Friday, December 31, 2010

Santa was good to me

I asked for a cheap hand held blender for Christmas and Santa delivered.

I read about using a hand held mixer for glazes online somewhere (John Britt?) and I thought it might work. Well today I used my new mixer for the first time. Hot damn Skippy it rocks.

Normally when I mix a batch of a test glaze I mix 300 grams in a small tupperware container. I run the glaze through an 80 mess sieve twice to mix it. It's a slow and messy process.

Today I stuck my new mixer into the text glaze turned it on and 30 seconds later the glaze was perfectly mixed with no mess at all. What would have taken me 20 minutes before took me less than a minute. And it was much cleaner.

If you mix glazes buy a hand held mixer. You will be happy.

Thank you Santa!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another new glaze recipe

I have been gazing at work by Brother Thomas and Chun Wen Wang lately. Iron glazes can be so wonderful. They can be almost any color, clear, matte, crystalline. Just an amazing mineral.

So I started to think about iron yellows. Brother Thomas' influence. I haven't been able to find any good examples of an iron yellow for cone 6 oxidation online. I was scratching my head. I was surfing and googling and generally flailing blindly. As it happens sometimes the answer was right in front of me. Literally. Right in front of me was a platter I made last year, lorio ash, cone 6 oxidation and a beautiful yellow. The colorant? Iron. I just needed to tweak the recipe from being an ash glaze to being a normal stable glaze.

The original:

Alberta Slip 43.9
EPK 5.9
Whiting 29.6
Wood Ash 13.9
Grestely Borate 8
TiO2 6

The tweaked glaze:

Alberta Slip 53.9
EPK 5.9
Whiting 15
Grestely Borate 10.2
Silica 15
Red Iron Oxide 3
Titanium Dioxide 6

I will be testing this soon.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A new glaze to test

I am getting antsy to see the glaze tests I dd last week. I have to wait until next week to see them.
In the mean time I was looking for another black temmoku. I came across this recipe that is from Nigel Woods' great book:

Silica 20.5
Wollastonite 18.5
Custer 19
EPK 14.7
Ball Clay 14.7
Iron oxide 9
Mang dioxide 3.2
Cobalt carb 0.5

This is a cone 10 glaze. So I tweaked it:

Silica 23
Wollastonite 21
Neph Syn 22
EPK 17
Grestely Borate 17
Iron oxide 9
Mang carb 3.2
Cobalt carb 0.5

I changed the manganese dioxide to carbonate as 3.2 percent of manganese dioxide makes me nervous. I added borate to help drop the melting point and removed some clay for the same reason. Also swapped the feldspar from custer to neph syn. then normalized the recipe to 100 without colorants.

I also have been reading a lot about Brother Thomas. His work is truly inspiring. I saw some of his pots have manganese over temmoku. I am going to mix up some mang. washes with grestely borate.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tests done

So I spent some time getting my tests ready.

I have a line test of bailey's red (cone 6). Line testing from 5%-14% RIO.

I am also testing a new clear. No line test just a single tile. If it melts and doesn't craze it's a winner.

A test tile of my cone 6 Obsidian #3. This is derived from a Richard Aerni recipe:

Alberta Slip 75
F3134 25
Cobalt Carb 5

Next is a new black temmoku.

Nepheline Syenite 14.4
EPK 19.9
Dolomite 18.3
Whiting 7.5
Silica 39.9
Lithium Carbonate 2
Red Iron Oxide 9

On top of these tests I made test tiles of some of my normal glazes - lorio ash, nuka, and a chrome/tin pink.

I'll post pictures when I get them - probably after Jan 1.

Oh and I was pretty bummed about my last glaze batch. Everything was over fired. I think one of the kilns at the new studio is over firing. The bisqued test tiles were also over fired. I had to toss out about 10 of them as they wouldn't take any glaze - they had partially vitrified. So I am not starting over with my normal cone 6 glazes. I am talking to the powers that be at the new studio about fixing the kiln instead.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Great glaze resource

I ran across this site today:

Super awesomesauce.

Have fun!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pop quiz time

Well test time at least.

