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Dale’s Stoneware Store – Clay Items For RMH - Masonry Stoves - Cob Builders  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
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Dale’s Stoneware Store – Clay Items For RMH - Masonry Stoves - Cob Builders

It's been ten years since I last made pottery out of clay. I had some success in selling stuff but never really mastered the wheel. Glazing often failed to give the desired result. I often made some very nice bisque ware but got a drippy mess upon glazing.

I was quite good at producing useful shapes from flat rolled material and building 3 dimensional stuff from slabs. This was more of a technical pursuit, rather than artistic. This is the sort of thing I hope to produce in the future. There are a few items that I think would find a market within the “green building” and “alternative energy” crowd. Most of these are flat slab type items.

Some very rugged pottery is produced in wood fired kilns that employ salt glazing. It is generally called stoneware. I’m looking to work with clays that fire at cone 10 or higher and the resultant products need to withstand multiple reheats. The sort of clay used for pottery kiln shelving meets this criteria but I would welcome suggestions from potters on this. Otherwise, I’ll take the advice of a reputable supplier.

Here’s a list of possible products. The prices are a rough guess based on other things I`ve built. Shipping is not included.

For the RMH , cob oven or Masonry Stove
1. Round or squared slabs to be used as a clean cooking base and serving tray for pizza, flat bread, and other items cooked in a cob oven. $20

2. Round or squared slabs with little feet around the edge to be used as flame deflectors for ovens which are rocket fired from below. This would direct hot gasses against the sides of the oven. $30 - $50

3. Decorative feed mouths designed to fit standard J tube configurations. $50 - $100

4. Baffles meant to close off air flow in masonry stoves after firing. These could be dust pan shaped slabs meant to slide in and out or semicircular slabs meant to swivel on a pin. $30 - $60

5. Ceramic hangers meant to hook over the lip of a barrel. These could be geometrical in shape or could sport faces of animals etc. Long skinny stems could lead down to a number of flower heads. Since they’re upside down they would look like flowers being dried out. $10 - $40

6. Warming – drying oven with legs that fit standard barrel lip. This would be suspended above the hottest area in the centre of the barrel. It could look like a doll house or a mini cob oven. Probably $200+

7. Cob oven doors $75 - $150 The wooden doors are the weakest link in most oven designs.

8. Embossed tiles with the ``cob fingers.`` (I`ve just coined this term for the projections on the backs that allow objects to be firmly anchored in cob.) Having the fingers would allow single tiles to be used without the tendency to flake off of a clay surface or the need to include mortar.
--- Please add to this list --- In the future, please add to cart.

For Use in Cob Building
1. Coat and hat hangers meant to be inserted into the cob during construction. $3 - $20 Most available items for wall mounting rely on screws. For cob, we want a lumpy nub that sticks several inches into the wall. During construction a chunk of 2x2 wood, could be placed into the cob. Later, it is withdrawn and the stoneware hooks installed with some fresh cob.

2. Small shelving units for flat walls or corners. Same lumpy nub inserts into cob. $30 -$200

3. Flora and fauna representations with the same lumpy nub as on the coat hooks. On the more expensive coat hooks, these figures could transition into a hook. A cat`s tongue or bull`s horns could both form coat hooks. $20 - $50

4. Wall sconces to support lighting, sculpture etc. Same lumpy nub inserts into cob. $20 - $100

5. Hooks and rings to support clothes drying and other activities requiring rope.$5 - $20

These are just a few of the clay objects that I could see manufacturing on a small scale for use in cob and other earthen construction.
---Please add to this list---

All of these clay items could be made available in various shades to match typical earth plasters. I expect that I would personally make the more complex functional stuff. For mass production of hangers, flowers wall sconces and other small items, I`d have students who want to earn their bus trips make many of the simpler items in exchange for their trip. Test marketing the idea has shown that both students and retired people are interested in paying for travel by working at artsy things like this.

The kiln thing is just one of a number of fire arts that I am planning for, in developing my land as a tourist destination. I hope to attract a resident potter and have them handle most firings. Any glazing issues will be passed off as well. Check out DALE'S FIRESTORM OF HOT IDEAS – Includes forge, foundry, pottery and glass kilns and a heated pool. http://www.permies.com/t/19908/stoves/DALE-FIRESTORM-HOT-IDEAS-Includes

I’d be happy to have other potters pick up on some of these items. I just want to make the stuff available one way or another. I’ll do a little sculpting this week and take some green ware photos. No access to a kiln currently so you won’t see finished product until I deal with that.

