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avoiding Internet Rip-off Scams Lasting Impressions with Rope Texture Pottery Training: Mothering in the Clay Studio Multi-faceted Forming Methods

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Shopping for a new extruder



X-Man’s Guide to Crystalline Glazing

TEChNIQUES Vol. 12 No. 3 May/June 2006



10:07 AM

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“ he Buyers Market of American Craft has literally changed the way we live our lives. Over half our year’s schedule was filled at the show and after the show ended we placed additional new gallery orders. I feel like I have a ‘real’ business and can have a ‘real’ home life.” Allan Ditton

Ditton Pottery

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George Debikey Vice President, Director of Technical Services, Amaco Ceramic Engineering/Ceramic Art degree Ballardini State Institute for Ceramic Arts, Faenza, Italy • Ceramic Sculpture degree, Academy of Fine Arts, Perugia, Italy

David Gamble

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

NON-TOXIC Conforms to ASTM D-4236

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Detail of one of X-Man’s crystalline matte glazes. Story appears on page 34.

May/June 2006 • Volume 12, Number 3

features 34 Crystalline Visions: X-Man’s Guide to Crystalline Glazes

39 Perfectly Different Alice Munn and Fong Choo share their works and techniques in Louisville, KY

43 Wrapping It Up With Texture Halldor Hjalmarson offers an unusual approach to texturing while throwing

46 Shopping for a Manual Extruder

Crystal Celadon Teapot by Fong Choo. 5" x 4½" x 4". See story, page 39.

by Jenna McCracken


51 Making it BIG by Peggy Albers

55 Avoiding Potential Internet Fraud by Peter Callas

56 Raku the Painterly Way by Barbara McKenzie

Scott Creek’s Super Duper Clay Extruder is but one of many excellent models surveyed in the article on page 46.

14 “West Meets East” at Montgomery College, Rockville, Maryland curated by Kevin Hluch

20 “State of Clay” at Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts curated by Alice Abrams and Joan Carcia






Cut down (or up) on thick pots with faceting! See step-by-step photos on page 27.

May/June 2006 • Volume 12, Number 3


departments 11 EDITOR’S DESK


If you were stranded on a desert isle...

A selection of new works by CT readers



Letters from our readers

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

59 GREAT GLAZES Encore recipes from previous CT cover artist Sandy Miller

Save time and trouble with studio-tested tips & techniques

73 POTTERY CLASSES Where to learn claywork in the U.S. & Canada

78 ART WALK Places to sell, buy, and view ceramic art

80 CLASSIFIED MARKETPLACE Goods and services just for clay artists

23 AS FAR AS I KNOW “Giving A Critique” by Pete Pinnell

27 BENEATH THE SURFACE “Mud Mamas” by Lana Wilson

31 TEACHING TECHNIQUES “Multi-faceted Forms” by Bill van Gilder

65 TOOL TIMES “Within Reach” by Vince Pitelka

67 KILNS & FIRING “A Tank Rubric” by Marc Ward

68 STUDIO HEALTH & SAFETY “Chromium: The Green Chemical” by Monona Rossol

82 AROUND THE FIREBOX “Real Potters” by Kelly Savino

71 BOOKS & VIDEOS Above: Halldor Hjalmarson demonstrates his method of texturing pots by wrapping them during the throwing process. For details, turn to page 43.

Left: Storage jar by Rob Barnard, part of “West Meets East” exhibition featured on page 14.

“Handmade Culture” review by Steven Branfman

On the cover: Art and photo by Xavier Gonzalez. Acorn. 8" x 5½". Black/blue glaze sprayed over Nancy’s tan glaze. Crystalline glaze on porcelain, fired to cone 9. Story on p. 34.


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ceramic art trends, tools & techniques





Editor & Art Director: Polly Beach Circulation Manager: Rachel Brownell Advertising Manager: Karen Freeman Accounts Manager: Nanette Greene Production Assistant: Jenna McCracken Proofreader: Jon Singer Office Assistant: Ingrid Phillips Regular Columnists: Steve Branfman, Books & Videos Pete Pinnell, As Far as I Know Monona Rossol, Health & Safety Lana Wilson, Beneath the Surface Marc Ward, Kilns & Firing David Hendley, Around the Firebox Kelly Savino, Around the Firebox Vince Pitelka, Tool Times Bill van Gilder, Teaching Techniques Contributing Writers: Peggy Albers • Peter Callas M.A. DeRose • Halldor Hjalmarson Bill Hoover • Jenna McCracken Barbara McKenzie Published by: CLAY TIMES INC. 15481 Second St. • PO Box 365 Waterford, Virginia 20197-0365 (540) 882-3576 • FAX (540) 882-4196 Clay Times® (ISSN 1087-7614) is published bimonthly, six issues per year. Periodicals Postage Paid at Waterford, VA, and at additional mailing offices. Annual subscriptions are available for $30 in the U.S.; $36 in Canada; $55 elsewhere (must be payable in US$). To subscribe, call toll-free 1-800-356-2529, or visit

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Freelance editorial and photographic submissions are welcome: Please contact Clay Times or visit our Web site for writer’s and photographer’s guidelines.


POSTMASTER: Address service requested. Send address changes to: Clay Times, PO Box 365, Waterford, VA 20197-0365. Copyright © 2006 Clay Times, Inc. All rights reserved. The material contained herein is derived from various sources and does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. All technical material is offered as general information only and should not be acted upon without expert supervision. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the publisher.

by POLLy bEACh


lay is such a personal medium. After viewing hundreds of different works at this year’s NCECA conference in Portland, Oregon, I found myself wondering how so many different forms can by created by so many different people, using so many different techniques. As I continued to wonder (and wander, in the chilly drizzle Portland is known for), I found myself daydreaming about the onset of summer weather, and how nice it would be to take a trip to a secluded island somewhere. Then my fantasy turned into a trip to an island where I could not only soak up the sun, but play with clay, too. My imagination led me to the following “what if” scenario, which I thought would be fun to ask fellow clay artists: If you were stranded on a desert island with nothing but a block of clay and the tool of your choice, what tool would that be? Why? “My first choice in the tool department is a laptop with a satellite link so I could order ‘clay gear’ from Jim Bailey. My second choice is a pottery wheel. Third is a knife, figuring I could make any other tools with it. Wait a minute—maybe the best answer is a match, in order to fire at will before the tour boats arrive. (We just had a baby: I must be disoriented!)” Tom Collins • Pomona, CA

If you were stranded on a desert island with nothing but a block of clay and the tool of your choice, what tool would that be? Why? “If this is the desert island of my fantasies, then any moment now, a beautiful woman will come walking down the beach with a 6-pack of cold Coronas in her hand. The only tool I’m going to need is a bottle opener. The block of clay can wait—I’ve got things to do with this hair of mine and I’ll need to rehearse a few ‘stop her in her tracks’ cool lines. Don’t send a rescue team!” Tony Clennell • Beamsville, Ont., Canada “I’d choose a slab roller. I love working with slabs, and I could make just about anything I would need with one. Besides making my architectonic sculptures, I could also make plates, bowls, mugs, etc. If a slab roller isn’t considered a tool, then I’d opt for a rolling pin! I could use coconuts to drape the slabs over to make bowls, and roll the slabs over palm tree branches for awesome textures—and I could beat off wild animals with it, too.” Sheri Leigh • Incline Village, NV

“I’m not sure how much potting I would be doing, probably spending a good deal of time looking out for Jessica Alba of ‘Into the Blue,’ and hoping for a good case of Pinot to float up. But the tool of choice was easy for me, and a practical one at that. My van Gilder Tools ‘Wiggle Wire’ is my favorite (seriously—I love that thing!) Ever since Bill gave me one, few pots escape the ‘Wiggle.’ It also does a nice job of slicing up melons; a practical tool for any beach trip.” Tom Zwierlein • Atlanta, GA “A Surform® woodworker’s plane: Presumably there would be no power, so a good power wheel would be out of the question. Since I would be doing handbuilding, the Surform is a great tool for forming and finishing hand-built or altered work. A hammer would be my second choice, for quality control!” Robin Hopper • Victoria, B.C., Canada [

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

“I’d select a needle tool because it’s multitasking. Bend it and you have a fish hook. You have to eat if you’re going to have the strength to work with that block of clay. It’s defensive ... stab those critters in the night and have a protein breakfast in the morning. Plus, it cuts and pierces clay, too!” Bill Hunt • Columbus, OH

spouting off I Editor’s Desk

A Potter’s Daydream











Great New Look Once again you all amaze me with your fantastic “new look” and the new content of your fine magazine! You are going to give old #1 a run for their money! I do have a few questions/comments: 1. How does one get their pottery school listed in the “Community Pottery Classes” section? Is this a matter of advertising money or is this a free service? [A one-year, six-issue listing is available for just $99. For details, e-mail Jenna McCracken at:] 2. With regard to Sandy Miller, the potter of those absolutely stunning pots on pages 40-43 of last issue, is she willing to share her glaze recipes? I would kill for them—especially that gorgeous red glaze! [Crime not necessary! Turn to page 59 for the formulas ... ] 3. Bill van Gilder does it again with his most informative article. Thank you! [And again, on faceting, in this issue—see page 27.] 4. I attended a workshop at The Clay Studio last weekend, where Mary Law made a great presentation of altered pots. I feel that Mary could contribute a lot to an article or two, if she is willing. [Thanks for the suggestion ... we’ll pursue it!] John Wear • New Hope, PA

Shrinkage Ruler Feedback • I especially love reading the columns in Clay Times, but must take issue with Mr. Pitelka’s “Tool Times” article in the January/February 2006 issue about shrinkage rulers. (I am not a great inventor—I got this hint from another potter, and it works!)

I am attaching a photo of three rulers: on top is the cone 10 ruler, middle is the plastic ruler used for impressing on the clay, bottom is the bisque-fired ruler. Here is how I use my fired ruler: I have a finished baking dish I want to make another one of, but I do not have my original measurements, only the finished product. To determine the wet dimensions of the finished piece, I line up my cone-10-fired ruler opposite a “real” ruler, making sure they match up at 0". For a fired measurement of 6", I see where 6" on the “real” ruler lines up with the cone 10 fired ruler. It may read 6½". This means a length of 6½" wet will shrink to 6" after a cone 10 firing. Real simple. If you change clay bodies, it is not hard to make some more shrink rulers. I write on the ruler what clay body it is. Although I have used my shrink ruler to make replacement lids, it is a last resort. Measurements for a lid are not so easy, as a container opening will shrink differently than a slab. My suggestion for lids is to throw them all the same size or only a couple of specific sizes. Then if a lid does not make it through the glaze firing, you know you make all your lids a particular diameter, and it is not so difficult to make or find a replacement lid. Susan Roden • Oakland, Oregon • Regarding Vince Pitelka’s article in the January/February 2006 issue (“Measuring and Gauging: The Shrinkage Ruler”): For those who are not so handy with folding papers, etc., put a thin ruler (the typical metallic or “advertising” plastic one will do) in a scanner. Open any image-handling

program like Photoshop® or Corel®. Even Word® can do the job, so I will do the example with this one, because almost everybody will have it. Open a new document. Click “Insert/Image” from the scanner. Now you have the image of the ruler in your document. Click “Format/Image/Size” and enter in the Scale Height box (if your image is vertical on your screen) or Scale Width box (if your image is horizontal on your screen) the percentage of shrinkage you need (114% in the example). Now print it (be careful not to re scale the printout as to fit the size of the paper in the printer—in the printing options, the “scale to the size of the paper” box should read “no scale,” and you should use a long enough paper). Cut it out and glue it to the back of the ruler. That’s it! You can even copy the original image in the same document and assign each one a different scale value. So you can make yourself a complete set of shrinkage rulers in a snap—in one print-out. Diego Lorenzo Gomez de la Serna Valparaiso, Chile

Never Better Your March/April issue is the best clay magazine issue I have ever read. That is really saying something, as I have been reading clay magazines since 1951. I am 86; I teach pottery now at a retirement community, Shellpoint. We have a wellequipped studio and my hope is that the next generation of retirees will come with enough background to keep the studio going when I am gone. I am teaching people over 80 to make pretty decent pots on the wheel, cognitively impaired people to make things they feel good about, and [just] about anyone who comes in to look around to go out smiling. Can’t beat that. I started working with clay at Cranbrook in Michigan when I was 14 and have never had more fun than I am now. How about that! June D. Lockhart • Fort Myers, FL [

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Every clay body has different shrinkage and every potter makes his work a thickness that is comfortable for him. To make an easy shrink ruler for your own clay body, try this: Roll out a slab of clay to the thickness you prefer. I use dowels on each side to roll my slab to the ¼" thickness I like to work with. Take a ruler with raised markings and gently impress it into your wet clay. Carefully cut around the ruler.

Hint: A pizza roller has minimal drag on the clay when it cuts. I use a cheap ruler from a discount store that measures in inches and centimeters. When dry, bisquefire. Make another one that gets bisqued and then fired to the temperature you fire your finished ware. I fired mine to cone 10.

Spouting Off I Letters



West Meets East: A Contemporary Pottery Show


rganized to showcase the talents of 10 outstanding American potters, this show was recently held at the Rockville, Maryland campus of Montgomery College to bring together varied viewpoints, technical approaches, and unique aesthetic styles.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Curated by Montgomery College art professor Kevin Hluch, the show featured works by west coast potters including Trent Burkett, Robert Brady, Sequoia Miller, Kathryn Finnerty, and Andrew Martin. Among the east coast participants were Bill van Gilder, Rob Barnard, Richard Hensley, James Chalkley, and Kristen Kieffer.


These artists work in the realm of pottery where utility is the handmaiden to art. Since the beginning of civilization, individuals have made pottery to support the daily functions of living. Many of these historical objects have achieved the status of high art due to their exceptional beauty, and

are thus found in museums throughout the world. The artists represented in this exhibition have traveled along paths similar to those of previous artists, providing their audience with objects that are not only wonderful to behold with the eye, but also a wonder to hold in the hand. These art objects were not created to be isolated behind glass walls and considered only for contemplative purposes. By its very nature, pottery is designed for everyday use. The objects represented in this exhibition have only a temporary residence in the limelight of the gallery. Their true fate lies in the home, where they lend their delightful presence to the daily processes of living. Because they have not separated form from utility to ascend to a presumed “higher” art status, these artists have instead dedicated themselves to producing superb objects with a noble and satisfying

Pictured at top: Large Grooved Bowl by James Chalkley. Below: Black Storage Jar with Weave by Sequoia Miller.

Hot Stuff I On Exhibit

role to play in everyday life. Theirs is an accessible art. This is where pottery as a separate, distinct, and valuable art form stands out. The tactile character found in these works is as essential to their aesthetic success as the visual cues that make up the forms themselves.

Clockwise from top left: Covered Jar by Richard Hensley. Flower Box by Kristen Kieffer. Teapot by Kathryn Finnerty.

CLAyTIMES¡COM n May/June 2006

Each artist has developed and perfected skills and techniques that reflect their love of working with clay and, in so doing, they promote their own individual, unique expression. From low- to high-temperature firing; from earthenware to porcelain; from exploitation of the wood fire for surface animation to animated brushwork, these artists instill in their work a fullness that mirrors the reason why these pots were made in the first place—to add a measure of enjoyment and pleasure to their use in the home and at the table. [




ceramic art world news • events • calls for entries

Ceramic Trade Show ‰

CERAMITEC 2006, the 10th international trade fair for machinery, equipment, plant, processes, and raw materials for ceramics and powder metallurgy takes place May 16-19 at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre, Munich, Germany. CERAMITEC has developed into the world’s leading trade fair for the ceramic industry since its premiere in 1974. The comprehensive supporting program provides an ideal overview of current trends and innovations in the ceramic market. Exhibitors from 40 countries will represent the industry’s global players. For additional information, visit

ness magazine specifically for artists, Crafts Business provides readers with successful arts business role models in the magazine’s feature pages. Rosen Media has indicated that a name change may be implemented, and that once the transformation is complete, the new magazine will offer readers insider business knowledge from the most successful artists in the community. For more information, visit www.american

Conferences and Symposiums Clay Artist Wins Award ‰ The Flintridge Foundation has awarded an unrestricted grant of $25,000 to Jamie Walker, a ceramic sculptor from Seattle, Washington. The award recognizes an artist working in fine arts and crafts media whose work demonstrates high artistic merit and a distinctive voice for 20 years or more.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Walker has created a burgeoning clay universe of unique sculptural forms, which range from large, freestanding pieces constructed out of geometric shapes to recent organic-looking objects resembling clouds or proliferating cells.


For more on the Flintridge Foundation or the artists who have been awarded grants, visit www.FlintridgeFoundation. org, or contact them by mail at 1040 Lincoln Ave., Suite 100, Pasadena, CA 91103.

New Owner for Craft Magazine ‰

Rosen Media, a division of The Rosen Group, announced that it has purchased Crafts Business magazine. Created as a busi-

‰ “Clay: The Art of Earth & Fire” will be held May 12-14 on the campus of The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. The event will feature master potters from around the globe sharing their expertise, showing their work, and swapping ideas. Participating in the event are three renowned ceramists: Warren MacKenzie, 7th Hanjiro Mizuno, and Junko Shibata-Ito. Among the activities slated for the weekend are clay-throwing demonstrations to be performed by MacKenzie and Mizuno on Saturday morning, and a panel discussion Saturday afternoon addressing the importance of the arts in education, with an emphasis on ceramics. The conference will be coordinated with a ceramics exhibit in the Tremaine Gallery at The Hotchkiss School. The ceramics exhibit will be on display in the Tremaine Gallery from May 5 through June 18. A traditional Japanese farewell tea ceremony will wrap up the conference on Sunday morning. Tea master Glenn Pereira will lead attendees in a ritualized tea preparation and presentation.

There is no registration required for conference activities, and all events are free. The Hotchkiss School is a private day and boarding school located in northwestern Connecticut. For more information, visit www. or call (860) 435-4423. The Tremaine Gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

‰ “Create Value/Provoke Change: The Future of Craft,” the 2006 national conference of the Craft Organization Development Association, will take place June 1-4 at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. The conference, co-hosted by Contemporary Crafts Museum & Gallery and Oregon College of Art & Craft, will provide opportunities for recognizing national and regional trends in craft, and exploring issues important to the field. For more information, visit: www. or call (870) 746-5159.

Clay Festivals ‰

The 5th Annual Sanford Pottery Festival takes place May 6-7 at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center in Sanford, North Carolina. The event assists public schools in the state, where, on average, one dollar per student per year is spent to purchase supplies for the visual arts. So far, the Sanford Pottery Festival has given more than $60,000 from their 2002 and 2003 events to support the visual arts in local schools. The festival takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. For additional information, visit www.san or call (919) 777-9933.

‰ The 14th Annual Palo Alto Clay & Glass Festival takes place at the Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road in Palo Alto, CA on July 8-9. Admission is free. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

mission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call Baltimore Clayworks at (410) 578-1919 or visit

‰ Ceramics Exhibitions ‰ “Looking Back, Looking Forward: The State of Clay in Massachusetts� takes place April 8 through June 7 at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. The exhibit will feature 90 works by 30 Massachusetts ceramic artists. A public reception is planned for May 21. The museum is located at 455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA 02301. For more information, visit or call (508) 588-6000.

“Bennett Bean: Influences and Objects� takes place through June 4 at the Hunterdon Museum of Art in Clinton, New Jersey. This retrospective exhibition will feature Bean’s innovative, finely-crafted ceramics, along with many of his other artworks. The exhibition will highlight the intertwining of art and daily life that is a basic tenet of Bean’s existence. The museum gallery and shop, located at 7 Lower Center Street, Clinton, NJ, is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (908) 735-8415. Suggested admission to the museum is $3.

‰ “An Extravagance of Salt & Pepper,� a national invitational exhibition of functional and sculptural containers for salt and pepper by more than 100 emerging, mid-career, and established artists, will run May 6 through June 4 at Baltimore Clayworks in Baltimore, Maryland. An opening reception will take place Saturday, May 6 from 6-8 p.m. Ad-

Calls for Entry May submission deadlines

‰ The Doll and Toy Museum of New York City




Hot Stuff I News & Events

The festival will feature the work of more than 185 clay and glass artists, ceramic workshops, “Clay for Kids,� food, and music. For more information, visit or call (650) 329-2366.



requests entries for fine and decorative arts





CLAyTIMES¡COM n May/June 2006



Hot Stuff I News & Events

in miniature (in 1" to 1' scale). Artists do not have to be working exclusively in miniature. Works in all media are welcome. Accepted artwork will be incorporated into a Doll & Toy Museum display of historical miniature period rooms and will be treated as a regular exhibition. Examples of miniature rooms in the permanent collection may be seen on the museum Web site, Send resume/bio and a few samples of work on a non-returnable disk to The Doll and Toy Museum of NYC, 157 Montague

Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Deadline for submissions is May 15.

‰ Arts + Literature Laboratory (ALL Gallery) is accepting submissions for “Gender | Identity,” an all-media exhibition of contemporary work exploring gender issues. See prospectus for complete information. Entry deadline is May 19; entry fee is $25 for up to three works. Entries must be original work completed within the last two years. All media will be considered. The show takes

place July 8 through August 6. Send an SASE to ALL Gallery, 319 Peck Street, New Haven, CT 06513. For a prospectus or more information, go to www.

‰ The “36th Annual

Peters Valley Craft Fair” takes place September 29 through October 1. Entry deadline is May 31. Juried from slides; entry fee is $25; booth fee is $350. For more information, contact Peters Valley Craft Center, 19 Kuhn Road, Layton, NJ 07851 or visit www.

