I’m going to use this blog to keep track of my progress in the kiln and ceramics. I feel like this might be a little embarrassing, but we all have to start somewhere. Additionally, I’ve found that some of my problems or decorating experiments are often hinted at by others, but never fully explained. If keeping track can help a future ceramicist, that’d be great. If you are an experienced ceramicist, I wrote questions for you in bold italics. 🙂
Unloading this morning. I woke up at 3:30am and couldn’t fall back asleep. I waited until the sun peeked out to unload the kiln. I was mostly dreading it.
Yesterday I’m using a gas kiln. Finally, I figured out how to have a great oxidation fire. The entire firing was super clean and hot. The cones bent, I shut the kiln up and turned off the burner. The MAIN burner. I forgot to turn off the little knob that controls the smaller flames. So my kiln sat in reduction for HOURS. When I figured out my mistake I opened the damper for a bit to see waves of carbon pouring out. I shut the damper due to immediate clinking and sat on my bed for awhile staring at the wall. What I came up with is this: I can’t control what happened, I’m glad it happened on a test load filled with not so great items and not a future load of beautiful things I spent more time on. I know it could have been much worse, I was just bummed.
Fast forward this am. Opened the kiln, not TOO bad. A LOT of color seems to be missing from some of the wares. This could also be from not enough layering (I don’t have dipping glazes set up yet).
Firing temp: Cone 5
- Middle shelf, achieved. Top shelf – cone 4, cone 5 bent incomplete.
- Paint detailed underglaze work on greenware. It looks stupid if I paint it on bisque. Smudgy underglaze is ok on bisque.
- I don’t like the results with throwing the Laguna half/half clay and it hurts my fingers when I throw. Looking for a less groggy clay. What do you throw with?
- A series of tiny cracks around the bottom appeared in most of my mugs. I looked this up, probably S cracks from poor compression and leaving water in the bottom of the mugs when throwing (I have been a little guilty of Camp Swampy).
- Attaching handles, make sure that handles and mugs are same dryness.
- Glass frit works GREAT in the kiln to Cone 5. The colors changed or burnt out a little in the pale purple and the blues, but some really beautiful results.
- I’ve made wall planters before and often struggle getting a complete seal on the bottom. A quick solution I found is to fold an entire slab in half. It ensures the bottom is totally sealed and looks nice. You’re welcome.
- One of my wall pockets cracked in a major way. I forgot where I put it in the kiln, but thinking it was the clay.
- The jewelry did not turn out as expected. The clay needs a glaze to appear a deep black. The gold glaze was either over-fired or under applied. It has a shimmery golden quality, but mostly looks black. It looks the most gold on the bottom of the earrings which is where the glaze pooled when dipped.
- Coyote: Archie’s Base, Red Gold with layers of Eggplant and Desert Sage
- Archie’s Base, Gunmetal (mayco glaze), opal and mottled blue had an interesting result in the opal hearts
Overall I think this was a great learning load, but not a lot of product that I’m thrilled with. I feel humbled and grateful for it. I have a lot of work to do and I am not a master potter (must keep telling myself this). What do you do with bad ceramic work?
- Finding people who are interested in shards (mosaics?)
- Applying decals to mistakes for experiments (Cone 015)
Every load I am going to photograph the best and the worst of the load. I think it will be fun to see how my standards change over the years.
Best of the load
Worst of the load