Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New raku glaze via class

I was in the second session of the glaze class I am taking last night. One of the exercises we did was to make a raku glaze without a recipe and we had to measure it by parts not by weight. The only help we got with the recipe was a reminder of Soldner's base recipe of 80/20 grestely borate/neph syn.

This was a lot of fun for me. We we just firing and NOT reducing the test tiles so nobody was adding coloring oxides. It was really just make up a glaze and see whatcha get.

I know that lithium can be a valuable addition to raku glazes. I use a couple recipes with 20% + lithium. So that's where I started; 2 parts lithium. For my unit of measure I used a plastic spoon. Next I wanted to keep the recipe total at 100 parts. Well, really I did 10 parts not 100 but it's easy to expand to 100 from 10. Knowing the lithium would flux the bejeezus out of the glaze I cut back on the grestely; 3 parts grestely. Lastly I rounded it out with neph. syn. Neph syn while in most glazes is a flux at raku temps is really a stiffener; 5 parts neph syn.

Lithium 2 parts
Grestely Borate 3 parts
Neph. Syn. 5 parts

Now this is different than how I normally do glazes because I have no idea what the weights are. This does NOT translate to grams or ounces. I will probably go through and reproduce this and figure out the weights of this recipe.

The results were really nice. Very crazed, very bright clear. Melted completely yet did not run. It produced a subtle greenish pink tinge and a halo at the glazes edge.

I am going to try this glaze soon. I will try adding iron (for oranges) and copper because hey we're talking about raku.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Most recent glaze test results

All the pictures came out goofy. I need a better camera.

Fortunately the glazes came out very nice.

The rutile wash (75% grestely borate, 25% rutile) kept the same wonderful coloring over temmoku and started to run like Brother Thomas' pots. This is a winner. I will be using this combination over at least two large pots I have been sitting on waiting for the right glazes.

The ash tests came out very nice too. The quirk is they only looked good over other glazes. Over the seiji nuka I use both alberta slip and barnard slip ash combos looked great. Same with the iron red. Over the temmoku only the barnard slip ash combo looked good though. Alone each of them looked awful. Go figure.

I threw some new pots up on Etsy. So far I am not too happy with the pots I have been able to put up there. But I am rarely happy with the finished pots. All I can see are the flaws.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

New tests

Like a junkie needing a fix I was back in the studio this morning... mixing test glazes.

After something said in the glaze class I am in I decided to quit fucking around with super complex recipes and mixed up three new glazes that should rock and are very simple.

Barnard Slip 50
Wood Ash 50

Alberta Slip 50
Wood Ash 50

Grestely Borate 75
Rutile 25

I have individual test tiles for the ash/slip glazes plus test tiles of those glazes over Seiji Nuka, Temmuko Gold, and Iron Red.

The Grestely Borate/Rutile wash is an idea from looking at some work of Brother Thomas Bezanson's. He made wonderful pots with iron based glazes that had magical rutile washes. I;ve tried some rutile washes before and the colors are right but they don't flow like Brother Thomas'. I was using equal parts rutile and Grestely Borate. Which may have worked at cone 10+ but I am working at cone 6. I had forgotten to add more flux, thus 75% flux now.

I am still working to figure out the spray gun. I shot two vases for this kiln load. One is Seiji Nuka with Iron Red accents. The other is a cone 6 crystal base with 2% Cobalt Oxide. One topn of the crystal glaze I splatter some of my red Neph Syn mixture. I have high hopes for that pot.

I'll post pictures in the next couple days. The kiln will be safe to open tomorrow but I have a lot of personal stuff scheduled over the next 72 hours.

Friday, July 25, 2008

First items in the Etsy store

I finally got back to the studio to pull the pots from the kiln.

This load had the first pots I used the spray gun. Mixed results. The glazes went on super smooth. No runs, no drips. I still have some work to do to figure out how thick I need to spray, all the pots had glaze coats that were too light. Still they all came out nice. Nice enough to put them up on Etsy as my first pots for sale online.

The Etsy store is here.

Here are the new pots:

Small urn

The urn is stoneware. Seniji Nuka and Blue Hare over Iron Red glaze.

Bowl set

The bowls are porcelain. Blue Hare glaze outside and AH clear inside.

