Friday, September 3, 2010

Shake, Rattle, and Roll! Crystalline Pots!

Shake, Rattle, and Roll!
An earthquake at 4.35am today was enough to rattle blinds, and swing light bulbs, but did no damage here. The earthquake was quite prolonged, and we were still seeing some evidence of it up to 3 minutes after the onset. According to geonet website, the quake was 7.4 and centered near Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand, but was fairly deep at 60 km, so..., hopefully, not too much damage done, but there are reports of the City losing electrical power. Aftershocks are continuing, but they seem to be between 3 - 4 on the Richter scale, and we are not quite feeling them here, but... almost seem to be?? Those of you who might be interested in earthquakes, have a look at the geonet website, just follow the link I provided above. I quite like the section of their website, entitled "Quake Drums". This shows the seismometer readings at various NZ locations, and is updated every few minutes.

Crystalline Pots.
Here follow some photos of crystalline pots that I took out of the kiln earlier in the week. I was really pleased with progress. I did quite a lot of ones with a copper green glaze as well, and these have turned out OK too, but I want to use some in a reduction firing experiment, so will show before and after photos of them when I have done that.

I was so pleased with this, taking it out of the kiln was like receiving a really precious gift from someone. There is a gentle gradation of colour in the area that surrounds the crystals, that slowly grades from a pale yellow to blue. (It has hardly shown up in the photo.) The crystals seem to float like flowers in water.

This pot is one with titanium, iron, and cobalt in the glaze. I am pleased with how this glaze is progressing. It seems to like nearly 5 hours of time to grow the crystals. My first tests with this glaze only produced small purple blotches on a reddish orange background.

The centers of some of the crystals are like a cross-section through kiwi fruit... but not green!

This pot had a crystal that was much larger than the rest. It has very nice fine detail in the crystal, and a lovely orange flecked surrounding area. You might like to click on this detailed shot to magnify it.

Whilst the colouring is similar in this pot, the crystals have a different character.

In this firing I made several rings in the crystals by dipping the temperature whilst I was in the 5 hour crystal growing period of the firing. The very first photo on this post is a detail of a crystal on the pot above which has very distinct growth rings.

At last...... I have some Prussian blue crystals on a yellow background from nickel. The glaze needs lots more work to be acceptable. It is currently quite rough textured and crazed, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Earthquake Update (Added Saturday 7.45pm)
The earthquake turned out to be far more damaging than was first thought, and a much shallower quake. Most recent figures have the quake estimated to have been magnitude 7.1, and at 10 km in depth. The epicenter was located 40 km west of Christchurch, and aftershocks have occurred throughout the day, three in excess of magnitude 5.

Many buildings in the Christchurch area were badly damaged, some of the older ones collapsed. Two people were seriously injured in the quake and one is in intensive care, many others were injured by glass and falling debris. Parts of Christchurch near the river were flooded, and much of the city was without electric power. Railway tracks were bent into neat wave formations in places, and it is believed that the tracks may be closed for about 3 days. The Central Business area is closed and under curfew tonight, and there is a Civil Defense Emergency. Damage occurred in some other towns. Chimneys collapsing seems a fairly common event.

Some people will have lost their homes and businesses in the quake, and our sincere sympathy goes out to them. It will be an enormous undertaking to repair the worst affected areas, and will take a great deal of time and kindness to put people's lives back together again.


Hannah said...

Ooooh I love that website, I am a sucker for volcanoes and all things geological, we did the Northern Circuit while we were in NZ, just been looking up Ngarahoe (sorry about the spelling). Blimey earthquakes and hurricanes, while here all is sunny and calm, thank goodness! Long may it last.
Your dad confused me last night. I had a comment on my blog from "Dad" who I assumed was my dad until I realised he was telling me he had a son called Peter and I thought blimey dad that's a fine way to tell me I've got a brother I didn't know about. Then it dawned on me, all became clear.

Peter said...

Glad you enjoyed the website... I just loved the "quake drums" title for some reason, I think it could have done with some quirky graphics to go with it, but it was fun clicking all the locations and seeing all the readouts of the wobbles in different places. If you haven't already done so, do go to the quake drums tab on their site and click on DSZ on the map or the South Island. That is for Denniston North there is a nice caption under the seismograph read out which says "This site is prone to disturbance by nearby mining operations, which show as small, similarly-sized blobs during usual working hours." Probably the mine bosses use the site to monitor if people are working hard enough underground! That's funny about "Dad".., it must be quite a fright to find you have a brother that you didn't know about... or two fathers for that matter!

