Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cups, Cups, and more Cups!!!

I finally ran out of room in the kitchen for storage of cups I have purchased recently.  Over the years I have bought a lot of cups.  In addition to those in the picture below I probably have over 200 in boxes in the attic.  Why do I continue to buy them you ask?  Good question!  Today I had to sort through the ones in the kitchen cabinets as well as those purchased recently to determine which ones went in the cabinet and which ones went to the attic in a (yet another) box.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Photos From North Carolina

I haven't posted much lately. I've been busy doing other things. I did, however, fire a load of pots this past weekend. Didn't turn out how I wanted...but I have some theories about why. I will explain in another post coming soon. In October I traveled to Mars Hill, NC to work with Tom Turner. Tom is a world famous porcelain potter, artist, and great guy!  Being able to spend three days with him at his studio was such a great opportunity to learn. His pottery collection is unlike any I've seen. Here is a link to photos I took on the trip.  They include photos of: Tom's studio, Tom's pottery collection and works, Penland School of Crafts, working in the studio, art from the Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville, and more. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Preparation

It's been a busy week at work so I haven't been in the studio very much. Yesterday I did manage to throw a few mugs. I haven't been too happy with the shape of the mugs I've been throwing lately. I have a ton of cups from other potters that I love but I find myself struggling to develop 'my style'. I suppose the only way to get past it is to keep experimenting. I'm sure one will appear when I least expect it.

As a part of my preparations for testing new glazes I am analyzing everything I can that has an effect on glaze makeup, firing, etc. I have a computer controlled kiln but I plan on placing cones on each shelf (and in various positions on the shelves). My goal is to get as accurate of a picture as possible of what's happening in that kiln when firing. Yesterday I made cone supports for both the glaze and bisque firing.

As you can see, I have poked holes in the bases. Earlier this year during a raku firing the clay holding my cones burst. I thought all the moisture was out of them but apparently not. As a result two pieces were ruined. I got a recommendation from a potter to poke holes in the bases which really helps get the moisture out. We'll see how they do next week!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Test Glazes

I have selected fourteen cone 6 glazes that I want to test. That's a lot you ask? Yes it is! I have made a ton of test tiles and I will be mixing up 100 gram batches of each glaze over the next week or so. I should get a lot done this weekend since the Gators don't play. Here are the glazes along with their formulas:

Floating Blue
Nephaline Syenite 47.30
Gerstely Borate 27.00
Kaolin/EPK 5.40
Silica 20.30
Cobalt Oxide 1.00
Red Iron Oxide 2.00
Bentonite 1.00
Rutile 4.00

Randy's Red
Silica 30.00
EPK 5.00
Soda Feldspar (Kona F-4) 20.00
Talc 14.00
Gerstley Borate 31.00
Red Iron Oxide 15.00

Dolomite 23.30
Spodumene 23.30
Ferro Frit 3134 6.80
Kentucky Ball Clay (OM4) 23.30
Silica (Flint) 23.30
Red Iron Oxide 1.07
Yellow Ochre 3.24
Tin Oxide 4.85
Bentonite 1.94

Cream Rust
Custer Feldspar 26.60
Strontium Carbonate 3.30
Ferro Frit 3134 30.60
Wollastonite 10.60
Talc 2.30
EPK 8.40
Silica 18.20
Red Iron Oxide 6.00
Tin Oxide 13.00

Tennessee Ball Clay #5 20.00
F-4 Feldspar 50.00
Gerstley Borate 5.00
Whiting 15.00
Zinc Oxide 5.00
Flint (325 Mesh) 5.00
Black Nickel Oxide 2.00
Cobalt Carbonate 1.00

Whiting 9.50
Zinc Oxide 5.50
Ferro Frit 3124 44.50
Custer Feldspar 20.00
Bentonite 7.50
EPK/Kaolin 5.00
Silica 8.00
Tin Oxide 9.00
Red Iron Oxide 3.00

Speckled Glaze
Gerstley Borate 59.00
Talc 41.00
Rutile 18.00

White Glaze
Dolomite 23.00
Nephaline Syenite 72.00
Ball Clay 5.00
Tin Oxide 8.00
Red Iron Oxide 1.00
Bentonite 2.00

Brown Slip
Ferro Frit 3124 10.00
Nephline Syenite 10.00
EPK/Koalin 40.00
Kentucky Ball Clay (OM4) 30.00
Silica 10.00
Red Iron Oxide 8.00

