Wednesday, November 9, 2011

they're back...

I picked up my glaze load yesterday on the way home from work.  I think it is safe to say that at this stage of my education in the making of pottery, every firing is going to be a lesson in accepting small victories, and hopefully learning what not to do next time.  ;) 

These pieces of pottery are OK, but overall I am just not very happy with the results of this glaze firing.  On every piece (almost without exception) the glaze appear thin, with long streaks of glaze dripping down in some spots.  And in other places, there are blotchy areas with almost no shine on the surface at all.  And I also had some bubbling or blistering on a couple of them.  Ugh.  The good news is, I am pretty sure I know why they turned out the way they did.  I made the mistake of thinning the glaze down this time, thinking that it was too thick last time.  Hmmmmm... It's just a guess, but everything seems to point in that direction.   Also, between the two glaze loads I've sent to L&R this year, both have had blistering; with the common factor between them being Amaco underglaze.  I used the Amaco on a few of the pieces from this load, and those were the ones that blistered.  On everything else I used Spectrum underglaze.  At any rate, these are not a total loss, but they do need to be better.  A lot better... especially if I'm going to start putting them out there for the world to see (and hopefully buy).  I will take another critical look at them, but I doubt any of these pots will make it to my Etsy site.  We'll see.  Nevertheless, every step of the way I feel like I am learning. 
Out of the dozen or so pieces from this load, these four jugs have kinda risen to the top of the heap.  Even with their flaws, I can find positive aspects in them, most certainly.  I like them, and I don't want to sound too down about all of this... I still think it's really cool.  I just need to keep moving forward with them... and try to make them better next time.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

L&R Raku day 2011

I spent a good part of the day down in Nixa at L&R's 21st annual Raku Day.  It was fun.  This was my first time watching the Raku process in person.  I didn't have any bisqued ware (made from Raku clay) to fire, but L&R had pieces available for a very reasonable price... I bought a small globular vase for $5.00.  Everything else was free; the glazing and firing, and lots of good food to snack on!  You can't beat that, and it was such an enjoyable atmosphere.  You had to be patient, though.  The crowd was thick, and the process takes time.  After I selected the vase I wanted, I stood in line for a while just to get to the wax resist area.  After that, we moved on to the glaze buckets.  I chose a crackle white for the bottom half of the pot, with a turquoise blue rim.  The next step involved about a half hour (or so) of pre-warming and then waiting for a kiln to open up.  They had about half a dozen gas-fired kilns going.  The actual firing took about 20 minutes. When the vase was glowing orange hot, the top of the kiln was lifted off, and the guy working the kiln picked up my piece with tongs and moved it around in the air (and even blew on it) to cool the surface, in order to create the distinct crackle effect.  It was then placed in a metal bucket with some newspaper, and sealed for several minutes, allowing the smoke to permeate the clay body, and darken the cracks in the glaze.  It turned out really nice, I think.  I'm pretty sure that when November rolls around next year, I'll be back for the 22nd annual Raku day.  A good time was had by one and all.