Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pennsylvania Guild Fine Crafts Fair July 31-August 1 Wilmington, DE

Buy Local. Buy Handmade.
4th annual Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair is the Brandywine Valley’s largest premier show
All New: special section features emerging craftsmen
July 31 & August 1, 2010

Wilmington, DE:  Individual works of art, each created one-at-a-time by a master craftsman, are what make the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen Fine Craft Fairs unique.  And learning to become masters are seven emerging artists, new to the Pennsylvania Guild at its 4th annual Fine Craft Fair, July 31 & August 1, at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.

The Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair is open Saturday, July 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, August 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, Wilmington.   Admission is $8/adults ($1 off with coupon from or this newspaper article) and free for children under 12.  Admission proceeds are used to make this nonprofit event possible.  Members get in free! Join as a supporter of craft at today. For more information, call 717-431-8706 or visit

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

studio space

 Work by Dennis Bergevin

Anyone know of a studio space for rent please inform.I need small working area and limited shelves. contact Dennis Bergevin 412-323-0539 thanks

Dennis has found a studio space at the Father Ryan Art Center in McKees Rocks and will be moving in during September.

Hello all

Hello all,

Just wanted to say hi and looking forward to what you do with your blog.  Great profiles so far!

John Britt

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Red Clay Tile Works with Andy Anderson

The Red Clay Tile Works

Fireplace in the display room.
According to Andy, it folds up into a suitcase to take to craft shows.

Andy Anderson has been making custom tile in Pittsburgh since 1974.  Andy started the business with his wife Eileen after both finished school at University of Cincinnati, and Eileen had spent time in Europe where she was exposed to European architectural ceramic tile tradition.  

While there are not a lot of tile makers in the area, Andy is unique in that he has designed and built most of the equipment used in the making of tile.  This includes the clay mixer, pug mill, tile presses, and many smaller tools that he uses to execute his work.  Often if Andy needs something, he designs and builds it rather than buying it.  In addition to tool and machinery creation, he also has devised systems to produce a lot of work efficiently in a rather small space.  

Today I visited with Andy and recorded the main processes that he uses to make tile.  After a tour of the processes and workshop, I will show his showroom and some of his work on display there.  Contact:  75 Meade Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15202  Studio Phone:  412 734-2222.
To purchase tiles from Red Clay Tile Works go to the following:

Clay mixer and weighing system.  Mixer designed and built by Andy with approximately 150 lb. capacity.

Exhaust system for both the mixer and weighing system.  He did purchase the blower and motor.

Custom built extruder with tile die that exits onto ware boards on a skate roller.  He also uses a type of clamp to connect one ware board to the next so he does not have to stop the extruder as often.

Front of extruder with hand cutter.  He is preparing tiles for the press.

Tree mold.

Andy uses plastic wrap to enable the clay to release from the mold so he can remold instantly.

After the slab of clay is added, plastic also goes over the top of the clay.

Andy build this hand tile press that compresses the clay into the mold.  The red light is connected to a limit switch to indicate that it time to stop the pressing otherwise more force would break the plaster mold.  Through the use of the plastic wrap and careful working like above he is able to reuse the molds for many years.

Removed from the press the top layer of plastic is removed and the excess clay pulled off.

Before removing the tile from the mold, he cuts a notch in the back to enable a hanger to be used and stamps the shop's name into the clay.

He removes the clay tile from the mold,

and peels off the plastic wrap.  A slight dusting with dry clay before the plastic was applied assists in the release of the wet clay from the plastic wrap.

A homemade, adjustable cutting tool is used to trim excess clay and square up the tile.

He cuts the other side in the same fashion.  Note how clean the cut is on the side just finished.

"A trade secret" is that Andy bends the corners of the tile before laying flat which minimizes warping.  You are looking at the back of the tile.

Andy built a tile shelf holder with a hoist and wheels.  These tiles on there now are in the glazing process but he uses the same shelf boards and  holder for wet tiles.

The hoist can be rolled to the opposite wall and deposited on holders that hold 8 shelf boards.  The wall contains multiple holders and he can use the hoist to pull down 8 boards at a time for moving to the bisque kiln for loading.

One of the mold storage areas.  He has developed many molds over the years.

Bisque kiln ready to be unloaded.  He modified an 18" Skutt electric kiln with additional insulation and has built a refractory stacking system.

He mixed a refractory body and extruded the above shapes to separate and hold the tiles in the kiln.

The second row down with tiles stacked on end and separated by the dividers.  Andy uses an earthware body that yields a fired tile with 5% absorption.

The refractory piece on the left is used to support the tiles so they don't fall over.  I counted 63 bisqued 6" x 6" tiles in the 18" kiln.  The additional insulation allows him to achieve the proper bisque temperature with the high density of tiles in the kiln.
Since many of the tiles have designs in relief, he uses a multiple step process to hand glaze each piece to achieve the desired effect that he wants.  

The front of the studio has a display room with several hundred different tiles displayed.

One staple for the studio has been house numbers.  You will see Red Clay Tiles Works tiles in front of many Pittsburgh houses.

A set of 4 tables with metal legs and tile mosaics set into wood.  Andy is also a metal worker and a blacksmith with a forge, presses, and much metal working equipment.

More tiles.  RCTW also does kitchen, fireplace, and bathroom tiles with both standard and custom designs.

Border tiles and small mirrors.

Mirror - unfortunately I cut off the top of it.  These are applied to a backing and come with wire hanger.

Mirror with Southwestern motif.

Finally, a number of years ago, I hired Andy to sculpt a gargoyle that I needed for a project in Vancouver, BC.  Andy supplied the shop drawings needed for architectural approval.  Upon approval, he built the armature from Styrofoam and chicken wire and had the sculpt finished in two days.  

