Sunday, 27 October 2013

Next firing.

I've been thinking about the next firing.  The shelves of pots are filling up a bit.

There are a few things there that I wanted to make more of.  The oil bottles and the hanging vases, for a start.  After the last firing, I knew some clays worked better than others.  The Svend Bayer clay worked very well.  Here's a mug, with a wonky rim - I've made another five, although they aren't as wide as this one.

I made a couple of large-ish jugs.  I am still a bit unsure about whether these are good or not.  I put them on facebook and some people said they're fine.  But fine isn't good enough.  I need to make money or won't be making any more pots, and there's no point in firing things that are just 'fine'!  But they'll probably make the cut.

I've also been making these jars.  They don't look much in the photos and are better in real life.  They are thrown out cylinders, and some of them have a texture added before I pull them in to a shape.  I quite like them.  I think the texture should take the soda well.

I have also mixed a clay body based on a slip I used in the last firing, that took the soda in ways I quite liked.  I threw a few small bowls and cylinders as test pieces, to put through out the kiln.  It's nice to throw with - looks alarmingly dark grey but should bisque to white.  I has the magic silica to alumina ratio of 2.7.

And the firing itself will consist of one of these two large pots (which I have bisqued already), the two jugs, and whatever else will fit.  It'll be a bit loose, but I don't mind at the minute.  Whether this is a good plan, I don't know, but it's what I've got.  None of the above pots are anywhere near dry, so it'll be weeks before I fire, probably.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Soda Kiln - first firing.

It's fair to say I've had some issues with the new kiln.  I did one bisque firing, which went well, then started a soda firing, but had to abandon it as the temperature wouldn't rise past about 1000 degrees.

Well, on Tuesday, we started another one.  It struggled.  But eventually I got the temperature guage to read 1250 degrees, and I added 3kg of soda and soaked for an hour before calling it a day, tired after a 14 hour firing that had used an awful lot of gas.

Anyway, below are some results.  Reds and oranges were forthcoming from various slips - the high nephaline slip being the best probably.  It was hot at the top, cool in the middle and hot at the bottom.  I reckon much of the flame went into the kiln and then straight out the flue, with some travelling up to the pots at the top and then straight down the middle between the stack and into the flue, bypassing the middle shelves.  Put it this way, I have lots of new cat bowls!  But also lots of positives to work on, and a few things to discard (crank clay, even tempered with porcelain, isn't my thing - all those spots!)  Well, there will also have to be some kiln fixes made and some rethinking done.  But first, will need to make some more pots.

Tea pot with grolleg slip - not pretty but best lid I've ever made.

Bowl with shino liner - I like this one.  Toasty on the outside, soda on the rim, coolish shino inside.

A bowl I hadn't meant to put in, but which took the soda quite nicely.  I like the white dots from the molochite grog, and the liner glaze was the blue celedon, which went green, but hey ho.

A beaker, using the Svend Bayer clay.  This clay worked quite well.

Mugs - some better than others.  Spotty ones are crank - the really red one is the high nepheline slip and is lovely - favourite pot, probably.

 Another vase with the Svend Bayer clay.

Big pot with the grolleg slip.  The slip was peeling off though.  Shame.  I made this to make sour kraut.

This tea caddy is quite nice, but where the soda and the slip met, there was a green ash deposit which was starting to come off the pot.  I've seen this before.  Possibly too much soda on this pot.  It was on the bottom shelf, and I think bore the brunt of most of one burner as it entered the flue exit.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

New kiln.

Well, it's here.

With much help from my friend, Jon, who cut most of the bricks in to arch bricks,

we got the arch completed and pulled out the former.  It was a nice feeling to see this.

The iron work is holding nicely and hence the arch is staying up - I've put 4 inches of ceramic fibre as additional insulation.  It looks good.

We gave it a test spin, just because we could, really.

And here is the door in place.  I have numbered all these today, and now I have to mix a mortar to paint the brick work with, and to fit the bag wall inside, and I also need to find and clean kiln shelves.  Hopefully I'll do a bisque firing next week.  I think I have enough pots, although it is a lot bigger than I thought.

Finally, here's a little video of us removing the arch former.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Some woodfired big pots.

At the firing course, we fired Sabine's soda kiln and Nic's groundhog kiln.  I have already put up pictures of the pots from the soda kiln, but I couldn't get down for the opening of the groundhog last weekend.  Fortunately a friend took some photos and has allowed me to use them.  So here are three of the big pots that I made.

The one above was in the front, and I pulled it over in to the embers when we had finished the firing (the pot was still hot and probably sticky at that point.)  I like this one a lot, from the photo, but of course, I haven't seen it in real life.

This pot above fell over during the firing - and I tried to hook this one back up at the end of the firing but couldn't get a grip on it.  On the way down, two of the big pots lost their rim, and so there was nothing to get a grip on really.  So it is stuck to the kiln shelf.  This one was also at the front of the kiln pack, near the firebox.

And the one above was underneath the side-stoke at the back of the kiln.  The lump of wadding stuck to the side was used to keep another pot from sticking to this one if it got knocked.  I quite like it.  It might come off, but again, this one has a broken rim, so might become a garden pot at the Gatehouse.

Well, that's the only news I have of the pots - there are some smaller fry but I don't have pictures of those.  I will have to arrange to go and collect them at some point.

I have also listed some pots on etsy - some of the wood and soda pots from Sabine's kiln, and some others that were fired in Matt's kiln.  See the top left hand corner for a display that'll take  you to the site.

That's all for now - I am busy trying to get the new soda kiln finished, so more on that later in the week hopefully.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Some new pots!

