Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Post for 2008!


Perfect Drip

Here is a sample of a perfect drip. Almost never happens. When the drip actually looks good.

A copper red bowl on the shelf above this celadon cup, dripped just the right amount of glaze onto the side of the cup in the perfect location!

John Britt

"Soda, Clay and Fire" Gail Nichols


Here is the book by Gail Nichols. She describes the process of mixing the whiting, light soda ash and sodium bicarbonate on page 8 - 11. She says that it is the light soda ash that causes the reaction. The whiting and sodium bicarbonate are not involved. She found this out by leaving them out and only the absence of the light soda ash caused the mixture not to harden.

It is an interesting read. Tons of info!

John Britt


Happy New Years' Eve everyone! The past couple of days I've been able to get in the studio and sort those piles of test tiles. I took some pictures and have them posted on my blog:

If you click on the picture it will open to a much larger view. They'll be sitting out for a few days until I can make detailed notes, keep what I want and discard the rest, so if anyone wants to come over and look at them in person during the next few days, you're most welcome!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Detail of Soda Stack

Here is a close up of the stack. The longer we are away from it the better it seems! That day it looked ...not so good...but like a good ______ (you insert word) it gets better with age.

John Britt

Soda Firing Stack

For Michael,

Here is a photo of the stack before unloading. Linda teapot is on the top.

John Britt

Experimental Soda Firing

We did an experimental soda firing with the NC Clay Club in December 2008. The object was to try to find new glazes and to introduce the soda using the Gail Nichols method. We used 3.5 pounds of Light Soda Ash/1.5 pounds of Baking Soda and 5 pounds of Whiting. We mixed that with a small amount of water and after it chunked up, we scooped it onto an angle iron and introduced it in to the kiln around cone 9. We also sprayed in the ports a mixture of 1.5 pounds of soda ash in about a 1 gallon of water.

We got some promising results but they are too numerous to mention here. Perhaps at the January meeting people can bring some of their pieces and we can discuss it?

John Britt

Monday, December 29, 2008

Web Design


You should check out the Penland Potter's Website:

If you like it, I can find out about the web designer.

And I think Peg Malloy has a nice site:

John Britt

Judy Shreve Ewers

Cone 6 AA Copper (adapted to ^6 from Val Cushings ^10 recipe)

40.0 Potash Feldspar
33.0 Whiting
15.0 EPK
6.0 Frit 3124
6.0 Gerstley Borate

also add for Blue:

4.0 Copper Carbonate
4.0 Tin Oxide

also add for Yellow:

6.0 Titanium Dioxide
4.0 Red Iron Oxide

I fired them in an electric kiln and used a ramped slow cooling and a dark clay body.

Judy Shreve

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Web Page research overload!!

I can't be the only Clubber without a web site, can I? I know this is probably a topic for a meeting soon, but perhaps we can start a dialogue here. I have been researching web page design/hosting, etc. for several weeks now and have no more clarity on the subject than when I started. Unfortunately, I do not have the money to hire a designer so I figured I would start with a template and find a host. Well, now I am stuck on how many pages, how much bandwidth and disk space I need. Huh?

I'll freely admit that there are several computer-related topics on which my 10-year-old serves as a consultant, but I'm not completely computer illiterate, so why can't figure this out? Could it have something to do with my children home on winter break? Perhaps my mind is going numb from too many rainy days and too many games of charades and cards. Perhaps I am all out of wine and my blood alcohol level is dangerously low. Is there any hope for me?


White Crackle Slip cone 6

55.6 EPK
26.0 Custer Feldspar
17.2 Georgia Kaolin
1.2 Borax

Then apply red iron oxide wash and rub off.

Metallic Glaze cone 6 (TOXIC)

86.0 Redart Clay
7.0 OM-4 Ball Clay
7.0 Silica


64.0 Manganese Dioxide
7.0 Copper Oxide
4.3 Cobalt Oxide

All clay. Fired in electric oxidation to cone 6. Made with a cow bone press mold. Cut and re-assembled. Also press molds of bolts and nuts. Stainless steel welding rods cut for "pins" to assemble.

John Britt

Cutest Dog Ever!


John Britt

Best Cookies Ever!

English Lemon Shortbread Strips from “Holiday Cookies 2004”

For the Shortbread:
1 cup butter softened
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all shortbread ingredients EXCEPT flour in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping the bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour. Beat until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Press dough evenly into lightly greased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely.

