The New Year is a great reminder to reflect on the past year and set goals for the year to come. Inherent in the ceramic arts is the need for constant improvement. While setting resolutions for our personal lives we should not forget to set goals for improvement in our studio practices.
1. Find Time for Testing
Too often we get held up by getting stuff done and miss out on all the exploration that is so important to our craft. Set a goal to try a new form, play with a new technique or freshen up your glaze pallet with some new color editions. Mason Stains are a great way to play with color. If you’re not into formulating your own glazes but just can’t find what you're looking for, there are several glaze lines from Amaco that are mixable. Our favorites are the Cone 5-6 Celadons and Satin Matts.
2. Reduce Your Reclaim
Improve your clay recycling process or vow to make less waste. We’ve all done it - let the reclaim build into an impenetrable mountain of doom. Try to make less waste by using only what you need. Repurpose slab scraps into feet using the GR Pottery Forms Footmaker, or turn them into small decorative tiles or tests. Save your throwing slurry for a customized joining slip, and wedge all disasters on the spot. Working reclaim practices into each day will minimize cumulative time spent on this least favorite studio chore.
3. Shop & Stock Smarter
Time is money and let's face it: we could all use a little more of both. As you reflect on the past year, take a look over your past purchases to see if you can save. Clay and materials have a tiered pricing structure - which means the more you buy at once the less you pay per pound. If you’re buying over 50 pounds of a material in a year but you’re buying it in 5 to 10 pound increments, you're wasting trips, shipping costs and missing out on bulk discounts. If you’re buying the same pints of glaze over and over, ask if they are available in a larger quantity.
4. Take Better Notes
With the infinite number of variables involved in working with clay, note-taking is incredibly important to understanding and recreating results. If keeping a notebook isn’t working, try a whiteboard. You can make notes quickly and take a picture for instant digital records. New technology is taking the ceramics world by storm, forget that dusty old kiln log with chicken scratch and check out the many options for digital kiln records and mobile controls. Our preferred digital mobile kiln data keeper is Evenheat's new Tap Controller.
This year we will continue to provide the best service possible to our customers while improving our processes to increase efficiency. We will continue our pursuit of the best tools the ceramic world has to offer, and provide excellent educational experiences for our community.
Check out these tools for experimenting with new forms and glazes:
Clockwise from top left:
1. The LidMaster is a great tool for playing with lidded forms but can be used as a regular set of calipers when needed
3. Use the Talisman Text Sieve to sieve glaze tests to make your test mixtures more accurate
5. These oval shaped drape molds are the newest forms available for GR Pottery Forms. The make great serving trays and desert plates
6. The GR Pottery Forms Foot Maker is a great tool for repurposing left over slab scraps into coil like feet for pots