The glazes I used at my last studio didn't transfer well to my latest studio, so it's time to test. I decided to do it right. I made up about three dozen test tiles and I am starting with a blank sheet of paper and what colors I want. The first thing I want is a good black temmoku. I don't want Val's Temmoku Gold. I don't want the crystals, I want a smooth, glossy pitch black temmoku.

So I pulled out all my books (I have a bunch of glaze books) and started reading - why are most cone 6 temmokus full of crystals? How can I get a beautiful fat black tenmmoku at cone 6? I had tried before but failed. I found the answer this time. One little paragraph tucked away in Michael Bailey's "Oriental Glazes". The crystals form when the glaze is low in alumina (duh, like all those glazes that have intentional crystals). So the key is to flux down a cone 10 temmoku while keeping the clay content level with the cone 10 formula AND not overloading the glaze with calcium. So my flux options are adding grestely borate, possibly lithium, replacing the feldspar with neph syn, maybe even adding a couple parts barium carb.

On top of that I have a couple of line tests lined up - trying to figure out what the hell happened to my iron red and what recipe will work in these kilns.

I'll post the actual recipe for the temmoku once I get one that I like.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Time to work on that glaze palette again

So with a new studio and the old cone 6 glazes not really working it's time to decide what glazes I want/need and get to work.

First I want some good ash glazes. I will be working to get a version of lorio ash that works in the new kilns. I am also going to try to get some color into the ash glazes. I will be doing line tests to see if I can get a purple ash using manganese carb.

I have a clear but it's not quite right. I will look to reduce the melting point a bit.

I will be doing line tests for an iron red. This one should have been a gimme but for some reason isn't looking right.

I will be looking for a black temmuko.

I will be creating a faux celedon.

I will try my chrome red to see if it works in the new kilns.

As I do the line tests I will post recipes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Glazes don't travel

The pottery truism reinforced itself this past week - glazes don't travel. I think this usually refers to the fact that different suppliers will have slightly different chemicals. RIO from one supplier may be less or more pure than RIO from another supplier. But what I have found is every kiln in the entire world is different. And glazes react differently in every kiln. Glazes that work perfectly in one kiln may not work in a similar kiln.

I got my first batch of pottery glaze fired at the new studio. It was ugly. I had used all glazes I had previously used, tuned, tweaked for cone 6 oxidation firing in an electric kiln. The new studio uses cone 6 oxidation firing in an electric kiln so I figured I was money. Not so much.

My lorio ash? Seriously over fired. All webbing and definition was gone. Just an ugly tan mess. A lot of crystals.

My seiji nuka? Same - over fired. Ran and pooled into dark brown nastiness. No lovely green.

The Bailey's red that is one of my favorites? Came out almost black. No idea what happened with this glaze. The others were obviously too fluxed for the kiln and require some tweaks to bring them into line with the new kilns. This totally different color perplexes me.

The only glaze that worked was a floating blue. Probably my least favorite glaze. I only use when someone asks specifically for it (in this case my wife asked for a large bowl with "that blue"). It melted correctly, looks perfect.

So my next project is extruding several dozen test tiles and going to work refining my standard recipes to work in these new kins. They fire a hotter cone 6 and appear to take longer to cool off than the kilns I have worked with in the past. Seems like I should be able to make use of those traits... I will dust off some crystalline glaze recipes.

The very good news out of this batch was all my tumblers I was going to put decals on came out. I will be doing my first batch of decals over the weekend. Should get them fired in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Now the anticipation

So I threw some nice pots - or what I consider nice pots - and mixed up several cone 6 oxidation glazes I have used in the past. I am now waiting to see how the recipes that I had used in other kilns react in the new studio's kilns.

I am going to old standards, lorio ash, nuka, Bailey's red, blue hare. I also tred a new glaze, a copper red that I am using for a faux celedon. I am hopeful.

I have three large bowls, a platter,and 8 tumblers. The tumblers are all glazed clear.They are going to be a Christmas gift for one of my sons. After the glaze firing I will be using decals to personalize the mugs. I am excited to try this new technique.

Now to resume my quest for a full palette of cone 6 oxidation glazes. Still looking for the rich beautiful tenmoku.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The joy of porcelain

There is nothing quite like the moment when about 10 pounds of porcelain becomes centered.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Glaze db down. For good.

