Saturday, November 1, 2014

Crystalline Magic. root canals, and all kinds of mugs...

Bell shaped vase, H 11 3/8 inches x W 11.5 inches (290 x 292mm). Crystalline glaze on porcelain.

Detail of Bell shaped vase. I was fascinated by the little iron speckles and rusty runs in the lower half of the pot where I put the crystalline glaze over a Tenmoko glaze.

Deep Blue bowl. H 8 inches W 13 3/4 inches (203 x 350mm). Crystalline glazed porcelain.

I gave the outside of the bowl a Tenmoko glaze and allowed the crystalline glaze to run over this in the firing. I really like the drama of showing the stalactite-like runs.

I know some potters get a bit phobic about blue and the over use of it...., but it is wonderful to indulge sometimes!

This vase was initially a very pale and rather boring green, but I fired it once more in a slightly smoky kiln and was lucky to capture the point where copper carbonate in the glaze was changing from green to red in colour as the oxygen atoms were stripped from it by the carbon monoxide in the kiln atmosphere. It is possible to find pink, black, and pale green crystals on the vase. It is a real one off!

Chalice. H 8 3/4 inches (222mm). I fired this one at least 3 times, and one firing was in a reduction atmosphere. The inside glaze is an oil-spot glaze.

Yellow vase. H 6 1/2 inches (165mm). I gave this crystalline glazed porcelain vase two glaze firings. It has a subtle and highly detailed patterning that reminds me of a bird's egg.

Blue and Green Vase. H 5 3/4 inches (146mm). Crystalline glazed porcelain. If I remember correctly I first applied a green crystalline glaze, then brushed a few splotches of a cobalt coloured crystalline glaze over the top.
Here is another view of the blue and green vase.

This is my favourite crystalline glazed jar that I have made so far! There are lovely speckles of small secondary crystals, in addition to the larger crystals that have a dark outline.  Height is 6 1/2 inches including the lid (165mm).

In October I did 7 crystalline glaze firings, one stoneware firing, several bisque firings, and an oil drip reduction firing. When you take into account that I have a manual electric kiln, no controller, and my firings are usually 16 - 19 hours before I can turn the kiln off for the crystalline ones, it has been a very busy month. Laura sold 2 paintings in the exhibition at Koru, I sold 3 cups, but none of the vases. I also had to make mugs and bowls in a local craft show and sold none of those either.. so, lean times for me, but I am happy for Laura. Meanwhile I have had to be brave and continue making and firing new work, because I am to be a guest potter at the Otago Potter's Group annual exhibition that will be opening at the Community Gallery in Dunedin on Friday 7th of November. It is ironic that I have rarely been so busy, but for such little return! Pricing may be an issue, frankly, trying to sort that side of it out does my head in, but it is difficult to find a price where I can get enough of a return for my effort, plus pay a commission to a gallery that is selling the work.

A couple of the bowls that I made for the local craft show did sell from our studio last week to a lovely couple from Switzerland. Sadly every cent of the money made from that sale disappeared the same evening when I had to go and see a dentist. It was amazing how tapping two teeth three times to determine which one was the problem, and recommending a $1200 root canal job can be worth the same as two hand made, high fired, porcelain bowls, but there you go! (I won't be getting the $1200 root canal done, or the $900 root canal if it turns out to be the simpler of the two teeth, there is no debate, I simply don't have that sort of money, and will probably spend my old age chewing soft white bread between my shrunken gums like an old sheep, and slurping soup, and saying rude things about dentists, the free market, and the dire state of the nation!).

Whilst money has been a ever more gloomy problem, I am convinced that I am making progress with the crystalline pots. It is a thrill to see some of the things that are emerging from the kiln at the moment, and I have ideas for bigger and more exciting pots and sculptures that I will do for as long as I can afford to buy clay and power to fire the kiln!

Here are a couple of the new mugs I have made. These average 4 3/4 inches tall (120mm), and are porcelain that has been fired to 1300 Celsius. Now that the crystalline glazed work has all been done for the next exhibition, I want to make some more batches of mugs that are similar to these, and have a range of colours. Hopefully they will make useful Christmas stock and something for the summer holiday trade. These ones retail for NZ $32 which is about US $25 at the current rate of exchange.

I had better upload this now..., the wind is getting stronger and stronger as I write this, and we may end up with a power cut.

