Now you see it, now you don’t
There may be a small break in transmission…
I’ve mentioned to a few people that we were about to have some work done on our home. With very little notice the builders started on Monday. As a result things are fairly chaotic, but in a good and exciting way. Once completed the house will hopefully have a bigger kitchen, an extra bedroom and a new studio for me. Unsurprisingly this is going to take some time… three months minimum.
So, my making time is going to be interrupted whilst I manage this project. I’m hoping to have sporadic chances to design and make new pieces, but it is unlikely that my plans of going into any kind of proper production will now happen until Spring. I hope to continue to post my progress, but for the time being it may be a little less often.
Thank you, as always, for your continued support.
Yesterday, with a certain amount of trepidation, I tried throwing with porcelain. I’ve read a lot about it being tricky to use, and it is. I don’t throw with a lot of water, but a number of times the pot I was throwing collapsed, because the walls had become too soft and I’d gone to thin for this particular clay. I’m going to persevere though as I’m sure I’ll get used to its idiosyncrasies. What I did love today was turning the surviving pots, burnishing them, and adding handles. In it’s leather hard state porcelain is amazing. It’s so fine and you can get it incredibly smooth. We’ll just have to see what happens when they’re fired.
I’ve been trying the porcelain because I want to find the right clays to commit to. Living where we do delivery costs are expensive so it makes sense to order large quantities. For the domestic ware I want something that fires white or very nearly white. I had high hopes of the extra white stoneware I’ve been using to date, but it’s been firing to a creamer colour than I had anticipated. Plus I’m having problems with speckles, probably caused by an increased level of iron in this particular batch. I’ve tried a porcelain/stoneware mix before, with good results, but it costs more than the stoneware. The porcelain does too, but with that comes increased strength and the possibility of translucency too. Hmmm.
I’d also hoped to use the same clay for both my domestic ware and raku pieces, but again what I’d originally been using doesn’t seem to be cutting the mustard, even though it worked fine when I used it at Grays. I’m going to trial some alternatives here too.
I’ll let you know how I get along, and post results when I can.
Sea urchin; straight from reduction (smoke) chamber (l) and after cleaning (r)
I thought I wouldn’t make it into the studio until next week but I got itchy fingers yesterday and couldn’t resist. I didn’t have time to throw anything so I decided to do some raku glazing and firing instead. It looked like it would be a perfect clear cold night for my second firing using the homemade kiln. I mixed up a new version of the turquoise raku glaze that I have used before – this time with a little less copper oxide in the hope for a lighter colour. I glazed a number of small urchins that were biscuit fired before the holidays. After trying to learn from my previous mistakes the results were much better than last time: a much quicker firing; and a better glaze colour; but nearly everything cracked again. Now I’m sure I need to change to a clay with more grog in it.
What I do love about raku firing is that at first you pull out these black lumps from the reduction chamber and they look pretty grim, but then you get them under the tap and start to scrub away the soot and smoke to reveal the finished pot beneath.
Next time I must remember some marshmallows for toasting.
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As it’s unlikely that I’ll be in the studio until next week I’ve been doing a bit of spring cleaning around the house. Redding the house is one of the Hogmanay traditions in Scotland, along with first footing amongst others. Officially the cleaning should have been done to welcome in the New Year, but as we were away I’m only just finishing it now. I’ve also been tinkering with the blog… I’ve uploaded a new gallery of the work I fired just before the holidays and amended my statement. Please take a look if you have a moment. Thanks.
Happy New Year! I really hope 2014 proves to a great year for everyone.
I’m looking forward to all that this year will bring and as always I’ve got a long list of things that need doing such as:
Developing my collection
Creating a logo
Designing some business cards
Doing my tax return
But the main thing on my mind now is trying to sell some work. I’ve been thinking of starting an online shop. Does anyone have any good pointers about this… Ebay, Etsy, Big Cartel, Facebook, Shopify or my own website? I’d really welcome any advice you have to share as to be honest I’m finding it a bit of a minefield. Thank you.