Thank you: Dale Hodgins --- I may drive people crazy, but they don’t get bored in the process.
 
Erica Wisner
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All seem like generally workable ideas. A few thoughts:
- I mentioned earlier the functions of the wooden door for traditional earthen ovens: insulative, soaked in water, provides moisture (and often a slight smoky flavor, so the wood should be selected for pleasing smoke) to enhance artisan bread crusts.
Insulative ceramic materials - look up 'VIC' vernacular insulative ceramic, there was a paper out about rocket cookstoves in Uganda a few years back where they basically fired their own insulative brick using charcoal powder as a burn-away material for foam. Could be used for oven doors to integrate some insulation with a more durable handle element.

- Cob fingers: the grippier the better, and I'd build them in as much as possible while the wall is being formed. Another style might deliberately have a wide, shallow anchor suitable for retrofitting or embedding in a shallower earthen plaster layer.

- Drying racks, non-flammable hooks, etc: The ideal will be working out how tall a 'leg' is needed to avoid scorching things on the rack, or worse, having them catch fire. Wood cookstoves probably offer a reasonably similar temp range to a rocket mass heater, and some additional markets if the item can be used on both/either.

I like the idea of a natural clay-tinted range of products. I also think you might have a good appeal with a few contrast colors or details, like lime green, white, and turquoise blue, that make good highlights against the natural finishes.

Styling: Functional, simple, smooth lines is classic.
Testing the objects in their intended use, for example I've encountered some coat hooks that won't hold coats.
Anything like pizza stones or masonry heater parts would need to be very precisely flat on at least one side, ideally mold-formed or somehow quality checked for consistency. The damper valves are one of the fiddliest parts of a masonry heater and you might end up sending multiple replacements if the mason wasn't able to set the channel up to prevent wear/heat shock.
Would dishes and domes distribute heat stress (differential expansion) better than a flat plate?

You might also encourage your artistic 'traders' to produce their own lines of character pieces.
In the natural building movement, spirals, fern fronds, Celtic beasties or knots, (dragons, butterflies, mermaids).
In the homesteader / DIY / self-sufficiency movement: ranch themes (horseshoes, spurs, hats, wheels, livestock, horns), Nordic and Pueblo geometric motifs, native/tribal art.
General home decor: Acorns, Greek acanthus or column details, etc.
Many people collect particular animal themes like chickens, fish, frogs, etc.

Happy to post pictures of the RMH-related ones on our website once you're ready to produce them on order.

-Erica
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thank you, Erica for your design advice. We talked about other design stuff not shown here. I called the Wisners last night and learned quite a bit about their business and future plans. It started out on speaker phone but eventually Ernie retired for the night. During this call that lasted 7 hours and 40 minutes we not only discussed the RMH, but also solved all of the problems of the world in one sitting. Erica is an orator of unparalleled stamina. Everything that this couple are involved in serves to improve people's lives by teaching them useful skills in a learn while doing sort of way.

We discussed quite a bit about what goes into hosting a workshop and multiple RMH and rocket stove builds, where I supply qualified help. Turns out you can get quite a bit more done using people who are there to work than when it's done in a classroom sort of atmosphere. Since I fear that I may be unable to attract enough people to a workshop to justify the inefficiency that is inherent in that model, I will probably go with the semi skilled crew approach and may even hire a journeyman mason and his crew for a few days.

I'll build all foundations and acquire all materials in advance. I'll send photos of the foundations along with photos of all building components so that none of our time together is wasted on needless trips to town to hunt down supplies. My tenant owns an excavator that will dig foundations and premix a couple tons of cob.

I expect this to be a crash coarse for me in all things relating to fire, refractories, RMH , rocket stoves and working with cob. I expect to spend somewhere around $5,000 in total. Around $2,000 for the Wisners, $2,000 on paid labour if a professional mason and his crew is available and $1,000 on supplies. That number may rise, since I have no intention on cheaping out on top quality materials. Everyone's time has value and it would be false economy to work with sub-standard materials to produce inferior results. The time frame is dependant on both of our schedules and on me landing two or more decent demolition projects which would give me the financial cushion to carry each project to completion. The plan is to rough in the rocket feeds for the charcoal retort, the outdoor kitchen, the hot tub, a pottery kiln and to build the guts of two RMH units. All of the bench building and other finishing will happen after the Wisners head home.

This is likely to become the largest cluster of such devices in Western Canada and if I get the zoning that I'm seeking it should become second only to Ianto's place in total RMH count on a property owned by one man.

