Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday traveling dragons: kitten in the box!

            While I was photographing the small dragons from this firing, our new kitten climbed in the lightbox with the dragons. She wanted to know what I was playing with in there!

            She decided that they weren't edible, didn't make jingly or crinkly noises, and that if I was going to insist on playing with them, she'd just have to sit in the lightbox too so at least I'd pet her.

            The kitten's name is Warbear, and we just brought her home from the shelter three and a half weeks ago. She's about 3.5 months old. So far, she thinks porcelain is fun to stick her paws in, and is very polite about stepping around pots on tables.

Monday, January 28, 2013


            Here are a couple of vases that came out of the kiln last week. This one has a jellyfish:

            And waves on the back:

            This jellyfish vase is porcelain. I brushed green slip over it, then carved the waves and jellyfish through the slip so that they appear white. Then when the vase was bisque fired, I brushed blue stain on the waves and partially sponged it off. This vase will be available in my Etsy shop this week!
            And this vase has cuttlefish! (This one has already been claimed; it will not be in my Etsy shop.)

            These vases are both glazed with a new glaze I mixed for this firing. It's the zinc-free clear with 4% Delphinium blue Mason stain added. I chose this blue because it is bright, and tilted just a bit toward purple. At this percentage, it makes a typical saturated blue. I'm planning to try it at 2% or less to see if I can make it more pale. I'm also considering mixing this blue stain with a green stain to see what happens. I like blue, but I tend to favor less intense shades (I'm a fan of celadon blues/greens, for instance).

Friday, January 25, 2013

Serving dishes

            Here are some serving dishes that came out of the kiln on Wednesday! I am very pleased with all of these. The first two will be available in my Etsy shop in a few days. The last one is already spoken for.
            First up is a shallow serving dish in red and white with dragons and swirls:

            I was a little worried that the red glaze would leave droplets on the white glaze, since in the last firing it kinda spattered all over the place. Not this time, though - perhaps the changes I made to the firing schedule magically solved the problem? In any case, I'm pleased that the white areas remained white. I noticed that where I accidentally brushed a bit of the red over the white on the rim, it made a lovely pale blush color. I may use this on other pots in the future intentionally for subtle effects.

            And this bowl has three dragons on it. I took close ups of all three. I like them very much! I think I may work with this red and white theme some more in the future. It seems like a good color combination for dragons and phoenixes. Maybe other magical critters, too... any ideas?

            This next piece is red stoneware with clear glaze just on the food surface.

            The clear glaze looks cloudy here because it has teensy bubbles in it. The bubbles interfere with the light passing through to the clay surface under the glaze. Over red stoneware, this makes the glaze look white. Over porcelain (like the previous serving dish), it adds some depth to the surface, but since the porcelain is white and the glaze is clear/white, it doesn't appear to change the color.

            This red stoneware is the Hawaiian Red I mentioned in this post. It's very much a rusty orange, and I do like the color. The things I don't like about this clay are that it feels like sandpaper to throw, and it comes from far away - this box of clay took a month on special order to arrive at my semi-local pottery supply. Although it is half the price of the porcelain I use!
            I think when I am close to the end of this box of red clay I will try a different, more local clay. I'd rather use clay that is nearer me anyway so that it doesn't have to use up gas all the way across the country to get here.
            And here is the last serving bowl for this post. As mentioned above, this bowl has been claimed already. The two above, however, will be available on Etsy. So if you like them, keep an eye out on my Etsy shop!

            This bowls is glazed only on the inside. The texture on the outside was created when I trimmed the bowl; the grog in the clay gets dragged across the surface by the trimming tool as I work. I like the effect in this case, but I'd rather have clay with less grog - it's abrasive to my hands, and wears down my tools quickly.

