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...