“I had always used my own glaze recipes, but Spectrum’s Raku Glazes gave my work some exciting new dimensions and they are so convenient.” - Ian Chung

“Strange Figurations,” a thematic exhibition to feature all interpretations of the concept, is open to all figurative styles from the realist to the surreal and visionary. All media will be considered. Maximum dimension of works is 72". The exhibition will be held at the Limner Gallery, September 1-24. An online entry form is available at, or e-mail slowart@aol. com, or send an SASE to SlowArt Productions, PO Box 503, Phoenicia, NY 12464. Entry deadline is May 31. June submission deadlines

Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts is offering grants of $2,500 to $12,000 for professional artists who demonstrate professional achievement and commitment to career; work primarily in painting, sculpture, drawing, or printmaking; have a financial need that is inhibiting the production or recognition of their art; and possess a clear and specific plan for using the grant funds. Applicants must be 30 years or older by the application deadline, or if under 30, applicants must have been working for at least six years since completion of formal schooling.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Obtain a complete application and guidelines by contacting the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, PO Box 2670, New York, NY, 10108. Entry deadline is June 1. For additional information, visit www.efacen or e-mail


For Details on how Ian made the pots, go to our website: Our New Address: 94 Fenmar Dr. Toronto, ON Canada M9L 1M5

Phone: (800) 970-1970 (416) 747-8310 Fax: (416) 747-8320 Email:

“Ephemera: Members’ Exhibition” is open to all members of The Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. The central theme is time—time being our constant companion, our closest friend, and worst enemy. The exhibit, which takes place July 21 through August 19, will feature works that convey artists’ perceptions of the passage of time, revealed either in

Entry cards must be postmarked by June 1 and sent to The Arts Center, 719 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. There is a $5 entry fee. Cash prizes will be awarded. For more information, visit or call (727) 822-7872.

“Spring Brookdale Park Fine Art and Crafts Show” takes place June 17-18; entry deadline is June 1. Open to all handcrafted work. Juried from three slides or photos and one of the booth. Contact Rose Squared Productions, Inc., 12 Galaxy Court, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 or visit

The 21st Annual Conservatory Art Classic, sponsored by the Bosque Conservatory, is a juried art competition offering $12,500 in awards (including $5,000 purchase award). The fee is $12 per entry (slides only); entry deadline is June 9. Show dates are September 16-24. For more information, contact Sara Irvin at, or visit The conservatory is located at 1701 W. 9th Street, Clifton, Texas 76634; the phone number is (254) 675-3724.

“WAD Clay Institute Juried Clay Annual” is open to all ceramists residing in Washington, DC, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. The entry fee is $20 for up to three images (slides only); the entry deadline is June 15. The exhibition takes place September 8-30. For a prospectus, contact WAD Clay Institute, 2100 Mary St., Pittsburgh, PA 15203; telephone (412) 279-9956.

concept. All media will be considered. Entries must be original work completed within the last two years. The entry deadline is June 30; entry fee is $25 for up to three images. Show dates are August 19 through September 17. See prospectus for complete information. For more information or a prospectus send an SASE to ALL Gallery, 319 Peck Street, New Haven, CT 06513, or visit www.allgallery. org/exhibitions.html.

July submission deadline

‰“ClayFest 2006” is open to current and former residents of Indiana. Entry fee is $20 for three slides; entry deadline is July 14. The event takes place Sept. 5-29. To request a prospectus or further information, contact the University of Indianapolis, Dept. of Art and Design, 1400 E. Hanna Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46227, e-mail, or telephone (317) 788-3253. [


Hot Stuff I News & Events

the imagery, the technique and media, or the way the piece is perceived by the viewer.

-Ornate Metal Tray MT-64

-Iron Coaster Holder MCF-425

-Tile Box w/ Hinge TBH-4

-Metal Trivet Frame MTF-4

...for less.


Arts + Literature Laboratory (ALL Gallery) is accepting submissions for “Texture,” an exhibition of work in which text is integral to both composition and

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

“World Women: On the Horizon,” sponsored by Baltimore Clayworks, is open to works made by women about women. The entry deadline is June 16; slides or digital images may be submitted. The exhibition takes place October 7 through November 12. For more information, visit or phone (410) 578-1919, ext. 18. Baltimore Clayworks is located at 5707 Smith Ave, Baltimore, MD 21209.


Pillar by Claudia Olds Goldie. 31" x 11" x 11". Stoneware.

Chef Dan Among His Elements by Stephanie Osser. 8½" x 7" x 8½." Porcelain and glaze.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Sensation by Ben Eberle. 44" x 22" x 20". Handbuilt stoneware, acrylic finish.


Saggar-Fired Bull Dog by Ronnie Gould. 8" x 6" x 12½". Stoneware.

Hot Stuff I On Exhibit

State of Clay “L

Swell Jar by Simon Levin. 11" x 8" x 8". Anagama-fired porcelain, wheel-thrown and stretched.

This exhibition grew out of the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society biennial exhibition also known as “The State of Clay.” The show gives contemporary clay artists in Massachusetts the opportunity to exhibit their work, while allowing Massachusetts residents an opportunity to see new and exciting designs in ceramic art. For further details, visit [

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

ooking Back, Looking Forward: The State of Clay in Massachusetts” features the work of 30 ceramic artists who are pushing the boundaries of craft. Curated by Alice Abrams and Joan Carcia, this exhibition runs through June 7 at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA. Featured are pottery, sculpture, tiles, and more by emerging and established artists including Ben Eberle, Claudia Olds Goldie, Barbara Katz, Simon Levin, Ben Ryterband, Jill Solomon, and many more.


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couple of columns ago, I gave some advice for receiving (and surviving) a critique. In it, I advised artists to seek out critiques from a wide range of people. Since artists tend to hang out with other artists, it’s natural that all of us who receive critiques on our work will, at some point, be asked to give a critique to others. If we want to present a judgment that goes beyond “I like this,” and “I don’t like that,” then it’s important to have a basis for that judgment. The following points are intended to give you just a few things to think about when you are called upon to critique the work of another artist.

Where do we start? As a quick guideline, there are four broad categories that artists and critics tend to focus on whenever we talk about art:

2. Aesthetics: How things look. 3. Content: What the art “means.” 4. Precedents: Who worked with these ideas before. Process is the shorthand term for both the materials we use and the ways we turn those materials into objects. In ceramics, this includes the clays we use (earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, etc.), the ways we form the object (i.e., throwing, handbuilding, trimming, etc.), the ways we finish them (glaze, slip, terra sig, etc.), and the ways we fire the objects. This is important because each material and forming process has inherent capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Wheel-thrown porcelain has qualities inherently different from hand-built earthenware, for instance, and a discussion of these choices can help the artist clarify intentions.

the rest. Traditionally speaking, it’s the heart of art: the stuff that causes us to look at art and say “ooh” and “wow.” In contemporary art terms, this is referred to as the “formal” aspect of art. With usable art (such as pottery), the category of aesthetics includes the visual as well as the tactile and experiential aspects of the object. The judging of aesthetics can never be completely objective—there will always be some degree of subjectivity. This is why any critique of aesthetics needs to be a discussion, not a monologue. As an aside, here at the University of Nebraska (where I teach), we have an

“The point of a discussion about process is to help the artist understand his or her intentions ...”

Ceramic artists are often criticized for focusing too much attention on process. While we don’t want to limit our discussions to process alone, we also don’t want to ignore it. In ceramic art, process is so tightly interwoven with aesthetics and content that it’s almost impossible to accurately discuss these latter categories without also talking about the first one. The point of a discussion about process is to help the artist understand his or her intentions, see how the chosen process helps or hinders the artist in that pursuit, and find the links that may bind a particular process to aesthetics and content. Aesthetics is the stuff that artists really like to talk about: shape, form, mass, void, color, texture, proportion, and all

active visiting artist/critique program, and I’ve watched a number of professional art critics give group critiques. Interestingly, they don’t tend to discuss the aesthetic nature of art, preferring to spend their time on content and precedents. It’s the artists who love to be immersed in aesthetic considerations (which is probably why we became artists, and not professional critics). Content in the arts (in general) and visual art (in particular) can be both large (political, religious, or cultural issues) and small (personal, individual insights). Content in post-modern art has tended to be negative, and used to highlight the ugly, unfortunate, and hypocritical aspects of life. This has not always been the case. Much of the content in historical art is positive, with the artist teaching, extolling a religious viewpoint, or honoring a patron. Both are valid ways to use content in art. It’s also important to remember that it’s sometimes easier to illustrate the universal by focusing

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

The “Hippocratic Oath,” an oath of conduct for physicians, was originally written by Hippocrates of Cos (460-380 B.C.), an ancient Greek physician considered by many to be the father of modern medicine. The Hippocratic Oath has undergone many changes over the years, but many versions have contained the famous phrase, “Primum non nocere (First, do no harm).” That’s a good place to start, since the person giving a critique is in a position of power, and if not careful, is capable of doing great damage to an artist. As artists, we really do take our work seriously and critical comments about it can cut very deeply. It’s not at all unusual for people to cry during a critique, which is certainly an indicator of deeply-held feelings. The critic should take care to move slowly and choose words carefully. Try to phrase things in the narrowest sense, and don’t draw broad conclusions from one example. For instance, it’s much better to say “this isn’t a very comfortable handle,” rather than “you don’t make very good handles.”

1. Process: How things are made and what they are made of.

Perspectives I As Far As I Know

Giving A Critique


Perspectives I As Far As I Know

on the personal. When Anne Frank wrote her Diary of a Young Girl, she was writing only for herself. She described the inner life of one small, insignificant girl, but found within herself the great truths that touch and move all humanity. Wonderful art has been made using content that is small and large, positive and negative—and even in ways that are so quiet as to be almost invisible (as it often is with pottery). Content is the meat of post-modern art. Any discussion of art in the 21st Century centers on “meaning,” and if ceramic art wants to be taken seriously in the wider art world, we must also understand this aspect of our work. I’ve written a number of columns in the past discussing content in pottery¹, but this is a field of discussion that is still wide open and ripe for discovery. Whatever approach a ceramic artist might take, it is important that we acknowledge and discuss content, and try to define what the artist is saying, both purposely and inadvertently.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

My fourth category is precedent, which is not a word you’ll find in most art books. I borrow the term from the legal profession, but it accurately describes a topic that artists and critics alike seem to enjoy discussing. The dictionary defines precedent as:


1) An earlier occurrence of something similar. 2a) Something done or said that may serve as an example or rule to authorize or justify a subsequent act of the same or an analogous kind; 2b) The convention established by such a precedent or by long practice. 3) A person or thing that serves as a model².

When artists and critics give critiques, we often point out examples of other artists (current and past) who have done similar work, or who have developed similar ideas. It can sometimes sound as though we think that an idea is only valid if there is sufficient artistic precedent (definition number 2), though that’s really not the intent. Instead, the precedent can act as a source of information to provide the artist with deeper insight, to allow his or her work to develop more quickly, and to help him or her to use ideas in a more sophisticated manner. The best critics have a broad, deep knowledge from which

precedents can be drawn. However, even if you don’t possess an encyclopedic knowledge of art, it can be useful in a critique if you can say, “I saw a similar piece in a magazine last year; I’ll look it up for you.” As human beings, we learn from each other in all situations, and art is no different. Besides these four broad categories for discussion, there’s one other thing that a good critique can cover, and that is intention. What did the maker intend continued on page 72

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received a poignant letter from an accomplished clay artist who had a baby two years ago. She was troubled with how little time she had available to work and with the isolation she felt as an artist. When I was a mother of young children, I remember the difficulties I experienced as I tried to be a good parent and make adequate work at the same time. The young mother’s letter prompted me to interview 10 clay people who are also parents. This first column is devoted to interviews with parents of younger children. The second column will deal with mothers of children over six years of age. The third column will feature Janis Wunderlich, a mother of five children who remains—with little free time—fiercely committed to her work. There are myriad difficulties and joys in trying to be an artist and a parent. People come to parenting and making art with distinctly different capabilities, energy, money, and support. Some of the solutions to the challenges that parents share here may sound desirable, or sadly and/or humorously impossible for you. We each find our own way. A mother of a two-year-old says, “Everything is percolating, and it will come together, just probably not this year— maybe not the next. I know I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities in another time or culture.

mothers who are also artists, but it is hard to get all of us together. “I don’t regret becoming a mother any more than I regret becoming an adult, but sometimes it is hard,” she adds. “Our daughter is a happy and very active toddler. I know it will get easier. I’m planning on having her start pre-school next fall. Sometimes the days feel very long and unproductive. “It seems now with my work I need to look for things that make my heart sing instead of trying to be creative or clever. My greatest fear is that I will stop, and never get back to making art,” she concludes. Another mother, this one the parent of a 3-year-old child, notes, “For me, the issue is that I never have enough time. I am not good at multi-tasking, and the interrupted nature of my life is very hard on me. I used to be a professional fundraiser. I was very task-oriented and very focused. I was also very organized, and I could take that same sense of organization to run our household, pay bills, get things done. Now I do three jobs that are very different from each other: being a mother (where you can’t plan a lot), running the household (where you have to be organized and get things done), and making pots. For me making pots is so different, I wouldn’t even say that I need to get into a different mindset. Instead, I need to get into an ‘un-mindset’: I need to get out of my mind and into my gut. That transition takes a while for me—I can’t just run into my studio and make a pot. To make a good pot, I need to center myself, draw into myself, away from the demands of the other parts of my life. While I can be pulled back to the role of mother, partner, and friend in an instant, it often takes me an hour or so of being alone to feel ready to work in clay. The time I have for my clay work (during my

son’s preschool hours and naps) comes in chunks throughout the week, and I spend a lot of it getting myself centered. “Another struggle for me—but a blessing at the same time,” she continues, “is that my partner makes vastly more money than I do. While on the one hand this allows me to do my clay work at all, it also diminishes its importance. If we depended on the money I earn with my work, I would get more credit for doing it and I would take it more seriously myself. “Money is a very strong force. While we both say that my work as the stay-athome mom and keeper of the household is the harder job, I still feel incredibly beholden. So when some parenting or household issue comes up during what should be my studio time, I often give that priority. We used to make the same amount of money, which was a lot easier. This is a new and uncomfortable position for me, to earn so little and be so dependent. I think this is a huge issue for all parents who quit their jobs to be with their children, whether they are potters or not. I need to find a way to resolve my feelings about my work, my partner’s work, and money. Resolving those issues would make a world of difference. “I would like to be much more serious about my pottery and produce and sell, but I don’t feel like I can produce dependably. I need to get there. Orders would give me a status,” she says. Lee Puffer, a graduate student in ceramics with a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, says this: “Having very young children and making art is extremely challenging—both pursuits require so much attention. The older my children get, the more they understand and accept my being away from them, and value what I do. I am a very attached mother and it

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

“I suppose,” she continues, “one of the hard parts is feeling isolated from two communities: the art community (most of whom are men or single women), and the ‘mother’ community, that I mostly feel alienated from by my trying to find a life beyond motherhood. I am constantly trying to get playgroups together. But now I’m thinking maybe I should work more on getting mothers together instead of the kids. I have found a few

“My greatest fear is that I will stop, and never get back to, making art.” — clay artist and mother of 2-year-old

Perspectives I Beneath the Surface

Mud Mamas


Perspectives I Beneath the Surface CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006


seems to be as hard for me to be away from them as it is for them to be away from me. I feel very early childhood is such a brief and important time, so making art took a back seat for a while. During that time, I felt like I didn’t do either art or parenting well enough. Little by little, I have more time. I can see how women who are artists give up art-making after having their babies,” she notes. “It would be impossible to continue if it were not for the support of my family, who consider what I do as an artist important, even though I make very little money. My husband has a remarkably ‘ungendered’ view of child raising. He has always relished feeding, changing, rocking, and comforting our children. He is an equal partner in the running of the household. My husband has a flexible schedule at work, which allows him to be available at crucial times. My 3-year-old son goes to preschool two half-days a week at the university where I go to graduate school in ceramics. We were on the waiting list for this center for 18 months, and I was close to dropping out of grad school when they finally made room for him. My 5-year-old goes to kindergarten five half-days a week. My husband and I alternate drop-offs and pick-ups. On Saturdays, the children go to my mother’s house for the day. I go to the studio and my husband has a little time to himself. My mother makes dinner for us on Saturday night, which is a special treat for me. In addition, my father, who is retired, will come for a week or two when things get crazy (whether that is exam time for me or a really busy stretch for my husband at work). Everyone involved is very flexible with their schedules, but there are emergencies and things fall through the cracks occasionally. “My family is an inspiration for my artwork; I have them to thank for much of the subject matter I address,” she relates. “I try not to fall victim to the perfection madness that plagues us mothers. It is difficult because we know that early childhood is such an important time. There is a prevailing myth that women artists are terrible mothers (selfish, emotionally unstable, etc.). I read versions of this regularly in my research. The fact is, art-making is like any other vocation, and work interferes with parenting. I think the nexus of the problem is that both art-making and motherhood as occupations are undervalued by con-

temporary society. Just like anyone can criticize artwork, everyone, it seems, is qualified to criticize styles of parenting,” Puffer says. Adam Field and Heesoo Lee are a husband-and-wife potter team with an 18month-old. Field says of their situation, “Our families are over 2,000 miles away and we don’t have extra income for formal day care. This has forced my wife and me to shift our schedules in order to continue creating our work. We have taken advantage of our natural working habits to create a schedule that has my wife—the early bird—working from early morning until 2 p.m.

at times to be an artist and to take care of a 3-year-old. I have to remember so many details for her: do I have the right things in her diaper bag, has she eaten, does she need to sleep? It is taxing. I used to have to do more preparation for my art but now I don’t have time. I have to do my art more concisely now. I used to have nothing but time. I had a job I barely had to go to and my art was a free time within free time. Now my art has become a career and it is not free time. So now both childcare and art are incredibly challenging. I know I couldn’t do this forever. I am trying to move through this and maintain myself. My goal for this period is to grow at the rate I can.

“I’m the night owl, working from 2 p.m. until midnight. We have just recently started hiring a baby-sitter on Wednesdays and Sundays, our designated sales days, which allows my wife some studio time while I am out selling our work.

“I feel like I am operating on a different gear. The reason this works is that my art is like a repetitive, meditative process, and so is childcare. With both my art and childcare, I have to be in the moment in order to get by.

“The quantity and quality of our work have actually both increased as a result of our more rigid studio schedule,” he continues. “The time constraint has forced us to think about creating our pieces in less time with less effort, which—for each of us—has resulted in new lines of pottery that don’t require trimming, carving, or detailed glaze decoration.

“I feel really fortunate because my wife works at home and if we need a moment for the three of us, we can do that. I am interested in other art forms but I have no time for them. I sense there is time for these things to happen later and I try not to think about them now because I want to live in the moment. To try to stuff them in now would pollute this whole period of childcare and art making. Maybe I don’t need as much sleep as most peopl—I need only about 5½ hours for a few days. and then I will need a 10hour sleep. Thus, I can stay at the studio for a long time after dinner,” he says.

“Our son is 18 months old now. We deviate from our time schedule quite often to accommodate firings or daily chores that are outside of our usual schedule. We are much more busy, but we seem to be able to accomplish more, too. We are more organized since we had our son. Our biggest frustration is trying to make the time for the pieces that require intricate and time-consuming work, like carving or painting,” he notes. A father describes his typical schedule: “I take care of our 3-year-old daughter from when she wakes up in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, when my wife takes over. At 4 p.m., I go to my studio for a couple of hours and then come home and eat dinner. I go back after dinner and work in the studio some more. I wouldn’t do anything else. This is it—childcare and art. But it is taxing and very difficult. “Spending so much time with our daughter and seeing her develop is endlessly fascinating,” he remarks. “Sometimes my art seems sort of pale compared to seeing our daughter try to talk and learn to communicate. It can feel incongruent

“I suppose the hardest times are those days when I feel it is not working. If I have stayed at the studio too long because the art was not going well, the next day can be hard. I can be impatient. And my daughter can be cranky. “What is intriguing is that our daughter’s seemingly carefree approach and lack of concern when she makes art has loosened me up in my work. It has been so endlessly interesting to me to track her development. The crux message seems to be that things are going very well but it is very difficult,” he concludes. [ Lana Wilson is a handbuilder and brand new grandmother from Del Mar, California. She gives frequent workshops and is the author of Ceramics: Shape and Surface. Visit her Web site at; e-mail comments to her at


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Necessary Supplies • (2) or (3) 2-lb. lumps of clay • water and a small sponge • small bats • stiff rib • undercut tool • cut-off wire • 1 or 2 altered cheese cutters • needle tool


hen looking for classroom demo projects, there’s one source we can all use: historical pots. For inspiration, I’ve shown students American-made crocks from the 1800s and contemporary Native American pots, Japanese Jomon pots, German salt-glazed wares, British medieval pots, and more. Pick one facet—no pun intended—of any historical pot, and you’ve got a starting point for your classroom project. One of my favorites? The Korean pots of the Yi Dynasty. The faceted bowls and jars from this era are a good lesson in form and proportion, as well as harmony of texture and glaze. That’s also where this project comes from: the faceting on Yi Dynasty pots.

I’d really like to know more about the faceting tools, and how these potters used them. I suspect the most common was a very sharp, very thin-bladed knife … but does anyone really know? With that suspicion, I decided that offering students a sharpened knife

is straight-wired, one is spring-loaded, and one has a very small, corrugated wire installed. Pass the tools around so everyone starts to get an idea of where you’re going with the project.

To do this, separate the roller part of the tool from the handle part. Dab some epoxy at each end of the hollow roller, and secure it to the bar, which runs through its center. Otherwise, as the roller rotates up the side of a pot, the cut-away clay will roll up, too—clogging the tool completely. Next, remove and replace the original wire that comes on the tool. That wire is too thick and is usually mounted too loosely to cut through clay efficiently.

Three cheese cutters, modified for wet-faceting.

The Set-up Replace the wire with any textured wire you can find. But as you search for wires, note that the thinner they are, the better they cut. Look for multistranded or wrapped wires, which will provide a slight texture to the faceted surface. Multi-stranded wires will also cut through clay with less drag than a thinner, smoother wire.

Prepare two or three 2-lb. lumps of clay for throwing. Attach a small bat to the wheelhead, and center lump #1. Making your pot on a bat means you won’t be smudging the faceted surfaces, which would be the case if you were to remove your piece from the wheelhead by hand.

I’ve replaced our tool wires with a piece of “leader” line. That’s the very thin wire that a fly fisherman uses to connect his clear line to his hook. You can purchase small spools of it at your local sporting goods store, for cheap.

Note that the bulk of this demo is more about the techniques of using the tools than the ultimate form of the finished pot, so the pots you’ll demo can start as simple cylinders. But also note that there are three important ‘set-up’ steps to keep in mind as you throw:

Another option: use a small-diameter, stretched-out spring. In our classroom’s communal tool bin, there are three faceting tools for students to share. One

1. Throw each cylinder with walls that are at least ½” thick. You’re going to cut away half the wall as you facet, so leaving ample clay in the sidewalls is essential.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

The Tools

to facet their pots might not be a very safe option. The alternative? Purchase a couple of metal cheese cutters from the kitchen supply department at your local supermarket, and alter them a bit to make them facet-friendly (see photo on this page).

