There is a well known brand of American manufactured kiln that used to advertise its product by placing three handsome potters in front of the open door of a gas kiln. The handsome potters all look smug, as well they might, because..., inside the kiln, on immaculate un-grotty kiln shelves, on whose pristine surfaces no glaze has angrily spat, dripped or run, are arrayed dozens of pots, all copper red, in precisely the same shade and same level of gloss. "A perfect firing... every time!" is emblazoned in text and implied with the image. Well folks, real life with a wood fired kiln is altogether far more exciting, my copper reds are different on every shelf, and..., sometimes they are green as well! Maybe if I were handsome and botoxed my results would be different, but.. that would be slightly boring, now wouldn't it!
We unpacked the kiln this afternoon. I had fired to a slightly lower temperature than the last time, as I had over fired some of the previous work. This time a small proportion was under fired, but most was acceptable, and some was really good.
We had achieved better reduction in this firing than in the previous. Firing at night may have helped, as the various colours of the chimney flame were most useful indicators of what was going on in the chamber. Most of the copper reds went red, with only the odd miscreant stubbornly staying green!
I haven't done a count up of the number of pieces that went in the kiln, but a friend who came to see the kiln opening thought there were something like 180 items. I have now got to sort them out and select a goodly quantity to go in an exhibition that opens tomorrow evening.... talk about meeting deadlines with little time to spare!
Unfortunately it is evening here and our lighting is rather poor so photographing the results of the firing is not easy, but I have included some general impressions of some of the work.
These two small bowls have chun glaze over an iron brown one.
This copper red bowl has a simple magnesium matt glaze on the outside and around the rim (one third Nephaline Syenite, one third dolomite, one third ball clay).
I sometimes am tempted to leave handles off jugs when I am making them, I find the handle-less form interesting. I finally took the plunge and left a couple without handles. I suppose someone could use them for flowers.
I thought it would be interesting to pour the glaze on the outside with big gaps of the clay left unadorned, except by the toasting action of the flames.
This copper glazed bowl has scarlet, pink and green. It is an interesting indication of what the atmosphere was like in that part of the kiln, and I like the bowl's gentle and unassuming nature!
I've left my favorite copper red pot until last. This little pot has lovely red and clear areas in its glaze all around it. No side is alike, and I am pleased with the way the red gives emphasis to the throwing rings.
The shino glazes came out well again in this firing, and I have a couple of shino glazed jugs and some small bowls that I am very pleased with.
Some of the copper reds were under fired, and I will be able to put them in my next stoneware firing and give them another try.
It was useful to have fired a little lower this time as it gives me a good indication of the range of temperatures that suit the glazes I use, and tells me more about the heat distribution within the kiln. In past firings, there was a tendency to fire to the point where all cones went down, and it was hard to really judge just how much hotter the hottest parts of the kiln were.... now I am closer to knowing!
If any of my readers happen to be in Dunedin over the coming week, please do drop into the exhibition. I will be demonstrating from 11am until 2pm on Thursday and Friday. The exhibition is at the Community Gallery, Princes Street, Dunedin, and will be open from 10am until 5pm daily. The exhibition, "4 Men's Media", runs from June 22 until June 28 and is sponsored by Gallery on Blueskin. Other artists taking part are: Justin Morshuis, Jack Monaghan, and Mike Bowden. The show will feature paintings and sculpture, and my pots.