Red Hunt

A few days ago I was talking to another potter about RED glaze (which is notoriously hard to get) and that I had mixed up a glaze recipe described as tin red which turned brown during firing. She'd read that the ingredient chromium oxide which is to produce the red fails to perform if the temperature is too high. 

So I did another firing reducing the top temperature from 1260 degrees to 1240. The results were interesting:

Left hand cup: red glaze under cream. Right hand cup: red glaze over cream.

Towards the bottom of the kiln, the insides of two teacups turned kind of raspberry whilst the outsides stayed mainly cream (the other glaze colour I'd applied) even though the tin red glaze had been equally applied to half the insides and outsides of the cups.

Towards the top of the kiln, the tin red glaze applied to the outside of the pictured bowl continued to fire to a brown finish.

Cream glaze inside bowl and on outside rim. Tin red glaze on lower outside.

So what went on? Did the red inside the teacups in the lower part of the kiln come about because the temperature was lower? That seems to make sense.

But why is there only a hint of red on the outsides of the teacups? Did greater airflow around them interfere with the performance of the chromium oxide? 

Did the bowl that turned brown in the top half of the kiln do so because it was hotter up there? Were the firing conditions towards the top of the kiln more like those during the previous firing which only yielded brown results? I wished I knew the answers!

Whilst I continue to scratch my head, I am rather chuffed with the colour I've managed to get. Fingers crossed, I can do it again!!!


Sculpture Courage

I first got my hands onto clay during art classes at school. One of the projects was to make a mask. I tried to model it on my dad. It ended up looking like the face of an Indian - no family likeness whatsoever. I've often been on the verge of flinging it in the bin. One day I probably will but I thought I'd show it here to illustrate a potter's sad first effort.

I much prefer the sculpture my son made at primary school. 'What is it?' I asked as he brought it home. 'A monster', was his reply. Stupid question! It also stands in my bookcase now - in a much more prominent position. Its future is secure unlike that of him above.

Today, I primarily throw on the wheel. I shy away from making sculptural pieces. Maybe because of that dismal early effort. I did have a go at a couple of raku birds.

Not my last attempt, I'm sure. I just need to pluck up new courage ;)))


glaze mystery

Sorry, it's been a while since my last post. I've been having a whole series of family commitments - which are far from resolved :(( - and they've been keeping me well and truly out of the studio.

Last week, though, I made the time to mix some more glazes - a painstaking task that takes hours! I wanted to test a new cream stoneware recipe along with a blue/green one and a third described as 'tin red'.

I find glazing seriously stressful. There's so much to go wrong. First, you need a decent mix, applying it to the bisqued pots can also prove quite tricky. Before Christmas I mixed up a new recipe that developed huge blisters during firing which popped in the kiln leaving behind raser-sharp edges. Another glaze produced small lumps that sprouted like acne ruining some jugs I'd made. 

Then there are those fun nightmares the night I do the glaze firing with visions of the stuff running like water off the pots I made destroying the inside of that rather pricey kiln of mine.

But before I totally give way to self-pity .... more often than not it's good news when the new pots emerge from the sweatbox. Take a look at this week's results ...

First the cream glaze, an ingredient in the mix (rutile) is responsible for those flecks which I rather like. A particularly thick layer around the rim results in fewer flecks. If someone knows why, I'd love to find out!

The tin red applied externally to the bottom part of the goblets and the outside of the bowls shown below didn't turn out as expected AT ALL. I do like the result. Obviously, my hunt for a red glaze continues.

The weirdest results I got when combining cream (inside and around the rim) with blue green on the bottom parts of both goblets and bowls with tin red !!! on the upper outside sections. I also added cobalt oxide to part of the bowls' rims. I haven't got the foggiest why the tin red glaze turned to light blue over the blue/green whereas it produced a rusty kind of almost red and even cerise when applied over cream in the pictures above. 

All in all, I am pleased though. All glazes did behave themselves during firing. No blisters, no craters, no creeping away from the surface. Another nightmare averted. 

Time to fill a bowl with crumble and cream, put the goblet to the intended use (I choose a cream-coloured one as it looks rather nice against that blood red Sicilian wine), kick off my shoes and do what I know I do well ... celebrate :))))


From Suffolk with Love

I spent a few lovely days in East Anglia earlier this month. Never realised how expansive that part of the UK is and how loooong it takes to get around - not exactly criss-crossed with motorways! The pace of life struck me as much more relaxed than in the South East where I live.

