Smoke pot

URCHIN6DKjulietmacleod2014 URCHIN6julietmacleod2014
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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28 thoughts on “Smoke pot

      • Happy New Year to you too! Yeah, the camera is similar to the Rolliflex ones. It’s going quite well, though I’m looking in to developing the negatives myself because the cost is so high to get it done by a lab. I’m hoping to be able to get back in to ceramics soon, I’d love to try out raku firings – I didn’t get a chance to try it out at Uni, and I love the look and effect of raku fired pots.

      • This one takes 35mm, which is great because I had some film lying around. I’m looking at some 120 film though, the square negatives really appeal to me. I’ve never developed film myself – how did you find developing b&w film, was it difficult?

  1. Put me on the list for one as well. They are just beautiful, and also intriguing – they have a personality, each one different, and I can’t quite figure out why I think this, but they have expressions. Anyway, I love them.

    Raku is so demanding, it seems. But what results!

  2. Hi Juliet,
    If you want a smooth clay rather than a heavily grogged clay look for one with a high % molochite. If you talk to your supplier they may be able to steer you in the right direction. It’s difficult to thrown fine pots with heavily grogged clays. It’s also useful to know when the pots are cracking. Fast heating or fast cooling. If it’s fast cooling you may be able to avoid some of this by not taking the pots out of the kiln immediately – wait 10 seconds or so. I never dunk mine in water now and prefer them to cool in the air. I may spray them with a fine spray but that’s all. It takes a while to get the method right but I’m sure you’ll get there. I like the darker ones actually, really lovely rich colour.

    • Thanks again Debbie. I’m sure they’re cracking on cooling. I can hear the crackle glaze pinging and then more serious cracking noises, although it mostly seems to be when I put them into the reduction chamber. Maybe I also need to get more bins and close them more quickly. Did you spray before or after reduction? Mostly the cracks are not as deep as the one shown (on the bottom). They are just dark thick lines, and the pots have lost their ring so I know they’re damaged. I’m glad you like the dark ones, I’m thinking of doing a range of colours from dark to light turquoise – they might make nice groups that way.

      • Hi Juliet,
        I spray after reduction. I always get a bit nervous about throwing pots into buckets of water but maybe that’s just me. I’ve had my share of cracked pots so I know how you feel. I hope the next firing works out.

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