It’s been a good start to the new year in my studio. I haven’t produced much, but I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere with my wheel throwing, and even though things aren’t turning out exactly as I want, they’re getting closer. Now I know I can make something that looks half decent, I’ve been researching how I’d like to decorate future creations.
While I’ve had my head down practicing, I haven’t been doing much else, so for my post today, I’d like to share some of what I’m planning for the year.
I think one of my favourite parts of working with clay is the glazing. You get to play scientist while mixing and developing, and opening your kiln to an amazing result is one of the most satisfying things in the whole process. But it can also be one of the most disappointing. Creating what’s in your head through a combination of raw materials, heat and luck can be incredibly frustrating but also wonderfully rewarding.
My first glaze love is lustre. I’ve played around a bit with commercials lustres, and raku firing, to try and create flashy colours but they don’t appeal to me in the same way that in-glaze lustre does. I’m definitely a magpie when it comes to glaze… the more lustrous the better!
The colours and effects are breath taking.
The process is a complicated one. Work is fired in a gas reduction kiln with a schedule designed to draw out the colours of the glaze. I’ve been using my old raku bin kiln to test out if I could reproduce the effect, which worked, but I couldn’t control the cooling as it wasn’t very well insulated and pieces cracked, so I dug out an old kiln I had acquired which had been in a flood and needed repairing and set about converting it in to a larger version of the bin kiln. After quite a few dremel bits and lots of hammering, I’d cut a hole in the base and one in the top.
The damper is a kiln brick that covers the hole and the burner is the old weed burner from the raku bin. It isn’t pretty, but you have to make the best of it when you don’t have £4K for a fancy version!
It works though and I’m looking forward to developing more of this type of glaze in different colours.
My second glaze love is crater glaze. I did quite a bit of research on this type of glazing when I made my lichen pendants.
The effect is done using silicon carbide and other raw materials which bubble when it reaches a high temperature.
The matt crusty finish is really tactile and unlike commercial glazes which are easily reproduced, this type of glaze gives the piece a unique unrepeatable finish.
You can actually create this effect using commercial glazes, just by adding some silicon carbide to the mix, but be careful while firing as it bubbles and spits on to your shelves!
And a pot from my own collection, made by Paul Wearing.
I’m also going to explore more unglazed techniques. You can produce some amazing effects just on the bare clay using fire and smoke.
And I’m experimenting with using this effect along with partially glazed pieces to give some contrast to my work.
My main problem with all of this is trying to limit myself. It’s easy to get carried away and try to do everything!
Hopefully I will have some successes to share through the year, but for now it’s back to the studio for more practice!