Well, I have just spent a very enjoyable week at Nic and Sabine's, for their firing course.  Two kilns fired - Sabine's soda kiln and Nic's groundhog.  The soda kiln is a 30 hour firing or there abouts and is ready to open on the Saturday we go home, so here are my pots from there.

They're ok - I like them more when I look at them.  They are subtle though, and a bit uniform, but I have learnt a thing or two.  There are five cut-sided cups, with feet or simply bevelled bottoms.  Two are in tact but a bit pale, but nice, and the others were on their sides on shells, but have cracked.  Usable, though, so they'll go in the kitchen somewhere.  I think they were the Svend Bayer clay body and have produced some red on their sides, and taken the ash and reduction well.

This bottle is very brown but has lots of small purple-ish dots everywhere.

The above is a close up.  This is lesson one.  The clay I am using isn't so great.  It's clearly high in iron and the grog in is some sort of fire clay I guess.  So out with that one.

This is the same clay but with a slip over it.  I can't remember which slip though - titanium I think.  It's a wall vase for flowers.  Again, I like it, but it's plain.  But lesson two: slips are worth trying out on a pale plain body in the first firing of the new kiln.  Sabine uses a few different slips, each different, each producing lovely results.

And this is one of the big pots.  Again, with the high iron clay.

I also have pots in Nic's kiln, which will be opened next weekend, although I probably won't be there.  It'll be interesting to see how that clay copes in the long wood firing.  Two of the bigger pots were right at the front - I pulled one in to the firebox at the end, but the other fell back against a kiln shelf and couldn't be retrieved unfortunately.

Anyway, huge thanks to Nic and Sabine for putting up with us.  I've had a really great week.  I can really recommend the experience - book now for next year!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

And another one!

I can't help myself.  This is the last one.  Really it is.

This one is a bit wider at the base, and ends up between 19 and 20 inches tall.  It's ok.  The good thing about it is that it uses less clay than some of the others and is actually quite light weight.  This is an improvement.  In fact, it buckled a bit when I lifted it off the wheel, and so it may crack at some point, but it has left a nice wobble on the rim which I like.

This one won't be wood fired, but will hopefully go in the new soda kiln, when it gets finished.

Friday, 9 August 2013

A couple more.

This might get a bit boring after a while, but at the moment I am making more big pots.  Here's the first from yesterday:

And the second one, which isn't as good:

And the pair, drying a bit in the sun.  This is prior to giving them a slight trim around the base.

I have to stop making these big pots now as they won't be dry in time for the firing, but I will probably make some more.  There will be other firings and other kilns.  So far I have nine big pots - not all good and worth keeping, but all experience.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Another pot.

A quick one, with another big pot, shown from two angles:

This is the same pot - funny how a pot can look quite different depending on what angle you see it.  This one isn't huge, but I guess it's more likely to sit on the floor.  I might still trim away a bit of heavy clay around the foot - I think - not sure yet.

Anyway, I am quite enjoying making these bigger pots, but I have seven now, and tomorrow will probably be the last day making them.  A few days of smaller stuff, and then think about the firing.  Some of these will go down to Nics for the firing course, and some will stay here for the soda kiln, when I get around to finishing it and firing it.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Still here!

I am going to try and resurrect this blog and attempt at more frequent postings.  Why?  Firstly, I think it is a useful marketing tool.  I don't really know who reads it, but if anyone reads it, that's good.

Secondly, it's a record of what I've done.  Since the last post, I have done a whole load of nothing!  Well, that isn't strictly true but the last month or so has seen an upsurge in work, once I managed to work out what I wanted to do, what I physically or financially couldn't do, and what I was going to do instead.  It has taken pretty much since December 2012 to work that out.  It's a compromise as you'll see, but it's a step forward.

Thirdly, I find other peoples blogs interesting.  A new one on the block is a blog about Svend Bayer, which is put together by Brigitte Colleaux, one of Svend's regular firing crew.  I really like it - it's great seeing Svend's work life, the flow of his process that produces what a lot of people might consider really expensive pots, but if you see the work involved, I hope you'd understand why and what you're paying for, and also the philosophy of why they are what they are.  Anyway, I am not saying this blog will be anything like that interesting, or consistent, but if I don't do it, I can't suggest to other people that it's a good idea...

Since the last post, I have decided not to wood fire.  I can't commit the money to buying expensive wood for a firing that may or may not work.  So at present, I have embarked on a small kiln to be fired by gas, and I'll add soda during the firing to create hopefully interesting pots.  As you can see, the kiln isn't finished yet.  The arch former needs to be remade, and I need to get steel in place to hold it up before creating the arch itself.  I have purchased some new bricks though.

I also have a load of hard bricks left so I might build a small wood kiln for experimenting with and to keep my hand in.

And so I have been making pots too.  Beakers and mugs and bowls and so forth.  These were for the new kiln, but I am also doing Nic's firing course in August, again, so I am making for that.  Specifically, I have been working on some bigger pots.

I like making these, but I haven't quite got into the rhythm for it yet.   I find the process needs too much thinking about and too much hard work, and so I think about it whilst I'm making.

I think the pots suffer a bit because of this.  Also it's a means to an end, so the coils are too big as I want to get to the end of making the pot quickly.  I need to slow down.

The one above is the one I like the most at the moment.

Cider had to come in to it somewhere.

The above two are a bit too top heavy.  I squeezed one of them when bringing it indoors to dry, and the rim has gone nice and wavy, which is nice.

I am also trying to sell some pots.  There are a few listed on, and some on ebay at the moment.  I have a few more to list, if anyone's interested.  My aim is to try and continue to do the pots as a job for as long as I can.  I am not sure how long it will last though.

Well, that's all for now.  Hopefully I will update as and when things happen.