In Form I Teaching Techniques

Multi-faceted Forming Methods


In Form I Teaching Techniques





CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

2. Use a rib to completely smooth and compress the outside wall of each form. This ribbing is important, as the roller—and the wired cut—will be mimicking the outside surface of the cylinder during the faceting step. If you leave your fingertip pulling ridges on the wall, you’ll produce a bumpy and rather unattractive faceted surface, so be sure to smooth the walls completely.


3. Use an undercutting tool to cut a ½” deep, beveled groove at the foot of each cylinder (Fig. 1). Each faceted cut will start at the foot, with the wire placed into the groove and under the wall to begin its upward pull. Therefore, a clearly defined, beveled foot is necessary. Now throw your first cylinder. Keep in mind the aforementioned points and remove any water from the inside of the form. Don’t wire-cut the

pot from the bat yet; that will be done last.

The Faceting Stop the wheel. Pick up one of the tools and balance it on your fingertips with your thumb resting on top of the handle. Press the roller against the pot with the wire placed in the beveled foot groove and under the wall, at the 3 o’clock position (Fig. 2). Pull the wire straight up and through the rim, with the roller continually pressing against the wall. You’ll be cutting the rim in half and you may find it useful to support the rim at the inside wall. Use the fingertips of your other hand to firmly press the clay against the roller as the wire exits the rim (Fig. 3). Move the tool to the foot again, placing the wire into

the beveled groove and the roller against the wall. Position the wire with one end slightly overlapping the edge of the first facet. Pull it upward, cutting the second facet. Use your fingertips to add some support at the inside of the rim for this cut, too, plus all the remaining cuts. Continue the facetcutting steps around the form, one after another. As you complete each faceting cut, you’ll see that sometimes the cut-away clay falls from the cylinder wall, yet sometimes it doesn’t. If it sticks to the wall, use a needle tool to hook and peel it away. With a straight-wired tool and a spring-loaded tool on hand, throw and ready your second cylinder and demo some fancy combinations of cuts.

Textured Facets To keep things organized, use the following step-order when mixing textured cuts: i.e., a corrugated cut, then a flat cut, then another corrugated cut, etc. Work with the clock positions as you facet straight up the wall by making a corrugated cut at the 3 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 12 o’clock positions, in that order. Then flat-facet the areas in between (Fig. 4). If you want to keep going with this demo, the opposite page describes a few more configurations to try. For each of them, prep the cylinders as described above, including the fingertip supporting position at the rim as you cut.

Wiggled corrugations: As you pull the spring-loaded tool straight up from the foot to the rim, wiggle it left and




Faceting Tips • Always facet wet pots by pulling the tool from the foot to the rim. • Keep the roller firmly pressed to the wall as you make each faceting cut.




• Keep the wires parallel to the wheelhead as you pull them up and through the wall. • If possible, facet your pot using a rhythmic motion, which will transfer to the surface of the pot in a lively way. • Cut your facets decisively. A tentative cut will be obvious!

right. Or use a left-and-right, back-and-forth sawing motion. Then use the straight-wired tool to facet the clay from between the corrugated areas (Figs. 5 & 6).

Spiraled facet: Beginning with the 3 o’clock position at the foot, pull the tool upward through the wall and out of the rim as you very slowly rotate the wheelhead ¼ turn (Fig. 7).

Quilted facet:

Now, facet the top half of the cylinder. Alternate the textured and straight wires, beginning each cut

Combined facets: Score the line as described above and, using the corrugated tool, angle or swirl the cuts from the foot to the line. But this time, don’t pull the tool from the wall as it reaches the line. Rather, pull the wire up to the line and then cut backward, up and through the rim. Then use the straight-wired tool to facet between the four corrugated cuts in the same way (Fig. 10).

Shaping & Finishing Thus far, all the project faceting has been done on a cylindrical form. And that’s the easiest way

to do it. But once you’ve faceted completely around the form, try putting some shape into it: Drip some water down the inside wall of the cylinder. Then use the broad, flat pad of your fingertips and the whole length of a finger, a small hand-held sponge, or a small, soft rubber rib to slowly and evenly pressure the wall of the form outward. If you push the wall out too far too fast, you can’t push it back in from the outside! So you should move your fingers slowly while using a medium-to-fast wheel speed during this shaping step. Using a quick wheel speed will visually blur the profile of the form as it develops, giving you a definite line to watch. Watch the form change by viewing it at the 12 o’clock position, and be aware that if the expansion of the form happens too fast, the faceted walls can easily split open—so take your time and work slowly!

The last step is all about the rim. Use a wet fingertip to lightly press and bevel the rim down and outward, followed by a gentle sponging to soften the cut edges. And, finally wire-cut the pot from the bat. “Yo…Teach. This pot’s too thick —and it needs some decoration. Any ideas?” “Yes ... really facet-nating! Let me show you how it’s done.” [ Bill van Gilder has been a full-time potter and teacher of clay work since the 1960s. He is creator/host of the Throwing Pots DIY Network television series and teaches functional pottery making workshops across the globe. He may be reached by e-mail at His new professional potters’ tool line, van Gilder Tools, is now available via the Clay Times online store at www., or by calling tollfree 1-800-356-2529.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

First, score a very fine line at the halfway point around the pot. Pull the corrugated wire straight up from the foot to the line, and pull it out of the wall (Fig. 8). Do this four times around the pot at the 3-, 9-, 6-, and 12 o’clock positions. Next, use the straight-wired tool and facet between the wiggled cuts, also ending these four cuts at the line.

at the line and under the ledges that were created as you pulled the wires from the wall during the bottom series of cuts. Pull the wires up and through the rim to complete the faceting around the form (Fig. 9).


Crystalline Visions by bILL hOOVER


arlier this year, I was lucky enough to attend a hands-on crystalline glaze workshop taught by Xavier Gonzalez and presented by Finch Pottery in Bailey, North Carolina. I indicate “lucky” because although there was no advertising of the workshop it quickly sold out. This is Gonzalez’s second workshop at Finch Pottery; the first workshop also sold out quickly. It is easy to understand why Gonzalez’s workshops fill up quickly. He is a Tasmanian devil of energy, knowledgeable, and most important, he is willing to share the information he has acquired. A potter since he was 17 and specializing in crystallines for 16 years, he is definitely not a rookie on the clay scene.

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Because the workshop was limited to three days, participants were instructed to bring bisque-fired pots and glaze catchers. A limit of three to four pots was encouraged.


Gonzalez covers all aspects of the crystalline glaze process so that participants can go back to their studios and duplicate the successes they achieved at the workshop. To make sure the participants can go home with finished, successful pots, Gonzalez starts the workshop at the glazing stage. The second day continues with techniques on shapes and throwing, which normally would be covered on the first day. Day 1 Gonzalez (a.k.a. X-man) demonstrated how to use a triple-beam scale, which might be elementary to most, but as

Gonzalez explained, some beginning students may have never used a scale before. He is very understanding and is willing to take the time to explain even the most mundane steps of the crystalline process. Gonzalez runs his wet glazes through a 100-mesh sieve before he sprays them on the pots. The glaze should at least be a little thicker than popsicle stick thickness toward the top of the pot. The bottom of the pot needs to be at least popsicle stick thickness. It is important that the pot is free of dust. An even coating of the glaze is also important so that a dry, thin area of the glaze does not occur. Dipping your pots is fine as long as the glaze is thick enough and deep enough in the container. Applying the glaze is best when it is the consistency of slightly watered-down yogurt. Loading the two electric kilns is done in the usual manner, with care taken not to bump other projects or the sides of the kiln. When loading and unloading the kiln, Gonzalez stressed that it is good to get in the habit of keeping one hand on the bottom of your pot. This will prevent the catcher from falling on top of the pots below if it should suddenly come apart. He remarked that this has happened to him a few times in the past ... causing him to temporarily go crazy!

sure the foot of the piece fits perfectly to the top of the catcher. It also helps in the grinding process (to be discussed later). When the piece has dried completely, Gonzalez uses the same flexible rib to shave away a clean profile on the pot from the foot to the rim. He then finishes the piece by running a slightly damp sponge over the entire form to remove

any striations or lines. Gonzalez does not sand or burnish his pots, as it’s unnecessary due to the smoothing process he demonstrated. Throwing the vase or bowl is only part of the total picture. Gonzalez says the glaze catcher, or pedestal, is very important. If the glaze catcher is not made and at-

Spiral Egg with Tutu. Covered jar 8" x 12½". Teal glaze sprayed over Nancy’s tan glaze. Crystalline glaze on porcelain, fired to cone 9.

Day 2

He then showed how he uses a stainless steel flexible metal rib to eliminate throwing marks and smooth the surface of the vase. He trims almost a quarter of an inch recessed foot on the bottom of all of his crystallines. This helps make

Grouping of Three. 8½" x 6½". Black/blue glaze sprayed over jade green glaze. Crystalline glaze on porcelain, fired to cone 9. Opposite page: Three-hole. 18½" x 7½". Teal glaze sprayed over Nancy’s tan glaze. Crystalline glaze on porcelain, fired to cone 9.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

What normally would be covered on the first day of a workshop was covered on the second day to enable the students to go home with a finished, successful project. The second day began with Gonzalez demonstrating his throwing techniques. Having been throwing since his teens, with most of those years involved with production pottery work, Gonzalez threw a bulbous, narrow-necked vase and a matching catcher fast and effortlessly.


tached correctly, it can be responsible for a ruined piece. At the end of the second day, we were able to unload the two filled-to-capacity kilns. Gonzalez again reminded us to make sure we kept one hand under the pot when removing it from the kiln so that the glaze catcher would not fall off and chip the pots below. Day 3

Egg with Tutu. Covered jar. 8½" x 11". Teal crystalline glaze on porcelain, fired to cone 9.

On the third day, Gonzalez showed us how he removes the glaze catcher from the bottom of his pots. He uses a 1"-wide chisel to tap gently just below the bottom of the pot, making sure that he completes one full revolution around the piece. Gonzalez continues tapping until the glaze catcher falls from the pot. If the glaze catcher does not release, he continues tapping a little harder (constantly turning the piece) until the glaze catcher falls off. As mentioned before, Gonzalez trims almost ¼" recessed foot on the bottom of his pots. He does this so that if the bottom of the pot chips up the side when it separates from the catcher, he can grind it down to where the chip ends and still have a nice foot on the bottom of the pot.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

To grind away the sharp edges, Gonzalez uses a 3" rubber-backed grinding wheel. Because of the flexibility of the rubber drum, there is a certain give or softness to the grinder. This is especially important in the beginning stages of grinding so that large chips of glaze do not come off. Gonzalez suggests that lightly touching the edge of the pot to the grinding wheel while rotating the piece creates a beveled edge for a finished foot. And, presto, you are done!


Later on the third day, Gonzalez talked about glazes. He suggested that we should know the characteristics of the raw materials and how the glazes work, but he does not believe in reinventing the wheel. He says to find a glaze in a book with a photograph of what it looks like and test it. If you are happy with the results, great, go have a beer! If the glaze is not quite what you are looking for, try altering it.

Olla. 8½" x 6½". Black/blue glaze over Nancy’s tan crystalline glaze. Porcelain fired to cone 9.

Gonzalez emphasizes that when a glaze is to be altered, make one change at a time. Otherwise, you may not know which alteration (change) was responsible for the results (good or bad). He also suggests

GLAZE CATCHERS Xavier makes his glaze catcher or pedestal in one piece, although it can be made in two pieces: 1. Make sure that the inner circle, or riser (this is the part that supports the pot) is at least ¾” higher than the outer rim of the glaze catcher. This will make it easier to separate the pot from the glaze catcher later. 2. Make the riser lean slightly inward. This will give you some leeway in matching the bottom of the pot to the catcher. This way, if the diameters do not match up on the pot and the catcher, you can sand the top of the riser to make it accommodate the diameter of the foot of the pot. 3. Make a hole in the bottom of the riser. This will allow trapped air to escape so that the piece does not tip over. 4. Make sure the outer diameter of the catcher or riser matches the bottom outer diameter of the pot. 5. Be sure both the top of the catcher pedestal and the bottom of the pot are perfectly flat. They must fit together with no gaps in between. Gonzalez uses a drywall sanding mesh on a flat surface to achieve this. A banding wheel makes for a nice, flat surface. 6. Bisque-fire both pieces together, one on top of the other, so that they shrink together in the firing. 7. Glue the glaze catcher and the pot together with a mixture of EPK (kaolin, or China Clay), white glue, and water. Gonzalez says the right mixture is completely subjective—i.e., whatever works for you. Start with 1 part white glue, and 4 parts EPK. Add water until the consistency is that of slightly watered-down yogurt. The EPK acts as a barrier between the pot and the glaze catcher so that the glaze does not seal the two parts together.


At right: Tornado. 18½" x 7½". Teal glaze over Nancy’s tan crystalline glaze. Cone 9 porcelain.

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Fire the kiln from room temperature to cone 9 as fast as possible. Once cone 9 is reached, cool to 1910° F and maintain that temperature for 4½ hours. Shut off the kiln and let it cool. Gonzalez quotes Robin Hopper, saying “Keep it simple ... !”


Nancy’s Tan

Cone 9 oxidation (pictured on previous page) Frit 3110 Silica (325 mesh) Titanium dioxide Zinc Cobalt carbonate Manganese dioxide TOTAL

48.37 17.41 7.74 24.18 .33 1.97 100.00%

working on the glaze formulas as opposed to changing firing schedules. This way, one can have many working formulas in the same kiln load. Shape is more important than the glaze applied on the pot, he stressed. Gonzalez said that you can put a bad glaze on top of a great shape and you will still have a decent piece. But put a great glaze, even a crystalline glaze, on a bad shape, and you will still have a bad pot. A person can even put precious and semi-precious rocks on top of a bad shape, and still have an ugly pot! Gonzalez warns not to let crystalline glazes become a crutch for bad shapes. Hone your skills, create great shapes, and let the crystalline glazes enhance your well-shaped pots.

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The techniques demonstrated at this workshop have produced excellent results for Gonzalez, allowing his work to be recognized at some of the top shows in the country. There are many different firing schedules, many types of glaze catchers, and just as many ways of removing them from the pot.

38 38

Overall, it was a stimulating and interesting three days and well worth the time spent with Gonzalez. I cannot wait to get back to my studio to begin a new body of work with crystalline glazes! I feel confident that with the new techniques I learned, I will have many successes in the future. [ Bill Hoover is a fledgling freelance writer who maintains a studio and makes his home in Big Sur, California.

Untitled. 18½" x 6". Champagne glaze over teal crystalline glaze. Porcelain fired to cone 9.

Fong Choo & Alice Munn

Perfectly Different by M. A. DeROSE


udging from the ACC Southeast Conference held March 23-25 in Louisville, Kentucky, diversity is alive and well in the clay world. This diversity was evident in both the regional juried “Spotlight” exhibition, as well as in the two ceramics workshops offered in conjunction with the conference.

very different kinds of work, methodologies, and personalities. Workshop participants were treated to a lively and engaging weekend, precisely because the two workshop presenters were so disparate in style, yet so similar in their quest for exquisite, beautifully crafted work.

One-day workshop presentations by Fong Choo and Alice Ballard Munn highlighted two

Fong Choo was all about the perfect teapot. To that end, he discussed historical references

to Yixing teapots, and his own obsession with getting the various elements right: lids, spouts, handles, etc., and the stunning surfaces that complement his carefully crafted forms. He kept up a lively discussion with his audience as he quickly threw the small forms that comprise the bodies of the teapots. Exhorting his listeners to “Do one thing really, really well;” “Keep your eyes open for inspiration—it’s all around you;” and maybe best of

Autumn Marble by Fong Choo. 4" x 4" x 3½". Wheel-thrown porcelain glazed with commercial cone 04 glazes, fired to cone 6.


Above: Fong Choo is grateful for the ability to survive from making and selling his claywork in the U.S.— a feat he considers unlikely in his native Singapore. Left: Tiger Eye by Fong Choo. 5½" x 4½" x 3". Wheel-thrown and faceted porcelain glazed with commercial cone 04 glazes and fired to cone 6.

a perfectionist tendency that manifests itself in a need to constantly test and tweak his designs. “Tweak” may, in fact, be his favorite word.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006



all, “Trust yourself—you’re as creative as I am!” he kept his listeners enthralled with his outgoing jocularity. Choo did not limit his discussion to forming methods, but included information regarding his glazing and firing methods. He does not hesitate to use commercial cone 06 glazes and to fire them to cone 6. He is able to avoid disastrous consequences by forming his teapots with a special base, which he refers to as a

moat, to catch the inevitable drips. The glazes are sprayed on, and then fired in oxidation in a long, slow firing to develop their unique, lush qualities. Choo also makes his own tools and reed handles. He demonstrated his methods for making these as deftly as he demonstrated the formation of clay handles (not pulled), lids (thrown off the hump), and the tiny clay feet on which many of his teapots balance. Choo admits to

The artist is also very interested in the business aspects of a ceramics career. He tells his audience how happy he is to be able to support himself as an artist in the United States. He believes he would not be able to do so in his native Singapore. His concern with marketing methods leads Choo to spend almost as much time designing and fabricating his booth for the high-profile art shows he does throughout the year, as making the actual pots. He displays each teapot in its own separate setting in his booth, never showing more than 14 pots at a time. He feels that displaying one’s work in an aesthetically pleasing way shows respect for both the work and his potential customers. In contrast to Fong Choo’s extraverted teapots with their bright colors, decisive

contours and sense of tightly coiled energy, Alice Ballard Munn’s pinched pots and handbuilt sculptures reflect a more introspective sensibility (photo examples appear on page 42). Munn’s thoughtful and quiet manner was revealed in the sensitive way in which she handled the clay during her demonstration. Her work is inspired by natural forms: seed pods, leaves, vines, and branches. Workshop participants were shown some of the natural “models” she uses, as well as the finished pots that result from her contemplation of them. These forms invite the viewer to give greater consideration to the wonders of the natural world, often overlooked in the sometimes frantic pace of daily life. Munn, who is as proficient at sculpture as she is at pinching pots, explained that she keeps copious sketchbooks where she makes visual

notes regarding future projects. Forms are mulled over and take shape slowly, simmering in the mind before taking actual physical form. In addition to the small, pinched forms, Munn showed photos of large-scale totemic sculptures that were begun in response to the events of September 11, 2001. The series reflects a gradual healing process that finally resulted in budding tree forms, symbolic of a more hopeful outlook for the future. Trained as a painter, she thinks of the sculptural wall pieces that were displayed in the “Spotlight” show as the way she “paints” today. After a brief introduction to Munn’s work and methods, workshop participants were each given a ball of white earthenware clay. They were then asked to make related forms using the natural materials Munn had brought in as inspiration. As an instructor,

Munn was encouraging in every sense of the word, applauding fledging efforts and offering constructive remarks in the gentlest of tones. When participants would ask, “What if,” her response was indicative of the caring and creative educator that she is: “I think that’s a wonderful idea—why not try it?” As the day progressed, Munn talked about the beautiful and subtly colored surfaces she is able to achieve through the use of terra sigillata. Mason stain is added to color the terra sigillata and it is painted on the outside of the pots, then burnished to a soft sheen. In keeping with her low-tech preferences, the insides of the pots are glazed with commercial low-fire glazes and fired to cone 06 in oxidation. The compelling works clearly result from a finely-tuned, introspective nature, which is equally attentive to the marvels ROBERT PAYNE PHOTO

Tangerina by Fong Choo. 5" x 5" x 4". Wheel-thrown porcelain with airbrushed commercial glazes. Fired in oxidation to cone 6.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006


Alice Munn shares various sources of inspiration with workshop participants.

Narcissus I-IV by Alice Munn. 9" x 6½" x 6½" (each). Hand-built white earthenware with terra sigillata.

of the external world. One is left with the impression that Munn is continually sensing possibilities and wishes to leave her viewers with that same sense of unfolding wonder and awe. It would be difficult to find two more dissimilar clay artists than Fong Choo and Alice Ballard Munn. For both artists to be given a platform to discuss their work at the same venue was a masterful stroke on the part of the conference planners. It illustrates the healthy state of ceramics in the United States today, as well as the ways in which artists may differ in both temperament and artistic styles, yet share a strong commitment

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

to creativity and excellence. [


Hosta Trio by Alice Munn. 27" x 6" x 6" (largest). Handbuilt white earthenware with terra sigillata.

Wrapping it Up with Texture A surface texture ideal for use with high-gloss glazes is easily achieved during throwing. STORy, ART, AND PhOTOS by hALLDOR hJALMARSON


he surface of a vessel offers a challenge and an opportunity to impress, mark, and embellish. This malleable clay surface is a vehicle on which to express visual language and inspire human emotions. Unlike painting, which is limited to two dimensions with edges, the surface of a wheel-thrown or handbuilt vessel is a “canvas” that is continuous and somewhat global in form. As a studio potter, I am interested in this surface, and in the texture, line, pattern, and color that may be used to enhance the work and communicate with viewers.

Texture can be transferred from found and man-made objects onto the surface of a vessel. Flat and flexible items can be placed against the walls of a vessel while in the cylinder stage, and

then wrapped with a “bandage” to hold them in place. As the moist clay cylinder, textured material, and bandage spin on the wheel, pressure is applied from the inside, and the texture image is transferred to the clay.

and images are slightly “torqued” and the texture enlarges. Deep imprints of the texture tend to expand more than the high points, and abstract results are sometimes attained as the vessel is “bellied” out.

The bandage and textured material are then removed and the throwing process continues, with care taken not to disturb the imprinted image. The hands and ribs should only touch the inside of the vessel, the outside rim, and the base. As the vessel expands, the walls

Textured cloth, paper, plastic, and plants may be included in the repertoire of materials. Experiments are necessary to determine wall thickness and pressure needed to imprint various objects and to develop an understanding of results achievable from various materials.

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While using the technique of stamping or impressing images into the surface of a clay cylinder prior to expanding it on the potter’s wheel, I realized that I was holding the stamp against the cylinder wall and pushing against it from the inside. This led me to develop a technique that I call “texture wrap.”

Textured Bowl. 7" wide. Ewha blue, transparent blue and shino glazes, cone 10 reduction.


