Break

12:24 am on xmas eve, and I’m finally done running around. Phew.

The big bowl from Dec. 6th exploded in the kiln.

There was wreckage in there from at least three other pieces… I don’t know if one exploded and took out the rest, or if they all coincidentally had air bubbles, or if they were just fired still a little wet. (I didn’t load the bowl myself; it was in a general studio bisque, so i can’t say how dry it was.) Argle. I made two more to replace it, so if one succumbs to something else at least I’ll have a back-up, but still. I now have horrible nightmare visions of every sample I’ve made for ACTS exploding or cracking or warping or being dropped or getting knocked or breaking in shipping or just plain coming out ugly.

But what is done is done, and what is not is not, and there is no more time to make anything else before my deadline. So I will have to let it go. And enjoy the holidays parked on my arse with some good books, the Doctor Who Christmas Special, and some knitting.

Update

I aten’t ded.

I aten’t even that cold, now that the shiny new not-cracked windows are in place and there is insulation in at least one wall of the studio. Yay!

Today I put together some teapots and threw some bowls:

I’ve decided that lids with knobs are too boring for the spider pots, and have started making them little witchy hats instead.

I also got to play around with hazardous materials:

But I will tell you about it in another post, because I am tired, it is late, and I have to get up early tomorrow.

Glaze Update

Here’s the big bug bowl:

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Loooots of blue in the bottom. A bit too much, actually; the spider who made the web is so covered up you can’t see it. And while a little blue is nice, quite that much can be really distracting combined with the put-in-on-purpose design. But hey, the customer liked it, so that’s okay.

I also had a large cephalopot bowl bowl in that firing, but it didn’t turn out nearly so well:

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Something terrible has been happening at the bottom of my glaze bucket. From the look of it, and the state of this bowl, I’m guessing some of the refractory ingredients are separating out of the solution and settling at the bottom. You can’t really make it out in the picture, but the inside of that bowl is so rough I don’t even think it’s foodsafe. And since there aren’t as many refractories on the outside section (where the glaze was poured over, instead of poured in and swished around), the melt there is drippier, and the colour is a lot darker.

I’m going to re-sieve the glaze, and add some epsom salts, and hopefully that’ll fix things. If it doesn’t, something else is happening in there, and I’ll have to figure out what.

In the meantime, at least now my Christmas cactus has a big new pot…

Picspam!

So many things have been happening! Here’s some of the highlights:

My glaze tests came out! Layering the matte glaze over clear does indeed change the texture… it’s now all smooth and glossy, with a little bit of speckling. Cool. Glaze test 2 (the second glaze with chrome and tin for colourants) didn’t come out pink, or even purple, or even grey. It’s a nice variegated white, but there are cheaper ways of getting white. I think that bit of experimenting is a dead end. The third glaze didn’t substantially change colour, except in the area layered over clear (where it looks really faded and weak, unfortunately), but so far there’s no cracking, so I’m leaning towards using this one on its own, with maybe a few different colourants, on the Small Comforts.
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The next bit of news is that the latest batch of Bug stuff was bisqued, and most of it got glazed. Here’s what the black stoneware looks like when bisqued (when it goes through its first, low-temp firing):
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Aaaand here’s what it looks like after the glaze firing:
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This particular kiln load was overfired, which means the blue came out darker than usual, and some of the pieces even have brown highlights here and there. My theory is that the brown comes from the high iron content in the black clay. Normally, it doesn’t affect this glaze (except to give it a dark background), but when you fire clays higher than they’re formulated to go, they melt, offgass, and otherwise get more reactive than they should. I think the iron leached out of the clay and into the glaze, creating the brown patches.

Speaking of overfired clay, here’s what happens when you overfire waaaay too much:
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That puddle used to be a couple of test tiles. Someone accidentally used low-fire clay instead if high-fire clay to make them, and they completely melted away, off the shelf, and into a puddle at the bottom of the kiln, taking the glaze with them. There’s no way to remove the puddle without an angle grinder and a lot of elbow grease, and *then* the bottom of the kiln needs to be cleaned up. If we fire the kiln again without cleaning up the mess, the puddle will re-melt and, very probably, eat a hole through the insulation brick and drip out the bottom of the kiln. Ack.

Progress

All Folk Fest mugs are green and/or being bisqued tomorrow. So are the two cephalopot serving bowls, and the Super Secret Project. Still to do:

cream and sugar sets (6 cephalopot, 4 bug)
half dozen teacups (bug)
dozen teacups (cephalopot)?
half dozen cephalopot cereal bowls
dozen cephalopot pate dishes
cephalopot serving platter?

Also, assemble latest bug teapot, and put handles on the half dozen teacups that are already thrown.

Teapots

Last August, for the shop’s annual Tea Party, I made a bunch of Bug teapots. It was only my second attempt at them, after I made my brother a dragon-shaped one for his birthday two years before, and I didn’t know how they’d turn out.[1]

They didn’t sell at the Tea Party, so I was a bit discouraged, and vowed not to even attempt another[2] until they’d all sold.

One with bees on the side was bought at the Craft Fair in November, for someone’s Aunt Bee. One spider teapot got traded with Michelle Lambert in exchange for a labradorite pendant. Three more (bee, dragonfly, and, just now, my favourite spider, which is in the left-hand side of the header picture) have sold in the last six weeks–two as gifts, and one to some bikers who saw it in the Visitor’s Information Centre in Whitbourne, paid for it at the shop, and picked it up on their way back to the ferry–and now there is only one left.

I don’t think I’m going to wait for it to sell. I’m just going to go ahead and make two or three more this week, after I get my monster pile of mugs bugged and handled. I want to refine the shape a little, and maybe make them a little bigger. Or keep making single-serving ones, and also do one or two larger. We’ll see.

[1] If you look in the header, you can see three of them, along with some early cream and sugar sets. The creams dribbled horribly, so *that* bit of work was never sold, but the teapots came out beautifully.

[2] There’s a shocking amount of fiddliness involved in making a good spout. And don’t get me started on getting the lid to fit…

Lurgy

I’ve spent the past few days curled up in bed under a pile of blankets and cats. There’s been a horrible death flu going around at work[1], and I finally started showing symptoms Wednesday, so I haven’t been anywhere near the studio in ages.

Before I got struck down, though, I got some enthusiastic ooh and aaahs over the cupped bowls, so I’m feeling happier about them. I also managed to trim the big bowl (I’m kinda surprised, but very relieved, that it fit on the giffin grip) and a few little dessert ones. I’ll get to inlaying the bugs on Tuesday, I hope.

[1] There are four people in the entire building still standing. No, really. And one of them only escaped by being in Boston when the contagion first started spreading; I’m expecting her to go down too pretty soon.