Over time all of these items will pay for themselves. The kiln and forge will produce saleable products and rental income. The RMH units will warm spaces where my camping bus customers sleep, showers and the hot tub will serve the group and the outdoor rocket kitchen will help feed everyone.

After this first batch of tools and toys is finished, my property will contain enough unique and fun activities to warrant bringing paying customers there. From that point on, workshops and fire art mini vacations will be offered to people from the city who want to make pottery, forge iron or cast bronze. My bus will bring them in batches of up to 24. If public interest warrants it, we'll plan for Ernie and Erica to return periodically to host workshops on RMH building and on some of the many other skills that they practice. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now, back to stoneware stuff.
Marketing ---


1. I plan to put some good photos on this forum and on other internet sites.

2. I will give Ernie and Erica a box of stuff containing around $200 worth of smaller items to test and use. They can then try to market approved items to their clients.

3. Good sellers will be made available by mail order and I'll also look for people who find themselves selling other green building products such as plasters and pigments to carry my stuff as well.

4. Cob builders and straw bale builders may wish to stock some items.

5. For the first run of each product, I'll produce only as many items as my own needs can absorb within 5 years. If things sell, I'll get bolder and do larger runs of popular items.

6. Builders of cob ovens and other masonry stoves are another market.

7. Green building photo contests --- I'll create a thread where people can submit photos of their cob work, RMH or other creation and the winner will be sent some coat hooks, or some decorative element that fits their project. After the winner receives and installs the item, they should then submit a photo showing it in use. This may or may not generate sales. If not, then it will be my little contribution to keeping the site visually interesting by rewarding quality photos of good work. I'll have to run this one by Paul for approval, since it's a bit of an add campaign along with a photo show. There's also a plan for some recycled steel hook blades. A similar contest for garden photos could get you one of these.

I'm betting that these contests will be quite popular.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Iron and Steel Tools.The launch of the stoneware products should roughly coincide with the launch of a few cob sculpting tools that I plan to bang out on the forge. I'm joining the local blacksmiths guild. If any of you with cob experience have ideas on how you'd shape cob sculpting trowels, gouges or picks, please drop in a drawing or send a photo of something good that you already have. Erica, send me a tracing of Ernie's hand and I'll make a trowel and a gouge to fit a bear paw. A little token of my appreciation for the hours of unpaid work you both do around here. Draw a wish list of possible shapes and I'll do my best.
 
Glenn Underhill
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How about food grade crocks, like for pickling or storing other types of food? Or do you only do RMH, etc?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Glenn Underhill wrote:How about food grade crocks, like for pickling or storing other types of food? Or do you only do RMH, etc?


That might be something for those who work the wheel. I think that those products are well covered by thousands of working potters. If I'm able to attract a potter to work there full time, I'm sure they'll have things. Crocks are so readily available that a mail order delivery system might not be as efficient as talking to one of the ten potters at the farmers market. Pottery is a touchy, feely sort of thing where most people are going to want to hold the product and examine it.

When I used to carve wooden bowls, I was competing with dozens of wood turners trying to sell round bowls. My bowls had natural shapes and within a week of carving my first one, I was making a living wage. Many skilled turners were not so lucky because they did not differentiate themselves in the market place.

The only other problem I have with crocks is that so often, when I disagree with someone, they refer to my pronouncements as nothing more than a crock of SHIT.
 
