Monday, September 7, 2009

They're BaaAAAAck!

Well, the last few weeks have been nothing if not completely frustrating.

So here I am, custom orders on the go, wholesale orders on the go, desperately trying to stockpile work for upcoming Christmas shows, frantically trying to replace stock that has sold at summer shows. I'm busy. VERY busy. And I don't really have time for things to fall apart.

But alas. It had to be...

Remember that problem I was having a while back with my brand-spankin' new pug mill? Where my clay was corroding the inside of the mixing barrel and pesky little chunkies were making their way into my pieces?


The pugmill manufacturer recommended that I add epsom salts to my clay body. What this would do, I was assured, was change the pH of the clay which would in turn, prevent all those pesky little chunkies from forming in my pug mill. Okay. No problem. 44 grams, dissolved in hot water, added to 25 lbs wet clay. Mix, pug, throw.

No problem, right?

WRONG!!! What a complete disaster. Have a look for yourself:

Yup. Three kiln loads and counting. Ruined.

After much crying, cursing, Clayart-ing and phone calls, here is what I learned:

Too much epsom salt can cause blebbing. As a piece dries, the salts migrate to the area of the pot that is drying the fastest (the rim in most cases). During firing, the salts will turn to gas and generally burn off. However, if there is too much salt, and the clay begins to mature before all of the gases have escaped, you will end up with what I have in the photos. Lots and lots of little blisters, all over the rims of a couple of thousand dollars worth of pots. As my luck would have it, my clay manufacturer ALREADY adds epsom salts to their clay. So by adding more, I overloaded the clay.

So there you have it folks. My advice: talk to your clay manufacturer before adding ANYTHING to your clay body. No matter WHO told you to add it.

Aaaaaaand in addition to that...

Those f'ing chunkies are back, busily corroding away at my pug mill.


oh! And that would be the NEW version of the pug mill. The one with the corrosion-resistant coating.

Yup. My luck.