The fired height of the gargoyle was 5 1/2 feet and weighed about 600 pounds broken into sections.  We took the sections apart that Andy had made and cast molds from them to produce the 8 glazed gargoyles needed for the 16th floor.  See the two pictures below of the gargoyle in the bisque stage and then installed.

Bisque gargoyle.

Glazed pieces installed.  There were 8 in total.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Job: Looking for Sculpture Instructor for one evening class Fall, 2010.

The Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks is looking to find a sculpture instructor for one adult, evening class. FRAC is  a newly formed arts center owned and operated by a social service agency, Focus On Renewal.  The 26,000 sq. ft. facility offers a variety of all the arts. They have had a recent request to offer an Intro to Sculpture class.

If anyone knows of anyone who might be interested in teaching one evening a week for them throughout the semester? The semester begins the week of Sept. 13 – Dec. 11.  The range of pay is hourly from $15-25.

Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Check out their website.

Contact:  Patricia Moran,  Director, Father Ryan Arts Center of Focus on Renewal, 420 Chartiers Avenue, McKees Rocks, PA 15136  Phone: 412 771-3952  Fax:  412 771-4150

Kiln for sale

Currently at Standard Ceramic.  Contact Standard to set up an appointment to see.
Kiln Type: Downdraft
Maximum Operating Temperature: 2350 degrees F.

Loading Capacity:  21 Cubic Feet
    Interior Volume:  35 Cubic Feet
Delivered Dimensions:  97" High x 95 Long x 60" Wide
Assembled Dimensions:  132" High x 95" Long, 60" Wide
Weight:  2,800 lbs.
Lining: 6" thick x 18 lb. density, 2600 degree F. "Vacuduct" ceramic fiber lining. (Danser, Inc. "Vacuduct" is a patented/trademarked process that incorporates vacuum formed ceramic fiber inside of a steel outer shell.)
Downdraft design incorporates "Vacuduct" formed, fiber lined exhaust stack with integral positive shut off damper.

Stationary base with a vertical lifting bell that is operated by a 110 volt motorized winch.  Once the bell is in the full upright position, a safety latch engages to insure operator safety during loading and unloading .
Natural gas or propane Venturi fired burner system with redundant Robertshaw Flame Safety at each burner. Four-Burner System rated at 200,000 BTU total input.
One upper and one lower eyesight port for cone verification. Auxiliary access ports for optional oxygen analyzer, and upper and lower thermocouples.
Welded industrial structural steel assembly. This kiln and100% of it’s components are manufactured in the USA.

Price: $15,000.00, w/Mesh Heat Shield:  $16,500.00.  FOB Parkersburg, West Virginia. 

For questions and further information, write to

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Raku Workshop with Brett Thomas July 17 and 18, 2010

Ceramic Supply Pittsburgh hosted a Raku Workshop at their facility in Carnegie, PA.  Brett Thomas is an educator, artist, and the founder of MobileRaku and lives outside of Philadelphia in Haverford, PA.

Brett arrived with his trailer full of everything necessary to do the workshop, except for the bisque pots, which the participants brought.  Carla arranged for lunch and the participant fee was very reasonable.  Brett's contact information is as follows:
Email: and Telephone: (610) 585 - 4434. 

Workshop participants on Saturday were as follows:  Paula Butterfield, Malia Bennett, Bill Homan, Gwendolyn Kiste, Kim and Jason Noel, Carla Flati, Lisa Sittig, Nick Weiss, Devin Yates, and Shelly Kelly.

Brett, (Mr. STP) Nick, Malia and Kiln #1.

Beginning the glazing.

The first glaze load.  Kiln was constructed on a warehouse cart with the wooden floor removed.  

Kiln top.  Brett made ceramic buttons to hold the fiber to the expanded metal shell.

Top is on and fire is lit!  Took about 40 minutes to get to temperature (Cone 06) for the first load.  About 20 minutes per load after that.

Malia is pulling the first pots out for the reduction process.  Brett provided the lidded buckets and newspaper.

Every job needs supervisors - Carla and Kim!

The second batch being pulled.  Everyone seemed pleased with the reduction effects.

Two pots to a bucket with about 10 seconds burn time before the lid was put on.

After reduction (3 to 5 minutes), pots were quenched in water.  Some in the tub and others that were more delicate were quenched by pouring water over them when they were sitting on the grass.

Participants were cautioned to wear sensible shoes and long pants and shirt.  As you can probably guess, this is Mr. Do What I Say,  Don't Do What I Do!  We call this Brett's Hot Foot Dance.  Seriously though, no one even got singed.

It was a hot day so everyone took advantage of the shade when they could.  Fortunately, Brett also brought a shade tent.   He thought of everything.

Nick at work glazing under Brett's watchful eye.  Actually, now that I look again, he's not watching, at least not watching Nick.  Hmmm.  

Ceramic Supply's retail shop.  Thanks to Carla, Lisa, Graham Turnbull, Ceramic Supply/Standard Ceramic for putting this together and being great hosts.  Special thanks to Brett Thomas, Mr. MobileRaku.  Another session tomorrow - 10 to 3.

Day Two, Sunday.  Participants:  Diane Pontoriero, Lon Wright, Gloria Pollock, Warren Ashbrook, NoelReynolds, Paula Butterfield, Malia Bennett, Lisa Sittig (and daughter), Carla Flati, and Brett  Thomas.

Finding the shade - it was hot!


Lon, waiting.


Fruits of their labor - Malia's piece.
Another Malia piece.

All Malia's.
I am not sure, but I think these are Carla's.

Various potters' pieces, some, I know, are Lisa's.

Warren's peacock.

Thanks, Brett.