Looking forward to catching up with some of your blogs now that I have got exhibition deadlines out of the way!


Linda Starr said...

wow, beautiful work, love the chalice and the second pot, you have been making such interesting forms, they really set off all your glaze work.

I never did have the root canal in Florida as I couldn't afford it and now I just chew on the other side of my mouth, so far so good. Hope you sell lots of pots at the upcoming shows.

Michèle Hastings said...

I agree with you, that crystalline jar is a beauty!
Not a fan of the dentist, especially the high cost of having work done.

Sandy miller said...

There is blue and then there is blue! It is a color I agonize over. I have baskets of blue test tiles and still no glaze bucket full of blue. But Peter that blue is spectacular! That is a blue I would cherish! If you are going to do blue, that's the blue!

Oh I have ranted long and hard on the cost of dental and medical. I too measure cost against pots….. How many mugs to pay my electric bill this month or have my teeth cleaned. My dental plan of chewing on the other side gave out this year. Somewhere there must be a home filled with toothless potters making awesome pots :)

smartcat said...

The blues are like flying over the ocean in the sun! It's all so lovely; your hard work has paid off.
I know there is a lot of talk about correct prices for mugs but for the life of me I don't see how you can sell a mug for $25.00 (US) and make any profit at all!
Sympathies on the dental work. I have recently gone through two teeth being rebuilt, a root canal that needed doing for years, developed into a massive infection and caused way too many hassles, including an oral surgeon who told me that people used to die from this type of infection, and a crown that had to replace a temp filling that was breaking down after 4 years. Needless to say any luxuries were and still are seriously curtailed. GRRRRRRRR!!! The 70's are not for the faint of heart!
Toes crossed that all future shows are loaded with success!

gz said...

Commiserations about the teeth.
I'm glad we've found a good dentist here.

Love the blue bowl....and the green jar...mind you, those are my type of shapes too!

I'm sitting in front of the woodburner as the wind roars up and down the chimney and the rain is lashing on the windows....

srgb said...

Hi Peter
Truly lovely looking work you produce, it is the state of the nation or the world that people don't put much value on hand made quality, something different, something unique, now if you were making I phones you would not be thinking twice about having the teeth fixed, and they are all out there glued to there I phones and wanting the next generation.
I follow a blog of a Canadian furniture maker and he too paints a grim picture I think he may have give up in the face of Chinese imports.
Its good to read your blog Peter and see those lovely colors and shapes, message coming from sunny Whakatane.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Thank you for the encouragement. There is quite an interesting challenge (and opportunity) offered by the fluid nature of crystalline glazes that keeps me thinking about the form of the pot and makes me keep trying new things. I have some ideas for more sculptural work that I would like to develop that exploit more of the extreme fluidity of the glaze. Regarding teeth.... we'll have to form a society of lopsided chewers! :)

Hi Michèle,
Thank you for your encouragement. The cost of dental work always makes me think that the teeth in my mouth must be enormous..., it was quite a surprise when I had one extracted a couple of years ago to see how small this costly work of art was!

Hi Sandy,
Interesting your comment about blue. Poor old blue, it is certainly a colour that has suffered from overuse, but can be gorgeous on special occasions! I was peering into my dusty glaze test boxes a couple of days ago, and wondering if I should simply throw some away.... I have rather too many oatmeal coloured rather drab-looking ones that I would hardly use now. I should probably bury them in the garden and hope that someone will dig them up again a thousand years from now!

Mmmm,someone bright and mathematical should come up with a tidy equation to make a version of...

State the value of Mugs, where
Mugs (hours making them + materials + firing + gallery commission + tax) == (dentist + doctor + electricity)
Mugs = X

Hi Smartcat,
Bless you, you wax all poetic with the "flying over the ocean in the sun"! I also have dreamy moments where I am transported by colour, and it is a lovely thing.

Mmm mugs at US$25, I hate to say it, but I have to try to compete with people selling their pottery who sell mid fired mugs as low as NZ $15, which is US$11.64.... Many of my high fired porcelain cups and mugs are in the US $18 - $20 range, which is way too low.. but it is high when compared to people selling at US$11.64! I really don't know how to solve it..

