As most potters know, at some point you'll experience...KILN DRAMA.
Now this doesn't always come in the same form and you must be able to diagnose many different 'elements' of trouble (punny I know).
Well my yearly dose of kiln drama occurred yesterday, at least the second half of the drama, the part where you reallllly finally get to the bottom of it.
Which is on one hand comforting, at least we know what is wrong type of feeling.
On the other hand its like 'oh, I'm a dum dum'.
It all started with a beeping, never a good sign. I opened the basement door when I woke up to check on the kiln as I always do while firing, and I hear it, beeping.
My heart drops suddenly as the whole load was pre-paid wholesale orders, approx 80ish pieces, weeks of work. I check it out and read the error code, the panel box got too hot which in turn, shut off the kiln. By the way this is a lovely feature, Skutt Kilns are top notch.
After cooling I opened the kiln and things were fine, it had reached an appropriate temperature and didn't show any damage to the load, so all good there.
Next step was to open up the panel box and check the feeder wires, that's where the drama gets good. The first 2 element connector wires were melted, melted is a term you don't really wanna hear when you have a kiln in your basement. Melting = bad.
My dad was helping and all we could figure is that the connections weren't tight enough. I mean I'm not necessarily a delicate flower and I power lifted in high school, but maybe I didn't get a good clamp on them.
I had replaced all the elements in January and that's all we could figure. I order new feeder wires and waited patiently for them to arrive.
So now to the kicker.
The parts came yesterday and I was all ready to hook everything up and have Benji clamp the connections to make sure they were super tight from man strength. I got everything out and ready to hook up and something wasn't making sense. I had ordered one element to replace because the pigtail was damaged and things weren't matching up, I called the supplier.
That's when it clicked, oooooohhhhh 'I'm an idiot'.
So turns out back in January I ordered the wrong elements for my kiln, I have a Skutt KM1227, NOT a KM 1227 PK. PK being the important letters, which stand for 'Production Kiln'. I ordered elements for a PK, which pulls more electric, which would be the reason why my wires melted. He said it was a fire hazard and I was lucky nothing else got damaged.
Here's the funny part though, if there is one.
I remember back in Jan. when ordering the elements it said PK
and I thought that stood for 'Pack'.
Oh my word, am I this blonde? Wow!!
Anywho, the guy on the phone set me straight, I had a good laugh at my expense and ordered all new CORRECT elements for the kiln.
The drama is almost over as I see it, my new elements are on their way. I'll hook them up, maybe with supervision, and get her on. I'm glad I got to the bottom of my mystery and am not beating myself up about it.
This is part of owning your own pottery biz, things will happen, you gotta roll with it.
Be upfront with customers who are waiting (thanks guys) and just laugh it off as that one time you were a dum dum, momentarily.
My mudder was a mudder. You know the episode right? (Huge Seinfeld fan) Anyway, Me and my Dad have always been pals. We are enough alike and just a tad different that we rarely disagree. Growing up in my parent's pottery biz everyone had a job. When setting up at an art show me (nicknamed buffalo back) and Dad would carry the booth components and boxes of pottery to our booth space. After we constructed the booth my Mom and little sister were in charge or setting up the pots and making it look nice. Meanwhile me and Dad would sneak off to find donuts and coffee. It was like this every time, we were the set up/tear down crew. Through this I learned how to use tools, how to pack a vehicle with more stuff than it should carry, how to be useful and get out of the way when necessary. I went to art shows with my parents from age 6 mos to 18, we went pretty much most weekends and more in the summer months. Often times traveling into other states, MD, PA, NJ and all around our state of Ohio. We would go places we had family as well like CO and FL (I'm good at long road trips lol). As a child it seemed normal because it was all I knew, now I realize it was fairly unique and a wonderful gift of perspective.
Dad, aka Pappy Jax, has come on to help me with Hillbippie Clay (he's where my hippie comes from). He definitely has a different style than me in the studio and things have to be just so, I have to remind him, "You can overthink these things" (My hubs famous line, the hillbilly side). When it comes to glazes he is a mad chemist, which is great because it isn't my strong suite. I did not go to school for pottery, I learned backwards really and in a vacuum, I know what I was taught from my mentor and how to use those specific things. She did not mix her own glazes so this is something that is intriguing and an area to improve upon for me. I'm learning so much from him!! It is extremely unique to be able to have a walking, talking encyclopedia of glaze/pottery knowledge at the ready. We just recently developed a glossy black that is amazing!! I will have it available during my next update (find out more about that here). I'll be testing a new batch of Jade green that he mixed up this week as well, always testing! The Jade green that he developed is such a lovely satin glaze, he says its one of the most complicated mixes he has done. I use it on my Coastal mugs and on my Dark Side of Oz tallies (both available during my next update).
