Friday, June 28, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Look for Thursday...

...on Friday this week. I have a few ideas for Thursday Inspiration but just won't have time to put the post together today. Gah. I need a catch-up week.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Like A Good Neighbor

I saw this and thought immediately of my neighbor, the one who called the fire department on my firing; who now thinks I am cool and comes over to drunkenly blather at me whenever she sees me working out in the kiln yard. That's better than her hating me I guess. I learned that calling 911 seems to be a hobby of hers; she recently called to report cats fighting in the parking lot of her building, and again about another neighbor walking his dog too close to her windows and upsetting her cat.

I am trying to be compassionate, as she clearly has a problem with alcohol. It would be easier, however, if she'd stay over there.

Blue Flame

A week or so ago, I had the service guy from Suburban Propane come and clean my burners. I feel like this is something I should be able to do myself, but I'm still sort of intimidated by burners, and I wanted to watch somebody else do it first - and anyway he had to come out and check for a leak I thought I smelled while trying to fire a bisque.

I am astonished at the difference in the flame! I guess I thought it would be subtle: it's not. The flame is now almost totally blue, much quieter - I never thought of that aspect at all - and giving off far less heat outside the kiln. I never knew how much heat I was losing until I wasn't anymore. Seriously I feel like the whole Global Warming thing might be my fault! But all that energy that was going to make a bunch of noise and radiate heat into the air is now going to heat the kiln, so I am in hopes my firings will be faster and more efficient.

Here's the load before I bricked up the door. These pots are headed for Monkitree in Gardiner, the Portland Pottery Cafe, the Center for Maine Craft, and On the Main, and maybe a couple of new listings on my website. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Vivika's Strawberry

Vivika’s Strawberry (^10)
15.93 Gerstley Borate
9.63 Dolomite
2.77 Whiting
44.06 Custer Feldspar
1.84 EPK/Kaolin
27.7 Flint
3.07 Tin Oxide
1.02 Copper Carbonate

I've been looking for this glaze for a long while - years. I used to use it, then I lost it, then I found it again, then I lost it, and no amount of Google-fu would bring it back to me. Well, my student and friend Joanna Skolfield of Blarney Stone Pottery located it for me; her google-fu may be better than mine, but in my defense, it was posted only three months ago - long aftr I gave up looking. She found it at the Glazebook Tumblr, which you should check out.  

It may not be well-suited for soda but it is that rarity: a true pink in ^10 reduction - but only on white claybodies, and not all of them. I will add it to the growing list of glaze conversions to ^6, but here it is in its original form for all of you, and so that I will never lose it again.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Stranger

I've moved my glazing operations outside for the season. A little late this year; we've had a cold, rainy spring. It's nice to be outside whenever possible, and glazing is so messy that indoor clean-up can take a bunch of time I'd rather spend doing something else.

I've had company this week while I glaze for the 6/19 firing. This little cat took up residence on our deck on Monday, and has shown no inclinations to leave since then. He was skinny but shiny and apparently healthy. (He's not so skinny now, since we've been feeding him for almost a week.) He's a little luv, a lap cat - it seems like he must have been somebody's pet.

Actually, I've caught glimpses of him around the neighborhood before, just passing through the yard, for a couple of months; which raises the question: if he has a home to go to, why doesn't he go home? My fear is that somebody just moved away and didn't take him with them. Though he has hardly left our deck, I thought I should give him a chance to go home, if indeed he has a home. So I put a collar on him, thinking that if he goes home and his people see the collar, they'll either keep him in for a while - and I won't see him - or he'll come back without the collar. That was Wednesday. He's still wearing the collar.

I've called the police and humane society, but no one has reported a missing black cat in the area. He's intact, so just feeding him and letting him roam free is not an option; we can't have him making kittens that will themselves become starving strays. Adopting him ourselves is out, also, as we already have five cats, one of whom is very old and deserves some peace. So, on Monday he'll have to go to the shelter. It's the best thing for him; they will neuter him and bring him up-to-date on shots, and test him for catly disease like feline leukemia. They will also keep him for a while in case somebody out there is missing their furbaby!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wait, Earthenware?