I had my camera at the ready for the inevitable pictorial record of the kind of sights I enjoy.

Walberswick nr Southwold, Suffolk
who's camera-shy?
can you spot them?
for Zanna
3 lions
weirdo at a momentum wheel in the museum of Saffron Waldon - I don't look a bit like him, honestly!

I made two little birdies on Mother's Day when I decided to be idle from dawn to dusk. I've since Raku-fired them coated in a shimmering glaze. Heads, tails and wings were covered in wax to prevent the glaze from adhering to the clay. In the kiln the wax burnt off. The fire produced during the Raku process turned the unglazed parts black. It's the first time ever I tried my hand at making sculptures. It may not be the last ... ;))


Mad Dog Raku

The song Mad Dogs and Englishmen often springs to my mind. 

It did again today when I came across a group of cyclists needing the fix of an 80 mile ride to enjoy this freezing Sunday in March. 

Yesterday I woke to a white blanket of snow. That didn't stop me from doing what I'd set out to do either: Spent the day in the open - temperature hovering around zero - with a group of similarly driven mad folk raku-firing our ceramic creations.

Our arctic pursuit was mercifully followed by an evening thawing out in front of my log-burner.... best invention ever ;)

Raku-firing is a hit and miss process. It was my unlucky day as quite a few of my pieces didn't survive the thermal shock to which they were subjected. But I had a few good results too. Here are three of them:

Hope you like them too :)


Easter Decorations: Bunnies, Chicks, Eggs & Hearts

Fresh out of the kiln are these ceramic Easter decorations. All individually made from earthenware clay and painted with selected brush-on glazes. 

Some of these chaps will soon be swinging from branches brought in from the garden. Others are on their way to my Folksy shop to bring Easter cheer to others :)


biscuits and more biscuits

It is rather cruel that the first firing cycle is described as bisque or biscuit firing.
When the pieces emerge from the kiln, they really do look like biscuits. 

A mean old trick especially to sweet toothed folk like me.
Right now, I've got no shortage of these inedible teasers around. All waiting to be glazed
followed by their second and final 1200+ degrees C sauna.

One giant biscuit - I mean teapot complete with spare lid
a bamboo handle will be added in time
heart-shaped bowls intended for mother's day waiting to be biscuit fired
I've been so busy that I won't be getting them finished in time
but I think they'll be lovely for all sorts of occasions 
ceramic Easter eggs in the making - I used lace for the patterns
drying bunnies awaiting their turn in the sweat-box
some cute little buttons - easily mistaken for biscuits
Test tiles - all with different combinations of glazes and oxides
they are going to be the most  exciting part of the next glaze firing

Will be showing some of these in their finished state soon - promise :)))


pots for purple lovers

I know there's not the tiniest clue anywhere in this blog ;)

But I just love the colour purple. 
Half the flowers in my garden are purple, blue, lavender and mauve. 
My office is painted in 3 shades of it. 
As is my bedroom. 
My car would be purple if only the colour had been on offer.

So you can imagine how delighted I was when this bowl came out of the kiln.

Thankfully, I have the glaze recipe. So I'll be making some more ;)


Chocoholics - this one's for you!

I love a good laugh. Came across this sign just now. Made me chuckle. I KNOW it doesn't have anything to do pottery... unless you think that munching chocolate forms the basis on which creativity may flourish.

Better stick with the chuckle, feed the chocolate to the dogs - they understand too - and do something constructive ....


because I love her

I am a softie: I make something nice ... get all excited ... show it around ... see that it appeals to someone I'm fond of ... have the idea that s/he might like to have it and once I've reached that point, I can do nothing but give it away.

The most recent example: a cup I had thrown some time ago, then left standing around for ages until I got out my Christmas present brushes (they are great, Zan! x) to paint on the glaze. Into the kiln it went. Out it came. I was chuffed.

Bisque fired cup, glaze applied #meckimadeit
Along came my lovely Fabia. Her eyes lit up. She likes it, I thought, wouldn't it be nice if it was her's.... no need to spell out the rest!

Thanks to the photos taken with the camera she also got from you know whom(!), I can at least show it here and have a visual incentive to do it all over again ;)

Should I toughen up? It may be better for business...
I don't think so!!  ;)))


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