Magpie {48}

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Soda fired sake cup, with orange slip and shino liner glaze, by Joseph Morgan

A few weeks ago I took part in the North East Open Studios for the third time. It is the most wonderful event with over 230 artists, makers and designers taking part across Aberdeen City and Shire. I managed to take a day off to visit a few people taking part… but choosing who to see was difficult.

One easy decision was going down to Catterline to see my friend Joseph Morgan. Since I last saw Joe he has converted an old electric kiln into a gas-fired soda one, and he had some of the stunning results on display. I came away with this lustrous little sake cup, which has yet to be christened. I don’t have any sake, but I was thinking now that the nights are drawing in that a sloe gin might do the trick.

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Making of a mug: Day eleven

Part one

 

Part two
After dipping the mug was set aside to dry for a while. I check each piece thoroughly before putting it in the kiln. Often there are a few drips that need scraping off carefully with a knife (fettling). The bases are also given a final check and wiped if any glaze has stuck to the wax.

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Part three
Once again the mug is put into the kiln, this time for its glaze firing. With the biscuit firing it doesn’t matter if pieces touch each other, but with this firing it is very important that the mug has space around it. The mug will expand considerably as it heats up, and then shrink as it cools. If pieces are too close the glaze will cause them to stick together.

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Part four
Normally I would leave the mug overnight to dry before firing, but I’m trying to get the firing completed for the North East Open Studios (NEOS) which start on Saturday. To help dry it thoroughly I have added a preheat to the firing cycle. The mug will then be fired to cone 7 (1239˚c). This will take roughly 14 hours to reach temperature and once again a similar amount of time to cool. I hope to be able to open the kiln tomorrow night…

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Making of a mug: Day ten

Part one
So here is the mug after the first firing. It is still warm from the kiln. Note the change of colour from the grey of the unfired clay to white, which is pretty close to how it will be once it is glazed. The glaze firing will warm the colour slightly and deepen the blue of the interior.

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Part two
Next the mug needs to be sanded to remove any rough spots, especially around the foot and rim. I use wet and dry sanding pads which are flexible so make it easy to follow the contours of the piece.

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Part three
Then the mug is washed thoroughly. Some potters prefer to use a damp sponge or skip this step entirely, and just give each pot a quick brush before glazing. Biscuit firing produces a large amount of dust, and the sgraffito process exacerbates this. I have found if I don’t wash my pieces I have real problems with my glaze not adhering properly.

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Part four
This is the final stage for today… waxing. Again there are many different approaches to the glazing stages, many potters prefer not to wax and just wipe any excess glaze from the foot of their pieces. It is imperative that no glaze comes in contact with a kiln shelf as they will cement together, damaging both the pot and the shelf. I prefer to apply wax resist to any areas where I do not require glaze. The glaze does not adhere to the waxed areas and the wax burns off in the firing leaving a crisp line where the glaze finishes. If any wax goes in the wrong place the pot will need to be biscuit fired again to remove it before glazing.

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This series of posts are also running on my Facebook page and Instagram feed. Apologies if you have already seen them there. If you would prefer to view them in one of these ways please click on the relevant icon in the right hand column.

Making of a mug: Day nine

Part one
Very late last night, as I checked on the kiln, I mixed some clear glaze so that it will be ready for dipping tomorrow. The glaze ingredients were added to a measured amount of water. They were then left to slake overnight.

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Part two
This morning I passed the mixed glaze twice through a sieve. Each time a quantity is poured into the sieve and then pushed through with a brush into a clean bucket below… this process can be quite time consuming, but it is critical as it removes any large particles that may spoil the finish I am hoping for.

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Part three
Finally I check the density of the glaze by using a hydrometer. This helps me ensure that I get consistent results. For this particular glaze it should read 47, so I need to add a little more water.

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This series of posts are also running on my Facebook page and Instagram feed. Apologies if you have already seen them there. If you would prefer to view them in one of these ways please click on the relevant icon in the right hand column.

 

On cloud nine

My first open studio has been an amazing experience. I’m delighted to have had a good number of visitors and sold some work; but more importantly it has been nine days filled with fascinating interactions with people who seemed honestly interested in my work and process. Here are a few images to give you an idea of how things looked…

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Thank you to everyone who took the time to visit, it was wonderful to meet you. To those who couldn’t make it I’ve uploaded a gallery of my most recent work should you like to take a look.

Opening soon

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It’s been a busy few weeks preparing for NEOS 2014. Just a few more things to finish and another couple of firings then I hope to be ready. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m hoping to sneak a little time out to go and see some other exhibitors too. If you’re in the area please do pop in.

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If you’re not local then I’m hoping to add a gallery of some of my newest work shortly so you can see what I’ve been up to. Just need to get past the next fortnight first.