Saturday, March 27, 2010

Not Quite so late this time... only 1.30am!

I have been busy today getting bowls glazed and another load into the kiln. I have a couple of fairly large bowls in the kiln, and an assortment of ones of more diminutive stature that fit in the gaps! I am using more crystal glazes, some that I have used before, and a couple of tests.

The kiln firing with other pots drying on top.

I got the electric kiln all packed by just after midday, and I should have the firing finished at about 1.30am, so that is not as bad as the one before!

I like to place a wire rack above the kiln when it is firing and sit pots on it that need to be dried off. It is very effective, and the heat from the kiln is gentle and progressive as the firing builds up to temperature. Those strange looking plate things in the photo are actually glaze catching saucers that will go under the crystal glazed pots when they are in the kiln. I threw a whole bunch of these in an hour or so a couple of mornings ago from some nice soft clay. I enjoyed throwing them, and I really must make some plates to sell, they really wouldn't be much different to make on the wheel, and would make a good change from my usual jugs and pots.

Once I got the firing under way, I spent the afternoon making little pads for the next few loads of crystal glazed pots to sit on in the kiln. Currently I make them out of insulating fire brick (it seems a horrible waste cutting them up!!), but I have recently read of another way of doing things that I might try that involves sitting the pots on thrown rings that are made out of the same clay that the pots are made out of.

New pots with fire brick pads being made ready for them.

I saw the brick into one inch thick slices, then cut circular pads out of the slices that fit under each pot. The pad is then carefully coated with alumina hydrate and a little ball clay that has been mixed with water to a creamy consistency. The alumina stops the glaze eating away at the insulating fire brick, and also makes it easy to release the pot from the pad at the end of the firing.

Tomorrow I will finish the pads and glaze the next kiln load of pots, and should be able to fire these on Monday, after I unpack the firing I am doing currently. I will be firing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week, all going well and might even get another firing done next weekend. I'll be glazing the next load on the in between days when the kiln is cooling down. I can't fit many pots of this type in my kiln at a time, but hopefully all those firings should give me a reasonable number of pots for my exhibition.

I clearly don't get out enough ... but I always get great pleasure out of this. It is a railway crossing that is only about 500 yards or so from where we live. I love the steam engine sign that warns of the perils ahead, and then the single rather narrow gauge track that is our main railway down the island.

There is something romantic about the sound of a train. It is especially good on a still, frosty night, where sound travels a great distance, and you can hear the throbbing of the diesel engine reverberating off hills, and the expanse of the lagoon. You wonder where it is going and wish to travel too.

It is nearly midnight, so I had better sign off for now as I am deleting more of this post than I am saving. I am sorry this is a bit of a muddily post the old gray cells are not quit as responsive at this hour of the day. I guess that most of you will be up and about on your side of the world. Hope the sun is shining and there are good pots being made!
Good night, day, or what ever it happens to be!


Anonymous said...

hi peter, trying to catch up as i've not been my usual blogging self lately... getting ready for a show. it seems that you are too. when is it and how many pieces are required? if you make your little discs out of the same body as the pot, do you have to coat them in alumina wash also. seems that cutting soft brick is tedious enough to prove one's commitment to the crystal glaze path. looks like a bunch of successful pieces in the previous posts with beautiful crystalline growth.

Tracey Broome said...

Bisque kiln going here this morning. I also love the sound of a train. When I was little my grandmother had a rooster that crowed and a train track down the dirt road from her house. I still love the sound of both. We once lived near a track where a steam locomotive passed by once in the morning once in the evening. Loved that sound too! I love the shot of your train track!

Pat - Arkansas said...

What lovely "raw" pots! I look forward to seeing them again after they've been glazed and fired.

I very much like your photo of the train tracks fading into the distance.

Anonymous said...

We're so pleased & relieved re the pots in the last blog Peter, & trust that your modified technique will do the same (but uniquely!) for this firing.

Isn't it possible to start your firing earlier in the day????

Love from Mum & Dad to you & Laura + a cautious stroke for Ginger

gz said...

They have not long since re-instated the train service up our valley- only once an hour so far, but you are right- it sounds good, far better than the traffic on the main road.

Peter said...

Hi Jim,
Lovely to hear from you. Good luck with your exhibition.

My exhibition will be at Gallery On Blueskin at Blueskin Bay, Waitati, just North of Dunedin. The exhibition opens on April the 8th at 6pm. Fortunately the gallery is not huge, so I won't need a truck load of work for the exhibition. I think that a minimum of about 14 or 15 good pots would be OK, but I would like to have a few more if I can.

Why then all the firings I hear someone ask....!?!, It is a combination of having a small kiln (I can only fit in 6 - 8 medium pieces, and less when I come to the big ones), and the difficulty of doing crystal glazing. I have read several crystal glaze potters all report that they would regard having a 40 -50 percent success rate "normal"! So I do have to allow for a high degree of attrition with this process.

The little disks will have to have a good coating of alumina (as do the fire brick ones).

Hi Tracey, those were nice memories.
I too am fond of roosters, as well as railway trains. Several years back we had two roosters here that were refugees from a mob of roosters and hens next doors. The two were probably brothers, but one played the role of the hen bird and made nests and incubated phantom eggs with great seriousness, whilst his partner stood guard. Both were very entertaining, and one would sometimes come into the house when I was on the telephone and crow loudly. By this method he managed to broadcast right across to the other side of the world!!

Hello Pat, I'll be pulling a new load of pots out of the kiln tomorrow morning first thing (and putting more in). So hope to have some more photos soon of glazed pots. Glad you enjoyed the photo of the train tracks. The photo was taken on a lovely sunny, but windy, day last month. The poplars and willows near the tracks were all silver and dancing in the breeze. A fine sight!

Hello there Anonymous mum and dad! Lovely to hear from you both. Hopefully the firings will start earlier and earlier from now on. The very late (2.30am) one was a result of having to fire tests in a hurry to diagnose glaze problems. The 1.30am one was due to having to wait until I had unpacked the kiln and checked the glazes before glazing the next load. Now that I have some glazes that definitely work, I can glaze ahead on the day in between each firing. I've been glazing tomorrow's firing today, and preparing the little props and saucers to sit each piece on. In future, If I can, I will aim to have the firings started by 10am (they go 12 -13 hours as a rule).

Hello Gwynneth (gz), lovely to hear from you. Welcome to my site. When I was a boy we had a delightful holiday to Wales and had a ride on the Talyllyn railway. How I loved the wonderful saddle tank steam locomotives. When we got home I made plasticine saddle tank locomotives on the dining room table! Glad to hear that railway services are being restored to your valley, I take it that the rolling stock will be more modern and bland than the ones at Talyllyn, but they will be a real asset to the area.

I have really enjoyed visiting your blog and web site. Can I put a link to your blog here?

Angie said...

Hi there ...I think plates are a good idea ...could you not combine Lauras art with the pottery ??...???could she paint with coloured slips on to plates. Not being a potter, except for 6 months 42 years ago lol I am not sure how practical it is ...I remember applying patterns with a brush and I think slips had something to do with it all.

I know what you feel when you see that sign ...I still get a buzz.after 5 years, when I catch sight of the sea between the buildings opposite and an even bigger one when I go to the beach a couple of miles down the road.

Peter said...

Hi Angie,
I think that the Laura's art with pottery combo is a great idea. It is one that does pop into my head from time to time. Once I have got this coming exhibition out of the way, it is something I would like to turn a bit of attention to. I think her sort of designs would go down well at the potters co-op shop that I am a member of too, so well worth trying.
Ahh the call of the sea, that is really special too!