½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon softened butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

Combine all glaze ingredients EXCEPT lemon peel in a small bowl with a wire whisk until smooth.

Spread thin layer of glaze over cooed shortbread; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of lemon peel. Let stand 30 minutes to set . Cut into strips.

God they are good!

John Britt

Crackle slip

Here is a nice slip combo:

Crackle Slip cone 10

20 Custer Feldspar
15 Kaolin
20 Calcined Kaolin
15 Ball Clay
20 Silica
5 Borax
5 Zircopax

Archie Bray Black Slip cone 10

80 Alberta Slip
20 Ball Clay

7.8 Chrome Oxide
1.7 Cobalt Oxide
1.7 Red Iron Oxide
2.0 Bentonite

(page 62 and 156 in my book respecitively.)

John Britt

Monday, December 22, 2008

No words needed

Rime Frost

It is kinda cold up here on Roan Mountain, NC. Check out the Rime Frost!

John Britt

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blog info

I'm down with whatever is going around so I've spent the past couple of days seeing if I can make sense of blogging.

I found that my blog wasn't opening on Explorer, but opening fine on Foxfire. The reason was that I was listing the URL without www.

So, for anyone who uses explorer and couldn't open my blog, here's the correct URL:

I got my new mini video cam working but now I have to figure out how to get it uploaded on the computer.The instructions are minimal to say the least and supposedly, when inserted in the computer the software is supposed to load. It didn't! So another problem to solve!

Till later!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Kuan Crackle

Here is a sample of a very nice and versatile glaze on a dark stoneware fired in gas reduction. It was stained on the outside with black ink after firing.

Kuan Crackle
cone 10

79.0 % Custer Feldspar
9.5% Whiting
9.5% Silica
2.0% Bone Ash

Add: 2.0% Bentonite

John Britt

Penland Potters

By some miracle of Shawn Ireland's doing, all the Penland Potters managed to arrive in the same spot at the same time for this photo.

(Also a small miracle called photo shop spliced in one person. See if you can tell who?)

John Britt

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sarah Danforth's Caged Bird

Here is a little caged bird that Sarah Danforth, who is a resident at the Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts in Asheville, is selling for Christmas.


John Britt

Pete's Red

Here is a fluted porcelain bowl with Pete's Copper Red:

Pete's Red cone 10

73.8 % Custer Feldspar
11.1 % Whiting
4.9 % Silica
10.2 % Gerstley Borate

1.0 % Tin Oxide
0.35% Copper Carbonate
2.0 % Bentonite

John Britt

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Glaze Class - January 12 - 16, 2009

Looks like we have 6 or 7 folks signed up for the Glaze Class January 12 - 16, 2009. If you are intersted let me know because I will probably close it at 8 participants!

Also, the Glaze Class in the Seagrove NC area January 26 - 30, 2009 has 9 people in it so far and we may take 11 total.


John Britt

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

penland clay

The new floor looks great and think it will be a nice surprise for everyone that has taken classes.See it before the winter rental folks mess it up ...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Soda Test Tiles

That would be great John! I'm free any day but Friday. It's my birthday and we're going to Ashland for Tapas! :-)

Till later,

Patsy's Green

Here is another pot from Linda McFarling's Clay Club Experimental, Gail Nichol's style soda firing:

Patsy's Green cone 10 soda fired

46.2% F-4 Feldspar
19.8% Silica
8.3% Whiting
2.4% Kaolin
5.9% Dolomite
13.4% Gerstley borate
4.0% Zinc Oxide

4.0% Black Copper Oxide
2.0% Bentonite

John Britt

Party has the floor!

If anyone is around Penland this Thursday, December 18, please come help celebrate the newly refinished upper clay studio floor before it all gets covered with a layer of silt. Folks, you've got to see it to believe it. We're gathering at 3:00 PM in the Penland clay studio. We’ll have snacks, cider, coffee, music, and dancing later if we feel like it! Shoes are optional. (If you feel like moving some heavy equipment inside while you’re here, I’m not stopping you.) Hope to see you then!
-- Susan Feagin

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lucas Glaze

Here is a photo of one of my pots out of the firing.

Lucas Glaze cone 10 soda firing

10 Custer Feldspar
25 Silica
25 Whiting
25 Ball Clay
15 Red Iron Oxide

It is on page 155 of my book.

