Tuesday, April 21, 2009

big 'ol bowls!

I got a special order for a coupla big big bowls...I have to say that I have not thrown that much clay in awhile. I am afraid my arms will be sore tomorrow ;) I would say each bowl was about 5lbs of clay. A lot to muscle around on the wheel when your hands are small like mine. At least, that is what I tell myself so I won't bed bad about being wimpy...
I did 4, but the 3rd one got all wobbly and died on the wheel...It is now sitting in a bag to be recycled as soon as it dries out a bit...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

not really ceramics related, but...

I am starting a new blog for my crocheted critters, Ochibos. It will cover their travels around the city an the world as they influence those around them with cuteness and critical thinking. You can find them and patterns at the Etsy store.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Unloaded the Glaze firing...

So the glaze firing came out great. Only lost one piece due to dripping glazes to the kiln shelf. I am trying out a new glaze combination and sometimes it makes a mess. One casualty isn't so bad tho. Here is the new glaze:

Quite nice, I think :) The blue Vampire mug will be in the shop by tomorrow.
Here are some of the pieces that came out just fine:

This must have just been fulla Demons. Look at all those teeth!
I will be posting some pics of me throwing next week while I get another kiln load ready to go.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ok. Now comes the glazing. I make all my own glazes from scratch. I have several buckets of different glazes. FIrstly, I have mix them up since things settle to the bottom while the buckets sit there on a shelf twixt glazings. I use a metal paint mixer on my drill.

Then I dip the waxed bisqueware into the glaze....

Now, you can see the glaze in a total mess on the bottom of the piece.

So, I wipe all that off after the glaze has dried a bit.

So, I glaze everything, taking great care to wipe off the excess glaze so it does not stick to my shelf and destroy the piece and my shelf.
Then I let the glaze dry. You can see where the wax was applied to the teeth and horns, nice and clean!

Then I load the kiln. I have a total of 9 shelves, but 2 live on the bottom, so they don't really count. I can usually sneak in a narrow shelf that I can load with tags and lids.

Voila! Three hours after I started glazing, the kiln is loaded and ready to fire...

Not everyone made into the firing. Because I can stack things inthe bisque firing, but not the galze fire, there is almost always someone left out. Good thing they are patient.

It will take about 8 hours to reach cone 10 then another 20 hours or so to cool down to where I can unload everything.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

after the bisque...

Unloaded the bisque firing. Lost 2 pieces because I was impatient and loaded them too wet... Sigh.... otherwise, all went well and I ended up with a whole buncha stuff to glaze. First, before glazing I wax 'em! The wax keeps any glaze from soaking into the bisqueware, very handy if you do not want your pieces melting into your shelves. Also handy if you have part of your mug that you do not want glazed, like the horns or teeth of a demon or the eyes of a particular critter. So the bottoms, horns and teeth got waxed tonight. Tomorrow I will glaze everything and load up the kiln for the glaze firing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Latest bisque firing

So ceramics need to be fired twice (Yeah, I know, some people do it all in one firing, but that is too unpredictable for my tastes). The first of the firings is called a bisque firing, this takes out a good amount of the moisture, but is not hot enough to vitrify the clay. WHat you see loaded in the kiln is what is called greenware. That just means that the clay has been thrown and allowed to air dry. It is freakishly fragile at this stage and still makes me nervous to handle it. I fire it to cone 04 for my bisque firing, around 1925 degrees F. This is considered low firing. When someone says they use a low fire clay, it is in the range of cone 06- cone 1. It is the most common firing range for ceramics, but also leaves the piece relatively weak.
In a bisgue firing, since the clay is not vitrified or glazed, it is fine to have pieces touch each other or even be placed inside one another. Therefore I get a lot more in the bisque firing than I do in a glaze firing. I pack those bisques tight!
In my little Skutt Electric Kiln, this firing, done on a slow speed will take about 13 hours and about 65kwH of power. I then have to wait for it to cool down, which takes about another 18 hours or so depending on the outside temperature. SO at some point tomorrow, I will take pieces out to wax and glaze them. more on that tomorrow!