Thursday, January 19, 2012

Some Glaze Layering Tests

Here's the results from some tests I did using a black glaze on the outside and a white glaze on the inside of some pieces, with various other glazes layered on top of the outside. The black glaze is a alberta slip glaze with cobalt oxide, hence all the blue showing up. The very runny glazes were layered with a glaze containing about 20 percent lithium carbonate, a strong flux. The picture at the bottom shows the result of Lithium melting down the white glaze inside, bringing some of the black glaze from the rim with it. The bottom picture is actually the same pot as the picture above it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

'Horse hair' Pots

So, here's my try at high-fired horse hair pots. I have a client who wanted me to give this a try for some sinks. Horse hair pots are usually fired to a low temperature and taken out of the kiln hot, then hair from the tail of a horse is laid onto the shoulder of the pot. The hair leaves behind a dark squiggly line and the smoke subtley darkens the clay above the line.

  Below is a picture of some real horse hair I fired a couple of years ago, followed by my try at some "fake" horse hair. The fake stuff hasn't been fired yet, so we'll wait and see what the finished result looks like. I carved the line into the pot with a small loop tool and filled it with a black slip, scraping off excess slip after the pot dried a bit. Then I stained above the line with a black stain, and burnished the pot, adding some terra sigilatta when the pot dried.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Underfired Bisque a Worry

Medallions and jars

While the first kiln load of awards for the Uwharrie Mountain Run were cooling in my new electric kiln, I decided to load a bisque in the other kiln I have. I fired this kiln overnight and most of yesterday. It didn't reach top temperature, as I believe my elements are a bit worn out. It was supposed to reach 1800 degrees F. but only reached 1650 I think.

The kiln has a safety feature that shuts it down if the temperature doesn't climb a certain amount per hour. I think it would have fired okay if it wasn't such a tight heavy load of small pots.

So, I'm a little worried that if I glaze these "underfired" bisqued awards, the glaze may adhere to the clay a little thicker. So, I've decided to bisque fire another final load of awards in the newer kiln and glaze and then glaze fire this final load with a couple of the underfired awards inside just to make sure they fire correctly.

Luckily, I'm ahead of schedule this year and have the time to do this.

Meanwhile, I've started working on a commission for two sinks for a hotel in Switzerland. The designer for the hotel would like me to make him some "high-fired" horse hair sinks. I'll post on that soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Finished some Awards, and a short Film

Some of this year's awards

The first load of Uwharrie Mountain Run awards fired successfully. I unloaded some of them today and took a picture of a few. While unloading, one of my kiln shelves stuck to all three posts beneath it, and the posts seemed to be stuck to the shelf beneath it. So, I was quite concerned for a while, tapping here and there with my wooden mallet, making a bent piece of copper to tap the posts under the shelf, lifting and twisting the shelf ever so slightly. And finally, I freed it.

I guess I need to grind my posts a bit to clean them up. I've never had anything like this happen before.

Here's a film of me making one of the bowls for the first, second and third-place winners.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Getting Close to First Firing for Uwharrie

I spent today preparing about 100 medallions for the Uwharrie Mountain Run awards. I'm making about 600 awards for finishers of an 8-mile, 20-mile and 40-mile race across the Uwharrie Trail in Montgomery County. The medallions are for the 8-milers.

The way I decided to decorate these pieces allows me to lay one medallion on top of each of the jars that I made for the 20-milers and 40-milers. I waxed the jars' rims before glazing. Firing a shelf full of just medallions didn't make sense since I'd run out of shelves pretty quick.

The medallions have a recessed area in the center that I carved a runner into. It gets glazed, and the outside remains unglazed and stained with a red iron wash.

So I spent the most part of today sanding and wiping off each medallion, staining each medallion, waxing a small portion of each medallion, and glazing each medallion. I had enough time left this afternoon to start loading the kiln, but I soon realized I needed more pieces glazed to fill the kiln.

I'll be glazing tomorrow, so I can get this first kiln load firing.

I brushed on red iron stain. Mary wiped the stain into
the clay, and then handed me another...and another.

I brushed wax onto one small portion of the stained rim.

The waxed area allowed me to
pour out the glazed once I coated
the inside.

Here I am loading the jars and medallions into the kiln.

A finished shelf of medallions on top of jars.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Where do I put them all?

Cleaning edges as they come out of the bisque kiln

One challenge of making more than 600 pieces for the Uwharrie Mountain Run in my studio is finding places to put the pots. Participants for the annual race are up and Levi has been busy making more jars, and I had to load the ones we've already made into the electric kiln to bisque fire so I could free up some boards for him to place the newly thrown pieces.

We should be through throwing and decorating everything in the next few days. I'll be glazing and firing a load soon, so I can pack some up in boxes to make room in the shop for more. Every year, I say that I'd like to take a picture of all the pieces together, but I don't think I've done it yet just because of the large number of pieces.

Maybe I'll do it this year.

Levi pulls up a ring of clay on his last jar
of the day.