I love to pass along information to others – it’s just who I am. I plan to use this section on my website for that purpose. I’ll update it periodically.
- Equipment and Tools I couldn’t live without
Although I’ve been working with pottery since the 1980’s, I never had my own pottery studio which I’ve been slowly building up. In my opinion, it always pays to spend a few extra dollars on the better, well made tools and equipment than getting knock-offs. Here’s the start of my list of tools and equipment I couldn’t live without:
- Northstar Portable Slab Roller – All of my work involves using a slab roller whether it’s my jewelry or spoon rests or bowls. I usually only use the widths of ⅛” to ⅜”, but it has a wide range. Another advantage if you have a hard time getting the air bubbles out of your clay is to use a slab roller to begin the process.
- Shimpo Banding Wheel – you can use this for creating your pottery along with glazing your pottery. Simple to keep clean.
- MKM Tools Hand Rollers – All of my work incorporates some sort of texture. I enjoy using these hand rollers because of their consistency when pressure is applied. They come in various sizes and designs. I also use wooden rolling pins with patterns and fondant rolling pins but the hand rollers give me better control.
- Ateco cookie cutters – I use a variety of these high quality cookie cutters for my jewelry pieces along with my ornaments. They render a nice cut in the porcelain.
- MudTools sponges and ribs – To reduce the chance of having air bubbles, it’s important to compress the clay. MudTools makes great sponges which don’t deteriorate after many uses and their ribs allow me to smooth out the slabs.
- Mayco Fan Brushes – In order to get an even application of glazes, I use various sizes of Mayco’s fan brushes (mostly #2 and #4). They are soft and I can get a good amount of glaze loaded onto the brush. Combined with using my banding wheel, I am able to spin my work and keep the brush in one place in order to get a consistent application. The main point with my brushes – use good quality brushes and they will last.
- Favorite Clays
Nara Porcelain (Aardvark) – For my porcelain jewelry, wind chimes, magnets, and ornaments, I use Nara porcelain. It’s a very workable clay, for a porcelain. In the event I use it for my bowls, I can be assured it will be food safe. As far as clay is concerned, this is fairly expensive clay, but since I use it for my smaller work, I’m not using a lot at any one time.
B-Mix, cone 5, no grog (Aardvark) – For my stoneware, I prefer this clay body as it’s predictable and malleable. It’s not very expensive and is generally readily available despite supply chain issues.
- Favorite Glazes
Amaco Glazes – I love the Amaco celadons along with their potter’s choice line and creating different combinations. One of my favorite combinations is using the Obsidian or Iron celadon as a base and layering Blue Rutile on top. Another one which I tested is River Rock and Blue Rutile. In fact, anything with Blue Rutile, when applied thick is one of my favorites.
Mayco Glazes – I have used Mayco’s line of their stoneware gloss for single color white, red, and blue which fire true to their colors at cone 6 through 10 – even the reds in both oxidation and reduction kilns. I have started to experiment with their stoneware crystal glazes and really enjoy the Blue Hydrangea and Night Moth combination along with Enchanted Forest and Blue Surf.
My current firing for both the Amaco and Mayco glazes involves using a one hour preheat along with a fast cone 5 with a ten-minute hold – even if I know my work is dry. I use a one hour preheat even when I bisque fire.
I have found many people in the arts community very willing to share their knowledge whether it’s in person at a show or on YouTube. To that end, here’s a few people and organizations to follow:
- Heather Boyd – Heather is a working artist who makes custom wire jewelry and wedding cake toppers and somehow has the time to create fabulous YouTube videos on making wire art. I have learned how to use my tools more efficiently. She also has an active Facebook group where you can get feedback on your work after being admitted. Check her out at: www.heatherboydwire.com and https://www.youtube.com/c/HeatherBoydWire
- Marie at Pottery Crafters – Marie’s goal is to impart her wisdom as a teacher of pottery. Marie has a very soothing voice on her YouTube videos and provides some excellent information pertaining to clay, equipment, and techniques when working with your pottery. Check her out at: www.potterycrafters.com and https://www.youtube.com/c/PotteryCrafters
- Julie Gilbert Jewelry – Julie is a local artisan who was willing to answer many questions I had regarding setting up my booth and sources to purchase display items and tools, etc. Julie is a professional artist who has her work in different galleries. www.JulieGilbertJewelry.com
- AZ Clay Association – Become a member of the AZ Clay Association. This is a welcoming group of clay artisans who are willing to share information to their members. It costs very little to be a member and you get to participate in monthly meetings to learn different ways to work with your clay. www.ArizonaClay.net