Monday, May 6, 2013

Glaze adventures!

            I recently mentioned my glazing experiments in the latest firing. Now I have some more pictures to share! I already showed the octopus cup and the blue and white dragon plates. This post is about the rest of the group of cups that the octopus cup is related to.
            These cups aren't really a set - they are all different shapes, all have different designs, and don't really "go together." But they are all the same size, made of the same red stoneware, and glazed using only two glazes (Mottled Spice and Deep Firebrick).
            The octopus cup is different from the others in that I left most of the cup unglazed, and painted the octopus design directly on the bare clay. That looks like this:

            The red octopus is shiny, while the clay is rough and matte, so the edges of the design are sharp and clear. On the other cups, I glazed the outside of each cup and brushed the design on top of that background glaze. This resulted in more smudgy, less defined edges. Like this tree:

            Since both the background and the tree design are shiny, the tree doesn't stand out as much as the octopus on the previous cup. Another difference is that the brown glaze of the tree melted flat into the red glaze, so the tree isn't raised - you won't feel a bump under your fingers when you hold the cup. It's more like a drawing on a piece of paper.
            The Mottled Spice (brown) doesn't contrast in color as much as I expected from the red. The tree is actually much subtler than I thought it would be. It was difficult to photograph because of this, but I like how the cup looks. It encourages you to really look at the cup as you are holding it, because the tree doesn't pop out at you. I'm all for people taking a closer look!
            I used this glaze combination for a dragon cup, as well. The effect is similar:

            I'm calling this a shadow dragon. You can see the design, but it's understated. You see the dragon as you turn the cup, but never all of the dragon at once.  Again, this is difficult to capture in photos, but I found that in the sunshine there was enough light to allow the dragon to show. Although the dragon is visible in indoor light, I wasn't very good at capturing it in a picture.
            Then I have cups with the opposite glazing: red against brown. This cup has mushrooms on it:

            As you can see, the red glaze slid down a bit as it melted. The lines of the design are thus less sharp, particularly on the undersides of the mushroom caps. This makes a neat-o looking texture on the mushrooms. I think they look like lava mushrooms. I don't think this combination would work well with an octopus, because it would muddy up the tentacles, but I think it's just fine for these mushrooms. They don't have such fine details.
            I also used this combination for a design that included finer details:

            Am I upset that some of those details vanished in a wash of red? Nope. I was hoping that the red would help this bird look like a phoenix. The selective loss of detail doesn't strike me as out of place because of the coloring - it's a flaming phoenix, so parts of the bird are obscured by fire. I am pleased, however, that the upper wing retained the feathers that I carefully brushed there.
            Overall I'm happy with these cups. Sometimes glaze experiments go well, and sometimes they don't. Often they don't quite look how one imagined they would! I am glad I was able to make hypotheses about how these glazes would act that came out so well. I think the earthy colors are handsome and warm. I like these glazes with red clay. I ended up with five great cups. I count this glaze experiment as a success!
            If you think these cups are super and want to have one (or two, or five) for your very own, here are the links to them on my Etsy shop:

            Octopus cup:

            Autumn tree cup:

            Shadow dragon cup:

            Lava mushrooms cup:

            Phoenix cup:

            There are other lovely things on my Etsy shop, some of which have appeared here on my blog and some of which have not. You can always get from here to there by clicking on my Etsy link, found on the upper right hand side of each page of this blog. I post new items periodically, with the highest concentration appearing in the two weeks after a glaze firing.

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