Friday, January 30, 2009

Kiln unloaded

I dodged the bullet, so to speak. One third of the kiln was under-fired slightly, that the thermostat and cone were indicating . The kiln was stalled and the wind started to make me nervous at that time. I was more worried about the bad oxidation and glaze crawling , but most pieces were fine. I can re-fire them later.

Now, I have pieces to list on the Etsy. This will be the first 2009 pieces, as well as the first kiln load in almost one month.

And, this is my new teapot. I am quite pleased.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

First glaze firing of 2009

First firing of 2009 is done. I offer the sake and salt to the kiln god for the first firing of the year. I decided to fire the kiln yesterday despite the winter storm warning, while trusting the weather man again, he said, "the wind is not the issue today." Wrong! The wind started gusting crazy after the sunset, when it was too late but continue firing. It stalled the kiln for couple hours from raising the temperature, and the oxyprobe reading was all over the place from the oxidation to the reduction. I peeked the kiln today, might not be as bad as I thought yesterday. I hope several custom orders come out good tomorrow.

Good news out of this firing. Last December, the oxyprobe meter stopped working. Since then , I bought the multimeter (UEI DM383B) off the ebay, and fired with it along with a friend's oxyprobe in December . It read the atmosphere the same, but the temperature was off 1 readings at the beginning and off 2 reading toward the end, which made me nervous.

I have been toying with the broken oxyprobe meter with a multimeter for a while. Am I familiar with electronics? No. I have no idea how these diodes work. I can check and read the meter and solder things, though. It was broken and I had no thing to lose. I checked reading of the resistances, and replaced two diodes which I thought the reading was wrong. No, my reading of the diode was wrong.

I found a repair manual for multimeter, which lead to the IC chip, which the oxyprobe meter have three, and ordered the same ones ($5 dollars!) on the web store . Replacing them was easy, and Bingo! IC for the LCD was the problem. Also I messed up the calibration by turning the knobs inside.

The oxyprobe actually worked after successfully calibrated with friend's meter(meaning I get the same reading). I cannot believe I actually fixed the meter!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fulted bowl trimmed.

I have been glazing last three days, and the kiln is finally loaded. I hope I can fire the kiln tomorrow. There is the winter storm warning in effect, expecting solid 8-10” of snow. It will be all right as long as not much wind to deal with. Will see.

Here is the video of the trimming the fluted bowl I threw the other day.

Friday, January 23, 2009


We had a spring-like weather today. I visited Clayscapes Pottery and Eureka Crafts in Syracuse.
It is a little over one hour drive from Rochester.

I highly recommend Clayscapes Potterty if you are in need of pottery supply. Owner, Don is knowledgeable and goes miles to accommodate your needs. They set aside the batch of clay (2-3000lb) for a month so I can test the clay from the same batch. I had burnt by the bad batch of clay so many time in the past. The clay manufacturer strongly recommends to test the clay before using it, but it is very difficult to do so. In the past, 40 boxes of clay were delivered to home. It usually takes two -three weeks to know the firing result of the clay, and meanwhile I got to use this new clay since I do not have enough space to keep more than 40 boxes of clay. If you have the bad clay, imagine how much of work to lose. Clay problems included bloating, pieces of glass, cracking, mixed with different type of clay....
I needed some bag of glaze materials today. I had very good time with Tim See, who teaches and has studio there. He showed me his latest pieces for the Smithsonian Craft Show in April. Oh, these were amazing !!

The Eureka Crafts carries my pottery for over 15 years. They are one of the first galleries who carried my pottery, and gave me the wonderful advice and encouragement for the started-out potter and now. If you walk into the store, you are greeted with great collection potteries and other crafts. The Eureka Craft and the Everson Museum of Art are the must-visit place for the great crafts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Throwing a fluted bowl.

Birds need some food in this frigid weather. Thanks to grain hoppers, they scored big today.

The bisques are unloaded, and the next batch is loaded today.

Let's try something new. Video of me throwing fluted bowl. I use about 1 lb of clay. I do not weight the clay, instead measure the length of pugged clay, 2.5 inch long. Width of thrown bowl is 21.5cm (8.5”). I grew up with the metric system, and am still not able to use the inch very well, especially smaller than inch (1/8, ¼). Just confusing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

First bisque of 2009

Finally the first bisque of 2009 is on the way. I made some progress last week, mugs, sake sets, chip & dips and platters. Studio has been very toasty hot, which was good thing as we had really frigid weather. We already have more snow than last year too.

Here is one of platter I finished today. 19.5 inch wide. This will be covered under the plastic for a week for the even drying.

