Sunday, February 27, 2011
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!