Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Over-glaze painting

Yesterday, I forgot to include a photo of this little cup from the last firing. Actually, it was really a test piece, to see how one of my black slips would look over the matte ochre ash glaze. I rather like the way the brushwork has merged with the glaze layer so it doesn't look too harsh.

Next time, I'll try a blue slip over this yellow glaze, that could be interesting too!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Saggar failure, slip success!

On the whole, it was a rather disappointing glaze firing yesterday. I fired the new saggar for the first time, and it didn't work at all in reducing the pots. I'm quite surprised, as the kiln shelf lid looked reasonably flush with the top. This was the saggar as it was packed before the firing:

All the combustibles (charcoal and dried banana skins) had burned away, leaving a slight glaze residue in places. The only pot I liked from the saggar was this little vase which was coated just with fen slip over a brushed-on red iron slip:

The saggar had been placed on kiln supports, so there was another layer of pots beneath. I've not done this before and it seems to have produced a rather strange and unfortunate effect. All the pots below the saggar were badly bloated on the inside, as if the additional heat generated from the combustibles had been directed downwards onto them. Most of the small pots placed on top of the saggar lid were fine..which is odd, as you would expect the heat from the saggar to rise and affect the pots above, rather than the ones underneath.

Three cups with "Candace Black" glaze from the top layer:

The next photo shows two cups and a test piece glazed with my version of a nami-jiro glaze. The glaze had been applied as thick as possible and it produced much more yellow this time:

To my eye, this looks similar to some Ki-Seto glazed pieces I have seen, although the yellow colour is probably a little darker.

And this is the black glaze made from fen slip, fired in oxidation at the bottom of the electric kiln. The fen slip on its own turns matte brown in oxidation but very glossy dark brown to black in a wood kiln, but when used as the main ingredient of a black glaze, this is reversed. In oxidation, the glaze has come out with a more glossy sheen, which I like very much:

We'll end on another positive note! I think I may have finally cracked the black slip formula (I say "may", I need to test it a few more times yet to be sure). Here is the latest version, painted on underneath a transparent glaze..it's not perfectly black, but it doesn't have the metallic, cobalt sheen of the gosu slip, and the fine lines haven't faded at all:

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A lucky find

I rode over to Sandbach this morning, as it was quite sunny and warm. In a bric-a-brac shop I was lucky to stumble across this wonderful bud vase. It's from the Leach Pottery, thrown in porcelain, and possibly made by David, son of Bernard Leach. I love the iron specks in the glaze. A cracking little pot..only 7 cms tall but perfect in every way.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Pine cones, old and new

My Japanese larch bonsai has produced some pine cones again this year. The ones from three years ago are still hanging on to the tree!

It's pouring with rain here today, and the temperature has plummeted back down to 6 degrees C!

Update: I took a photo of the whole tree today. It's about three feet across..I had to saw two large branches from the bottom of the trunk last winter as they were completely dead. Not really sure if the lower branches are meant to die off as the tree gets taller..I'm not a bonsai expert.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

New Oribe glaze

A carved toothpick holder with my new Oribe glaze:

Approx. 3 inches tall

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Manor Stokes wood firing May 2013

We achieved a good firing of the smokeless kiln at Manor Stokes last weekend. Not all the cones went over completely, but on the whole the pots we unloaded yesterday were fine and most glazes were fully matured. I was happy with about two thirds of the pots I put in, which is not a bad rate of return for wood firing. And the less pleasing ones can be re-fired at some point.

Here is a selection of my pots from this firing (I'll upload a few more over the next day or two) :

Tea caddy, approx. 5 inches tall

Carved vase, heavy ashing. 5 inches wide

Carved vase, close up

Coffee cup, glazed inside, unglazed outside
Wine or spirit cup, 3 inches tall

Guinomi, 2.5 inches tall

Two textured pots, larger 3.5 inches tall

 2.5 inches tall

The egg cup above is very crusty with deposits of unmelted ash, having been placed right next to the firebox..it has a shino glaze inside and was unglazed outside. I would happily eat boiled eggs from it, but admittedly, it won't be the easiest thing to clean!

shino glaze inside

Guinomi, approx. 3 inches tall

Bottle vase, 3 inches tall

Small cup, 2 inches tall

Yunomi, 4 inches tall

Planter with heavy ashing, 5 inches tall

Cup with orange dots, approx 3 inches tall

Soup mug, ochre ash glaze

Textured vase, approx 6 inches tall

Sake cup, approx 3 inches tall

Chawan, approx 5 inches wide
Shot cup, 2 inches tall

Friday, 3 May 2013

Weathered texture

This little sculpture has been standing in the garden for a couple of years, braving wind, rain and frosts to minus 10 degrees.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Blue sake cup with dots

The sun has been out all day..it's beautiful, and I'm glazing pots in comfort for once! I  took a quick shot of this sake cup from the last firing in the dappled shade of a beech hedge:

2.5 inches tall, fired to cone 10

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A little glazing tip

How can you glaze small pots which don't have footrings, without leaving any fingermarks? Glaze tongs are one option, but I've never bought any. One thing I've tried which usually works, is painting the base of the bisced pot with a couple of layers of  water-proof, polyurethane varnish and leaving it for a while until the coating is completely dry. Then I attach a fairly large (about an inch square) lump of Blu Tack to the base and use this as a handle with which to dip the pot. One bonus of this method is that any excess glaze can be easily wiped off the varnished area with a damp sponge..

It can be very easy to accidentally touch varnish on to the sides of the pot and that will ruin the glaze finish unless you re-bisc.

Also, it's important to make sure that the varnish is completely dry before dipping and to check that the Blu Tack is firmly attached! If glaze firing in-doors, the room needs to be properly ventilated as the varnish will burn off in the kiln.

Another way is to make a wax handle :  http://ceramicartsdaily.org/clay-tools/decorating-tools/wax-on-wax-off/