In my last post, I wrote about these cool Styrofoam hump molds I was making. I made some progress, but I’m still trying to perfect this process. For the first three pieces – two oblong pickle plates and one 11-inch square plate – there were some areas where the Styrofoam poked through the dried plaster when I smoothed the surface with drywall screen. I’ll have to try to patch those areas, but because it’s been a concern with each of the three molds I’ve made thus far, I’m afraid it may be more trouble than it’s worth. Perhaps the Styrofoam hump requires a thicker coat of plaster? Until I figure it all out, I still have several un-plastered Styrofoam forms to coat.

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Freshly poured plaster over Styrofoam hump molds.

I’ve also been working on some tapas or luncheon plates, each 8.25 inches in diameter. I threw eight of them a couple of weekends ago, trimmed them and – for the first time – opted to go without a foot ring. I brushed them with a white slip, and then embossed each with a handmade ginkgo-nut tree-leaf stencil.

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One of eight 8.25-inch tapas plates, ready to trim.
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Marking my territory.
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White slip and gingko leaves – a winning combo.

Last weekend, I threw two 9-inch plates, which I’ll trim this weekend with a foot ring. I’ll likely make more of these so that I have a complete set at some point, and then throw some dinner plates to 12 inches to match.

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Two matching 9-inch luncheon plates.

Today I will make some test tiles from Laguna 900 and B-Mix for a matte-grey glaze that I made last year using hardwood ash. I will test them in both reduction (firing to Cone 10) and oxidation (firing to Cone 6). If they turn out the way I hope they will, I will use this glaze, layered over another, on my plates. Oh, what fun I am having!

I’d also like to test a clear glaze over the underglaze test tiles I made just before the holidays last year, which Anny Unbehaun so kindly bisqued last Sunday before she moved out of her studio at the Red Barn Pottery. Her hike to Williamston from Ann Arbor just got to be too much for her. We’re going to miss her.

I’ve also made good progress on my basement studio but still have a long way to go. Last Sunday, with Dane’s help and muscle, we fashioned a wedging table from our daughter’s old dining table, half-inch Hardie Backer board and a partial tube of Goop.

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My new wedging table. Choice!

We continue to haul old junk out of the basement. There’s a lot of unhealthy dust down there – not in my studio space, which I’ve carefully cleaned. I am being extra-careful not to disturb it without wearing a P100-grade respirator. My old 3M respirator was too big for my head, so I replaced it with a size-small 3M, which not only fits better but is far more comfortable.

Slowly but surely, I am getting the basement converted into an artists’ studio so that my son can also move down there and set up a space to paint. Unfortunately, the process is moving more slowly than not, because after putting in a hard week at my day job, I’m exhausted and just want to relax by throwing or hand-building clay.

This weekend, Dane and I will finally move my Skutt kiln out of our home office into my studio. I purchased it on New Year’s Day last year, so it’s been sitting up there, hogging up office space for 13 months. I don’t know if I’ll even remember how to reassemble it, but it needs to happen. I just hope our backs hold up to the weight of each part, especially the lid. Well, we moved it from the original owner’s home, then from my car to the office. Guh! Why didn’t we just move it all the way into the basement, right?

And, as soon as I finish clearing out this large area next to my wheel, we’ll have a general contractor come out and install approximately four to six more electrical wall outlets and my heavy-duty commercial-grade air-ventilation system. This should greatly mitigate the presence of particulate matter in the air and studio, which is quite unhealthy but otherwise inherent to a clay studio. I want to make sure the air we breathe at home is clean and safe.

Finally, I was going to purchase The Cink for my studio. The lowest retail price that I’ve seen for it is $2,195 from Diamond Core Tools. While I do plan to invest in my studio to make my work space as efficient and enjoyable as possible, I’m concerned about The Cink’s inability to emit both cold and hot water. That’ll be problematic for me during the winter months.

I got to talking to my boss about this the other day (where clay play helps me maintain my sanity, fixing up his house helps him relax). He suggested I buy a utility sink, tap into my home’s hot- and cold-water lines, add a clay sink trap kit and drain the filtered water through my sump pump – all of which would save me hundreds of dollars.

I’ll have to read more about all the different clay traps here:


Published by Lolo Robison

Crackin’ Crow Pottery is a Greater Lansing clay studio owned and operated by ceramic artist Lolo Robison. What’s a crackin’ crow? Simply put, it is an alliterative translation of “good crow.”

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