February 25, 2013 § 21 Comments
It has been important at the beginning of this year to develop a new range of colours for my pots. Last year I was dogged by difficulties with my glazes, which proved to be a frustrating time and left me in the end with a resolution that I had to find a set of workable, reliable glazes that I was confident in to give me a good foundation with which to approach the year. I think I am there.
Two factors have been important: biscuit firing to a higher temperature and using the same base glaze for each of the glazes. Using the same base glaze will, I hope, give the range a coherence that had previously been lacking. As stated in an earlier post, the base glaze is: 40 Potash Feldspar, 20 Whiting, 25 China Clay and 15 Flint.
4% Nickel Oxide, 4% Red Iron Oxide, 2% Cobalt Carbonate
3% Copper Oxide Black
4% Cobalt Carbonate, 1% Nickel Oxide, 1% Copper Oxide Black
I read somewhere that most potters use only three or four different glazes. We begin with myriad variations and then gradually whittle them down to a core that suit our purposes.
Two people are coming to my workshop next week to discuss glazes in far more detail. They have little or no experience of the subject and are requiring some assistance. I am very much looking forward to it.
February 18, 2013 § 15 Comments
I’ve just realised that it is two years almost to the day since I started writing this blog – my first post was on February 14th 2011. Two years… It’s rather amazing that I’m still going. I decided in a light bulb moment that I wanted to be a potter having not touched clay before. I wanted to make and I wanted to make useful things, so it was a potter or a furniture maker or a tailor. My instinct was with pottery.
It has been so much more rewarding (making pots) than I could ever have imagined. I have learnt so many unexpected things about patience, perseverance, failure, and perfection. I love, properly love, working with my hands, which I had never acknowledged before; there is something so essentially human about it in this essentially inhuman world. The passing of a wheel-thrown pot from maker to user, made by hand to be used by another hand, carries within that gesture a great humanity that can never be realised in the purchase of a machine-made pot. I’ve learnt a lot about practice, that it takes a long time to get something right, and the only way to make it right is to do it again and again and again – a feeling of a lesser failure on top of a lesser failure. I’ve tried to run long before I can walk, which has been quite difficult, but it has provided me with a benchmark, a standard, to aspire to and aim for. This has been a valuable learning tool driving me on, forcing me to learn quickly.
My aim now is to put myself in a position where I am able to continue for another two years and more. This is what the coming year is about, sustainability. So, we shall see how I get on – I shall document it all here.
As you know, I have been developing some mugs – 4 tests came out of the kiln a couple of days ago, of which the mug below was one. They do need some tweaking, as they are too small in size as well as in handle width (difficult to see from the picture), which I will attempt to address this week, but once these issues have been resolved I want to give one away to mark the anniversary of this blog. I will let you know when that happens…
The giveaway is a thank you for your continued support and encouragement in taking time out of your day to read the blog, and to those that leave comments. It really is a very welcome boost.
February 5, 2013 § 2 Comments
I am going to be throwing bowls this week but by the weekend I hope to have mixed up enough of my new glaze samples so that I can glaze these first mugs that came out of the biscuit firing yesterday. That will allow me to kill two birds with one stone: learn about how these mugs function and whether the glaze colours fulfil the promise they held on the test tile on an actual object. I am pleased with the shape of the mugs, though have some initial concerns, such as they might be too small and the handle might not be substantial enough, too narrow, as some of them feel slightly unbalanced. But the test will come on Sunday as I lift one to my lips and sup a hot, milky cup of tea.