It has been three long months since I’ve posted. An autumn of birthday celebrations and a chilly spell brought us to a near halt on the production side and I’ve neglected to post all the new little things we’re working on.
New to us is a fabulous furnace in the studio so the chilly spells will no longer stop us! Instead of hauling supplies into the basement and taking a hiatus for the winter, I can continue on through the winter months.
We did a glaze firing on Sunday to do some glaze testing and it was… not quite a disaster, but definitely less than happy. My new brown and red glazes were fabulous however I underfired, not even reaching cone 5 so my blues and greens will need a refire. On top of that, the jewelry setup fell over so many of the pendants kissed each other and there’s a small scrape on the side of a koi mug. It was disappointing but with the jewelry setup nestled among two mugs and three bowls, it could have been so much worse!
This beauty is the first thing I saw when I opened the kiln, and it softened any disappointment as I emptied the rest of the kiln:
And with that, I can’t wait to get home to photograph the koi pieces that made it through to post and share.
Viva la furnace!
I keep a sketchbook and a black marker pen in my purse. When I see something inspiring or I’m working out an idea (or I’m on hold), I doodle.
Sometimes these ideas make their way into reality:
Every page is not a gem, that’s for sure. For every bit of notation that carries its way to reality there are more ugly scribbles that seemed like brilliance but, in the light of day, are more meh than aha. Even at its weakest, the sketchbook is an ongoing record of ideas, potential and inspiration and I keep it tucked with me.
We were staying in a remote cabin on our vacation and I spent every morning admiring the hodge podge collection of wheel thrown mugs that is only fitting in the kitchen of a summer hideaway. I would throw open the cupboard, choose one and pour myself a fresh cup of coffee. Although many of them were not my particular style, they reminded me that their difference is what held the charm. I sketched up some mug shapes and mug carving ideas on our long drive home, excited with each new shape that I put on the page, inspired by the oddball mugs. I have thrown the same mug shape over and over and over and whether I find success or not, it’s time to try something different. This is my goal next time I’m on the wheel to try to throw a “new” mug.
We’ve been on the road for two weeks, camping from Calgary to Abbotsford, BC then taking the adventurous route up to a cabin on Desolation Sound. My regret is that the ferry timings made it nearly impossible to catch up with Sunshine Coast potters and every “Artisan Potter” sign we sped by nearly broke my heart. I did manage to get in a quick visit to <a href=”Artique in Powell River at the start of our long travel day back to Vancouver and nabbed a fab mug by local potter Darlene Calwell. The two tone celadon/turquoise glaze caught my eye and I love to sip my coffee from inspiring art pieces so this piece is a lovely addition to my kitchen.
Today, we continue the journey home after a few wine-soaked days in Kelowna. On our way east, we’ll visit the talented Doug Ganshorn of Cedar Creek Pottery in Salmon Arm, BC. His functional pieces are graceful and meticulous, and we’re looking forward to seeing his latest creations at his studio on Christison Road.
Until we get there, it’s the sights along highway 97 to keep me company:
Not bad at all!
Our first Clay Day was a success! 8 kids and 4 adults unleashed their creativity, making coil pots then moving to votive holders, plates and rattles. With bisquing scheduled for July then another Clay Day for glazing shortly after, it’s almost too much to have to wait nearly a month to see these beauties finished.
I’m really really hoping they like Midnight Rain glaze.
This way be madness.
Tonight I spent some time channeling my inner pointillist, using an untested underglaze mix to dot dot dot in hopes of eventually achieving a pale grey pattern on the white clay body. I realize it’s madness to do all this work for what may be a complete flop… but I have to try. If it works, it will be lovely!
I’ve also spent some time in the past few days reading Gary Jackson’s Fire When Ready website. His stamping technique is so inspiring. While the kids finished their coil pots in our first “Neighbourhood Clay Sunday”, I worked on making stamps. I normally prefer to carve patterns out of plaster ala Kristen Keiffer but I don’t have any plaster nearby and my supply of stamps is down to 4! So, I created about 10 double ended stamps and the kids jumped in to help too. I’m eager to try out some stamping, something I’ve never done other than on my mug handles at the bottom join.
My back is sore, eyes burning and hands cramping after all that dotting. I am so hopeful for the results – but that will have to wait until our next bisque fire in July.
I was able to open the kiln completely at 7am the day after glaze firing. The pots were still very warm but I could pick them up with my bare hand without problem. The firing was textbook! All three cones gradually bending. Jay did an amazing job watching this baby. He did have help from the kiln sitter that shut off the kiln as he was on the phone with me, contemplating turning her off. This kiln doesn’t cease to amaze me.
I love the Mayco Cinnabar red. It’s absolutely PERFECT:
beautiful cone 6 red
The Midnight Rain? Not so much. I’m going to try to strain out the brown crystals because they do not appeal to me at all:
I am now on the hunt for paler blues and greens since, as I look around my home and see my favourite past work, the ones I’ve kept and continue to love tend to fit into this palette. ColourLovers is a continuing inspiration as I try to be true to my aesthetic.
I’ll buy the next bit of glaze until I’m comfortable enough, then possibly delve into Ravenscrag mixing of my own glazes. I’ll give that a year – what do you think?
Until next time…
The kiln finished firing to cone 6 at 3:10pm today and it’s 9:15pm – still too hot! I did stick my camera in to take a quick photo. It’s WARM in there for sure – outside temp is 14degrees C and the garage is still at 30! Toasty.
Here’s what the camera caught:
I can’t wait to see the other three pots underneath! Patience is a virtue that I just don’t have…
We are grinning from ear to ear – our first bisque firing in the kiln was an overwhelming success! We started at 7:30pm and by 1:20am, had definitely exceeded our goal of cone 05.
With 220 power run out to the garage, a fried kiln switch swapped out, bricks assessed and all kiln elements tested and reseated, we loaded her up with just two pieces of greenware. Ceramics Canada graciously gave us a couple of 05 witness cones and with the cone in place and Paragon’s firing schedule in hand, we fired her up. Every hour I went in and turned her up a bit more until we were full on high-high at 11:30pm. We had a bit of a snafu with the kiln sitter but after we realized we’d put the wrong cone in (017 instead of 06. Ooops), we turned her back on and continued monitoring. The witness cone was impossible to locate by 1:00am so after we each took a turn trying to locate it visually through the molten orange peephole, we turned her off.
Cone 05 Pyrometric Cone
The next morning, I opened the kiln and the witness cone was definitely toast, overfired. Good to know for next time – and now I know, don’t fire by time alone.
Tonight we glaze the last pot then Jay will do the glaze firing during the day tomorrow. I have an underglazed test piece that went through the bisque that I’ve coated in clear glaze, plus a few pots in Mayco’s Midnight Rain and one pot in Mayco’s Cinnabar:
The studio atmosphere is EXCITEMENT. Opening the kiln on Friday will be like Christmas morning. I’ll upload photos of our results.
Until next time!