Friday, October 30, 2015

Selwyn Gallery Exhibition, one week to go!

I see from my kiln log book that I have had 18 firings of my electric kilns this month, and most of them have been getting work made for the exhibition at Darfield. There were a lot of firings in September as well. In spite of all that effort I have not got many pots to show for it, but I have learned some useful lessons about crystalline glazing and firing along the way, and I am getting a bit better at it. I had hoped to get a few more pieces glaze fired this week, but I simply ran "out of puff", I was exhausted and I had to say "enough!"

I realize that most of you that read this blog live overseas so you won't be able to come along to the exhibition, so I have put some photos together for you to show some of the work that I will be taking up to the gallery next week. I am still sorting through pots and trying to organize what will go to Darfield, and I will probably post photos of more of the pots just before I head off for the exhibition.

Crystalline glazed white stoneware vase. 450 x 250 mm (nearly 18 x 10 inches).
The first glaze firing was in oxidation, giving white crystals on a white background, then it had a further firing with oil drip reduction in my electric kiln.

Carbon trapping from the reduction firing gave pale grey outlining to the crystals and a lovely pale green grey to the surrounding glaze.

Detail looking into the pot.
 I really enjoy the amusing crystals where the crystalline glaze runs into the inside of the pot, these are like dancing fairies or thistledown!

Crystalline glazed porcelain vase. 185 x 160 mm (7.25 x 6.25 inches).
Detail of the above vase.
The flower-like crystals in this glaze were given their character by careful firing. The centers of the crystals took 2.5 hours of a slow decline in temperature to form,  then there is a pale ring that took another hour to grow where a lower temperature was held steady. Then the temperature was raised over the next hour to form a slightly brighter and wider ring. The outermost ring came naturally as the kiln cooled.

As I made and fired pots for the exhibition, I gradually evolved forms that I hoped would suit the runny and somewhat difficult nature of the crystalline glaze. I really liked the vases that developed a "waist".

Crystalline glazed vase. 200 x 135 mm (8 x 5.25  inches)
Crystalline glazed vase. 190 x 130 mm (7.5 x 5 inches)

Detail of above. Notice the pale growth rings in these crystals.

I made several "white" vases. Titanium dioxide was the main white colour in these glazes, but I gave it variety by adding rutile or ilmenite (FeTiO3) which are both sources of titanium, but contain impurities, such as iron oxide. A small addition of rutile is enough to give a lovely golden warmth to the crystals. These crystals have pale growth rings in them that I added by making the kiln do short, sharp dips in temperature to briefly slow the growth of the crystal, then returning the kiln back to the growing temperature again.

Crystalline Glazed Bottle. 180x120mm (7 x 4.75 inches)

Detail of bottle above. This bottle had an extra reduction firing, the glaze contains copper, cobalt, and iron.
Copper is a most interesting metal in glazes, it can give green or red and various shades in between. In a highly alkaline glaze copper can give turquoise or blue.

Deep porcelain bowl with foot. 243 x 220 mm (9.5 x 8.75 inches). Copper barium glaze.
Detail of inside of bowl.

I was sad when I first unloaded this bowl from the kiln, because the glaze had bubbled and pin-holed rather badly inside and out, but I quickly grew to love it, and am glad that the glaze misbehaved as I think it has added greatly to the character of the piece and it gives a feeling of the process. 

One thing that I am slowly learning, and I have a long way to go with this, is that imperfections, wobbly bits, and other such "disasters" can actually be the most wonderful, life giving parts of a pot. Such things may be important in a profound way that has to do with our humanity, and our respect of materials, and our delight in things that are made by human hands. This is a difficult lesson for me, as I also believe that things should be made as well as ever they can be, to the limits of the maker. 


Linda Starr said...

18 firings omg amazing, lots of hard work in all of that; beautiful crystals and much patience I see in achieving the rings and growth

it is a conundrum wanting to make pots as good as they can be and then at the same time embracing the imperfection of our human nature.

reminds me the pots I like the least are often the ones which sell the quickest.

best of luck with the upcoming show

Lykka Gard said...

Wunderschöne Gefäße!
Die Glasuren sind phantastisch!
LG lykka

gz said...

good work coming thick and fast!

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Good to hear from you. I have been taking photos of the work today and making a final selection of what will go in the exhibition. It has been interesting looking closely at the pots with a camera, it gives a fresh view of them! I also get surprised by the pots that sell quickest, and the ones that don't, it is hard to predict!

Thank you Lykka Gard for your kind words and encouragement. It is good of you to write in. Welcome to my blog.
Vielen Dank für Ihre freundlichen Worte! P :)

Hi Gwynneth,
Good to hear from you. I was quite surprised to find that I could scratch together a selection of 24 pots today for the exhibition, for a while there I feared I might not have any!

smartcat said...

That's a beautiful and elegant group of pots. Your glazes are so evocative; they suggest other worlds and galaxies.
Have a great opening.....with pictures?

Melissa Rohrer said...

Beautiful! The form of the third one down with the "waist" had me coming back for several looks.
Your comment on embracing imperfections hit home with me- something I struggle with.

Peter said...

Hi Smartcat,
Thank you for your kind words. I will see what I can do about exhibition photos and will try to remember to take my camera... and use it, although I often neglect this vital thing at openings!

Hi Melissa,
Good to hear from you. The two white vases with waists are a couple of my favorites, I am not quite sure how they do it, but they do easily hold their own with the more colourful and busy pots, even though they are quite small and "quiet".

Interesting that the "embracing imperfections" hit home for you too. I guess I first had to give it some thought when I was teaching painting to adults a couple of decades ago. There were some that would come to class with absolutely no conception of perspective, but would use the space on the canvas beautifully and in a far more interesting way than those who had "training". It was a tricky balancing act for me to find the right level between encouraging them as they were, or burdening them with academic "stuff" that might have ruined their way of seeing. I probably got this wrong as often as I got it right..., and the problem of wobbles, and imperfections in potting, is a similar dilemma!

Sandie said...

What amazing pots and great results with all the effort you put in. You mentioned something about imperfections, but the Japanese has this view known as Wabi-Sabi which is recognising imperfection as beautiful. And that is the realisation you have come to. Well done. Hope to see more pots on display.

Peter said...

Hi Sandie,
Good to hear from you. I imagine that Wabi-Sabi would be an interesting and lovely way of looking at many things in life. I have heard it applied to pottery before, but my quick look at wikipedia confirms that it is a term that describes a whole outlook on life. There is an acceptance of transience and imperfection, of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". This reminds me of autumn leaves, sunsets, and slow movements of some of the better violin concertos! Wonderful!

PotterMiller said...

Peter! What an adventure! I don't' know where to start……. Oh my gosh the scenery and colors in your world are spectacular. As our season of colors is winding down yours is emerging, and it's great to see walls of pinks and splashes of blues and greens!

Love coming to your site, lovely pots and always so much information! Thank you for sharing all! And yes to embracing the imperfections :) !

Peter said...

Hi Sandy,
It is fun being able to experience two seasons at the same time from both sides of the world, something I enjoy about looking at blogs!
It is wonderful how much a cascade of flowers can lift the spirits, I had been toiling away in the studio for far too long before making this little trip, and the pink clematis were just what I needed! So happy that you enjoy this site. P :-)