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.