Saturday, March 8, 2014

Blue Crystals, Bob, and Birthdays!

Blue Crystals
I have done several more crystalline glaze firings since I posted in mid February. The photos above this are a selection of some of them. The pots in the photos are all porcelain fired to cone 10 (about 1280 C or 2336 F), and most measure 7 - 8 inches high (178 - 203mm).

I have concentrated on blue coloured crystals with these firings, and, after a shaky start where few glazes produced crystals, I am having much more success and am really pleased with some of the pots. I like the clarity of these glazes, and the gentle watercolour-like colouring of the blue-green ones in particular.

The kiln that I am using is very small, just 3 cubic feet inside, so I can usually only fit 4 or 5 pots in it. Whilst this makes for rather a lot of hours per pot of kiln time, there are some advantages. Crystalline glazes seem to work best with kilns that are capable of achieving peak firing temperature quickly, and it helps to be able to cool quickly too. The small kiln certainly can do those things rather well, it is like a little sports car! Firing a few pots at a time also encourages experimentation. I did 6 crystalline glaze firings over the course of a month, and made subtle changes to each firing as I attempted to improve on the one before. The results got better and better.

Waimate Art Society Annual Exhibition
I will be showing some of my crystalline glazed pots in an exhibition later this month.
I am a guest exhibitor at the Waimate Art Society annual exhibition which will be held in the Waimate Art Society Rooms, 18 Shearman Street, Waimate. The exhibition opens at 8pm on Friday 14th of this month, and runs until Sunday 23rd of March.

For more information about the town of Waimate, you might like to look at the wiki for Waimate.

Friends and Family
We have had some lovely catch ups over the last month or so with friends and family that we do not see often.

Bob, and his family from Auckland, travelled down to ride the Central Otago Rail Trail in February. We had cups of tea and coffee with Bob and Xiao at Potpourri Vegetarian Cafe in Lower Stuart Street, Dunedin.

Xiao and Bob at Potpourri Vegetarian Cafe.
I met Bob when I was stranded in Auckland back in 2010 when a trip to the USA went "pear shaped". As a result of reading my blog Bob very kindly took me sight seeing for half a day, and also showed me some of the wonderful furniture that he makes. Bob is very skilled at working with wood, and makes use of wood inlay; he does really interesting and beautiful work, and I like his design ideas and his way of problem solving. Bob has a blog called, perception panels, on which he has recorded some of the projects he has worked on. When you visit his blog, do take time to click on his photos to see them at a larger size. It was a real pleasure to spend some time with him again and to meet Xiao.

The Central Otago Rail Trail is becoming very popular. This is a cycleway that follows the path of a disused railway through spectacular Central Otago. For more information you might like to look at Central Otago Rail Trail.

My account of meeting Bob in Auckland can be found at The House That Bob Made.

Potpourri Vegetarian Cafe does good coffee and really yummy food.... recommended!

80 x 2 = 160 + 80 = 240
February was quite a month for birthdays, and my mum and dad both celebrated their 80th birthdays.

Mum and Dad.
I suspect that we are all a bit surprised by the number 80. It only seems a very short time ago that they were 40 something, 30 something, and 20 something! My first memories of mum and dad go back to when they were in their 20s. I remember riding behind dad on his bicycle when I was about 3 years old, and also proudly driving with him in the "Siggle Defence" van when he was on civil defence exercises back in the early 1960s. Mum, some of my earliest memories of her were of her cooking in the kitchen. I can even remember her picking me up and holding me up close to her shoulder, I must have been really young then! So where did all the years go?

Anyway, celebrating 2 x 80 was a wonderful thing to do, and this was made even better still because my Uncle and Aunt from Oxford, UK, and Uncle and Aunt from Adelaide, Australia travelled all the way to join in. The 2 x 80, became 3 x 80 as my Aunt from Australia also achieved her 80th birthday the same year as my Mum and Dad! Also at the celebration were my sister and brother in law, and their eldest son and daughter in law. It was lovely to get together again.

With 3 birthdays to celebrate, there really had to be 3 cakes!
Dad has been putting together some of the birthday photos on a blog so family and friends can get to see them. I "borrowed" the two photos above from that.

3 Special People! My Auntie Mary, Uncle Norman, and Laura.

 I often wish that the world was smaller so that we could see people that we love more often than we do, but the time that we do spend with them is precious.

