Tuesday, September 01, 2009

a strange thing happened

Yesterday I pulled a handle on a small sauce bowl. I thought it was one of the best I've done--I'm still trying to accomplish this basic task! I covered it, loosely with a soft cloth and then with laundry-bag plastic to ensure slow drying. This morning when I uncovered the pot I found that the handle had broken in two. Not at one of the attachment points--they were in good shape--but about three-quarters of the way down the handle. The upper portion looked like it had sprung up away from the lower section. Wish I had taken a photo before I cut the two pieces off the the still leather hard pot. This is an approximate positioning of the two pieces but in reality the upper part had more of an upward spring.

The line I drew on the table is an outline of the side of the bowl. You get a sense of the 'spring' of the upper portion.
The break is slightly ragged but you could match the pieces for a perfect repair--but not while attached to the pot! The pot is still moist enough to attach a new handle....which I will now do!

12 comments:

Dirt-Kicker Pottery said...

Well it could have been cause by several things. The pot may have been too dry when you attached the handle. The weight of the cloth you put on it may have been too much. Maybe you didn't create a good enough bond when attaching. Slip with a drop of vinegar is great. Bettery luck next time :)

Dirt-Kicker Pottery said...

Opps, sorry I didn't read you blog very well before I commented. Wow, that's weird that it broke in the mid-section.

brandon phillips said...

the curve of the handle does put the clay "under tension" sometimes. i've had this happen when there was too much water in the handle(took too long while pulling.) the water can crack the clay and the tension will pull the handle apart. doesn't happen too often though...

Sister Creek Potter said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Brandon. It makes sense--it looked like a lot of tension was needed to make that break. But I'd never seen anything like that nor had it happen before==but as I said, I'm still struggling with pulling handles. I thought that because it was wet and under cover that would be the last thing to worry about! Now I can another thing to my worry list. Just what I needed!

brandon phillips said...

it could've been too thin in combination with too much water...the clay body could be on the short side(non-plastic) or it could've just been a fluke. tension is a good thing, it's what keeps the shape nice. instead of just thick or thin think about varying the shape from thick in the center to thinner at the edges. this will give you the thin look that i think you like with more structure in the handle.

what clay are you using? i'm not much of a fan of armadillo's clays, though i know options are limited...when my students do handles i have them make a couple of cylinders and do dozens of handles in one sitting for practice...maybe give it a shot!

Sister Creek Potter said...

Brandon, I use BlackJack clay from East Texas. Are you familliar with that clay? It is a ^6 - ^10. Which means it is not quite vitrified at ^6..but that is what I use. I like working with that clay and I have an emotional connection to it!! I should accept your challenge of doing dozens of handles--I'll give it a try! Gosh, there is so much to test, test, test!

brandon phillips said...

i bought 2000# of blackjack about 6 years ago($200!!!)...i stopped because i had cracking issues when i attached things. the clay wasn't necessarily at fault, i just don't like to baby it, you know-plastic and slow drying and all that, it's just not my thing. that clay throws like magic though! i can definitely see having that problem with blackjack...maybe just avoid getting the handle too thin and you'll be ok.

Sister Creek Potter said...

That is interesting to know. I do slow dry everything--under a light cloth and plastic! Don't know what made me start doing that--I do remember once having some problem that someone told me to dry more slowly. I've done it ever since. Maybe you told me to do that! I have an awful memory.
Yes, I do like the clay and will continue to use it. I, too, bought a huge supply and I may die before I use it all up!

traceybroome@mindspring.com said...

Hi Gay: I was your post on Brandon's blog. Don't know if you have access to Highwater Clay, but some of the folks at Claymakers use little loafers a lot and like it. If you want a good hand building white clay they have white sculpture clay that I like a lot and I throw with it, it has some grog, but not too gritty. You can see them at Highwater's website

jimgottuso said...

hi gay, saw your comment on brandon's blog about a good ^6 white clay... laguna's is good and matt and daves clays is supposed to be to, i just got some of theirs. if you're interested i can look up the exact number to identify the laguna one.

Linda Starr said...

Gay, I was wondering why you use a cloth and plastic to dry pieces, why not just the plastic? I dry stuff slowly and never use a cloth just the plastic. At first I tuck the plastic underneath the bat and as it dries I start to open the plastic on the sides, then I just keep it loosely covered. For Cone 5/6 I've used B-Mix 5 (white stoneware) from Laguna and Nara 5 (porcelain), and SRFG (red stoneware) from Aardvark Clay in LA. I also use Cassius Basaltic (Aardvark) which fires ebony black, but should only be fired to cone 4 and can be subject to dunting. I like all of these clays but I am a clay nut for different clay bodies.

Sister Creek Potter said...

I imagine that the cloth promotes more even drying--and prevents the formation of condensation forming and dripping on the ware. I like that and think it works well....
When I first got into pottery--just a few years ago--I was using all kinds of clay--lots of experimenting. But since I committed to the BlackJack clay (from east Texas) i have only that one clay in use in the studio. It makes life simpler for me.