The new tests I was running came out Ok. Both strontium mattes came out Ok so I am still not sure which I want to go with. More tests. The chun came out matte yellow. Sucky.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A happy accident

I threw a couple pots last time I was at the studio. A nice big bowl, a nice round vase, both porcelain.

Then there is the platter... I threw a platter, I am not good at that form yet. The platter was pretty wide, about an inch past the rim of the bat. And sometimes happens when I try platters the lip started to sag. But it was a nice platter and I wanted to save. Try as I might I could not get the lip to stay up but I refused to give up goddamn it I wanted this platter to work.

So I grab the bat and what would help? Oh yeah I flip the bat upside down and hold it there... like it's going to magically do something. Well something did happen. The lip of platter sagged down (which was up as I was holding it upside down) and I realized it looked like a Chiluly platter, yeah I went to the glass museum recently. So I figured "hey let's make this work". Laura, a studio mate was there. She grabbed a blow dryer and started heating the platter while I held it upside down. After a bit I turned it right side up put it on a wheel and hit it with a torch. I set the platter with a very fluid, cool wave pattern in the rim. Very Chiluly-esque.

This platter was an accident but one of my favorite pots I've ever thrown. I am going to try to repeat this process. Over saturate the rim until it collapses and then hang the platter upside down and set the rim.

I still haven't figured out to trim it.

I'll post pics when I get back to the studio.

On sharing recipes

I did get the tests of the two strontium mattes fired but I haven't made it to the studio to peek at the results yet. I'll post pictures as soon as I can

In addition to those two tests I did a cone 6 chun test. I am hopeful for that one. If I keep working on that recipe I'll post more on it.

A couple random notes...

I read a news group about ceramic art. There is a lively discussion going on currently about publishing recipes. I wanted to touch on this briefly as I am publishing recipes. As I have posted before there is nothing original ceramics. The art and craft of ceramics is as old as man. If you can think of it someone has thought of it before you and tried it. I am guessing every recipe I write has been written somewhere before. I am not breaking any new ground. Very few potters do in my opinion.

I don't hesitate to publish recipes as long as I attribute the recipe to the correct source. In my view if it's in a book and I provide attribution I am providing a plug for the book. If I find it online then well I am not the first one to put it online.

I do have a book of recipes that I will not publish. I only keep these under wraps because the author let me have the recipes only on the condition that I never reveal the recipes. Fine. But tragic. The glazes are stunning. They are among the most beautiful I have ever seen. The author - who I will not name - is a contemporary of Val Cushing's. As wonderful as Cushing's glazes are (and I use some Cushing glazes) this fellow's glazes are better. His "floating blue" is unmatched. It was seeing one of his glazes that started me on my glaze obsession. His recipes are simple yet yield staggering colors. Yet I have never met anyone who has used his glazes, knows his work, very few know his name.

That's the problem with keeping things to yourself. Being secretive. You isolate yourself. Cushing and others that are free with their knowledge elevate themselves when they help the rest of us. Cushing's reach will go on for generations through hundreds if not more artists. His glazes will be taught to students for many years. My friend's reach will die off after those of us blessed with his knowledge stop practicing the craft.

There's a bright line between sharing and stealing. I share, most potters do. A few steal. Claim credit that isn't theirs or profit from someone elses work. I don't know any of these scoundrels but I am sure they exist.

Share what you learn, know, you'll be better for it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Onward... to strontium mattes

I am fairly happy with the results of my recent tests; a cone 6 iron red and a cone 6 fake ash. The next step for me is a cone 6 strontium matte to serve as a base glaze. Similar to the technique Steven Hill uses. The hope is to get a white, matte glaze I spray (with my fancy new HVLP guns) on my pots that I can then spray other glazes on top of and get uber cool results.

I am starting with two recipes, one from Hill and one from John Tilton. Both are out of John Britt's amazing book I've mentioned here before. I am just showing the glaze I'll be testing and not the original with the how and why I changed it (in a bit of a rush tonight).

Strontium Crystal Magic (modified)
Custer feldspar 46
Whiting 17.2
EPK 4.9
Strontium Carb 12.6
F3134 14.6
Titanium Dioxide 13.8

Tilton 1
Neph Syn 46
Whiting 10.8
EPK 8.1
Strontium Carb 35.1
Titanium Dioxide 8.1

I should be mixing and firing these tomorrow so I can post photos Monday night.

