Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kiln is firing today!

            Today is a firing day. I started the kiln last night, and this morning I'm watching for the end of the firing. I'm looking forward to seeing the pieces from this firing. I am practicing some different glazing techniques than I usually use.
            I originally learned to glaze by dipping pieces in the glaze bucket. This method is pretty great for a lot of glazes, as you can get a very even coat of glaze that way. Throughout my ceramics classes, I worked on dipping techniques. It's not the only way to get glaze on a pot, though. (You can also apply glaze with a sponge, or brush, or by pouring it over the pot/sculpture. You can also spray glaze with an appropriate sprayer. You can use a slip trailing bottle with thick-ish glaze in it. So many choices, so many effects! And each glaze will respond differently to each technique. I love how endless the ceramic palette is.)
            The glazes at Simon's Rock, where I learned to glaze, were not especially formulated for use with a brush. I did make several attempts to brush them on anyway, but I was never pleased with the results. Most of the glazes I'm using now are more cooperative. I've never really learned to use a paintbrush properly (I've always preferred pencils, pens, markers, etc.), so brushing my glazes on has been an adventure from a couple of different angles. It's actually not too difficult to simply cover a smooth pot with glaze - I can put the pot on my wheel or turn table and just spin it slowly while I brush. It's not perfectly even, of course, since the brush leaves behind marks where the glaze will be a tad thicker or thinner. That has an effect on how the glaze looks.
            For example:

            In this case, I used a brush to apply the brown glaze (Mottled Spice, cone 6) while the plate was turning slowly on the wheel. I applied it pretty unevenly, because I know this glaze looks more interesting where it varies in thickness. The thinner areas are more chocolate, and the thicker areas more caramel. Had I dipped the plate instead, it would be all the same shade of brown, since there is no texture to capture the glaze as it melts and create differing thickness that way.
            That red glaze (Deep Firebrick, also cone 6) in the swirl, on the other hand, doesn't look particularly interesting when it is unevenly applied by itself. The pot below was also glazed by brushing glaze onto a pot while it turns on the wheel:

            You can see that on the dragon egg I rely upon the carved texture to add interest to the surface. I've been a little more ambitious with the pots that are currently in the kiln. I like how these two glazes look together, so I decided to see if I could brush one atop the other to actually create some imagery rather than abstract swirly marks.
            I'm hoping for success with an octopus, a bird in the wind, a tree, a dragon, and some mushrooms.

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