Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New -REVISED- Bat System

Back when I was working for Ceramics Canada, the Alberta Potters Guild held a workshop in the warehouse with a fantastic potter by the name of Ryan Cameron of Velvet Antler Pottery in Field, BC. Now, the town of Field is just a short drive West of Lake Louise. The town itself is actually located within Yoho National Park and to live there you actually have to be an employee of the Park system. Ryan is a potter through the winter and a forest ranger during the summer. And if you could see where he lives you, as I do, would think he has the best life in the world! Actually, I'm going to see if I have any pictures....

Ryan, as you can see in the picture above, throws alot of his pots on bisqued tiles which are set into a bat. So after that workshop, Ceramics Canada had a fellow routered out bats like Ryan’s and sold them, and of course, I HAD TO BUY ONE. So I've had mine for about six years and must admit it has done considerably well. But now the water has finally got in and only allows me about half a day of throwing before it starts to expand. So onto Version 2.0.

Now, you can buy systems like this like the Versa-Bat System but they make the inserts a specific size that only fit their system, and I already have all these tiles. So the new experiment is instead of wood, using plastic. At Greenbarn, Vancouver's clay supplier, they sell PLASTI-BATS. And it turns out that a tile is the same thickness as a plasti-bat. So remembering some elementary school mathematics I was able to find the centre of a circle and then centre the tile. After that a little cutting and sanding.... I think I've done it!!!

The big test will be tomorrow morning when tile and clay catapult themselves across the studio. Or, it just might work.

Here's some construction pics.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A piece of History... Only a potter could love!

So during the xmas break my Daughter and I were out walking Jack when on a path, surrounded by forest, we came across a pottery jackpot! Well, maybe an historical, industrial, pottery jackpot.

We found Sewer Pipe!

Now, I realize that most people would find that terribly disgusting, as my daughter did. But I had little resistance when I told her we had to dig it up. So why is this important you ask? Because it's pottery history!

Before steel pipes, and now plastic pipes, sewer piping was made from clay. But not just clay, stoneware, and it was salt fired stoneware. And all of this came from the home of clay products, Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Taken from the Historic Clay District's web site (http://www.medalta.org/companies/acp.html) Alberta Clay Products ( notice the 'MEDICINE HAT A. C. P. Co.' stamp on my pipe) began in 1910 and continued to supply sewer pipe to Western Canada through the '40's and '50's.

For many years A. C. P. was the only manufacturer of sewer pipe in western Canada. It continued to expand and make money even through the height of the great depression; so much so that the Yuills set up two separate stoneware pottery companies: Medicine Hat Potteries Ltd. in 1937, and Alberta Potteries Ltd. in 1941.

And the large bee hive kilns on site, now the Museum were the original kilns used to fire all this pipe. And it just so happens that while I was at ACAD we were able to tour the museum. So here are some pics.