Hi Gwynneth,
Lovely to hear from you...., Congrats on finding a good dentist! Maybe we should spend an extended time in the UK and get our teeth done!! Wind and rain on your side of the world, and here we are having wind and rain! The world is very small sometimes!

Hello Bob,
Congrats on being in sunny Whakatane, I hope you are really enjoying things there. I must email you properly to catch up. Sad that the Canadians are also suffering from a flood of cheap imports. It is a strange world that we live in where human values are so distorted, and it is "worth" more to a country to import mass produced "stuff", rather than have its own people make something with care, skill, and pride.

It is really strange how addictive these hand held gadgets appear to be for people. I see many driving through the village here whilst texting or talking on them... so they must be important for people to risk life and limb!!! I have not even got to the cell phone stage of electronic evolution, so I am cheerfully missing out on I phone technology "rush"!

dave sharp said...

Hi Peter
a common dilemma-pricing/selling -and not just for potters- discussing same issue with a painter friend [who like you, produces excellent work!]. Whilst there are a range of personal decisions one can make within this context [ eg selling cheaper/ selling 'harder' etc] I do think it's just a fact of life [and an age-old one really], and perhaps the answer is that what we do really is a 'labour of love' and thus it's own reward. Of course this doesn't pay bills or cap teeth necessarily-but at ;least we can feel good about our gumminess!

Peter said...

Hi Dave,
Thank you for your thoughtful input! I wonder if a "gummy with pride" support movement for ageing art and craft people who have retained their integrity should be formed. Maybe soup and soft bread recipes could be exchanged! The "labour of love" thing is true, but it is a truth that is full of hazard in that it can be used as a weapon by people who don't want to pay a fair price! It is a really difficult one.

Dave Sharp said...

I guess this also highlights another common dilemma or question: who are we making for?
Personally, I make for my own need/satisfaction -no doubt helped by the fact that I have a real job to pay the bills-but if we are dependent upon selling work to make a living, then the question becomes one of just how commercial we want to be? Are we tuned into the market to see what the market wants? For example- lots of homes now have their own expresso machines-but I can hardly recall seeing any one making really cool contemporary little expresso cups/mugs. Maybe if potters want to sell their domestic ware, they need to let go of some of the traditions and get a bit more savvy re business practice -because if its our living, then its also a business!
Im just posting this to see if it spaks a bit of a debate amongst your many watchers [ more appropriate than followers]-interested in your thougts Mr Peter!

Peter said...

Hi Dave,
Thank you for your further comment.
Who we make pots for, or paintings, or what-ever, is an interesting question that I really should do an actual post about.

I've been swinging it around in my thoughts for the last few hours whilst making goblets on the wheel... I really wanted to do something more sculptural today, but I've had a few people asking about goblets lately, so I had better have some here! However I made the goblets with as much care as I would make anything else, and enjoyed the engineering and artistic challenge of thin stems and making tops to match them.

Some potters do manage to tune in to the market and very skilfully find a place there. I think of Tony Sly, for example, who markets a range of domestic ware throughout the country and in parts of Australia, and seems to mostly sell at places that sell kitchenware rather than galleries. And there is Morris and James doing pots for gardens. Both are working on an industrial scale rather than as a sole artist or crafts person working away in a studio. It could be that scaling up and mass producing is a reality of our tiny market place? You are right about the need to adapt and possibly let go some traditions in order to survive as a business. Yet there are dilemmas with it all. Does one abandon the wheel and resort to slip casting and press moulding in order to increase throughput, or just decorate press moulded bisque ware because it can be mass produced somewhere else and bought cheaply? Some do make those choices in order to survive.

And where is the place in this efficient, market focussed, world for the Jim Coopers and Barry Brickells? How impoverished we would be as a nation without them.

Does a small country have a responsibility to support its craft people with government assistance, in much the way that the Symphony Orchestra is supported, or the Ballet, Or Maori cultural groups? In the run up to the recent election, someone from the Act party said that government should not fund artists or crafts people, that they were businesses no different from any other business and had to stand on their own feet, or just be undertaken as a hobby.
This right wing view certainly has an economic purity about it that I am weirdly attracted to... Take responsibility, Sink or Swim, but I think it is too simple, and does not take into account the benefit of art to society.

