses. It’s a little different for potters since we don’t have worry about layoffs or demanding bosses, but we do have to personally deal with any and all problems, from the technical to the financial. It can also be difficult to remain creative while keeping everything else running smoothly.



Resources I Classified Marketplace

Classifieds (continued from page 48) WANTED: Ruth Purdew Pots • Wanted: Studio Pottery by Ruth Perdew — E-mail or call 303.988.0442. Ruth Perdew was a great Denver Potter in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s.

Web Sites for Potters • Web Sites for Potters — We specialize in custom-designed sites for artists, craftspeople. New sites, redesigns, maintenance. Visit ceramics or call 860.664.9593.s

Workshops • Architectural Ceramics Workshop — Architectural Ceramics Workshop with Peter King and Xinia Marin, June 18-22 in the Historic Gold Rush town of Nevada City in California’s Sierra Nevada. The cost of the workshop is $850, or $800 if you register by Feb 15. For more information about this workshop visit or contact Rene Sprattling at 530.277.1510. To learn more about Peter King and Xinia Marin visit and www. • New CT POTTERS’ RESOURCE CENTER now open in LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA: On-site ceramics book/video library; pottery supplies & equipment; fine handmade clay art, glass, jewelry, & more! Upcoming workshops, product demos, and clinics on all aspects of claywork. Visit or call 540.338.4249 for hours & more info.


• Printing with Clay Workshop — Don't miss this opportunity to experience a week-long clay printing workshop in Taos, New Mexico with Mitch Lyons. June 18-22; all materials provided; $500 plus $35 lab fee. Contact Mitch Lyons at 302.545.4839 or visit


• Throwing Workshop — Nelson County, Virginia:, Kevin Crowe & Nan Rothwell Throwing Workshop. Nan & Kevin's studios. First workshop March 9-15, 2012 (March 9-11 with Nan, 13-15 with Kevin) Second workshop August 3-9, 2012 (August 3-5 with Nan, 7-9 with Kevin) $360 for each three-day session, or $680 for both. Contact Kevin at 434.263.4065 or; or Nan at 434.263.4025 or • Visit Bill van Gilder’s Website at: www. for his pottery, tools, brushes, DVDs, and kiln plans, plus access to glaze recipes, workshop listings, and more. [

Burning Up & Burning Out (continued from previous page) I asked some of my creative friends how they re-energize when feeling burned out. My songwriter friend Randy Brown had an interesting response, “The single thing that helped me out of my slump earlier this year was taking another songwriter under my wing, simply because I believed she had promise and was willing to work hard.” Hmm ... by encouraging another, he found himself encouraged and recharged. For potters, it can be helpful to look around for inspiration. Nature, works of art in other media, or ceramics books and magazines can help jumpstart enthusiasm. Last summer, I had been thinking about making some mugs with a new (to me) sgraffito decoration. At about that time I was looking at the new Clay Times, and Bill van Gilder’s article about offcenter mugs caught my eye. Perfect—that was just the look I was thinking about for my new mugs, and it was an extra stimulus to get me started. Sometimes, however, nothing catches my imagination, and at those times the best antidote is not to wait around for inspiration, but to, as Nike says, “just do it.” For me, it’s

best to start with something that is familiar and not too challenging, because failure only makes getting started again even harder. Also, even if I have pottery orders waiting to be made, I always start with something I want to make, not something I have to make. It never fails that after some time spent manipulating clay, I find myself involved and motivated again. No matter how many times I have worked with the same form or idea, there is always some small detail that catches my attention; trying different variations and alternatives can make it interesting again. Taking that first step is the hard part. For my new mugs last summer, I started early in the morning and quit by midmorning. Everything was carefully covered with plastic, and then, knowing that the unhandled mugs were waiting for me provided a big incentive to go back to work early the next morning. It was only half-days, but I was back to work and enjoying it. Now, if I can only keep last summer in mind, maybe it will be a little extra motivation to head over to my cold studio on the last few of these freezing winter mornings. [

Index to Advertisers Bailey Pottery Equipment.......................28 Banner Hill School of Fine Arts...............21 Brackers Clay / Orton Cone Box Show....7 Carolina Clay Connection.......................21 Castle Hill Truro Art Center.....................10 Cedar Heights Clay/Resco.....................36 Clay Times Products..........................44,47 Clayworks Supplies................................39 Continental Clay......................................26 Dolan Tools.............................................36 Euclid’s Elements....................................51 Evenheat Kilns........................................20 Fired-on Images/Heirloom Ceramics.....47 Fulwood Measure...................................36 Ghost Ranch ............................................9 Giffin Tec...................................................8 Graber’s Pottery, Inc...............................36 Great Lakes Clay & Supply Co...............21 Herring Designs......................................39 Hood College............................................9 Japan Pottery Tools................................47 The Kiln Dr...............................................21

L & L Kilns.................................................2 Laguna Clay Co........................................3 Larkin Refractory Solutions....................29 Louisville Clay.........................................13 Master Kiln Builders................................47 MKM Pottery Tools.................................38 Muddy Elbow Mfg./Soldner Wheels.......18 NCECA......................................................4 Odyssey Center for the Arts...................12 Olympic Kilns .........................................39 Paragon Industries..................................21 PCF Studios............................................21 Peter Pugger...........................................24 Peters Valley............................................13 Scripps College.......................................10 Sierra Nevada College............................20 Silver City Arts & Cultural District...........10 Skutt Ceramic Products.........................52 Smith-Sharpe Fire Brick Supply.............27 Standard Ceramic Supply......................46 Strictly Functional Pottery National........10 Ward Burner Systems.............................21

6” x 6” 6” 6”xx 6” 6” 6” x 6”

Save space. Save money. 13.5” space. Save space. Save Save money. money. 13.5” 13.5” dia. drilled tile-Batt Save money. 13.5” 13.5” Save money. dia. dia. drilled drilled tile-Batt tile-Batt including tile. dia. drilled tile-Batt dia. drilled tile-Batt including including tile. tile. Extra tiles: including tile. including tile. Extra Extra tiles: tiles: Extra tiles: Extra tiles:

6” xSave 6” Save space. space.

See Tom and the new kiln at the Skutt Booth at NCECA

Front Loader

Get a peek at Tom’s new glazes and see what he has to say about Skutt’s New Frontloading Kiln at

Artist: Tom Turner Photos: Gary Rawlins

For more information on Skutt Kilns or to find a distributor, visit us at or call us directly at 503.774.6000

Clay Times Magazine Volume 18 • Issue 93  

• Vince Sansone: From Battles to Bunnies - His Hare-Raising Secrets • A Thrown & Altered Tripod Project • Autumn Higgins: Emerging Clay Arti...

Clay Times Magazine Volume 18 • Issue 93  

• Vince Sansone: From Battles to Bunnies - His Hare-Raising Secrets • A Thrown & Altered Tripod Project • Autumn Higgins: Emerging Clay Arti...