             I'm very happy with the glazing on this bowl! The dark brown glaze is actually the Mottled Spice from this post. What happened? It's much thinner here, and where this glaze is thin, it's this dark brown that reminds me of coffee beans or dark chocolate. Also when it's thin it doesn't run off the pot and get cemented to my kiln shelves!
            I've now tested the two extremes of this glaze - super thin and super thick - and there's a good bit of wiggle room in between. As I continue to use it I'll get a better idea of how it will look at different thickness of application. I think this glaze is very nice. I like it when it's this coffee bean color, and I like the appearance of texture it creates when it's thicker. It allows me to have one glaze that can be used many different ways. This is good, because I don't really want to keep too many glazes in my studio, but I do want to have a lot of variety of surface on my pots and sculptures. 
            Here is a close up of the inside. You can tell the glaze is thin because you can see the texture of the pot through it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tiny bowls with dragons!

            These are most of the four-inch bowls that were ordered through the Kickstarter project. I made extras, which will appear on Etsy at a slightly higher price than they were for Kickstarter.
            First are the Western dragons:

            Then the Eastern-ish dragons:

            I also made a couple of tiny mushroom bowls while I was at it:

            All of the bowls in this post were made the same way. I threw them on the wheel, then trimmed them, then brushed black slip only on the insides. Then I carved the images through the black slip, let them all dry, and bisque fired them. I glazed them with my zinc-free clear glaze, and fired them to cone 6 in oxidation. They are not very translucent, although if you are determined, you can make them glow a little in a dim room with a bright flashlight. It was my intent to make them sturdy and easy to use, rather than delicate.

Swirl bowls, green and blue

            There were so many pieces in this firing that I'm making several posts about them. First up are swirl bowls!
            These are the swirl bowls that were ordered from my Kickstarter project. Everyone asked for green, blue, or both, so I glazed all six bowls with blue swirls on green. There is some variation in color from one bowl to another, so some of the swirls are more teal, and others are more blue. 

            There is also variation in the shape of the swirl. I glaze these by hand, like everything else I make. The swirls look different depending on how much glaze I use, and how I move my hand as I swish the glaze around to make the shape.  

            I like taking pictures of multiple bowls together. It makes for more interesting compositions. 

            These bowls are porcelain, fired to cone 6 in oxidation. The glaze is a zinc-free clear glaze with two green Mason stains mixed in to make the green color. They ring when you tap on the rim with your knuckle. These bowls aren't really translucent, although if you are determined and have a bright flashlight and a dim room, you can make a glowing spot appear where the light is strongest.
            I'm pleased with this green. I like the color, and the clear glaze is an excellent base for what I'd like to do with it. I'm thinking that textured dishes would look great with this glaze. The two Mason stains I used are called "Bermuda" and "True Celadon." The "True Celadon" does not look like celadon to me at all; it is too dark. But it tames the bright "Bermuda" nicely to produce this leaf-green.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Glaze firing unloaded tonight!

            I know I've been a little absent around here the last few weeks. That's because I've been getting a lot of Kickstarter orders made and fired! I'll be shipping out approximately 30 rewards later this week.
            I just unloaded the kiln this evening. The kiln was 190 degrees (Farenheit), but the temperature in the barn was about 6 degrees. So I was all bundled up for the unloading, to protect my hands from the hot pots and my ears from the cold air.
            Good news this firing! No losses - I was able to modify my glazing procedures to deal with the runny glazes that got me last time. And I'm very happy with just about every piece in the kiln. A few of these things will go to my Etsy shop, but most of them will be shipping out to their rightful owners as soon as I've photographed them for my portfolio.
            So this post is a bit of a teaser, because I won't have photos of individual pieces for you until tomorrow, but here are a few shots of the kiln as I was unloading it.

            In the top picture: some vases, a giant serving bowl, a carved serving plate/bowl, a dragon with a top hat, a swirl bowl, and a nice looking cone pack. (Also some kiln posts to fill the empty space - I like to think it helps the kiln to fire evenly when it is loaded evenly.)
            In the middle picture, the pots with red glaze were all on the same shelf since that glaze is known to spit on other pots during firing. We have two dragon egg vases, a red and white serving bowl with dragon carvings, a chocolate and red serving bowl, and a big soup bowl, also chocolate and red.
            In the last picture, we have some green and blue swirl bowls, and some little red dragons. Oddly enough, everybody wanted green and/or blue for the swirl bowls, so there you have it! The swirls are a sort of teal blue against the pale green.
            More pictures to come in the next few days!