On my post for April 26, I mentioned that I had received a commission to make two bowls, and I had resorted to unconventional means to speed the drying process (microwave!) as the deadline was really short. I am happy to report that the bowls turned out well, and that I made the deadline a day or so ahead of schedule. The process was not without drama however...
Knowing that I might run into problems with the commission, both in the drying stage, and the glazing, I made about 8 or 10 bowls at the same time. The bowls were about breakfast bowl size, so making a quantity of extra ones was reasonable insurance. I lost one of the spares whilst microwaving, and one developed an S crack in the final stage of drying. I also threw more than a kiln load of mugs and a couple of jugs, and some other small chun glazed bowls.
Both bisque firings were successful. (I glazed some of the bowls, and lots of mugs as the second bisque was firing.) Once the second bisque was out of the kiln, I loaded up a glaze firing. I glazed just 3 of the commission sized bowls, and made up the rest of the kiln load with mugs.
I unpacked the glaze firing on Sunday morning. Sadly, my first attempt at the bowls had not worked. The bowls were good, and the glaze nearly perfect, but it had moved slightly, just enough to obscure a subtle addition to the decoration that my client wanted, namely, the initial of the first name of each person he was giving the bowls to. As the glazed mugs and bowls cooled, I painted a sign to put out the front of our building. Then we opened our studio to the public on the Sunday afternoon. After shutting the door at 5pm, I did 7 hours of glazing, so as to get another kiln load ready to fire the next morning with a back up set of bowls, and enough mugs and jugs to fill the rest of the space. Some time after 12 midnight I placed all the drying pots on racks and in space fairly near our wood stove and went to bed.
Up Monday morning at 5.30am. Loaded the kiln and steamed very carefully for three hours before starting the firing. I fired half a cone lower (to cone 10 and a half), and did a shorter soak at top temperature. Total time for the firing from 100 degrees C to kiln off was 9 hours.
On Tuesday, I did my day in Dunedin looking after the Potter's Co-op gallery. I managed to take more photographs whilst in Dunedin. I am beginning to really enjoy, and value, taking photographs of the city. It is opening my eyes to what is around me there and is making me more curious about what I see.
On Wednesday I unpacked the kiln. This time I had got things right, and the bowls turned out with the initials clearly visible. The mugs turned out well too. Whilst they were cooling, I designed and printed a new business card to go with my pots. The phone rang whilst I was working on the cards, and I received another commission from someone else with a short deadline..., this time a teapot. Then I cleaned any roughness off the bottoms of mugs and foot rings of bowls, packed, and drove to meet my client in Dunedin at the Potter's Co-op. I made our 2pm appointment with 5 minutes to spare. Happily, the bowls were well liked and are probably now in Australia.
Once back from town, I prepared my studio for visitors... I have a small group of teenagers who have started coming to me for regular lessons on a Wednesday evening from 6 to 7pm. I am really enjoying the time with them, and it is good to take any opportunity one can to share a love of clay.
On Thursday I began throwing teapot bodies and spouts. A bit rusty in the throwing department after a couple of weeks rushing around madly. Mum and Dad visited for lunch. Lovely to see them.
Almost Mother's Day here, so we thought we would get in early with some flowers (in the red wrapping) for mum.
I assembled some teapots on the Friday, but was feeling pretty unwell and rundown so didn't achieve all that I would have liked.
I will have to do more with teapots today (Saturday).
Tomorrow I will pack up pots that are going to an exhibition in Timaru. I will take them to Timaru on Monday (Timaru is a drive of about 2 hours up the Island from us). The exhibition, held at the Public Art Gallery (the Aigantighe), is a fund raiser for the Plunket Society, who work with new born children.
Happy to report that Ginger is well and full of bounce!
Ironically, with all the rush of the last few days, I haven't got very good photos of the bowls to show you. Ah, well.........!