Frequently Asked Questions About Our Pottery

 

We are happy to answer any questions you may have about our pottery. A few commonly asked questions are below for your convenience.

Do you accept custom orders?

I do a lot of custom work- give me a call and tell me about your project.

How long will it take?
 

This will vary, depending on the project and my current work load. If you are considering a custom gift or other project, then please allow as much time as possible. I usually work alone, or possibly, with one part time helper.

Are your dishes oven safe?

     My functional pieces are microwave, dishwasher, and oven safe.  They are food safe and contain no lead.  Large dinner plates should be used in the microwave with care.  The food should be distributed over the entire surface of the plate, otherwise, they will be heated unevenly, and the thermal shock might crack them.  Tea pots, are not tea kettles… Heated water is poured into the seasoned pot (warmed with a small amount of hot water) to brew the tea, but they should not be set on the eye of a stove.

Do you teach pottery lessons?
     

Not currently, I think that someday in the future, I might start a small program – probably in a workshop format.  Please sign up for my pottery email list - that will keep you posted and updated on various events and happenings here at the Pottery.  Your local Arts Center (Anderson, Clemson) usually offer pottery classes.

Do you allow field trips?

I welcome field trips, and I would be glad to give studio tours and short demonstrations.  Please contact me to find a time that is convenient for both of us.

Where do you get your clay?

Clay makes up a large portion of the earth’s crust- it is the final product in the erosion process of rock.  I get my clay from a supply company in N. Carolina.  It is mixed, de-aired, moistened, and ready to go.  They offer many different clay bodies, depending upon the type and size of work you choose to do.

What is the pottery process?

Clay is worked with many different techniques and processes, but the most common and popular is the potter’s wheel.   The following is a simplified outline of the process followed to create and finish a single piece of pottery:

  1. A pot is “thrown” on the wheel and then allowed to dry for a day or two until it becomes “leather hard”. 
  2. The piece is inverted onto the wheel and the extra clay is trimmed from the base and a foot is trimmed into the bottom of the pot. 
  3. It is at this stage of drying that pieces are assembled or joined together.  For example, teapot spouts and handles are joined to the pot during this leather hard stage. 
  4. After the piece is assembled- it is held under plastic and dried very slowly over a period of several days.   Once the pot is totally dry and has changed color, it is called “bone dry”.   It is now at its most fragile and is ready to be carefully loaded into the kiln.  
  5. The first firing is called the bisque – and it’s temperature is approximately 1800 degrees F. The firing and cooling must be done slowly to avoid cracking the piece – so normally the piece is in the kiln for 2 days during this process.
  6. The bisque pot is now fairly strong but still very porous and is now ready to be glazed. Glazes are a combination of different ground minerals, clays and oxides.  I mix my own glazes, some of which have as many as 12 different ingredients.  The glaze is the finished glass coating, the color, on the surface of the pot.  The raw glaze (unfired) is usually a dull gray color, and it is impossible to tell the final color from the appearance of the raw glaze.  Glazes are applied to the pot using several techniques: brushing, dipping and spraying, are the most common.  After glazing, the pot is ready to go back into the kiln for the second time.

My glaze kiln is much larger than my bisque kilns.  It holds between 50 and 100 pieces, depending on their size.  The glaze firing is also much hotter than the bisque firing. I fire to what potters call- cone 10, which is approximately 2300 degrees.  At that temperature, the many minerals and glaze ingredients melt together to form the finished glass coating.  This high temperature also strengthens the clay, making the piece strong and durable.  The glaze firing in my car kiln takes a full 18 hours, and then has to cool for 36 hours before it is safe to open and remove the finished pieces.

The Potter's Lifestyle...

"Surrendering. Consigning with hope to the blessing of the flames, - sometimes challenging, sometimes Magical."

Rob Gentry - 2010