Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stopperless Salt Shaker FAQ

The question I answer most frequently at art fairs is about the the Stopperless Salt Shaker. There is usually a puzzled look as they look at the little shaker, then a glance at the label, then more puzzled looking. I then step in and give it an explanation on how it works. I found this illustration online. Says pretty much everything:

Well, ok, there are lots of other questions I have been asked:
-(Do you have an explanation of how it works online?) Here you go, you asked, I listened. and hey, anything worth doing is worth overdoing. presenting the first FAQ for a salt shaker!
-(Will it work with coarse salt?) Probably not, unless you want me to make you one with a larger hole in the cone. the size of the hole has to be made small enough to let 'just' enough salt out, too much would be bad. the first one i made was like that. :)
-(Will the salt stick together [like in humid environments]?) Doesn't appear to, not even here in Indiana which is very-very humid. I have had one on our table for about 3 years now, and no problems. My theory is that the salt is protected by being 'sealed' against the table, so no humidity gets in.  I wouldn't want to wash it and risk introducing water/humidity into the interior, though
-(Is it difficult to make?) Not really, just figuring out how much clay you need for the interior cone, how much for the exterior, that depends on the design of the shaker. and of course, the size of the how the salt comes in and out of. not too big, not too small. oh, then you have to dry,glaze,fire. so yes, if you aren't a potter.
-(how do you make it?) After centering the clay, making a hole in the center, you push a finger in the wall, making two walls out of the clay, the interior, smaller becomes the cone, the exterior, larger becomes, well the exterior and the top... 
-(Did you invent the design?) YES.  ummm, ok, maybe not since you all have access to google and can see these out there in the wild. Ceramics arts daily has an article on them, but I am sure the design is more than a year or two old!
Apparently the salt shaker was first invented by John Mason (of Mason jar fame) in 1858, and it was essentially salt in a mason jar to keep it from clumping. Holes in ceramic containers were added a decade later when salt was more finely milled. As for the stopperless salt shaker, who knows? There are these forms everyone throws, noone knows who did it first. We know it came sometime after Masons invention, that's about it.

Who would have thought you would need a (mini) FAQ for a salt shaker?
Here's what my most recent ones look like:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Masking and Hydro-abrasion

 Images are manipulated in Photoshop and output to a plotter, which cuts the image onto a vinyl sheet

The pattern sticks to the surface of unfired piece.

Glazing medium is painted over the vinyl pattern.

The vinyl pattern is removed, exposing the unmasked clay underneath.

A wet sponge is used to wipe away the exposed clay.

The result is pattern in relief , with the pattern embedded in the clay.

The pattern is highlighted with underglaze.

The excess underglaze around the image is wiped away, leaving the original pattern in relief.