Long time no post…

Its been forever and I apologize. Life is super busy (as I like it), and I haven’t had as much time for creating as I’d like. However, I am working on something very cool – a chess set! Its mostly a project for me, but I’ll put it up for sale once its done to judge reactions… Very unique, taking a ton of time to make, but I’m loving how its going so far.

More on that soon, hopefully!

In the meantime, stay cool, and enjoy your summer!

Busy season!

Stoppers are on the march, y’all.  Shelburne Vineyard has them for sale, home on Shelburne Rd will be selling them when they reopen (sounds like a cool place: wine tastings, local foods, local crafts, furniture – I’m curious to see how it works out.)  Block gallery in Winooski will be carrying them during their big yearly show in November.  There are a few other local spots I’m looking to get into as well.
Shelburne Vineyard display

All of which means: get making!  There are nine in the bisque kiln now, and I’m hoping to keep up at least half a dozen a week for the next month.
Waiting for firing

Its tough being in this stage – I believe in the product, retailers believe in the product, but I’m needing to make ahead something whose rate of sale is totally unknown.  One a day?  One a week?  A month?  Here’s hoping I don’t end up with too many in stock or too few to keep stores full!  Anyone have any tips on predicting this kind of thing?

Boxes!

McMaster-Carr to the rescue again. I finally found some boxes that I like – heavy double-walled on three sides, white paperboard. One smallish size, one slightly larger. Cost about .62 each for the smaller and about .97 each for the larger. Now if I can track down a nice-looking sticker or stamp to use as decoration, I’ll be all set!

Moo mini cards and indecision…

Ok – bunch of stoppers made, stands on their way… next step – business cards!  I like the mini cards that Moo.com prints, and they let me pull images directly from smugmug.  (And yes, they are pretty mini – each is about 1″ x 2.75″.)  In a 100 card pack you get a mixture of the images you select on the fronts, and then you choose some basic text (or upload your own design) to go on the backs of all the cards.  I wasn’t happy with what I could set up just using Moo’s backs, so I’ve designed my own.  Of course, I came up with two options… and I’m having trouble deciding whether there should be an image on the back or not.  Using an image does take away from the size of the text I can show, and there’s already an image on the front.  On the other hand, it leaves a better impression, and there are a few cards with just a glaze closeup on the front, so this would show what was going on.

Thoughts?  Keep the image?  Just the text?  Say more with the text?  Leave a comment!

Stands – prototypes made, design sent to Ponoko for cutting

Hello hello!  I finished up my stand designs and sent them off to Ponoko to be made in black acrylic, white oak, and cork.  I printed out the design, pasted it down to some foamcore, and then cut it out by hand to make sure it all worked.  Whadaya think?

Some Serious Stopper Status

Some big things in stopper world lately.  Two are in for glazing (still – one of the drawbacks of a coop studio), three waiting for bisque, and four new ones last night:

Swimmer, long one, abstract, rook stoppers

I also came up with a very cool laser-cut stand design – the first prototype has been submitted to Ponoko, a service I’ve known about for years but am now finally using for the first time. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results! Pictures and info on the process in a later post. Enjoy the weekend!

Wine Stopper Mob Unleashed!

Stopper Mob

Stopper Mob, wave 1

The mob has arrived! Aaannnddd… they look great!  (If, you know, I do say so myself.)  More pictures to come, but at least this way you can see them all. Getting the bodies connected to the stainless steel bases from Torne-Lignum.com has been quite a long road. Here’s the story:

First, I tried something called E6000, which was recommended in a few places. (A lot of places refer to E6000 as an epoxy, but it turns out it isn’t – its a craft glue. This is an important distinction!) The first try was a stopper with a solid flat bottom. After setting for about 24 hours, the body pulled away from the base when I applied force to it. Whups. The glue easily peeled away from both ceramic stopper body and steel stopper base. Essentially, it looked and acted almost like rubber cement. (It wasn’t hard, like I expected.) I decided to try again, thinking maybe it just needed to cure longer. I glued up the original stopper again, as well as two that I had hollowed out the bodies of. For the ones with the voids, I first glued a short metal rod into the steel stopper, then filled the void in the ceramic body with E6000 and dropped the metal stopper and post down into the glue. Clean up the glue that squeezed out between metal stopper and clay body, rubber-band down to apply pressure, and wait a full week.