I signed up for a class at Northwest Pottery. A big surprise a glaze class. I start Tuesday night. I am not sure if I'll be posting less or more during the class. I expect to learn a lot but I also expect it to keep me busy and I only have so many hours to dedicate to pottery.
Lithium Carb 4.6

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Glazes gone bad

A fellow potter at the studio I go to summed up where I am at when he mentioned the he feels like he ruins his pots by glazing them. I feel like I ruin most of my pots when I glaze them.

Today was no exception.

I jumped right with the spray gun and was super excited to use it. I did 4 tumblers and 2 lidded containers. On the 4 tumblers I put on a coat of clear glaze then I put on a black stripe highlighted by a red stripe. I was really stoked. I pulled the tumblers from the kiln and the black completely vanished. Poof. Nada. The red sagged down the tumblers. Upon closer inspection the black just melted into the clear. The colorant (black iron oxide) just washed out. It looked like the black glaze fluxed the red glaze causing it to sag just to make the pots extra sucky.

To top things off the glazes on the lidded containers came out Ok but the pots themselves sagged during the firing so the lids didn't fit any longer.

6 pots, 6 for the scrap heap.

Well, I am back at it tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Shooting madness

My wonderful fiance got me an air compressor for my birthday. 17 gallon tank, 150 psi. It's very nice!

I bought 2 HVLP guns to go with the compressor and viola! I am now spraying my pots!

I started by setting everything up and then loading the guns with water and "shooting" a pots that lost it's bottom in an unfortunate kiln accident a few days ago. I played with the knobs and adjusted things using water on a crappy pot until I felt comfortable putting glaze on pots I like.

I am really excited about this. Spraying takes some getting used to but I am sure my pots will be better for this. I "shot" 4 tumblers and 2 lidded containers this morning. I will fire these tonight (I am going back to the studio tonight) and will post pics as soon as I pull them from the kiln - should be Friday.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Updated iron red and fake ash recipes

The cleaned up versions of the recipes that I pulled from the kiln yesterday;

Bailey's Iron Red (modified)

Amount Ingredient
42.5 Feldspar--Custer
13.7 Bone Ash
3.6 Lithium Carbonate
19 Talc
10.4 Silica
9 Gerstley Borate
1.8 Bentonite

100 Total

11.5 Iron Oxide--Red

Unity Oxide
.105 Li2O
.06 Na2O
.1 K2O
.317 MgO
.418 CaO
1.000 Total

.179 Al2O3
.072 B2O3
.002 Fe2O3

1.921 SiO2
.089 P2O5

10.7 Ratio
68.2 Exp

Steven Hill Fake Ash (modified)

Amount Ingredient
21.8 Frit--Ferro 3134
3.8 Dolomite
45.5 Whiting
15.3 Kaolin--EPK
13.6 Silica

100 Total

2.3 Bentonite

Unity Oxide
.06 Na2O
.001 K2O
.038 MgO
.901 CaO
1.000 Total

.093 Al2O3
.119 B2O3
.002 Fe2O3

.848 SiO2
.001 TiO2
0 P2O5

Please note the iron red doesn't seem to be food safe.

I will do some glazing today and both bisque and glaze firing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


At long last some of my tests turned out well.

Man, getting some good test results was a long time coming but hopefully they were worth the wait.

First the iron red. The picture REALLY does not do it justice. I am using my crappy phone camera for pics. This is a beautiful red with green spots. GREEN! Out of an iron red! It's really very cool looking. I am going to refire in a bisque batch this coming week to see if I can coax more color out of it.

Bailey's Red (modified)
Potash Feldspar 46.7
Bone Ash 15
Lithium Carb 4
Talc 20.9
Silica 11.4
Grestly Borate 10
Benonite 2
Red Iron Oxide 11.5

Yeah, I know it doesn't equal 100%. I'll revise one more time to clean it up. Just not at the moment.

Next we have one of the fake ash bases I was trying to get right; a variation on Steven Hill's fake ash. I doped this one up to melt at cone 6. I tossed in 3% copper carb just so the test tile would be a little interesting. This glaze behaved exactly as I wanted.