I took the glaze db offline.

Just didn't have the time nor drive to fix the UI bugs or update it.

If you're interested email me or leave a comment and I will send you a SQL dump so you can set it up on your own machine.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another new studio

Well, I moved studio's again.

The one I landed at is probably not going to last long. Just long enough for me to find something better.

I love Pottery Northwest. But it's expensive. Ten weeks costs about $350. I found somewhere that's less than half the price, $145 for 10 weeks. The new studio is in the local community college. It means I am moving back to cone 6 electric. Which is pretty cool because hey - I have a bunch of tried and true cone 6 oxy glazes. Also this studio does a lot of decal work so I am hoping to lean how to do that.

I am off to spend my Saturday throwing stuff for Christmas. I think I am going to go with platters this year.

I am going to keep looking for a private studio where I can come and go as I please, experiment with glazes and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A tipping point

I posted previously that the pots I have been making lately are sub-standard as I have been folding in new techniques. Well last night was a bit of a watershed for me.

Last night I put the finishing touches on 3 tea pots. Any tea pot is an accomplishment for me – or any potter really. Tea pots, in my opinion, are the pinnacle of our craft. I incorporated several new tricks and techniques and created 3 tea pots I am mostly happy with. One is the best pot I have made to date.

All three were thrown as closed forms. All three have thrown spouts. All three have lids cut from the original closed form. All three have attached then pulled handles. Handles are still the bane of my existence. One handle came out exactly as I envisioned. One came out Ok. One is meh.

In addition to the tea pots I threw 3 large platters. I used techniques I picked up at PNW. The platters are also the best platters I’ve thrown. Large, good thinkness, lines I like.

This post isn’t to brag but to reflect on how much my time at PNW has helped me improve my pottery skills. I am eagerly awaiting the Fall schedule to see what part of my game I can work on.

Now I just have to hope that I don’t trash the sweet new pots when I glaze them ;)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Steady progress

While I have been avoiding my obsession with glazes I have been throwing myself into the current class. I am concentrating on improving my pots - not just my glazes. I am having a ton of fun. I am making a lot of pots but most of them suck. They suck because I am doing things I am not comfortable doing. I am doing things I am not good at. It's kind of odd. I am having more fun making really terrible pots.

I am learning to cut darts out to turn pots oval.

I am pulling pouring lips on pots.

I was challenged to "make a cute pot". Ever try to make a cute pot?

I am making tea pots from closed forms.

I am making spouts from slabs.

These are all new for me. The pots I am making show my inexperience with the techniques. So no cool new pots to post. Not even kinda good new pots to post. But hey, I am happy and making progress.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wheels turning again

Back in the studio.

I realized I am spending a lot less time in the studio recently. There are reasons which don't need to be discussed here but I am making an effort to keep my butt in the studio.

I am enjoying the new class. Learning a lot. Using techniques that I am not comfortable with. Making pots I have never made. Very challenging and rewarding.

A lot of greenware drying. I will post pics once things start to fire.

I am still trying to obsess less about glazes. I am doing one experiment using Richard Aerni's slips and glazes. Again, will post details as things fire.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A few new jars

Pics of a couple new jars...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Very quiet

Not a lot going on currently. I am between classes.

I am still trying to be a little less obsessive about glazes. I have a carbon trap shino that works, a kaki that rocks, an ash that while I don't really care for works. I will use those as the base set of glazes for the next few months.

The class I start next week is pouring vessels. I am looking forward to this class. I learned a lot from Deborah Schwartzkopf last course and she is teaching this class as well. I can do tea pots but for some reason can't do pitchers. Plus I'd like to get better at teapots. I have a few tea pot shapes swirling in my gourd.

I'll post more as the class fires up.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A moment of satisfaction

Pottery often frustrates me. I often spend time working on items that break or look funky when glazed or whatever. Pottery frustrates me.

But sometimes I get the little reward that makes all the crap worth while. I had one such moment this week. I went to the studio and grabbed a large bowl that I had glazed. The top half was kaki, the bottom half, both inside and out is a carbon trap shino. It came out beautiful. The kaki is red-ish purple. Really very red. Not brown, not coppery, red. A red iron red. The carbon trap shino came out looking like it was pulled out of a Malcom Davis slide. A deep tan with blooms of black.

