It’s been an odd ten days – full of highs and lows.

The week before last I really felt like I’d made progress with my throwing. However when I glaze fired my pieces at the end of the week, they did not come out how I had planned. That’s not to say that I’m completely disappointed… there are positives too… but I’m having a problem with my clay colour. It should fire to almost white, but instead all my pieces are coming out cream. I’ve used the exact same clay before (extra white stoneware) so I don’t think the problem is there. I’m not sure wether it’s a something to do with my older kiln. I’d be grateful for any advice.

Sea dapple tea bowl

Then there was my glorious trip to London. What a treat, and a definite high.

The last few days I’ve been throwing jugs… experimenting with lips… and trying a little more Mishima. What’s not to like? But, I’m desperately waiting for my new kiln to be installed and then hopefully as a result some more consistent firings. Trying to get an electrician up here is proving to be very difficult – it’s been weeks. Bertha is just sitting there, reeking of potential.


I’m just looking forward to the day when I open my new kiln and I’m delighted with everything. Does that ever happen?


12 thoughts on “Dipping

  1. If that happened to me I’d suspect the clay.H ave you had a whiter result from the same bag of clay, or just from the same batch of bags? Even an (invisible) tiny extra amount of iron in the clay would oxidise in the firing to darken the clay, and iron is so very widespread in clays. I don’t think a difference in firing temperature (within the likely range of variation) would cause such a tonal difference.
    Incidentally – or more importantly – nice pots!

    • Hi Pete. It’s a new batch of clay… I’ve just changed to a more local supplier, but it is the same clay as I had used previously at college. After the biscuit firing it looked positively on the way to white, which is why I’m wondering about the glaze firing. I think the only way I’m going to be sure is when I can fire it in the new kiln and see if there is an improvement. Thank you so much for the compliment – means a lot.

  2. Hi Juliet,
    I would be surprised if it had anything to do with your kiln but I could be wrong. The tea bowl does look quite creamy doesn’t it. It looks quite speckled too were your other pots an even colour or did they have a few speckles? Speckles in the clay could point to a few ‘foreign bodies’ possibly iron.
    In answer to your question I’ve heard it does happen 😉

    • Hi Debbie, you and Pete (above) are right. There is a definite fine speckle in the fired pieces, unlike the pots I threw at my evening classes which are clean and white. So maybe it is an increased level of iron. I’m going to try another bag this week and see what happens. Frustrating… although I quite like the finished pieces they’re not what I had in my head.

  3. Hi Juliet
    after too having problems with my clay, I’d be interested to know whose clay you use. I must say though the creaminess does not detract in any way from the beauty of your pots but I do know how it feels when things don’t turn out the way you want them to.
    Regarding being happy when opening the kiln, I think that’s only happened to me once and even then there was one piece that I was unhappy with because it wasn’t quite right. I’ve been told that perfectionism just sets you up for failure, but one persons perfection is far removed from another’s. We must remember that it’s the little imperfections that set us apart from the mass produced.

    • Hi Jo, thank you for the comments. I’ll email you about my supplier, it would be interesting if they are the same. I find it tricky coming from a graphic design background, where everything is about perfection, not to feel a little disappointed when things don’t turn out how I had imagined. However you are absolutely right about the little irregularities being a positive. Thank you for reminding me to view the glass as being half full.

  4. Just to continue – I have come to the conclusion that being involved in ceramics is a humbling experience. We may strive for perfection but there are so many factors out of our control. You do your best to prepare, take things into account, make adjustments, but at the end of the day when you open that kiln there’s no guarantee that you’re going to be happy with the result.
    The fact that your pots are a little richer in colour than you expected doesn’t mean that they’re bad. In actual fact they’re lovely. I’m sure that next time you’ll get closer to your ideal just don’t get disheartened by these setbacks.

    • Debbie, thank you for your lovely, and thoughtful reply. You are so right about all the things that are out of our control… I just hadn’t factored in the clay as being one of them. That will teach me. I’m really pleased with the results on so many levels, but hopefully next time they’ll be just a little whiter.

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