Monday, January 26, 2009

Ice Storm's A-brew'n

Well, we're bracing for the ice storm which should hit this afternoon. My husband spent much of yesterday collecting wood and kindling. Depending on how bad the storm is, I won't risk firing the kiln this week, because they're predicting power outages. Today I need to finish trimming some green-ware. But most of today will be spent preparing for going without electricity, just in case...

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Glaze Fire

I'm very pleased with this glaze firing. The test tiles fired great. No visible signs of crazing or pinholes. I plan to test the tiles further for stability using Ron Roy and John Hesselberth's techniques. The following pics demonstrate how the kiln was loaded for this firing.

NOTE: The following points apply to any media I may be working in. I can see that I'll be repeating them often in the future! This info is intended for those of you who:

  • are very new to ceramics who may not have the advantage of taking workshops or classes (hopefully you have taken at least a few classes in ceramics) and want to see examples of how someone else fires their pieces
  • maybe you are familiar with ceramics but, like me, you enjoy seeing how other potters work, no matter what their (or your) level of experience. Each of us has our own way of doing things and this is just my way of working through/solving problems in 'the process' of creating. I'm a strong believer in 'there's always a better way'.
  • have no experience with ceramics what-so-ever, but just enjoy reading blogs on the subject!
Top shelf was a 'half' shelf which held a bowl:

Next shelf, jars and some test tiles: I used 'wadding' to separate the lid from the glaze on the jar at left. Some still adhered to the glaze-where the heck is that dremel...

Third shelf ('empty' areas are where the posts were placed):

Bottom shelf:

As you can see, I have a teeny-tiny kiln. But I like it and it's all I could (and still can for the time being) afford at the time I bought it. Anyway, a larger one wouldn't fit my kiln room. I need to purchase about two or three more shelves and I'll be able to fire more jars and other items that don't take up too much space vertically.

Below are some pics of my test tiles. I held the firing for 30 mins. at 2185 (^5 temp.) degs. Far. which took my kiln (every kiln is different, so always use 'witness cones' to know exactly how high your firing actually went) to a little past ^6, almost to ^7 - maybe too far for the Ardvark clay, which is a ^5 clay. However, it didn't seem to hurt the glazes or clay at all. No blistering of glazes or slumping of the bisqueware.

Unloading the Kiln:

As I unload the kiln, I arrange the pieces on my kiln room shelves in the order they were in the kiln. This way, I can make note of where their location was in the kiln when I record the results in my notebook. In other words, pieces on the top shelf in the kiln correlate to how they're placed on my kiln room shelves, with the appropriate witness cone placed in front of each section. I write on the bottom of the witness cone with a fine-point sharpie, the kiln shelf location(e.g. top 'half-shelf';'2nd shelf'; 'third f/top', etc.). Now this is probably not necessary, unless my kiln were to fire very unevenly (which it seldom does) and affect the pieces' location in the kiln, but I do it anyway so I won't have regrets later:

Notice in above illus. the placement of witness cones for their particular shelf. See how pieces positioned behind the witness cone on the left almost went to a ^7 (the cone 7 is bent at about 11 o'clock. A bend to '9 O'clock' would have been a ^7 fire), while the witness cone shown on the far right in front of its pieces (bottom shelf location) the middle cone, cone 6, is only at 11 O'clock, meaning it only fired to a full ^5. However, I have to admit, I'm cheap and didn't want to waste using a witness pack that had a 'broken' cone 5 and 6 on it, so I think it actually went to a full cone 6. I'll try to remember to explain more about witness cones - what they are and how I make and use them in a later post.

Detail of test tiles:

Well, that's all for now. All of the glazes, or most of them are from Mastering Cone 6 Glazes, by Ron Roy and John Hesselberth. A good source if you're interested in ^6 firing. Later...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Andrew Wyeth Dies at age 91

It's a sad day today. Andrew Wyeth has died, but what a life he lived. He was truly my hero of the art world. Seems so fitting that he died at home in his sleep. I'm sure I'll be spending a lot of time over the next few days reading my books on his life and articles on the web. Check out your local library if you're wanting to do the same. There's also an excellent VHS-video interview with Mr. Wyeth that may be available in your local library.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blanket of Clouds

Well, it didn't get near as cold as the weather guys (and gals) said it would - only in the upper teens, thanks to 'low clouds' that moved in over night. So I'm glad for all the 'lil critters out there and people too, who have to brave the elements this time of year. Well, back to work, I'm preparing some more test tiles.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold, Cold, Cold...