I love this bowl. I haven't decided if I should sell it, keep it or gift it. I would post pictures but I still only have my phone camera and those pictures would not do justice to this little beauty.

But as with everything pottery there was frustrations that evening too. I had three - FREAKIN THREE!!! - mugs broken (out of my original 20) just moving them to a different shelf. THREE. Then someone broke one on the shelf waiting for bisque. But kindly left all the pieces in a neat pile. Then I had 4 more had their handles pop off. The handle issue is something I have struggled with for years. I think I am down to about10 mugs. And I haven't glazed yet.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Keeping it simple

I was sitting in my living room last night. I had had a few drinks. Sometimes you can get an epiphany when you're relaxed and not really thinking.

I stared over at my kitchen counter. On the counter were all the test tiles from my last batch of glaze tests. I had an epiphany. I am trying too hard with the glazes. No other potter I personally know spends half - and I mean literally half - as much time as I do screwing with glazes. I am being OCD about it.

I had spent some time prior to the gin and tonics mapping out how I was going to glaze a large serving bowl I have bisqued. How many pots have I ruined with complicated glazing? Many dozens. Maybe a few hundred. What was I doing? I was over complicating something that shouldn't be complicated. Less IS more. Keep it simple.

I threw out my glaze diagram for the bowl. I am going to hit it just straight kaki. Maybe a few touches of a highlight glaze. Nothing else. No strontium matte under glaze. No ash over glaze. Nothing complicated. Just a beautiful glaze on a simple pot.

I have several glazes that work in the new studio; a kaki, two carbon trap shinos, a black. I will work with those. I do want a celadon. I am going to try the studio celadon rather than make my own. I don't have to make every glaze myself.

In line with backing off the glaze obsession and concentrating on other things I changed gears in my throwing. I mentioned in a prior post that I am taking a class on set design. I made 20 mugs (down to 18 now) in order to get a set of 6 I really like. As I was finishing my 15th or so mug the class instructor walked by and commented that the shape was simple and I should try to push myself. It kind of pissed me off. Yeah, the shape is simple, my reason for taking the class wasn't to challenge myself with exotic shapes but to become consistent with simple shapes. But she is right.

I gave myself a new challenge. Create a set of canisters out of diverse and challenging shapes. So I started throwing large completely closed vases. My challenge is to make the divergent difficult shapes into a cohesive set. That's a challenge. So far I have 4 vases thrown. I plan on throwing 5 more. The 3:1 rule. I want a set of 3 containers; flour, sugar; brown sugar, for my kitchen counter.

My real challenge will be keeping the glazes on these containers simple ;)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Win some, lose some...

Line test of lorio ash.
The right tile is the straight up cone 10 recipe. Still running at "cone 6". I am giving up on this glaze in these kilns. I was firing a more highly fluxed version at cone 6 and it never ran.

Celedon and Kaki
The celedon didn't fully melt. The kaki made me drool. The picture doesn't do it justice.

Carbon trap shino
Both tiles are malcom davis shino. Left uses Barnard Slip instead of Red Art. Right uses Alberta Slip instead of Red Art. The one on the right is really stunning in person.

St. John's Black and Reitz Green
Both are kind of "meh". The green actually looks better in the picture than in person. It's too blue, not black enough for me.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

glaze db up and running again

Up and running.

Not 100% finished but it's functional.

About2,000 glaze recipes.


Saturday, May 1, 2010


I was at the studio today. I trimmed and put handles on 11 mugs. These go with the 8 I did the other day. I started out with the goal of making 6 mugs for a set. In order to get 6 I really liked I figured I would have to make 18 mugs. I started making 20. I dropped 1 so I am at 19. I figure I'll lose at least 1 more to some freak thing.

I am encouraged though. All 19 have the same basic form, the same lines, the same handles. The vary in size and I am still working on that. But I am pretty confident that once these are glazed and fired they will be easily recognizable as a set. And with 19 headed to the kiln I should be able to find 6 that I like - and that was the goal. A set of 6 mugs.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More of the same

Was a busy week at work last week and didn't get a chance to hang out at the studio much. I did take some time over the weekend to mix some glazes to test. I decided to go to square one. I mixed a handful of glazes straight from John Britt's book. I'll see how they turn out and tweak as needed. I did do the line test of the lorio ash I mentioned in my last post. All those tiles should be fired this coming weekend.

