January 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I had a trip out last week to Northern Kilns, who were kind enough to exchange the kiln I had for a newer version. I have been renting my kiln while I find my feet but I think now is the time to buy. When I saw the new kiln, the previous one felt like the equivalent of an old Mark 1 Golf or Ford Cortina: barely enough springs in the seats to make them comfortable and when you look under the bonnet you can see the hard tarmac of the road beneath. No wonder it was struggling to get up to the high temperatures. The new kiln feels like it was built for the job and, even though it is the same size as the other one, it is twice the weight.

While I was at Northern Kilns, I had a chat with Dylan about pinholes. He said it could be anything from dust on the bisque ware to the clay body to underfiring… Virtually anything. So, I don’t think I’ve totally sorted out the problem but at least I now have a reliable kiln.

I’m going to be selling at Reetsweet‘s Valentine’s Fair, at the Corn Exchange in Leeds, on the 11th February. It’ll be my first foray outside of my local town to sell and I don”t think I’m going to know anyone, so I’m quite nervous about it. I want to put my pots in front of a slightly wider audience to see what happens; and I want to meet more makers, have a chat about what works and what doesn’t, find out about how different people and different makers do things. All part of my steep learning curve.

I’ve been trying to make some glazes for the pots I’ll be selling in Leeds. I was quite happy with the deep grey and grey/blue that I showed a picture of on a previous post, so I made up a half bucket of each. I exchanged 2.5g of Whiting for Zinc Oxide (to lower the melting point of the glaze and potentially eradicate the pinholes) and, as everything stayed the same, thought nothing more about it.

The deep grey became dark green! It was quite a shock and as it was unexpected I didn’t like it at all because I wanted my grey. Anyway, I think I quite like it, so it’s staying, and I’ve got a kiln full of pots with it on firing away right now. I got a bit of a surprise with the grey/blue, too.

I passed it through a 100 mesh sieve instead 200 and the result is the blue speckles of cobalt which haven’t dispersed in the glaze. Another happy accident, I think; this one will stay, too.

In the video of Jim Malone, put together by the Goldmark Gallery, which has a link in the menu on the right of this blog, Malone talks about students being obsessed with the search for finding ‘this illusive and wonderful glaze’ and spending weeks or even months doing glaze tests trying to create it. As a result, ‘they have an idea of what they want in their heads and so they get this blinkered, tunnel vision and all sorts of possibilities pass by them and they don’t see them’. For him, it was all put into perspective when Bill Marshall told him that, ‘it doesn’t matter what glaze a pot’s got on it as long as it has vitality’.

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