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Fish Bowl. 12” wide. Tenmoku, transparent tan, and shino glazes, cone 10 reduction.


Patterned Bowl. 12" wide. Tenmoku, transparent tan, and shino glazes, cone 10 reduction.









1. Many items with pronounced texture will leave marks on moist clay. Plastics, paper, metal, and cloth, as well as natural materials suitable for impressing, can be used. 2. A cylinder is thrown and, using a rib, excess slip is removed from the exterior. 3. Textured material is selected and wrapped around the cylinder.

throwing and shaping of the vessel continue, with care being taken not to mar the textured surface. 8. The form and rim are refined. A smooth interior and rim adds contrast to the textured exterior. The finished form (below) exhibits textures that have grown and abstracted from their original size and shape. [

Halldor Hjalmarson and his wife Gail have maintained a pottery studio in the Roosevelt Historic District of central Phoenix since 1973. He is especially interested in surface treatment and has developed unusual techniques of sprigging and applying texture and pattern to his work. They may be contacted by telephone (602) 254-1222 or by e-mail at

4. The composition may consist of materials that vary in size and texture, and some may impart line. 5. An elastic bandage or flexible cloth strip is wrapped around the material and cylinder. 6. As the cylinder spins, pressure is applied with fingers and ribs to impress the clay into the texture.

Textured Bowl. 10" wide. Ewha blue interior glaze, transparent tan and shino exterior, cone 10 reduction.

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7. After the bandage and texture materials are removed from the cylinder,


Shopping for a New Extruder by JENNA McCRACKEN

Different shapes, parts, and sizes: Consider these options before you buy ... As a mechanical process, clay extrusion operates on a very basic principle. Most simply put, extrusion is forcing material through a die, or plate with a hole in it, to create shape. Operating like an enlarged Play-doh® machine, this tool can offer advantages in production. Whether used to make handles for pottery, coils for handbuilding, or any other item in its huge range, the extruder offers potential for a high yield of uniform, repeated elements. Following are some important points to consider when shopping for a new extruder, along with a discussion of available options and a few tips on extruding.

ing upon the size of die hole/extrusion, but can be estimated by contacting the manufacturer).

Nuts & Bolts: Defining the parts

Hand Lever and Plunger

The simplest extruder is the manual extruder. Operation involves packing clay into a barrel that has been fitted at the exit end with a die plate. When the barrel is full, the plunger is aligned and the hand lever pulled, creating pressure on the contents of the barrel and forcing the clay out through the hole in the die plate.

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Euclid’s FREMA extruder features a fixed hinge, telescoping plunger and a stainless steel barrel.

The commonly available sizes of extruder barrel range in diameter from 3" to 9", with the former requiring 4 pounds of clay to fill to capacity, and the latter, 29 pounds. Regardless of whether you prefer a square or round shaped barrel, remember that the maximum potential width of any extrusion is determined by the width of the barrel. If your work requires high volume or long lengths of extrusions, find out the maximum length the tool is capable of outputting before reloading is required. (This amount varies depend-

The material from which the barrel is constructed can be an important consideration. While steel is extremely rugged, it is also prone to rust, and oxidizing iron will mark light-colored clay bodies. All stainless-steel, aluminum, wooden, and plastic parts are ideal for porcelain and other light-colored clay bodies. When purchasing steel, opt for painted steel if you intend to use the tool to extrude light-colored clays, as paint does effectively deter rust.

The type and operation of the hand lever and plunger is, arguably, a matter of personal preference. The available options include: • sliding ratchet with shackle • slot ratchet with hinge • fixed hinge/fixed joint • wheel When using sliding and slot ratchet models in the classroom, advise students about the pinching potential in the joint of the hand lever while demonstrating tool useage. If you have severe physical limitations due to shoulder, upper back or neck problems, consider buying a model with a wheel instead of a lever-operated plunger.

Die Plate Holder On most models, the die plate is held against the output end of the extruder barrel by a die plate holder. This part’s configuration and means of attachment

to the barrel varies from model to model. Options include: • swinging eyebolts • straight (regular) bolts • thumb screws • notch and pin, twist removal • C-clamps

Die Plates (or Dies) Determine which precut die plates and hardware are included in the standard/ basic package, and whether an internal die brace (bridge, for making hollow tubes) is part of the package. Then survey the optional, additional packages that offer a wide range of alternative shapes and sizes of die holes. If you are interested in extruding curved tubes or solids, consider making or purchasing die plates with off-centered holes. They are a bit less common, but several manufacturers do make them. (See #3 in sidebar, page 50.)

Some dies utilize U-bolts or welded (and therefore fixed) U-shaped connectors to link the inner and outer plates of the die. These are especially common in larger dies, and work on the same principle—compression healing the splits in the clay mass before it exits the extruder. Again, all bolts and bridges are mounted on the side to be inserted into the barrel of the extruder, so the clay has the chance to heal under the fixture before exiting the extruder. Expansion boxes that attach to the outfeed of the extruder, or barrels enlarged at the outfeed end, allow the operator to extrude much larger forms. These are available through a couple of manufacturers. While they require a lot more clay to fill the volume, they open myriad possibilities, including making large cylinders that can be sliced and opened to form slabs. Extruders are often mounted vertically on the wall, but an adaptable tabletop

Above: The AMACO/Brent standard extruder package includes a table mount. Also pictured, die mask (blue) and multiple-hole die plates. Below: Ceramic Supply’s Clay Gun—a small, inexpensive, hand-held, caulk-gun style extruder.

The most readily available commercially manufactured dies are either made of wood (Baltic birch or plywood), high-density plastic (PVC, polyethylene), or metal (aluminum, steel, stainless steel). Should you intend to modify dies and/or cut your own, be sure to choose a material you are equipped to cut.

Other Stuff The brace used to make hollow extrusions is known as the bridge, spider, tripod, or die hanger, or internal die brace. It functions to impede the flow of clay in the center of the die hole by supporting an inner die plate (or bridge die) in the middle of the outer die plate hole, thereby creating a hollow extrusion. Clay passes over the bridge (inside the barrel) and reconnects underneath where, due to the great compressive force, the split heals before the clay exits the extruder.

Cutting and removal fixtures support the extrusion during operation, freeing the operator’s hands. These fixtures are especially useful when extruding large forms, as when using an expansion box. Systems with variable-sized, interchangeable barrels on a single drive frame offer maximum variety to the user requiring a wide range of extruded shapes and sizes. Lastly, tile

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When using a commercially manufactured bridge and interior bridge die, the wall thickness of a hollow extrusion is determined by the size of the interior bridge die. Often, several sizes are available. For example, a 2" square-holed die with a 1" square interior bridge die will create a 2" tube with ½" walls. Exchanging the 1" interior bridge die with a 1½" interior die will yield ¼" walls.

mounting system may be included with standard purchase or available as an additional option. The mounting system allows the user flexibility in the tool’s orientation. Due to the weight of the loaded extruder and the force you will exert on it in use, it must be mounted securely, regardless of orientation. If mounted vertically, use a reinforced, structural/studded wall, pillar, or post. Be sure there is plenty of clearance above to extend the plunger upward as far as needed with the barrel full.


ing it and, ultimately, introducing less air. Additionally, thanks to the auger, they recondition, homogenize, and de-air the clay during the process of extrusion. Often horizontally oriented, the clay feed is located on the top of the machine and the output is pushed out onto a board set on the tabletop. This is very similar to operating a pug mill, many models of which are capable themselves of being outfitted with dies for extruding. A studio in need of a pug mill and an extruder may be wise to purchase such a machine. If this is a consideration, notice the available dies and method of attachment to the pugger nozzle. Consider cutting your own dies, especially if North Star’s Big Blue Extruder offers a unique gear-driven, the nozzle end has a wheel-operated alternative to the lever and pivot-joint models flange that could supthat requires less physical strength to operate. port a die clamped on to it with C-clamps. Also, barrels and tile nozzles are yet another consider mounting the electric extruder variation, especially ideal for high-volor the pug mill vertically and using gravume tile production. ity to further assist your process.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Related Products


There are a number of electric and pneumatic extruders available. Some pneumatic (air-assisted) extruders are configured much like the manual extruder, but accept air compressor connection. Air applies compressive force to move clay quickly through the barrel, requiring the user to simply step on a pedal and catch the extrusion as it leaves the tool. These machines are quite helpful when extruding large (8"9") tubes using an expansion box, but are more expensive and require an air compressor. They differ from another option, the electric extruder, and from its close cousin, the pug mill. Both can be fitted with dies and consist of a barrel housing a rotating auger that moves clay through the machine, tightly compact-

On the smaller, hand-held scale, caulk-gun-style clay guns are an inexpensive alternative to the manual extruder. These, and the tiny clay syringe made by Kemper, may suffice as an alternative if you simply require the tool to make handles or a small volume of decorative elements for your work.

Preparing To Buy The table on the facing page surveys many of the commonly available extruders and options. The MSRP column lists retail prices suggested by the manufacturer, figures that may change over time due to competitive pressures and fluctuating materials costs. Check manufacturer Web sites and local distributors for special sales.

Did you know... Commercial brick factories generally seek low product variability and control loss by extruding leather-hard clay with only 8-14% water content. This minimizes shrinkage between initial production and final firing. — from Ceramic Extruding by Tom and Jean Latka (see list of resources below)

Determine the cost and comprehensiveness of the standard package, and then look at the included basic die plate package. Examine additional die packages for widening extruding options. Available shapes range from triangular, round, octagonal, clover, rectangular, and square to solids that can be used as handles and coils—to name just a few. Find out whether die blanks are available, should you intend to cut your own dies, and whether die masks are included for dies with multiple holes. Consider the material from which die blanks are made: wood and plastic dies are the easiest to cut, requiring only drills, saws, and (optionally) files. Cutting steel is a more complex operation and a wider range of tools and expertise is required. Die packages are economical bulk purchases and are usually offered outside of purchasing extruders themselves, but dies may often be purchased individually, too.

Books & Resources on Extruding • Ceramic Extruder for the Studio Potter by John Conrad. Falcon Company, 1998. • Ceramic Extruding: Inspiration & Technique by Tom and Jean Latka. Krause Publications, 2001. • Extruded Ceramics by Diana Pancioli. Lark Books, 2000. • The Extruder Book by John Glick and Daryl Baird. American Ceramic Society, 2000. • “Talk Shop with Daryl Baird” — a new online chatroom for the extruder junkie: go to and set up a user ID and password. Then type “clayextruding” in the search box and join the group. continued on page 50

A Sampling of Hand Extruders and Accessories Manufacturer

AMACO/Brent (American Art Clay Co., Inc.)


Standard package

4" round, steel barrel; holds 10 pounds of clay

Optional accessories MSRP (for (for additional cost)

standard package)

Wall- or table-mountable extruder; mounting hardware for both options

3-piece standard die set (aluminum); hollow die set (aluminum), including bridge; die blanks (plastic); slab roller mounting stand


4", 5", or 9" square, steel barrels; hold 11, 17, or 29 pounds of clay

4",5" barrels: wall-mount extruder; 1 die; 2 die blanks 9" barrel: wall-mount extruder; 2 dies; 2 die blanks; die adaptor

$284 (4") $357 (5") $535 (9")

System Extruders

Same as all 3 individual standard barrels

Multiple (interchangeable) barrels (4",5",9") with a single drive frame; manual and power drives available; mounting hardware

Aluminum, wooden die sets, including hollow dies; die brace (bridge); die adaptor (for using small dies with larger barrels); die blanks; table mount; cutting/removal fixture; power (pneumatic) drive frame; slab roller mounting stand; tile barrel

Extruder (CSEXT)

4" square, stainless steel barrel; holds 7 pounds of clay

Wall-mount extruder; basic 3-die set (plastic), plus rubber die mask

Additional (plastic) die sets, including hollow dies; Z-tool (bridge); die blanks


Manual Clay Extruder

Bailey Pottery Equipment Corp. Standard Extruders (multiple models)

Ceramic Supply

Barrel diameter, shape & capacity

(Medium and Large-sized Clay Extrusion Guns also available)

(check online for sale prices)

prices vary depending on choice of manual or power drive frame, and barrel sizes

Euclid’s Choice

FREMA Extruder

5¼" round, stainless steel barrel; holds 8-9 pounds of clay

Wall-mount extruder; standard 6-die set (plastic); die mask; Z-brace (bridge)

Die blanks; hollow dies (both plastic)


North Star Equipment, Inc.

Standard Extruders (two models)

4" square, steel barrel, or 4" square stainless steel barrel; both hold 8 pounds of clay

Wall-mount extruder; basic die set; die blank; die mask (all plastic)

Accessory die set, including hollow dies, Z-brace (bridge); various other die sets; individual dies; die blanks

$325 (steel)

6" square, aluminum barrel; holds 25 pounds of clay

Wall-mount extruder; 3 hollow dies; die blank (all plastic)

Die adaptor (converts smaller, standard dies to Big Blue model); various die sets; die brace (bridge); die blanks


4" round, steel barrel, or 4" round, aluminum barrel; both hold 8 pounds of clay

Wall-mount extruder; 2 die blanks (aluminum)

Die kits (aluminum); expansion box and wooden die kit; inner die holders (bridge); die blanks

$323 (steel)

5" square, aluminum barrel; holds 13 pounds of clay

Wall-mount extruder

Die kit; expansion box and wooden die kit, including inner die holder (bridge); die blanks


3" round, stainless steel barrel; holds 4 pounds of clay

Wall-mount extruder; 4 dies (stainless steel); die blank (aluminum)

8-die set


Big Blue Extruder

$379 (stainless steel)

A Sampling of Hand Extruders and Accessories Scott Creek Pottery, Inc.

4" Extruders (two models)

(Clay Gun also available)


Hand Operated Clay Extruder

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

5" Extruder

$359 (aluminum)


Extruder User tips ✔ Packing the barrel—Trapping air when feeding clay into the barrel can cause blowouts in the walls of your extrusion. Though these are easily repaired after extruding, packing clay tightly into the barrel should reduce blow-out occurrence. ✔ Due to the weight and force you will exert on the tool, an extruder must be mounted securely on a studded wall, pillar, or post. Make sure there is plenty of clearance above to extend the plunger upward as far as needed with the barrel full. ✔ A light coating of WD-40® or Pam® cooking spray on the inside of the barrel can help with cleaning after use. ✔ When cleaning, use plastic spatulas, scrapers, or old credit cards (so as not to scratch the metal) and a very wet sponge (to loosen the clay). Or let the clay dry and knock out loose bits, then scrape with the aforementioned tools. Or don’t remove the clay: keep it moist by putting a small, wet towel in the mouth and another around the outfeed, and then wrap the whole barrel tightly in plastic between uses. Check the towels every few weeks and re-wet as necessary.

Four factors that govern the flow of clay out of the extruder


(As discussed in Ceramic Extruding by Tom and Jean Latka)

Clay Consistency and Constituency — The ideal clay for extruding will be soft (but not sticky), smooth, and very plastic. Softer clay with low coarse-particle content more easily conforms to the shape of the die and is less apt to tear or break as the extrusion leaves the tool. Too much grog can also contribute to snapping or breaking long extrusions, especially in the green stage.


Size and Shape of Die Hole — Barrel size must be proportionate to the size of the hole in the die. Too small a die hole on a large diameter barrel can create enough pressure to deform the die. Conversely, if the opening is too large, the clay will not receive enough compressive force, and the resulting extrusion may not completely take the shape of the die.


Location of Die Hole on Die Plate — Clay moving through the barrel of an extruder moves fastest in the center of the barrel, where it encounters the least amount of resistance and receives maximum pressure. Likewise, clay typically exits the die faster in the center. If the die hole is not in the center of the die plate, it may receive slower moving clay in its center (as well as uneven pressure across the span of the hole). This disruption of even flow causes the extrusion to curve as it exits the barrel, and can be used intentionally to great advantage.


Force Available to Push Clay Down Barrel and Out Die — Tom and Jean Latka state that, “The volume of clay extruded and the rate that it exits the machine is directly proportional to the size of the barrel and the power driving it.” With this in mind, when you’re attempting to extrude a straight bar or tube and the first foot or more of the extrusion curves, pull the lever more slowly and steadily (more carefully) to get started.

Improving a Clay Body for Extrusion • Decrease the grog content: try restricting the overall grog content to between 6-10% fine grog (60 mesh), or use a very fine grog (200-400 mesh).

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

• Increase plasticizer content: add ball clay or bentonite. An optimal extrusion body will contain at least one-third plasticizer.


• Soften clay: add water (in small increments). If using a commercial clay body (a 25-pound block in a bag), punch a half-dozen holes in the block with a dowel or the handle of a wooden kitchen spoon and, using a soaked sponge, fill the holes with water before tightly rewrapping the block of clay overnight. If your recipe is being made commercially, specify a minimum water content of 27%. • Decrease non-plastic clays: lower the amounts of ingredients in the clay body that are non-plastic, such as fireclay. The Venco extruder’s die plate holder utilizes notch-and-pin attachment for easy twist-off removal.

• Use aged clay: A clay body must be aged long enough for all of the particles to become fully wet to achieve maximum plasticity. [

Technique: Large Vessels

Making it story by peggy albers • photos by walker montgomery

With attitudes of both humor and seriousness about his work, Jerry Maschinot talks about pot-making in general terms. For him, the work is all about a “clearly focused mind and pleasing shapes.”


orking with large pieces requires not as much strength as technique—and throwing large vessels has become a trademark of Jerry Maschinot, a raku artist from Cave Spring, Georgia. Maschinot has been working in clay for 25 years, and—between time spent at his two studios (one in Cave Spring and another in the Castleberry Hill/ Snake Nation loft district in downtown Atlanta)—he puts in a full-time work schedule. In addition, he teaches classes at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta and has done so for more than 20 years. His pottery is shown and sold at a number of galleries in the South and at his own studios.

The photo-demonstration on the following pages presents Maschinot’s technique in working with great precision and timing to throw large pots that take on an elongated or spherical shape.

For this demonstration, Maschinot used about 18 lbs. of raku clay to throw large, rounded vessels. “I use raku clay because I need the coarse clay to resist the thermal shock,” he says. Maschinot’s works are tall, with pieces often ranging between 18" and 24" (Fig. 1). The forms themselves are made using three distinct processes: throwing the upper and lower cylinders, attaching the two sections, and finally shaping the form. The lower cylinder weighs about 11 lbs. and the upper cylinder weighs roughly 7 lbs. The lower section is about 30% heavier than the upper section because it has a bottom. The upper section is hollow, opened to the wheelhead.

Fig. 1. Jerry Maschinot’s large forms are made from groggy raku clay, not only to help them withstand the thermal shock of raku firing, but also for better wet strength during throwing and assembling.

Maschinot notes, “In general, it’s crucial to have both sections well-centered in order to put them together. When I demonstrate, I make the two cylinders a little on the thick side. I wanted these pots to feel a little top-heavy, perhaps full of themselves, with the narrow foot and a small lip—just like me!

“Nothing is certain when I start—even after 25 years, and even on the smallest of pots. This demands a quiet mind, and attention on the work,” he says. “Throwing pots is at best a very rewarding, quiet union of worker and work, pleasing to myself, and hopefully others. At its worst, it’s a big mess!” This large vessel is a two-piece pot that, when fired, will be in the 16"-18" range.

“When I begin a piece, I have only a general notion of what I want,” Maschinot

continues. “I throw a ‘rough sketch’—and then sort of fill in the blanks, finding a shape that pleases me. This room for improvisation feels much freer than trying to be too much in control.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Recently, Maschinot was recognized by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF) as one of the 50 most significant potters in the state of Georgia. Each summer, OCAF sponsors an event called “Perspectives,” where hundreds of potters and collectors come to see new works by the invited Georgia artists. Maschinot was invited to show his work alongside other fine raku artists, including Glenn Dair, Rick Berman, and Tom Zwerlein.

Thrown in multiple pieces, Maschinot’s large forms are well-known for their pleasing shapes, as well as for their delicate, almost indiscernible, rims. He always raku-fires these forms, working with both original glaze recipes and others more recognized by potters.


“Big” Steps to Large Forms

inward with a needle tool to about 45° to offer additional surface area when the pieces are joined (Fig. 5). The width of the cylinder is measured with calipers (Fig. 6), and excess clay is trimmed from the bottom. The trimmed piece will end up with a base of about 3". The cylinder is removed from the wheel and set aside.

The clay is centered by patting it on a bat into an initial cone shape, and opening it up to what will be the bottom section (Fig. 2). The first pull is made with arms firmly braced. The right knuckle is used to pull up the sidewalls. The cylindrical forms must be well-centered in order to put them together and manipulate them later. (Fig. 3). The lower cylinder is thrown to approximately 11" tall with about ½" thickness in the bottom. The sidewalls are ribbed to dry the sides, compress the clay, remove any throwing marks Maschinot doesn’t want, and to stabilize the piece. The cylinder should be as close to straight and vertical as possible—if not, it will be weak, especially if one of the pieces is slightly bowed. (Fig. 4). The middle seam that joins the two pieces should be about the thickness of the sidewalls. The seam is beveled

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The upper cylinder is made by patting and centering on a bat, then it is opened all the way down to the wheelhead, and widened to about 10" (Fig. 7). “Try not to make the cylinders too thin,” Maschinot notes, “especially at the seam points, because this is where most of the bowing will happen.” The width of the upper cylinder is measured against that of the lower cylinder (Fig. 8). “Pretty close,” Maschinot says, and smiles. “The upper cylinder will nest in the lower cylinder’s beveled area. When you join the two cylinders, you press them together. With a little coaxing, the upper and lower sections will then be joined.” The upper cylinder, still attached to its bat, is removed from the wheel and set aside.

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The cylinders are often left to set up for about an hour, but in this demonstration setting, Maschinot used a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. A hair dryer is positioned in a lump of clay to dry the bottom of the lower cylinder. Joining the cylinders is the most delicate part of this process and the parts must be absolutely centered and straight to nest more easily and to belly out as a complete form. Both cylinders are again measured before joining to ensure a tight fit. The lower cylinder is positioned on the wheelhead. With a needle tool, the beveled area of the lower cylinder is lightly scored and slipped so that when they are joined, a crack will not form (Fig. 9). “If they get too wet, the cylinders will just slip around,” Maschinot cautions. When the cylinders have set up, they are joined. The upper cylinder is turned upside-down and nestled into the beveled area of the lower cylinder. The two cylinders are manipulated so that they align as perfectly as possible (Fig. 10).