Judy Shreve said...

Peter - I'm so glad you posted. I just read about the NZ quake a few minutes ago & wondered if it was close to you. Christchurch is north of you but still on the coast, right?

Your crystals are stunning -- that first picture -- WOW. But it's so interesting that crystals seem to be like snowflakes with no two the same. It must be amazing to unload your kiln.

Arkansas Patti said...

Phew, just read about the quake and popped right over here to see if you were all right. Sooooo glad you escaped unharmed and that your pots did also.
I too am blown away by that first pot. Just beautiful.
Hope the shaking is all done. Do stay safe, you and your pots.

Dad said...

Sorry for the confusion Hannah!
Your work is so beautiful I felt I HAD to comment, but didn't want to remain 'anonymous'.
And yes, the quake woke us up too (we're an hour closer to Christchurch than Peter). The biggest we've had, but with no damage.

Those pots ARE amazing aren't they!
5 hours to grow... Peter, You're amazing too!

Linda Starr said...

glad you and your family are ok, that first photo and all of them are wonderful, they just keep getting better and better.

Armelle said...

I thought first you were speaking about rock and roll, I love this one.
I just ear on the radio about the earthquake in NZ, (today we are saturday 1 pm here), glad to know, you and your family have no damage.
I remember once we had a little earthquake, nothing to compare.
I love the pot on the second photo, crystals seem to float, the colors are wonderfull.
Best wishes to Laura, Ginger and NS

Paul Jessop said...

Hi Peter,
Heard about the Quake and my first thought was of yourself and your wife. glad to hear you are both OK.
Crystal Glazes look Fantastic.

Peter said...

Hi Judy, good to hear from you, thanks for thinking of us! Christchurch is a 4 hour drive North of us up the coast (We're near Dunedin), so we were shaken this far away, but no damage or things falling from shelves. The kiln opening after a crystalline firing is something that does create "butterflies" in me before I open the lid! It is a nervous, but exciting moment..

Hi Patti,
Thanks for your Email, lovely to hear from you. L & I are a bit subdued at the moment thinking about the people who are affected by the quake. I guess having actually experienced some of the effects of it down here, it all makes it more real somehow. Some will have had their lives changed in the first 30 seconds of that quake at 4.35 in the morning!

Hello Dad,
The comment from Hannah did bring with it a much needed smile. I guess you could be a "universal Dad" with an appellation like that!

Hi Linda,
Good to hear from you. It is funny how the crystalline glazes are improving, some times I am really not sure why... as there are so many variables, ranging from how thickly I apply the glaze, where the glaze materials came from, to the firing itself.

Whilst most have improved, I have had one or two glazes "go backward", there is a copper glaze recipe that I can't get to work anymore, although it was a good one with the first crystalline glazes that I did. It has feldspar in it, and I suspect that, as a natural product, the feldspar I now have is not the same.

Bonjour Armelle,
Good to hear from you. The pot in the second photo was my best I think.... and I sold it yesterday (Saturday) afternoon... I confess that I really didn't want to sell it so soon so I am missing it rather!

Hi Paul,
Thank you so much for thinking of us, it was very kind of you. Happy to be able to report that we are all "sound of wind and limb!" For all its many ups and downs...., Life is precious isn't it!

Pat - Arkansas said...

I just read about the quake in today's (Sunday U.S.) paper, Peter. I'm so glad you are OK. Our funny old earth just keeps remodeling itself, doesn't it?

My thoughts and prayers will be with the people of Christchurch and others affected by the earthquake.

Your beautiful, gorgeous blue crystalline pot is indeed a precious gift.

jim said...

hi peter, i heard on the radio (must have been the bbc) that a big earthquake hit around christchurch and i immediately thought of you. glad you're ok. i guess you'll be heading to the states in a bit. good luck, and nice crystals too.

Peter said...

Hi Pat and Jim,
Nice to hear from you both. I've been tossing and turning in bed tonight so it is 4.19am when I write this. Fortunately the restless night is not because of the ground moving around, but is just thoughts rushing around in my head! I have been looking at the quake readouts from the website, and it looks like the aftershocks are gradually calming down and becoming less frequent. It has been a huge ordeal for people closer to the action then us. A friend in Christchurch said that he was genuinely feeling seasick all day from the frequent motion, and that the cats were walking around on their bellies!
Thanks for kind thoughts and prayers. P.