Steven Hill's Fake Ash (modified)
F3134 21.8
Dolomite 3.8
Whiting 45.5
EPK 15.3
Silica 13.6
Benonite 2.3

Next we have my straight to flux and stain mix for a "slip". I tried several fluxes and the winner by a land slide is Nepheline Syenite. It came out with great color, glassy and was just on the verge of running.

Anyway enough of the glaze goofiness. I wanted to post pics of an oddball I made. I make lidded containers. And I often use small pulled handles that I like to swirl off the pot rather than terminate on the pot. So... I kept thinking this would make a good octopus leg as I made these little handles. I decided to try out an octopus lidded container. This one has been bisqued. I am still trying to decide how to glaze him.

I am thinking Pinnel's Strontium Matte under a fake ash with cobalt....

Oh and the raku stuff I refired? Yeah I got the kiln to reduce really well. The glaze still sucked. It's the third time I have fired that glaze on different pieces and it always sucks. It's a loser. Well for me at least.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A quick update

I am going to fire some glaze tests today. The last batch of glazes tests didn't melt well.

For the slip test I decided to go to a straight flux and colorant mix. I am firing three tiles; F3134 plus stain, Neph Syn plus stain, and Grestly Borate plus stain. I am looking for a good melt plus transparency.

Next I am going to drop the melt point for the iron red base I was testing. I'm not 100% sure what I am going to do for this... maybe just add 5% grestly borate. I dunno. I'll post it what I do.

Lastly I am going to refire the aku stuff I did a couple weeks ago to see if I can get better color now that I have figured out how to get a good reduction in the kiln.

A full day plus I am going to work on throwing a pitcher form that doesn't suck.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Test results

I stopped by the studio on my way to work this morning - yeah, that's how I roll.

None of the tests came out as I wanted but all gave me a good starting point.

The fake ash tests:

As you can see neither test melted. So I need to ratchet up the fluxes.

Next the glassy slip:

Same story, no melting. Plus it appears as if this one would have been matte had it melted. I will be changing this one up quite a bit.

Next the iron red line test.

Base recipe plus 14%-17% red iron oxide:

base plus 10%-13% red iron oxide:

Base plus 8%, 9% red iron oxide:

pretty much the same thing with these, didn't melt fully. The pics kind of suck (gotta get a real camera) so you can't tell from the pics but it seems the "reddest" is 11%. Funny the original recipe calls for 11.5%. I am going to use that amount of RIO but need to adjust the melting point.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Grim business

So I fired some tests yesterday. I haven't had a chance to swing by the studio and peek at the results yet. I am hopeful though. I always am.

A few months ago a woman who I share studio space with asked me to make her an urn. She told me she wanted the urn to have feminine lines. I agreed, it seemed like a good challenge. I immediately thought of Nick Joerling. Something whimsical yet conveying feminine qualities. Then she told me the urn was for her daughter's ashes.

I really like this woman. She's super cool. She always shows up to studio events and brings the best treats for us all. She's supportive of everyone else, cleans up her mess (you'd be surprised how many people don't) and to top it off she makes truly wonderful work. I felt a sudden weight. How could I possibly do justice to an urn for such a huge task, being part of a remembrance for someone this woman had loved dearly? I honestly felt there was no way I could do it. It was too much. I had made a dozen or so urns and it's one of my favorite shapes to mess around with (I don't do many because they tend to take a lot of time and I am a hobbyist).

I threw a porcelain urn. Wide at the foot, with a waist and the shoulder came back out to the width of the foot. Smooth lines. Feminine. I threw a lid that while fitting the urn was round-ish. I turned the urn over to my studio mate. She does wonderful glaze paintings and wanted to do the glaze herself. As she should. I haven't seen the pot nor her since. I truly hope it's what she wanted.

This leads me to today. My fiance has been telling me I should make and sell urns. She works at a vet. She ses animals day nearly everyday. Animals that are loved as members of the family. Many are cremated. Today she called me with a request to make an urn for the ashes of a 7lb cat. I agreed. Upon telling a co-working of my grim new comission that co-worker asked me to make an urn for her boyfriend's dog's ashes... he has them in a plastic bag inside a plain wooden box.

So ... urns... grim but maybe a needed side job. Maybe a little comfort to those who have lost someone dear.