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With the wheel turning slowly, the seam of the join is compressed by lightly patting the bat for one to two minutes. The bottom of the lower cylinder is checked for proper stiffness to ensure that the form does not collapse (Fig. 11). While the wheel turns slowly, the excess clay is trimmed away from the upper cylinder so that you don’t fight the clay later. In addition, this facilitates the trimming of the rim (Fig. 12). The bat is then removed from the upper cylinder using a needle tool. As Maschinot instructs, “Push the needle tool into the clay and turn the wheel slowly, carefully moving the needle tool in further and further until the bat is released” (Fig. 13). The excess clay is trimmed away from the rim of the upper cylinder using a trim tool. This prepares the rim for further manipulation once the shape of the vessel is defined (Fig. 14).

“Wet the seam so that it’ll spin around on your fingers,” Maschinot says, “and does not distort the vessel” (Fig. 15). The outside fingers hold a sponge against the seam exterior to keep it wet. The inside fingers are positioned just above the seam while the outside fingers are placed just below the seam to “join the bevel.” To facilitate this join, the inside fingers compress and move down, over the bevel, as the outside fingers compress and are slowly drawn upward. The joined areas are compressed by moving the hands up and down the seam at least twice to prevent future cracking. “If I don’t hear lots of bubble sounds while I’m working this area, this is a good sign that the join is good,” Maschinot notes (Fig. 16). A rib is used on the outside to further join the bevel and shape the pot. “I’m going over it again and again,” he says. “I don’t want extreme changes in the shape of the pot as I work the sidewalls.

It’s a connect-the-dots down here and connect-the-dots up here.” The shape of the pot begins from the center point. Very little water is used, if any, to define the pot’s shape using the inside fingers and a rib on the outside. “You want to pick a point to start. If you start at the bottom, the pot may more easily distort. I go real slowly so as not to get in a hurry and torque the piece, especially since I’m working dry on the inside. I want to linger on the seam for awhile and work this area” (Fig. 17). With the movement from the middle downward and then middle to upward, the spherical element of the pot begins to emerge. The shape of the pot is coaxed out by initially working the upper area, defining the shoulder, and then moving down to the lower area. “As I work the shape, I make many different pots. This is my first one, but there are so many more in this one. With every pass that I make across the surface, I change the shape. I want to find the pot that I incontinued on next page

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tended to make.” While the wheel turns slowly, about a pound of clay is trimmed from the rim using a needle tool. Removing the weight in the upper area reduces the wiggle of the rim, and controls the amount of clay needed to make the rim (Fig. 18). Now that the shoulder is initially defined, the bottom is pushed out, working from the center downward, and then reversing this process (Fig. 19). The upper surface is dried to a point that enables Maschinot to “belly out the pot more, and offer more control on developing the line that I want this pot to make” (Fig. 20). To create a more voluptuous shape, the upper area is pushed out further, and any hint of the seam is removed. The shoulder and central areas of the pot are more clearly defined. The heat from the hair dryer is aimed at the lower area. This stiffens up the clay so that the bottom can be pushed out further, and

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

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will be able to support the weight of the vessel. With the desired shape emerging, it is time to begin work on the rim. With as little water as possible, Maschinot pulls in the rim and makes the opening smaller, staying in line with the shoulder. Once the rim is closed a little bit, he reestablishes it. The process is repeated until the rim is the desired width—an opening in which he can still put his hand to shape the form, but small enough to continue working it into a smaller rim (Fig. 21). The shoulder and the belly are pushed out even further to achieve a dramatic and severe spherical shape. “I can’t really push out the belly any more, and I like the shape up here.” He now studies the line of the pot and works the bottom so it is in harmony with the upper area. With the bottom pulled out to the desired width, the rim is pulled inward so that it lies nearly flush with the shape of the shoulders. If needed, excess clay

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is trimmed, and the rim is pulled to its final opening, roughly the size of a quarter. The relation between the rim and the shoulder is monitored, ensuring a strong line (Fig. 22). Excess water is removed and final touches to the rim and shoulder of the pot are made with a metal rib (Fig. 23). Excess clay from the bottom is trimmed away. When leather-hard, the pot will be trimmed to about 2' in height (Fig. 24). Once final trimming is complete, the pot is bisque-fired, glazed, and raku-fired. Fig. 25 shows an example of one of Maschinot’s large vessels that has been glazed with green crackle before rakufiring. [ Peggy Albers is an associate professor at Georgia State University, and studies pottery at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. She can be reached by e-mail at

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Avoiding Potential Internet Fraud by PETER CALLAS

If it sounds too good to be true, seller beware!


ust before the New Year, I received an e-mail from a potential client. He asked for prices of the claywork I have available for sale, so I suggested that he identify the pieces in which he was interested by visiting my Web site at After viewing the works posted on my site, he asked for prices on my large sculptures. I then sent out the prices to him, but began to be a bit suspicious about the encounter for the following reasons: • The individual identified himself as Ethan Hunt (name of a Mission Impossible character: a minor point, but a curious coincidence). • His grasp of the English language was questionable.

I continued to pursue the sale, yet proceeded with caution. He told me which piece he wanted to buy, and then asked for my address to send the payment. So far, so good! Then communication dropped off—which was a bit unusual— so I sent a follow-up e-mail to see if he

Of course, I would have been happy to receive more than $5,000 greater than the original price, but knew right away something was not right. After all, I thought, no one would send that kind of money without a return receipt requested, or some form of required signature. Also, there was no return address on the envelope. The payment had arrived in the form of a very good-looking cashier’s check, however, drawn from a bank in Texas. To the naked eye, the check looked legitimate. I asked my wife Chrissy to deposit it immediately that Friday. Then on Saturday, I called the bank to verify the status of the deposit. The bank (with whom I have had a very good long-term relationship) told me the funds were now available. (Remember, cashier’s checks need to be paid for in advance of their issuance.) I decided to wait five business days before contacting Ethan Hunt to see if anything suspicious turned up, as he had no way of knowing when I got the funds. On Wednesday morning, around 8:00 a.m., I e-mailed him that I had received the

check, and asked him to furnish the address where I should send the piece. My bank representative called me about three hours later to inform me that the Federal Reserve had rejected the check as a forgery! The bank was extremely understanding and thought it a good idea to report this to a detective with the State Police. I met with a detective, who told me this type of scenario is getting increasingly common. The scam was to “mistakenly” overpay, then ask that the overpaid balance be refunded to a Western Union office overseas. The detective said the scammer was probably operating out of London. Later that same day, I received a message from Ethan Hunt that the accounting department had made an error—so could I send the overpaid difference to a Western Union office in London? Bingo! The detective had read it right. Prudent action had paid off. Had I sent him any money, there would have been no recourse. The FBI does not get involved with those sums of money. I sent a follow up e-mail relaying my sentiments, and brought it to closure. [ Author’s footnote: Normally the people who buy works from my Web site are honest. But in this age of growing Internet fraud, it’s a good idea to look over your shoulder when doing business online.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

• I did an IP [Internet Provider] search to discover that his e-mail messages originated from a generic Hotmail account. (Through previous experience, I have found that most legitimate clients have a more official e-mail.)

had received my previous e-mail with all the information he had requested. It wasn’t until about three weeks later that I finally did receive subsequent correspondence by e-mail, followed by a cashier’s check in the mail. I had quoted him $20,000 for the piece he wished to purchase, but his check was made out to me in the amount of $25,375.


Ellen Kong

Raku the Painterly Way by bARbARA McKENZIE


or Ellen Kong, who grew up in Taiwan, drawing and painting—along with calligraphy—were important parts of her formal education. So were private lessons from prominent Chinese painters who had moved from mainland China to Taiwan in the early 1950s. At Taiwan Normal University, where she majored in painting, Kong was introduced to sculpture and Western painting. But her intensive art training did not fully prepare her for what came next.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

In the early 1960s, she entered the MFA program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dissent was in the air, flower power was on its way, and Abstract Expressionism was in the galleries. Kong learned to paint in that free and personal style. No more copying the masters—now she must follow her own heart and mind.


Next came marriage, a move to Durham, NC, children, and a career teaching art at Durham Academy. Kong introduced clay into the curriculum and found herself increasingly fascinated by its tactile and sculptural properties. She took summer workshops in clay at Penland School, including a session on raku firing with Rick Berman. In 1999, she published The Great Clay Adventure, a resource book for art educators that derived from her own teaching experience. After 18 years of classroom teaching, Kong returned to her studio, where a remarkable synthesis began. At first, she started sculpting insects and animals—including rabbits. These early sculptures allowed her to experiment with implied motion. Nature was never far from her thoughts, or her studio

door. Neither was poetry, nor art history. Her first major clay project was a series of kimonos. They started small, at about 10 inches, but quickly grew to 20 inches high and 16 inches wide—proportions partially determined by the interior dimensions of the raku kiln. The colorful kimono sculptures became her signature pieces, winning a juror’s choice award in a 2002 regional exhibition of women artists, and serving as the focus of a 2004 solo exhibit at Tyndall Gallery in Chapel Hill, NC. Kong was attracted to the kimono shape for several reasons. “Traditional kimonos are cut on straight lines, like a canvas,” she explains. “But they are wrapped around a human form which gives three dimensions.” She uses this threedimensionality to impart the illusion of movement. She likens the kimono to the teapot. “There are so many teapot parts: handles, lids, spouts, and so forth. Each can be manipulated by the potter for expression.” Kong approaches the kimono as a series of separate parts that must be assembled to make an artistic whole. First, she rolls out the slabs at about ¼” thick, and allows them to “season” overnight. She compares the cutting of the kimono parts to cutting fabric for clothes, only she does not use templates or patterns. Her favorite measuring tool is an oldfashioned cloth measuring tape. Kong wants to keep “gesture” in her pieces, yet she needs to work with

Raku-fired Kimono from River Riders series by Ellen Kong. clay stiff enough to allow the kimono to stand. As a prop, she uses a round Quaker Oats container filled with rocks and wrapped in newspaper. “One must keep in mind that any ware we wish to raku fire must be able to withstand the unkind amount of stress put on the work by the firing,” she cautions. Accordingly, she scores and slips all joints with care, making “strong bonds that will not be susceptible to expansion and separation during the firing.” Next, she decides on a theme, as in the “River Riders” series. At this point, she likens the parts of the freestanding kimono to panels in an Oriental screen. She starts to add details—waves, water droplets, eddying currents, and even the “river riders” themselves. The hares are perched on boats that appear to be traveling downstream at a dizzying pace. Kong takes care to keep sculptural details like the hares and boats the same wetness as the body of the kimono. Some details, like the waves, are built up by pressing wet clay onto the kimono’s surface, then pushing and shaping it with her hands and simple modeling tools. She builds up thickness and texture much like a painter achieving an impasto quality through the layering of paint.

Poetry has an important part in the composition and meaning of an Oriental painting. For Kong, the haiku seems a fitting accompaniment to her raku kimonos. For the “River Riders,” she writes: Deep in the river Facing the same currents Different strokes. When the design is complete, Kong wraps the kimono securely with plastic. She unwraps it in stages, allowing it to dry for a month. She bisque-fires to cone 05, taking about 12 hours to reach maximum temperature. Glazing is approached in a painterly way. Kong’s favorite glazes are Piepenburg Patina, Multi-Colored Copper Sand, Fat White, Higby Water Blue, and Sacco Blue Hawaii Copper [see formulas in box at right]. In addition to the different colors produced by these glazes, they have the added advantage of maturing at the same temperature—approximately cone 06. This allows different glazes to be applied to the same sculpture without worrying about one glaze maturing too quickly and starting to run while another glaze is still bubbly and hasn’t started to smooth out. “Try to familiarize yourself with a few glazes that you like,” she suggests. “Be sure to find out what the glaze will look like if thinly applied, or put on thick.” Higby Water Blue, she points out, turns “reddish if applied thinly.” Accordingly, she waters down a glaze to achieve a desired color or applies a glaze thickly, like Multi-Colored Copper Sand or Piepenberg Patina, to build up a grainy texture. Sometimes, one glaze is layered over another. For example, a diluted coat of Multi-Colored Copper Sand works well under Piepenberg Patina, often enhancing the color of the top glaze.

In raku, the unglazed areas turn black. Kong uses the negative space created by the absence of glaze to balance the composition. In Oriental painting, the “empty” space is as important as the space filled with detail. Then comes the firing. Kong uses a kiln made from fiber blanket and wire mesh on a pulley system with a counter weight. Since the kimonos are large and fairly heavy (about 10-12 pounds), tongs proved unsuitable for lifting them from the kiln. The solution was to reach into the kiln, pick up the kimono, and transport it to the container of combustibles. Easier said than done! To accomplish this safely, she wears mittens designed to withstand temperatures up to 2000° F, a face shield, and a heat-resistant aluminized apron. For combustibles, Kong uses newspaper in metal garbage cans. Movements around the kiln are carefully choreographed. The unglazed areas of the kimonos—typically parts of the sleeve—allow her to pick up the kimono without the mittens coming in contact with the molten glaze. After Kong places the kimono into the container, her raku partner adds more newspaper, and Kong replaces the lid. No additional oxygen is introduced. If she wants substantial reduction, she gets the kimono into the combustibles quickly, thus minimizing its time in the open air. If she wants more blues and greens, she removes the kimono more slowly, giving it maximum exposure to the atmosphere. As she has learned, the best colors are obtained on damp, even drizzly, days. In 2005, Kong traveled to Japan on a study tour that included visits to museums where numerous traditional kimonos were on display. She was intrigued anew by the obi—a decorative sash that allows the kimono to be adjusted to fit persons of varying height and weight. While the obi serves a practical function, she notes that this once unadorned sash has “evolved into an exquisite and intricate art form.” In “The Garden Path” and other recent sculptures, the obi helps to convey the elegance and style of the kimono, and has become an integral part of this evolving series. [

Barbara McKenzie lives in Durham, NC, where, for the past 14 years, she has been working in clay and teaching pottery classes at Claymakers and the Durham Arts Council. Her pottery education began at Haywood Community College (Clyde, NC) and has continued through workshops in the United States as well as in Canada, Switzerland, and Japan.

Ellen Kong’s Favorite Glazes FAT WHITE è (by Michael Sherrill) Gerstley Borate Frit 25 (Pemco) Nepheline Syenite Kentucky Ball Clay (OM-4) Flint Kaolin (EPK) TOTAL add Tin Oxide

38.0% 38.0 11.0 5.0 5.0 3.0 100.0% 1.0%

HIGBY WATER BLUE ê (by Wayne Higby) Frit 3110 Gerstley Borate Flint Soda Ash Kaolin (EPK)

73.7% 5.3 5.3 10.5 5.2 TOTAL 100.0% add Copper Carbonate 3 to 6.0% SACCO BLUE HAWAII COPPER ê (by George Sacco/Mark Burleson)

Gerstley Borate Lithium Carbonate Spodumene Superpax

38.0% 24.0 20.0 18.0 TOTAL 100.0% add Copper Carbonate 2.5% SOLDNER BASE ê (by Paul Soldner) Gerstley Borate 80.0% Nepheline Syenite 20.0 TOTAL 100.0% PIEPENBURG PATINA* ê (by Robert Piepenburg) *Note: this measurement is by volume 4 parts Gerstley Borate 3 parts Bone Ash 2 parts Nepheline Syenite 1 part Copper Carbonate

2 cups 1½ cups 1 cup ½ cup

MULTI-COLORED COPPER SAND* ê (by Robert Piepenburg) *Note: this measurement is by volume 8 parts Gerstley Borate 2 parts Bone Ash ½ part Copper Carbonate ¼ part Cobalt Oxide

4 cups 1 cup ¼ cup 1 /8 cup

è Questionable for use on functional pottery. Test thoroughly before using. ê Limit to use on decorative/sculptural work.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

In “The Garden Path,” Piepenberg Patina is brushed over a thin coat of Sacco Blue Hawaii Copper. Red, orange, and yellow stains are sometimes mixed into Soldner Base and applied in different concentrations. On a single decorative element, two or more glazes might be used. A wave, as in “River Riders,” starts with Fat White at its crest, then goes to Higby Water Blue, applied medium-thick, and ends with that same glaze applied thinly. In the “Wisteria” series, the vines start with Multi-Colored Copper Sand,

followed by that glaze under Piepenburg Patina, and then Piepenburg Patina used by itself.


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CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006




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Due to overwhelmingly popular demand, all glazes listed here were furnished by Sandy Miller following their use on her works portrayed in our previous (March/April 2006) issue of Clay Times. M & M Clear and Faux Ash were featured on the cover and in the article, “Sandy Miller’s Compromise” on pages 40-43 of that issue. Both glazes may be soaked at top temperature, but do not require soaking. Both work well on Tucker Mid-Smooth Stoneware, and on porcelain. The red variation of M & M Clear does not work well on ironbearing clay bodies. [

Share your glaze with us! If it’s published, you’ll earn a FREE Clay Times T-shirt! Send glaze recipes, photo of glaze (if you have one), and your T-shirt size to: Great Glazes, c/o Clay Times, PO Box 365, Waterford, VA 20197.

Faux Ash

Cone 5-6 oxidation ê Cedar Heights Redart Dolomite Strontium Carbonate OM-4 Lithium Carbonate Gerstley Borate Bone Ash TOTAL add: Bentonite

27.14% 23.80 12.20 20.40 1.71 9.65 5.10 100.00% 2.00%

Mix thin or you will be scraping kiln shelves. Not for use on surfaces that come into contact with food or drink.

Bob’s Base Cone 6 oxidation è

Silica EPK Nepheline Syenite Bone Ash Dolomite Gerstley Borate Talc

M&M Clear

Cone 5-6 oxidation éé


16.00% 18.00 40.00 10.00 16.00 100.00%

Red variation: add Mason Stain #6006 10.00%


27.28% 18.18 18.18 9.09 9.09 9.09 9.09

Boris Satin Matte Cone 6 oxidation éé

Kona F-4 Feldspar Gerstley Borate Whiting EPK Silica TOTAL


14.60% 9.10 21.50 29.50 25.30 100.00%

Deep River Red variation: add Red Iron Oxide 20.00%

add: Rutile

Nice Green variation: add Copper Carbonate 5.00

This is Sandy’s all-time favorite satin matte. Boris is her good friend, a potter from Russia.

This is a good base for a satin matte, found online from Bob Cavanaugh’s studio.


éé Should be suitable for functional and decorative/sculptural pottery. è Questionable for use on functional pottery. Test thoroughly before using.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Whiting Gerstley Borate G-200 Feldspar EPK Silica

Readers Share I Glaze & Slip Recipes

Great Glazes

ê Limit to use on decorative/sculptural work.


Jerry Anthony Photography

Readers Share I Art Works

The Gallery

Lost in the City (Des Moines). 17" x 16" x 10". Red clay, slab-built and fired to cone 04 with underglaze painting and clear glaze. Larissa Jung, 1549 Germania Drive, Des Moines, IA 50311. E-mail:

Untitled. 12" x 12". Burnished and pit-fired porcelain with copper wire and various colorants. Brad Bachmeier, 7201 Chrisan Blvd., Fargo, ND 58104. E-mail:

CLAyTIMES¡COM n May/June 2006

stewart stokes Photo


Three Cups. 6" x 3½" each. Wheel-thrown porcelain, gas-fired to cone 10 with Shino glaze and wax resist, then glaze oversprayed. Kim Dryden, 38 Baker Drive Ext., Asheville, NC 28806. E-mail:

To have your work considered for publication in The Gallery, please send a high-quality color print, slide, or digital image to: The Gallery, Clay Times, P.O. Box 365, Waterford, VA 20197. Please include your name, address, telephone number, Web or e-mail address, type of clay, glaze, and firing method used, and dimensions of the work. (Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for photo/slide return.)

Lucille Feremans Photo

Readers Share I Art Works

The Gallery

Enceinte. 13" x 13". White stoneware, Naked Raku slip and glaze method (for formulas, see July/August 2003 CT article by Linda Riggs). Cone 08 bisque and cone 016-017 second firing in propane-fueled metal drum/fiber kiln. Wally Asselberghs, Churchillaan 155, B-2900 SCHOTEN, Belgium. Web:

Powershift #1. 40" x 20" x 30". Earthenware, solid-built and hollowed, low-fire oxidation. Brian Somerville, 200 NE 20th Street, Apt. 233D, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Web:

Nesting Bowls. 14" x 8". Porcelain with Alfred Matte glaze fired to cone 6 in oxidation. Elizabeth Cohen, 56 Yarmouth Road, Wellesley, MA 02481. E-mail:

CLAyTIMES¡COM n May/June 2006

EASX05OL1105A14. 14" X 12" X 7". Slip-cast, altered, and assembled earthenware, cone 05. Mathew Scott McConnell, 5011 Kinter Hill Road, Edinboro, PA 16412. E-mail:




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CLAyTIMES¡COM n May/June 2006

scholarships | work-study | assistantships | residencies


Summer Workshops 2006 THEBrady HOTCHKISS Robert Alleghany SCHOOL Meadows Mark Shapiro Mark BurlesonVALLERA Brad Miller- 860-435-4423 Sandy Simon SARAH Doug Casebeer Ron Nagle Paul Soldner W/QUESTIONS Terry Gess Lisa Orr Peter VandenBerge TO RUN: Clay Times - May/June 2006 Andrea Gill Walter Ostrom Bill van Gilder 1/4Gillpage (3 3/8� 4 7/8�) John DavidxPinto Robert Winokur Sam Harvey Jun Kuneko Tony Marsh

Donna Polseno Juan Quezada Ralph Scala

Paula Winokur Michael Wisner

Field Workshops 2007 Jamaica April 20 – 28, 2007 Akio Takamori, David Pinto & Doug Casebeer

Residencies 2006-2007 556 Parkway Gatlinburg, TN 37738 Rebecca Floyd

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Looking for helpful studio tips? Got some to share? This is the place...

Burners are mounted on car jacks for ease of adjustment during firing.

