Sunday, May 28, 2017

Soda Glazing Day and First Finished Piece Comes Home

I held off glazing almost all my pieces, so I would be sure to have enough for the soda firing.  It's a good thing I did, since I was able to fit more pieces in than I had expected.  So I only have a few more, which I want to play with some different techniques, and my soda cups which I didn't get into the bisque firing soon enough to get them back in time.

So I will have a very large number of pieces coming out of the soda firing next weekend.  But in the meantime, I have one piece which came out of the cone 10 gas firing :

A) This highly textured piece was thrown from 1800g of "revived" P600 clay.  It is finished in Amber Celadon glaze, which is a rich brown colour, and shows the texture beautifully.  The photo (on our porch) doesn't do it justice.

Since I don't have any other photos from today, I'll post a few from yesterday, when I visited my pieces which are on student display :
 It's hard to get a good look at my dragon bowl, through all that reflected light, but she looks great in that display case.

This raku fired pot shows up better in the photo.  I'm also very pleased with this one.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Really Near the End Now

Today was the last class in Jay's course, so all my classmates were glazing today.  I have held off, since I want to ensure I have enough pieces for the soda firing.  I will be glazing for the soda firing this weekend.  Then if any pieces (I'm expecting 3 or 4) don't make it in, then I will glaze those in a subsequent workshop.

Since I threw those 6 pieces from the soda clay late last week, and only trimmed one of them, I trimmed the remaining 5 pieces.  I was pretty pleased with the results.

I had lots of time to trim the 5 pieces, so focused on doing a good job, and finishing them well.  Although I wondered with some of them whether the finely trimmed foot was too much of a contrast with the scratched and altered body.  But I do like a foot which is smooth and sits nicely on the table.

Since the clay was still very soft, I ended up doing my usual hybrid trimming / throwing approach, and forcing the rims dry with the heat gun.  (As well as the bottoms, once trimmed, so they wouldn't be damaged by setting them onto the wooden boards.)

Here are some views of the feet, as I finished trimming them :

I was trimming on a small chuck which I had thrown from Big White sculptural clay, which was quite gritty, and which I finally coated with a bit of the smooth porcelain soda clay, so that it didn't make so much damage to the rims of the cups.  So when I was done, I moistened that clay, and threw an egg, and brought it home.  We'll see if something hatches from that.  :-)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Getting Near the End

I had a very nasty stomach flu over the weekend, so missed pottery class on Sunday, in which the class was spraying flashing slips on their pieces, prior to the bisque firing.  So I started the class today under a bit of pressure to catch up on Sunday's class, and also I finally got my bag of clay designed for the soda class, and I had not had a chance to throw anything with it.  Not to mention, I needed to run away for almost an hour for an appointment in the morning.

But first things first.  I went to visit my dragon vase.  It was looking very good.
I asked Jay to help me lift it for a moment, so I could run my finger around the bottom edge, to clean it up, but the bottom looked already pretty good.  I had cut it clean and level off the bat (which is not always the case).  So I transferred it to a square board, and rotated it a few times, to clean up the bottom even more.  But I think it can be considered done.  It just needs to take its time to dry now.  I can't wait to see it finished.  Although there is much to consider about glazing it.  I bounced a few options with a classmate, and think I may have decided on my plan.

Then I needed to catch up by spraying the flashing slips on my soda pieces.  I am confident I have enough for the 2 cubic foot allotment, with perhaps some pieces to spare, so I that is good.
Spraying turned out to be very time consuming, since I wanted to check the notes on all my pieces, and figure out  which ones already had the No. 6 soda slip on them.  Then decide between the 6 flashing slips which were available to me.  I ended up doing a few of each, all except one which was a dark blue, and didn't suit any of my pieces.  It was 2PM by the time I finished this exercise, at which point it didn't feel like enough time to throw any new pieces, since I'd need to start cleanup at 5PM.  But after waffling back and forth, I finally decided to go for it.

I trimmed and cleaned up the bowl which I had thrown originally to be a base for the monster vase, but I like the trimming and carving I ended up doing on it:

Then I finally opened that bag of soda clay, and surprised myself by throwing 6 pieces in the remaining time :

Since they all need to be trimmed, I don't believe there is chance of trimming them, and getting them turned around from the bisque firing soon enough for the soda firing.  However, I could always save them for a future soda firing, or just fire then in the cone 10 gas firing.  Amber Celadon would make a great glaze choice for those deep textures.

One piece, though, particularly pleased me, and had a bit too thin of a bottom, so I decided to force dry the rim and upper part with a hair dryer, so I could add a bit of clay to the bottom and trim / throw a foot.  Which is what I did, and I am very pleased by the result :
So in the end, what started as a daunting catch up day turned out to be fairly satisfying, and very productive.  I had better start building more shelves for my pottery.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Surprise Ceramic Mug Encounter

I have switched massage therapist a few times over the years, not because each one has not been wonderful, but because my schedule didn't allow me to continue.  Today I had yet another therapist, Sharon, filling in for my new regular therapist, Rosanna.

