Thursday, May 12, 2011

Peach Blossom

Well this post is a first. It's all about a pot that I didn't make.

About a year ago I was visiting an out of town nursery and I spotted a beautiful peach blossom vase. It was remarkable, everything that I had read a peach blossom should be. It was mostly white with a large copper red splotch on one side. The copper red area faded in nicely and at it's center was a deep variegated purple. Truly was one of the most beautiful pots I have ever seen in person. For reasons I don't recall I decided not to buy the pot.

A year has past. I went back to the nursery recently. It's over an hour drive from my house and they only open when they feel like it, which is usually one weekend a month, in the spring and summer. It's run by a retired couple. I went straight to the spot where I saw the peach blossom pot last year. No luck. And I shouldn't have expected it to be there. It was truly museum quality. It was one of those finds like finding a Picasso at a garage sale. I would have expected the signature on the pot to turn out to be a Japanese National Treasure or something.

I started wandering the grounds of the nursery, looking at odd colored irises, exotic lilies, when I spotted this vase in a different portion of the nursery. There is was, still for sale. I didn't make the same mistake twice. I immediately scooped it up.

I did check for a signature - because seriously, best pot I have ever seen outside a museum. Nothing. No signature, no mark, nothing.

The picture doesn't convey how the pot feels in the hand. It's light, balanced. The glaze is thick but there are no runs. The glaze around the foot is perfect, no drips.

The beautiful no signature pot sold for... $15.

Back to my pottery ... not much new to report. I have been very busy around my house with spring arriving so I have been spending less time at the studio. In fact I haven't been there to work (I was there for a sale) in a couple of weeks. My yard and house need the attention right now. Once summer gets into full swing and my yard is under control I will have more time to get dirty in the studio.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Upcoming sale

Posters for our upcoming sale...

Friday, April 8, 2011

More pictures

So these are the pots that were trapped at the last studio. I finally rescued them.

This first picture is a couple of small bottles. My awesome wife asked for some oil bottles. So I started throwing small bottles and making goofy little stoppers for them. Somehow the last studio lost two of my stoppers so... now they're vases ;)

Now the next picture is a lidded vase I threw. It's glazed with an iron yellow. On top of the iron yellow I dripped a mixture of grestely borate and rutile (75/25). The GB/Rutile mixture behaved really strangely. It looks like it separated. Odd but cool looking.

The last picture is a close up of the GB/Rutile dots.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A couple more pics from the latest kiln load

All lorio ash. I actually like this one a lot. Right color, the glaze was sprayed on and I was able to get it exactly how I wanted.

This one... not so much. This is more of a "don't do this" kind of picture:

This is a crystal blue on top of a chrome/tin red. See that little band of light blue/purple right where the two glazes meet? That's what I was going for. I used waaay too much crystal blue and the oxy red was too light. Ugly pot.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New pots

Fresh from the kiln:

Inside is iron yellow though you can't see it in this picture. Top outside is lorio as modified to cone 6, bottom portion of the outside is my cone 6 version of Richard Areni's Obsidian 3 glaze.

My faux celedon. It's a little much faux and little too little celedon for my tastes.

The 4 iron reds I was testing came out ok. The old standby, Bailey's Red was by far the best. I am giving all 4 a second firing in a bisque load to see if any of them respond well to that before I make up my mind which one to use.

I had two other pots in the kiln that came out fairly nice One was a large round vase that had strictly lorio ash on it. Came out very nice, I left it at the studio as we have a sale in a few days. Maybe I can get a few dollars for it. The other pot was a large bottle, top portion was a dark blue crystal, the bottom portion was oxy red. Came out as it should. It just looked better in my mind. That one is also at the studio, Maybe it will sing to someone, I think it's fugly.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Long time coming....

Tonight I loaded and started firing a kiln load of my stuff in the new studio. It's been about 18 months since I loaded my own kiln. It will fire over night and I may be able to unload tomorrow night. More likely Monday.

