Sunday, December 4, 2011

pulling back, experimenting

Hi, friends.  Would you believe that I'm STILL on the mend, still not 100%, still coughing and not up to my usual energy levels?  This is the 3rd Sunday.  A bear of a virus, this was.  But I'm better, I'm being quiet and listening my my body and energy levels and pulling back from working like crazy during this holiday season and resting.  I am working, but I'm doing so slowly, with help, quietly.

In October, I returned from San Francisco ready to experiment with new clay bodies, glazes, techniques.  I've gotten the first bits of what I made from the kiln this week.  There have been some definite YAY pieces, like this mug.  It is porcelain, which worked beautifully with my standard yellow glaze.  It seems to just make the glaze sing.  It is also the first finished piece with my honeycomb hex stamps, inspired by a conversation I had at Heath Ceramics in which I looked at their enormous kilns and fixated on the hex nuts holding it together.  I'm very pleased with it.

The porcelain did very well when it was a flat-bottomed, not footed piece.  If the piece had a trimmed foot ring, it left large chunks of itself adhered to the kiln shelf.  Every. Single. Stinking. piece.  No glaze on the bottom, but the porcelain doing it's thing and sticking.  It did this, too, if it had an underglaze bottom.  The edges stuck.  So I did a bit of research and found that I need to add an alumina hydrate solution to my wax to keep the porcelain from adhering.  You learn something new every day.

This blue is a new underglaze color.  I was excited about it, but it's 2 ticks too bright for my taste.  Nice, but not what I was looking for.  Not to mention that on a large pitcher, it peeled off in several spots, ruining what I thought was a particularly nice piece.    I was playing around with the surface design and this piece, in particular, never felt right.  I like it, but it wasn't me.  I realized why once I pulled it from the kiln.  The divided planes of color and random lines intersecting the two is a fairly straightforward (but unconscious) copy of my mentor's work.  Nothing wrong with copying styles to learn, but I kept feeling like this piece specifically wasn't me, even as I was making it.  Well, Duh.  It's not.  It's nice, but the color, the line, they're not me.   Diana also helped me trouble-shoot my underglaze peeling issue yesterday, so I'll be ready to roll in January.

While I felt that half of this kiln-load was filled with failed pieces,  I did learn a lot from trouble-shooting the problems.  This week I'm planning to scrape and re-coat my shelves with kiln wash, order my alumina hydrate, and keep working, slowly, steadily, at honing this craft.  I'm also planning to add several small pieces to the shop and finish up orders people have placed for Christmas.  Failure marks progress.  And makes a fantastic mosaic pile!

Thanks for reading.


Julie Alvarez said...

I have sooo much to learn!
Last firing I got many mishaps too, and trouble-shot them with both of my teachers. So good to have them around. And reading your experiences, despite the difference in names, materials and such, helps a lot too!
I just used a glaze for the first time, a satin white one (gorgeously beautiful to the eye), that cracked on EVERY surface, but the really deep ones. I have four possible causes, most likely the combination of at least three of them. I am determined to re-try it. Reading about this, makes me want to try harder! Good luck with the following steps, and thanks for sharing.

amy h said...

That was quite a virus! I'm glad you're starting to shake it.

The mug looks great! And I quite like that blue, but that bright turquoise-teal is very me -- I understand about colors just not being you. I've been kicking myself for not picking up some Laguna Power Turquoise the last time I was at the clay shop. So bright! They said it really runs, but I think it would be pretty pooled in the bottom of a bowl. Next time.

Have fun experimenting!

I'm worried about sticky porcelain now. :)

Anonymous said...

i'm digging that two ticks too much for you color. it's signing to me...

Wylie said...

Yikes! Don't make them into mosaic! Sell them as seconds! xxxoooo said...

I love that yellow glaze its so vibrant and sunny, goes well with the beehive feel the nut stamp has.

I had this happen to me a couple of times when using porcelain for me its just difficult to work with all round. Still its good to learn new things otherwise there'd be no challenge to making pots!