Looking at the Kiln

I’ve been working on some ceramic pieces. In fact I never stopped working, I just stopped posting photos of my pieces. I looked back and discovered that there were zero/zilch posts with my latest ceramic orbs. So catch everyone up I’ve dedicated this post to the art that was and maybe shouldn’t have been…
The first one is the sea urchin. I’ve made this one several times and every time there is a problem. First it was that the spines drooped (too thin), then they stuck to the kiln shelf and broke when it was pried off. I then attempted it again and used a stain on the tips to prevent sticking but the glaze was contaminated and came out a matte instead of shiny. So here we are, I used a small stand and glazed in Phil’s Celadon with Hannah’s Buttermilk on the tips. It didn’t stick, nothing broke off, and the glaze worked. What a relief!

The next piece for your consideration is one of the viral representations. This one is based on the common cold. I was not pleased with the glaze on this one. I used Atomic Purple and Grape. The Atomic Purple is very faded and looks nearly grey. It also got a little gloppy (using a technical term) which diminished the detail. Still overall it looks just as it should!

The third one for your perusal is another virus. A papillomavirus to be precise. This one was done in Gold Shino with Royal Blue accents. I was very pleased to see the beautiful sheen of the Gold Shino glaze but was a little disappointed to see that the Royal blue glaze ran a little. The points had been very carefully dotted with blue glaze which cooperated and made very perfect little bubbles of glaze on top of each spike. Such is life when at the mercy of the kiln gods.

The fourth one from the Winter session was a toss up. Literally. I tripped while carrying it to the glaze room. I guess I was quite the spectacle but I made a superior save (I have cat like reflexes from years of catching mice that think they can make a break for it and I think I could have been a Seeker and helped win the Quidditch trophy). Anyway after saving it from shattering, I was able to glaze it. I had hoped that the Ochre Celadon background would make the Megan’s Blue discs and Grape centers really stand out. The Grape was good in some spots and nonexistent in others. That went double for the Megan’s Blue. I’m going to blame it on diluted glazes. Anyway there were offerings to the Kiln gods (since I was not the only one having issues) and that took care of the problems! I hope!

58 thoughts on “Looking at the Kiln

    1. Thanks Carrie! I was hoping that one of these would be worthy of entering it into the student/faculty show coming up in June but I don’t think they are quite up to that standard… but I have been wrong before.

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    1. Thanks Andy. The sea urchins done previously were more colorful but had serious problems. It was very exciting to get one back in perfect condition!

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    1. Michel I have them scattered around my home for the most part. Some are packed away for a future time when I rotate the ones on display. Others have been sold or gifted to friends…

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        1. Yep. My sister had warts on her hands and had to have some frozen off while others were removed with Compound W. She was very self-conscious for a couple years as they would be removed and then come back…

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              1. I had 18 tiny warts on my bird finger back then. I often wondered if it’s because every winter during my school years I got strep and had to take large quantities of whatever non-penicillin antibiotic existed.

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  1. I love round things, all kinds. Sometimes accepting the surprise as a gift works wonders. I had no expectations–so they all look good me. (K)

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    1. The orb is a perfect shape! I have been struggling to let go of the expectations since it is rare that the picture in my head matches what comes from the kiln… Which is why it is so difficult to choose what to submit for the Student/Faculty Art Show!

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        1. I suppose that is the wiser choice! I had made some pieces and was considering pitching one in the trash. Added it to a show and it was one of the first pieces sold!! There is no telling what some find beautiful or intriguing!

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  2. The Gold Shino is super lovely.

    I particularly liked reading about how you honed Seeker skills. Not something one would think about, but of course catching mice would be part of your work!!

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    1. The Gold Shino is a beautiful glaze when it turns out! Hehe! Most of the mice are very happy to stay put but there are a couple of strains that we call “circus” mice in that they want to swing on the trapeze and will launch themselves into the great unknown. I’m very adept at catching them.

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  3. I like the sea urchin, but don’t think I’d like to catch any of those ‘viruses’! Now the third one reminds me a little of Ferrero Rocher! Imagine a box of ceramic chocolates!!!

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        1. I’ve got a dish with blown glass candies – kids all want to have one and are very disappointed when they discover that they are not real… I bet the chocolates would elicit a similiar reaction!

