Sunday, November 17, 2013

Glaze firing

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.


Melissa Rohrer said...

That's great that you are able to get in the studio and work now.
I am especially drawn to the detail on the rims of pots in your 2nd and 3rd pictures. Makes me want to go back for more looks.

srgb said...

Stunning stuff Peter, I think the forced rest must have been good for you.
Thanks for your visit to my blog.

Peter said...

Hi Melissa,
Good to hear from you. I'm interested that you were drawn to the detail on the rims of pots 2 and 3, it's a bit of a new thing for me, but I really wanted to do something there, and really enjoyed cutting and altering the rims of the pots whilst they were still on the wheel.

Hi Bob,
Good to hear from you. Yes, I do think that a break from potting has been beneficial, I am enjoying potting a lot more now than I was leading up to the accident, and actually have some creative ideas floating around in this old head of mine! Hope that a few more people hop over to your blog and have a look at what you do with wood, it is always a pleasure to see what you are working on.

gz said...

That tall red bowl is luscious!! I would love to feel how that looks.....if you see what I mean!!

Michèle Hastings said...

The vase in the first photo is a stunner, the crystals look like hibiscus blooms.
I have an old 1969 edition of "A Potters Book", I haven't really read much of it as I find it dated and hard to get through... but I treasure it because it's hard to find now.

cookingwithgas said...

Yes! That vase is stunning. It is good to have you back.

Peter said...

Hello Gwynneth,
Wonderful comment whatever meaning is taken from it! I think that feeling luscious is a great way to be, especially at this hour of the morning!! :)

Hi Michèle,
Good to hear from you. I certainly have to be in the right "head space" to actually read right through "A Potter's Book", it is much easier to dive into a chapter or two.

The book is rather like time travel and it does give a glimpse into another world. It is fascinating to think of B L and his friend Hamada Shoji arriving at St Ives in Cornwall and establishing a studio pottery that attempted to mix East and West.

I think that the book can still help potters who work in relative isolation and have to start under similar circumstances to B L, digging clay, building kilns, and trying to develop a market for the work where none exists.

Hi Meredith,
Lovely to be back again! Hooray!!

Sue said...

Hi Peter,

Glad you're enjoying being back at the wheel. The end results of your labours are stunning. The blue is gorgeous and I love the little bowls and the bigger red one. They do look like flowers on that first one.
You must be greatly encouraged by having input from the other Peter the Potter. And nice to have company.
Hope you and Laura are both well.


Peter said...

Hi Sue,
Good to hear from you. It is always fascinating to see what has happened in a crystal glaze firing. The blue did take me by surprise, as did the really good crystals on the green vase. Sometimes it is like opening presents on Christmas morning!

We're both quite good, and Nigella Stopit is blissfully sunning her tummy in front of the electric heater, she has developed an endering habit of sleeping on her back with her paws in the air. Quite entertaining to watch!

Armelle Léon said...

Bonjour Peter,
Lovely blue/green crystalline glaze, crystals are like medusa (jellyfish) in a clear sea-water, rising to the surface.
Your red chrome refired is wonderful too.
I had the chance to read B L's book in french, so for me it wasn't as going in the ancient world, the translator used a modern french. I am sorry, it was just a lent book, and I would like to read it again.
Best wishes to you all

Peter said...

Bonjour Armelle,
Good to hear from you. I love the "medusa in clear sea-water, rising to the surface" image.

It is interesting to think of B L in translation. I suspect that you would manage to read the English version of the Potter's Book quite well now.

Today I am bisque firing another very full kiln load of mugs and small bowls. I have been making a lot of such things lately, and I could almost believe myself to be at the Leach Pottery at St Ives with my production of domestic ware!

Kind Thoughts, P L & NS

Sue said...

Haha I love it when cats sleep like that. We have acquired a little cat who needed to find a place to live. She used to belong to my son, Regan, who named her Snickers.
We are going through the process of settling her in. I foolishly treated her for fleas, and have lost her trust, as she has retreated under the bed, and won't let me near her. Oh dear.

Peter said...

Humm, cats that retreat under things... We had to take NS to the vet today as she had a very sore area on her back that was probably the result of a cat fight. She jumped off the vet's table and hid under things, and turned from an affectionate domestic animal into a ferocious thing of the jungle! All home again now and dosed up on pain killers and antibiotics, but I must say that an Elephant gun would have been handy when she was at the vet!!!

Sue said...

It amazes me how quickly they become like their big cat cousins, when threatened or frightened.
Snickers has adjusted well, has ventured outside many times, but will still dive for cover at the tiniest threat to her safety. Marion thinks we should re-name her Spook.

I wish for a speedy recovery for NS. Its a shame we can't shield them from cat fights. A high-pitched wailing had me bounding from warm bed and scuttling outside bare of foot in the early hours, to rescue my little one from the perils of cat fighting. She was most appreciative. It is inevitable she will encounter more fights which I won't be on hand to rescue her from.