I love this glaze because it is derived from the 25/25/25/25 base and they took out 15g. of the feldspar and substituted 15g. red iron oxide. The glaze has incredible variation because red iron oxide is a refractory in oxidation and a flux in reduction so the surface of the glaze goes from gloss to matt depending on the atmosphere.

The soda also has a great effect on it!

Love it!

John Britt

Soda Test Tiles

Thanks for the photos John. It's a big help.

I'd love to see those test tiles and recipes in person. Can we do a test tile show and tell with those tiles and recipes at next clay club? I have a lot of my own soda flashing slips, colored slip and glaze test tiles I can share as well.


Bag Wall

Here is a photo of Linda's bagwall for June P. Does it help? Linda and Joy may have some suggestons on keeping that kiln even?!

John Britt


Linda could still be standing out there trying to decipher the notes. Maybe we should send someone over to help her?!

Oh, don't forget to pay Linda for the firing.

John Britt

Soda Firing

Just unloaded the test Soda Firing at Linda McFarling's studio. Real nice! Now if we can just figure out what these test tiles mean.

John Britt

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sticker Contest, anyone?

So, my first Clay Club meeting went without injury, so I guess I'm hooked. I like the idea of rotating the meeting place.

So, I was thinking that Clay Club could get some stickers made. Any thoughts? I recently had some Clayspace Co-op stickers made for cheap and people seem to like them. Anyhow, this sticker, applied to your vehicle could signify you as a member and/or a supporter of NC Clay. So, all you photoshoppers out there, let's make it a contest. Any takers? offers 250 of these for $50, including shipping and digital upload. That's 20 cents per sticker. They take 2-8 weeks to make them (I guess that's why they're so cheap). I think we could scrounge up the money via member donations. Below is an example I made. You can also have black background with white font. It's up to you. You can change the words too, or add a pot, or whatever. Mayber the word "member?"

Specs: Size is 4.25" X 2.75" at 300 dpi and in B&W. Save as jpg.

So here's how we should do it. Email me, Kyle, your sticker entry at After all of the entries are collected, I'll get Emily to post them on the blog and we'll vote for them with a poll. Let's make the deadline for entries January 1, 2009.

Well, any takers?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Where it's At

Next Clay Club meeting at Marshall High Studios Wednesday January 7 @ 6:30pm. Country bumpkin mountain clubbers and Asheville City Slicker clubbers, come one, come all! Save the date, details to follow....
How 'bout them fancy blog gadgets? What else do y'all want up there?

Not going to be able to host at Mushroom Factory in Jan.

my sister is getting ready to have a baby, she's due Jan. 15th. i don't know if i can host in Jan because of that. i will be able to host in Feb. however. excited about hosting in Feb.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tribute Cake

Tribute Cake from “BitterSweet” by Alice Medrich and Flo Braker

You can prepare the ganache up to 4 days in advance, and you can assemble the cake up to two days before glazing.

For the Cake:
2 cups (7 oz.) sifted (before measuring) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sifted cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
½ cup lukewarm water
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
½ cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of the cake pans with rounds of parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then sift onto a sheet of wax paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa and lukewarm water; set aside to cool. In a glass measure, combine the buttermilk, the remaining ½ cup of water, and the vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs briefly to combine the whites and yolks.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few seconds, until creamy. Gradually add the sugars and beat until creamy. Gradually add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. With the mixer on medium, slowly add the eggs, taking about 2 minutes in all. Continue to beat, scraping the bowl as necessary, until the mixture is fluffy and velvety.

Stop the mixer and scrape in the cocoa mixture, then beat on medium speed just until combined. Stop the mixer, add one-third of the flour mixture, and beat on low speed only until no flour is visible. Stop the mixer and add half of the buttermilk mixture, and beat only until is absorbed. Repeat with half of the remaining flour, then all of the remaining buttermilk, and finally the remaining flour. Scrape the bowl as necessary, and beat only enough to incorporate the ingredients after each addition.

Pour the batter into the pans and spread it level. Bake until the layers spring back slightly when lightly pressed with your fingers and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool the layers on a rack for about 5 minutes before unmolding to cool completely, right side up, on the rack.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped medium fine
2 cups heavy cream

To make the ganache; Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Immediately pour the hot cram over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is mostly melted. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes to be sure all of the chocolate particles are completely melted.