As an artist I'm always searching for what sets me apart, what makes me unique in the midst of others. Because lets be real, there are plenty of potters out there. I feel it is just this, I grew up with clay and know it well. Since day one clay has been in my life, that's a strong bond. I have a dual perspective of pottery as well, once through the eyes of a child and one that is my present. Sometimes I wonder how I know certain things and it seems that it seeped in from my experiences when I was young. When I'm packing my tiny car for a weekend long show, it just comes natural that I would be able to fit everything. How a glaze will fit over a certain texture or how long it will be until my mugs are dry enough to handle, its just in there. I am continually surprised with this knowledge that is coming to the surface. Like a book placed high on a shelf, covered with dust, waiting to be pulled down. That book is finally being read and nurtured into a beautiful artistry through my hands and heart. I can't wait to see where it goes but I feel like I'm on the right path. Thankful to still be able to share a coffee with my Dad and discuss the planning, packing and problem solving that is owning/running your own pottery business. We'll always be linked in clay :) #mudinmyblood
Guys, I'm outta time!! Do you ever do this to yourself? Are you terrible at planning ahead and then shocked that you're out of time? Just me? It's a cycle I battle with. Since I'm the boss, sometimes I'm not as hard on myself and or I have trouble with follow through. I have unrealistic timelines and then feel like I can push things to the next day, when in fact it would have been best to do it yesterday. Yikes! It's a juggling act for sure. Currently I have a show this weekend and will be firing 2 kilns between now and Thursday. This isn't ideal and is a tad rushed. I have a wholesale order in there as well and multiple customs. But, I thrive under pressure and I think I'm creating these scenarios unconsciously to stay motivated. So to take back my time, today I made a list!! I'm not a huge list person, I love the concept and I really like making lists. I just never seem to follow them (but I'll totally buy a cool notebook to make lists on). I'm checking things off today because it is crunch time!! Do you struggle with time management? Let me know if you have any pointers to stay on track, or even, how to get ahead (Do people do that?) !! Happy Monday :)
I got this idea last winter. To make a seasonal mug with stampings that embody what the season means to me, an interpretation of how I experience the transitions of the year. Each season change is really felt when you live in the country, we are constantly preparing for the coming season. Winters are always hard and Spring is surprisingly more beautiful each year. Summers are spent working in the garden and Fall flies by with all of the harvesting/canning/and making.
Spring is one of those seasons that you grow to enjoy as you get older. With each year I am more in awe of what mother nature has up her sleeve. The crisp mornings and the first twinklings of green are so hopeful after a cold dark winter. Our hill comes alive and the leaves pop overnight it seems. The anticipation of Spring last longer than the actual time it takes to come full bloom. We are now in the thick of it and it is glorious, sunshine, blue skies and green as far as the eye can see.
This is my Limited Edition Spring mug!! I've crafted 6 of these to offer in my May Flowers Shop Drop happening here on Saturday May 26th at 11am est. Make sure to also sign up for my newsletter to get secret coupon codes. Each texture was created by a finding on our early spring walks. I stamped the item into clay, then the little stamp would get bisqued or once fired making it hard. All the mugs were thrown on the wheel, after hardening a bit I arranged the stamps to create a little scene. I really like how this batch came out!! The yellow and aqua were chosen because of their bright spring like qualities. Its like having a piece of spring captured forever in stone. Each season is different than the next and that's why these are limited, one of a kind, one of a time. They are truly a special offering and I'm so excited to see what next season has to offer.
Yarrow Leaf: We live in the middle of an old hayfield! Yarrow grows wild throughout, I've always loved the smell of the white flowers. This little leaf was picked when the plant was just starting to pop up. I love how it looks like a little tree.
Flower Buds: I took little buds that hadn't opened yet off a tree. I pressed arranged them in a pattern, pressing them into the clay. They weren't open yet but their buds created a flower looking stamp.
Grapevine: Our house was built right up from an old winery that my in laws ran for almost 20 years. The wine making has ceased but the grapes are still kicking! There are 2 acres of grapes still tended, I always love when they first start to pop. This tendril was taking from last years fruiting wood.
Honey comb: Bees are so important!! We have had 2 hives, both died unfortunately. It was so enjoyable watching them, I would say "there's one of our girls!" whenever we would see them in the garden. This stamp was made from a piece of comb from one of our hives.
Sun: It wouldn't be spring without it. Winter in Ohio is typically very very gray, we can't wait to get that sun shining again!
Stars: At night, when I look up its all I see. I love listening to the spring peepers right as the sun is going down, once its completely gone the stars start to sing.
Thank you for reading and I hope you join me right here for my MAY FLOWERS shop drop 5/26 at 11am est. And as a special thanks for visiting my first blog post in a while I'll give $10 off your order!! Use code ONTHELIST at checkout.
Shop small is a familiar phrase this season. The makers movement is growing and becoming more mainstream. Why is it important?
The things we do for love!! My husband is a trooper, the day we decided to move the kiln from old to new studio, it rained and then hailed!! Just as we were getting the last section of kiln loaded the rain started. He rode the whole way in the back of the truck hunkered down. This pic was taken going up our mile long gravel driveway, yay! As soon as we got the kiln in the basement it started to hail. Luckily all went well and it was hooked up and ready to roll, just in time. A good reminder to smile when's it rains, because at least it's not hailing, yet. 😊