One test I am looking forward to seeing is a tile with a carbon trap shino under lorio ash. I am trying for the stunning yellows that Nick Joerling gets with an ash glaze over a carbon trap shino.

I spent time hunched over a wheel throwing more coffee cups. I chose coffee cups because I could use more and it's a simple shape. I am working on becoming consistent in my throwing. It's really been a struggle for me. I keep thinking of the words I read somewhere "to master a shape you need to throw 50-100 of them". I don't know who said it but I think they were low balling the number. I've thrown a few dozen of this specific coffee cup shape before I started this little journey. I've thrown 20 since I started to try to master this shape and I still feel like the pots are wildly different. Out of the eight I have handles on I actually like three of them. Two of them I should have throw out. I will be putting handles on the rest this weekend.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tweaking my favorite ash glaze

I love lorio ash. It's got a beautiful color. Behaves like a great ash glaze and I modified it down to cone 6 and that version webs beautifully and never runs past where I applied it. However when I tried my version of lorio ash at PNW it ran like it was training for the Olympics. It reinforces the saying that "glazes don't travel". Truer words never spoken. Every kiln is unique. Every kiln fires differently. Heck, at the last studio I was at they had three kilns - some glazes fired differently in those three kilns sitting in the same room. It's no surprise that a version of a glaze I had refined to fire in the kilns at one studio totally bombs out in a different kiln. So that sends me back to the drawing board.

Time to reformulate a version of lorio ash for the kilns I am using now. I am starting the same way I always start - with the original recipe. I have the base recipe and two data points, the kilns at PNW fire at cone 6 and the version I had of this gaze while tweaked for cone 6 is melting too much. So the recipe I am after is somewhere between the base recipe and the version I had been using. Knowing the boundaries I created a table:

10 (base)




6 (my current version)

Alberta Slip


















Wood Ash






Grestely Borate


















As you can see I kept the moving parts down to a two; EPK and GB. I will be testing 4 of these soon. The fifth one I already tested, my current version and it ran.

While I was mixing up glazes I mixed up an oldie but goodie - Reitz Green. I freakin' loved this glaze in the past. But never brought it down to cone 6. I know the kilns at PNW are higher than the kilns I am used to so I am hoping I can get this glaze working. I also swirled up a quick batch of Pinnel Celadon. I haven't found a celadon I like yet.

Oh and before I forget - the new version of my glaze db web site is almost complete. Just finishing up the UI now. Putting in things like pagination and print pages.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trying to improve

I am taking a class. I am in a class called "Set Design". It's being taught by Deborah Schwartzkopf.

I choose this class because it gives me a chance to work on something that has eluded me - the ability to throw consistent shapes/sizes. I can throw really nice one or two off pieces, at least I think they're nice. But I can't sit down and throw 10 bowls same size same shape. I can throw an 18 inch tall bottle, but not 6 coffee cups that look alike. It bothers me.

I made myself sit down and throw 10 cups tonight. Sounds easy but it's the first time I've done that since I started throwing again. On cup number 5 I got the shape I really wanted. I threw several more that were actually very similar in size and shape. Then I got tired and the last few sucked.

I plan on getting 30 cups I like. I have maybe 3.

I am going to put my normal handles on them.

I am also adding a sugar container and a creamer. I'll be using the same bodies as the mugs for these. Just a different finishing treatment.

It feels good working on improving my throwing instead of just working on glazes.

All will get the same glaze treatment. I have a high level view of what the glaze will be - lorio ash + some accent glaze on the outside, black on the inside. I am going to be doing line tests with the lorio ash to get a variation that doesn't run in the kilns at PNW.

Friday, April 9, 2010

On cruise control

I have been doing some work in the studio but not a lot.

I made a fairly nice bowl. It's a little special because my parents were visiting when I was glazing it and my Mom helped me glaze. She had on my mask, I taught her to use the spray gun. It was fun. It turned out fair nice. I am giving her the bowl.

