Archive for February, 2010

The Worst

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

photo credit: Brady Black
River mile 280.

Prepare for the worst…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

The trip that Lee and I are planning will be unique in our 18 years of running rivers together. This will be our first time going down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon with out back up. It will be just the two of us in one boat. Sounds romantic doesn’t it? It could be if all goes well. A lot can go wrong on a river like that. We are taking some precautions. We are packing is a major first aid kit (the Park Service recommends one), I am trained as a Wilderness First Responder, we are taking along a satellite telephone which is pricey for two people ($320.00), and we are taking two river survival kits in case we get separated from our boat in an over board incident. The kits will clip onto our life vests when we go through the big stuff and will contain what one would need to survive for 2-3 days on shore alone until another party comes along. The Park service tells us that during the week we are launching there will be one party launching every day until March 1 and then 2 launches a day. There should be enough traffic that help wouldn’t be more than a day or two away.

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On the left is the assembled kit. On the right are the components which are (L-R): Small NRS Sea-Stow dry bag, 3600 calorie survival bar, whistle, LED flashlight, space blanket, signal mirror, waterproof matches, fire starter stick, alcohol for starting wet wood, wand warmers, water purification tablets, and a collapsible water bottle.
Of course we won’t need any of this stuff, but that is what insurance is for.

Putting a strap handle on a 20 mm ammo can.

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

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When we started gearing up for river running in the early nineties we bought a bunch of 20 mm “rocket boxes” to contain various supplies and to carry “solid human waste” off the river. W named all of our boxes. The boxes for food and such got names of our favorite people, names like Georgie, Gerry Garcia and so on. The poop cans got names of less favorite persons, usually some politician who’s record on river and wilderness issues we found to be lacking.
These are great dry boxes and are the standard in the river running community. I have thought for a long time that having a handle on the top would be a fine thing. I am always banging and scraping my knuckles while trying to get a 20 mm can out of a drop hatch. After numerous applications of Mom’s Stuff the scrapes finally are put right. A handle on the top of the can would also allow for carrying two at once in a balanced way that would not put undue stress on my lower back.
In this post I will show what I came up with.


I start by drilling two 1/4 inch holes through the lid where I want the straps to attach.


Using a propane torch I heat a 20 penny nail and burn holes in the strip of nylon webbing I will use for the strap handle.


This is the hardware I will use to attach the handle. Starting on the left is a 1/4 inch stainless steel machine bolt, a 1/4 inch flat washer, two 1/4 inch rubber washers and a 1/4 inch locking nut.


After placing the flat washer on the bolt I thread the strap on followed by the rubber washer.

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I apply a small amount of a liquid gasket product or silicon rubber to the threads of the bolt.

The neat thing I discovered is that the 1/4 machine bolt fits so tight that I have to screw the bolt into the hole in the lid and it sort of taps its self in.
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After fitting the other rubber washer onto the bolt as it sticks through the bottom of the lid I smear more liquid gasket material in the threads and tighten on the locking nuts.


There is the first finished handle. I waited over night and tested it by submerging the whole box for several minutes in my spa. It is water tight.

Shino Redux

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

The Shino Redux show at the Clay Art Center in Portchester, New York is now online.


Friday, February 5th, 2010


These wee little guys are designed to sit under the bottom shelf of both chambers of my wood burning kiln against the hot face. They will get blasted with a lot of really juicy ash and flash. For the next few days I will be throwing what I call fillers. They are the pots I make to fill in the spaces around and in between the larger wares.
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8 oz mugs. I love the look and feel of cool wet clay.

Making a lidded oval baker.

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010


A year ago I tried making a couple of large lidded oval bakers. They turned out well and were sold as soon as they came out of the kiln. (Why does Dave Ericson a;ways show up to help unload?) I decided to try a longer run of the last week. Here is a simplified step by step of their making.
I started by throwing a series of low wide cylinders and reshaping them into a trefoil type oval.

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The rim is thrown thick and formed into a gallery to accept the lid.

After the body of the pot has set up a while but is still pliable I throw the bottom. I like throwing rather than rolling it because i get that nice spiral in the center.
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The body of the pot is then placed on the bottom and “wiggled” around until I feel it start to stick. I then smooth down the edges with my finger inside and out and cut all the way around it with a wooden knife tool and then trim away the excess clay from the bottom with a fettling knife.

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Using a triangular rib I scrape away excess clay from the base and undercut it a little. I like to leave the “deckle edges” where they occur.

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With the oval baker still on the wheel I stick a couple of handles on and pull them in place.

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Next I cover the bakers with light plastic and roll out a slab of clay a little bigger than the pot for each one and set them aside.

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After the slab has had time to stiffen up some I use a hard rubber rib to press the slab into the rim of the baker carefully stretching it to give it an inverted dome shape.


After I have finished shaping the lid I trim around the edge of the baker with a needle tool and let the lids and bakers dry and stiffen together.

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When the lid is stiff enough to handle but still pliable I turn it over and trim it along the line left in the clay from the rim of the baker using a needle tool on the outside and a fettling knife on the inside. I also smooth the rim of the lid with my fingers and a little water if needed.

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With the lid trimmed and smoothed I pull a strap handle, bend it and attach it to the lid. I fit the lid to the baker by gently adjusting the shape of the baker to conform to the lid and by shaping the lid with a sureform. This is only going to work if the baker is still somewhat pliable. THe moisture content of the baker is critical and can be maintianed by wetting the baker and keeping it covered until the lid is ready.

These six bakers were made and put together over a three day period.