Jack It Up For many years, I evened the top-to-bottom firing temperature of my gas-fired downdraft kiln primarily by adjusting the damper, but these adjustments did not always have the intended effect, or did not occur at the desired speed. I now have my four burners mounted (with large U-bolts) on four car jacks. When the bottom of the kiln is too cold relative to the top, I lower them. When the top is too cold, I raise them. The desired change is rapid and reliable. Of course, my kiln is plumbed with flexible copper tubing; this arrangement would not work with hard pipe. Rinny Ryan • Naples, FL

I was glazing some pieces using small containers of glaze. I wanted to pour on the glaze and, instead of grabbing a

Wedging on Patio Blocks This is for us basement and garage potters with small studios and budgets: Instead of plaster slabs for wedging, check out your local home and garden stores that sell patio blocks. I have found the 2' x 2' smooth concrete slabs work great as a wedging surface or a good semi-porous surface. I have two: one sits on an old table I’ve strengthened

Slow-drying Curl I have found a use in my pottery studio for something called a “press on curler” (for making spiral hair curls), which you can buy from a drug store. It is a flexible styrofoam tube, about ½" in diameter and 7" long, covered by a textured plastic skin that sticks to itself. If I am drying a vase, for instance, and do not want the neck to dry out more quickly than the body (as it tends to do), I place a piece of thin plastic around the neck and secure it with one of these curlers, which wraps nicely around and sticks to itself like Velcro®, leaving no marks on the pot. This can also be used for handles on mugs, etc. Gem Chang-Kue Gabriola Island, BC [

EARN A CLAY TIMES T-SHIRT! Send us your useful clay tip or technique to share with our readers. If it’s published, we’ll send you a Clay Times T-shirt. Mail your tips (and T-shirt size) to: The Slurry Bucket, c/o Clay Times, PO Box 365, Waterford, VA 20197.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

No-Waste Glazing

plastic bowl for the excess to run into, I used a Styrofoam® plate. I found that when I poured the excess glaze back into the jar, it all poured back—every drop! There was no need for scraping with a spatula or my hands. Not a single drop of glaze was lost in the process and the plate was entirely clean and ready for the next use. Finally a good use for the much-maligned Styrofoam. Helen Zeve • Sugar Land, TX

with a 2x4, so it won’t be shaken by my wedging motion. For the other, I made a square frame, narrower than the slab, with legs about 2' long, on wheels. The slab sits right on top. No need to fasten since the slab weighs approximately 50 lbs. I use it wherever, as an extra work surface. What’s nice is that they don’t absorb moisture like plaster, so it won’t dry your clay as fast as plaster. If you clean it off, it dries quickly. Also, they can be picked up and moved out of the way when necessary. I recommend you personally select your slab for smoothness and flatness. Note: They are not as good as plaster for drying wet clay. Margo Spreitzer • Lansing, MI

Readers Share I Tips & Techniques

The Slurry Bucket



TUSCANY International School of Ceramics 4th – 8th January Throwing Practice 10th – 15th April Raku and raku glazes 31st – 13th May Clay, Gnocchi &... more 15th – 27th May Italian Clay 3rd - 8th July Naked Raku 9th - 15th July Raku Dolce 17th – 22nd July Glazed Raku 24th – 29th July Smoke Firing 31st - 5th August Paperporcelain 7th – 19th August Fund. of Throwing 21st – 2nd September Adv. Throwing 4th – 9th September Soda Firing 17th – 30th September Altered Forms

Pietro Maddalena Pietro Maddalena Pietro Maddalena Denys James David Roberts Giovanni Cimatti Pietro Maddalena Luca Tripaldi Giovanni Cimatti Pietro Maddalena Pietro Maddalena Terry Davies Ellen Shankin

La Meridiana as an International School for Ceramics has been operating since 1981. It’s located between Florence, Siena and San Gimignano or

For details Loc.Bagnano 135 50052 Certaldo (FI) Italy tel. & fax +39 0571 660084

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CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006



















very serious potter inevitably engineers systems for efficiency in the studio. It’s not so much a matter of production efficiency as it is the peace of mind provided by a wellset-up workplace. In previous columns I have mentioned studio ritual—the concept that long-term success as an artist/artisan involves a certain personal satisfaction derived from use of highquality tools and equipment. It becomes a form of ritual celebrating quality and efficiency, honed by repetition. The daily studio ritual of an efficient, experienced potter or sculptor is like a well-oiled machine, where things flow smoothly with no wasted effort. For a handbuilder at a work table, there’s little trouble in fetching a needed tool, but for a potter working at the wheel it’s a different matter. We know it’s a bother to get up with slurry-coated hands and retrieve something once we’ve settled into the rhythm of throwing. The solution is to prepare in advance and have everything within reach.

In past columns I have advocated moveable shelving—in essence, an abundance of ware carts rather than built-in shelving. If possible, arrange your wheel so that you can place a ware cart off to your side, far enough back so that it doesn’t block your line of sight across the studio,

and it seems a contradiction. And how can anyone expect to accommodate tools and water bucket on the minimal table space provided with most electric wheels? Kickwheels from Thomas Stuart or Lockerbie feature a large table space, and it’s refreshing to see some electric

“We know it’s a bother to get up with slurry-coated hands and retrieve something once we’ve settled into the rhythm of throwing. The solution is to prepare in advance and have everything within reach.” The visual environment is very important to most studio artists. In my former studio in Blue Lake, California, the wheel was placed diagonally facing a corner, with several levels of terraced shelves behind the wheel and two large windows offering an ever-changing view of our backyard and vegetable garden. High-quality stereo speakers mounted on either side of the windows enveloped me in National Public Radio. The wedging table was just to my right, providing a convenient place for prepared clay, with room for a ware cart just behind me, on either side of the stool. It always surprises me to see a supposedly serious craftsperson surrounded by randomly-scattered or poorly-maintained tools. Many years ago, I worked as a mechanic for a city in Northern California, and one of my co-workers kept his tools jumbled in a large metal tote tray. Beginning a job, he would characteristically dump them on the floor and paw around until he found the needed tools. He was a poor mechanic. What are the tools you use most often at the wheel, and how do you keep them organized and accessible? I have seen serious potters with throwing tools randomly scattered on the wheel table,

wheels similarly equipped, like the inexpensive Brent IE, the new Creative Industries Elite Boss SQ, or the Soldner “P” series. Whatever the size of your built-in table, if it’s inadequate, modify it! It’s a simple matter to clamp a larger board to the table or build an extended shelf behind your wheel. Design it to your needs, and don’t skimp. If necessary, hire a welder to incorporate every feature you want. Heck, include a cupholder for your tea! If you’re like me, you probably use four or five different ribs, not including profile ribs. When throwing, I use a hard rubber kidney-shaped rib; a rounded stainlesssteel rib; a serrated stainless-steel rib; a straight-sided, stainless steel rib with a sharp 90˚ corner; and a straight-sided wood rib. With a little slurry on the surface, the stainless-steel ribs stick to the table, and can disappear beneath accumulated slurry. There’s an easy solution: get an industrial poly-sponge—something stiffer than foam rubber. With a razor knife, cut it to an appropriate size, and carefully cut parallel slots halfway through the thickness and width so that each slot will hold a rib. Glue the sponge to a block of wood so it will stay put on the table or shelf by your wheel. You’ll quickly get in the habit of putting each

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

After 35 years of making pots and observing potters, I’ve got some good ideas for efficiency at the wheel. First, design your wheel station for smooth and efficient flow and a pleasing environment. Where do you keep your prepared clay? Where do you put your finished pots? The former depends on how much clay you use at a sitting. Small, portable tables or benches are very handy for quickly setting up wheel-side storage. Place a plastic sheet over the bench, pile your prepared balls or slugs of clay, and wrap the sheet over the top.

but still within reach for placement of finished wares. Most of us would feel claustrophobic with a large ware cart looming overhead, but I have met potters who actually prefer their wheel facing a windowless wall, in which case the ware cart position hardly matters.

shop talk I Tool Times

Within Reach


rib back in the slot after its use. When the sponge gets encrusted with clay, it’s a simple matter to take it to the sink for cleaning.


Long, thin tools are best organized in small cylindrical containers. Don’t use cheap plastic cups that have no heft and tip easily, or large commercially-made mugs that hold so many tools you can’t find what you want. What are we? We’re potters! Make simple, straight-sided tumblers, with slightly-widened bases for stability, of adequate height to retain your tools vertically. Make them fairly small in diameter, so that each holds a small number of tools for easy access. Have one for modeling tools, one for needle tools, one for ribs, one for trimming tools, a taller one for a sponge stick, a throwing stick, and other long items. Adapt the sizes and shapes as needed. If you’re a little clumsy (like me), glue them to a narrow board in a row.





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8)!/3(%.'") #HINESE"RUSHWORK-AY 


Where do you keep your cut-off wire? Does it get tangled with other tools on your shelf or table? Have you ever picked up one end of the cut-off wire and sent multiple other tools tumbling down and around? A cutoff wire should hang by itself. I drape mine over a swing-arm lamp that illuminates my wheel. If you don’t use swing-arm lamps, adapt or fabricate a simple rack from wood or metal and hang up your cut-off wire. Hang your calipers there, too (away from the cut-off wire), and while you’re at it, hang your strips of chamois so they don’t end up lost in your recycle again and again and again. Sponges and any specialized tools used during a particular throwing session can stay on the wheel table. At the back of the table, place the big sponge for your ribs and the tumblers for your other tools. This isn’t some kind of obsessive clean-freak system, where organization becomes an end in itself. This is plain common sense. Try it and you’ll never go back to the random scattering of tools. [

Do you use the needle tool regularly? If it’s placed point-downwards in a tumbler, does the handle blend in with other tools? Just #LAY!RT#ENTERADPDF!poke it into the sponge with your ribs. Or, get Vince Pitelka is professor of clay at Tennessee a stout rubber artist’s eraser and glue it to the Technological University’s Appalachian Center for wheel table with silicone sealant. Poke your Craft, an active participant on the Clayart Interneedle tool into the rubber. After a few years net discussion group, and author of Clay: A Stuwhen the rubber starts to degrade, peel the dio Handbook. You can contact Vince through his silicone off the table and get a new eraser. Web site at




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The most efficient LP gas tank size for your kiln is proportionate to the size kiln you’re firing, the outdoor temperature, and the frequency with which you fire...


pring has arrived. I get to say that now because I live in the South. But, by the time this article hits your clay-dried hands, it will also be spring in the “Land o’ Salt Trucks.” Spring always brings a blossoming of kiln projects and that has always been my springtime subject. This year is no different. People want kilns. People want gas-fired kilns. People look at the price of fuel and think, “Yikes!” Building a kiln is an expensive project. If you fire with LP (liquefied propane), one of the most alluring ways to cut your upfront costs is to use a smaller LP tank. You think, “Hey, I spent all my money on stuff no one told me I was going to have t’ buy … a 250-gallon tank is sure a lot cheaper to fill up than a 1,000-gallon tank!” In previous columns, I’ve talked about the effects of temperature on LP tanks, bored you with gas physics like Charles’ Law, and basically assumed you’re a math geek. (Before we go any further, let’s repeat the mantra: “Math Is Our Friend. Math Is Our Friend. Math Is Our Friend.”)

Professional potters fire a kiln more often than a hobby potter. Because of this, they can’t be encumbered by a tank that doesn’t have enough fuel in it to finish a firing. Professional potters also need to fire when they need to fire. Many times the pro doesn’t have the luxury of waiting until next week to fire. They have to fire now. So here is where factors like temperature and location rear their ugly heads. The pro in Vermont who has to get ready for the Baltimore Show in February has concerns the Baltimore-bound pro in Florida doesn’t have. Weather—and I don’t mean snowy roads—becomes a factor. An LP tank, regardless of size, can produces twice as much propane vapor at 20° F than it can at 0° F—that’s two times as much! At 40° F, we’re talking almost four times as much as 0°. Because of this, when I recommend a tank size to professionals, those above the MasonDixon line get a recommendation for a larger tank. The amateur can always wait a week or so until the temperature increases somewhat before they fire. They may be able to wait months. Here are the numbers. I’ve always felt you need at least four times the amount of liquid propane in reserve for the amount you are going to use at 60° F. As it gets colder, this multiplying factor is going to rise. There are many variables here, so first we need some numbers. (Oh, boy … I love numbers!). There are roughly

92,000 BTUs in a gallon of propane. And a gallon of propane weighs about 4½ lbs. This stuff is a lot lighter than water at over 8 lbs per gallon. If that doesn’t confuse you, then let me introduce you to one of the more confusing aspects of LP tank sizing. Some tanks are identified by weight and some are identified by volume (gallons). Don’t confuse the two! A BBQ tank is a 20-lb. tank. The weight that is expressed is the weight of the fuel only. So a 20-lb. tank, divided by the weight in pounds per gallon (4½-lb./gal.) tells us we have about 4½ gallons of fuel. A 100-lb. tank (those 5' high guys that you see at Home Depot) holds about 22 gallons. You can see that confusing a 120-gal. tank (590 lbs.) with a 100-lb. tank is a major error. So, a 500-gal. tank has a lot of fuel in it, but it may not be enough. As I said above, there are a bunch of variables involved in this. Because of the complexity of this subject, I can’t go into great detail. If you are unsure of the size of the tank you need, feel free to give me a call. Just remember, my job is to tell people things they don’t want to hear. That said, I’m going to give you some rough guidelines for kiln size, kiln type, and potter type. Again, these are rough guidelines, so if you’re unsure, consult with us or your propane supplier. Also remember that a raku kiln can get by with a smaller tank because its draw is not constant. You turn the kiln on and off. This gives the tank time to stabilize (or warm up). continued on page 72

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

There, now you are ready. It’s really not going to be a whole lot of math. We just need to discuss volume, how it relates to the size of your kiln, and what kind of potter you are. And, I don’t mean whether you are a friendly potter or an unfriendly potter. The size of tank you use, many times, depends on whether you are a professional or a hobby potter. Add to this mix: are you a Northern

amateur or a Southern pro? How could this affect what size unsightly torpedo you have in your yard?

by marc ward

Shop Talk I Firing

A Tank Rubric


Studio I Health & Safety

Chromium: The Green Chemical by MONONA ROSSOL

Most potters know that chromium compounds are used to impart a green or yellow color to glazes and clays. Now there are new regulations that apply to some of these colorants... A New OSHA Rule On February 28, after many false starts and a lawsuit to compel them to act, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) set a new standard to protect workers from chromium. This new OSHA standard, called a permissible exposure limit (PEL), is proposed for only one class of compounds. It is for chemicals containing chromium that have a valence (electrical charge) of six. These compounds are usually referred to as “Chromium VI” compounds. It was high time to do this. Studies showed that the old PEL, which was 52 micrograms/cubic meter (μg/m3) of air, could cause between 101 and 350 excess lung cancer deaths per 1,000 workers, assuming a 45-year workplace exposure.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Originally, OSHA proposed a PEL of 1 μg/m3. At this level, the deaths could be expected to be reduced to between 2.1 and 9.1 per 1,000 workers. But OSHA listened to industry spokespeople who expressed a resistance to the precautions they would have to take to protect workers. So OSHA compromised and the final PEL is 5 μg/m3. This means that the PEL is set at a level at which between 10 and 45 deaths per 1,000 workers can be expected.


This is important for potters to understand, because so often they think OSHA exposure levels are over-protective or completely safe. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in their preamble to the final rule, OSHA says that the risk at the new PEL is “clearly significant.”

Compounds Used in Ceramics Potters also can be exposed to Chromium VI compounds from certain green-colored glazes, oxides, slips, and colored clays. But it is possible to avoid the Chromium VI compounds and use other types of chrome. Table 1 lists various Chromium VI compounds that should be avoided.

TABLE 1: (To Be Avoided) CHROMIUM VI COMPOUNDS IN CERAMICS* barium chromate (baryta yellow, BaCrO4) barium dichromate (BaCr2O7) calcium chromate (CaCrO4) calcium dichromate (CaCr2O7) iron chromate (ferric chromate, Fe2(CrO4)3) iron dichromate (ferric dichromate, Fe2(Cr2O7)3) lead chromate (chrome yellow, PbCrO4) potassium chromate (K2CrO4) potassium dichromate (K2CrO7) sodium dichromate (Na2CrO7) sodium chromate (Na2CrO4) strontium chromate (SrCrO4) zinc chromate (ZnCrO4) zinc dichromate (ZnCr2O7) chromium fumes from kilns *For those who know their chemistry, I am not including chemically bound water in the formulas for simplicity; e.g., BaCr2O7 should be BaCr2O7•2H2O.

Safer Chromium Compounds We don’t have to give up chrome green glazes, because there are safer chromium compounds. These compounds contain chromium in the II or III valence state. They are known as Chromium II and Chromium III compounds. There is only very limited evidence that these chemicals can cause cancer. They are found in Table 2. Traces of these safer chromium compounds are needed in your body for good health. You may see various chrome-containing minerals listed on the label of your vitamin pills. But overexposure is dangerous. Over-exposure to Chromium II and III compounds is known to cause kidney damage, sensitization (especially of the skin), and irritant effects on the nasal passages when inhaled. These effects plus cancer can be caused by Chromium VI compounds.

chromium oxide (actually chromic oxide or Cr2O3) chromium trioxide (also called chromic acid or CrO3) iron chromite (chromite, chrome iron ore, FeCr2O4) chromic chloride (used in raku fuming, CrCl3) *There is an OSHA PEL for II and III chromium compounds of 50 μg/m3.

Chromium Sensitivity All chrome compounds can cause a type of dermatitis called “chrome ulcers.” This is a well-known industrial disease among chromium-exposed workers. I personally developed this disease while working with chrome-containing pottery chemicals years ago. To this day, I must avoid chrome even in the metal jewelry I wear or I will get an ulcer on the site of contact. Chrome ulcers can take up to six months to heal. For this reason, prolonged skin contact with chromium compounds in products such as colored clays should be avoided.

Chromium Fumes From Kilns Chrome fumes released from kilns are also expected to be in the Chromium VI form. This is why the new OSHA standard also applies to welding fumes from chrome-containing metals. When chromium metal oxides are very hot and exposed to oxygen, they are likely to convert to the higher valence states which incorporate more oxygen. This means that all chromium sources may produce Chromium VI fumes. Fortunately, good kiln ventilation can prevent this exposure.

Chromium is very volatile at kiln temperatures. Many potters have personal experience with this volatilization. They have seen a kiln-load of tin-glazed ware turn from white to pink because chromium volatilized from another glaze in the kiln. It settles on the tin glazes and forms a pink chrome/tin complex.

Assessing the Risk To place the chromium toxicity in perspective, we must move some decimal points, change the micrograms to milligrams, and compare the new PELs with PELs of other well-known compounds. The lower the PEL, the less allowed in the workplace air for healthy adult workers.

Studio I Health & Safety


Recommendation Make sure you know which kind of chromium compounds are in the products you use. Then you can simply avoid the Chromium VI sources. You should be able to do this by obtaining the material safety data sheets (MSDSs) on the products. You may wish to wait until the end of May to request MSDSs. This is because manufacturers have three months from February 27 (the date this rule was promulgated) to update their MSDSs to reflect the new status of Chromium VI compounds. [

Monona Rossol is an industrial hygienist/chemist with an M.F.A. in ceramics/glass. She may be reached at ACTS, 181 Thompson St., #23, New York, NY 10012-2586; telephone (212) 777-0062; e-mail


Chromium VI compounds cadmium compounds beryllium, platinum salts (soluble)

15.0 total dust, 5 respirable (fine dust only) 0.5 total dust 2.0 1.0 0.5 0.05 0.01 0.005 0.005 0.002

*Portland Cement is always contaminated with chromium VI and it is now one of the dusts that must be monitored under the new OSHA Chromium VI rule.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

calcium carbonate (whiting), plaster, aluminum oxide, Portland cement*, zinc oxide, other nuisance dusts Chromium II & III compounds tin oxide nickel compounds antimony oxide, barium carbonate lead arsenic (inorganic compounds)

PEL-TWA mg/m3*


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Handmade Culture REVIEW by STEVEN bRANFMAN


nother book on raku? I thought I had seen it all. What else could possibly be written about the subject? (Of course that’s what they said when my book came out!) Seriously, though, raku is alive and well, and being practiced all over the world. In my mind, there are enough books, articles, Internet groups, and, well, you name it. Instruction is everywhere. But wait … don’t be so quick to judge. Handmade Culture isn’t a book about process, or method, or how-to. Handmade Culture is about raku: the history, the culture, the connection to tea, the family, and more. Finally someone has taken on the daunting task of unraveling the mystery of this widely-practiced but often misinterpreted and misunderstood pottery method and practice. I couldn’t wait to dive in.

Pitelka clearly understands ceramics and this helps give the book legitimacy. There is nothing more disturbing than reading or hearing an “authority” (i.e., traveling TV antique shows) talk about “low-fire stoneware,” “high-fired

Handmade Culture is organized into six chapters that follow a more or less chronological path from Chojiro and the earliest beginnings of raku and tea in the 16th Century, to the present head of the Raku house Kichizaemon XV. Preceding the first chapter is an introduction and immediately, the connection and interwoven histories of the practice and evolution of the tea ceremony and raku pottery is made clear. Also exposed is the ever-present dilemma between a Japanese artistic and philosophical culture of rich and enduring heroism, and a contemporary Japanese society immersed in the modernism and hype of western culture and sensibilities. When the author describes Kichizaemon XV demonstrating while “… dressed (uncharacteristically) in traditional Japanese artisan’s garb …” this tug between the old and the new is made clear. There are other references to this often uncomfortable coexistence as well.

