As the year draws to a close and the new year awaits, it seems like a good time to think about ways to do things better in the pottery studio – not just in terms of technique, but also when it comes to the business of clay. Today’s feature presents some ideas for improving the efficiency of the pottery studio in order to save time, which in turn saves money. These days, we all have to think a bit harder about ways we can save money, especially those of us trying to make a living as studio artists. Hopefully the ideas presented today will help you make new year’s resolutions to maximize efficiency and, therefore, maximize profits!
Drawing on more than 30 years of experience in ceramics, author Vince Pitelka has created the most practical, all-inclusive studio handbook for students, studio artists, educators and all those interested in the art of clay. The ten chapters in Clay: A Studio Handbook address the full range of ceramic processes, and bring a lifetime of ceramic knowledge directly into the hands of potters. Concerned about safe and efficient studio operation, Pitelka pays diligent attention to safety practices.
I have to admit, glazing is not my favorite part of the ceramic process. It’s probably because of its potential to make or break a good pot (and believe me, I have broken quite a few with poor glaze application). I tend to be a bit of a sloppy glazer and I sometimes rush through it a little more quickly than I should. Denver, Colorado ceramic artist Annie Chrietzberg is the polar opposite of me in the glaze room: methodical and precise. I know my glazing outcomes could be greatly improved if I followed just a couple of Annie’s tips, so I thought I would share them with the community. Hopefully you will benefit from Annie’s advice too!
The old adage that time equals money is especially true in any labor-intensive activity. Making pottery is certainly an endeavor that requires direct labor to produce pottery for sale. Handmade pottery by definition requires physical attention from the potter during many stages of the operation.
I keep a lot of things in my studio that I think may one day be useful for texture or as a tool of some sort. I also cannot bring myself to throw any kind of wood in the garbage. I have a scrap collection that would be the envy of many a woodchuck. The other day, these two passions (let’s just call them passions for now) came together in a very useful way. I ran out to the garage and gathered every single dowel scrap I had and transfered them to the studio, thereby fulfilling both obsessive habits (okay, let’s call them what they really are). The reason I did this was because I watched the DVD Handbuilding with Mitch Lyons. He demonstrated a method for making cylinders that employed these dowels, and then went on to explore wonderful surface inlay and texture treatments that really got me excited about handbuilding again. And I got to use some of my scrap wood! — Sherman Hall, Ceramic Arts Daily
If you’ve ever attended a workshop, you know that you come away with more information than you could possible remember or apply, and your head is swimming with new ideas and projects to try in your own studio. Not only do you get ideas for how the presenter makes his or her own work, but you get the benefit of their experience and the insight behind their work. These excerpts from a two-day workshop with Tom Turner go beyond the basic how-to video to document the vast knowledge and experience of an established master potter. They are just a small sampling of what is available on the four DVD set. Enjoy!—Sherman Hall, Ceramic Arts Daily
Today’s video comes to us from potter Benjamin Gufford of Goldsboro, North Carolina. After visiting two much-admired potters this summer, Benjamin was inspired to take his work in a new direction. The technique he demonstrates in the video is the result of this new inspiration.
When you can’t get out to visit other ceramic artists in their studios, remember to check in with Ceramic Arts Daily to keep you inspired in your studios. Even if we don’t realize it at the time, looking at other artists’ work – at all types of work – informs our own creative processes. I hope that this video, and all the great stuff in the video archives and features archives, helps keep your creative juices flowing. In addition to the video, Benjamin has shared some additional thoughts on his altered vase forms and his influences below.
I thought this would be a fun video to share because of the somewhat unusual methods potter Dave Henry uses to throw his pitchers. I figure that it is always good to think outside the cylinder, so to speak, and see how others approach various ceramic processes, even if you are quite comfortable with your own methods.
A self-proclaimed pack rat, Dave likes to raid his junk box to make homemade ceramic tools. In this video, he uses his hand-made spout maker and a hand-made extruder gun, in addition to some store-bought pottery tools. In case you would like to make a spout maker of your own, we’ve also included Dave’s instructions. He plans to follow up with a video on making his homemade extruder gun, as well. So, look for that in the future. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
I thought a video demonstration of applying decals would be a nice follow up to Wednesday’s feature on decal paper. So in today’s Video Tip of the Week, Justin Rothshank demonstrates this process. Justin also explains how easy it is to make custom decals with a laser printer, which opens up all kinds of creative possibilities. Watch the video and then try it for yourself! –Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
Today Simon Leach shares another technique with us from his sunny studio in Spain. The “squashed vase” or “purse pot,” as he calls it, is a great form to try if you have grown tired of making round pots. Who said wheel-thrown pots have to be round? Watch the video, then give this technique a whirl! –Jennifer Harnetty, editor.