Finally, about to load a glaze firing

Unbelievable. I am finally about to run a glaze load or two. It’s been nearly a month since I did the bisque firing. Where did the time go?

VPM-9 Guts Getting Cleaned

VPM-9 Guts Getting Cleaned

Well, there was Pug Day. I had some friends over to run their scraps through the pug mill. We started about 9:30am, and I closed the studio door about 8:30pm. We estimated that we milled between 400-500lbs during the day. I had to take apart and clean the pug mill three times total. Once the day before, once when we switched from ∆6 stoneware to ∆04-06 clay, and finally when we finished. I now feel completely comfortable taking apart and cleaning a Peter Pugger VPM-9. Not sure I could do it blindfolded, but I did learn some tricks. And I have to add, the Peter Pugger worked solid, all day and turned out a lot of very nicely pugged clay. Should have photos from some of the participants soon. Initial reports on the clay have been very positive.

That took a big chunk out of the month. I finally got back in to the studio to glaze yesterday and again this evening. I forgot I had to finish mixing a nice “Mary’s Blue” glaze. I had started the mix back in June, and never got around to running through a sieve or hydrating it to the right specific gravity. So, first I screened it, using a nice 60 mesh sieve. Then I adjusted the water until I had about 1.47 specific gravity. In the past, I used a homemade float hygrometer, which was basically a plastic bottle with a 3 oz. fishing weight in it, and Sharpie markings for “working great” mixes of my favorites. That was ok for a while, then I started using a beaker and weighed 100ml of glaze. That was a mess and took some time to get the 100ml just right. It’s very accurate if the volume is correct, but it’s not quick. The most recent approach is a 100ml syringe. I found the 100g mark for water, then drew the same amount of glaze and weighed it. I found I had 147.6g of glaze. So, I checked with my hygrometer and beaker methods and was very pleased to find it confirmed. While I wouldn’t say I have a very scientific approach, I think it is close enough to make functional mixing decisions and adjustments. I found the syringe on Amazon for about $5.00 – I think it was a good buy. We’ll see how long it holds up.

In this batch of pottery are a few pieces I’m planning to submit for the “Japanesque” show at the Overland Gallery, and a few candidates for a submission to the NC Pottery Center’s annual auction. It’s fun having work in the process for which a destination is already in mind. There are a few requests in this batch, too, including a set of bowls for some disc golf friends.

And I’ve done a couple more block prints at home in my spare time. I think I also worked out a couple approaches to try printing on clay. More on that later.

So, that’s about it for July. I hope you’re having a good summer and have lots of great pottery to show for it. Cheers


4 thoughts on “Finally, about to load a glaze firing

  1. Joel, I do enjoy reading about all your clay adventures. What are the tricks you discovered about cleaning the pugmil? I had a rough time when I tried to clean the darn thing… I like silk screening on the clay with a fine mess screen so much fun. Look forward to seeing your wares in the near future.

    • Thanks Connie. The biggest trick is to put a hole in the clay in the pug end to make removing the casing easier. I put a wooden spoon handle through, then scoop out as much clay as I can. Then, I found a blue kinda-rectangular Sherrill Mud Tools rib makes the perfect scraper for cleaning out the casing, and cleaning off the mixing blades. I also used a scrubby sponge on the blades. Also, having a couple bit of wood to hold the back end of the mill at the right height when removing and replacing the casing is a big help. That about covered it. I should note also that the rib and spoon got nicked up a bit, so don’t use your favorites for this. I think by the time I cleaned it the last time, I had the process down to about 40 minutes.

      • I guess I will have to get brave in the future. What scared me was when I put everything back together, put clay it and started to mix the clay it made a popping noise. It only did it once and things have been moving along every since. Thanks for the tips…

      • Not sure about the popping noise. Did it come from the section with the clay or from the motor end? We had one distressing noise. That turned out to be a small bit of gravel in the clay. It didn’t damage the mixer, but did put a little scratch in the casing – nothing serious.

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