Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Splash Pan Revival

My wheel is an old Shimpo RK-2 with it's original splash pan.  The splash pan is 2 parts, one of which creates a little shelf behind the wheel.  I LOVE this splash pan.  Unfortunately, they don't make them anymore.

As happens with plastic, age has caused my pan to become brittle and it has broken in various places, including some sizeable holes.

I've tried other splash pans and I just don't like them.  And I've done my best to track down someone who sells my old pan or something similar and I just haven't found it.

So about 5 years ago, I covered the whole thing with duct tape.  Just made an entire shell of a pan created by duct tape.  This worked pretty well, except that over the years, the tape has puckerd and gotten air behind it so it wasn't tight to the plastic itself.  So as I'd scrape the pan to get out trimmings and such, I would peel up a little bit of tape and it would contaminate the clay so I couldn't recycle it and it gave me all these little spots that were hard to clean.

Yeah, not good.

So I took all of the tape off so I could do a new layer.  I figured every 5 years was a good amount of time between maintenance and it needed to be done.

So it took some time but I finally got all of the tape off.  Then I retaped over the holes and cracks using very long strips that went over both edges of the pan.  The goal was to create as few ends for my cleaning spatula to catch on as possible.

Fortunately, I had to make a trip to the hardware store for another reason before I had the chance to cover the entire pan with duct tape.  While I was there, I asked on a lark if they had some sort of sprayable plastic.  My goal being to create an even layer of plastic over the entire pan and tape.  I figured this way I could scrape against it when cleaning and all would be good.

To my shock, they actually had such a product!  It's that rubber stuff that you dip the handles of tools into.  It's designed to create a nice grip on a tool handle as well as to mark your tools with a specific color so they don't go home with someone else.  And they make an aerosol version of this product!

So I sprayed it over my entire pan which was partially covered in the duct tape.  I found that it tended to pucker the tape edges a little bit, but then I sprayed it on thicker around those puckers and pretty much sealed them.  I used the entire can for my 2 pieces of pan in about 3 layers. 

After it dried (about a day), I put some of my slop over the seam of the tape and let it dry.  Then I scraped part of it off with my spatula and scrubbed another portion off with just a sponge and water.  It cleaned up great!  And not a bit of the rubber stuff came off to contaminate the clay!!

I now have a splash pan that works really well and is easy to clean.  So if you're looking for a way to extend the life of a plastic item that is hitting the brittle stage, this is a method that seems to be working for me.  Just make sure you spray the stuff outside because it is a classically toxic aerosol product.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I've been neglecting you

Hi everyone,

Sorry I haven't been around much lately.  This next paragraph may have a little TMI so feel free to skip it if you're not in the mood for my self indulgent ramblings - I'll mark the pottery topics when I get there so it's easy to find.

Most of March was spent doing an IVF attempt.  So I've been shot full of hormones that had me logey and moody and I couldn't really put together the concentration enough to form sentences.  Unfortunately, I had a bad hormone surge at the last minute so the attempt had to be stopped right at the zero hour.  There's a chance we were able to recover the attempt naturally so hopefully I'll have a whole new announcement posted here in 3 months, but the chances are pretty slim.  So that's why I've been so neglectful.


I've spent a whole lotta time in the past making standard bowls and mugs but lately I've been moving on to more complicated items.  I think I've been doing so because I keep wanting to play with the Steve tool. 

I tend to be quite the gadget person.  If a new something comes out, I have to have it!  And then I never use it again.  This time it seems to be different.  Ever since I've gotten the Steve tool, I can't seem to put it down.  Now anything I make without texture seems really unfinished.

Well, I decided to challenge myself with a few new things.  I've been working hard making chicken roasters and so far only 1 out of 5 has survived the drying process.  We still need to see if it survives the kiln or not.  I seem to be having a problem with cracking.  Especially the lids I make for casserole dishes.  Anyone have any suggestions?  I guess I need to review those tutorials on compressing.

While we're talking about lids, I've found that I really prefer to make them right side up so I can make the knob along with the lid itself rather than attach it later.  That's probably part of the cracking problem.  A big concentration of spun clay at the center of the lid.  The problem comes with trimming off the big giant pad of clay that the lid sits on when it's being made.  When I turn it upside down, I want the weight to be spread across the body of the lid but there's that darned knob in the way.  I'm thinking of getting a big piece of foam, about 3 inches thick, and dig out the center of it and use that as a trimming pad.

So there's been some demand for garlic holders.  I've been working on making a few of those.  The shadow kind of masks the lids. Sorry about that.

And I've also been working on butter holders.  I've made one that worked out and we're using it in our kitchen.  The second one I made at the same time didn't fit once it was glazed.  That sucks.  So I have a few more waiting to be fired.

And since most of what I make tends to be under 8 inches tall, I decided to see if I could do taller.  So I made a big ole vase.

That's all for now!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bye Bye Etsy

It's official Etsy, I'm breaking up with you. All of my items have expired and I'm outta there.

I'm sorry Etsy, I tried, but it's not me, it's you. No really, it's you.

I know we never had the most involved relationship. I was there and I posted items and even sold a few. I didn't really bother you and you never bothered with me. You kind of just left me to my own devices. I was never featured. Never noticed. I was a member and yet it seemed like there was a whole other community living there that had no interest in me whatsoever. Why was I never one of the in crowd?

I liked your chat rooms, until I got bored watching people promote themselves.

I read your forums if the topic interested me. It rarely did. The admins weren't ever really heard from except to say "you're calling out, I'm shutting this thread down". Problems never really seemed to be addressed. EVER.

Problems would just go on, and on, and on with no idea of when they would be fixed. A bug here, resellers there. But anytime anyone tried to talk to you about it, they either got ignored, a form letter, or shut down for causing trouble.

I really don't understand how you can select a reseller to be featured. I would understand if it were a randomized computer program that selected the items, but the front pages were hand selected by the admins. Clearly they wanted to promote those people who would bring in the most money and mass produced items bring in a lot of money.

Isn't that kind of the opposite of your mission statement? I would understand if that was what you advertised yourself as, but it's not. You advertise yourselves as handmade and yet I can plug in just about any copyrighted fad and find plenty of mass produced items or out and out copyright violations. Copyright is a law by the way and violations are illegal.

Lately the problem seems to be that payments are going to the wrong seller. How on earth is this happening? Hypothetically, if someone wanted to buy a mug from me, how does their payment go to a jewelry artists in Zimbabwe? And the fix that you recommend is for me to talk to my customer and work out a means of payment? How can you not be taking the site down for maintenance to fix this egregious problem? And now (hypothetically) that artist in Zimbabwe has my paypal information which might enable them to clear out my bank accounts.

I could handle being ignored. I could handle a bunch of cliques that turned their noses up at me. What I can't handle is complete and utter incompetence at the single thing you're supposed to be doing for me - providing a working shopping cart for my potential customers.

I could go on. If I get started on a comprehensive list of ways that you have failed and have pissed me off, we'd be here all night.

So goodbye Etsy. I'll be at Artfire if you need me. I don't think you'll notice my absence though. But I'll be watching you implode from a safe distance, reminiscing about what could have been if only competence had been a part of your vocabulary.