Category: Technique

  • Marbling Gloop

    Some of you asked about how I made those marbled gloop tiles a couple years ago.

  • Phil Berneburg

    Some have passed on but left treasures behind.  I never met Phil Berneburg.  But recently I stumbled across a wonderful video explaining pyrometric cones, which led me to The Potters’ Round Table.  Almost 100 excellent videos of Phil explaining all aspects of ceramics, including gems like “Pottery Figurin’ (Math for Potters)”. I’ll link some of Phil’s lectures in […]

  • Paintings of the Traditional Porcelain Process

    “Export” Art During the 18th Century, Guangdong province was the hub for trade with the West. The dialogue between Western merchants and artists with both painters and porcelain producers resulted in a unique blend of Chinese and Western styles. This blend was reflected in the painting styles for both Export Paintings as well as Export […]

  • USG Plaster Slide Rule

    Plaster Calculator Update:  1) Specify units in inches or centimeters, 2) Added @nbivins formula (via @jeffcampana‘s). More ideas for improvements?  Let me know in the comments! (link in bio) Pictured here:  The original “gypsum cement & plaster VOLUME and MIX calculator” from USG with awesome 80’s graphic design. (Courtesy @earlyamericanrobotpottery)

  • Plaster Calculator

    Calculate the amount of water and plaster you will need for various solid forms. Bookmark this link on your phone’s browser for easy access! The code is open source and available on Github: Inspired by Keith Simpson’s (@earlyamericanrobotpottery) plaster handout and the USG plaster calculator. The calculations are from USG (, Keith Simpson […]

  • Stacked Firing Logs

    Updated Printable Firing Charts with Fahrenheit & Celsius conversion and markers for common Orton Cones & Quartz Inversion:

  • Colour Wheels, Charts, and Tables Through History

    †From the fascinating article by The Public Domain Review: “Colour Wheels, Charts, and Tables Through History”

  • Mixing plaster in a plastic bag

    I’m not a plaster master, so I don’t know if this is a good or even original idea.  By mixing plaster in a plastic bag, it seems easier to remove bubbles from the mixture, while pouring is much more controlled.  It’s the same idea as using a garden watering can for pouring glaze:  You pour […]

  • Plaster Bats for throwing

    To be updated. Throwing large pieces on plaster bats reduces cracking issues.

  • Working with a mirror

    A potter friend once made fun of me for using a mirror. But no matter how much I improve, I don’t think I’ll ever stop using a mirror when I throw and trim.

  • Glazing

  • Blades

    I use X-acto blades all the time, some modified for specific tasks like carving porcelain or scraping glaze off of feet. I’m not sure if it’s all part of a vast X-acto conspiracy, but it seems that a lot of people don’t know that these blades can be easily & quickly sharpened?  While there are a […]

  • Pouring Glaze with a Watering Can

    I’m sure that using a garden watering can for pouring glazes is a common technique, but when I came up with the idea I thought I was a genius 🙂 The design of a watering can ensures a constant, strong stream of liquid during pouring that is perfect for glazing. Bubbles are reduced since the […]

  • Low-fire Electric Kiln

    I’ve finally gotten a new low-fire electric kiln. This kiln is designed to fire up to 1000°C, so it’s useful only for on-glaze enamels and bisque. Total cost was 2900RMB, which is about $420USD.

  • Slow drying

    I have a couple “wet boxes”.  These are plastic bins with lids into which a layer of plaster has been poured.  The plaster is kept wet in order to maintain humidty, slowing (if not stopping) the drying process. However, I haven’t used the wet boxes in a long time.  I’ve found it much easier and […]

  • Kiln & Firing

    This page is in progress and will cover my kiln and firing.  For now it is just a place to store my notes.

  • Simple plaster drop-out molds on the wheel

  • Razor trimming

    I’m not sure if double-edged safety razor are still available in the West, but here in Jingdezhen they are an essential trimming tool.  These razors are thin, sharp, and most importantly flexible.  Great for wheel-trimming details on small forms, or for scraping hand-built objects.  The most used brand is Flying Eagle.  I get the more expensive stainless […]

  • Scanning Test Tiles

    Having purchased a scanner for digitizing my family’s old photos, I had the brilliant idea to also scan glaze test tiles.  I thought I was a genius until Matthew Katz mentioned that he had been scanning tiles for the past ten years. Matthew noted that CCD scanners have a greater depth of field, which is great for three-dimensional […]

  • Smartphone Microscopy

    Last year I purchased a USB microscope (see article).  It’s pretty fun, but ultimately I was really disappointed by the quality of the images.  The 5MP sensor seems pretty cheap and images have a lot of artifacts.  Furthermore I was never satisfied with the color. The best choice would probably be a “real” microscope with […]