The glaze palette I was working on for the new studio is on hold. I will be staying at the new studio for a few more months but my wife and I decided to turn our out building into a studio. So I will have a studio of my own in my back yard. Pretty freakin cool.

it will take several months to get everything put together. And once again I will be in a bit of a limbo. Spending time and money putting together a new studio which means less time actually producing pottery.

On the plus side I get full control over the kiln and firing. I am going electric. I am not comfortable with a fuel kiln in my back yard. I am going to get the best computer controlled kiln I can afford. I am hoping for some precision firings in the cone 6 and cone 9 range. Cone 6 for most glazes but cone 9 for oil spots.

Very excited.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pots outta da kiln

I used a set of bowls, a vase, and a set of mugs to experiment with combinations of the new glazes. A few things I learned:
  • Shino must be put on thick or it blows.
  • Iron wash over shino blows.
  • The container didn't say clear, it said clear blue.
  • Shino over SCM blows.
  • I should write down my experiments because the one bowl that came out great - yeah I couldn't tell you what's on it if you waterboarded me.
Everything be hammered into pieces fit for my Mom's new garden pathway.

Time to start throwing more ;)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The last of the first batch of test results

The last four tests from my first batch of tests came out of the kiln. I am not posting pictures because I am getting sick. But not too sick to toss out a few lines about the results.

I tested two oil spots. Both were mis-fires. Someone loaded them into the reduction kiln. Reduction means no oil spots. I'll have to re-test these.

The other two came out freakin' awesome.

One was a copper red. I made a mistake but this time it came out great. I forgot to mix it. It came out very deep purple with turquoise spots. Amazing looking. No idea if I can reproduce it.

The last one was a glaze called called Virden Wrinkle. I got it from John Britt's book. It came out better than the test tiles in the book. It got the wrinkling effect but instead of a flat dark gray the glaze came out a shiny metallic black. I will be using this a lot.

I will post recipes and pictures later.

Off to change into PJs and take some Nyqil.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Glaze database update

Warning - only tangentially related to pottery. Proceed at your own risk.

The glaze database project is a great example of why I rarely code.

I have the back end completely rewritten and working. No big thing. However this week I started looking at Google Web Tools. Using GWT is like being given the keys to a freakin' spaceship. Armed with photon torpedoes. And lasers. It's so much more powerful than any other tool suite I've ever seen.

GWT is a java SDK. They - Google - provide the SDK as well as a plugin for Eclipse, a very powerful open source java IDE. So far using their code and tools I have stepped through the first of their tutorials. I have learned enough to know I will be using GWT for the foreseeable future for any and all web development.

For those who may have gotten this far and know a thing or two about development; GWT is compiled java that renders dynamic html and javascript. So you can use a java debugger for your ajax apps. Breakpoints, not alert windows. Compiled code, all the ajax pre-written by Google. Truly a thing of beauty. I wrote a fairly complex ajax app in about 200 lines of java. Not a single line of html or javascript. And it was fast as hell. Time to learn java.

And here's the rub. I am going to trash my current working version of my web app for glazes. Again. So I can rewrite it from scratch. Again. My issue with coding, my coding problem. I often reach the point where I must rewrite my code prior to finishing it which results in the time it takes for me to publish code being many times longer than it would take a normal person.

Funny though, I am similar with pottery. My favorite pot is the one I am about to throw. My least favorite pot? The one I just threw. My favorite glaze? The one I am still formulating, not the one I just applied to a pot.

C'est la vie.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The rest of the results

The celedons all sucked. Not bothering with recipes. I will talk to Wally, I am not sure if this is a result of over reducing, under reducing, over firing or what. All the celedons came out cloudy and opaque.

This is the house iron red. Dead sexy. I would marry this glaze. As always my phone camera pic does not do justice to this beauty.

My lorio ash glaze. It ran which it has never done before and it developed wonderful crystals that even if I had a good camera would have problems capturing. Even better looking in reduction. But I will have to refactor it for the hotter kiln to prevent the running.

