Friday, January 18, 2013


Looks like there may be a major change bearing down on my pottery life. For years I have used a procelain-type of clay called 6-50, made by Tucker's in Toronto. It fires very white and smooth, throws very well, hand-builds not too badly for my platters and flat dishes, and I have gradually worked out my problems with glazes and firing.

But I have had to avoid making ovenware.

Too many pie plates came back cracked.

The other on-going problem has been that occasionally someone will report that their teapot has cracked. I have had to replace a number of them. Last year I didn't hear from even one customer about that, so I was starting to think maybe I was homefree. Not so. Right after Christmas a young woman called and said her teapot had cracked..... she had only used it for one year.... she was conscientious about pre-warming.... Bad words ran through my head (but stopped before exiting) and a heavy growly feeling descended on me. Going into the Studio became a not altogether happy thing.

Co-incidentally, there was discussion on Clayart, a list I follow, about ovenware. I asked my question: "Is it possible to make ovenware at cone 6?"

Of course I got some of the expected answers: it was my glaze, it was the shape of the piece, nobody else ever had a problem, my customers were obviously dumb users, yada yada. In the middle of this I did get a useful response talking about thermal shock. That rang the bell.

I always did say it was the clay that cracked, not the glaze. And the cracks did not occur at 'edges' or 'corners', they occurred in the middles of flat surfaces or walls.

Apparently, thermal shock can happen after numerous small shocks.

The only answer: switch clays.

I'm going to test the other Tucker's white cone 6 clays but I am not optimistic. I've already tried them and both gave me other problems. But I'll try again, and if neither of them work for me, I'll have to try another company's clays. I want to support Tuckers' - they have helped me a lot in the past, but enough already. I need to make pie plates and casseroles.

I'm trying to see this as just another adventure! I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

To-Do Lists

Most days, I start off with a pretty clear idea of what I intend to work on during the day. I may not write it down, but I usually have a list in my head of what I want to accomplish.

Unfortunately, it's generally straight downhill from there.

Now, if you were to go back and read my to-do list for today, not that you would, but supposing you did, what would you see? 'Vacuum and dust, wash kitchen floor, glaze new mugs to replace the ones that came out of the kiln yesterday which aren't good enough, balance the books for the business, practice recorder for 15 minutes, update daily journal, plan tomorrow, get to bed on time'. Not a bad list, right?

But what really happens?

Well, it's noon and I'm thinking of lunch. Boiled some eggs, am debating whether to have toast or salad with them. The vacuuming is about half done. Kitchen is a worse mess than before because I decided to turn out the dog food cupboard. Bits of stale dog chow all over, including one or two walked into the living room. Dog is lying on the carpet in the living room morosely eyeing them.. Both computers are running stuff other than accounting. In the Studio,the mugs are assembled near the glaze bucket but that is as far as I got. The ferns needed watering and I did some, but then I ran out of water so brought the pail into the house and got side-tracked into boiling eggs. Husband came home from his medical appointment and wanted lunch. Refused to eat eggs. I'm not doing well in the menu-planning department. Threw some laundry into the machine, including a huge navy-blue tablecloth. a couple of chapters of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin. Am re-reading her novels with particular attention to how she points out the unfairness of measuring people's, especially women's, worth, by how much wealth they do or do not have. We condemn Eastern cultures for de-valueing women except when well-dowered, but our own culture is not far removed from the same.

(Note to self: do not wash white underwear in the same load as large navy-blue tablecloths.)

Untied and ironed all the red cotton bows used for Christmas. This doesn't really need to be done as I won't need them again until next Christmas, but I'm feeling virtuous about doing it at least 11 months early. Plus it gets them out of the living room.

Need water to add to the glaze for the mugs; went back to the house to get some. Couldn't find the pail at first. Turns out I left it outside the door.

Courier company came and dropped off gift cards sent by my merchant credit card supplier. I didn't want them, but they were free and the company was very determined to send them to me. Seemed less trouble to take them than to keep on refusing them. Read over the accompanying blurb, and yup, I won't be using them.

Had an egg and a chocolate cupcake for lunch. We will not be telling the diet police about this.

Went out for a short snow-shoe after lunch. The sun came out for a little while and fooled me into thinking I wanted to do this. Actually,. I am planning a longer snow-shoeing trip soon and need to get into better shape. Plodded around for half an hour and was thankful to get home again, hot and out of breath. Kip (faithful pooch) seemed equally glad to get back. We both need to get back in shape. Amazing how much fitness you lose in only a month or so.  Mind you, the snow is deep and it was warm today so it was also wet and sticky. Good to have an excuse!

Can't do the kitchen floor. I got one of those electric floor washer dealies which uses a proprietory washing solution and it is empty. Also I can't figure out how to attach the scrubbing pads.... where are printed instructions when you need them.... oh, wait, I threw those out.

Fussed around about the mugs. I hate to fire only 6 mugs in the large kiln, but the small kiln is totally on its last legs. Do I risk one more firing or not.... would it even reach cone 6 in under three days..... I took the cover off the switch box and tried to see if the connectors were in good enough shape for me to change the elements one more time. Maybe. I'd also have to do something about the crumbling bricks in the centre ring. Probably wedges cut from a spare brick and carefully placed and pinned would work. Now I need to decide, would the cost of new elements be justified. In any case, it won't help for this set of mugs. So I either fire them in the large kiln, by themselves, or risk them in the small kiln and maybe have to do them a third time. I could make other stuff to fill the large kiln, but I need those mugs done now.

My accounts do not balance. They have no intention of ever balancing. I will never get my year-end done. I'm a disgrace to accounting. Blah. It's the program's fault. OK, I'll go over it all again. Must have put some item in the wrong account. I'm only out $43.01; maybe I'll make an entry called 'correction to expenses accounts'. I understand the really big companies do this all the time.

Eggs for supper.

It's amazing how much  you can accomplish in a day if you have a good to-do list.