Stir the ganache until perfectly smooth. Let cool. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the ganache for at least 6 hours or overnight; it must be very cold or it will curdle when it is whipped.

When you are ready to use the ganache (but not before), whip it until it is stiff enough to hold a nice shape and seems spreadable, but don’t overdo.

To assemble the cake: Beat the chilled ganache with an electric mixer on medium speed just until it stiffens and holds its shape like very thick whipped cream but can still be easily spread. Do not over beat.

Place one cake layer upside down, on the cardboard cake circle. Spread with half of the ganache. Place the second cake layer upside down on the ganache and press into place. Spread with the remaining ganache and top with the third layer of cake (upside down). Chill the cake at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before glazing it.

Glace A L’Eau
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cup into several pieces
½ cup water or strong coffee
Pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients in a small heatproof bowl and set in a wide skillet of barely simmering water; stirring frequently until the chocolate and butter are almost completely melted. Remove from the heat and stir gently until completely melted. Let cool to 90 F before using.

Spread a very thin layer of the cooled glaze over the top and sides of the cake. This layer is called the crumb coat; it is just to smooth the surface, glue on any crumbs and fill any cracks. Chill the cake for a few minutes to set the crumb coat.

Set the bowl of the remaining glaze in a pan of barely simmering water and reheat very gently, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is fluid and shiny; it should be no warmer than 90 F. Center the cake on the turntable or lazy Susan. Have a clean, dry, metal icing spatula ready. Pour all of the glaze over the center of the cake. Working quickly, using the spatula to scoop up excess glaze and touch it to those spots left uncoated, use the spatula to scoop up excess glaze and touch it to those spots, but don’t spread it: spreading the glaze as it begins to set will make it look dull. Refrigerate the cake immediately.

Site Meter

Does anyone know how to put the site meter our site? I have the HTML code but don't know how to insert it?

Thanks John

Who won the Chocolate vote?

Did John award himself the prize since his cake was sooo yummy?

2009 Studio/work To do list

Thanks for that list Kyle. Just this morning I was thinking along the same vein!
I'm definitely going to be doing a bit more glaze testing (as per usual). I'm looking to get a bit more color added to the firing, so I'm not looking at a totally orange kiln load!
Another to do this coming year is to get my extruder up and working as soon as I can figure out how to get the compressor set up! I also want to use my slab roller a bit more and do more slab pieces.
Like you, I need new business cards and postcards!
I'm eager to see how Linda's firing comes out using only the Gail Nichols method (or at least I think that's what they did this firing). I'd like to get away from having to spray so much.
There's a list of new pots I want to make - a sketchbook full and I hope I can add some more new forms along with some new colors.
I have a LOT of slip and glaze tests that I've done over the years. Even getting rid of buckets of glaze tests when I left Oregon in the 90's, I still have a few full buckets of cone 10 gas and soda glazes and soda slips as well as cone 6 oxidation tests! I'm definitely a glaze testing junkie! LOL
Glad to see you at Clay Club last night!

BRAIN STORM personal goals for 2009

So, this came from a disscussion I was having with my studiomate, Heather Tinnaro. She had asked me what my goals were for the upcoming year, potterywise. So I thought it was a wonderful question to pose to the Clay Clubbers. So here's some things that "we" should be thinking about. This will offer an honest look at where each of us are in our careers as potters or sculptors. I think some of us are in similar points in our careers. We can help each other. It seems that there is a nice range of experience within the group. Some are just beginning. We can help them. Some are just bad ass. They can help us. Here's some examples of what may be possible goals for for some of us in the upcoming year.

*get a website or blog
*build a better mailing/email list
*apply for more juried shows or craft shows
*make better handles
*find some new glazes
*market my workshops
*get into ______ gallery
*start taking credit cards
*keep a better journal/sketchbook
*make some new business card/postcards
*learn photoshop
*save money for equipment
*post more on the clay club blog
*get serious about documenting my work
*redesign my booth
*fix up the kiln
*have a home sale
*take a workshop
*refine my forms
*test more glazes
*do some collabrative work
*make more pots!
*sell more pots!


At chocolate Clay Club last night we brain stormed some ideas for future meeting topics and themes. Here's some ideas we came up with. Let us know what you think and please share any ideas you have.
  • Establishing Goals for the New Year (finding new outlets, shows, ......what else, Kyle?
  • Feedback and Critiques (in small groups/ one big group?)
  • Tool swap (bring tools you never use, swap'em)
  • Documenting digitally (perhaps photography, blogging, etc...)
  • Demonstartions (Kline, want to show us brushwork? Any volunteers? Requests?)
  • Technical discussions (in small groups: Kilns, firing, glaze issues, promoting your work, etc.. more ideas?)