Unfortunately, even after a full week, just a small amount of pressure sideways to the piece, and it peeled away. The E6000 inside the body hadn’t dried even a little bit – it was still completely fresh. Not what I expected at all, and clearly not going to work. The piece with the flat bottom seems to have worked well, but all of my stoppers have holes in the base now, so that isn’t really helpful.

I finally went and picked up some Loctite instant-mix two-part epoxy. Sets in 5 minutes, has two nozzles with fine tips that allow me to easily inject the right amount of epoxy into the pieces, and dries rock-hard inside of 24 hours.

Here’s the comparison as I see it:
E6000 (glue)

    Pros:

  • strong, flexible bond – would probably work very well with fabrics, etc
  • dries clear
    Cons:

  • Takes forever to cure
  • Doesn’t fill voids well – after a week it was still completely uncured inside stopper bodies

Loctite (two-part epoxy)

    Pros:

  • rock-solid once dry
  • movable in 20 minutes, fully cured in 24 hours, even inside a sealed volume (so the pieces with the large voids still are solid)
  • self-mixing inside its included nozzles – this made getting the epoxy inside the 3/16″ holes in the stoppers and the ceramic bodies easy and very clean
    Cons:

  • more expensive – approx $4 for a 14ml tube, which was enough for six stoppers, two of which had very large voids to fill
  • The self-mixing nozzles have curing epoxy in them, so once you start applying you have about 5 minutes before they lock up solid unless you keep the epoxy moving. The case comes with two nozzles, so you can have two sessions, but you need to work fast. I got better at this as I worked, but it meant filling the holes, matching up the halves, and cleaning up any extra had to happen in a minute or less per piece. No room for errors!
  • the package said it dried translucent yellow, but it looks perfectly clear to me. Maybe over time?

So, epoxy for the win! More photos and maybe an etsy post or two soon.

New stoppers, gluing process, and E6000 frustration

Last night's Curly Creatures - Side-curl, Daalek, chubby Flyer wine stoppers

The three new little guys above were last night’s inspirations. I’m still having a lot of fun coming up with new ideas! I also glazed two in thick Fake Celadon – I’m hoping they crackle well so I can ink ’em. (As a side note, it just occurred to me that stoppers could be terrific candidates for some raku lovin’.)

More frustration on the gluing front, I’m afraid. I had three Creatures in bondage for about a week:

Sanded and ready to glue

Sanded and ready to glue

Glue applied!

Glue applied!

Applying pressure

Applying pressure

Curly Creatures in bondage!

Curly Creatures in bondage!

Last night they finally came out of bondage… and the two that had center posts through them (the green ones) both separated with just a little pressure. E6000 doesn’t apparently dry at *all* when its inside a sealed cavity. (I suppose that makes some sense.) So, I’d already picked up some 5-minute epoxy – I’ll give that a try today and see how it goes.

Stoppers and stilts!

Some fun news yesterday!  The stoppers and the kiln stilts I ordered showed up.  :)

First stop was the studio to use the stilts:

Curly Creature wine stoppers on stilts, waiting for the glaze kiln

Curly Creature wine stoppers on stilts, waiting for the glaze kiln

Then I swung by Conant Metal & Light.  Light technician Christy who showed me all around the workshop.  We talked about my options for lamps, and she tracked down bits and pieces I’d need — a ceramic candelabra socket, cut a piece of brass tubing that fit around it, a gold-colored wire with inline switch, and some other bits.  $10 for everything – not bad!  The place is a treasure chest of found electrical stuff next door to a very well-equipped metal shop, all staffed with folks who know how to help you get stuff done.  If you’re in the Burlington area and have a project, I highly recommend paying them a visit!

Last stop was the hardware store to pick up some E6000 epoxy for attaching the stoppers to their Curly Creatures…  The first two are almost cured (24 hours to go – I’m so impatient) and they look great!!  I’m really excited about the little buggers.

The first two wine stoppers
Wine stoppers with Curly Creature tops
Wine stopper with Curly Creature swimmer top

The first two stoppers!

Last night’s progress

Some more good progress last night!

Two new stoppers: one abstract, with swirled ridges and scales, one more “normal” – ridgeback and four stubby little feet.

Two new stoppers & buttons
I made the scales differently this time – rather than pressing in a circle, I used a wire tool to cut into the surface, so they pop out quite a bit. With the right glaze, this should be pretty cool!

I also got some glazing done – one nice abstract pigtail of a wine stopper in Rose Red with Lucero over it, a sake bottle with RIO wax base, frog pond over, lucero inside, and a couple little signet buttons.

Glazing - saki, pigtail stopper, buttons