I seem to go through the same cycle with each "kiln opening". At first I am very pleased--nothing exploded, the kiln reached just the temperature it was programed to do, and some of the pieces look nice. Then I carry them in the house and begin to look more closely at each piece. Then I see the flaws--and there are ALWAYS flaws. Probably I have not yet produced a flawless piece. So I get discouraged. Then I start making notes about the results, one piece at a time. And then, maybe, I begin to be a bit more pleased with the results. This firing was no different.
To begin, I peeked into the kiln before it was OK to unload. I saw to my horror that the kiln had not reached the desired temperature. The firings are measured by "heat work"--time and temperature figure into the final achievement--which we measure in terms of "cones". I am firing to cone 6--a mid-range temperature. But the cone pack showed that I had only reached cone 5 in this firing. Oh bother, as Pooh would say. I expected to need to refire the whole lot. But when I could open the kiln and begin unloading an hour or so later I found that ONLY the top shelf had underfired. The other 2 cone packs--one in the middle and one on the bottom--had reached a perfect cone 6! OK, so now for the results:
The piece I was most interested in (excited about) was my carved bowl. It came out fine--the glaze did not perform as I wished and there is a little problem with glaze cover on the rim, but it is satisfying. The bowl is about 10 1/2" across and about 3 1/2 high.
Another bowl that I like a lot is one onto which I applied the glaze decoration in the style of Harding Black, one of San Antonio's great potters. This bowl is about 9 1/2 " across and about 4" high.
And I like this little box--much smaller than the image would suggest--it is about 4 inches tall and 4X5 across the lid. It did not come out at all as I had imagined but it is pleasing to me anyway.
Of course, there are a lot more pieces in the kiln of varying degrees of satisfaction. But all and all it feels like a good start. How is it, after 4 1/2 years, I can still think of myself as just starting as a potter?