Chapter names help orient us to the book’s content. Chapters include (in order): “The Global and Local Origins of the Raku Technique,” “Anomie and Innovation in Kyoto: Ceramic Professionals, Amateurs, and Consumers,” “Inventing Early Modern Identity: The Birth of the Raku House,” “Institutionalization of the Iemoto Gaze: Tea, Raku, and the Iemoto System,” “Reproduction and Appropriation in the Nationwide Dispersal of the Raku Technique,” “Inventing Modern Identity: The Collapse of Warrior Patronage, The Rise of Individualism and Nationalism.” Through copious research and descriptive illustrations, each chapter fully investigates the subject contained within it. There are 42 black-and-white photos and 14 color photos and drawings. I wish there were more, but any lack of images the reader may deem in no way detracts from the merit or cogency of the book. Pitelka is constantly exploring and illustrating, presenting and questioning. The book is so full of detailed and previously hidden-away facts that in some sections, Handmade Culture reads more like a novel of intrigue and mystery. I was fascinated by the rich cultural accounts, exciting historical anecdotes, and the familial origins and evolution. In many cases, my own knowledge was corroborated, and it was comforting (and fun) to hear the author tell almost verbatim some of the same stories about the origins of raku and the Raku family that I have learned, taken as fact, and that I teach. But there is so much more. Pitelka delves into the details of the 400-year history of raku and the modes and manners of society that surrounded its development, practice, and popularization. The many historical narratives presented by the author are elucidating, fascinating,

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Morgan Pitelka is a scholar. He has a Ph.D. in East Asian Studies and is a historian of pre-modern Japan. Since I know his father, Vince, a potter and artist of the highest degree, I can only assume that Morgan was raised in a culturally enriched and artistic home. Indeed, after reading the short preface, we get to know Morgan quite well. He is, by his own admission, an amateur potter. Pitelka credits his father and his mother, a historian, with laying the foundation for his interest in craft and, specifically, how families pass on the trade of ceramics. This—along with his interest in tea, the tea ceremony, and tea ceramics—is the basis for Handmade Culture.

earthenware,” or “the fired paint.” I shudder at the thought. Equally bothersome is the historian or critic who writes in obtuse and unnecessary language from their self-authorized throne of command, expecting the reader to absorb and assimilate their every thought. Make no mistake, Pitelka writes with authority and knowledge. And, just in case you begin to think that Handmade Culture is a creation solely from the mind of the author, there are almost 500 notes that refer to no fewer than 300 bibliographic references. That is a lot of research! His words and phrases are scholarly and intelligent and I suspect that there is vocabulary that you will have to look up (I did). But he comfortably communicates an ever-present recognition of doubt, possibly dubious historical record, and personal opinion. How refreshing.

by Morgan Pitelka • U of Hawaii Press Paperback $24.95 • Hardcover $55.

Resources I Books & Videos



Resources I Books & Videos

I continued from previous page

Critique I

and vital to our understanding of the origins and development of raku, as well as to our appreciation of its significance as a ceramic technique and method of making ware. However, as a potter, I was particularly engrossed in the many stories that illuminate the craft of raku. Though this is far from a technical book, Pitelka talks about the clay and forming methods, kilns and fuel, firing, and associated equipment, glazes, and more. We learn about the early publishing industry in Japan and how it gave rise to the publication in 1736 of Collected Raku Ceramic Secrets (the first “Raku: A Practical Approach,” if you will!). Indeed, there were other manuals written on how to do raku during this time as well. Though the worldwide practice of raku as a pottery-making technique is obvious today, it was enlightening to learn that, almost from the start, raku technique was appropriated by many potters in Japan and was not the sole dominion of the Raku family. Another fascinating bit of information was how tea practitioners and others, who labeled themselves as amateur potters, began to make raku pottery as a way to connect more intimately to the tea ceremony. In fact, some of these so called “amateurs” are responsible for a selection of some of the most revered and treasured raku pots ever produced. Pitelka uncovers and explains the lineage of the raku house and family, and the origin and eventual adoption and use of the Raku seal by the family. There is a wonderfully edifying account of commerce and commercialism of raku pottery and the Raku house, in which prices, ordering instructions, and even a catalog of raku shapes and glazes is presented.

the viewer to find in the piece? Art is often defined as “expression,” which is true, I suppose—there are hundreds of books listed on with both the words “art” and “expression” in their titles. Still, I prefer to think of art as communication. Expression can imply that only the artist matters: it’s a bit self-centered, really. Communication, on the other hand, implies the existence of at least one other person, and the responsibility we, as artists, have to the viewer. It also provides a way to consider the implications of art, and judge its efficacy. “So, what are your intentions?” is a good question in any critique. From there, the critic can compare the artist’s intentions with his or her own impressions of the work. There is often a disconnect between what the artist intends to say and what he or she has actually said—and a good critique can reveal those gaps.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

I can go on and on with illustrations of how much Handmade Culture taught me about raku, tea, culture, and society; how much reading this book has confirmed my own dedication to—and passion for—clay; and how important our knowledge and understanding of history is to our ability to be artists and collectors.


So I repeat: Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan is not just for raku aficionados. If it were in my control, it would be required reading for everyone who makes pottery. (Teachers beware: you know that old adage about staying one step ahead of your students? Read Handmade Culture before your students do, or you will find yourself playing catch-up for a long time to come.) [ Steven Branfman is an accomplished potter, author, and teacher of pottery and ceramics at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts. He is the proprietor of The Potters Shop and School and may be reached at (781) 449-7687 or via e-mail at

continued from page 24

Tank Rubric I

In short, the critique is an art, not a science; a dialog, not a monolog; and an ongoing—not a one-time—event. All of us need critiques to grow as artists (and probably as people, too). Being able to critique others means we will also be better able to critique ourselves, which is a skill we all could use. [ Footnotes ¹ See “I’m Positive,” Clay Times, Mar./Apr. 1999, p. 15; “Building Pots: Commodity, Firmness, & Delight,” Clay Times, Jul./Aug. 2001, p. 15, 28; “Fully Functioning,” Clay Times, Mar./Apr. 2003, p. 20-21; and “Transcending the Naked Truth,” Clay Times, May/June 2004, p. 19, 21. ² Merriam-Webster online dictionary (www.

Pete Pinnell teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has been a potter for many years and has numerous exhibitions and workshops to his credit. You can reach him with comments or questions at

continued from page 67

Suggested Tank Sizes • Northern amateur/raku potter/trash-can sized fiber kiln: Stay inside! It’s too damn cold to be outside. Use a 20-lb. tank in summer. • Southern amateur/raku potter/trash-can sized fiber kiln: Use a 20-lb. tank. • Northern pro/raku potter/trash-can sized fiber kiln: Use a 40-lb. tank (two ganged together if it’s below 20° F). • Northern amateur/20-cu.-ft. stoneware kiln: Use a 250-gallon tank (don’t fire below 20° F). • Southern amateur/20-cu.-ft. soft brick stoneware kiln: Use a 250-gallon tank. (Go for it!) • Northern or Southern pro/20-cu.-ft soft brick stoneware kiln: You need a bigger kiln to be a pro! • Northern amateur/40-cu.-ft. soft brick stoneware kiln: Use a 250-gallon tank if you only fire in the summer. (You really need a 500-gallon tank.) • Southern amateur/40-cu.-ft. soft brick stoneware kiln: Use a 250-gallon tank, but don’t let it get too low. • Northern pro/40-cu.-ft. soft brick stoneware kiln: Use a 500-gallon tank. You’ll curse the day you didn’t do it. • Southern pro/40-cu.-ft soft brick stone-

ware kiln: Use a 500-gallon tank. You can get by with the 250, but you aren’t acting like a pro and you’ll get in trouble when you can least afford it. • Northern amateur/70-cu.-ft. soft brick stoneware kiln: What were you thinking? This kiln is way too big! • Southern amateur/70-cu.-ft. soft brick stoneware kiln: See above. • Northern pro with a 70-cu.-ft. soft brick stoneware kiln: Use a 1,000-gallon tank. (Refer to the Northern pro 40-cu.-ft. kiln. The same principle applies here: A 500-gallon will do it, but … ). • Southern pro/70-cu.-ft. soft brick stoneware kiln: Use a 500-gallon tank, but don’t let it get too low. Needless to say, this doesn’t encompass all the variables. You may be using hard brick, ceramic fiber, have a large brick raku kiln, etc. You may live in International Falls or Death Valley. You may travel around doing your work. Just take the time to figure out what you need in the way of LP supply before you commit to the wrong tank size. Bigger may not always be better in many things, but—in tank size—it’s usually true. [ Marc Ward is owner and operator of Ward Burner Systems in Dandridge, Tennessee. He can be reached by phone at (865) 397-2914 or through the online catalog and Web site at this address:

Community Pottery Classes Check out these listings to find local progams for learning wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculptural techniques & more...

ALABAMA Eastern Shore Art Center — 401 Oak Street, Fairhope, aL 36532; (251) 928-2228; www.;esac@easternshoreartcenter. com; handbuilding, sculpture, tile.


Listings are organized alphabetically by all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada.

COLORADO Northern Colorado Potter’s Guild — 209 Christman Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80524; telephone (970) 416-5979;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, glazing, fused glass jewelry.

Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts — Gadsden Community School for the arts, 501 Broad Street, Gadsden, aL 35901; (256) 543-2787;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

Trails Recreation Center — 16799 east Lake avenue, Centennial, CO 80015; (303) 269-8400;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, glazing.



Joyce Munson — 935 east 79th avenue, anchorage, aK 99518; (907) 344-2013; wheelthrowing, handbuilding.

Lakeside Pottery — 543 newfield avenue, Stamford, CT 06905; telephone (203) 323-2222;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

Fairview Recreation Center — 1121 east 10th avenue, anchorage, aK 99501; (907) 343-4130;; brossarddl@muni. org; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, slipcasting.

ARIZONA Fochs Muse — 516 north 5th avenue, Tucson, aZ 85705; (520) 903-0918; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

Be sure to bring pad and paper along with your tools to take notes on important points!

DELAWARE CALIFORNIA Blossom Hill Crafts Pottery — 15900 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos, Ca 95032; (408) 356-9035; www.blossomhillcrafts. com;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.


The Clay Studio — 743 Harrison Street, San Francisco, Ca 94107; (415) 777-9080; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

Flat Rock Clay Supplies — 2002 South School avenue, Fayetteville, aR 72701; telephone (479) 521-3181;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

Alpha Fired Arts (AKA Alpha Ceramic Supplies, Inc. )— 4675 aldona Lane, Sacramento, Ca 95841; (916) 484-4424;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, decorating.

Absalom Jones Community Center — art Studio, 310 Kiamensi Road, Wilmington, De 19804; (302) 995-7661; artstudio; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. Center for the Creative Arts —410 upper Snuff Mill Row and Route 82, yorklyn, De 19736; (302) 239-2434;;; wheelthrowing.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Hinckley Pottery — 1707 Kalorama Road nW, Washington, DC 20009; (202) 745-7055; www.;; wheelthrowing.

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Desert Dragon Pottery — Phoenix, aZ; (602) 690-6956;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, tile, mosaic.

Eureka Springs School of the Arts — 15751 Hwy 62 W., eureka Springs, aR 72632; (479) 253-5384;; info@esartschool. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, mosaic.

Funkware Pottery — 177 amidon Road, ashford, CT 06278; telephone (877) 513-0190;;; wheel-throwing.


FLORIDA The St. Petersburg Clay Company — 420 22nd Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33712; (727) 896-2529; www.stpeteclay. com;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. Evan Jones Studios — 302 North Federal Hwy, Dania Beach, FL 33004; (954) 920-4775; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture. Fire and Mud Ceramics — 134 NE 1st Avenue, Hallandale, FL 33009; (954) 455-3099; www.; potter@fireandmudceramics. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

GEORGIA Georgia Piedmont Arts Center — 105 East Athens Street, Winder, GA 30680; www.georgiapi;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding. Pottsability Pottery — Roswell, GA; (770) 643-3966;; jewel@pottsability. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

HAWAII Hawaii Potters’ Guild — 2480 Bingham Street, Honolulu, HI 96830; (808) 941-8108; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. Hawaiian Potts — 94-1117 Manino Place, Waipahu, HI 96797; (808) 221-5260;; wheel-throwing, raku firing.

IDAHO Wendt Pottery — 2729 Clearwater Avenue, Lewiston, ID 83501; (208) 746-3724; www.;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, sculpture.


CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Lillstreet Art Center — 4401 North Ravenswood, Chicago, IL 60640; (773) 769-4226;;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile, mosaic, firing.


Terra Incognito Studios — 246 Chicago Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302; (708) 383-6228;; dtoan@ameritech. net; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, tile, mosaic, glaze calculation.

INDIANA Conner Prairie — 13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers, IN 46038; (317) 776-6000; www.connerprairie. org;; wheel-throwing.

Goshen Clay Artists’ Guild — 212 West Washington Street, Goshen, IN 46526; (574) 2946290;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

IOWA Des Moines Art Center — 4700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312-2099; (515) 2710306;; jweeden@desm; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, tile, mosaic, mold making. Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center — 220 South Gilbert Street, Iowa City, IA 52240; (319) 356-5100; pottersstudio.asp; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

KANSAS Carnegie Arts Center — 601 South Fifth Street, Leavenworth, KS 66048; (913) 651-0765;; carnegieprograms@sbcgloba; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, raku firing, pit firing.

KENTUCKY Payne Street Pottery Studio — 2201 Payne Street, Louisville, KY 40206; (502) 894-8589;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

LOUISIANA Louisiana Pottery — 6470 Highway 22, Cajun Village, Sorrento, LA 70778; (225) 675-5572;;; wheelthrowing. Lucky Mud Pottery Studio — 811 Foreman Drive, Lafayette, LA 70506; (337) 216-0908;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

MAINE Lincoln Street Center for Arts & Education — 24 Lincoln Street, Rockland, ME 04841; (207) 594-6490; www.lincolnstreetcenter. org;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. Starflower Farm and Studios — 941 Jackson Road, Monroe, ME 04951; (207) 525-3593;; squidge@starflowerfarmstu; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

MARYLAND Baltimore Clayworks — 5707 Smith Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21209; (410) 578-1919;; matt.; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile, mosaic, decorating, printmaking, slipcasting, wood firing, salt firing.

Shiloh Pottery, Inc. — 1027 Brodbeck Road, Hampstead, MD 21074; (410) 239-8888; www.; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. The Frederick Pottery School — 5305 Jefferson Pike, Suite C-2, Frederick, MD 21703; (301) 473-8833;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding. The Art Institute & Gallery — 212 West Main Street, Salisbury, MD 21801; (410) 546-4748;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. Ceramics Plus — 38 Gibbons Boulevard, Cockeysville, MD 21030-5019; (410) 667-0006; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, decorating, slipcasting.



Back Door Pottery — 3922 St. John Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64123; (816) 483-6964; www.;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, mosaic, raku firing, Egyptian paste.

New Mexico Clay — 3300 Girard NE, Albuquerque, NM 87107; (800) 781-2529; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

Kansas City Clay Guild — 200 West 74th Street, Kansas City, MO 64114; (816) 363-1373; www.; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

MONTANA Stumptown Art Studio — 145 Central Avenue, Whitefish, MT 59937; (406) 862-5929; www.; info@stumptownartstudio. org; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

NEBRASKA MASSACHUSETTS Ancient Echos Arts — 10 Tyngsboro Road, North Chelmsford, MA 01863; (978) 869-2912; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

Omaha Clayworks — 1114 Jones Street, Studio C, Omaha, NE 68102; (402) 346-0560;; info@omahaclayworks. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.


The Northampton Pottery — 102 Main Street, Northampton, MA 01060; (413) 584-3299;; wheel-throwing, tile.

VSA Arts of Nevada — The Lake Mansion, 250 Court Street, Reno, NV 89501; (775) 8266100;;; handbuilding, sculpture.


Aardvark Clay & Supplies — 6230 Greyhound Lane #E, Las Vegas, NV 89122; (702) 451-9898;;; wheel-throwing.

Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center — 1516 South Cranbrook, Birmingham, MI 48009; (248) 644-0866;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile. Khnemu Studio, LLC — Fernwood Farm, 6322 113th Avenue, Fennville, MI 49408; (269) 2369260;;; wheel-throwing.

MINNESOTA Edina Art Center — 4710 W 64th Street, Edina, MN 55435; (612) 915-6604;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile.



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NEW HAMPSHIRE Kit Cornell Pottery — 69 High Street, Exeter, NH 03833-2908; (603) 772-6323; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

TEL 215-427-9665 • FAX 419-735-1063

Shanware Pottery — 1819 Rumney Rte. 25, Rumney, NH 03266; (877) 418-0786; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

NEW JERSEY The Art School at Old Church — 561 Piermont Road, Demarest NJ 07627; (201) 767-7160;;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile, glazing, firing, raku.


NY/NJ Academy of Ceramic Art — 279 Pine Street, Jersey City, NJ 07304; (201) 4329315;; frank@nynjceramics. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, mold making, slipcasting, ceramic material science.

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CLAyTIMES¡COM n May/June 2006

Northern Clay Center — 2424 Franklin Avenue East, Minneapolis, MN 55406; (612) 339-8007; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile.

Bodine Pottery & Art Studio — Rebuilding: New location coming soon in Hattiesburg, MS; telephone (228) 806-3153; www.bodinepottery. com;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, PMC.

Tierra Hermosa Pottery & Supply — 316 B Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos, NM 87571; (505) 751-0458; nm/taos/tierra-h.html; kerrielynncohn@wesstartisans. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.


Castle Hill Summer & Fall Clay 2006

Faculty Include: Jim Brunelle Jack Charney Nat Doane Anne Goldberg Ayumi Horie Rebecca Hutchinson Barbara Knutson Washington Ledesma Warren Mather Nancy Selvage Mark Shapiro Gay Smith Bruce Winn Two 22 Fall Clay Intensives: Mikhail Zakin

Barbara Knutson

Resources I Classes


Mary Barringer & Ron Dean

Go to or call for a catalogue: (508) 349-7511 PO box 756, Truro, MA 02666 -

Community Pottery Classes NEW YORK


The Painted Pot — 339 Smith Street, Brooklyn, ny 11231; (718) 222-0334;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

Valley Art Association — 2022 Main Street, Forest Grove, OR 97116; (503) 357-3703; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

Bodanna Studio & Gallery — 125 east 7th Street (between avenue a and 1st avenue), new york, ny 10009; (212) 388-0078;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan — 334 amsterdam avenue at 76th Street, new york, ny 10023; (646) 505-4445; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. Phoenix Pottery — 34 Coulter avenue, Pawling, ny 12564; (845) 855-5658; www.phoenixpottery. com;; wheel-throwing.



CLAyTIMES¡COM n May/June 2006





PENNSYLVANIA The Clay Studio — 139 north Second Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19106; (215) 925-3453; www.;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, sculpture.

Bostree, Inc. — 54 Wood Road, Sugar Loaf, ny 10981; (845) 469-6113;;; wheel-throwing.

Wayne Art Center — 413 Maplewood avenue, Wayne, Pa 19087; (610) 688-3553; www.wayneart. org;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile, firing.



Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts — 236 Clingman avenue, asheville, nC 28801; telephone (828) 285-0210; www.highwaterclays. com;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile.

Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum — arcadia Village, 390a Summit Road, exeter, RI 02822; telephone (401) 539-7213; www.; lorenspears@tomaquagmus; handbuilding.

Finch Pottery — 5526 Finch nursery Lane, Bailey, nC 27807-9492; (252) 235-4664; www.;; wheel-throwing.


Claymakers — 705 Foster Street, Durham, nC 27701; (919) 530-8355; www.claymakers. com;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, mold making, decorating.


Mossy Rock Pottery/ David Willhite Pottery — 179 2nd avenue, Coos Bay, OR 97420; (541) 266-9473;;; wheel-throwing.

NORTH DAKOTA Plains Art Museum — 704 1st avenue north, Fargo, nD 58102; (701) 232-3821; www.plainsart. org; handbuilding.

OHIO Artventure Studio & Gallery — 410 ½ South Court Street,Medina,OH 44256;(330) 725-6787;; artventureonline@yahoo. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. The Toledo Potters’ Guild — 5403 elmer Drive, Toledo, OH 45615; (419) 535-6937; www.; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

OKLAHOMA Firehouse Art Center — 444 South Flood, norman, OK 73069-5513; (405) 329-4523; www.;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, sculpture.

Mud Bucket Pottery — 115 Surfrider Boulevard, Suite 6, Longs, SC 29568; (843) 399-8702;; info@mudbucketpottery. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. Sharp Studio, Inc. — 124 east Main Street, Suite e, Walhalla, SC 29691; (864) 718-0069;; sharpstudioinc@netscape. net; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

SOUTH DAKOTA Watertown Parks & Recreation — 125 South Broadway, Watertown, SD 57201; (605) 8826260;;tkelly@watertownsd. us; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

TENNESSEE Studio S Pottery — 1426 avon Road, Murfreesboro, Tn 37129; (615) 896-0789; www.;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding. Mud Puddle Pottery — 538 Highway 70, Pegram, Tn 37143-2111; www.; mudpuddle@bellsouth. net; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.


The Art Studio, Inc. — 720 Franklin Street, Beaumont, TX 77701; (409) 838-5393; www.artstudio. org;; wheel-throwing.

The Pottery School — Pioneer Square, 214 1st Avenue, South b-17, Seattle, WA 98104; (206) 3439879;; potteryschool@yahoo. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

Dougherty Arts School — 1110 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78704; (512) 397-1458;; dacschool@ci.austin.; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. Art Center Waco — 1300 College Drive, Waco, TX 76708; (254) 752-4371;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

UTAH Circle Pottery School of Clay Arts — 933 South Edison Street (140 East), Salt Lake City, UT 84115; (801) 573-9418;;; wheel-throwing. The Center — 222 West 500 North, Provo, UT 84601; (801) 852-7635; the_center_main.html; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

VERMONT Brattleboro Clayworks — 532 Putney Road, Brattleboro, VT 05301; (802) 254-9174; www.; mail@brattleboroclayworks. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. Fletcher Farm School for the Arts & Crafts — 611 Route 103 South, Ludlow, VT 05149; (802) 228-8770;;; handbuilding, sculpture, tile.

VIRGINIA The Art League School, Madison Annex — 305 Madison Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; (703) 683-2323;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile, mosaic. Contemporary Art Center of Virginia — 2200 Parks Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA 23451; (757) 425-0000;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture. Creative Clay Studios — 5704 C-E General Washington Drive, Alexandria, VA 22312; (703) 7509480;; daisy_gail@msn. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, raku firing.

Generous Open Studio Time Cone 10 Reduction & Raku Firing Beginners, Intermediate & Advanced Visit for class schedule, workshops, and more! 7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo MD 20812 301 229-5585 •

WEST VIRGINIA Augusta Heritage Center — 100 Campus Drive, Elkins, WV 26241; (304) 637-1209; www.;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. Huntington Museum of Art — 2033 McCoy Road, Huntington, WV 25701; (304) 529-2701;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

WISCONSIN Blueraku Studios — River Center Shoppes, 133 State Street, Medford, WI 54451; (715) 748-3407;; lindsey@bluerakustudios. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, mosaic.