I know we had more, can anyone post what i'm forgetting?

Anyone want to host Clay Club at their studio?

Thanks John Ferlazzo for your hospitality!

Potter's of the Roan, we missed you!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Clay Order??

Reposting, anyone up for it?

I need +/- 1000 lbs of clay (highwater) but don't have easy access to a truck. Anyone with a truck want to go in for the ton price? I'll pay for gas and then some.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

December Clay Club! (rev.)

Wednesday December 10, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. is the next Clay Club and it is at the usual location - "John Ferlazzo's Fun House"! John is making spagetti with clams and butter sauce. I will bring garlic bread and people can bring salad, veggies and most importantly dessert.

The suggestion last meeting was CHOCOLATE DESSERT so you can do that or not! We can have a contest again if you want?!

Also, if you want to be a part of a Christmas Pot Swap bring something.

John Britt

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Tour is over!

The tour is over so I took a hike today, to rest a bit. Nice ice wall on Round Mountain with some lamas near by.

Now getting ready for Clay Club on Wednesday.

Hope you all had a good Tour.

John Britt

Friday, December 5, 2008

TRAC Tour 2008

Don't forget to head out the the TRAC Tour this weekend in Yancey and Mitchell County in Western NC!

The tour is scheduled for Dec 6th & 7th 2008 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Over a hundred artisans, including many Clay Clubbers, open their studio doors and welcome the public to see their workplaces. Some years the weather is mild, yet invigorating, other years, the skies fill with clouds and the rain is enough to make us grateful we aren't shoveling the precipitation. Either way, the studios are warm with welcome. Some even offer food and drink.

The potters may offer their wares from orderly racks or from homemade rustic benches and tables, but they have much to choose from: trays, jugs, mugs, tiles, baking pans, fountains, bird houses, sculptured forms, ceremonial pieces, sets of dishes, even bathroom sinks. They come in earthenware, stoneware, and/or porcelain and are fired in a variety of ways, including pit-fired, raku, low-fire electric (including terra sig to majolica) as well as mid-range electric, high-fire gas reduction and oxidation, wood-fired, soda and/or salt fired.

It is an event not to be missed.

Start at my studio so you still have cash.

(Congress turned me down but I still need a cash infusion and unlike AGI and CITI you will get something in return!)

Peace out,

John Britt

Fire on the Mountain

I strolled into Highwater Clays the other day and was told there was no more F4 available due to a fire at the plant. Here's a small write up about the fire in case you missed it.....

SPRUCE PINE, N.C., Dec. 5 NC-ATF-plant-fire

No Evidence of Foul Play Discovered

SPRUCE PINE, N.C., Dec. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division, along with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, has concluded the fire investigation at the Unimin Industrial Plant in Spruce Pine, NC. The fire occurred on Saturday, November 29th, and resulted in the activation of special agents and fire investigators from the SBI and the ATF National Response Team.

Zebedee T. Graham, special agent in charge of the ATF Charlotte Field Division expressed his appreciation to the management and staff of the Unimin Plant for their complete cooperation throughout the investigation. SAC Graham advises the investigation uncovered no indication of foul play or criminal activity that may have contributed to the cause of the fire. Investigators are confident the fire began in the flotation control room near the center of the manufacturing facility. Due to the extensive fire and water damage in this area all possible accidental ignition sources could not be eliminated as the cause of the fire. The official determination of the cause of this fire will be "undetermined."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Expiration Date?

I keep uncovering treasures in this studio. First the blue trash can with pre-measured baggies of mysterious white stuff (John Britt test fired some to cone 10 and it looks like grog), then came around 150 8"x12" ware boards (read termite food). Now I've uncovered a 50 lb unopened bag of Pottery Plaster. No idea how long it's been here. Does this stuff go bad?

If anyone has a use for any or all of the little ware boards, you can have them. I guess I could bring them if we have another bonfire, eh?


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thickness Matters

You know you have problems when you even consider using a micrometer to measure glaze thickness. It is a slippery slope. Next stop THE UMF!

John Britt

Monday, December 1, 2008

Transporting Pots

Props to Michael Kline for the brilliant method.

