Glazes!

Pottery isn’t all reenacting scenes from Ghost – there’s a lot of math and science that goes on behind the scenes, particularly when it comes to choosing, testing, and making glazes (for those of us who make our own). But coming from a science background, I enjoy playing the mad scientist from time to time

It’s not quite the terra cotta army of Qin Shi Huang, but they’re mine to do my bidding! As long as that bidding is testing glazes! For test-tiles, ideally you want something freestanding, big enough to be able to layer a couple of glazes and see the effects, and small enough that they don’t take up too much room in the kiln. The hole is there so they can be hung on a pegboard for reference. Within those parameters, it’s up to the potter. My old studio had very ornate test tiles that were extruded, cut, stamped, and decorated. Other potters just smoosh the clay into a shape that will stand up. I like throwing mind on the wheel, because they have a unitary texture to the pieces I make, and because it’s a pretty fast process.

But even with test tiles, you sometimes can have “glaze accidents.” Sometimes they come out pretty cool, in this case I really like these touch up spots.

Introducing: Take-home pottery kits!

Hello! The changes with COVID-19 and the required shutdown of arts and crafts spaces have encouraged me to approach my business from a different angle. I have assembled take-home pottery kits for students age 5 and up, and I have a limited amount available for purchase and pickup at my ceramic studio in downtown Fredericksburg!

Each kit includes:

– 3lbs of stoneware clay
– 1 lidded palette
– a selection of underglaze “paints”
– 1 wire scoring tool
– 1 toothpick
– 1 each fine and medium paintbrushes.

Students will have access to online instructional videos showing them how to complete a variety of projects, and finished projects can be brought to the studio to be fired and glazed once completed (please allow 3 weeks after drop off to pick up fired and glazed projects). Each kit should have sufficient materials for 2-4 projects depending on each project’s size. The cost for each kit is $30 (plus tax) including firing and glazing. Attached is a photo of everything included in the kit, and some examples of the types of projects students can create. Please email badtruckpottery@gmail.com for more information and to reserve your kit. If you miss this batch, in the future, let me know if you’re interested and I’ll see what I can do!

Thank you!

The video on how to make a hollow owl can be viewed at the link below!

Making a hollow clay owl.Message me to purchase a take home clay kit.

Posted by Bad Truck Pottery on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Instructions on how to make a pinch-pot turtle:

Video instructions for making a pinch pot turtle from one of my take-home pottery kits. #potteryvideos #pottery…

Posted by Bad Truck Pottery on Friday, July 17, 2020

Instructions to make a coil-built bowl:

How to make a coil-built bowl using a take-home pottery kit available from Bad Truck Pottery #coilbuilt #coil #clay…

Posted by Bad Truck Pottery on Saturday, July 18, 2020

All clay, all the time!

Clay is a natural resource. It is abundant, but finite, and its extraction is energy intensive. That’s why I recycle my and my students’ clay scraps. Slop bucket to plaster table to wedged clay to pottery. Pug mills can do this for you, but they’re expensive machines that take up a lot of space! Below are some pictures showing the process of recycling clay. That pile of slop is the same pile I wedged into the ball in the bag, and that ball of clay in the bag is the clay I used to make the casserole dish you see.

Speaking of clay… It’s about to get real! I just unloaded 1,000lbs of clay from the back of my Ranger (the good truck) from @clayworksrva for my classes starting this week!

Empty Bowls

Have you heard of the annual Empty Bowls dinner in Fredericksburg? It’s a community fundraiser for Empowerhouse that brings together potters, volunteers, cooks, musicians, and supporters united in a common effort to end domestic violence. LibertyTown, where I used to work as their Pottery Tech, hosts an event they call “Bowl-a-Rama” beforehand, where they supply the clay and materials and then invite potters of functioning skill level to throw bowls all day! These bowls, after they’re glazed and fired, will be used as dinner bowls by guests in the fundraiser for Empowerhouse.

The kiln again did not disappoint! I have twenty beautiful bowls read to be sent on their way to Empowerhouse for their Empty Bowls dinner.

Goings on in the studio!

As a potter, it’s important to learn how to fix your equipment. In this case, I had to replace the elements of the used kiln I recently bought. 140 pins removed, 6 elements removed, 36 element tails clipped, 18 wires clipped and stripped, 24 crimps on 12 terminals, 6 elements installed, 140 pins pressed into soft brick, 1 brick repair, 4.5 hours of work, and the new elements are in!

One of my ongoing orders consists of unique mugs for a local coffee shop (Agora Downtown). These mugs were the result of my first full firing at my new studio, which was a beautiful success!

Learning about Cone Packs!

I always love seeing new cone packs lined up. To me, they look like art.

What is a cone pack, you ask? Before the advent of high temperature thermometers (called thermocouples), potters used “cones” that were specially formulated to melt at a certain temperature (technically after a certain amount of heat work, but I digress) to tell when the kiln had thoroughly heated their pots.

While some potters still use them for that purpose, even with a thermocouple it’s good practice to include cones in your firings to make sure the thermocouple is giving an accurate reading and that the kiln is heating evenly. The reason we use a “pack” of three cones is so we have one cone that melts at the desired temperature, one above, and one below, so we can tell if the kiln got too hot or just not hot enough.

New Studio Space in Downtown FXBG!

Big news, friends! I’m opening my own pottery studio here in Fredericksburg at Canal Quarter Arts! It’s been a lot of work, but it’s coming together. I’m hoping to begin offering lessons, classes, and open studio over the next few weeks, with an official grand opening with my fellow artists at Canal Quarter on first Friday, December 6th. I’m having a soft opening / open house for friends and family tomorrow, first Friday November 1st, from 2pm until 9pm at 1517 Princess Anne Street. If you’re in the area, please come by, see the new space and the progress so far, and say hello!

New display up at Bad Truck Pottery, inside Canal Quarter Arts!