More test results - copper reds

Two of the three copper reds I was testing were fired. The third didn't make it into the kiln =(

Panama Red (John Britt)

Dolomite 7.8%
Grestly Borate 10.7%
Strontium Carb 4.2%
Whiting 2.6%
Zinc Oxide 2.6%
Custer 44.1%
3110 9.7%
EPK 2.6%
Silica 15.8%

Comments: Very purple. Not clear, very opaque. I will work on this one.

Blue/Green Copper red (Ceramics Monthly)

Talc 3.3%
Whiting 14.29%
3134 13.33%
F4 feldspar 46.16%
EPK 6.4%
Silica 16.52%

Comments: Redder than the other test but still opaque and purple. I will work on this one as well.

First test tiles in reduction!

Let's start with the shinos:

Cherry blossom shino (John Britt)

Soda ash 10%
Nepheline Syenite 40%
Spodumene 40%
EPK 10%

Comments: No color but you can see the wax resist really well. Still fairly attractive glaze. I may try this on an iron bearing clay to see if there is some color.

Malcolm Davis shino

Soda ash 16%
F4 feldspar 9%
Nepheline Syenite 39%
Redart (I used alberta slip) 6%
EPK 17%
OM4 13%

Comments: The photo was taken with my phone and doesn't do justice to this beauty. The wax resist strip is a fantastic iron red. Really stunning glaze.

House shino

No recipe. This is the house shino for the studio. No clue what the recipe is.

Comments: Nice peach color. Wonderful texture. I will be using this glaze.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Slooooow firing

I got to the studio tonight anxious to see the test tiles I had firing. I have 3 copper reds, 3 shinos, 2 celedons, and 1 ash. I saw the tiles go into the kiln Saturday afternoon.

So I get there tonight damn near run through the studio to the kilns and the kiln is still red hot. It was dark out and I could still see the glow. Shit.

So I will go back Wednesday and hopefully things will be cool by then.

After I took my frustration out on 25 pounds of porcelain. Split it in two and threw a big ass vase then a big ass bowl. They both came out nice. Now if I can just get some glazes FREAKIN' tested I can glaze them.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Testing ramping up

I have a batch of test tiles waiting to be glaze fired. They may be done today, I'll see when I get to the studio later today. Testing a copper red, lorio ash, and all the house glazes, as well as a pair of carbon trap shinos.

I also had quite a bit of interest in exploring a cone 6/7 oil spot. I had previously chatted via email with John Britt about oil spots fired at temps lower than cone 10 and he said it's indeed possible. So I am working on seeing what actually works.

I started mixing test batches last night and will mix up 4 or 5 more this morning before hitting the studio.

So far I am using the oil spot recipes in John's book as a starting place. In all the tests I am simply adding 5-7% F3110. That will be my first test; does it melt at cone 6 with the addition of the frit? I will make adjustments based on results.

I am fairly excited as I have worked with candace black before and it's a beautiful glaze. John sent me his cone 6 version of that glaze. I will be test firing it soon. Plus I am trying my hand at a couple of oil spots that produce red sot; bailey's oil spot and SG-12.

I will post pictures and recipes as soon as stuff gets fired.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New glaze lab

This morning I set up my garage as a glaze lab. It was stupid easy but a fun and needed first step.

I have had all the chemicals as I have been making my own glazes for several years but I have never done it at home. I have a work bench in my garage and I just organized everything on the work bench. No big thing.

But something about it got me excited. Maybe it was the ease of having my entire ceramics reference library a few feet away. I went inside and grabbed my copy of “The Complete Guide To High Fire Glazes” and put it with my Ohaus scale. I didn’t need the book… but it was cool to have it so accessible. I am so used to not having any of my notes or books when I am mixing glazes.

I mixed up four glaze tests. I should have some bisqued test tiles that I can use tonight. In theory I should have fired tests by the weekend. I am testing two cone 6 shinos, a cone 6 copper red, and my modified lorio ash glaze. That’s not too experimental but I need to see how it will react in the new kilns and I have only fired it in oxidation, so let’s see how it reacts in reduction. I’ll post recipes if any of them are worth keeping. The lorio ash has been posted a couple of times.

I am hopeful on all the test recipes. All but the lorio ash came from John Britt. And he is The Man when it comes to glazes. While I am sure the glazes will need to be tweaked I am hopeful that all will be good starting points. I am super excited about the copper red. The pictures of the test tiles I have seen are nothing short of jaw dropping.

