TIME SAVERS  (There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness.")




Traditional Full Service Ceramic Shop -  This type of shop SELLS,  ceramic color product from at least 2 major color manufacturers, tools, brushes, firing, greenware, bisque, slip, equipment, and classes.  Nothing is furnished for the learning process; you must purchase tools etc. for the learning process.  Product is furnished for some structured classes.  Open at least 48 hours a week, most of the time longer. Usually accessible by yellow page or search engine. 


Contemporary Ceramic Shop - This type of shop furnishes one manufacturer’s color, brushes, glazing and firing.  The customer must purchase bisque.Glazing is done by the shop and a clear dipping glaze is used.  A fee is charged by the shop according to each shop's format.  Help is provided in some shops, others shops are not staffed for teaching.



 Build a Class Supply Box:  Every time classes are scheduled, a time saver for preparation is a basket/, box, whatever you want to call it, that will contain the following items:


No. #2 Soft Pencil, ultra fine permanent black sharpie, red pencil, fine tip water color pen,

Small hand held pencil sharpener

6 to 8 inch glazed tile & 10 well plastic palette

Emory Board

Ruler  - 6 inch plastic flexible, or tape measure

NCR Paper (carbonless paper), Clay Carbon, Graphite Paper (buy the boxes with sheets)


Basic cleaning tool and stylus

Small plastic cup containers with lids

Pop cycle Sticks or something like plastic spoons to stir product

Sanding pad of some type

Man made sponge, Natural Sponge and 2 butter tubs

Paper towels, Wax Paper, White Tissue Paper, Tracing Paper, Foil , plastic wrap

Fine mist bottle or fine spray bottle

Plastic grocery bags or a small trash bags (about 3)

100% old cotton cloth size of a bath towel or smaller. This is a soft surface to work on in class.

Wooden Skewers



BISQUE PICES:  First, the most frequent problem with bought bisque is improper firing.  Witness cone .04 is the proper firing cone for bisque and is compatible with most ceramic products from all the major companies.   My suggestion is to refire the bisque to make sure you will not have a multitude of problems after all your hard art work.  Second, the surface of utility pieces are not cleaned to perfection.  If you are going to refire the piece, sand down the surface with a course sander.  When pressed bisque is taken out of the machine it is simply swiped with a sponge and these marks will show thru underglazes.  "Swipes" may not show a lot on semi-opaque or opaque pieces completed with glaze products.  Third:  Always mist bisque pieces before applying products.  This opens up the surface.  If you could look at a piece of bisque under a microscope you will see the surface similar to that of a sponge.  This surface holds tiny air holes.  Misting will push the air out of these microscopic craters and allow the product to penetrate the surface.  Misting will also eliminate dust.


CLEANING GREENWARE INSIDE (OUCH!):  Simply mist, (not a heavy spray) and then clean.  Damp greenware does not give off dust.  The sanding process does have to be done outside.  Never sand damp or wet greenware, unless you want to have a texture look to the greenware for a special look or technique.


SOFT BISQUE??? WHAT IS SOFT BISQUE?  Greenware is fragile and some students and customers are hesitant to use greenware pieces.  Here is some help.  Clean and fire your greenware to .018.  This cone will give you a harder surface but it will still be greenware.  Soft bisque can be cleaned and treated the same as shelf greenware.   An .018 firing is still greenware!   If you fire to .010 it will give you a harder surface and if packed properly can be shipped. 


SHIPPING SUGGESTION:  Always pack "a box within a box" when shipping either mature bisque or .010 soft bisque greenware.


BRUSH CARE:  ALWAYS wash your brushes after painting.  Lay them flat to dry or handle down in a container.  Use a brush cleaner or a dish detergent that does not contain a degreaser.  A degreaser breaks down the oil in natural hair brushes.  Stain brushes can be washed with most any cleaner.  NEVER LEAVE YOUR BRUSHES IN WATER!  They are made of fur not feathers.





Hand Care:  Wash hands with pure vinegar after working on greenware.  The vinegar neutralizes the chemicals in the greenware that dries skin.  Then wash hands with soap and water.  If the vinegar odor remains, just use a little lemon juice.  The odor usually goes away with simple hand soap.


GLAZE HINT --  Did you ever want a flat opaque surface, and I do mean MATT finish on a piece without using just a Clear Matt Glaze?  Mix equal parts of an OPAQUE UNDERGLAZE, a color or white, and CLEAR MATT GLAZE.  This will give you a pastel color.  Sponge or brush on 3 coats.  Remember any imperfections or texture in the surface will remain because this mixture does not move and will seal the surface.  If this mixture is used on a vase, remember to use a glaze on the inside like the Gare’s Garden Sealer.  This mixture can be put on greenware or bisque.  If applied to greenware, Do Not Cover the entire surface. Leave the surface and bottom of piece free of this mixture.  If entire surface is covered, this mixture does not allow greenware to expand and contract.  It will hold the piece ridged so “breathing” can’t take place.  Fire to .04 witness cone for greenware.  If applied to bisque take it as high as the slip formula will allow.  If fired on stoneware, it will start to turn to a satin finish at about cone 5 & 6.


ROTTEN GREENWARE:  Try putting vinegar on a piece scrape of greenware.  It will react with the chemicals and begin to “boil” and rough up the surface.  Each slip formula reacts differently to the vinegar application.  Some formulas will take more than just a drop or two.  Some will start to rough with just a simple brush load of vinegar.  Gives great texture to a piece. Looks like: rocks, lava, sand, gravel, brick, etc.


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