Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lillstreet Soda Kiln Photos

Here's a slew of photos from the Lillstreet Art Center soda kiln build Doug Jeppesen and I did over the weekend of September 20-22, 2013.

Cinder block and first floor layer. We used hard brick for the outer walls and where the posts holding the shelves would sit, soft brick for the rest of the interior for added insulation.

First 3 rows of the walls, and the start of the chimney. The flue opening is 9x9 inches.

The walls are hard brick on the interior, soft brick on the exterior. Every 5th row is a header course. All are mortarted with a 50/50 mixture of fireclay and sand.
The steel is welded up. In addition to the usual perimeter pieces and along the arch skew bricks, we added a piece of 4" channel along the fireboxes, since the bricks tend to move a lot there. The corners are tied across the top with 3/4 all thread. The steel flanking the door jams are tied to the pieces flanking the chimney so it's all tied together front to back as well as side to side.
The arch form is set into place, held up by bricks.
Underside of the arch form.

Beginning to lay the arch brick. The arch has a total rise of 14" in the center. It is built entirely of #1 and #2 arch bricks, no straights.
Doug up on the arch, crammed under the exhaust hood.

The first layer of the arch completed.

Filling in the back wall under the arch.

Done, with mortar skim coat drying on the floor.

Martha and Me, The End.

The first round of voting in the American Made contest ended on Sunday night, and I am sad to inform you that, despite all your hard work, I did not make it into the final round. I know what you're thinking- THANK GOODNESS! I COULDN'T TAKE ANOTHER WEEK OF VOTING! I hear ya. It's been a long month, and I can't thank you all enough for sticking it out and voting till your little fingers went numb, through the buggy website, and the annoying emails, and the barrage of Facebook reminders. And even though the final round was out of reach, you still kicked some major you-know-what. At last count, before all the voting difficulties and irregularities of the last 5 days of the competition, we were in the top 20. That's right, the top 20 out of approximately 1000 nominees. Holy. Cow. That's. Amazing. Only in America could a potter in Grayslake have so many wonderful people rally to try and reunite him with his college-sweetheart-slash-media-mogul-slash-home-decorating-goddess. I've said it throughout the competition, and I'll say it again: you people rock. You humble me. I am in awe of your generosity. So hold your heads high, because you're all winners in my book.

And don't forget that the competition is not over yet! We still need to vote for a winner. You can see the 6 finalists HERE. Personally, I like the winner of the 'Technology' category, Modern Yardage, so that's where I'll be casting my 6 votes a day. But you can vote for whomever you choose, because I am relinquishing the voting power that I have held over you for the last month. Go. You're free.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lill Street Kiln Build

Doug Jeppesen and I started on the new soda kiln at Lill Street Art Center in Chicago today. The layout went smoothly and we got the floor and first four wall courses finished. Tomorrow we'll complete the walls, put on the steel frame and build the arch form. Sunday we'll turn the arch. More photos tomorrow!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Here We Go Again...

Despite all our best efforts (my doctor and I), the shattered bones in my middle finger tip have not healed completely from the accident I had back in February. There's still a big gap in the middle of the bones. We tried using a bone growth stimulator machine for a couple of months this summer while my schedule was too busy to even consider doing surgery, and that did get the little bone fragments to fuse up together and start to join back to the main bone. But now the bones have stopped growing together, leaving a very flexible fingertip where it should be solid.

So more drastic measures are called for. Specifically, a bone graft. The doctor will take some bone out of my wrist using what he describes as a 'melon baller for bone', and cram it in between the separated bone pieces. This, in addition to a permanent screw in my finger tip, is a guaranteed fix. We discussed getting a Wolverine-type claw, or possibly a finger tip with removable attachments like a screwdriver or wrench or knife, but he said my insurance wouldn't cover it. Bummer.

What I would like to look like after the surgery.

So back under the knife I go in early October. I'll be splinted for a while, but should be able to get back into clay within a couple of weeks.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Martha and Me, Week 3

Voting: Will It Ever End?
No. No it won't. You signed up for this, you've got no one to blame but yourself. And me. It's kind of my fault, too. I'm willing to accept partial blame if you let me off the hook for all that other stuff I did. You know what I'm talking about, let it go already. And I suppose you could also blame Martha, because technically this was all her idea. But we don't ever blame Martha for anything, got it? Never. Ever.

But honestly, I do understand that this whole voting thing seems like it's going on forever. And it kind of is, because I just got an email saying that they have extended the first round of voting until September 22nd. That's 11 whole days from now. 11 glorious days of voting. Why did Martha extend the voting? Who knows. We don't question Martha. We just know that it's a good thing.

And I know I promised you an awesome photo of Martha and me, but I haven't had a chance to scan it into the computer yet. And I have a really good reason: jury duty. Not good enough? Try this: Federal jury duty. That's right, the big boys in the big building in the big city need my awesomely impartial judgement skills. So the photo of Martha and me has been postponed. Until tomorrow! That's right, only one more day! I considered not telling you, because I know you're going to have a hard time sleeping if you read this before bed due to the excitement. It's like Christmas Eve in September, but with slightly less commercialization. But I didn't want you to think I'd forgotten you, because you all have clearly not forgotten me. You have been voting your hearts out, and I really, really, really can't thank you enough. Except maybe a picture of Martha and me is close to thanks enough, because we are both looking really, really, really good in it. I used to have long, flowing hair, you know.

Keep up the good work for 11 more glorious days. Then you get a couple days off before the final round begins. Here's the link again in case you've lost it: American MadeAnd remember you can always link to it from the main page of my web site HERE.

P.S.: This week is the 9 year anniversary of opening my shop! Thank you so much to everyone who has helped keep it going! You rock!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Not again!

Those of you who have been reading my blog know that back in February, two of the fingers on my left hand lost a fight with my snowblower and got pretty chewed up. When the pins finally came out, the shattered bones at the tips of the fingers had still not healed completely. Now, 6 months after the accident, including 2 1/2 months of using a bone growth stimulator, one finger is finally good to go, but the other has still not healed. So it's time for a bone graft. The doc is going to cram a small piece of bone from my wrist into the break in my finger, as well as put in a permanent tiny screw to keep it all solid. This is a guaranteed fix, so that's good. I'm not sure when I'll do the surgery- probably in about 3 weeks when my schedule lightens up. Big fun.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Martha and Me, Week 2

Holy cow! Over 2600 votes in one week! What can I say? You continue to amaze me. I owe you. Big time!

So here's what I know after one week of voting: We are doing great! Several of us here at the studio spent way too much time browsing through the American Made site to get an idea of where we stand, and from what we can tell we are doing very well. We really have no way to know for sure how we're doing, but after looking through about 100 of the 900 or so crafting nominees, we found that we are beating almost everyone. Almost everyone. Almost.

That's right, I'm trying to get you all riled up.

Now let's channel that energy into voting. Here are some fun ideas to help you help me get more votes:
1. Set up a voting stand outside the supermarket.
2. Force your children to vote. For real. I can't find anything in the rules that says your kids can't vote.
3. Forward this email to everyone in your email list.
4. Adopt more children and force them to vote.

If all this seems a bit extreme, it's not. It's perfectly normal to adopt more children in an effort to get a potter from the midwest into the second round of voting in a popularity contest run by a media goddess. Perfectly normal. Now stop asking so many questions. Shouldn't you be voting or something?

So that's where we are. Keep up the great work. I really can't thank you enough. I promise my next email will contain the photo you've all been begging to see- Martha and Me circa 1998.

Vote Here!