Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Gearing Up For Summer

Well the kiln is nearly ready to be loaded, I managed to get about fifty pendants onto my bead rack, and a few other things glazed for this firing. Its been a crazy year full of ups and downs, and I had a slow start to the spring production, but things are starting to settle back into some semblance of routine around here. Thankfully I have patient Gallery folks in my life.This past year has held more than a few challenges to my pottery making. 
When I came to Cape Breton a few years ago, I started making pots at my kitchen table with a crappy old cheap rolling pin, and a dollar store exacto knife. My templates were made of old file folders and I had five boxes of old clay that I hand recycled to make those first few pots. I lugged those pots into town, and paid to fire at the craft centre, sold the pots and bought more clay. After about a year, I was able to buy a kiln, with the help of some grant money, and the pennies I had saved from selling my pots. I have upgraded my rolling pin a few times, and now have a selection of exacto knives, my templates are still made from scrap card stock for the most part, and I am still carving my own stamps. I love what I do. There have been ups and downs financially, and physically, but somehow we always manage to plow through it. Sometimes its difficult to see how far I have come, when it seems like there is so much further I need to go.

So far, I have managed with rolling pins, and knives. Simple tools for not so simple pots. But 43 years of doing all things with one hand have taken their toll. My body is protesting, my production is slow due to pain, and my good hand is now, my not so good hand. Time to re evaluate the methods, rethink the process, and get pain reduced, production up, and income flowing. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

BEER! and The making of the Mugs

Its seems that all my posts these past few months start with an apology for being gone so long. Shortly after my last post, pre Christmas, Our computer took a nose dive, it spent several weeks at the shop getting fixed, and I got caught up in making pots and not blogging. Its been a long winter. Mid way through this sluggish winter, I got a message from an old friend from back home. Seems my friend was following his dream to Brew fine Craft Beer, and he needed some Fine craft mugs to serve it in. I jumped at the chance. I mean who wouldn't? its BEER...and I love beer.
The Brewery is called Railcar Brewing Company, Its located in a refurbished Railcar in  Bristol New Brunswick. How cool is that???

So over the past few weeks, I have fiddled around with his logo, and hemmed and hawed over the design. I think I am making good progress, and today is the day I will start the major production. I have approval of design, so onward ho.
Here is a little photo step by step.. to the making of the mug, well the sprig mold anyway.There are still some bugs to work out with the details in the logo. But i think we are well on our way to a great mug for some great beer

 The first step is in carving a clay model for the logo. To do this, I reduced the logo to a line drawing, and transferred it to a slab of porcelain. In several steps, I carved the details in and let the clay get leather hard.

Once the details were finished, I created a wall around the finished logo, and poured plaster over the model. This is the tricky part, any air bubbles in the plaster will cause me to lose detail, .. and there is lots of fine detail here. 
When the plaster is set, I removed the retaining wall of clay and exposed the clay model

 After the model set for a bit, I gently removed the clay, and trimmed the edges of the mold. I think it turned out pretty good. There are a few minor air bubble issues, but I can work around that.. I'll be casting a few more molds before the week is out. Cheers, and look for an update when the first batch of mugs comes out of the kiln.