Monday, March 16, 2009

More handles, more frustration

So the mugs I made that FINALLY had the perfect handles… yeah they “popped”. By popped I mean that they dried too quickly and one end of the handle popped off the side of the mug. I kept this batch under plastic wrap for a week then removed the plastic to allow them to dry for firing. I assumed a week would be enough to even out the moisture and allow these handles to survive. I was wrong.


I have had this “pooping” problem with my handles for awhile. I like handles that tend to be thick on one end and thin on the other. This is what causes the popping issue. At least that’s what I think causes it. The two ends dry at different rates. The thin end is bone dry and the thick end is still relatively moist. So the thick end is still shrinking and the thin end is done. This leads to a change in shape, which leads to the thin end pulling off the side of the mug.


I am still looking for a better way to do this.


I ran a batch of crappy pots I didn’t really like for glaze tests. Not new glazes but combinations of some of my existing glazes. They mostly sucked. Hard. But I had two interesting interactions. One was an iron red with a lithium heavy glaze over the top. It went black with very  bright defined orange/gold crystals. I hope I can duplicate this on a pot I like. The other cool result was a crawl glaze with some cobalt over a strontium base glaze. I got this heavily crystalled light green. Very cool and unusual looking.

No updates on my glaze db. It is at a stand still. I am waiting. I am planning to buy a new computer in the next ten days. I stopped dev work until I get my new machine =) 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Of handles and frustration

One of the other potters at the studio I go to observed that both her and I tend to like what we’ve created for about five minutes then next time we see it we’re no longer satisfied. I think this never happy with what I’ve made can be productive. It is the drive that keeps me going, trying to do better every time I sit at the wheel or strap on my respirator to make a glaze. That kind of restlessness can also kind of suck. It means I am rarely if ever happy with what I make.


Lately the object of my “I need to make this better” attention has been handles. I love making handles. I developed, purely by chance, a technique for making fairly unique handles. But I rarely make these handles up to the standard I expect of myself. I am almost always left looking at a finished piece that I would love… if it weren’t for that crappy handle. So I decided to start concentrating on making handles. I’ve been kicking out mugs. Not a lot, again I am a weekend potter. I do four mugs per visit to the studio.


My last trip to the studio I finally got the handles to look how they do in my head. Now I need walk these mugs through the entire process. Sometimes the pots dry too quickly and cracks develop at the handle base. Sometimes I screw up the glaze. I also want to make sure I can replicate the handle forms I created. It doesn’t do me much good if it was a one time fluke.


My glaze db is coming along nicely. The web front end is pretty close to complete. The search functionality works. The details pages work. The pagination works. My time in web development has taught me 80% of bugs will be in the pagination. And I think mine is pretty solid. I am still adding some functionality. Plus when I mentioned the project in a clay based google group I had a well known potter ask me to include his recipes – about 1,000 – in my db. I need to normalize them and write a script to insert them into the db. While it’s delaying me a tad the benefit is worth it in my view. I’ll have close to 3,000 recipes on launch. Not too shabby.