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 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)


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

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

Loctite (two-part epoxy)


  • 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

  • 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

Wine Stopper progress!

Really loving the progress I’ve been making on the wine stoppers lately! I’ve got three samples already through glazing (very cool little things), two more working toward leather-hard for some shaping, one waiting for glaze, and two waiting for the glaze kiln.

On top of that, I finally found stopper blanks that I like. 🙂 It was a tough process – most of the stoppers seem to be created for wood turners, so they have a threaded bolt coming off the top. Most of them are also made cheaply – plated with chrome – and come with warnings that they can’t be left on a bottle for too long because they’ll start to flake and pit. Um… yeah – sorry, not going to put a warning like that on things I make. (“Please don’t like me enough to use me for more than a day or two at a time. I might self-destruct.”) So, I’m going with stoppers from Torne-Lignum. I spoke with the woman for a while on the phone – she was similarly frustrated with the options available, took one of the cheap ones to a local metal shop and said “make me these out of stainless?” I’ll be going with the #303 stoppers:
#303 flat-topped stainless-steel stopper
Best part – called last night, and they should be here tomorrow! Can’t wait.

I’ve also been looking for a better way to glaze these. They’re very small, very ornate, and very breakable. I’ve been feeling bad about having such finicky little breakable things for the studio assistants. They’ve done a great job so far – all of them have survived – but if I want to make a lot of these, I need to come up with a better way. Enter, E-series kiln stilts:
E-series kiln stilts
I ordered the stilts through Vermont Ceramics Supply down in Rutland – I don’t think they normally do much shipping to individuals (don’t take credit cards). I’d prefer working with a local shop though, and the studio I work with uses VCS, so I talked ’em into it. They might not exactly match the picture, but they should do the trick.

I’ll make a hole up into the base of the stopper, and when going into the kilns, I’ll sit them each on top of their own stilt. That should make them easier to move around, and allow me to wrap the glaze around onto the bottom (which I’ve been avoiding to keep them from sticking to the kiln shelves.)

Psyched! Once I’ve finally got a few completely finished, I’ll make up a nice stand, some business cards from, and swing by a certain local wine shop whose owners I know to see what they think.

Personally, I know I’ll be keeping a few for myself…

Featured on the Etsy Storque blog!

The littlest Curly Creature was featured on the Etsy main blog this weekend! (in the white section). This explains why he suddenly has almost 2000 views… nice.