TriCity Potters and the Arts Centre and Theatre (ACT) are sponsoring a workshop entitled “That Special Place: Hand Building Houses.” The two-day workshop ($78.75), led by Susan Delatour LePoidevin, takes place Saturday, April 12th, and Sunday, April 13th, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the 3D studio at the ACT, 11944 Haney Place, Maple Ridge B.C. Overnight billeting in Maple Ridge is available upon request (write to TriCity Potters at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information). Call (604) 465-2470 to register or to get more information.
Bead rack made of insulated kiln brick
Thanks to some good advice, I made a sturdy bead rack for glaze firing. Sadly, the Amaco Bead Tree I bought was problematic at best, so I desperately needed another solution. An alternative was suggested by Dan Severance, pottery guru and ceramics tech at the Port Moody Arts Centre. I’ve taken his advice a step further, customizing it to my needs precisely.
How to make a Kiln Bead Rack
Materials: an N95 face mask, safety glasses, work gloves, one insulated kiln brick (the lightweight kind), a rip saw or hack saw, a ruler, a pencil, narrow chisel or flat blade screw driver, hammer, and short lengths of 11 gauge nichrome wire.
Your basically going to cut a valley in the brick lengthwise. Dan suggested I make a ‘V’ shaped cut, which I will do with another brick, but for my purposes today, I made a ‘U’ shaped cut.
- Set up a work station outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Use a sturdy table or flat surface. Place brick on its side lengthwise.
- Determine the width of your ‘U’ shape. Allow for adequate clearance on either side for the bead or pendant you are making. I decided on 7/8″.
- Draw two lines the length of your brick, keeping the area you’re going to cut out centred. The two walls of my ‘U’ turned out about 6/8″ wide.
- Determine the depth of your cut. My ‘U’ is about 3 1/2″ deep, leaving about a 1″ base.
- Put on your safety gear: mask, glasses, gloves.
- Using a rip or hacksaw, start making an even cut down through one of the cut lines you made. A rip saw cuts one way: pull it through the brick as you saw, move it back and start again. A hack saw works both ways: use even pressure and saw back and forth.
- Saw evenly through the length of both cut lines.
- Set aside your saw, then turn the brick over and shake the dust out of the cuts.
- Using either a chisel or flat blade screwdriver, carefully chisel out the middle part of the ‘U’, starting from the ends and working inward.
- After chiseling and removing debris from the ‘U’, stand it on end and do some ‘clean up’ of the bottom of the ‘U’ with the screw driver or chisel, making a flat surface on the bottom.
- Put your tools away and turn the brick over and shake out the dust.
- Measure out the lines indicating where the wire will sit on the top of your rack. I measured even lines about 3/4″ apart the length of the brick.
- Take your saw and cut crosswise over your ‘U’ to make indentations on either side of the ‘U’. I made mine about 1/8″ deep.
- Put your saw away.
- Gently widen the grooves with a nail by carefully raking it through the groove.
- Take nichrome wire and cut lengths to fit in the grooves. I cut my wire in lengths of about 2″. If you want, bend the wire into a very slight ‘V’. This will ensure your bead or pendant remains in place while firing.
- Test the wires out…place across the ‘U’ to see if they fit snugly. Adjust groove to fit your needs.
- Voila! Be careful with the insulated brick; it’s slightly fragile but makes a great bead rack that doesn’t take up too much kiln space.
DIY Bead Rack, end shot
Horsehair Vase Judge’s Special Award Mashiko 2006 Swanica Ligtenberg.
“Horsehair Raku Technique: taking out of the kiln at 1350F and putting horsehair on the pot which burns into it. Putting the pot on a tissue will give smoke effects on the pot. The yellowish color is from spraying ferric chloride on the put while it is hot.”
By Swanica via Wikimedia Commons
You know how you feel when something exciting is about to happen? Well, I can barely contain myself! I am taking part in a raku workshop this weekend. It is being taught by Dan Severance, of the Port Moody Arts Centre. A pro with much experience, Dan is also fun to be around. He’s perfected his techniques over the years and I know this all-day workshop will be terrific. We’ll be learning special raku techniques using horse hair and feathers, along with ordinary methods. I’ve worked with raku since the early 1980s but have yet to learn these advanced techniques. It’s perfect timing, as I’m going to start concentrating on raku.
Raku pottery coming out of the kiln. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
A vase glazed and fired using the Western Raku technique, showing the soot, crackle glazing, and random oxidation typical of this pottery form. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
I like the primitive nature of a raku firing…red hot pieces lifted from a kiln and plunged into organic matter. Crackle glazes and smoky blacks. It makes me reflect on the history of raku, on the Japanese and Koreans artisans who have fired pottery this way for centuries. One reason I’m stoked is because, while I’ve used traditional raku glazes on sculptures and vessels, I’ve yet to use the metallic oxides which result in beautiful coloration and patterns. So think of us this weekend. We’ll be working inside a gorgeous two-storey Arts and Crafts-style building, then firing outside alongside it. We’re enjoying a gorgeous fall here in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Perfect for a raku firing: sunny yet crisp.
Raku fired ball. JeroenPascal from the Netherlands via Wikimedia Commons
Jacques Huther during a raku session. Niouz via Wikimedia Commons
Pottery fair in Beroun in 2011, Czech Republic. By Juandev via Wikimedia Commons
Horsehair Vase Judge’s Special Award Mashiko, 2006. By Swanica Ligtenberg; work and image; via Creative Commons
Ceramic vase boule, turquoise. By Isabelle Milliot (Own work) via Creative Commons
Figure seen in profile, Japanese style. By Isabelle Milliot (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
By Ogata Kenzan – Incense Box, 1663-1743. Walters Art Museum via Wikimedia Commons