We had a visit from a French film maker a few years ago who said that the government paid a benefit to film makers to support them in the quiet 6 months of the year when little work or income came in, and that they were happy to do this because they realised the benefit to French Society of having a vibrant film industry. Other countries have given tax breaks to artists, or have bought their work to support them.

It is an interesting debate...

Anna said...

what patience to refire to get the desired result! beautiful pots, they should be flying off the shelves! I hope you find a more lucrative outlet for them so you can afford your dental work.

Peter said...

Hi Anna, Thank you for your encouragement. Hopefully, one day.... the pots will fly to good homes! :)

Sharon Woods said...

That diagnosis was a bit of a bummer. Well, at least you have a clearer picture of where your teeth stand. You don't have to stop with that particular clinic, though. There are a lot more places, I'm sure, that can give expert dental service without the baggage of exorbitant costs. I hope you find one that will suit your capacities best. All the best!

Sharon Woods @ Falls Park Dentistry

Sue said...

Hi Peter, so sorry about the root canals. Grrr. I have vowed never to have one of those again. Next time they can pull the tooth out!

I am very fond of blue anything, particularly pottery. We are still using the two blue mugs we got from you a couple of years ago. I really like the two mugs pictured, and the chalice is amazing. Its too bad people aren't buying more of your beautiful vases and such. Is it a reflection on the financial climate, maybe? Are people more reluctant to indulge in the purchase of art, even if it can be functional? Who knows?

I hope things improve as the days grow warmer.


Peter said...

Hi Sharon (from Falls Park Dentistry), I usually delete spam comments, but yours sounded like a human actually wrote it which makes a pleasant change, so thank you for taking the time to write! I wish that hydrogen peroxide tooth whitening would improve my own situation.. Amazing stuff really, it brightens teeth, soothes sore throats, and helps propel rockets!

Hi Sue,
Alas the perils of ageing have caught up with me.. mind you, I'm not bad for 103! Nice to hear that you are still using the mugs, it is one of the really satisfying rewards of potting to know that there is a little mug, bowl,teapot, or jug helping make someone's day more enjoyable.

Brianna Sutton said...

Hi Peter,
The glaze on that first mug is beautiful! I am a student and I am just getting ready to try my hand at making and using some glazes other than the ones provided to us in the studio. If you would be willing to share what you put on this mug I would be ecstatic!
Thank you very much for sharing these pictures,

Peter said...

Hi Brianna,
Good to hear from you, welcome to this blog! I am really happy to share any glaze recipes, and to help any way I can.

The mug was porcelain, but the glaze combination would work well on a white stoneware body too.

The main glaze inside and out is one I call BTM (black tenmoko), and this was one my teacher gave me some years ago.

BTM can work from Cone 9, but is better at Cone 10 to Cone 11. When I fire it I like to fire to cone 9, then "soak" the kiln until cone 10 is down. I guess that at least half an hour between cone 9 going down and cone 10 would be a good starting point. If you just go quickly to cone 10 and switch off, the glaze doesn't develop its full dark tone.

BTM Cone 10 - 11
Potash Feldspar 55,
Talc 15,
Wollastonite 15,
Silica 15,
China Clay 10,
and red iron oxide 8.

If you want the glaze to mature at slightly lower temperature, or have slight movement at cone 10 you can do this variation (I usually prefer to use this one)

BTM Cone 9 - 11
Nephaline Syenite 55
Talc 15,
Wollastonite 15,
Silica 15,
Ball Clay 10,
and red iron oxide 8.

BTM will work in oxidation or reduction, but the next glaze that I give you is for oxidation only.

The "splash" of glaze that I brushed on the side of the mug is a crystalline glaze, although I am using it here just to make the glaze flow a bit and to add some drama!

Something like the following should work.

50 Frit 4110 (or 3110)
23 Silica
25 zinc oxide (calcined)
2 bentonite
+ 2 titanium dioxide (or rutile)
+ 2 percent copper carbonate

Good luck with it. Let me know how you get on.

PS... you might also like to try a test tile with the crystalline glaze and see if you can get any crystals to grow on it. To get them to any size at all you really need to hold the kiln for about 3 hours at 2000 F (1100 C) as the kiln is cooling, but you might get some small ones with a regular cooling cycle. Crystalline glazes run like crazy so do make sure that you protect the kiln shelf with a good thick layer of alumina or some old insulating fire brick to catch any glaze run off.