Ron Roy Black
Talc 3.00
Whiting 6.00
Kona F-4 Feldspar 21.00
Ferro Frit 3134 26.00
EPK/Kaolin 17.00
Silica 27.00
Cobalt Carbonate 1.00
Red Iron Oxide 9.00

Waterfall Brown
Formula not printed - see book Mastering Cone 6 Glazes

Caribbean Sea Green
Formula not printed - see book Mastering Cone 6 Glazes

Variegated Blue
Formula not printed - see book Mastering Cone 6 Glazes

Raw Sienna
Formula not printed - see book Mastering Cone 6 Glazes

Am I crazy for testing so many glazes?  The answer is most certainly 'yes'.  More to come...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It's Time To Make The Doughnuts

Extreme times call for extreme measures. In this case, extreme climate and heat call for extreme measures. My studio has a wall AC unit but it is only used when I'm in there. During the day it can reach 110 degrees. The clay I use (Highwater) comes in a box with two twenty-five pound pugs of clay. Each is wrapped in plastic and it's end is folded over. The weight of the pug keeps the fold closed so the clay doesn't dry out. That's not always the case. I do find, more often than I would like, clay that has gotten somewhat dry. Clay that, at the time of purchase, was soft is now not nearly as soft. Therefore I decided to remove the pugs of clay from the boxes and wrap each in another plastic bag. The outer bag is taped closed.  This should keep the clay nice and soft.  

I got a great suggestion from a pottery website for mixing small 100-gram test batches of clay. They recommended using a milkshake maker to mix the glaze. I went out and bought one yesterday ($19.95)...

I should be posting the glazes I will be testing, along with their formulas, in the next couple of days.  

Sunday, September 7, 2008

More Test Tiles

My goal today was to make test tiles out of the new stoneware (Ellen Buff). I like throwing test tiles as a ring and cutting them out. I add a pattern to them to see how the glaze breaks as well as a hole so I can hang them from a nail to save space.

All done...

I also made some terra sigillata out of Highwater Raku clay. I have a batch that I made using Little Loafers (Highwater white cone 6 stoneware) that I use for stoneware. I wanted some for raku to really shine up the surface of the pots. The Red, Blue, Black raku glaze I use really has a nice shine on a smooth surface.  Below is a picture of the first step - dissolving clay in water...

Tomorrow I will add sodium silicate to it and wait another 24 hours before siphoning off the terra sigillata.  

I didn't spend too much time in the studio today but got some things done that needed to get done. I hope to have enough greenware to bisque fire again in a couple of weeks. After that firing I will start the glaze testing. I am about to decide on the glazes to test. I will post them as soon as I know which ones make the cut!  Talk with you later.

Studio Pics And New Tunes

One thing, in my opinion, that is critical for a studio is music. Until today I had been using an old stereo box from the early 1980s. It didn't work so well and I've been complaining about it since setting up the studio. I put aside my procrastinating ways yesterday and bought a new stereo. I can now connect my iTouch! I ran the speakers to each side of the studio and mounted them in the corner below the ceiling.  

The building I use as my studio was a storage building when I bought the House.  I had to run water and power to it.

Here is my wheel...

The wedging table I built last year...

My L&L electric kiln...

Glazes buckets...

Looking left from the wheel...

Looking right from the wheel...

I plan on spending the afternoon in the studio.  I need to throw some additional test tiles with the new stoneware (Ellen Buff) and start organizing my glaze formulas to make 100 gram batches of test glaze. 

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Raku Firing Results

It was quite windy today which almost caused me to postpone the firing.  The wind slowed a little in the late afternoon and I decided to go for it.  The firing gave me some mixed results but it was a good step towards obtaining consistent outcomes.  I fired a total of six pieces (using three glazes).  Here were the results:

Firing #1
Glaze:  Hawaiian Blue Glaze
Glaze Application:  Thin (1 dip)
Reduction:  Very little newspaper.  Light reduction.
Comments:  Nice mix of color.  Would like more blue and red.

Glaze:  Red, Blue, Black
Glaze Application:  Thin (1 dip)
Reduction:  Very little newspaper.  Light reduction.
Comments:  Apparently the bottom had a heavier reduction. This glaze will come out green if there's not enough reduction. I didn't use enough combustibles in the can.

Glaze:  White Crackle
Glaze Application:  Thin (1 dip)
Reduction:  Very little newspaper.  Light reduction.
Comment:  Good crazing (crackle) pattern in most areas. Some areas had little to no crazing. This glaze is best when applied thick. This thin application didn't do so well but I expected that.