As I get close to completing these urns I'll post photos.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Next up a slip test

I still haven't gotten a chance to get back in the studio after the raku firing. Once I do get back I have a couple tests planned; a line test with an iron red, a line test with a strontium base glaze varying the amount of colorant trying to get a nice purple. And now I am adding another test, a glassy slip test.

The idea is kind of the merger of two ideas. I see a lot of glass art. In the Pacific Northwest, home of Dale Chihuly we see a ton of Chihuly inspired glass artists. I love some of the techniques. I often see a glass form with a bead or tube of glass "wrapped" around it. This is a pretty common technique and can be visually pleasing.

I was reading a book about glazes and saw a small section on glassy slips. And a light went off, use the glassy slip to get the same effect seen on all the glass forms.

So I am after a transparent glassy slip. I want it to be stiff enough at cone 6 so that when I apply it from a syringe it will keep it's round shape. Lastly, it has to take color well. I'd prefer to use stains for this application. That means a calcium level about 12%.

Here are the base recipes I got from the book I was reading:

Gerstley Borate 90.5
Bentonite 10.5

I think this is going to be too fluid at cone 6 to hold the shape I want. So as a starting point I am going to cut the flux in half and replace it with silica.

Gerstley Borate 45.2
Silica 45.3
Bentonite 10.5

The calcium is a wee bit low for the optimal commercial stain range. So I am going to cut the bentonite in half and replace it with whiting.

Gerstley Borate 45.2
Silica 45.3
Bentonite 5.2
Whiting 5.3

This looks just about right, 13% calcium. I'm not sure about the melting point but I *think* it should be right. I also think it should be transparent. I'll make a test batch and add 10% stain (probably red) and test it in my next glaze firing.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Raku results

Well today was a good news bad news kind of thing.

The day started with me mixing two batches of fake ash for testing. After mixing and sieving the test batches I dipped a test tube in each.

After I got these done I mixed a batch of copper matte for the pots I was going to raku. Well, I thought I did. As I finished I realized that instead of using 108 grams of black copper oxide I had used 108 grams of black NICKEL oxide. So I wasted a lot of materials. I decided to use this "oops" glaze on a test pot just to see what a raku glaze with an ass load of nickel looks like.

These are the pots after I glazed them. Notice the little screwy pot. That's the one with the "oops" glaze.

After getting the glazing taken care of I went to get propane. I've never fired any fuel fired kiln before. So frankly I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't really figure out how to get the can reducing until after I was done with my pots. I got the can reducing nicely when we put some of Evelia's pots in ... but... then we didn't count on how quickly it would get up to temp. We over fired her pots. All the pots came out less than spectacular.

I don't really like any either one. Almost everyone said good things about the fat one.

Oh, and the "oops" glaze? Wow... terrible. black, ugly.

Getting set up online

In parallel to getting my work to the point that I am comfortable letting it out of my hands I am also building a presence online to do just that. This blog was the first step in building that presence. So what have I done, will do, to get my pieces from the studio into the hands of others?

First a blog. Not really required by any means but a nice to have. Assuming I can accrue traffic to this blog it should become a good selling tool. As you can see I choose blogger. I have previously used other software but I liked the ease of set up with blogger. I don't want the online side of this to become a distraction to the clay part of it. I want the online aspect to enhance my work so this has to be simple and easy to use. Blogger fits the bill.

Next I added two optional pieces to my blog, Google analytics and AdSense. The analytics package just gives detailed reporting. AdSense ads give an additional revenue stream. As of now that stream has yielded zero pennies. It may never produce any revenue but it's free to set up and if the blog starts getting traffic it should generate some cash.

The last piece of the online puzzle has been an Etsy shop. Etsy is a great site. It's a place to buy and sell handmade items. This is the storefront I will use to sell my pieces.

The set up was very easy - again I want the online side to enhance not distract from my clay work - no complicated online tools. I work in the tech field in my day job and don't want to get sucked into coding at night to support my clay activities. That would kill the fun for me. In addition to being easy to set up it's free to set up. Etsy does charge some fees but all the fees are reasonable.

My store is located here. As I make items I deem worthy of selling I will add them to the store.

So in order to help sell my work and promote my work online I've created this blog, added ads and analytics, and set up an online store at Etsy.

Tonight I raku!