Tracey Broome said...

Like everyone else when I read about the quake my first thought was of you and if you were ok. I was going to email today if I didn't see a post soon. You are right, the crystals are like gifts from the kiln aren't they?

cookingwithgas said...

Peter- glad you are well and i hope things work out for all the folks that were not so lucky.
The mix up with "dad" touched my funny bone- I think you should be Hannah's brother-at least sibs in clay!

Peter said...

Hi Meredith,
Good to hear from you. It'll be quite some time for all the damage to be assessed in Christchurch, aftershocks are causing some problems with structures that were weakened with the first quake, and some buildings are just having to be pulled down. Regarding your "Hannah's brother", that is really sweet.. I would be honored!

Peter said...

Hi Tracey,
That's nice of you. We're OK here, thank goodness. It was a strange weekend though knowing a bit about what was going on in Christchurch. We also had really strong winds through the east coast of NZ which brought power lines down and caused extra problems for those in some small towns that were affected by the earthquake. I was talking to someone this morning and we both agreed that we were now waiting for a plaque of locusts or for the sky to rain frogs!!

Yana Out East said...

Hi Peter,
I'm so glad you posted after the earthquake. My NZ geography is not good enough to know if it was close to you, but the news reports said the effects were felt over a wide area. I was unable to read your blog until today as I was away for our long holiday weekend so I am relieved to read you are well and safe. I love those crystals with the distinct growth rings, they really do look like a cross section of a dicot stem.

Peter said...

Hi Jane,
Good to hear from you, thanks for thinking of us, it is really nice that people all round the world do care what's going on here:)

I'm going to have to look up dicot stems on google... not sure what that is! I'm really excited about how the crystals are going. I certainly never expected to be doing this sort of work this time last year (I was really only thinking of wood firing then).

Peter said...

Hi Jane,
I've been looking up dicot stems on the net..., wonderful what can be discovered online! You are quite right, there are real similarities! A Google image search for them yielded some quite splendid images. So, thanks for setting me off on a little search! P.

Dad said...

Oh dear! I'll have to see if I can change my identity....
.... perhaps Pere de Pierre?
Still it feels nice to have touched somebody's funny bone (as long as Hannah doesn't mind).

Mum & I are so glad that that beautiful pot has gone to an appreciative home - though we would dearly have loved to buy it, and Mum gave a little groan when she read it.

Peter said...

Hi Dad (Pere de Pierre),
I'm missing the pot too! Oh well, I'll just have to hope that something lovely pops out of the kiln again!

Christine H S said...

Earthquake! (Sorry, I've been away, only just caught up a bit on blogland). I find the idea of them utterly terrifying. Seasick cats on their bellies, oh dear! Well, good you are safe at least, and that no beautiful crystaline pots jumped off the shelves. It must be So-o exciting to unpack a kiln like that. Do you have NO idea of where the crystals are going to form? The one which you had to say an early goodbye to is an especial beauty!

Peter said...

Hello Christine,
Lovely to hear from you. With the rather "apocalyptic" events taking part to the North of us, I am reminded how precious life is, and our friends! The people in the Christchurch area are still being shaken and alarmed by frequent aftershocks. There was quite a big one this morning that did some damage, and caused the road tunnel from Christchurch to Lyttleton to be shut for a few hours whilst engineers inspected the cracked roof. I think that many people are feeling very tired and fragile now, but the aftershocks to seem to be lessening a bit in intensity, if my reading of the "quake drums" on geoNet is accurate!

It is possible to have a measure of control over the quantity, shape and size of the crystals. The quantity is very much determined by the peak temperature of the firing and any soaking time there. The shape and size is determined by deliberate slow cooling of the kiln. The kiln is usually held for several hours at about 200 degrees C below the peak temperature in order to grow the crystals.

It is very hard to influence where the crystals will form. The shape of the object, glaze thickness and movement, can play a part in the growth and position of crystals, and I do give this some thought.

Some potters have used a process to "seed" crystals by painting a small blob of something onto the glaze that stimulates crystal growth, rather in the manner of seeding a pearl, but I do not think that this is commonly done.

Must dash now... the ginger cat has taken up residence on my CRT computer monitor, and I will have to close down before he... and the monitor catches fire!

Best Wishes, P