Firing #2
Glaze:  Hawaiian Blue Glaze
Glaze Application:  Thick (2 dips)
Reduction:  Very little newspaper.  Light reduction.
Comments:  Nice blend of colors but they are less pronounced than the previous firing. I think a thinner coating of glaze works best but I need to play around more with the reduction.

Glaze:  Red, Blue, Black
Glaze Application:  Thick (2 dips)
Reduction:   Lots of newspaper.  Heavy reduction.
Comments:  The addition of a lot of combustible material really made a difference. This glaze is usually best with a thinner application but this one came out nicely. I put two pictures of it below because it's very difficult to see all of the colors in a photo. As I held it and moved it around tons of colors would appear and disappear as it moved and interacted with the light.

Here's another shot from a different angle

Glaze:  White Crackle
Glaze Application:  Thick (2 dips)
Reduction:  Sawdust.  Heavy reduction.
Comments:  Much better with a thicker coat! Great crazing pattern. Overall I was very happy with the results except for one thing:  there was a light brown coloring over some of the piece. A local raku potter and friend of mine, Colquitt Tanner, told me that you can remove such things with a small blow torch. It did work but it also affected the crazing. I will have to research this and try to find a better solution to eliminating this residue/coloring.

Overall I was pleased with the outcome of the firings.  I learned something and that's always a plus.  I have some other raku pieces that need to be bisque fired.  More raku tests coming up!

I threw for the first time today using the Ellen Buff clay I purchased yesterday.  Very nice.  I love opening a new bag of clay.  It was so soft and easy to work with.  I absolutely love smelling new clay and getting my hands in it.  Talk with you soon.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Time For More Clay

For the past few years I have tried several different brands of clay. About a year ago, while in St. Petersburg, I stopped by St. Pete Clay. Highwater Clays has a store there.  I bought about a 100 pounds to test out.  I loved it.  I have thrown with nothing since.  This morning I drove to Atlantic Pottery Supply in Jacksonville to get some more clay (they are a Highwater distributor).  I decided to try some Ellen Buff.  I've heard good things about it...we'll see.  Right now I'm using four different Highwater Clays - P5 Porcelain, Speckled Brownstone, Little Loafers, and Raku. It's rare that I throw with the porcelain and I don't keep much in the studio.  

Hopefully tomorrow the weather will allow me to fire up the raku kiln.  With Gustav and Hanna around the weather is a little unpredictable.  Let's hope New Orleans doesn't get hit again.  Such a great city.  They have been through enough!  See ya.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Waxing and Glazing

I'm planning on doing a test raku firing this Sunday.  I threw and bisque fired some test pieces to try out a few glazes.  I have three glazes that I'm trying.  The formulas are:

Red, Blue, Black
Gerstley Borate 70.0
Ball Clay 30.0
Tin Oxide 1.5
Copper Carbonate 5.0

White Cracke
Gerstley Borate 65.0
Tennessee Ball Clay 5.0
Nephaline Syenite 15.0
Tin Oxide 10.0
Flint 5.0

Hawaiian Copper Blue
Gerstley Borate 80.0
Bone Ash 20.0
Copper Carbonate 5.0
Cobalt Oxide 2.5
Tin Oxide 1.3

When it comes to waxing pots for glazing I prefer paraffin wax for the bottoms.  I find that paraffin wax is easier to work with.  It dries faster and goes on a little thicker.  I have also found that glaze wipes off easier than with resist.  To apply the paraffin wax I use a hot plate and pan (see below).  If I do any detail work I will use wax resist (I'm currently buying it from Axner).  

Here are all of the test pots with wax applied


Here are all the test pots glazed and drying...ready for the firing on Sunday

I applied the glaze a little thicker on three of the pots to see what I get.  I will also play around with the amount of reduction.  I will post photos of the firing and final results Sunday evening. See you then!

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Posting, First Blog

Hello.  This is my first blog and also the first posting!  This site is intended to act as a repository for information about my pottery.  I have decided to start taking a very methodical approach to developing my glazes.  I've been lazy up to this point.  Sometimes pieces turn out as I intended and other times not.  I have done a very poor job tracking the variables that affect the outcome of my work. This site will be used to document these processes in as much detail as possible. Hopefully this will lead to more consistent results.  It will also act to focus my energies and provide me with a ton of motivation (I hope!).  Enjoy reading and please comment if you have something you would like to say.

This past weekend I did a bisque firing.  I opened up the kiln today and removed (and washed) everything.

I went cup crazy this month...

I also made some test tiles for the upcoming glaze tests...

I pulled several handles for some cups I had to finish...

All-in-all it was a productive evening in the studio.  If I just didn't have my day job...