Sunday, February 27, 2011


White vase approximately 9.5 inches diameter x 7 inches high (240mm x 180mm)

When I was writing my blog last Tuesday, an earthquake hit Christchurch, which is a city about 4 hours drive North of where we live. Since that time, the full horror of the event has become known, and it poured through the media like a river in flood, and it has been passed from person to person like a cloak of sadness. We have been thinking about those who were killed in the earthquake, those who are still missing, those who were injured, and people who have had homes and businesses ruined. New Zealand is a small country, and probably everyone knows people who have lost family and friends in the quake. This week the main road that is outside our front door, has thrummed with the sound of vehicles heading South, away from the quake, and many people sleep lightly in their beds, alert for aftershocks, or thinking of loved ones.

An event like this changes how we feel. Someone on the radio remarked that it made her feel like "being nicer to other passengers on the bus!" I must admit to weighing my own ups and downs against the measure of the quake, and to finding my frustrations with crystalline glazes lightweight... by comparison anyway!

White and gold pot 7 inches high (180mm)

I am firing the kiln again today, this is the fifth glaze firing that I have done since February 17th, and in that time the kiln has never been cold. Most firings I am only managing to fit 4 pots in the kiln. Usually 3 in the bottom, and an extra one propped up above them on a half shelf. On the worst firing 3 out of 4 pots had problems of one kind or another, and the best firing 3 out of 4 pots worked out, so you could say that I am having a 50 percent success rate with these. The things that can go wrong are fairly varied. My failures in this series have included such things as... not enough crystals in the glaze, or annoying bubbles a glaze that was otherwise OK. The "not enough crystals" occurred on two occasions, one was due to going about 5 degrees C too high at the peak of the firing, and the other may be related to a new batch of zinc that I started to use. For some reason it seems a little less potent than the one before?? The bubbles are a mystery. There are no unusual ingredients in the glaze, but bubbles do occur occasionally. They are irritating when they happen as they are as noticeable as a wart on a super-model's nose! The treatment for the bubble is to re-fire.
The treatment for the super-model is probably even more expensive! I was firing the kiln last Tuesday when the earthquake struck. The white vase in the first two photos was in that firing on a rather wobbly half shelf. I did wonder if it would have fallen on the pots below it, but it came through everything OK.

Cloudy pot 10.25 inches high (260mm)

Above is a pot that I quite like. The crystals are rather like clouds that are full and leaky. I am tempted to re-fire the pot to reduce the crystal size and make it more complex, but I think that I will do this to another pot. The other thing that would improve this glaze would be to fire it slightly higher at peak temperature so that less crystals form. This would give a better balance between crystal and the surrounding background colour.

Blue and orange pot 9 inches high (230mm)

This pot, where I have layered two glazes over each other, has a lovely complex background surrounding the crystals. Some areas are milky, and others more translucent.

Green pot, 9 inches high (230mm)

I have been wanting to experiment further with the runny nature of crystalline glazes. To use this as an asset, rather than as a bother. Above is a little experiment that I did with glazing the lower half of a pot with a simple iron bearing stoneware glaze, and then putting a green crystalline glaze over the top half. I will be playing further with this combination.

Now it is just after 3.30pm and I have turned off the kiln. I started the firing last night about 10 in the evening.

To finish with... A book to read and a film to watch!

I read a book recently, and would like to recommend it. The book is "Light on Snow" by Anita Shreve. I had started to listen to a book tape reading of the book, but the third tape was defective (I could hear the other side of the tape backwards coming through almost louder than the side that I was trying to listen to!). Fortunately our library had a copy of the actual book on their shelves, and I was able to finish the story. I have not read anything by this author before, but I see she has written quite a number of other books. I really enjoyed this one and needed to finish it! Essentially the book is about a father and his 12 year old daughter who find an abandoned baby. The story is moving and gentle, and is very much about families, about love and loss, and about putting life together again.

We watched a film last night, Malcolm, a Nadia Tass and David Parker film starring Colin Friels. I see this Australian film has been around for quite a few years.... 1986 (it takes us a while to catch up on such things out here in the country!!), so we might be the last people in the world to have watched it, but... it gave us a good laugh and a lift to the spirits too!


Linda Starr said...

My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones in the quakes, so sad and so scary to live in fear of more quakes and aftershocks. In California I went through several quakes and still remember the big one in LA.

Your work is beautiful, I love all of them and I do like the big crystals. The green one is effective with some of the clay showing through at the bottom which I quite like. I think the cloudy pot is my favorite of these. I'll have to see if I can find the book you recommend, it has been a while since I've read anything.

cookingwithgas said...

I just wanted you to know we have been thinking about you and send our thoughts your way that all works out.
I'll go back and read about pots now.
best- M

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Thanks for that. It is a while since I had sat down with a book, other than stuff relating to pottery, and it was a pleasure to be caught up in one. Hope you enjoy this one too if you can get hold of a copy.

Hi Meredith,
Thanks for your kind thoughts.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Hullo, Peter. I'm glad to see your post; been thinking of you. The folks in Christchurch area continue to be in my prayers. I've been following the blog of the Anglican Cathedral in Christchurch which, I think, is quite up to date with the situation there.

I'm glad your posts didn't take a tumble in the kiln when you were unable to check on them. They are all beautiful. The white/gold and orange/blue pots are just gorgeous!

I've read one Anita Shreve, The Pilot's Wife, and liked it, so I'll check the library for the availablity of this one. Thanks for the reccommendation.

Is the show next weekend still on? I'm wishing you wonderful reviews and lots of sales.

Armelle said...

Hi Peter,
One hour after reading your last post, I saw the pictures of the earthquake on TV. I am so sorry for all the people who have suffered from this earthquake, and I hope with all my heart that their pain will subside.
Happy to see your last pots, I love very much the shape of the first one, ans its nice elegant foot. I love the golden one, I had never seen such a crystal one, so great !!!
I should try to read a novel in english :-)
Kind regards to P L NS & G

Amy said...

thought of you as I heard about the quake. How sad and horrible! Glad you are safe.

Dad said...

Beautiful work Peter!
We particularly like the white and gold, and the green merging into the mauve under the runny blue-grey... Lovely!
All the very best for the exhibition.

Peter said...

Hello Pat,
Good to hear from you. It is nice when we stumble upon a good author. I must get a copy of "The Pilot's Wife" out from our library here. A bit difficult to squeeze in time for books at the moment though. I am happy to report that the exhibition will be going ahead. We will be opening this Friday 4th March at 5.30pm (love to see you there... but understand that the distance is a little far for you to travel!).

Hi Armelle,
I am full of admiration for you wanting to read a novel in English... I might try finding some really simple children's books in French for me to try. The sort of books that children would have in their first year at school would be about my level!

Hi Amy,
Good to hear from you, and thank you for your kind thoughts.

Hello Dad,
Thanks for that. I've been getting the kiln ready for one more firing before the exhibition, so will be a busy day tomorrow. A very beautiful copper glazed pot out of the kiln this morning, one that had few crystals first time round, and improved with re-firing.

SKIZO said...

good creations

Peter said...

Thank you Skizo, and welcome to my site.