Firing a couple glazes I have used many times. I also have four tests for iron reds plus a faux celedon, my clear plus 0.5% copper carb.

Will post pictures Monday night.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

So maybe the fourth time is a charm.

Since I moved to Seattle I have attended three different studios. I am about to move to my fourth.

Initially I tried to stay at my original studio. It was great, loved the people, but it was about 35 miles away. Too far. I didn’t want to drive 45 minutes each way to trim a single pot. So I left in search of a closer studio.

I started going to Pottery Northwest. PNW is a great place. I learned a lot, met some super cool people. I learned from potters that I consider top shelf. I got to experience fuel based kilns – meaning reduction. But PNW was/is very expensive. Over $300 every 10 weeks. Plus materials. So I went looking for a cheaper studio.

I found that my local community college has an open studio “class”. Basically you sign up, come in and do whatever the heck you want. This was working for me. Cheap, close by, less than 3 miles from my house. I was pretty happy. Then randomly for no particular reason I looked for pottery studios in my neighborhood on Craig’s list. I found a studio 3 blocks from my house.

So I am moving my traveling road show to my fourth studio in the last few years. The studio appears to be pretty great. It’s walking distance to my house. I get 24/7 access. I get to fire my own work. They are in the process of building a spray booth. There appears to be about 6 potters working in this studio. I am pretty excited.

I am hoping most of my glazes transfer easily. I am also hoping that the easier access will allow me to do more work. Between the restrictions visiting the college (only allowed in on Saturdays and late Tuesday nights) and some much needed home repairs I haven’t completed any work for a couple of months. I hope to change that.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ah sweet sweet chaos

I really like the Val's Turquoise Matte, so I decided to try it with different oxides. The results surprised me a little.

Val's Matte with RIO.

Again I am using my camera phone so the picture kind of sucks. The glaze has a lot of movement. More than any other oxide. It cleared a little, it's not as matte. It's a very pretty pale yellow.

Val's Matte with Chrome.

A wonderful mottled green with yellow-ish spots. A truly unexpected surprise.

Val's Matte with Manganese Dioxide.

It doesn't come through in the picture but it's a wonderful matte dark burgundy.

Val' Matte with Nickel Carbonate.

This one was a disappointment. I was hoping for a purple, I got a nasty tan.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Three new glazes

A new iron yellow. I like this one and will be using it.

A cone 6 crackle. This is nice but I like the other crackle I tested better so this one will not get much love.

This is a modification of Kuan Crackle in John Britt's book. My crappy phone camera really doesn't reveal the difference between the two glazes but in person the Kuan has a nicer white color and more depth.

Lastly a shot of some bowls with Val's Turquoise Matte. Again the camera sucks. Looks a lot better in person. Using a phone camera with my kitchen counter lighting. I need to get a real camera.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

More of Val's ________ Matte

So I was reading through Robin Hopper's "Ceramic Spectrum" and I realized that the Val's Turquoise Matte I recently tested and love could be extended. Robin Hopper's book as a section of flux saturated glazes - and nearly all coloring oxides look good in cone6 oxidation in a flux saturated glaze. Val's Turquoise Matte is obviously not on of the recipes listed in Mr. Hopper's book but it is similar enough that I expect to get some good results. I am mixing up Val's Flux Saturated Matte with the following:

RIO - 5% - I expect this to be the elusive iron yellow I have been seeking.
Chrome - 3% - I am hoping for a yellow/green.
Manganese Dioxide - 3.5% - Purple maybe?
Nickel Carb - 3% - Hoping for Muave/Purple

It will be a few weeks before I get the glazes mixed and fired but I'll post the results.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Val's Turquoise Matte

Val’s Turquoise Matte
Neph Syn 61.54
Strontium Carb 20.88
OM4 6.59
Silica 7.69
Lithium Carbonate 3.3
Copper Carb 3.5
Bentonite 4

Picture makes it look a lot darker than it actually is.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Second batch of test tiles

The second batch of test tiles came out better than the first batch.

