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Spraying Glazes: Equipment

I started ceramics at a community center where you just dipped your pieces and done. When I started to work in my own garage, with my own kiln, I had to change from cone 10 to cone 6. I didn’t know what glazes I’d like or how they would react. Not to mention, there are so many colors to choose from! I love color and I wanted to try them all! Buying enough glaze to dip wasn’t an option. That’s just too darn expensive. What if I didn’t like the glaze? I’d still have a ton of glaze to deal with. Well, if I only buy glazes in pint size, I could brush all my glazes. I did that for awhile, but if you are making a fair amount of stuff, brushing gets old fast.

Spraying seemed like a reasonable option. I didn’t know much about it. I gotta tell you, it is pretty awesome. I love what I can do and the looks I can get. Hopefully, if you are thinking of trying it, this will help you on your way. First, let’s talk about getting equipment.

How do we get the glaze onto the piece? Airbrush? Way too small. Paint gun? Now we’re talking. The original purpose of a HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) gun is not to spray glaze. They were designed for painting cars, but they happen to work great for spraying glazes. I was told that the gravity fed guns are the way to go, so that’s where I started. The cheapest way to go is Harbor Freight Tools. I used mine for a couple of years before I decided to upgrade. Unfortunately, the needle started to rust rather early on. You can use 400 grit sandpaper and lightly sand it to remove the rust, but it’s kind of a pain to have to do that after every time you spray. I guess if I was more careful about drying it off after I washed it down, it might have helped. I’m pretty lazy, so that means I was sanding a fair amount. I upgraded to a Husky HVLP spray gun from Home Depot. Stainless steel needle. No sanding. Comes with 2 size nozzles, Big and Bigger. lol. 1.4mm and 1.7mm which both spray a lot of glaze quickly. After using the Harbor Freight el cheapo, the Husky was like driving a Porsche. Smooth, nice and lovely. I also got a smaller gun for adding details (it has a 0.7mm). I got it from Harbor Freight Tools as well.

The next major purchase is a compressor. Yes, you can use any shop compressor, but I got to tell you, they are crazy loud. I started spraying outside the garage, with a shop compressor in the garage and heavy duty noise headphones. It was still crazy loud. It was so uncomfortable spraying. With a little research, I found this awesome little compressor. It’s almost as loud as a vacuum cleaner. That is way more tolerable. If you’re interested, I found a couple of videos of compressors on Youtube so you can hear the difference. ( This compressor was a total game changer. I can actually listen to music while I’m spraying with my ear buds. It’s a bit more expensive than the others, but let me tell you, if you plan on spraying, this is the one. There is a one gallon version, but I got the 4.7 gallon, because occasionally I need to use a nail gun and this one can do it all.

A couple more things you need to get. A hose to connect the compressor to the spray gun. I use a ⅜” one, because it was a hand me down. Finally, you need an adapter for the spray gun. This is a quick release 1/4″ NPT Female Plug. They are only a few dollars, so I bought a different one for each gun. I also got one for the end that connects to the compressor.

Finally, a respirator. It’s important to protect those pink lungs you have. If you don’t have a respirator, a dust mask will work, but I find I can spray a lot more with my respirator on.

Well, that sums up all the equipment I use for spraying. Hope this helps you start spraying!

Left: ¼” NPT Female Plug. Right: 3M 2097 Half Mask 6000 Series

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DIY Slab Roller

I found the original plans through Pinterest and Youtube. You can click on either link to see 2 different videos. At the end of the Youtube video, the creator posted his email so you can request these plans. I have included the plans I received from Dale below with a few modifications on the Cable Winding.

I decided to make a table top version since I’m primarily a wheel throwing kind of gal, but I do enjoy handbuilding. I didn’t fill my pipes with cement, although I might do that later down the line and add handles. Haven’t decided yet. I also didn’t put in the spacers for the wire because I couldn’t find something to work with the ABS pipe. I suppose if you get the white PVC, you will have better luck finding something like in the videos. My bad for getting the ABS, but they were the right size and I didn’t want to buy a 10′ PVC pipe to use only 4′. I’ll include the break down of costs and the measurements for the one I made below. I didn’t include tax or the price of screws since I just used what screws I had handy. Also, I got my wood from a local lumber place, so the prices might be a little higher than Home Depot. Now I kind of wish I didn’t add it all up because it was more than I thought. Oh well, still worth it!

Breakdown of Costs:
1″ x 4″ x 72″ (6ft) Poplar $11.34
1″ x 6″ x 48″ (4ft) Poplar $9.72
1″ x 2″ x 108″ (9ft) Poplar $7.62
1/8″ x 2′ x 4′ Masonite $3.65
½” x 2′ x 4′ Plywood $11.12
(1) Turnbuckle 7/32″ x 4 ¾” $2.99
(2) Fixed Pulley 1 ¼” $8.74
(2) Ferrule and Stop Set $3.96
(4) Aluminum Trim Channel $18.96
(4) 1 ¼” Single Pulley (Grainger) $17.84
1/8″ x 30′ Uncoated Wire Rope $8.40
(2) 2″ x 2′ ABS pipe $6.72
(4) 2″ ABS Cap Hub $19.48
¼” x 2′ x 4′ Masonite $3.72
Total: $134.26

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DIY Spray Booth

I’ll talk about why I spray glazes in another post, but now, let’s talk about my spray booth.  A friend of mine told me the idea of having a curtain of water to catch glaze overspray rather than a fan sucking it out.  I thought that sounded brilliant.  I started trying to find ideas on Pinterest.  I had seen a shower stall cut down, but that seemed like a lot of work and I didn’t know where to find one someone was throwing away.  I wasn’t about to buy one and then cut it in half!  After brainstorming with a friend, we thought a dishwasher shell might do the trick.  Somehow I convinced my husband and son to pick up an old dishwasher in our Prius for my birthday.  It was great fun taking it apart, knowing I didn’t have to fix it and put it back together again.  I should have kept the lower brackets it rested on, but I got a little over zealous and chucked it before I realized I needed it.  Oops.

