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I sat at a desk for many years as part of my non-clay life, and I am a combination of very active and apparently clumsy, managing two relatively big sports-related injuries between 2006 and 2011. Added to that, I’m tall, long-waisted, and lanky, so sitting, be it (the worst) in a vehicle or (the best) at the pottery wheel, makes me feel fidgety, too tall, and like I’m being collapsed like a folding chair.
When I found studio space in 2011, I decided to buy Pacifica’s “B” leg extensions along with my GT800 pottery wheel so that I could throw standing up.
There are so many tools on the market for which to carve and texture clay that it's sometimes difficult to choose specific ones that are right for your purposes. In this article, I will show you specific tools that I love and the projects they were used for.
Kemper Tools, especially the stiff texture brushes, Pro Line trimming tools and sgrafitto tools, are my "go-tos." I have worn through a few sets because I often scrape back layers of glaze on bisqueware. I apply the glaze in the order that I need, transfer my drawing on the top dried coat, and begin scraping.
I have taken a lot of risks with different underglazes and a variety of glazes from Duncan, Laguna, Mayco, Spectrum, and Amaco, and have found these tools add texture with a light touch. They are also great for scoring greenware.
These pieces couldn't have been completed without these tools (and yes, I draw upside down).
To Vent or Not to Vent?
Recently I was asked by a fellow potter if I use a kiln vent system. I do. I use the L&L Vent-Sure Kiln Vent System and I love it!
But that got me thinking...I know plenty of professional potters that don’t use vents when they fire, even for glaze firing, and their work comes out perfectly. It’s been so long since I purchased my first kiln and the vent system. I used to have my kiln right in the studio with me – so not using a vent was out of the question. Nowadays, my kiln is in my attached garage.
So why do I continue to use a vent system? Here are three reasons:
Reason 1: Safety
The fumes that come from a firing, even a bisque firing, are not good for you to breathe in. Since my kiln is in our attached garage, it’s really important for me to make sure the fumes go outside and not back into my house.
Reason 2: Even Firing Temperature
When you use a kiln vent system, the air is pulled into the kiln and this helps to even out the temperature during a firing. The air is circulated constantly so the temperature in all areas stays within a few degrees difference. This is important for accurate firing times and final temps.