[Clayart] tools 2/story
melpots at mail.com
Tue Jan 24 21:15:22 UTC 2023
Many of you have had the experience of having to demo throwing or building
in a strange studio. For about 20 years I gave workshops all over America.
I learned the hard way to bring a bag of my tools with me, and enough to pass
out to folks that were serious potters attending the workshop, or to save and
use in their group studio.
One never knew what kind of clay would be available for the demo.
so" here is what I did.
When I arrived I went through lockers and under tables and found old bags of clay
in a variety of wetness. When folks arrived I would be cutting and slamming all the
clay together. Never opened a fresh box of clay. I got all the leftovers into a huge pile.
rolled in sand and grog that was left around the studio. that was demo clay. Of course I always
told folks that if I can make a set of dishes from this crap clay, think what you can do with
brand new, deaired clay fresh from a box.
I often carried a spring from an old bed and a turnbuckle...Fixed the wedging table to have
a tight cutting wire. I then took out a roll of metal fish line and knobs and made a bunch
of cut off wires that I passed out.
I often carried a large sheet of rough sandpaper. Gathered up a bunch of old worn out kempers
and sharpened them all. And, I always carried a roll of electricians tape and tore off pieces of
sponge and taped them to old paint brushes.
I often found a brent wheel that was set for full speed. with a screw driver I turned the speed way
down and used that wheel. I told them that only bad things happen on a wheel set for too much speed.
I could always find a wire coat hanger and make a pile of calipers...I showed them usually how those
calipers with a set screw would change about a half inch with normal use. The left over wire I made into
a long tool that unplugged that clay crap trap in their sink.
there are dozens of clayarters that will write and tell you about the cut off wire I gave them at a demo.
(or other tools.)
I made batts out of pieces of cardboard, set on the wheel with slip. And one of my favorite tricks was to
take all the left over scrap from throwing for two days, hand wedge it all together with extra sand and grog
and make one big pot, then explain that if at the end of any throwing day, you gather the scrap and make
one big bowl and sell it for 50 bucks it would cover all the expenses for the studio, and you hardly have any
clay to re/cycle.
Here at the farm I have a nice new studio, all new wooden work spaces and a perfect u shaped set up for my wheel.
I keep a 3 gallon pail next to my left leg. I drop all the wet clay and clean my hands into that pail.
Remember a quarter cup of vinegar and old syrup will make spooze. Add that to a bucket of old clay to help\it age
and use it to put on handles. I keep a quart of that ready at all times.
Using the three gallon pail as a mold, I made a plaster cast of that bucket, after about a week I dump all that
slop into the clay mold and it is ready for the pug mill in about three summer days. It never dries out, so I don't
lose the aging. I probably throw out after sweeping a cup of clay scrap every week. My studio has a hand made ash wooden
floor. I do baby it.
My biggest issue here at the farm is that my studio spills into the garage where the electric kiln sits and the pug mill
is across the room. I have to move the bisque pots to the porch of my house where I have the glazes set up. Glazing is wonderful
outside, but...then all the glazed pots have to be hauled about a city block to the gas kiln.
I solved that by adding two plastic orange crates to the front of my garden tractor and using about 50 old towels wrap them
and drive real slow to the mouth of the kiln and load the kiln.
Colleen is now in charge of the Minnetonka studio. The longest walk to a kiln is 18 feet. Heated and A/C. She rather likes her
new studio. But, seriously, it is critical that she keep that studio alive and well. She also is a daily presence on our property.
The reality is, Minnetonka, an almost rural, almost very wealthy suburb has had a huge increase in crime, break-ins etc. We now lock
all doors during the day, with special dead bold locks, the garage and studio have to be locked the same way. Colleen has her own
set of keys for our house and studio. She is valued.
Here at Hay Creek folks do not tolerate crime, if you know what I mean. It matters not who you voted for, their attitudes
on care of neighbors and help for each other is in the DNA. And, almost every home has a deer hunter that sleeps there.
My pal that owns all the land behind us is 70 with brittle diabetes. His own home is 12 miles away. my house is never locked,
he can slip into my place and there are cokes,
cookies and fruit for him on hand, all the time. And a land line phone. Just in case. Everybody gets free pots.
If I can stay alive living here for 15 more years, I will be considered a local. Wayne in Maine only has six more years to go, but then
he is out and about. big personality.
We have a store that is near, Fleet Farm...it is the only place you can buy a size 48 bra and a muffler for a 1939 case tractor.
over the counter. Double X for
men is the regular size. gots lots of big people around here, for sure. I have been blessed, big time to live here in my golden years.
And, a lot of these folks say youse,dem and duz, and "you betcha" "cold enough for yaz?" But then, you cannot simplify, at Church I meet new
folks all the time. Hi, "My name is Mel, oh you're the potter guy,, and what do you do?...former professor of ecology at the U of M, and
my wife here was the private assistant to the President of the U of Minn. oh" And the next guy was a veep with Medtronics, and another
was an attorney dealing only high high end taxes"...Oh, there is John, he has 50 head of black cattle. I had a question about fertilizer. His
answer was. "No farmer within two hundred miles buys fertilizer. We would not throw out an ice cream bucket of cow manure." Most of them
plant rye grass in the fall, let it grow and dig it under and plant corn on top.
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