Thursday, July 09, 2009

Clay Club photos

Clay Club meeting at Crimson Laurel gallery last night. There was a great turn out to munch on pizza and other goodies and have a very worthwhile discussion pricing, led by Shane Mickey.
Here's Cynthia Bringle at the top of the stairs sharing her stories and thoughts on pricing. What we all agreed on is that educating the public is so very important. To that end, I've revised a wonderful list that one of the members of Clayart posted several years ago on what it takes to make a mug. I geared the editing to my soda firing. For me it was interesting to list all the time and steps that go into getting a pot into a customers hands!


1. Make shopping list and drive to Asheville to pick up clay (over a 2 ½ hour round trip).
2. Unload and store clay in studio.
3. Wedge clay.
4. Weigh amount of clay needed for mug.
5. Fill a bucket of water for throwing, put a bat on the wheel head, center clay and throw the body of the mug.
6. Remove bat off the wheel,let mug firm up a bit and then cut it off the wheel, invert, and let sit several hours or overnight, depending on weather, till it’s leather hard and ready for trimming.
7. Put mug back on wheel, center and attach clay lugs to hold it down, sharpen trim tool and trim as needed.
8. Wedge more clay, and hand pull mug handle.
9. Let the handle dry 1 hr or more; depending on weather.
10. Attach handle to trimmed mug and sign mug.
11. Re-mix previously made flashing slips,(which took an hour or so to weigh raw materials, add water, mix and sieve) and dip mug in slip, wipe any drips, sponge off the bottom, then brush, dip or spray second slip if using.
12 Mix and sieve decorating slip and draw design on mug if needed.
13 Clean wheel and bat, wash tools, and sweep the floor. Put clay scraps in bucket or into clay mixer for reclaiming.
14. Let mug dry till bone dry (about a week, depending on weather).
15. Vacuum and load bisque kiln and fire about ten to twelve hours to over 1800 degrees F.
16. Let kiln cool a day or two and unload.
17. Mix and sieve glazes.
18. Wax bottoms of pots if needed. Glaze inside of mug and outside as needed.
19 Wash buckets,sieves,mixer and sponges, and store.
20. Let glazed mug dry thoroughly for a day.
21. Weigh out a batch of wadding, add water and mix, then form individual wads. Glue several wads to the bottom of mug to prevent it from sticking to the kiln shelf. (This takes a whole day for a kin load of pots.)
22. When ware cart is full, wheel it to kiln room. If glazes or slips get bumped on the way or while loading, set aside to redo later.
23. Wedge clay and make draw tiles, and cone packs for the firing.
24. Sprinkle and smooth alumina hydrate on kiln shelf before setting pots on shelves.
25 Vacuum kiln and start loading.
26. Brick up the door of the kiln.
27 Mix up kiln mud and use large pastry bag and large tip to mud up the cracks in the door.
28 Turn the pilot burner on low, and let it slowly warm up several hours.
29 2- 3 am or so get up and turn up that burner. (I drink a big glass of water before going to bed to make sure I get up in a few hours to tend to the kiln) Go back to bed for a couple more hours if I can.
27. Early next morning start firing, by slowly turning on the main burners. While kiln is firing so some studio cleanup.
28. Monitor firing - check kiln every 15-30 minutes, adjusting burners and dampers as needed, and logging the firing as it progresses.
29. Toward end of firing, get the soda solution weighed, mixed and strained, and set aside. Test sprayer to make sure it’s working OK.
30.. When cone 8 is starting, put soda solution in sprayer and start walking around the very hot kiln, spraying in all the ports. Wait 15-20 minutes and repeat (this step is repeated for 1 ½ - 2 hours, until draw rings indicate the desired amount of soda/salt deposit).
31. When kiln reaches temperature (around 2400F), shut off burners, push in dampers.
32. Dump or save any ash solution not used and wash sprayer very well.
33. Next morning sweep kiln room, tidy ware cart, put away unused wadding, kiln mud, and other tools used to prepare for and during the firing.
34. 3 days later, when kiln has cooled to 300 F slowly start slowly un-bricking kiln during the day. When pots are cool enough to handle, start unloading.
35. Move ware cart full of pots into the studio. Examine mug. If it’s looks good, remove the wads, wet it and sand with silicon carbide sand paper, rinse and dry.
36. Price mug and move it to showroom, or set it aside to wrap, pack, and deliver or ship.
37. Scrape and store kiln shelves and kiln furniture, sweep kiln room and clean studio, and plan the next cycle.
38. Last, but certainly not the least instruction to self ; try not to attack the innocent person who asks "Why does this mug cost so much?"

PS: If anything goes wrong between steps 3 -18, go back to step 3 and start over.

AND, if you are want to read more, here are some of the hidden steps not included in the above list.

- Answer phone
- Promote work: work on website, blog, design promotional material, call galleries, customers.
- Order promotional material
- Order packing material
- Shop for other, non clay, raw material, studio supplies
- Book keeping, bill paying, filling out monthly sales tax forms and remitting collected taxes
- Sell pots
- Develop and test new glazes, slips and clay bodies.
- Come up with new designs.
- Re-cycle clay
- Attend conferences and/or workshops

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

June Perry (happy to give more detailed explanation of any of the above steps).

***(This is an edited, added to, inspired, modification of the original one by a member of Clayart - Sam Cuttell ). As Sam said “feel free to alter this text to suit your own work”.


  1. Great posting! The masses need to be educated on how labor intensive these processes can be.

  2. Great meeting last night, and thanks for this posting. I don't think I got a chance to talk to you, though. Maybe next time.

  3. I was very tired and cut out right after the discussion. Hopefully we can touch base next time.

  4. wow this is really interesting stuff june , how do you ever have the time to do this and everything else? wish i can muliti task like you. LOL

  5. I have no idea! I'm always complaining about not having enough time!