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what's in a mug, now "what's in a pot"

updated thu 9 sep 99


Bonita Cohn on wed 8 sep 99

Dear Beth: Here's "what's in a pot" .
(so glad you asked!!)
1. Drive to supplier and pick up the clay.
2. Unload load clay into studio.
3. Weigh out amount needed.
4. Wedge (knead) clay.
5. Center clay on wheel and throw the shape.
6. Remove from wheel and let dry 24-48 hours; depending on humidity.
7. Put piece back on wheel and trim.
8. Hand create handle, if its a mug.
9. Let handle dry 1 to 5 hours; depending on humidity.
10. Attach handle to trimmed mug.
11. Cover handle in wax to slow drying on very dry days.
12. Let pot dry 1 week minimum. If pot cracks at this point, recycle clay
and start over at step 3.
13. Take pot to kiln and fire to 1850 F - about 15 hours.
14. Take pot back downstairs to studio for glazing. If pot has cracked
during first firing, discard and write-off.
15. Mix glaze(s). Each glaze require approximately 3 hours to do the math,
mix and sieve.
16. Put wax on the bottom of piece so it does not absorb glaze and stick to
kiln shelf.
17. Choose design + glaze pot.
18. Let pot dry thoroughly.
19. Bring pottery back to kiln and load. If glaze scratches or gets
bumped on journey, wash with hot water and start back at step 13.
20. Fire glazed pots to 2450 F. This takes 24-28 hours depending on
electricity/gas demands, unless its a wood firing, which can be 3 to 5 days.
21. Hold at 2450 F for approximately 25 minutes. Make sure all shelves
reach the exact same temperature.
22. Wait approximately 14 hours for electric kiln to cool to under 400 F
before opening, 24 hours for gas kiln, or several days if a wood fired kiln.
23. Remove and check the work. If cracked, start over at step 1.
24. If the piece has survived to this point, clean any sharp bits off bottom
with grinding stone by hand, and put out for sale.
25. Clean up kiln and grind off drips from kiln shelves.
Also add to this list, for wood firing:
26. Pack the car with bisque,
27. Drive to wood fire kiln site (1hr, 4 hrs, or 2 days!) and unpack the car.
28. Make hundreds of clay/alumina wads to put under each piece (3 per pot).
29. Chop and stack the wood, or pay large workshop fees where it is mostly
done for you ahead of time.
30. Last, but certainly not least, instruction; try not to attack the
foolish person who innocently asks "Why does this pot cost so much?"

AND, let us not forget all the hidden steps NOT numbered in here.

- Answer phone
- Sell pots
- Pay studio rent + kiln fees
- Develop new glazes + slips
- Come up with new pots + ideas
- Pay fees for show applications
- Put out publicity.
- Pay supplier's fees
- Pay photographic expenses
- Recycle clay
- Clean studio.
- Pay fees for shows