Thank you all for your support and advice… it has been a great eight months.
I’m really looking forward to finding out what 2014 has in store.
A few posts back I mentioned… ‘I’m just looking forward to the day when I open my new kiln and I’m delighted with everything. Does that ever happen?’
Well, I opened up Bertha after her maiden glaze firing and I’m really, officially delighted. OK not everything is quite right, and there are still some issues to be sorted to do with the clay colour, but I’m so relieved. I feel like I’ve made a massive step towards being able to sell things. Just a little bit more road testing, clay research and throwing practice…
Roll on the New Year.
The last couple of days have been spent glazing and fettling my latest breakfast cups, small jugs and large dishes ready for Bertha’s first glaze firing. I’ve been trying out a number of techniques after receiving some really helpful comments and tips. My favourite approach so far was suggested by David Melville…
Fill the inside of the pot with glaze then straight away turn upside down and empty. With the pot still upturned immediately glaze the rim a little way down the outside. Leave overnight to dry. The following day dip the outside, with the pot the right way up and your hand/s pressed against the inside. Slightly overlap the earlier glazed rim. For me this seems to be cleaner than using tongs, with the least amount of drips that need to be cleaned up. Also by dipping the lip whilst the pot is still wet from glazing the inside only a thin layer adheres to the outside. Hopefully this will stop the thick glazed rims that I’ve been having problems with in the past.
I’ve just switched on the kiln so I’ll find out late tomorrow, or Thursday morning, how things have fared. I’ll post some pictures of the results.
It’s been another great week… busy but really good. I can’t believe that Christmas is only twelve days away. My children are getting extremely excited at the prospect, and so am I to be honest. However, my biggest milestone has been that finally Bertha was installed after two months of waiting. It was a struggle to find an electrician prepared to do the work, but Norrie came and saved the day. She was installed on Tuesday and I did a test firing that night. It was lovely just to switch on, set a program and let the kiln get on with it. I’ve learnt so much from firing Ruby but it is a relief to not have to continually manually increase the temperature throughout the firing.
Last night was the first bisque firing and all was well this afternoon when I opened up. It’s wonderful to have so much room – she has more than five times the capacity that Ruby does. Now I just need to get everything glazed and fired again by the end of next week.
I know for some of you this is your busiest time of year, but I hope you all have a chance to step back and enjoy it too.
I threw these mugs last Wednesday. That night we had an enormous storm, freezing temperatures and the second fall of snow this winter. All of this was fine… to be expected in this neck of the woods. What put me off my stride was the two-day power cut. It was mildly entertaining for the first day – not so much for the night – and even less so the following day. Luckily we have a wood burning stove that we can cook on and use to keep warm. As a result I didn’t manage to turn the bases until Sunday.
There are so many things that have to be considered when making pots. I love the evolution… the way that each piece you throw becomes a little more refined… closer to your goal. I’ve been working on these breakfast cups for months now. Slowly altering their shape and proportions until I reach what I have in mind. But it’s not just the shape of the body of the cup, but how the base looks, the shape of the handle…
I have been dithering over whether or not to have turned bottoms to my pieces. Many potters just throw the bases finely, and make a small undercut to the edge which is then smoothed quickly at the leather hard stage. This can be a great time saver, however I really like the way these cups seem to ‘float’ above the surface they are sitting on because of the turned foot. I also like the shadow that is created so I’m going to stick with this for the time being. I may come to regret this decision when I have to make lots.
Then there’s the thickness of the turned foot. The cup furthest to the left (above) is my favourite so far, but I think I’d like to make the foot finer still.
Next there’s the handle… shape… thickness… attachment. I’ve been playing with handles a lot over the months – endless sketches, research, trials etc. Different handles suit different purposes – expresso cup, tea cup, coffee mug, breakfast cup, beer stein. Then there’s how it’s made – pulled, rolled, extruded or cut with a shaped wire – I like hand pulled best. The cups above are the closest yet to what I have in mind. The test will be in using them. Here’s hoping they survive their firings.
I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not sure who gave me this lovely bowl – I’ve had it for a very long time. As a result I have no clue as to where it came from or who it was made by. It is approximately 12cm in diameter and very finely thrown. Can anyone tell me any information about it? It has a maker’s mark on the bottom which resembles two B’s one on top of the other…
Please see 19 March 2014 update for further details