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big misc. thank you; handles, glaze mixing, slips

updated fri 7 jan 05


Lili Krakowski on thu 6 jan 05

Thanks to Wayne and John for reply on how many recipes! Wonder who =
snitched and told John my question? Mmmm.

PULLING HANDLES. With all apologies I totally disagree with Mel about =
"working through the pain" I am not talking here about the pain of a =
hangover, or something like that. If what you are doing hurts, stop =
doing it. I have the hand surgery scars to prove this. When I was =
young I tried to keep up with the big boys. Tried to wedge huge lumps,. =
throw huge pots, and like that. Ignored pain into tendonities, ignored =
pain into carpal tunnel and carpalmetacarpal joint surgery. Whoopdidoo! =
as we say in medical circles. If it hurts STOP. If that does not work =
go see MD.

When I have taught handles I tell the class this is really giggle =
material and they are free to blush, giggle, snicker, make vulgar =
remarks and so on. It is amazing how that clears the air.

The tennis wrist thing has been discussed and a plastic sleeve protector =
is a good combo with it.

But you also can do this--and it is shown in some book: Make a rough =
basic shape, a rounded wedge really, something like a lizard tail in =
shape. Whack the thick end against a table top, so it sticks to and =
overhangs the edge, and pull your handles from there. One can make one =
huge enormous handle, or any number of little guys. In one book the =
author/demonstrator is using both hands to pull the handle. More like a =
milking gesture....

A method I learned in Montreal so it may be a Quebec thing. Make your =
basic lizard tail. Wet the canvas on a canvas covered board, and lay =
the lizard tail on it, with the wide end at the side AWAY from your =
dominant hand. (Got that? If you are a leftie big end on right; =
rightie, big end on left.) Using a thin wet sponge or a good piece of =
chamois (not too small) use your fingers pushing and "pulling " from =
big end to little. You spread the wet chamois over the wide end of the =
tail, then straddle the tail with your index and ring finger, the middle =
finger kinda riding on top to keep the clay from rising rather than =
stretching downward to the end. Everytime you make a "pull" lift the =
"lizard tail' from the big end, and get more water underneath. This is =
a neat way to make big handles.

Also. I do pull handles on the pot. But cannot say it is easier on =

GLAZE MIXING. The main ingredient in ALL GLAZES is heart. RonJohn =
spent years and years on their glazes. Their book does not detail the =
tedium of the chase, but it is obvious that to work out all that =
detail, all those nuances etc meant endless patience and effort. I =
really wish some of the glaze "gurus" would tell us how many tests, =
hours, kilns etc it took to get "Mitzi's Purple". That is why some--me =
included--do NOT test glazes as a special enterprise, but set aside a =
few HOURS in the weekly schedule to do tests. Glaze testing is included =
in the routine. I have read Lucie Rie had tests in every kiln. In =
other words glaze exploration is an ongoing thing.

If as a newbie you want to do glazes, then you have to face several =
things: There are good reliable published recipes. These recipes =
worked (at least before publication!) for the potter involved, using =
HER clay, HER materials, from HER suppliers, and fired in HER kiln, at =
HER schedule, and so on. If the recipe turns out like yuk, well., you =
need to know why: and for that you need to have a few good books on the =
chemistry of glaze. =20

Once you have obtained a few good glazes that work for you, you can =
start 'building" your own. But before you do that again you need to =
understand what you are doing. Nothing is a bigger waste of time and =
money than stumbling around the glaze pantry wildly pulling things off =
the shelves and mixing them. You need to understand why soda spars are =
less commmonly used than potash ones, why in lowering the firing temp =
of a high fired glaze a good move is to replace spar with neph sy and so =
on. You need to learn about families of glaze: that high alkaline can =
go from 06 to 11; that zinc glazes are not as tolerant of a wide range ; =
and like that. =20

I would suggest to any newbie to get the making of the pots learned =
FIRST. That is what happens in schools. You learn to maked pots, and =
use the school glazes, (equivalent of commercial ones in your own =
studio) till you have gotten good enough to move on.

SLIPS: The essence of slip decoration is patience. Did I say patience? =
Yup. Patience. No one can do that for you, but you need to develop a =
fluidity of movement, and a visual acuteness. No one can do that for =
you. But I DO suggest that you lay in some cheap plastic coated paper =
plates and practice your slip decoration on them. I mix up white slip =
colored with food colorants to practice with. The plates approximate =
slipped clay well, and when the slip is dry it can be salvaged and used =

Lili Krakowski

Be of good courage