Thursday, July 30, 2009


Still too damn hot to spend time in the studio but I did have a nice little victory today.

John Britt (who rocks) posted on his blog that Clay Works, a clay store in Tacoma WA has low melt spodumene in stock. Well, my folks live about 2 miles from that store. I called and they picked me up 25 lbs of it. Not too much as I think it's best used in high fire glazes, and I fire at cone 6 electric currently. But I am going to hang on to it until I relocate to a studio with a nice cone 10 gas or wood kiln.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm melting....

No, not my glazes.

It's like a mile from the surface of the Sun here. We set an all time record high today. 103. The studio does not have AC.

I don't want to throw because even if I cover the pot it will still be at risk of drying out before I get back to trim it.

That leaves glazing and firing the kiln. And it's 103 and no AC. Firing a kiln? No thank you.

It's funny, the extended cold snap messed with my studio time because my clay froze. Now it's too dang hot. Oh well, can't change the weather.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some glaze results

So as is always the case, as soon as I feel like a master of all things pottery, I unload a kiln that nothing turns out.

My beautiful black that I love so much... yeah that doesn't play nicely with the red I love. I glazed 3 cups and 2 bowls with the combination of the obsidian and the tin chrome red. I expected the black to darken from the interaction with the chrome. But that's not what happened. The black/blue glaze washed out. It lightened up considerably so that's it's a middle of the road blue. Where the glazes transitioned to each other I expected a purple. Not such luck, it turned white. Yeah, a blue so dark it's almost black +red equals white. Go figure. I assume the tin is the wild card here. I think the tin is what's responsible the unexpected result.

Next was my line test of barnard slip/wood ash/F3134.

Results are pictured below.

Left to right:

I wasn't really happy with any of them. While with 10% frit the glaze melted well it ran more than I wanted. It didn't give me that webbing of a good ash glaze either.

So at 20% I got the webbing but the color vanished. And it ran. A lot.

The other samples had the same issues as the 20% test but more pronounced.

I might work in the 10% range some more. I want the color. Also I am going to try the black/blue glaze with all the different iron glazes I have. I expect it to play nicely with iron glazes.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The freedom to not care

It's street fair season in Seattle. Every weekend during the Summer there is a street fair somewhere in the Seattle area. This weekend it's Bellevue's turn to host those braver than I who have chosen the less safe route of creating arts and or crafts for a living. As I strolled through the booths admiring the works in all manner of mediums I was jealous. Until.

I was jealous until I noticed a pattern. Nearly every artist, regardless of medium, had a large amount of safe, salable work. But they also would have a couple pieces that were much grander than the utility pieces. A couple pieces that let you peek at the artist's vision. These were the pieces that always drew my eye. Beautiful oversized teapots with multiple elaborate faux cane handles or a wall hanging made of tiles, some porcelain some raku that formed a kimono. These were accompanied by an army of bowls and mugs. Mirrors with whimsical porcelain frames glazed with multi-colored crystalline glazes the crystal as big as 50 cent pieces surrounded by small reasonably priced plates.

I may be dead wrong here but I don't believe I am. When I am in the studio my thoughts go to my ambitious pieces. The pieces I have never tried before or more often the pieces I have tried but failed at. I only make mugs when I need them or plan to give them as a gift. I only make bowls when I have broken too many at home or someone asks me for one (still have a backlog I need to get to of requested bowls). I never go to the studio thinking about "Will other people buy this piece?" Never. My sole concern is do I like the piece? Am I happy with it? I took this freedom to not care about marketability for granted. I never thought about it until yesterday.

Those of us who do not make art for a living, our livelihood is not tied to the acceptance of our work have a freedom to do whatever the wind whispers in our ear. It doesn't matter who else likes our work. I don't need to produce a stack of bowls with floating blue to go with my gaudy tentacle vases. Suddenly, I am less jealous of those I will see at next week's street fair.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting back in the studio

After taking some time off to spend time with my daughter I am hitting the studio again. Pottery is a slow hobby. I have a bunch of pots drying but so far nothing bisqued or completed.

I have a couple large bowls, a set of mugs with twirly handles, and a new tentacle vase. The tentacle vase is a "pillow" vase, semi-spherical, very narrow mouth. The vase was about 10-12 inches tall before I started messing with it. All my tentacle pots have extruded additions, this specific pots has three tentacles added pointing straight up. They were attached along the mouth of the vase. I really like this pot. I hope it makes it through the whole process.

The tentacles I add to these pots are extruded. I extrude anywhere from 3 inches to 12 inches. I then pull the non-attached end close. Then the closed end I gently pull like a handle. After I get the general shape and length I want I cut the tube/cone off with a wire. Then I move the piece to a board, putting it down resting on the end I just cut off. I let it dry a bit until the vase that it will be attached to is trimmed.

In addition to the pots I have drying I made a line test of barnard slip/wood ash/F3134. I am seeing what it's going to take to make my barnard slip/wood ash glaze to melt.

I'll post some pictures as things get further along in the process.

Lastly, I made some behind the scenes updates to my glaze db. Nothing too major, better internal logging. Actual tagging support comes next.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Found the root cause of my ash glaze issues

I did a simple melt test.

My ash is not melting at cone 6. Thus all my recent batches of ash glaze look like poop.

So my next step is to find some more ash. That actually melts at cone 6.

And then remix all my ash glazes.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Weird stuff

So I expected to have to learn a lot as I took up pottery as a hobby. I have learned about glazes, throwing, firing, chemistry, design, selling, all sorts of stuff. One thing I never thought I would have to learn about is stealing. But here I am learning about stealing.

There are 12 members at the studio I use. That means a lot of pottery is produced. a lot of bad pottery. A lot of kiln disasters. A lot of glaze mishaps. A lot of crappy pots. So we got tired of these accidents laying around the place and started a shrine to the kiln gods. Well, we really just started putting our crappy and or broken pots in a small garden outside our studio door. We stacked the pots, hung them from the fence, put them on rebar we drove into the ground. We just decorated the garden with these throw away pots. It was a little abstract and cool.

I was throwing about a week ago and someone pulled up to the studio and parked. This lady got out and walked over to the shrine and stared for awhile. She got back in her car and left. Strange I thought. A few days later I noticed one of my favorite pots in the garden was gone. I stared looking thinking someone had moved it. I realized many pots were missing. Someone was stealing our pots. I was angry and amused at the same time.

These were/are pots that are total crap. And yet someone was stealing them. I was angry - how dare someone steal this stuff. Yeah, it's crap but it's MY crap. Keep your dirty hands off my stuff. But I also had to laugh. Really? You want to steal the vase that had the bottom blow out in the bisque firing because it wasn't dry? Really? That's what you're gonna steal? Are you high?

So I chuckled to myself through grinding teeth.

Yesterday I was throwing again and some lady pulled up, parked, walked over to the shrine and loaded up her arms with three pots. A vase that had a barnard slip glaze that didn't melt on it (horrifically ugly), a broken plate, a broken bowl. While I was watching. Got back in her car and drove off.

Seriously people. WTF.