Part 2

In Which I Become Peeved with Porcelain...

It is, as I write this, early 1998. A whole lot of clay has gone under the bridge since I wrote the first section. To make a long story short, I built myself a wheel, and started practicing with it. By that time, my wife and I had gotten divorced, and eventually she sold the house we’d been living in, so I had to move. The place I went to was so small that I had to leave the wheel outside, and by the end of October, 1996, it was too cold -- I was unable to deal.

I asked Larry whether I could put my wheel over at the pottery, and he was kind enough to say yes. That’s where it has been ever since, and that’s where I’ve been doing almost all of my work, until (as I write this) last week, when I started taking an Advanced Wheelthrowing course with Pat Colyar, at Seward Park Art Studio. But more about that later. (As I write this, it has only just begun, and all I can tell you is that Pat is wonderful.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: I made a bowl, a nice blue bowl, which I wanted to give to Carol Erickson (long story). I put it in a cardboard box, and sat it momentarily on top of a wastebasket in my office. It wasn’t balanced, and it fell. About 18 inches. Onto a carpet. It should, in my humble opinion, have bounced, but it didn’t -- it smashed.

I was very upset. By that point I had already tried to find throwing porcelain that was white and translucent, and had failed miserably. (Seems I didn’t do my homework very thoroughly. Laguna, for example, seems to offer three such formulations; mind you, I don’t know how good they are -- haven’t tried them.) In any case, when that bowl broke it crystallized my resolve, and I set out to make my own porcelain.

I’m not going to finish this until the patent application goes in, which will (as I write) be some time next week unless something goes wrong. For the moment, suffice it to say that I’ve had an absolutely indecent amount of fun playing in the mud, and if you want to see how it worked out try this:

(You can click on the small image if you want to see a larger version.)

Some Months Later

It is now mid-September, 1998. My patent application is in, and within a year I expect to hear something about its progress. (Takes a while -- I expect they get lots of applications.) I’m thinking about where I can get the money to make applications overseas (as it were). I’ve already pointed you at a photo of a piece of recent work, so I won’t repeat that one, but I hope that I’ll soon be able to show you some other recent pieces, if you care to see them.

In the meanwhile, I’ve taken several quarters of classes at Seward Park. The last was with Drew Daly, and the others with Pat Colyar. I can wholeheartedly recommend both of them.

I’ve also worked up some variant versions of the porcelain. I’ve got a not-so-translucent one that I make with kaolin from Georgia. It gives me very nice light blues and turquoises with the rutile blue glaze I’ve been developing. (See this page for some examples of the rutile blue, including one bowl made with the Georgia mix.)

I’ve also got a flameproof ...well, it isn’t really porcelain, but I don’t know what else to call it. (“Pseudoporcelain” sounds too stuffy.) You can take a piece of this stuff and point a propane torch at it, and all it does is commence to glow where the flame hits it. No cracking, no funny "Plink!" noises. The problem is that it has such a low coefficient of thermal expansion that I’ve been unable, so far, to devise a glaze that will fit it.

Speaking of glazes, I’ve had to develop a couple. Even my ordinary translucent porcelain seems to have a relatively low expansion coefficient, and I’ve worked up a plain-vanilla gloss clear for it. Took me quite a while. (This is the glaze on the “fun playing in the mud” pieces.)

With the one exception of the photo of those pieces, by the way, which I took myself, all of the photos on this page (and probably on the pages that I link to from this page) were taken by Rick May with an Epson digital camera. Photos on other pages in this section are credited there.

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Last modified: Sun Sep 25 02:14:00 EDT 2005