Wine Stopper process howto – epoxy or glue?

I was asked after a facebook post “Wondering what type of glue you use? I’m always afraid things won’t adhere to the pottery. And does it work as well ceramic on ceramic?”

It made me realize I’d never discussed my process for attaching ceramic to the metal stoppers. So – here ya go: I hope this will help someone else down the road!

I went through several different epoxies and glues and finally settled on Loctite Hysol E-00CL. (McMaster-Carr has it and the dispenser here: http://www.mcmaster.com/#loctite-e-00cl/=ule32q). I make the ceramic end of my stoppers with a hole up through the bottom that matches a hole in the metal piece. (By the way, this hole also makes glazing easier, and means I can put the stoppers on stilts when firing to keep them from sticking to the shelf or falling over. Win/win/win. :) No glaze on the bottom of the piece, a threaded rod cut to length that’s small enough to slide freely between the two + epoxy = a very strong bond. Its really tricky to get it to all be clean, ventilation is really important, but its worth it – super strong bond, crystal clear. The ceramic will break long before the epoxy does.

Stoppers curing after being epoxied

Stoppers curing after being epoxied

Keeping the join clean… that’s almost another post. I use a mixer nozzle with a fine tip to squeeze epoxy into the hole in the metal end. Just the right amount that when I push the threaded rod in there will be a bit of epoxy squeezed out of the hole. I then do the same on the ceramic end’s hole. The set time for the epoxy is 5 minutes, which gives me just enough time to work on about 4 stoppers in parallel:

  • Hold the metal end upright, add epoxy, insert threaded rod.
  • Add epoxy to a ceramic end, place it hole up.
  • Repeat a few more times, then go back to the first and:
  • Flip ceramic over and slide down onto rod.
  • Immediately clean off any epoxy that’s out of place – I do this with qtips snapped in half and small pieces of index card.
    The desire is to have the epoxy just to the edge of the metal and the ceramic so metal to ceramic is a smooth transition with no seams or edges.
  • Prop up stopper however necessary so there’s no movement while it finally sets. Once the bond is sturdy, it can complete curing over the next 24 hours without any concerns.

I initially tried several glues (including E6000), but found that they didn’t harden inside the piece, or shrank (the epoxy doesn’t shrink at all), or didn’t form a strong enough bond. Epoxy fills voids, dries absolutely solid, and looks just like glass – when done right, if its visible it can actually add something to the piece!

Don’t forget to protect yourself when working with epoxy – there are concerns with both fumes and skin contact. (And obviously you shouldn’t lick the stuff. 😉 I always wear gloves, and work in the bathroom – I can close the door, and have installed an overly-eager fan which sucks air out fast enough that there’s no inhalation issues. (I actually had to enlarge the gap under the door to allow enough airflow. This fan really sucks.)

Have fun! If you have any questions or success, let me know here or on my Facebook Page: Curly Creatures. Enjoy!

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?

Moo cards arrive, more Etsy postings, pricing thoughts

Fun fun fun!  The Moo mini cards I ordered arrived in fantastic time – less than a week turnaround.  (Man, if only they could teach Ponoko that trick…)

Moo Mini cards arrive!

I have to say too – the quality of these things is just fantastic.  Nice and thick cardstock with a protective laminate on each card.  I love that I could put multiple front photos in the pack – as soon as anyone looks at them they instantly want to browse and pick their favorites.  Plus the print quality is high, the carrying/shipping box they used is very solid, and the whole process was done with style.  I’ll definitely be ordering from them again soon!

Two more stoppers went up on Etsy today too: Prong and Bogart.

I’ve been working a fair amount on figuring out the best prices, and I think I’ve got things set about where they should be. I dropped prices on the Curly Creatures, and have the stopper prices spread from $35 to $55. I still have to do a full accounting of costs so far, but getting everything started has cost enough that I’ll need to move a fair number of pieces before I’m covered. I really do feel like there’s a good market for these buggers though (stoppers especially), and especially once people can touch and feel them… gonzo!

Check out the etsy shop and let me know what you think! I’d really enjoy the input. :)

Once the Ponoko stands finally show up, hopefully they’ll fit well enough to bring a set by a few different shops in town and see what people think. (I’ll want to order more too, but only after getting impressions of restaurant and store owners…)

New glaze colors, epoxy success

Hello!  Life’s been busy the last few weeks, and I’ve made some good progress with the wine stoppers.  I ordered up some new epoxy from an industrial supply catalog, some extra nozzles, and a gun to make applying it easier.  After some trial and error, I’ve actually got a process that works well – all of these were glued up after about 30min of prep and 15min of choreographed gluing.

Just epoxied stoppers

You’ll notice a few new color combinations in there too – I’m loving the speckled blue and the pink/purple combinations!

I’ve got a good number of these guys done now – next up: a display stand and some business cards.  (And some good photos of each!)