I did a second attempt at a cone 6 black temmoku. It came out Ok. It looks like a temmoku but it's dark brown, not black. A few tweaks and this one should be good. Not sure what tweaks yet.

The second one was an attempt at an iron yellow. It is beige-ish. Not too bad. The cool thing is that completely unintentionally I has some jun like opalescence. I think I am going to tweak this one to bring out the opalescence.

Lastly was the real winner, a turquoise matte. This one came out really wonderful. It has depth and movement. It's a dark turquoise, almost blue. It is variegated with a lot of movement. The glaze is Val's Turquoise Matte. Val Cushing is the man. I have seen this recipe around the net and always wanted to try it. I wish I had tried it years ago.

I have pictures of all three but misplaced the cord to quickly move the pictures to my laptop. I'll post the photos in the next few days.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

First batch of test tiles for the new year

I got the first batch of test tiles out of the kiln for the new year. Some good, some not so good.

The black temmoku looked terrible. The iron red line test looked meh all the way from 5% to 14%. I think I need to switch base recipes for that one.

The old stand by recipes that had drastically over fired previously all came out great; lorio ash, nuka, seiji nuka.

My oxy red came out very streaky. I am going to scrape that recipe as well. It uses cornwall stone which I have learned is no longer being mined.

I would jump in with both feet today in mixing up new batches to test but I am down hard with the flu plus... I am out of test tiles. I have to make some more.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wandering with a purpose

I have been doing a lot of reading lately about Chun Wen Wang and Brother Thomas. I am a glaze junkie and these two seem to me to be the high point in American potters with regards to glazes.

Unfortunately neither left too many bread crumbs for others to follow. I think this is a good thing. The journey is half the fun. The detective work, the exploring.

Books focusing on Brother Thomas exist. I managed to get one through my local library. I enjoyed his essays on art. But at the risk of being an ass myself, art is personal for me. I am not interested in defining art as an expression of divinity. For me a pot just doesn't represent that much. Maybe it's why I consider my pots craft, not art. Anyway, Brother Thomas' essays aside getting the book was worth it for one picture. One glorious picture that said more to me than any of his essays did. It was a picture in a series of Brother Thomas glazing a pot, he was spraying the pot but in a single picture in the series he had stopped spraying and was sprinkling a dry powder on the pot.

So what does that picture of Brother Thomas sprinkling a dry powder on a freshly glazed pot tell me? It tells me the super delicious accents that Brother Thomas lavished on his beautiful temmoku pots were not oxide wash accents. They were something dry - could be a number of things; rutile, straight iron oxide, bone ash, a borate compound. Not sure. But I know I now have a new tool in my toolbox - dry application of accents. A lot of folks do this with wood ash. But my wood ash doesn't melt at cone 6 so I had given that up. Time to dust off the technique and see what I can achieve with various chemicals.

Looking into Chun Wen Wang's work has been more detective work. There are no books about Wang. There is one - count 'em one - article about his work in Ceramics Monthly back in 1997. Yeah, I found a copy and bought it. I am obsessed enough to track down a 1997 back issue of Ceramics Monthly. The article gives nothing away. There is a recipe and it was Wang's starting point. Nothing too noteworthy. But there is a lot written that Wang works with a glass-in-glass technique. Using multiple glass making chemicals within a single glaze to create his glazes.

I started researching glass-in-glass. Something (don't recall what) lead me to Nigel Wood's book Chinese Glazes. It seems that this glass-in-glass technique dates back to 9th century China. It is achieved using high phosphorus low alumina glazes. The phosphorus is the secondary glass former. So that's my starting point for this this type of glaze.

My challenge following Wang's path is moving from cone 10 to cone 6. I have no doubt I can do it. The conversion down to cone 6 is just one more step in that journey. My first step will be pulling the ancient Chinese recipes from Wood's book, converting them to cone 6. I will post the converted recipes before I test them.