Very cold and spittin' snow today. Supposed to get down to 4 deg. tonight; but I'm not complaining. I know people up north have got it a lot worse than us folks down here in Arkansas. Well, my goal for today is to decide which pieces I want to glaze for the next firing along with my cone 6 test tiles, and to prepare them by waxing the rims and bottoms. Til, then, stay warm...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Preparing Test Tiles

Yesterday I finished glazing my cone 6 test tiles, using Ardvark's cone 5 'Bone' and Flint Hill's cone 6 'Buff' clays. I'm trying to find a liner glaze, as well as an outside glaze that will fit the Flint Hill cone 6 clay (because this clay is my preference). My goal is to make sure my utilitarian ware:

  • does not craze or leach
  • is microwavable
In other words, is truly functional according to Ron Roy, the guru of cone six glazes. I attended one of his workshops about 3 or 4 years ago, when he and John Hesselberth were promoting their book, Mastering Cone Six Glazes and teaching how to use the glaze calculation software, Insight by Digital Fire Corp. It was very 'insightful' (ha) and I learned a lot, but have recently had to go over my notes from that event to refresh my memory on what was covered. I'm afraid I'm not being very diligent in learning the Insite software either, just have too much I'm trying to get done for the time being. Oh well, that's yet another goal to set!

Here's a pic of my test tiles, ready for the kiln:

Now, I need to get some other bisqued pots glazed so I'll have enough pieces for a firing. Which shouldn't take many, as my kiln (electric) is pretty small. These are a few things that I need to hurry up and glaze:

So, guess I better get busy, but my immediate goal for today is to get lids thrown for two of my jars. Then I can concentrate on glazing.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Yesterday's Goal Reached (Somewhat)

Well, seems blogging is helping somewhat so far in goal-setting. I did finish trimming my jar yesterday and although I did not get around to painting, I did get a bisque fire done. I'm preparing to test some new cone 6 clay from Flint Hill Clay Works - located in Marion, KS. I really like the feel of this clay, feels just like their high-fire clay, not groggy or gritty at all. The only other cone 6 clay I've tried so far is Ardvark's cone 6 'Bone' - don't care for it - too sandy- literally cuts my hands after throwing awhile. Anyway, will post my test results of my cone 6 test tiles for the F.H. clay as soon as I do the glaze tests. So, if I can get myself away from this computer, maybe I'll get some work done.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Today's goal

Today's goal - finish trimming on a jar (see image below), and hopefully get time to paint. Most important goal for today - get AWAY from this blog! I keep coming back to make changes to it; just too new to blogging I guess - time to get down to business. BTW, hope you had a nice holiday and a Happy New Year to all.

One of my 'safe jars' (Jack-in-the-Pulpit):

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Plunge

Well, I finally decided to take the plunge and start blogging. Why? It just seemed the thing to do, since everyone else is doing it. There are actually several reasons why I decided to blog. Mainly,

  • I hope that blogging will help me in the self-discipline area, particularly in setting and attaining new goals. This is an experimental exercise on my part in 'staying focused' because of my interest in more than one art medium. I'm anxious to see if blogging has helped others in reaching their goals as well. Perhaps sharing my experiences will help readers in whatever they are struggling with in their situation.
  • It will enable me to convo with other artists about art and to solve problems in a particular medium we may be working in, whether it's watercolor, ceramics, photography, or whatever. Hey, maybe we'll just talk gardening!
  • I don't want to get 'left behind' in the world of web technology. I love the internet, and everywhere I turn, I'm reading 'Get a Blog!' So there, I've done it.
There are a couple of other reasons not worth mentioning now. I hope to get some photos soon of what I'm doing. Well, here goes, my plunge into the blogosphere...