Saturday, January 29, 2011

Steven Hill Glaze Workshop - Results

Steven Hill Glaze Workshop - Results from workshop held at Standard Ceramic on November 19-21, 2010 "Throwing, Spraying, and Electric Firing".

A three day workshop sponsored by Standard Ceramic was conducted at Standard's facility in Carnegie, PA.  The first day was devoted to throwing demonstrations by Steven and the pieces produced were force-dried to make them ready for single firing in electric kilns

Throwing demo.

Throwing small porcelain cup.

More throwing.

Drying rim of bowl.

 Adding spout to pitcher.

 Adding handle.

Participants ready for spraying demo.  Standard constructed one spray booth for each glaze.

 Standard also provided an effective exhaust system.

 Samples of suggested glaze combinations.  Steven supplied most of the glazes but some participants brought their own.  These were Cone 6 glazes.

Steven demonstrating his glaze spraying techniques onto his greenware pitcher.

Notice the use of safety mask.

Receiving advice.

Participants at work.

Waiting in masked silence.

Participants moved from station to station, selecting their own glaze combinations.

More glazing.

Participants' ware cooling on the last day.

Pots in a different kiln.

A third kiln.  Believe there were four kilns in all.
Participant result.

Another finished pot.  Participants brought three bisque pieces each.

Feedback from participants was that they were pleased with the results, especially with glazes and techniques that many had not used before.

Learning the properties of each glaze and the thickness to apply and in what order requires attention to detail and note-taking.

 Showing a number of glaze combinations.

Bisque tiles were used under the pots to protect the shelves from runny glazes.

That green glaze sure did run.

More participants' work.

Many thanks to Steven Hill for conducting the workshop and sharing these techniques.  Also, much credit to Standard Ceramic Inc. and its employees for all the preparations required for a successful workshop.  Finally, thanks to Linda Dujmic, Carla Flati, and Lisa Sittig for photos and descriptive information.

Questions answered by Linda Dujmic, workshop participant.

What you learned by watching him throw?   I learned his throwing style.  Everyone throws differently and has their own little tricks and he wanted to show us how he achieved the effects he wanted. 

What was his purpose in having you sit and watch him throw?  I don’t really know.  I guess to give us an idea of where he was coming from.   
Was the throwing so he could generate work for spraying and that was his primary purpose?  I think he wanted to share his style with us and to generate some greenware pots to demonstrate his spraying techniques.

In general, could you describe his theory for layering glazes?  To get the effects of a gas firing. 

Why this one over another?  This is the way he liked the glazes.  He only gave us suggestions.  We were free to experiment with different glaze layering and most of us did do this.  One person even used their own glazes instead of his.   

Did he say that he tested the glazes in various combinations to see the results and that anyone replicating that would have to do the same? I don’t remember his saying this but obviously, anyone would have to experiment with different combinations of whatever glaze they used to get something that they personally liked.

When Steven was spraying, what tips did he provide for better results?  He explained how to use the spray guns and add more glaze.

What was your experience in spraying? It wasn’t difficult.   

How did you measure thickness?  It was a problem to estimate the amount of glaze needed.  You have to have a feel for when there is enough glaze on a piece and this only comes with experience.  Since we were inexperienced, we tended to get more glaze on a piece than we needed and a lot of glaze ran during the firing.  You can’t expect great results the first time, especially in a workshop environment.   

 If you had the equipment in you studio, how much would the workshop be helpful in actually doing it or would you say that you now know that it could be done but you would need to invest considerable time in learning what glaze combinations to use?  The workshop was helpful in that I was able to try a new glaze technique and as with all glaze application.  It would take some time to get comfortable enough with it to get the results that I personally wanted.  I consider the workshop a stepping stone that I can use to generate new ideas for my own style and technique.

Insurance for Artists/Craftspeople - Fractured Atlas

Insurance for Artists/Craftspeople - Fractured Atlas

When I was searching for liability insurance, I found that it was expensive.  Then I found Fractured Atlas.  

Fractured Atlas is a non-profit organization that supports the arts and creative industries.  Through its combined purchasing power, Fractured Atlas provides its members with high-quality coverage for much lower rates than would otherwise be possible.

