I have an hour or so to fill as I wait for something rather exciting to arrive on a truck, so thought I would make the most of this moment and try to update the blog!
I don't want to blabber on about bursitis and shoulder problems, but it suffices to say that progress has been slow, uncertain at times, but there has been progress.
|Tiles drying on top of both kilns whilst they fire other tiles!|
I was about three quarters of the way through a commission to make floor tiles when the shoulder acted up, and Laura bravely learned some new skills in a hurry and made about 50 tiles to complete the order.
|Dry tiles to the left, and fired ones to the right!|
Just at the moment we were celebrating completing the commission, the person that ordered decided that he wanted a further 90 tiles more... This was initially a bit daunting, and the deadline fairly tight, but my shoulder had improved enough by that stage for Laura and I to be able to make the remainder of the tiles together, which sped things up and made the commission enjoyable.
|Tiles down and awaiting grouting. Photo kindly supplied.|
It was really wonderful to receive this photo of the tiles. The tiles were still awaiting grouting when the photo was taken, but they give a good idea as to how the floor will look with them.
We supplied about 310 good tiles, plus a further 10 cracked ones. Each tile took 2kg of clay to make, and I could only fire about 20 at a time in my electric kiln, so there were many firings to get the job done. I fired to 3 different top temperatures, so as to get some colour variation.
I had to stack the tiles in the kiln, with between 5 and 7 tiles in a stack. The tiles were too large and thin to fire on edge, and I found that putting a layer of block layers sharp sand between the tiles made a huge difference to the success rate. Without the sand I would never manage a firing without a few tiles cracking, with the sand I would usually have 100 percent success. Here are some photos to show the sand in action. I sieved the sand to get rid of the largest and the smallest particles. What I used was somewhere between 20 and 12 mesh.
|Sharp sand on the kiln shelf|
|on with a tile, then more sharp sand|
|then another tile... and so on!|
|Stacked up after the firing.|
|Nigella Stopit enjoying Laura's flower arrangement.|
I have found clay preparation difficult, I can manage one handed cut and slam wedging, which is OK for small quantities, but using both hands is not possible yet as it tends to shake up the shoulder in ways it doesn't appreciate. In spite of that I recently managed making breakfast bowls and a few other things on the potter's wheel, and I have a kiln load of those cooling as I write this. It was very encouraging to find that some wheel work has become possible again, and I am looking forward to building this up steadily over the next few weeks.
|Something new, a tiny jug with brushed decoration.|
All going well, the pug mill should arrive about an hour from now!