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    1. Thank-you Marion! Yes. I keep them and I sell them. I’ve sold a few through Xanga, many more during art shows at various venues, and some to fellow ceramicists at the studio. Of course I do gift them at Christmas when there is one that I know will be appreciated… My sister still has the big sunflower I made to match her Van Gogh prints.

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  4. Have we already talked pottery? I didn’t realize or didn’t remember that you did it. Those are great. I joined a studio a few months back. I had been throwing on the wheel and then took a break to do some handbuilding, as throwing was getting too frustrating. Anyhow, I went back to the wheel yesterday. Last week I bought a case of Stroke and Coat. I love those. I just love how the colors come out like expected, especially on the. hand built pieces. Do you have a kiln at home? Do you have Sky Celadon? The one I try to use at the studio is as thin as water and someone said that one is always like that. I don’t know if I believe it. I mean it is literal water. I have been making miniature pieces. I’ll post them “gallery” style later. It is fun to share. I love the sea urchin one. I did a frog last week in Leaf Green underglaze and then fired it with Wasabi Celadon. The color was great. I bet that urchin would be fantastic in the color. Just saying, as it came to mine immediately.

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    1. Hehe! I avoid the wheel as it cramps my creativity (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I don’t have a kiln at home – nowhere really to put it. The studio has Ochre Celadon, Phil’s Celadon, Turner’s Celadon but no Sky Celadon. Sometimes if a glaze is too thin I’ll not stir it and take off some of the water (reserving it in a bucket) then stir and use the glaze and add the water back since someone made it that way… I don’t usually use the stroke and coat since it is so expensive and the local art supply has been out of stock forever. One of the women in my class has a bunch and has offered but I’m reluctant to use her precious resources… I was just pleased as punch that the urchin came out in one piece!

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      1. It is fantastic! How big is it? With all those spikes it is amazing it didn’t crack, but that is great! I made a small horse last week but he lost his leg in the kiln and then I made an origami crane but he lost his head and tail while I was doing some underglaze! I don’t have room for a kiln but oh, it would be so great! Then again, it is nice to go, make my mess, do my stuff, then come back and see my work done! I’m heading over today. I made a peacock that was being bisque fired.

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        1. The central body is about 3 inches in diameter and the spikes are about 2.5 inches in length so it is about 5.5 inches in diameter… I’ve been working to get one to come out. If it can survive the bisque kiln then I am pretty sure (barring any disasters) it should survive the glaze firing. Of course there have been all sorts of issues. I’m hoping the next batch come out!

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            1. If it hasn’t been bisque fired there is a formula to use to put it back on… 1 part sugar, one part toilet paper shredded fine, and one part slip…. it can be applied and should hold through the bisque kiln and then glaze kiln!! Good luck.

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  5. I actually just sent out a question to the pottery studio but realized maybe you would know the answer. After bisque firing can a piece be temporarily glued to then glaze properly? The glaze would then glue the piece during firing. Just a thought. What I am finding at the studio is that unless you ask some of these different questions or pose ideas they don’t come up, as some people have not really experimented with different issues.

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    1. You don’t want to use glue or other adhesives as they can burn out in the firing and the space they leave causes a crack and it will fall off. It is better to slather a thicker glaze (not stroke and coat) to both surfaces and then stick them together with glaze. It sometimes works and other times the glaze slides creating an off set. I’d make sure that the surfaces were lined up with some glaze on the ends and then gently pour the glaze over the piece… I’d avoid painting on the glaze where the break is located. Hope this helps.

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      1. Yes, definitely helps! One of the people at the studio mentioned the noxious fumes the glue can send out but I never thought about that empty space. I decided to buy a small bottle of bisque fix. The owner has it and it worked for a piece of mine that had a crack after firing. I have learned that no matter how far fetched the idea is, it is so much better to ask than just try. Those temperatures are incomprehensible.

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        1. The Bisque fix is good but sometimes it too can be a problem… good luck and please post a photo of your completed piece!! I love rats and have done a sculpture maybe 20 years ago – the tail tip broke off but I had it at work and passed it off as a tail snip for genotyping!

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            1. The MSDS is dire. But you won’t have any problems if it is still liquid and you don’t ingest it. We always wear vinyl or latex gloves when we use it. I since switched to the homemade stuff….

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