Monday, June 23, 2008

some thoughts on production

A busy day today. I have a bunch of orders heading out the door on Thursday (and by bunch of orders I mean 3 of varying size). They were glazed today and are now in the kiln working their magic.

Mugs with bright insides and clear outsides. I think they are fun for spring and summer and the bright colours have been very popular.

Vessels waiting for handles. I like this water jug form, very loose.

Ok, here are some thoughts on throwing, trimming and production work. I have a small studio and so I try to minimize each process and step so that it all takes less time before it makes it onto the gallery shelves and out the door. The places that I do not try to take many shortcuts is in the planning and in the glazing. I have learned that these things need patience and planning.

So here is my typical process when planning and executing a new mug form: I look at what has sold well in the past, comments that people have made, my own mug preferences and my own throwing and design strengths. I might sketch a few shapes, but I am much more likely to visualize what I want and just head to the wheel. I use a standard weight for my mugs as this simplifies things. My clay comes in 22# blocks and this is divided into 16 balls. I throw the form and work on it until it is the shape that I am looking for. Then I trim off as much as possible using a japanese trimming tool whose name I don't know, but we call Margaret. I throw thin and my goal is to do no trimming after the initial throwing and trimming. I use a measuring tape to assess the height and width and then I throw the rest of the mugs to match. They are thrown on tiles and cut off with a wire, then the entire tile is removed. These go into the damp cupboard for two days (depending on what else is in the cupboard and how hot/dry it is outside). Then I pull handles and let them set up, I don't pull off the mug. It makes me nervous. I remove the mugs from the clay tiles that they have been thrown on and roll the bottoms to smooth and clean the edge. I stamp them with my dragonfly and the Golden, B.C. stamps. I attach the handles and then they go back into the damp cupboard for until they are dry. The clay I am using really likes to separate and crack. Drying slowly is very important. Once they are dry they are cleaned up in preparation for the bisque firing. I plan what kind of glaze will be used on each form before throwing as this makes a big difference in shape and texture. The only forms that I consistently trim when leather hard are bowls. I like a tall and defined foot so I enjoy trimming these and it seems worth the effort and time.


michele D. said...

Thank you so much for the details. I am very very new at this but have been lucky enough to get my own studio space. I'm learning so much and it helps to hear how others go about the business of pottery.

Patricia Griffin said...

Howdy - Your description of the drying time for your mugs was a good reminder... I've been trying to skip that step lately... and have a lot of cracked handles to show for it. I'm always trying to rush the process. Dang it.