Thursday 27 May 2010

A Few Survivors

These are amongst the few that didn't need the disastrous refiring.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

A Nasty Outcome

This was the best shelfload in the refired kiln. I refuse to show the nasty stuff that was below it.
I lined them all up, grouped in sickly colours, bubbled glaze, nasty textures. Ugly.
The new sister-in-law said "I can take them and sell them in my dad's shop". Oh no. Oh no no no. She did not understand why I had a hammer in my hand.
There was NOTHING in that kiln that I'd want to sit behind at a craft fair and take responsibility for. Nothing I'd feel even satisfied by, let alone proud of. Nothing I wouldn't feel ashamed to sell.
And it's the glazing, and the glazes that have killed them. The dark blue plate  had rounded  edges on the break, so it broke in the re-heating, not through over vigorous cooling. More even glaze thickness would help, but again, some of the glazes don't seem to have matured, and definitely don't match the descriptions in the catalogue.
So the next stage will be test tiles, new mixes, line-blends, triaxial blends... and an attempt at better control of thicknesses, I stuck one mug VERY badly to the shelf, it was double dipped.
I'll need to grind that bit. 
I'm a bit despondent right at this minute, to be honest. 
I've always been more interested in the making than the glazing, but this is ridiculous.

Bash bash smash, gimme a beer.

Sunday 23 May 2010

Firing Follies.

Well, I finally got around to a glaze firing. As they say, "every picture tells a story" , this one only tells part of one. The glaze is an old friend, Emmanuel Cooper gave the recipe in Ceramic review a zillion years ago.... I've mutated it a bit, as you do. It behaves differently on different bodies. where it's thin, you get blue, thick, you get pink. Very thick you get crystals. And it's prone to running, if applied thick enough to get pink. Which is why you can't see the bottom. yep;- chisel time on the shelf.

The rest of the firing was somewhat disappointing.
I need a beer. Or several.

As I've said before, I've always had a healthy suspicion of ready-mixed glazes. I like to be the alchemist, mixing ground-up rocks, I like to know what's in it, how it will behave, I like to think I can tweak it for better fit, surface, or whatever. Yes, I know that it's a somewhat imaginary stance to take, but it makes me feel as if I'm part of the process, not just a bystander.
All those little  tubs of expensive mystery-mix... pastel powders mixed with water... They all seem to have a fairly high clay content, because they stay suspended quite well, but also stay goopy to the touch longer than I'd like. I mean, I'm holding a bowl with two fingers outstretched across the footring. And that vice-like glazer's grip I once had is out of practice, so, I want to flip the bowl upright and onto a board, but it's still shiny-wet, and I fear the goop will slide if I flip.... so I'm holding, fingers tremoring... and it's a race between absorbtion and fatigue.

It's okay. I won that battle. But the end results were far from what I'd hoped for, cone 9 was down, out for the count, the glazes should have been mature, but in fact, were mostly not. Fairly even, top to bottom, I'd say, so the kiln's okay-ish, but I'm refiring right now. with a longer soak. The polygonal toploader is a new experience for me, with thinner walls than kilns I've used before, and it may be that the temperature drop-off is quicker, and I may have to do a power-controlled drop from top to, say, 1100C.
I want my wood-kiln back!

I'll learn. Out of all those glazes, there are a couple that I can tolerate.  I also made a stupid error, when there was a lot of steam, (I'd also put a group of freshly glazed pots in with the refires) I sought to hold the kiln a while, messed with the program. Sprang out of bed at five a.m. to go see what should have been an almost peaking firing, and discovered that I'd inadvertently told it to hold at 150 degrees c all night.
So I set it going again, and it won't be cool enough to look at until tomorrow, and I'll be at work, so I'll be crippled with suspense until six p.m., a whole twenty-for hours away.
Of course, if my run of errors holds, I'll find everything has run and stuck to the shelves.

More pics will follow, probably.

Oh: P.S. Although the firing wasn't as I'd hoped, some of the contents have already been exported, and have been, I've just been informed, enthusiastically received on the far side of the atlantic.

Friday 21 May 2010

Donor Sperm

It is my impression that this service is widely available. Free. Just ask the nearest man.
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Monday 3 May 2010

I Was Mixing...

...A whole stack of doll's-house sized glaze batches today. Now the last time I tried mixing one of these 1Kg, 2.2lb bags of glaze powder, it drove me mad, trying to get a smooth mix, push it through an eighty-mesh sieve, clean multiple containers, I even resorted to pestle and mortar to scrunch the lumpy bits...
Then, wandering through the large supermarket, (where I bought all those snap-top containers)... I saw a little hand-blender. How much? £4:50? ($6.86), so I thought... give it a try. When I got to the checkout, the girl said, "Keep the till receipt, it's your guarantee!"
Ha!, little did she know just how far away from milky drinks my plans were. I can report it does an excellent job.
As you can see, I was not too scientific about water amounts, I'll adjust the thicknesses later. I'm still amazed what a totally smooth lump-free mix the thing does. I wish they'd existed back in my college days! It did get a bit hot, but hey, it's under guarantee. I wonder how many I'll get replaced in the coming year?

Next question is what colour to glaze each item in. And so far, I've not settled on a chosen clay body, and I've made NO test tiles.
 I used to make stacks of the damn things, some would go on a board on the wall as a quick reference, others would be tied to glaze buckets and bins as clear identifiers, given that one batch of gloop often looks exactly like another, in wet form...
I used to have a matt turquoise/blue/green/purple glaze, I remember it had a heap of barium carbonate, and copper carbonate, I think the purple might have had manganese, but... disaster. somewhere there's a dog-eared notebook, with every glaze I ever mixed, and I can't find it. I really don't think I could have ever knowingly thrown it away, but there have been a couple of chaotic periods in my life in between, with house moves and an interim period of posessions scattered all over the place, boxes, bags, basements, attics... I may never see it again.
The glaze recipe was given to me by a potter who died a couple of years back. It may take quite a while to reinvent it. It was such an electric colour, so bright, verdigris, lapis-lazuli, such a beauty.

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Sunday 2 May 2010


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Lawn Mowing Time...

I love this and want it so much it hurts. I want the leaf-blower option too, and a snowplough blade and the helicopter blades and and and...

It occurs to me that it might not need so much cooling if you just threw away the bubble canopy. But, of course, if you did, it would no longer be the mega-coolest mower on the third planet.
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Saturday 1 May 2010

Padstow May Song

'Tis May day, and all around Britain folk were a-dancing around the maypole or otherwise doing strange pagan things to greet the sun, to greet the summer, to greet the growing season, rebirth...

In my childhood, my family used to take holidays at Padstow, in Cornwall. This is the may song from that town, (one of many versions).. where today the streets will be thronged, with local folk and visitors.

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