 To End With Something Quite Different!
Nigella Stopit and Winnie the Poo have a power struggle going on .... Nigella Stopit has the advantage in this of actually having a brain, something that Winnie the Poo has shown no evidence of! I think that Nigella Stopit will win... ultimately, but Winnie the Poo has an "unflappable" confidence about her that can be quite disturbing, especially for a member of the bird family!

Nigella Stopit assuming a defensive position, and Winnie the Poo exploring new territory!


Anonymous said...

It's interesting to see some of the memories my son has, going WAY back!
He also helped me to become a blogger, not, I assume, so that he could take some of my photos! I too have memories... but I won't share them here!

Linda Starr said...

love the form of the second blue pot, lovely crystals, good to see your parents on their birthday and Laura too and the last shot of the chicken and Nigella a perfect end to a lovely post

Peter said...

Good to hear from you Dad, and glad that your blog is being populated with photos!

Hi Linda,
Good to hear from you. The second pot was quite an adventure for me with altering the rim and so on, it is something I would like to do more of. Glad you enjoyed the last shot, those two certainly keep us entertained!

Arkansas Patti said...

Your crystals are just stunning Peter You do such beautiful work.
How wonderful that so many of your family was able to get together to celebrate the magic 80. Your parents look much younger and how cool that you helped your dad to start blogging.

Peter said...

Good Morning Patti,
Lovely to hear from you. From the blurry view of myself that I see in the mirror in the morning, I think there is a real risk that I will end up looking older than my parents..., they really do look quite young, and no botox was needed!! Thanks for the encouragement regarding the crystals, they are hard work, but it is wonderful when they turn out.

Unknown said...

I like your glazes if it needs to heat quickly and cool quickly. do you think they could be fired in a raku kiln and then set to cool without any reduction?

Peter said...

Hi Jeremy,
Good to hear from you. The crystalline glazes I work with need to be fired around cone 9 or 10 which is quite a lot hotter than many raku kilns are capable of firing to. The kiln has to be fired with great accuracy (just 5 degrees too hot or cold at the peak of the firing can make the difference between getting no crystals at all, or too many of them), and the kiln also needs to be able be fired in oxidation throughout the firing, and it must be capable of being held at high temperature for several hours. These things are easier to achieve in an electric kiln than in a gas kiln, but some potters do use gas kilns very successfully for crystalline glazes. If you are interested in crystalline glazes, there is an online forum that you might like to visit where crystalline glaze potters discuss the process and post photographs of their work

Rhonda said...

What stunning pots Peter! Your really on a roll.Lovely photos of family birthday gatherings.As always, a great blog. RHONDA.

Armelle Léon said...

Bonsoir Peter,

I really like the shape of the second one and the color of the 5 th one, wish you success with this exhibition. So nice to see you have had a good time with your family, maybe you resemble to your mother, yes ? I think so, as the kangaroo and her baby :-)

I am not so far from NZ and have a lovely time with my sister in Bali and so, how I understand the precious moments we can spend with our family living far away.

Best wishes to you and Laura, hope Nigella will be kind with the Winnie poo, she really have such a confidence in her !!!

Pat - Arkansas said...

ooooooh, BLUE! Love'em!
Congratulations to your parents, and aunt, on their birthdays. Good Lord willing, I'll reach that milestone myself this year. I guess that means I'm old enough to be your mother, Peter! :)
I wish I could personally see the standoff between Nigella Stop It and Winnie the Pooh. My guess is that it would be highly entertaining.

Peter said...

Hello Rhonda,
Good to hear from you. It is nice to have the photos of family, and celebrations! Thank you for the encouragement!

Bonjour Armelle,
I am glad that you are having a visit to your sister in Bali, it will be a welcome break for you. I enjoyed the "kangaroo and baby" comment. Yes, it is true, I do look a lot like my mother!:)
Once I was worried that Nigella might make Winnie her breakfast, but Winnie chases Nigella sometimes, so I think she will be OK!!

Hello Pat,
Age is a strange thing, the saying that "you are only as old as you feel", has some truth, and sometimes very young people seem incredibly old, and old people young! I think it quite a nice thought that you are "old enough to be my mother!" Nigella and Winnie certainly do keep us entertained. Currently Nigella is "rioting", because she wants us to go to bed. She nearly walked over my keyboard just now!