Whew! I’ve been holding off on posting until I could find my card reader back and upload pics, but that’s just led to a stupidly long delay between posts. So. Last week I was wrapped up in sgraffito and crewelwork. Out of the four cups and two bowls thrown….
One cup had its handle crack off.
One cup was too ugly to fire.
One bowl exploded enthusiastically in the bisque firing. Argharghargh, shards all over kiln, much time spent vaccuming and lamenting loss of five Robot mugs and one Robot bowl neighbouring it.
In the glaze firing, the glaze crawled off the footrim of the two surviving cups.
One bowl survived.
It has been submitted to the Craft council Gallery’s Annual Members’ Exhibit. We shall see what the committee thinks of it.
Haven’t blogged much lately. April turned into a much, much busier month than I’d been expecting. Gallery show to finish. Craft fair to get ready for. Fresh Fish was canceled, so me and Jessica Butler and Charlotte Reid started organizing a MayDay weekend fair, and of course there was stock to make for that too, and also summer wholesale orders are coming in, oh and Fresh Fish turned out to be merely postponed until June, so THAT is another thing to take care of, and Alexis Templeton asked for some bowls for her bowl thing in May.
And in the middle of all this, I have a possible home purchase to organize.
It’s downtown, and three stories, and is very likely a tear-it-down-to-the-studs-and-then-rip-out-some-of-the-studs sort of affair, which is intimidating, but it would be very, very close to work and studio. And there’s an extension on the back that could fit a wheel and some shelves…
 May 5, 10am – 5pm, at the Rocket Room. be there, or be a rectangular thyng.
So. That glaze firing was a disaster. About once a year I seem to have a big batch of evil pots, and this was the doozy. (At least, I sure hope it’s the doozy. If there’s a worse one coming I’m quitting to make macrame or something.) See these mugs? Them and two bowls are the only things to come out of the whole kiln load non-fubared.
When I opened the lid, I saw this:
The first issue is the colour of the background glaze. I lost my glaze notebook, and mixed up the latest bath of cephaloglaze from memory. Clearly, 2% iron is not enough. But the texture and opacity and all that is spot-on, so I can add some more to the batch, throw a few new plates and bowls, and all will be good. And the colours in the underglaze painting were perfect. The big problem is the clear; it’s gone sort of muddy, and the underglaze underneath it has blurred. At first I thought it was the way I’d applied it–maybe sponging wasn’t the way to go after all–but when I excavated down to the next layer, the full horror started to hit me.
My latest batch of clear–which was on every piece but two, and one of those developed a handle crack–is evil. Eeeeevil. It’s not clear, for a start. And it pinholed worse than anything I’ve ever seen. And it ran so far I spent two hours in the Craft Council parking lot this morning with an angle grinder, repairing the damaged kiln shelves as much as is possible.
Now, I love that clear glaze. It’s the bestest clear in the universe. It has all of four ingredients, which are all cheap and all kicking around any studio anyways. It’s always clear, it runs only if you lay it on stupendously thick, it rarely crazes, and it’s very forgiving of temperature variation. After firing, it’s gorgeously glossy and superlatively durable.
Clearly it’s not the clear, or even the temperature. It’s me. I screwed something up in the recipe.
Too little silica wouldn’t make it milky. Too much silica would cloud it over, but wouldn’t let it run. Too much bentonite could cloud it and/or make it run, but as a measly two percent additive, I’d have to get it REALLY wrong, and I’d hope I would at least clue in at the measuring stage. Besides, I don’t think it would pinhole like that. Messing up the EPK is more or less the same story. That leaves the frit, which at 75% also happens to be the most important ingredient. There’s a frit 3124 and a frit 3134, and I strongly suspect I got them mixed up.
After calming down, I did notice one small sliver of a silver lining: it didn’t pinhole over areas of underglaze. It came out really pretty over blue and purple shades in particular.
If I can figure out what’s in the underglaze that’s making it smooth, I could have a lovely variegated glaze on my hands.
 This is actually my biggest long-term problem. The disastrous kiln load I can recover from within two or three weeks, but losing five years of glaze notes? That’s bad.
Much as I enjoy my movable shelves, they do have the disadvantage of occasionally being left in stupid places. Like balanced on the edge of the glaze kitchen counter. Which would have been fine, except I was slowly removing and glazing the mugs weighing down the non-dangling edge…
Was away in Bay Roberts visiting the mother-in-law for a few days. On morning of 28th, the day I was planning on going home, got phone call from cat-sitter, who had run into brother-in-law, asking if I was staying until Friday or what.
“Brother-in-law thinks you’re staying another few days.”
Turns out husband had given everyone different days, or had some series of brain farts, or something. HIS plan was to stay until the 30th. He is lucky I occasionally need tech support, otherwise he would not still be husband.
Anywho. After spending considerably more of my holidays than I had planned with in-laws, got back in town today. Had lots of food. Had one more visit from in-laws, who were bringing us food from the restaurant they’d dropped in to on the way to the airport. Wee baby kitten appears to have been replaced with a small cat of the same colour and temperament. A few ornaments have been broken (including my favourite dinornament, but I can make another), and a few dust bunnies under the couch have signed a petition demanding an end to all vacuuming, but home is otherwise in okay shape. Can’t find the feathery toy a friend got the cats for Christmas, but did find a great many feathers, so assume the cats at least kept themselves entertained…
Am now eating shortbread and fruit cake and pickles with fancy cheese, and trying to keepwee kitten small cat out of my cup of bailey’s and egg nog.
And looking forward to the two days of vacation I have left, and then the fresh new year afterwards.
 Which got extended to the 31st, because father-in-law heard there was uncertainty about date of return and invited us to stay longer, and I am moronically polite in times of crisis.
 If the zombie apocalypse breaks out anytime soon, we are set.
The sieve disappeared from the studio. I need it to mix up some more cephaloglaze. It has been gone for several weeks now.
On the off chance it wouldn’t reappear, I ordered a new one from Pottery Supply House. It got sent to the wrong address. Purolator now knows this, and knows where it should turn up, and if I’m very lucky I’ll have it on Monday.
Monday is the last day in the universe I can have this sieve and still have my things fired in time.
So… I’ve just been told the person who mixed up the last batch of clear glaze accidentally added ten times as much silica as she should have. Now, because I sell my work, I’m not allowed to use any of the communal glazes in the studio. Except for the clear. The currently messed-up clear. Which every Robot mug I glazed last week got dipped in. Argharghnoooo.
At least the kiln was rented out this weekend, so they weren’t fired.
I’ve got one tumbler going in the kiln today, just to see if by some desperate miracle it will all turn out okay, but I know it won’t. Glaze chemistry is too finicky for that kind of mistake to slide on by. I will almost definitely have to wash off all the mugs, let them dry out for a day or two, and re-glaze them. It would be less trouble to smash them and start over.
There are moments I really, really wish I didn’t work in a shared space.
Not one of the awkward ones, luckily; just one attached to the octoknob. I prised off the old one with a butter knife and made a new knob.
Handy tip: when clay is too dry for you to attach anything to it, and the piece you want to attach will be held in place by gravity, you can just bisque your pieces separately, apply glaze, and put one piece on top of the other during the glaze firing. The glaze will melt and resolidify around the attached piece, holding it in place.