I bought Digital TV converter box with the government coupon . As all TV stations switch to the digital signal, my TV needed the upgrade. It was easy to add the box. I gained 4 channels, and like two new additions, 24hr local weather and PBS Create. Picture is clear and no double-triple shadows. However, the locomotives in the yard seem interfere with the signal, and I need to reposition the antenna rather frequently. I have not had any problem with analog! I hope this goes away once it all switch to digital.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Teapot stands up.

When I opened the door of my studio, it sounded like an airplane taking off. Sure enough, this weird looking car is working on the yard. Huge blower heater with car is blowing and melting ice and snow from the turnout. The studio smells like kerosene. We are expecting frigid weather this week, below zero. We had enough winter!

Teapot. It has dried overnight well enough to show these off. Good balanced teapot can stand up on its handle. One is very stable, and the other is trying. It is about the center of the gravity, and pouring the tea at ease by twisting the handle. However, this does not mean that the teapot does not stand is bad one at all. Each people's hand is different, and people should find the one fit to your hand.

The cut of the sprout is a bit tilted to 10:17 (clock). This is because the clay will recoil counter-clockwise during the drying and firing as I threw the sprout on the wheel clockwise.
Like you twist a rubber band, and it will rewind itself. There are no definite way to figure how much it rewinds, I think.

I had the glaze firing today last year. I am way behind....

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I broke my teapot recently and needed replacement.. I worked on the teapot over the weekend. Here are the parts for the teapot.

Bodies, covers, handles and sprouts are wheel thrown. Bodies and covers are made yesterday, and are ready to trim, when I throw the sprout and the handle. Handle is a bit different. Teapot is small, one cups or so. Green tea tends to brew quickly, and you do not want leave it in the teapot for long time. If you are serving to several cups, pour the equal amount to all cups (each cup) at a time, and repeat the process. So every cup has the same strength of tea, and temperature. I make the built-in strainer, I explained before, usually with 3mm pipe, but bought 2mm pipe for this one. I can put more holes, close to 100. With my new eyeglass, this turned out very time consuming project. I could not focus very well, and kept making the hole at wrong spot.
I am getting close to the first bisque of 2009.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reading eyeglass

Snowing again.

Got my first bifocal reading eyeglass couple days ago. “Senior eye-glass” in Japanese. I can see things very this clear now, but things get distorted when trying to read by just moving eyes instead of the head. Very wired feeling. Like going to another dimension. I was told it will take a while, and be patient.

I trimmed and assembled the small casseroles today. It consists of trimming a top, throwing a handle on its top, trimming a body, attaching handles and stamp decoration. I like the knob on top of the cover round shape instead of ribbon-like. I think it is easier to grab.

Since early last year or so, I really need to take the eyeglass on and off while assembling. It was messy, clay caught in hairs, etc. I did not take off the eyeglass at all while finishing ten casseroles today. But, I got really bad neck ache and headache just before finishing. I think because tilting the neck to get the right focus and/or information overload. I am sure I can adjust soon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Art and craft fair

I exhibit eight to nine art and craft shows over the summer, and worked on these applications with my new bifocal glass. Some are getting close to the due date. I used to scramble to take slide photographs for these applications. Many shows now accept CD with digital images, which makes my life easier. There is the trend for on-line submission as well. My check book get really hot tonight. I will post my show schedule once accepted.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Coal ready to deliver to RGE's power plant "Russell Station".

I have signed my pottery with "Hodaka" and the year I produced after trimming except first couple years. Sometime I bump into own pot at an unexpected place , and look at the bottom to see how old it is. Most of time I can guess the year based on the clay and design I used. It also surprises me how my pottery has changed. I guess it give the pottery some sort of history, trace of me. Give me a motivation not carry dated potteries as well. (I know, I know, pottery is not fresh produce.)

I trimmed the nesting bowls today, and signed many of them with 2008 as habit. This happens every year for the first half of January.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year !

Happy New Year ! Wish you all have a wonderful and prosperous 2009.

Well, back to wheel. I better start thinking about festivals and shows ahead. Applications are soon to be due, and this is the time I really need to build up my inventory. Once in June, I can only fill what sold a couple week before. Five months seems long, not.

I threw nesting bowls. I have been making them since I made this 13 set nesting bowls four years ago. Why 13? Just happened to make that many as I was working from the biggest one. I made only one set, and dis not lose any during drying and firing. Pretty lucky. For Japanese,“4” is unlucky number, not 13.

It was great crowd stopper, but I got sick of carrying around festival to festival, and now stored in the cabinet at home. Instead, I make five set nesting bowls. It is fun to make. Customers told me they are handy to have. Good wedding gift, too. Japanese tends to give odd number of set piece as a wedding gift, wishing newlyweds will not divide in the future.(You cannot divide odd number.)

With a simple tool, throwing is not that bad. Just need to measure, measure, measure... As long as the width is right, its height has some wiggle room when trimming.