I will also make tests of all the house glazes at the studio. I need to see how they look on the clay I am using. I will be mixing up 1k gram batches of my old stand by glazes; SCM, Obsidian 3, lorio ash, crystal base w/ cobalt, seiji nuka. I am hoping to get use of the house iron red, temmoku, and tea dust glazes.

Slightly off topic but holy crap it rocks having a house big enough to set up a wood shop in my shed, an office for books in one of the empty bedrooms and still have plenty of room to dedicate my garage to making glazes. Oh and the car still fits in the garage.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sweet and meh at the same time

I was opening a new box of B-mix at the studio and I noticed the box was labelled B-mix 5.

I scurried up to one of the resident artist and confirmed the B-mix is really a cone 6 clay. And the follow up question "Does this mean the gas kilns fire at 6, not 10?" "yes" was the answer.

So I will not graduate to cone 10 reduction glazes. However I have a ton of great cone 6 glazes so I am not starting from scratch. I will be able to add some true reduction glazes to my palette.

I extruded about 20 pounds of test tiles. I will start testing the house glazes soon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Things keep moving... slowly

Ah the holidays are over, visits out of state to family are over and I am back in the studio. And back to working on version 2.0 of the glaze data base.

While I love the new studio I find myself spending less time there than I did at the last studio. I am just not in the swing of it yet. But I am still working. I threw a set of 6 mugs last night and will be making test tiles to test the house glazes and my first batch of new cone 10 reduction glazes this week.

I still have to figure out what glazes I will try. I was excited for oil spot glazes but I think I will wait on those and concentrate on reduction only glazes.

There has been more movement on the glaze db front.

Version 2.0 is shaping up very nicely. I have the API working but not finished quite yet. I haven't even started the UI but I hired a graphic artist to design the UI. The designer is my daughter. She's going to college in the Fall for art and design. I figure she can add my site to her portfolio and she;ll do a better job than my designing it. Version 1.0 of the site, while functional was pretty damn ugly. I am excited about publishing the new version. The API is completely rewritten and more stable.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

News on all fronts

I've started at the new studio. It's wonderful, strange, inspiring, intimidating.

There are a dozen or so working professional ceramic artists at this studio. Working in the same studio is intimidating. Also enlightening. I have already picked up tips that have dramatically improved my throwing. It's fun. Definitely moving into new territory for me.

Some of the things I had to figure out was how I was going to fire, clay I was going to use at the new studio. There are basically two choices for me as far as clay; a house made iron bearing red stoneware or Laguna B-mix. Yeah, I went with the B-mix. It's the first time I have worked with this clay. It' throws like a dream. I have already thrown very large (for me) bowls that are thinner than anything of that size I have throw before. Last night I threw a bowl with about 12lbs of clay. It's about 1/4 inch thick. Maybe less. The walls are high, maybe too high for a bowl.

I still have to start work on a glaze palette for the new clay. There is a nice selection of house glazes but no test tiles showing the house glazes on B-mix. So a lot of work to do there.

It was kind of funny to tour their glaze area and realize I have a better selection of chemicals.

News on the glaze db front. I have started work on that project again. It ill take awhile - as always - but I will get it back up and running and improve it. Promise.

Off for a long weekend on the East Coast. My father in law's birthday.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hitting the reset button

So next week I start at my new studio. It will be bittersweet. I loved my old studio and will miss them terribly. I am excited about the expanded horizons the new studio presents.

The new studio will be a complete reset. First I will have to decide if I will be working in high fire (cone 10) or mid-fire (cone 6). Once I make that call then I have to start from the ground up, literally. Which clay will I be using? Will I move to stoneware? Stay with porcelain? I will most like develop an entirely new glaze palette as a result of the studio move. I will be starting with my tools, and all my chemicals. Nothing else. No glazes, no clays.

I am excited by the unknown here. I know I will be doing/working with new processes techniques. I will probably try my hand at soda firing. I may move to high fire. Shinos and copper reds call to me. The new studio also has a really kick ass raku set up. I may do some more raku.

Exciting times.