Nancy Sinclaire
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Dale I read lots of interesting boards on way varied topics and you are by far the most creative, energetic poster I have ever seen. I especially like your posts on how to save personal physical energy... lean don't stand. Back to your post, "Decorative feed mouths" It would be so much cooler to feed my imaginary RMH in my imaginary passive solar house if the feed tube had great big dragon teeth and a bit of dorsal ridge and big blue reflective eyes that flickered with the glow of the fire. Who would not want to sit on a cozy dragon body and tail? Who would not want a RMH warmed coat and boots? With the dryer I would worry the plant material would get too hot or when the fire was not going yet the material was enclosed, too damp. What would I like to produce out of clay? I would like to make my very own BSFL bin. They tried making real big ones of these for other countries as the base of outhouses. That would be a bigger project with less dainty materials. But a personal BSFL bin that can eat fish guts would be cool. Maybe not clay. Maybe a much, much cheaper material. But still get to play with a clay like material. Unfortunately BSFL are not as easy in Canada as more southerly areas. You talked about adding botanical designs to clay. I myself prefer zero design on anything so as to not confuse the mind. White sheets, white tile, white plates, white notebook covers with zero design or decoration anywhere because it confuses my mind and I love plain blank. However, if I was the king or queen perhaps of a small country I would allow myself one small bit of decorative tile perhaps as part of the now outdated fireplace mantle. It would be from this company: http://www.stillwaterporcelain.com/ I would do a tiny bit of tile because who wants a decoration on a plate under their food. This company does botanical designs in clay. It is costly because they probably pay a living wage to artists to hand paint. I would like something like that above where I hang my coat or feed my dragon. Now I want a dragon to feed. Dragons want twigs not hunks o wood. And make nostrils where incense can be burned or water placed to create steam or smoke tablets like old electric trains. Way cool.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Nancy Sinclaire wrote:Dale I read lots of interesting boards on way varied topics and you are by far the most creative, energetic poster I have ever seen.
Dale I read lots of interesting boards on way varied topics and you are by far the most creative, energetic poster I have ever seen.
Dale I read lots of interesting boards on way varied topics and you are by far the most creative, energetic poster I have ever seen.
Editing can be fun.

Thank you Nancy.
(Does anyone know where I can find a bronze frame)
I've been quite a prolific poster lately mostly because I've been formulating big plans for my property and business and then there's the rain. These plans often exceed what my nest egg can currently deliver, so you'll notice that most everything has a way to make money Then there's the issue that my brain doesn’t always shut off at night and I kept it all bottled up for 46 years. If my fingers were faster, I'd probably write a best seller every day and all of the problems of the universe would be solved as everyone would agree to put me in charge.

That sounds like a pretty elaborate dragon you've cooked up. The one in my mind has gold leaf surrounding eyes that move, nickel plated toe nails, diamond encrusted ... titanium wings ...he works like a coo coo clock and does a lap around the house every hour, he babysits and cooks. The one in my kiln is likely to be embossed into the side of a simple flue like structure about a foot high with a simple green wash finish. A few tweaks to the upper rim make it reminiscent of a Chinese roof line and we're done. But it's fun to dream.

On the black soldier fly larvae issue, I think the best place for them in cooler climates is in a greenhouse. An outhouse would have to be in a greenhouse to contain flies and larvae in most cold climate cases. I can't imagine why anyone would build an outhouse that is not in a greenhouse attached to the house so they can avoid freezing both themselves and their system. Overall, it seems that this fascination with poop has gotten a bit out of hand with many elaborate contraptions that are unneeded. It's a simple problem with many simple solutions available.

That website has many things in muted pastel tones. It looks to me that you don't like overpowering, in your face decor. For a clean classic look, it's hard to beat Moroccan blue on white.
 
Dale Hodgins
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CRUCIBLES
One item that I intend to make but not sell are crucibles. When I first checked out the price of crucibles and then found out that there was an amazing spread between the price of the clay and the finished product, I was sold.

Two minutes later I sobered up and thought about it. Do I want the liability that comes with helping inebriated yokels pour molten metals in their basements and carports ? A little tour down YouTube lane convinced me that many guys will melt metals while taking no more precautions than would be expected if it were an Easy Bake Oven. One dummy did it in shorts and sandals. The worst offenders are preppers who've convinced themselves that their very survival rests on their ability to convert $10 worth of aluminium cans into $3 worth of ingots while burning $5 worth of charcoal. Burnt toes will heal. I'm more worried about their lungs and the long term affects of over exposure to a variety of metals on their already misfiring central nervous systems.

I will only produce crucibles for my own use and I'll wear one of those space suits when pouring iron.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I've started with the blacksmithing part of my fire arts plan. Some of the clay items will have iron hinges or hangers and some things like hooks are being tried in both clay and metal. I'm tearing down two chimneys next week, and will save the firebrick if they come out intact. Check out DALE'S FIRESTORM OF HOT IDEAS – Includes forge, foundry, pottery and glass kilns and a heated pool. --- http://www.permies.com/t/19908/wood-burning-stoves/DALE-FIRESTORM-HOT-IDEAS-Includes The kiln and forge will always be linked in that some products compliment one another and both will consume wood, wood gas or both. Both processes can involve spectators.
 
Ernie Wisner
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awesome Dale!
Can i have a peek at some of your stuff?
I would also like to have you make me a few custom pieces if we can come to an agreement on price. I have a couple R and D projects i need to start getting materials for.

specifically
i could use several 11 inch bricks (about 50)
some 14 inch bricks (about 50)
high alumina silica clay.

they can be 1" thick but i need the length and height of a standard fire brick with the same precision.