For insurance, you will pay an initial fee to Fractured Atlas and then pay the insurance carrier yearly.  I found it to be the most affordable solution available.

Fractured Atlas provides artists with health, liability, property,  and casualty insurance via relationships with top insurance companies at very good rates.  The also assist with fiscal sponsorship, international artist visas, on-line business courses, and other discounts and services.

You can get more information via their website:

or by calling 1-888-692-7878 and ask for Emily Gray.  If you get voice mail, leave a message and number.  Usually, you will get a call back within a day.

The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council is also a member, and they may be able to also provide you with information.

Dek Ingraham
1-412 391-2060 ext. 234

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Christy Culp's Show

Some of Christy Culp's teapots.

Christy Culp is a potter who teaches ceramics at Deer Lakes High School outside of Pittsburgh.  Full of energy and enthusiasm, Christy maintains a blog at

Christy has a show at the Boulevard Gallery in Verona with an artist's reception on February 5th from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.

 Directions to Gallery:
From Pittsburgh take Butler Street to Allegheny River Blvd (11 miles).  Others use MapQuest or Google Maps.

Samples of Christy's work below.
Square Plates.




Monday, January 10, 2011

Profile: Karen Howell

Profile:  Karen Howell (Karen is now retired)

This was a commission that Karen did as a tribute to Fred Rogers.  In fact, there are similarities in personalities of Fred and Karen:  both projected a strong gentleness that was backed by a seriousness of purpose that was/is maintained over a lifetime.

Karen earned an undergraduate degree in art education at IUP during the seventies and taught in public school in the early part of her adult life.  She also went on to earn an MFA in ceramics from IUP.  Upon being laid off during a cutback at her school district, Karen set up a studio in Trafford, PA and has been an independent ceramic artist since then.  

While proficient at throwing porcelain, Karen has evolved into a tile artist and draws heavily on her drawing skills and understanding of ceramics to develop her unique look. 

Fireplace commission in progress.  (Apologize for the poor photo.)

Molds on shelving.

More molds - Karen has literally hundreds of molds produced over the years.
Bisque with mold.   

Originals are produced on moist slab rolled tiles.  Karen utilizes her considerable drawing skills to incise lines in the moist clay which helps control the flow of the glaze when molten.

Molds are filled via a slip casting process.  Karen buys a dry porcelain mix from Standard Ceramic and blunges it in the Slip-O-Matic.  She then fills the dispensing unit (square take to the left).  About half of the 150 lb. mix in the Slip-O-Matic fills the dispensing unit.

From there Karen uses a pitcher to fill the molds lined up on a nearby table.  Poured pieces dry for a day and are then released and trimmed.  Slip cast tiles are then placed on a sheet of 5/8" drywall board cut slightly smaller than the wooden ware boards on her drying carts.

Flat slab pieces are slowly dried between two sheets of 5/8" drywall board to prevent warping.  She uses a Brent slab roller.  She has sold her ram press which was used when her business did a lot of wholesaling.  At one point she had four employees now she works alone.

The production side contains three 10 cu ft Crusader Cone 10 kilns, although she fires to Cone 6.  The kilns are connected to a Fire Right controller, which has limited ramp and cool-down capabilities but helps in managing the firings.

Over the years, Karen has done a lot of her own building and repair work, crediting her father with helping to build a skill set.  He also built a number of pieces of equipment including a potter’s wheel, although she now prefers the Brent wheel.
Cat tile.  Notice the mice in the corners.  Her drawing skills allow her to bring life to animals she draws (in this case the cat not the mice).

Crow tile.  Good example of incised lines controlling the glaze flow.

More crows (notice the eyes).

Bird tile.

 Kitchen back splash.  While Karen does commissions, most of her sales are single tiles that are sold at art fairs and from her website.

Landscape over fireplace.

Another landscape.

Karen belongs to the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen and sells her work at art fairs in the Northeast US.

Contact Karen Howell at the following:  (She's friendly).

(Karen is now retired)

Karen Howell Porcelain
PO Box 7
208 Fifth Street
Trafford, PA 15085

By phone:
412.856.8933 (between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.EST)