The Phipps Center for the Arts — 109 Locust Street, Hudson, WI 54016; (715) 386-2305;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

WYOMING Eagle Rock Pottery — 19 Grand Avenue, Laramie, WY 82070; (307) 721-6233;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

CANADA Starlight Pottery — 15 Whitewater Street, Whitby, Ontario L1R 2S9; (905) 668-9218; www.;; wheelthrowing. Mississauga Potters’ Guild — Lornewood Plaza, 1200 Vanier Drive, Unit 3B, Mississauga, Ontario L5H 4C7; (416) 410-3412; www.mississaugapotters. com;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

Workshops & Residencies W W W . P E T E R S VA L L E Y. O R G Layton, NJ (973)948-5200

Arrowsmith Potters’ Guild— 600 Alberni Hwy, Parksville, British Columbia V9P 2C9; (250) 9541872;; info@arrows; wheel-throwing, handbuilding. [

A year-round listing of your community pottery class in CT and on our Web site is available for just $99—a real bargain! To feature your classes, contact Jenna McCracken at (540) 882-3576 or e-mail:

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

The Peninsula Fine Arts Center — 101 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606; (757) 596-8175;;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, sculpture.

Northwest Ceramic Art Institute (The Clay Zone) — 2727 Westmoor Court, Olympia, WA 98502; (360) 943-7765;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

a year round pottery school

Resources I Classes



Resources I Galleries

art walk

Gallery Guide


4600 East-West Hwy • Bethesda, MD 20814 Phone: 301-951-3441 Hours: Tue-Sat 12-6 PM Contemporary ceramics; 3 exhibitions per year


Charleston ClayWorks Studio & Gallery

Earth and Fire

18 South King Street • Leesburg, VA 20175 Phone: 703-443-0484 Hours: Tue-Sat 11 AM-6 PM Contemporary functional ceramics; 2 major exhibitions per year plus monthly features for First Friday Gallery Walks

285 Meeting Street • Charleston, SC 29401 Phone: 843-853-3345 Please call for hours Contemporary ceramics, including works by Tom Coleman, Jim Connell, Susan Filley, Dina Wilde-Ramsey and Lana Wilson

Brookfield Craft Center

The Evergreen Gallery

PO Box 122, Rte 25 • Brookfield, CT 06804-0122 Phone: 203-775-4526 Hours: Mon-Sat 10 AM-5 PM, Sun 12-5 PM Works by more than 100 ceramists; 1-2 exhibitions per year

Clay and Paper, Inc. and The Painted Fish Gallery

350 Main Street • Dunedin, FL 34698 Phone: 727-736-0934 Hours: 11 AM-5 PM Contemporary ceramics, including works by more than 20 artists; 3-4 exhibitions per year

28195 Hwy 74 • Evergreen, CO 80439 Phone: 303-674-4871 Hours: Open daily 10 AM–5:30 PM Contemporary ceramics from Colorado, including works by 42 artists; 2 exhibitions per year

Burns Pottery

Clayways Pottery Studio & Gallery

Fuller Craft Museum

209 Franklin Street • Natchez, MS 39120 Phone: 601-446-6334 Please call for hours Contemporary North American ceramics, including works by 25 artists; 4-6 exhibitions per year CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Creative Partners Gallery

Scripps College, 1030 Columbia Avenue Claremont, CA 91711-3948 Phone: 909-607-339 • Call for hours Fred Marer collection of over 1500 contemporary ceramic works, plus the Scripps Ceramic Annual; 4 exhibitions per year

4 S Linn Street • Iowa City, IA 52240 Phone: 319-887-2614 Hours: Mon–Fri 10 AM–7 PM, Sat 10 AM–5 PM, Sun 10 AM–4 PM Contemporary ceramics, representing works by over 60 artists; 12 exhibitions per year


Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery

American Museum of Ceramic Art 340 S Garey Avenue • Pomona, CA 91766 Phone: 909-865-3146 or 3147 Hours: Wed-Sat 12–5 PM, 2nd Sat monthly 12-10 PM Contemporary and historical ceramics; 6 exhibitions per year

Cedar Creek Gallery

1150 Fleming Road • Creedmoor, NC 27522 Phone: 919-528-1041 Hours: Open daily from 10 AM–6 PM Historical American pottery, representing over 200 contemporary ceramists; 5-6 exhibitions per year

5442 Burnet Road • Austin, TX 78756 Phone: 512-459-6445 Hours: Mon–Fri 10 AM–6 PM, Sat 11 AM–6 PM, Sun 12–6 PM Contemporary ceramics with emphasis on function; 4 exhibitions per year

Cooper Studio & Gallery 1526 Silver Street Ashland, NE 68003-1848 Phone: 402-944-2022 Hours: Tue-Fri 10 AM–6 PM, Sat 10 AM–5 PM, Sun 1 PM–5 PM Contemporary ceramics; 2-3 exhibitions per year

455 Oak Street • Brockton, MA 02301 Phone: 508-588-6000 Hours: Open daily from 10 AM-5 PM Contemporary ceramics collection; 4 exhibitions per year

The Klay Gallery

65 South Broadway • Nyack, NY 10960 Phone: 845-348-6306 Hours: Mon-Sat 10 AM-6 PM, Sun 11 AM-6 PM Contemporary American ceramics; 1-2 exhibitions per year

Museum of Overbeck Art Pottery

33 W Main Street • Cambridge City, IN 47327 Phone: 765-478-3335 Hours: Mon–Sat 10 AM–12 PM, 2–5 PM; closed Sundays Permanent collection of over 200 works of pottery by the Overbeck sisters

Robert Nichols Gallery

419 Canyon Road • Santa Fe, NM 87501 Phone: 505-982-2145 Hours: Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat 11 AM–5 PM; Tue afternoons, Thursdays and Sundays by chance or by appointment. Contemporary and wood-fired ceramics, Southwestern Indian pottery,works by over 10 artists; 6-8 exhibitions per year

Obsidian Gallery

4340 N Campbell Avenue #90 Tucson, AZ 85718 Phone: 520-577-3598 Hours: Mon-Sat 10 AM-5:30 PM Contemporary ceramics, including works by over 100 artists; 3-4 exhibitions per year

Racine Art Museum

Thirteen Moons Gallery

441 Main Street, Box 187 Racine, WI 53401-0187 Phone: 262-638-8300 Hours: Tue–Sat 10 AM–5 PM; closed Sundays, Mondays, federal holidays Contemporary ceramics collection; 4-6 exhibitions per year

652 Canyon Road • Santa Fe, NM 87501 Phone: 505-995-8513 Hours: Summer, Mon–Sat 10 AM–6 PM, Sun 11 AM–5 PM; Winter, Mon–Sat 10 AM–5 PM, closed Sundays Contemporary sculptural ceramics, including works by over 10 artists

The Real Mother Goose

William Traver Gallery

901 SW Yamhill Street • Portland, OR 97205 Phone: 503-223-9510 Hours: Mon-Thu 10 AM-5:30 PM, Fri-Sat 10 AM-6 PM Contemporary ceramics by over 100 artists

110 Union Street #200 • Seattle, WA 98101 Phone: 206-587-6501 Hours: Tue–Fri 10 AM-6 PM, Sat 10 AM-5 PM, Sun 12-5 PM Contemporary ceramics, 3-5 exhibitions per year

Red Lodge Clay Center

Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts

123 S Broadway • P.O. Box 1527 Red Lodge, MT 59068 • Tel: 406-446-3993 Hours: Wed-Sun 10 AM-6 PM and by appointment. Functional and sculptural ceramics; 12 exhibitions per year, opening every first Friday

19 Brick Hill Road • Newcastle, ME 04553. Phone: 207-882-6075 Please check the Web site for hours Contemporary ceramics; 1-3 exhibitions per year

The Secret Studio 300 N Meridian • Wichita, KS 67203 Phone: 316-942-7075 Please call for hours Contemporary ceramics

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art

Terra Incognito Studios and Gallery

136 G.E. Ohr Street • Biloxi, MS 39530 Phone: 228-374-5547. Rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Tentative opening 2008. Watch for upcoming traveling exhibitions.

246 Chicago Avenue • Oak Park, IL 60302 Phone: 708-383-6228 Hours: Tue-Fri 11 AM–6 PM, Sat 10 AM–6 PM; closed Sun and Mon Contemporary ceramics by over 30 artists; 10 exhibitions per year


An American Country Estate Route 52 • Winterthur, DE 19735 Phone: 800-448-3883. Hours: Tue-Sun 10 AM-5 PM; closed Mondays except holidays. Permanent collection of more than 15,000 American, Chinese, European, and British ceramic objects from 1640-1860

Works Gallery

303 Cherry Street • Philadelphia, PA 19106-1803 Phone: 215-922-7775 Hours: Tue-Sat 10 AM-6 PM Contemporary ceramics, including works by more than 12 artists; 10 exhibitions per year

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Resources I Galleries


1 N Main Street • Buffalo, WY 82834 Phone: 307-684-9406 Hours vary, please call Contemporary ceramics with emphasis on functional ware; 2 exhibitions per year


Margo’s Pottery and Fine Crafts


For more information on gallery listings, e-mail or call 540-882-3576


art walk


Looking for a place to view, buy, or sell claywork? Check out these listings for fine galleries across the U.S. which specialize in quality ceramic art and functional pottery.


Resources I Classified Marketplace

Classified Marketplace Classes & Workshops

A Summer Workshop with Marko Fields July 22-23 at the KC Clay Guild in Kansas City, MO. Slides, demos, lecture, hands-on: for information contact Susan Speck,; visit KCCG Web site; or call 816363-1373. Cost is $125 (students $75).

Classes, classes, classes! The Frederick Pottery School in Frederick, Maryland. Throwing and handbuilding classes for teens and adults. Year round. (301) 473-8833. Visit

Creative Clay Studios—DC/Metropolitan Area. Retail supply store, rental space. Classes - ALL levels wheel and hand building. Low-, high-, gas-firing services; wood and salt off-site. Workshops: Raku: ongoing. June: Yixing Teapots! Wood Firing! July: Margaret Boozer! Miniatures Off the Hump! The Bottle Form! Horsehair!

Ellen Shankin and Silvie Granatelli— Demonstration Workshop, July 15 & 16. Additional hands-on workshops offered April-October. Come experience Floyd, Virginia. The Jacksonville Center for the Arts. (540) 745-2784, (800) 787-8806.

• EARTH, WIND and FIRE Pottery Work-

shop—July 16-22. Handbuilding, wheel, and Raku firing. Workshop, room & board, $1000. Northern Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Information (906) 786-0108. Deposit required by 6/11/06.

• FONG CHOO 5-day workshop at the

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Mary Anderson Center June 2-7 in beautiful southern Indiana. View details at www. To register call 812-923-8602.


Employment & Residencies

• Baltimore Clayworks seeks organized,

creative Individual with excellent administration, writing and PC skills to fill the part-time position of Exhibitions Director to begin late spring. Knowledge of contemporary ceramics is mandatory. Check Web site at

Residency available — Large studio space. Wood, salt, gas and electric

kilns. New facility with new equipment on 100-acre historical farm. Visit the Web site at or e-mail


Second Annual Vasefinder Nationals. For details, please visit www.vasefinder. com.

Wood Fire Conference — Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ will host “20 + 1 Years of the Tozan Kilns, An International Wood Fire Conference” on Oct. 12-14, 2006. Pre-conference wood firings will be held the week of Oct. 3-11. E-mail or visit www4.nau. edu/ceramics for more information.


• Bluegrass Clay National (November 4 -

December 30, 2006). Deadline for entries: September 1. Fee: $25 for up to 5 slides. Juror: John Utgaard. $1500 in awards. For prospectus, send SASE to: BLUECLAY, Yeiser Art Center, 200 Broadway St., Paducah, Kentucky, 4200, or visit www.

Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) —Visit The Craft Emergency Relief Fund exists to help you and your fellow artists strengthen and sustain your businesses. Visit our Web site for information on emergency assistance and check out our resources on prevention, protection, recovery and professional development. Click ‘Contact’ to sign-up for CERF e-mail updates. “Craft Forms 2006” 12th Annual National Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Craft. December 1, 2006 - January 24, 2007. Juror: Gretchen G. Keyworth, curator of the Fuller Craft Museum. $3,000 + Cash Awards & Group or Solo Exhibitions. All Craft Media. Entry Fee: $25. Deadline: September 26, 2006. Prospectus, send SASE to Wayne Art Center, 413 Maplewood Avenue, Wayne, PA 19087.

To All K-12 Ceramic Arts Teachers — The 10th Annual National K-12 Ceramics Exhibition opens In March 2007 in Louisville, KY at the NCECA Conference.

Deadline for student entries by their teachers only is December 21, 2006. Visit us at

Visit Central American Potters with POTTERS FOR PEACE — Spend two weeks in July visiting and working with potters in El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Experience a variety of terra-cotta traditions. Cost is $1100 which covers all expenses except round-trip airfare. Contact: Peter Chartrand at pchartrand@bsn1. net or 520-432-4616.

Potter’s retreat. Tucson, Arizona. Furnished cottages for rent on a private estate. Share a large ceramics studio, kilns, pool and spa. The Hummingbird House. Call (520) 742-3969, or toll-free (877) HUMMING;

Products and Services

NEW! Bill van Gilder’s Professional Hand Tools. 10 very functional tools for handbuilding and wheel work: Classroom and studio-safe wire knife, corrugated handle-making boards, no-clog hole cutters, profiled foot ribs, textured butter paddles, rope-textured dowels, slip/glaze spray cans, wiggled cut-off wires, beveled undercutting stick. All designed by a potter, for potters! Visit store at www. to view and order tools.

Kiln Repair. All makes — Washington, DC metro & Northern Virginia. $45/hour (1 hour minimum) plus parts. Larry Safford, The Studio Resource, 703-283-7458;


Potters Making a Difference: Belize Community Development Workshop takes place June 17-29, 2006. This workshop, led by Clay Times columnist David Hendley, is aimed at helping establish a viable pottery operation in northern Belize. The goal is for American potters to help villagers develop the facilities, materials, and skills to produce ceramic items that can be sold to tourists at the nearby Lamanai Archaeological Reserve. Program cost of $1,420.00 includes all expenses in Belize, including two recreation days (snorkeling, pool, and beach) on the island of San Pedro. For more information, contact Laura Howard of Beyond Touring at (954) 415-2897 or

For complete details, visit the Web site at or call ad manager Karen Freeman at 540-882-3576.

Paris to Provence — 2000 years of pottery in France. October 1 - 11, 2006. Arts, ceramics, & history tour for artists, collectors. For info e-mail or call 727-251-1879.


INSIDE MATA ORTIZ — Visit the world-famous Mexican pottery town of Mata Ortiz with a professional potter and Mata Ortiz homeowner, not a tour guide. you will work with potters and can try many of the techniques used to produce pots internationally renowned for their fine craftsmanship. From processing local clays and pigments, handbuilding, and decorating with the unique “Mata” brushes to dung-firing, museum visits, gracious lodging, and meals in the village. a trip is planned for mid-July. Cost is $900 for one week, all expenses except airfare to Tucson included. Contact: Peter Chartrand at or P.O. Box 1043, Bisbee, aZ 85603.

Clay Workshop with Elizabeth Priddy: Basic wheel techniques. Now on DVD with 27 minutes of additional demos. See Web site for information and order at www.

Matt Long: Vessels for Victory is an instructional video that brings together process and passion. Matt Long shares his influences and reasons for making functional pottery while demonstrating his techniques for making his signature drinking vessels. VHS $29.95/ DVD $34.95 + s/h. Purchase online at or call 410-318-6603. [


easy-on, easy-off respirator filters down to 0.3 microns $19.95 (includes 2 EXTRA filters plus S&H) (818) 779-0990

aftosa aMaCO anderson Ranch art Center arrowmont School of arts and Crafts art by Carl/Chicago Kiln Service axner Pottery Supply Bailey Pottery equipment Bracker’s Good earth Clays Buyers Market of american Craft Carolina Clay Connection Castle Hill/Truro Center for the arts Ceramic Supply Chicago Clay in Motion Clayworks Supplies Continental Clay Co. The Cookie Cutter Shop Davens Ceramic Supply Del Val Potter’s Supply Dolan Tools edina art Center euclid’s elements Finch Pottery Flat Rock Clay Supplies Georgie’s Ceramic & Clay Center Giffin Tec GlazeMaster Glen echo Pottery Great Lakes Clay & Supply Co. Herring Designs Highwater Clays Hood College Hotchkiss School Hydrobat/The Ceramic Shop Jane Cullum How-to Videos John C. Campbell Folk School The Kiln Doctor L & L Kilns La Meridiana Laguna Clay Co. Larkin Refractory Solutions Lester Plaster Bat System Master Kiln Builders Mata Ortiz Trip Mid-South Ceramic Supply Mile Hi Ceramics Muddy elbow Mfg./Soldner Wheels north Star equipment northern Clay Center Olympic Kilns Paragon Industries PCF Studios Peter Pugger Peters Valley Craft Center Scott Creek/Clay art Center Sheffield Pottery Shimpo Sierra nevada College Skutt Ceramic Products Spectrum Glazes Standard Ceramic Supply Co. Toshiko Takaezu Book Trinity Ceramic Supply Tucker’s Pottery Supplies, Inc. u.S. Pigment Corp. Ward Burner Systems Wise Screenprint Xavier Gonzalez

19 6 62 62 81 70 83 74 58 3 58 76 77 70 70 64 70 10 58 70 29 81 17 77 24 22 76 77 70 75 29 66 62 75 76 62 76 2 64 12 64 81 81 81 4, 5 10 25 30 70 26 30 75 17 77 64 66 58 9 70 84 18 58 26 30 29 66 76 77 81

CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006

Sales & Service & More

Index to Advertisers

resources I Classified Marketplace

Place your ad in the CT classifieds for as little as $50!


Opinion I Around the Firebox CLAyTIMES·COM n May/June 2006


Real Potters I

have always had this mental image of what it meant to be “Around the Firebox.” It’s the realm of “Real Potters.” Alone or in small groups, men—maybe grizzled, or bearded—stand around, debating types of wood and timing, eyeing the flame and the stack, musing over draw rings and dampers and the mysteries of carbon trapping.

their homes—because they are “just a” garage potter, or have “just a” basement studio. They read every book they can beg, borrow, or buy; subscribe to all the magazines; and have rows of demo videos stashed by the VCR. Often they educate themselves without access to teachers, or work in isolation and never see other potters.

Or I picture a university wood kiln, where a group of M.F.A. students, fired with the energy of youth and full-time immersion in clay, take turns stoking, sharing cold beer, late hours, and a sense of camaraderie in the project at hand. Maybe they argue about Hamada and Leach. Maybe they plan for their thesis exhibitions. These are tomorrow’s “Real Potters,” on the brink of big futures in clay. As “Real Potters,” they will one day provide for their families on pottery alone, or head large ceramics programs at schools or art centers.

And a lot of them are making really good work.

I have tried my hand at stoking wood kilns. I have read the pyro-techno-poetry of Jack Troy, covered studio walls with images of Nils Lou’s crunchy pots, and coveted Kevin Crowe’s flame-kissed vessels. But I never considered myself a “real” potter, because my firebox is just a metal rectangle attached to an Evenheat kiln, with dials and a little red light. I wasn’t in clay very long before I learned I was “just” an electric kiln potter.

A lot of women of my mom’s generation—even after running a farm, raising five kids and washing a decade of diapers by hand— might be heard to say, “I was home, I never worked.” Women potters can also fall into that same trap, not seeing the value of what they do.

It’s a subcategory of the “just a” potter community, which has a wide membership. It includes: “just a” hobby potter, “just a” community college student, and “just a” cone 6 potter. They are “just a” street fair potter, “just a” public school art teacher, and “just a” self-taught studio potter without an M.F.A. Maybe they are “just a” handbuilder, or “just a” stoneware or raku potter. Most seem to be middle-aged women—like me. Around the country, workshops are full of them, whether it’s a weekend guild function or two weeks at Arrowmont or Penland. Many potter’s guilds and art societies are run by them. UPS trucks bring equipment, supplies, and clay to

You probably won’t see it in major shows, or on the covers of magazines. Local galleries might carry it, but too often it is given away to friends, donated to charitable causes, or sold at too low a price—undervalued even by the artist who created it. If you’re “just a” potter, you might not dream of submitting work the way “Real Potters” do. Men are guilty of this, too, but it seems like it is largely a female phenomenon.

My admiration for the “Real Potters” I know will never fade. I will save my pennies and collect the pots made by my heroes. And I long for a time when I might immerse myself in a ceramics M.F.A. without other obligations tugging at my sleeve. Over time, I have gained a new respect for the “just a” potters. They often juggle jobs and families, laundry and bookkeeping, then head to their studios on stolen time to make pots instead of sleeping. They are often those with the least time and money to spare, but are so determined to keep moving forward in skills and knowledge that they make the sacrifices, and carve out a way. Fortunately, there seems to be a universal code of conduct among those

by kelly savino

who make exciting, well-crafted work, whether “big dogs” or “hobby potters.” They mentor others, pass along tips and equipment, and e-mail messages about glaze tests and kiln problems. They provide a strong network of support, skill, information, and generosity, all informal and unofficial—and all for free. And, fortunately, the lines being drawn between “Real Potters” and the rest of us are being drawn by us, not by them. If your work is good but it’s not in the magazines, then it’s because you didn’t value yourself enough to obtain good photographic images and submit them. Many of us need to stop waiting to be asked to the dance and get our work out there, declare ourselves “arrived,” and remove the word “just” (along with all other apologies) from the description of what we do. If your pots are not in the magazines, galleries, and shows, maybe it’s time to get savvy about presenting your work. It’s a craft in itself, but no harder than the other impossibilities you have practiced and mastered as a potter. If your voice is not in the conversation, maybe it’s time to speak up. [

Kelly Averill Savino is a studio potter and homeschooling mother of three in Toledo, Ohio. She can be reached at primalpotter@yahoo. com.







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Clay Times Magazine Volume 12 • Issue 64  

X-Man’s Guide to Crystalline Glazing • Avoiding Internet Rip-off Scams • Lasting Impressions with Rope Texture • Pottery Training: Mothering...

Clay Times Magazine Volume 12 • Issue 64  

X-Man’s Guide to Crystalline Glazing • Avoiding Internet Rip-off Scams • Lasting Impressions with Rope Texture • Pottery Training: Mothering...