Next someone gave me an old fountain pump and I tried hooking a drip line.  Long story short, not enough pressure to move the water to the top.  Got a bigger fountain pump.  Not enough pressure to get the water to all the walls.  Got a bigger hose.  Punctured holes with a needle too.  It worked!  Started spraying.  Holes got plugged with glaze.  Got my drill out and made more and bigger holes.  Ta-da!

I attached a plastic pan at the bottom and drilled hole for the water to pour out into the bucket below with the pump where it goes back up into the system again.

I still need to build better legs for it and I’d like add some kind of filter in the pan before the water pours down to the bucket to clean the water a bit.  It’s a work in progress, but for now, it’s a great way to spray.

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DIY Website

Sure you could pay someone to make a website for you, but I have found if you want more control to update or change things, and be cheap, it’s better to do it yourself!  The next question is, how the heck do you do it?

There are several parts to getting a website up and running.
1.  You gotta decide what you want your website address to be.  What do you want people to remember you by?  When I first started Motion Graphics, I came up with a company name, “Giant Kid Studios.”  Over the years I have learned several things.  3 words is too long.  It becomes too much when you are writing things up or just referring to your website.  In addition to that, there is general confusion, am I Giant Kid Studios, or are there other people that work with me?  Should they pay Giant Kid Studios, or Alice Fujii.  Eventually, I just started going by my name to avoid confusion.  That way people only have to remember one name.  “Oh, I like that artist, Alice Fujii.  Let’s hire her for the next gig.  What’s the name of her website/company again?”  You always want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you.  There are reasons for going by other another name if you are going to incorporate, it depends how much business you plan on doing.  Incorporating is great if you get sued so they can’t go after your personal assets, they can only go after your business assets.  For me, incorporating was not a consideration.

The next step is finding a web host.  Usually web hosts will help you secure a web address.  So, how do you pick a web host?  There are SO many out there.  I’m pretty frugal (cheap), so I start with who’s the cheapest.  The thing to remember is that there are additional add ons you are going to have to pay for, so they might advertise it’s only $1.99 a month, but after adding all the additions you need to do, it ends up being quite a bit more.  Shop around and know how you are going to create the content and if you are going to have a shopping cart capability.  Check what all the extra charges cover.  If you are having a shop on your site, you probably want the extra security so no one steals your customer’s credit card info.  If not, then that is a huge cost you don’t need.

Finally, how do MAKE the website?  Let’s talk about the cheapest way to go, WordPress.  I’m not talking about  that is a company that takes your money, I’m talking about  WordPress is an open source application.  That means anyone can contribute to make it better and its FREE.  WordPress has many free templates you can use to format your site.  There are many more templates you can buy if you want something fancier, or something you can manipulate more.  For a clean, nice, simple website, I have found the free templates to be more than adequate.  Keep in mind that these templates are made to be used as is.  The colors and fonts they have are selected for a reason.  If you don’t like something about the template, find another rather than trying to beat one into submission.  If you want to have a shopping cart, or slide show, or questionnaire, you can add an extension.  An extension is a bit of programing that allows whatever you are looking for.  Again, there are many that are free, and many that you can pay for.  As you can imagine, the ones you pay for, might have better directions, or support, but it’s up to you. has a ton of tutorials under their support page to get you up and running.

Picture added for eye candy.  🙂


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DIY Photo Studio

I started out with a photo booth I bought at Amazon.  It was 24″ square with white, blue, red and black backgrounds.  It worked for most situations, but to be honest, the solid backgrounds always made me feel like they weren’t very professional looking.  I could never get the lighting correct, so I just left all the windows open and let the sunlight filter through the sides.  It worked okay, but I still didn’t feel like I was getting the kind of photos I wanted.  So, I finally got off my tush and bought a graduated background.  It’s PVC, so hopefully it will be durable.  I’m a slob and pretty rough with things.

It didn’t fit in the current step up I had, so I looked on the all-knowing Pinterest and found I could make a nice box out of PVC.  I can do PVC.  I have installed and fixed sprinklers all the time in our yard.  I had read some where that a white cloth shower curtain is perfect to diffuse lights.  I was too lazy to go to all the dollar stores, so I went to Amazon and got mine for $7.  I probably over paid, but I’m lazy about some things.  The lights came from my original kit I got from Amazon, but I broke a bulb so had to search online for a new one.  That was a pain, but turned out to be a good thing.  In order to match the lights I had, I was looking for a halogen 5000K 50W bulb.  (5000K is the color the light, which is basically natural sunlight.  All I could find was LED.  So glad I did because they don’t get hot like the halogens one.  I ended up buying a pack of 6 because I figured I’d need extra eventually.  Also a good thing because I ended up changing all of them to LED.  I had trouble with hot spots, but after asking some for advice on “Clay Buddies,” a page on Facebook, a suggestion was to put the lights back a few feet and add one top.  That did the trick.  One of my lights is hiding in the armoire to the right.  May I present, my photo booth!  Last picture is the result of all this.