I could also use a capping slab 24X24 inches 1 inch thick with a good high fire white glaze on one side.

could i get an estimate?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Ernie Wisner wrote:awesome Dale!
Can i have a peek at some of your stuff?
I would also like to have you make me a few custom pieces if we can come to an agreement on price. I have a couple R and D projects i need to start getting materials for.

specifically
i could use several 11 inch bricks (about 50)
some 14 inch bricks (about 50)
high alumina silica clay.

they can be 1" thick but i need the length and height of a standard fire brick with the same precision.

I could also use a capping slab 24X24 inches 1 inch thick with a good high fire white glaze on one side.

could i get an estimate?


Too soon for estimates on clay items. You'll get some prototypes for the price of the clay and shipping since your jobs will be a proving ground for those products. I would simply ask that some items make it into photos and videos that you publish. When you come to do the builds that we talked about, I hope to send you home with a variety of no risk consignment items. If your customers like the stuff, then we'll work out a plan for distribution. I could ship some small stuff to you but since you're travelling by car, it probably makes sense to ship larger items directly to your end user.

I just got started on the blacksmithing part of my grand plan and then got two months worth of 24/7 demolition work. See photos below. The kiln is still a pile of bricks. I finished the two giant chimneys today --- about 30 tons of bricks and 10 tons of granite. The mortar was super strong. None of the firebrick survived. The toughest 5 days of brick work of the hundreds I've done. I figure I swung the sledge and heavy bar between 15,000 and 20,000 times and I'm totally spent.

Ernie, I'm making some special trowels for cob. Send me a sketch of any shape that you think might be handy. I plan to give you a couple of them in recognition of your contributions to the advancement of knowledge for all of us. One style that I haven't seen is a model meant for two handed spreading of plaster. Picture a wood plane grip system mounted on a broad plate. This would allow the worker to really move material efficiently. I'm also going to make a few gouges that work with a pulling motion. The handle will have a T shape so that the gouge can be really tugged on. Picture an oversized rip cord grip with padding on it. I'm watching for broken flat mouthed spades that can be converted to trowels with some trimming and the addition of handles. Planes that are missing the cutter and adjustments can be converted with the addition of a bottom plate.

Photos-
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Ernie Wisner
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I can tell you why you dont see long boards we usually make our own Some good Handles would be great rather than the blades. Tools for Cob? a good trimming spud a steel burnishing trowel, bull nose and round over trowels. then some nice flexible application trowels that you can put a little body into. most of the problem with trowels is the lack of strength. one needs to be able to put some force on them and not worry much about them breaking. for my R and D I would be happy to test but not so happy to take pictures of since many of the things i am testing wont be ready for prime time. what we would be able to do is take close ups that wont show the entire installation, would that do? I can get you sketches of the tools I would also broaden my thinking into good home stead tools. lots of good cutting and moving tools are no longer in production. things like block knives (the ones you staple to a good sized round and use to trim wood and remove chicken heads) Rock hoops, corking spuds, heck even some real flensing scrapers would be a good addition since there are now folks preparing there own hides. hmm some smaller things to make would be tap and dies made for wood. the ones for sale now are few and far between and about as cheaply made as one could get. A good steel bladed jack knife that wasn't all polish and ping, carpenters hatchets with a beards for finer work. lots of things folks could use in the modern permiculture and building movement. thought of another one a tripod connector with an eye for a block and tackle. make the poles stick them into the iron mount and put the tackle on, one very fast impromptu crane. thousands of items that are no longer produced but are handy for good work. many of them we have lost and companies keep trying to re create out of cheap materials.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Ernie Wisner wrote:I can tell you why you dont see long boards we usually make our own Some good Handles would be great rather than the blades. Tools for Cob? a good trimming spud a steel burnishing trowel, bull nose and round over trowels. then some nice flexible application trowels that you can put a little body into. most of the problem with trowels is the lack of strength. one needs to be able to put some force on them and not worry much about them breaking. for my R and D I would be happy to test but not so happy to take pictures of since many of the things i am testing wont be ready for prime time. what we would be able to do is take close ups that wont show the entire installation, would to good home stead tools.quote



Dale here: my mobile phone sometimes eliminates the quotes.
I'm not sure what you mean by boards, unless that's another name for the flat part of a trowel. I'm going to the blacksmith place on Wednesday, and will work on bull nose model.
 
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