Everywhere

mill5  mill2
mill4  mill1

Isn’t it good that you barely have to go any distance to find inspiration.

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Practice makes… progress

It’s been over a fortnight since I’ve done any throwing. What with the last kiln disaster I’ve been feeling a little demoralised of late. But today was the day. Acting on some good advice from my husband I’m going to stick with some simple, small bowls that require little working; try some quick test patterns; fire them and see if they survive. If they do then I can work more on pattern with the next batch.

I only had a couple of hours to spare, but feel like I’ve made progress with the shape. The first bowl off the wheel was not bad but a little heavy.

bowl1

I then tried a series of seven others with variations of height and curve to the sides.

bowl4

bowl3

And finished with this, my favourite at the moment.

bowl2

I’ll look at them again when the bases are turned.

Magpie {5}

cox2
Porcelain wine beaker by Christine Cox

A few weeks ago, on a glorious summer’s day, I went to Potfest Scotland. I couldn’t resist buying a few small things and this vessel was one of them. It’s beautifully smooth and shiny inside, with a richly textured exterior. Christine and her husband Geoff are the founders of the Potfest markets.

Good, bad and ugly

I opened my manual electric kiln apprehensively today after a lengthy day of firing and monitoring yesterday.

I spent a long time slowly raising the temperature of the kiln, carefully checking the temperature with my pyrometer. This proved to be quite successful and I felt like I was making progress. However, I struggled to get the kiln to cool as slowly and consistently. Once the kiln sitter had shut off, I restarted the kiln on a lower setting (4.5) with all the bungs in, but after an hour the temperature hadn’t lowered. I tried a lower setting still (4) and again the inner temperature had barely cooled. So then I tried (3) for an hour and it seemed that things might be moving in the right direction so I then tried (2) for an hour. The temperature dropped much more suddenly, but by this time it was 1.30am so I switched off and went to bed exhausted.

So, the bad news… I opened up this afternoon to find everything in the kiln has dunted again – save one cup and the two stoneware bowls thrown by my friend Ximena (thank goodness). There are also some nasty small sharp pieces that have pinged off the lips of the cups. I think this is shivering, which implies I may have a problem with the glaze too.

All the porcelain pieces have these ugly cracks:

crack

The good news is that I have some nice results with the patterns I’ve been trialling:

polyp  Polyp

barnacle  Barnacle

urchin  Urchin

coral  Coral

anenome  Anenome

The other successes are the sgraffito tests on the insides:

inside

And here’s the one survivor:

survivor

So I’ll have to pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again. Hmmm.

If anyone has any advice it would be most appreciated.

If at first you don’t succeed…

fire2.1  fire2.3

The next batch of items are in the kiln ready for my second ever glaze firing tomorrow. This includes the cups that I threw a few weeks ago. I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to slow down the cooling part of the cycle in the hope that I don’t end up with the same result as last time. I have also bought a handheld pyrometer and probe so that I can gauge more accurately the speed at which the kiln is heating and cooling.

If all goes well I will post the results and the firing schedule I have used on Monday.

Spark: six

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

sea

I don’t listen to good music as much as I’d like to – something I hope to rectify. My parents listened to a lot of classical music during my childhood. I can’t remember the first time my father played this music to me but it is something I always return to. It immediately reminds me of the ebb and flow of the sea.

Edward Elgar (1857-1934) Sea Pictures, Op 37 – 1
Sea Slumber-Song (text by Roden Noel


)
Dame Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
London Symphony Orchestra
 conducted by John Barbirolli