I was getting ready to transport my pots to Linda's for the Experimental Soda Firing and Shane Mickey told me about the Michael Kline method.

Drape a heavy blanket over the pots and the weight will hold them in place. It worked!

I did not pack anything and even left them on the boards. I just laid a couple of towels and some blankets over them and nothing moved, even on my bumpy road!

Props to Kline!

John Britt

Processing Limestone

I have been processing limestone for my upcoming class on Natural Glaze Materials . I found some limestone and put it in this bowl/saggar/container and bisque fired it. When it came out, it looked about the same so I added some water and it proceeded to decompose into this powder.

The bisque is driving off the carbon dioxide and so you have CaO. When you add water it is an exothermic reaction which turns the CaO back into cacium carbonate.

Always amazing,

John Britt

December Clay Club!

Mark you calendars. December 10, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. is the next Clay Club and it is at the usual location - "John Ferlazzo's Fun House"! John is making spagetti and so people can bring salad, veggies and most importantly dessert.

The suggestion last meeting was CHOCOLATE DESSERT so you can do that or not! We can have a contest again if you want?!

John Britt

Friday, November 28, 2008

Kiln week from hell!

Finally got my soda kiln fired after several glitches with bisque,, liner glaze problems and just plain clumsiness and equipment failures! Getting back to work after a year off due to a non working hip and then recovery from hip replacement surgery, has been a bit challenging, tiring and awkward at times. First there was hundreds of pounds of hard clay and reclaim clay to deal with as well as major studio cleanup to do before getting started throwing.
Throwing went OK other than dealing with clay I over softened; but it didn't take long to get those muscles back. Then there was the joy of getting all the slips and glazes remixed and sieved - another daunting task.
Loading the second of the two bisque kilns went fine, and then unloading the second bisque turned out to be a crashing experience, as one of the tall posts on one of the half shelves decided to topple as I was walking away from the kiln to put down another shelf. That little crash resulted in several cracked pots. No problem. I had extras. Then several bowls with a cream liner, which looked fine on application on a raw, dry pot (evenly watered it down quite a bit),cracked horribly in the Cone 03 bisque and was too fused to be removed -more lost pots.Then, while wadding and loading the soda kiln , a 9" half brick post toppled onto 3 small pots sitting on the kiln floor, waiting to be loaded - more broken pots! Suddenly my full kiln load was looking pretty sparse, so I went around the studio looking for a couple of likely candidates for re-firing.
There was a nice, large bowl among the likely candidates and that filled half a shelf, and I found a couple of old plates to glaze, so things were looking pretty good. Kiln finally got loaded, bricked up, with pilot burner on overnight. Next morning it was over 300 degrees and I proceeded with the firing, going nice and slow, as I always do. Around 550 I heard the explosion -fortunate that I was there to hear it!.
I turned off the kiln and had to wait the following morning to deal with it. Got up at 4am, walked the dogs, unbricked the kiln door to discover that it was the big refire bowl that was the culprit. The kiln gods weren't too cruel, as it was on one of the upper, front shelves, so I didn't have to unbrick the whole door - just the first 8 -10 courses or so. I was able to reach down to the floor to pick up some large chunks and was able to reacht he likely places to remove chards that had settled inside of some pots. There were some shelves that had to be removed, and I had to re-apply some loose alumina hydrate and reload those shelves and brick her up again. By 7am I was back firing.
Great, I thought;but the kiln demons weren't done with me! Twice during the lower temperatures, the burners kicked off; but Iwas so tired that I had affixed myself to my camp chair in the kiln room and was there both times to re-start the burners immediately. Other than bathroom visits and one fifteen minute break to quickly gobble up the Kentucky Fried chicken dinner that Jim had brought home, I sat near the kiln. I wasn't taking any chances with how my kiln luck was going!
Well, at 2000 degrees, the kiln kicked off again, so I jet propelled myself out of my camp chair and quickly depressed the button on the safety valve. 10 minutes later, after multiple tries, those burners refused to go back on without me holding the button down. By now the pen hanging on my sweat shirt was burning me and my metal watch was burning my left wrist, and the water was dripping off my forehead at an alarming rate. So Iquickly released the numb finger on the button, closed up the ports (burned several fingers doing that), and damper ran into the house and screamed to Jim to call Shane. I quickly ran back to the kiln room, started the burners again, and they were kicking back (I forget thatI had the damper in and didn't remember until Shane got there!) But I at least got the pilot on and in about 10 minutes Shane showed up and determined what I had already figured out, that the basal valve was probably shot. He said it could also be the thermocouple in the pilot burner, so using his amazing strength and two large wrenches, he managed to take the thing apart and jerry rig his extra large C clamp to keep the pipe connections closed so Icould finish the firing.
By the time we got the kiln turned back on it had dropped to 1700F.
Another thing - the kiln had been firing hot at the top in past firings so I had Shane add to the chimney so that it would be about 3' higher the the roof peak. He also adjusted the bag wall earlier when he did some other work on the kiln and burners. Unfortunately,we probably should have only made one adjustment because the higher chimney did what I thought it would do - make the bottom hotter! Theproblem is that we also opened the bag wall a lot at the bottom, so it got a lot hotter! I wound up with cone 12 at the bottom left and on the opposite bottom at the read, with cone 10 barely starting in some places on top, and various levels of cone 10 and 11 in some other places.
Since it was already past my ideal peak temperature, I decided to accelerate the salting (I had already done some of the Nichols whiting/sodium bicarb mix and some wet soda ash applied to scrap wood pieces, and one salt burrito) and wound up throwing in 2 more salt burritos, a couple more angle iron doses of the Gail Nichols mix, and one round of spraying soda in about 8-10 ports. The draw tiles looked like I got some surface shine, so I'm hoping I put enough material to do the job. I have no idea how much salting material actually went into the kiln! In panic mode, and time being of the essence, I wasn't going to be fussy about weighing anything. At 2am after a much needed shower, washing and blow drying my hair (I smelled like a fireman after a day fighting fires!), I finally crawled into bed, convinced I should take up book binding or or some other less strenuous, less dangerous activity at my age!
The kiln has been cooling for a couple of days and is now about 220 degrees, so some time late tonight or more likely, tomorrow morning , I'll be able to start unbricking the rest of the door. I've peeked in and from what little I can see, things don'tlook too bad. The pots are quite dark from the 3 salt burritos. One plate has a couple of pieces of debris in it and that's one of the pieces I check earlier. It was clear then, so it's a major puzzlement where they came from.
Well that's the end of my woeful tale, if you've had enough stamina to read this novelette!