Well, yes. Kind of.

Just what I needed, another claybody to keep track of. I made myself a special stamp for the ^6 test pieces, because BMix 5 looks alot like Bmix 10 - unless you fire it to ^10, and then they look substantially different! But that's another post. This post is about these earthenware jars.

Remember I said I was going to have to say goodbye to some of my accounts? I thought one of those would be an account I've had for years with a veterinarian making urns for the ashes of cats. I was sad to do it - it seemed right to me that the urns should be made by a committed cat lover like me - but as I discovered at the end of last year, my old pricing was actually costing me money; and I didn't think they would be able to support the new price points.

Time for some creative thinking. But first, a story:

A couple of years ago, my husband and I lost a pet turtle to pneumonia, but ultimately to old age. His name was Big, to differentiate him from his smaller co-turtle, Red, who has a red stripe on his face. (They don't come when you call, anyway, so the names might as well be practical!) Big was an aquatic turtle, and I couldn't bear to put him in the ground, although I know his spirit had already moved on. What I had was just a shell, so to speak. But still.  So I made a container for his remains out of clay, surrounded him with blueberries and raspberries - his favorite foods, and Doug and I brought the unfired "casket" to the river. We placed it on a passing ice floe. The current carried it away. When the warming day melted the ice, Big's remains were consigned to the river. The greenware casket would of course just dissolve.

It occurred to me that folks who have lost cats might want to do something similar. A container which would hold the cremains until the owner was ready to let go, and then just dissolve in the ground once buried, might be something people would want. It would work for me with only a tiny price increase, because I wouldn't incur firing expenses. I made this suggestion to my contact at the cat doc, who agreed.

These will be stamped and adorned with slipwork; some will be burnished with terra sigilata.

By the way, I was wrong (imagine that!) about one thing: in addition to carrying the unfired urns, they also agreed to also continue to carry the fired urns, at the steep hike I found necessary. Important learning moment: so far no one has said no to the higher prices.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What's that Smell?

It smells like...I think it's...propane!

I just shut down my bisque firing, because I can smell propane around the kiln. At first I thought...or told myself I thought...that it was just a leftover puff of gas from when I lit the burner, but three hours later, I still smell propane.

The burner guys can't come to check it out until Friday. It's not a danger; the smell only occurs when the main valve is open, but it is massively inconvenient, as due to classes and family obligations, it will put off the bisque until Thursday the 13th. Arrgh, people are waiting for these pots!! But it can't be helped. I don't want to be the idiot sputtering, "I thought it would be okay!" when my neighborhood blows up.

The glaze firing was going to happen on the 14th - already later than I had hoped. Now I guess it will be the 21st. If you are one of the folks waiting for ware, I'm sorry! I will get it to you as soon as I can.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Flashing Slip to Try

Found this while noodling around in a Pottery Basics Yahoo group.

#1997 Fake Avery Flashing slip opaque white to orange Cone 6 10

15 Newman red or Red Horse clay
84 EPK
1 Soda Ash

Wait, but...Newman Red is a fireclay. Red Horse is an earthenware. How are these interchangeable in this recipe?

Guess I'll have to mix them up and find out.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Progress Report

I've been working on getting out Rewards to my Kickstarter backers this week - cards, pendants, and teabowls all took wing. More of them will go out on Monday, and still more after the next test firing.

Speaking of which! The first batch of glaze conversions - five ^6 versions of Old Yellow, my favorite out of the Watershed Glaze book. The ^10 original looks like this:


Neph Sy     7155
Dolomite    2363
OM-4           482

Add:
Zircopax     1792
RIO             240

That's kind of a weird recipe, right? With like 18% opacifier added after the total. This sounds like a job for Glazemaster!  The first thing I had to do was rebalance the recipe so the only ingredient below the total line was red iron oxide. After I do that, the recipe looks like this:
Old Yellow
Cone:  10    
Amount     Ingredient
60.7          Nepheline Syenite
20             Dolomite
4.1            OM #4
15.2          Zircopax

100         Total
Add:
2         Red Iron Oxide

Next I look at the proportions of alumina and silica by the Unity ratios, which the software kindly tells me, otherwise I'd be up all night counting atoms. Alumina is at 0.429; silica is at 2.106. Remember these are relative to the proportion of flux, which is always set to 1.Then I'm gonna compare those numbers to the ranges I found in Cushing's handbook. (There's a way to compare to limit formulas within the software also, but I've got the Cushing numbers right here in front of me.)

