Friday, September 29, 2006
I am glazing today--and tomorrow--and Sunday. But it is hard! I've spent most of the day setting up for glazing! That is hard--setting up outside to spray glaze--but the really hard part is trying to figure out what glaze or glazes to use and how and so on. So I take a few breaks! One of my favorite pastimes is reading posts on the Clayart listserve. Today there has been a little discussion about teabowls--stimulated by looking at the teabowls of Steve Harrison.
One of my most treasured pottery experiences was a trip to Japan with several other potters. Our little group of beginner potters worked for a week in a studio in Mashiko and at the end of our week we could select a few pieces we had made to have glazed, fired and then shipped back home. It took over a year for the work to arrive. I had forgotten what I had made! There is a 'set' of 6 small 'teabowls' and one slightly larger matching bowl (Lee called it my begging bowl.) They are clearly the work of an inexperienced potter--but I really love them!
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Today I loaded a bisque firing. And tomorrow I will set up outside to glaze, with the spray gun, some pots that are already bisqued. I seem to have had better luck with spraying glazes than I am having now with dipping in the glaze buckets.
Of course, the big challenge is that I want to participate in a craft fair that is scheduled for October 14--and right now I don't have work that I would be willing to put out for sale. When I signed up to participate I had no idea of the troubles that lay ahead.
I bought some ware racks from a friend who is no longer potting. They will be a great boon to my production process. They are in the carport where the kiln is located and where I set up to spray glazes. The racks give me places to put my greenware ware for loading into the kiln and then place for the bisqued ware to await glazing. Loading and unloading the kiln has required innumerable trips in and out of the house--this will cut down on lots of leg work. (Bisqued ware is on the left, greenware is slow drying, underwraps, on the right.)
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I have also given a lot more attention to my glaze application this time. Not because of the pinhole problems but to unattractive patterns on the fired surface from uneven glaze thickness. So I spent 2 days glazing this small load of pots. I am as eager to see the results of this attention to glaze application as to the effect of the firing schedule change.
I have wondered, in the past, if I made a mistake not getting a larger kiln. Boy, am I glad I don't have a big kiln to have to load to run all these 'tests'. These days it feels like I need a smaller kiln!
I can see that all these challenges have a benefit--I am learning a lot. But I am really ready for some happy results! I've got my fingers crossed!
Monday, September 18, 2006
So now I am waiting for the end of a long, slow bisque firing to see if that is where the problems originated. The idea is that perhaps the ^04 bisque firing is not getting all the combustibles fired out and gasses still being released in the glaze firing is causing the pinholes. As soon as this firing ends I'll glaze and fire again to see if that was the source of the pinholes.
I am very discouraged, as can be seen! And it is hard to get up and going under the circumstances. But I've seen that if I am not motivated to get back into my clay work all I have to do is get into the studio and start straightening things up and washing them off. Then like magic I'm back into the swing of things. Sandy Miller had written that having an assistant do the morning mopping for her ruined the whole day. That is when she works out her day's schedule and without that organizational workout she is lost for the day. Funny creatures we are.
I've been playing with some paperclay this week. It has been fun. It is a change from the usual as it is hand-building which I never do--being so addicted to the wheel. I''ve been making sushi plates and have enjoyed stamping decorations onto them. Hope they hold up to the firing!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Tomorrow I load the kiln and begin again, re-inspired.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I spoke with Armadillo Clay about my experience. It was recommended that I refire and take the firing temperature up a bit higher as the common wisdom says pinholes are the result of underfiring. The conflict is that Armadillo Clay stresses that one must not fire Cinco Blanco above cone 5. I am getting a cone 6 touching in my current firing schedule. So I will reload the kiln and refire.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
I am now more aware of the need to become a better observer. I know that some of my glazes ‘spit’—but I have not tried to figure out which ones are doing the spitting. And now after the bad flows and dumping of glazes I am making a real effort to know which glazes can’t be mixed—which was the cause of the worst problems in the last firing. On the test bowls I had dipped the rims in different washes or ash glazes to see what they would do. Where I let the overlap get too close to the foot I got the most serious runs—sticking the foot to the shelf and melting into the shelf. On the plates I was overlapping glazes to see how they worked together. The biggest mess was putting M&M Clear over Denim and Charcoal! That is the combination that dumped the big piles of glazes on the shelf.When I unload a glaze firing I am so eager to see the results on the pots that I don’t take note of what has happened to the shelf under each pot. So I want to slow down and try to take it all in. I have gone back and figured out which pieces caused the mess that happened in the last firing. But I still don’t know which glazes are ‘spitting’.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Some potters can connect their love of working in clay to early childhood memories of clay-making with a parent, grandparent or in a youth class. I have no such memories but I do find an early connection to my clay-working addiction. Two, in fact. First, I have always been strongly attracted to ‘hand-made, home-made”—textiles and food, for example. I never feel more elegantly dressed than in some of the wonderful Mexican hand embroidered shirts and dresses that crowd my closet. (That is one in the photo under "About Me".) I love setting my table with the hand-made pottery that we bought in Dolores Hidalgo so many years ago and I love serving the food I make in stoneware cooking vessels. I can’t imagine a more beautiful bedroom than one with a hand-made quilt for the cover of the bed. Second, I am stuck at the two-year old level of wanting to “do it myself”. If I am treating someone to dinner it will be a dinner I have prepared myself! When I see something beautiful in a gift shop I want to figure out how to make it—more than how to have it! So it is no surprise that I love getting to make pottery. The big surprise is that it took me so long to discover that I might do just that! Perhaps I realized that with raising a family and helping to run the Montessori school we started I had not the time or the money to get into such an avocation. That was the surprise waiting for me at my retirement! And what a glorious treat it has been for this end of the journey. The challenges and the successes are constant joys. I consider myself incredibly lucky and fortunate to be doing what I am doing and to have the support of Jim, my husband.
Friday, September 01, 2006
I can’t believe it has been a week since the last entry! Some significant happenings:
I have applied (and been accepted) to exhibit at the Craft and Music Festival at Northwood Presbyterian Church mid-October. Cat is also planning to exhibit and we’ve been promised to be placed next to one another. The festival is just one day and that is more in line with my capacity right now than a whole weekend! I am enthusiastic about it now but know I’ll be pretty nervous starting around the first of October.
Herb Risch loaned me some tapes of the Bill Van Gilder TV show on pottery making. Each episode focuses on a different form of functional pottery. I am really enjoying watching the tapes. For one reason, I am as addicted to watching someone throw as I am to throwing myself! And I pick up some new clue or hint from each viewing—it is very stimulating.
I’ve been cranking out the greenware! I’m sure I have more than a kiln load now ready to be bisqued. But I have some awful glaze drips on my kiln shelves that I have to try to remove before I fire again. The last firing with all those tests produced some really bad flows down onto the shelves. I tried clearing them this morning using a chisel and hammer—but have some real stubbon spots. Tomorrow I will try using my Dremmel tool—then I will have to try to grind the shelves clean with a grinder. What a pain!
On a happier note, this evening we celebrated as a family of exhibiting artists! Jim has 4 small canvases hanging at La Tuna downtown near Blue Star and Ben has a piece hanging at Studio B not far away. Jim and I visited the gallery with Ben’s piece then we went to La Tuna to see Jim’s work where Ben joined us for dinner. Very pleasant evening—such a newly shared focus in our lives! Has Jim talking about moving into the downtown area instead of out to the country when/if our home sells. What interesting twists and turns life introduces.