Tuesday, April 09, 2013

More earthenware eye candy

 Here's the days earthenware eye candy -a few mugs and a cup.. From the top, Victoria Christen, Tony Clennell, Martina Lantin, Ron Philbeck

So much great and diversified work is now being down with earthenware, from the simplest of decor from people like Courtney Murphy to the more heavily decorated majolica from Linda Arbuckle and others.

On a personal level, I still haven't figured out the direction I want to go with this new leap into earthenware. The sgrafitto pots can be a delight. Just look at the wonderful work that Ron Philbeck has done with his joyous characters or the complex sgraffito patterning that others are doing. And then there's the huge selection of underglazes to be used with abandon or precision, or slips and glazes without any added design, or slip trailing that is being done so beautifully by Hannah McAndrew and Doug Fitch - so many things to choose from - maybe too many.

Yesterday I got some studio time in between everything else. The clay was still a bit harder after wetting it down, but doable. This morning I'm going to get on line and check pricing on the small, Peter Pugger. Yesterday Jim said "when are you going to order that pug mill". I have been dragging my feet on it, but that hard clay the past two days was enough to get me moving. I like the fact that I can use the Peter Puggere to reclaim dry scraps as well. The fact that they have a really small one for my limited space was another consideration. I have the perfect, heavy table, in the right place for it, so it's time to do some price comparisons.

Studio heat is on, pots checked and seedlings watered. Hopefully these pots which I left uncovered overnight will dry enough now that the heat is on, to be trimmed later. Today or tomorrow I need to make time to get some of my tomato seedlings transplanted into bigger peat pots. Even with a second grow light I'm hoping I won't run out of room for them before it's time to get them planted outdoors.

Later this afternoon I have to get over to our sons place to harvest some asparagus and then it's a dinner night out at the local Chinese restaurant. This is definitely another one of my smorgasbord kind of days. This time of year, every day seems to be a juggling act between studio, plant and garden chores, animal care, household chores, cooking and shopping.


  1. Hi June,
    The idea of the little PP mill is tempting, until I did a little arithmetic. The price of the smallest mill is about , say $3,500 with shipping.
    For that money, and with clay at around $0.35/lb, I could buy 10,000 pounds, or five tons of new clay.
    That is more clay than I would use in ten years, plus, I don't have to find a space for it, use and pay for the electricity, and have maintenance issues.
    Fir me it didn't make sense, but for you it might.

  2. For me it's more about saving time and saving my arthritic ridden spine and other body parts. I have the money from selling a lot of my old equipment before we moved, and the fact that I can always re-sell it when I'm ready to stop working in clay, makes the investment a lot less. Used pug mills and mixers, etc. sell quickly. I've been looking for a used one locally for almost a year and have yet to find a small de-airing one, so it's time to bite the bullet.

  3. Would you mind sharing your shopping research on the pugger, please?

  4. HI June, I bought the same model several years ago and am quite happy with it. Having a pugmill has definitely saved wear and tear on my wrists and shoulders. I easily recycle all my unfired clay which I feel good about from an ecological and economical standpoint as my nearest clay distributor is a 4 hour round trip drive. I do not pug clay right out of the box. I rarely wedge clay right out of the box rather I cut off what I need and whack it on the wedging table a few times to loosen it up before taking it to the wheel. When I am slab/hand building I slice it from the block in even slabs.
    I recommend putting your pugmill on a sturdy rolling cart that has locking wheels. I like to have access to all sides of the machine and my cart also has shelves below. It is nice to be able to wheel it out of the way when you are not using it. I have used my pugmill for recycling from dry but do find small pieces of dry clay still in the mix at inconvenient times ! If you haven't seen this video on youtube it is certainly worth watching
    I'm very happy with my machine and I hope you will be as well.

  5. Thanks for the video link. What they're showing is basically what I did with my old, larger Bluebird pug mill. With my arthritic body, I need my clay very soft, so I just added some of my reclaimed, slaked clay to the new clay and that worked well to get it as soft as I like.

    I don't see myself adding dry scraps. I save those and then slake them and then add to new clay, mix, then de-air. That seems a lot easier to do and also seems to create a fully mixed clay. As you have found, sometimes those dry scraps don't fully incorporate.

    For slab work, like you, I just used it out of the bag.

    This small Peter Pugger will be a lot easier to clean and I love that is closes up so nicely. With my old Powerstar, I had to put wet towels and plastic in the hopper and exit to keep the clay from drying out.

  6. ... I don't know if I should admit this so publicly ... but I have never - not once, cleaned my pug mill !!!
    My main clay body is Plainsman's M332 a red ^6 and I use their M370 - a very nice white body as well. The scraps from the white body just get mixed in with the red. The pugmill does seal up very well and can sit for weeks at a time with no ill effects. I find the mouth of the pugmill and the pusher too small and clumsy so I avoid pugging new clay. Slaking the dry scraps is the best way to go. When I have mixed the dry scraps right in the machine I pound them up really well, add the water, mix well, then let it sit for a couple of days and mix again - that works better for me. I assumed from the video that I could mix and pug and use the recycled clay in short order but haven't found that to be true in practice.

  7. I only cleaned my Bluebird Powerstar once and that was enough. I bought it used and the previous owners let clay dry in there. That was one hard, messy job.

    One of the reasons I got the Peter Pugger instead of a new Bluebird was the fact that the Peter Pugger doesn't have those screens to clean. Also, being a much smaller unit, I figure it would be a lot easier to clean if I wanted to switch clay bodies.