Till next time,

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Experiment

An Experiment:

If you throw a batch of pots then leave them under plastic for 10 days how many will be salvageable when you return?
The answer: 50% under deadline More if there was time to play with them

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Speed Bump

Sometimes things just don't turn out like you expect. Monday morning I woke up with food poisoning. Tuesday night I checked into the emergency room and had my appendix out early Wednesday morning. So much for the food poisoning self- diagnosis. Because of large amounts of infection and the compromise of some other organs that I'd like to keep, they kept me there until this morning on IV antibiotics. But I'm home now! I cannot pick up more than 15 pounds for a month, but I hope I'm finally on the mend.

I have no idea yet what I'm going to be able to do about the tour. When I left the studio on Sunday night I had all the pots I needed thrown and a couple dozen under plastic still to trim. If anyone has an hour to help me load a bisque kiln or mix up a glaze in the next week I'm going to take all the help I can get. I can't lift more than 15 pounds for a month. It might be the glazing that does me it. There's probably just too much time in that.

See you all soon!

Sarah House

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cuppa Snow?

Free snow with cup purchase out at the warm snow filled showroom. Come on out and get em' , the showroom is about as warm as these wood fired pots!

(snow delivery guaranteed for shipping within region remaining in 32 degrees or below.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Hey Lefties and pottery teaching-types, i'm doing a little research,
How do you as a lefty, or as someone who is teaching a lefty, [teach to] throw:
-Counterclockwise or clockwise?
-If Counerclockwise, what side of the wheel are you throwing on left or right?
-If Clockwise, " " " " " " " " " " " " ?

Thank you very much for your participation.

Clay Club was fun!

Had a great time at John's Fun House last Wednesday for Clay Club. Or the dinner party fromerly known as Clay Club. But we did have a moment of clay when Mark Peters brought in some 15 thousand year old NC pottery shards he got out by Cape Fear.

Next Clay Club?? Susan suggested caroling?? Any suggestions on location. We know Mark Peters wants it at the Fun House but any other ideas? Hartom? Yummy Mud Puddle. A suggested topic is "How to make it in trying times!" Perhaps John Richards could give his take on marketing?

