Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Lazy Potter

I will admit that deep down inside, I can be a lazy potter. Especially when it comes to glazing. It took me some time to realize that shortcuts usually don't work and in the end cause frustration and then extra work.

Now I tell myself, "Do it right the first time!".

I used to try and glaze everything in a five gallon bucket. The thought of pouring the glaze into another container, then pouring it back in, cleaning the container, made the lazy side of me say, "I think this plate will fit in the bucket". I can guarantee you that 9 times out of 10 it didn't! Either the glaze wasn't deep enough to cover the piece, or it scraped against the sides, creating a mess.

That's when the frustration kicked in.
Then the extra work of trying fix the glaze or washing it all off.

My other cop-out for large pieces was, "It's going to be shino". Why shino? Because we mix shino in a large trash can... you can glaze almost anything in there!
I have nothing against shino (I actually love it very much) but not every plate or large bowl I make is suited for it.

So I have learned to embrace the pouring out the glaze into a proper container, dipping pots without stress, and cleaning the container afterwards.

Over the years we have collected a variety of big bowls and tubs to pour glaze into, to accommodate different sizes and shapes of pots. My favorite for plates is the big plastic bowl in the top photo.  A great place to find big plastic containers is at an Asian market. The Korean's make kimchee in big quantities, therefore you will usually find a good assortment there.

Glazing day this week went quickly. Two colors, nuka and celadon. I fought my lazy side and there were no catastrophes.

This is what's happening outside. No matter how long I live in North Carolina, flowers in winter will never cease to amaze me!


  1. I think the plastic secondary containers work well because they are easy to clean, I brush all my glazes and pour them into separate glass bowls and wonder and worry about how much glaze I am wasting with the cleaning. One of these days I remember when I was at the college we have two paint stirrer sticks we'd place over a bowl or dishpan shaped plastic container and let the piece drain right there before moving it.

  2. leave off one of these days, was another thought.

  3. A good tip for glazing things of different sizes is to use flexible rubber feed pans for livestock. They come in all sizes up to huge and are made from flexible industrial rubber that is easy to clean or can flex into a spout for easy pouring back into buckets. Something from the farm that works well for clay even though most of us potters wouldn't usually think of it. Funnel pitchers are another must have tool. Worth their weight in gold in the glaze room.

  4. Hey Seth, thanks for the feed pan tip. I will have to look into those.

    1. I learned about the feedpans as a studio assistant for a crafty old potter. The brand of pans here in California is called Little Giant.

  5. I believe you were the fly on the wall in my Tuesday class as I explained how to do this to my students. I'm sharing this with them right now.

  6. I have warped buckets for an eXtra inch or two...rubber feed pan sounds like a winner.
    My friend in NH Dave Ernster made an oval glaze trough out of clay walls on a table lined with one mil plastic. Any size you need.

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  8. when faced with the choice of doing it right or doing it fast, choose right, it's faster.


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