After Sharon had left the room and I was pulling myself back together to face the day, I noticed a handmade mug at the corner of the sink, and instantly recognized it as one of mine, from my early days.  When I picked it up, my stamp on the bottom confirmed it.
I had given it as a gift to Heiko, a former therapist.  He has since moved out of town, so I haven't seen him at the clinic for some while.  I asked Sharon about the mug, and told her this was one of mine from my early days.  She told me that when she comes into the clinic in the morning, she likes to claim this mug, as it is one of her favourites.  Wow.  Pretty cool story.

I looked back, and this mug (#6 in this post) was made in 2013, in my second pottery course, and given to Heiko soon after.  Fun.  I can't wait until I get more of my work "out there" so I can run into it on occasion.  It is such a nice surprise.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Monster Dragon Vase

I started out this morning thinking that I would throw some small pots for the soda firing, and cut some leaves from my garden in case I wanted to make any more leaf imprinted vessels, or leaf pendants for the soda firing.  But when I arrived at class, I remembered that I had that monster vase from last week, which I needed to assemble.

I asked a classmate to take a photo of me with my big pots, before I started tapping and rolling the seam to join them.  This is the most clay (26+ lbs) which I've ever handled.

It took most of the class time to combine them, and then soften the clay which I had left on the bottom of the 2nd pot (which became the top of my monster pot), so that I could throw it, and attach handles.  What I had in mind originally was something like this pot which inspired me on our recent trip to France, with decorative handles :

But I realized that if I were going to go to the trouble of making decorative handles, I would want to make it worth my while, and make dragons.  So thus started my adventure :

I ended up extruding and altering the three tubes which became three dragons on my pot.  But for the first while, my classmates were all commenting the snakelike creature I was making.  It was only when I added the wings, that the dragon forms emerged.

Here is another angle, with the one dragon peeking past the other :

The concept of the dragons was part inspired by the little dragon mugs made by FiredFigments on Instagram, and part inspired by some dragon vessels I saw in China, which featured dragons as handles, which were biting onto the edges of the vessel.  So I decided my dragons would be biting the pot in a similar manner.  Here is an example, from the Xian Museum, which our family visited in our 2014 trip:

The wings were a challenge, but making the little faces was a delight.  I decided that each one would be different.  Here are a few angles to see the three little faces :

I am very pleased with the result.  With the dragons, this is easily 30+ lb of clay, which is incredible.  I had warned Jay that I would ask him to carry it downstairs for me, but in the end I decided to attempt it myself, and almost didn't make it.  By the time I had placed this vessel safely on a table in the damp room, my arms were shaking and I was exhausted.

I can't wait to see the final result.  What an amazing piece this will be.

Oh, and during the process, I forgot that I had a third piece which was to be the pedestal, but I'm not sure I would even dare attempt that anymore.  I think I'll just call it done, and pray that the bottom (which will remain untrimmed) will not crack.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Go Big or Go Home

I surprised even myself today.  In a previous assignment, Jay challenged us to throw bigger than we ever had before, and I threw a 3200 g (7 lb) piece, and a second of similar size, and then managed to join them together.  Today I decided to give it another try, and loaded 6200 g (13.5 lb) of clay onto my wheel, and managed to wrestle it into shape, and threw this big monster :

After that, I was tired, and took a break for lunch and did a few more things before tackling its counterpart, also 6000 g (13 lb).  I have a vision for a pretty large pot, which might need an impressive foot, so I threw a third piece just in case :

I can't wait until I can wrestle those pieces together, and see the result.  If it was sunny and windy like it was on Sunday, I would have probably tried later today, but it was a miserable rainy day, so nothing was drying.  So I'll be attempting this feat next Wednesday, as I will miss Fredi's class this weekend.

Today I also got around to finishing a few stemmed goblets which I started a while ago.  I made three:

I think they could turn out pretty nice.  Fun, anyhow.  But I couldn't flip them over today, as the stems and bases were still soft.

I also stained a few of my leaf imprint vessels, some which will go into the soda firing, and others which I will want to spray with glaze and fire them in the gas kiln.

I cleaned up a few more pieces, so the only ones I have in progress now are the big monsters.  Although I have many in various states of drying or waiting for bisque or waiting for the soda firing (we will spray them with flashing slips before they are bisqued) or waiting to be glazed.

Considering that I am experimenting with the non-trimmed bottoms, I was pleased that of the 8 or so pieces which have been bisqued already, only 1 showed a crack in the bottom, and that only on the inside, not fully through to the outside.  So here's hoping that the others all pull through okay.  I've started using the trick my friend Mariana shared with me, to add a blob of clay to the inside bottom, while still on the wheel, and press it in with the wheel spinning in the reverse direction.