This is a little glimpse of some of the pots from the glaze firing that was going on when I last posted at the beginning of November. The firing was a really good one, and I had some exciting things happen where I overlapped crystalline and conventional stoneware glazes. The green crystalline glazed vase (shown above) had lovely crystals. The glaze recipe was essentially the same as the one that grew me almost no crystals a couple of glaze firings ago, but I modified it by adding 2 percent more zinc oxide, and I slightly lowered the peak temperature that I fired the kiln to. It was wonderful how such minor changes made such a dramatic improvement to the glaze.
One very successful glaze combination was achieved by applying small areas of the chrome/tin red glaze to the rim of a vase, then putting a crystalline glaze over the top of it. The result was brown from the chrome meeting the zinc of the crystalline glaze, then wonderful opalescent blues and purples as the glazes mixed and mingled. Sadly, I found it almost impossible to photograph, but the photo above gives quite accurate colour in spite of being troubled by reflections!
The tall sided red bowl, or vase (not sure which!!) above, has my chrome/tin red glaze fairly roughly poured over the outside. I fired this one before, but the glaze seemed a bit boring and the uneven glaze application looked like a mistake, so I re fired with an extremely thin layer of crystalline glaze over the top, and this has really turned it into a nice pot.
The vase above, has great depth of colour. I put a few dabs of the chrome/tin red glaze around the rim before applying the crystalline glaze, and this has added streaks of purple through the glaze.
These two small bowls were glazed with the red glaze over all, and then the rims were dipped in crystalline glaze. The crystalline glaze has a great fluxing effect on anything it meets, and has moved a long way from the rim, creating a "mother of pearl" effect which is really lovely.
I came up with a blue crystalline gaze by mistake.... I was expecting something more green, but was probably rather heavy handed with the cobalt when weighing out the minute amounts of metal oxides that I was working with. Anyway, the colour is rather nice, and it has little flecks of orange amongst the blue, blue greys, and deeper blue crystals.
Since I last posted I have been mostly making mugs, and some bowls. I am attempting to find my way through a log jam of orders that have stacked up over the months when I haven't been able to work. The mugs were frustrating at first, because I was so out of practice, but I grew to enjoy doing them and applying the handles! I would usually make about 16 mugs in an afternoon session, then apply the handles the next morning.., then make more mugs in the afternoon. Not huge numbers at a time really, but enough to form a kiln load in a few days. All this is a big improvement from a few weeks ago when I could only do two or three small pots in a day, because of the back problem. I have finally become used to making small pots standing at the electric wheel. It took me a few goes to actually like using the electric wheel, but I am enjoying it now. I am also feeling a lot more robust. Hooray!
Once I had made a lot of mugs, I turned my attention to bowls, and have enjoyed doing those. Peter, the seal making potter that has been working in my studio, was able to point to a way I could improve the foot rings of the bowls that I was making. I was tending to make the bowls look a bit heavy and static because of the angle that I was trimming the visible part of the foot of the bowl. Just a simple change there, making the outside of the foot straighter and simpler, gave the bowls a spring to their step, and had them looking far more lively. It is very useful having another person in the studio to pick up on things like that, and I am reminded of Bernard Leach at St Ives and the discussions over afternoon tea that he and his son David are reported to have had about the proportions and good and bad points of pots that they made. If you are not sure what I am writing about there, do see if you can find a copy of "A Potter's Book" by Bernard Leach. This is a book that inspired several generations of potters all around the world, and it is still contains gems of advice and knowledge for anyone that has an interest in making something with clay. Bernard Leach had his own ideas and opinions about potting, history, and life that may appear out of date, prejudiced, or wrong or eccentric now, but he did care about a pot, and how it was made, and its usefulness, and the value to humanity of doing things well.