Let me know what you think,

John Britt

Chilly Tonight

It is chilly tonight!! Hunker down in front of the fire.

John Britt

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Glaze Classes 2009

I have just posted my 2009 Schedule for Glaze Classes.

If you have ever been interested in improving your knowledge of glazes or
firing now is the time to do it! Don't wait another year.

I am about an hour from Asheville NC and just next down the road from
Penland School. Not only is it a beautiful location but it is conducted in
an atmosphere of fun, learning and creativity that you will never forget!


John Britt
154 Sparks Road
Bakersville, NC 28705
828-688-6615 (evening)
828-467-5020 (day)


We need a title for this Kline Expression. Any ideas?


Clay Clubbers Kickin' It

Will Baker Ball-Breaker, Lindsay Rockin' Rogers, Emily the Wrong Reason and Molly Midwestern Irish Flannegan kickin' it at French Broad Friday in Marshall. Thanks for coming out y'all!
We made kiln pizzas that night which gave me an idear... "Kiln Cooking Cookbook." (kiln as method of cooking not required, but is a plus!)
What do you think, Compile our favorite recipes (food that is) at the next Clay Club meeting, throw in a couple bucks and get a spiral book-thingy printed for all to enjoy!?

Burning down the Studio

John was just happy that the studio didn't burn down!

It doesn't take much to make the Clay Club successful!

John Britt

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I am a lucky potter

Today, I got the manual for my kiln I had ordered and boy-oh-boy did I do some things wrong when I fired last weekend. Like having the audacity to fire my kiln without a manual. And stacking a little too tight. And forgetting all about a bag wall. Ooops. I am chalking my good fortune of a pretty decent kilnload of work, simply to beginner's luck and my belief that I really should be making pots. Or could it be the kiln gods my kids made?

Done for the Year!

OK, I might be in the category of "done for the year". But still working with clay! In my retirement I have become a tile setter. This is our bathroom which has been torn up since June. Pretty exciting to be getting it back together. Next step: sealing tiles and then grouting. Then we can put the toilet back in. So while I could be making pots, this is fun too.

Brothers and Sisters in Clay

from l to r, Matt Jacobs, Heather Tinnaro,
Melissa Weiss, Kyle Carpenter, and Josh Copus
of Clayspace CO-OP

In case you don't get the Mountain Xpress, like me, or never go to Asheville, like me, here was a cover story about some potters you may know.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Busy Season

Stop reading this and go make more pots! The show is not over yet! You are not "done for the year!" Let's make some dough!!!! Come February we'll be eating Ramen noodles. I'm typing this as I'm pulling the wall of a pot.....I'm multitasking. Come on, are ya really done?

-kyle in Asheville
p.s. I'm going to be a father...again, come June 2009

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

First Firing Results

All in all, the firing went well. A few rough spots, but I know it will take several firings for me to really know this kiln. I've used all these glazes in college some dozen years ago, so no real surprises there with the exception of the Lau Lustre Shino. It turned out pretty uninteresting and also crazed on most of my pieces. Also, Rob's Green turned out terrific except on the pieces made out of Helios (if you look close, you can see the mess)--it ran down to the shelf. Now I need to get busy making more pots, so I can fire again soon without forgetting what I learned from this firing.

Obama B Ware

Just when you thought all of the bidding was over...Now you can get some really slick Obamaware, but why wait? But as the ad says, "this design is sold as is" and this tag line:
Barack Obama & John McCain merchandise available on November 5, 2008. We carry a unique collector plate & coffee mug of Barack Obama's presidency. Celebrate our 44th president of the United States of America with these high quality porcelain collector plate and 11 ounce bright white coffee mug. There are no minimum sets or maximum quantity. The more you buy the lower the price. Select your item above and order today.
Buyer Be Ware.


You're where?


Monday, November 10, 2008

French Broad Friday

Hey Clay Clubbers!

It'll be worth coming down the mountain for French Broad Friday in Marshall this Friday the 14th. It's going to be out best yet with an Artist Market, featuring visiting artists from surrounding counties, live music at your choice of three fabulous restaurants, open studios, fire dance, modern dance performance, and a bad-ass hip-hop dance late into the night. I'd love to show you the new kiln and studio. Plenty of food, music and art for you, your family and friends. Hope to see y'all!

visit the blog for a complete listing of events