According to the good professor, in a satin matte cone 10 glaze, alumina should fall wiht in the range of 0.25-0.6. So we're good there. Silica should be within the range of  2.0-5.0. Also good.

To change this to a ^6 glaze I have to add a a flux.( I can't just increase the flux - dolomite - that is already present, because it's not a strong enough flux at ^6 to persuade the silica to melt.) But adding flux is going to mess up those ratios that I've been talking about, so depending on what I add - a commercial frit, or a material like gerstley borate or lithium - I may have to add more silica or clay (the usual source of alumina in a glaze.) Here are the test recipes I came up with:

Old Yellow ^6 Test 1

Cone: 6 Color: Cream/yellow
Firing: Salt/Soda Surface: Semiglossy

Amount       Ingredient
50.5             Nepheline Syenite
16.7             Dolomite
3.4               OM 4
12.7             Zircopax
12.5             Gerstley Borate--1999
4.2               Silica

100 Total

Add
2 % Red Iron Oxide

Old Yellow ^6 Test 2

Cone: 6 Color: Cream/yellow
Firing: Salt/Soda Surface: Semiglossy

Amount         Ingredient
55.2              Nepheline Syenite
18.2              Dolomite
3.7                OM 4
13.8              Zircopax
9.1                Frit--Ferro 3134

100 Total

Add
2% Red Iron Oxide

Old Yellow ^6 Test 4

Cone: 6 Color: Cream/yellow
Firing: Salt/Soda Surface: Semiglossy

Amount        Ingredient
52.8              Nepheline Syenite
17.4              Dolomite
3.6                OM 4
13.2              Zircopax
13                 Frit--Ferro 3185

100 Total

Add
2% Red Iron Oxide

Old Yellow ^6 Test 3

Cone: 6 Color: Cream/yellow
Firing: Salt/Soda Surface: Semiglossy

Amount            Ingredient
48.1                 Nepheline Syenite
15.9                 Dolomite
3.2                    Ball Clay--Old Mine #4
12.1                 Zircopax
15.9                 Frit--Ferro 3134
4.8                   Silica

100 Total

Add
2% Red Iron Oxide

 Old Yellow ^6 Test 5

Cone: 6 Color: Cream/yellow
Firing: Salt/Soda Surface: Semiglossy
Amount        Ingredient
50.6             Nepheline Syenite
16.7             Dolomite
3.4               Ball Clay--Old Mine #4
12.7             Zircopax
16.6            Frit--Ferro 3110

100 Total
Add
2% Red Iron Oxide
 I mixed all of these up in the glaze kitchen, storing them in those little plastic tubs you buy at the supermarket to keep leftovers in. (Plan A - to eat enough Talenti Gelato to use those containers - was a non-starter, even in hot weather like we've been having.)

I have a ^10 firing coming up, as I am trying to keep up with all my outlets at the same time I execute this project. (That wasn't the original plan, but baby, things change. Moron that later.) That should happen next week, with the next ^6 test hard on its heels.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Remember the 80s?

Not the decade...I'm talking the 80s Fahrenheit. Here in Maine we went straight from 60º to 90º+, and let me tell you, I deserve some kind of medal for working right through it. Or maybe a tiara, because I am sweating like a princess, here.

This morning, before it was too beastly, I brought all my greenware down into the kilnshed, from where I will load the kiln later tonight. I've also been making teapots and lidded jars, and slip trailing everything in sight.

My studio is in a former attic space, which some prior owner raised the roof on. It has only one north-facing window, and for once this is a plus! The studio stayed tolerable for most of the afternoon. But now it's 4 pm, the hottest part of the day, and I am taking a break until evening, when I will load the kiln.

For now, enjoy a little song that seems from our missing 80s:

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