Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Opening the Harvard soda kiln

We were in Boston yesterday with our friend Sue, opening the soda kiln that fired last Thursday. It was a tight pack. Lotsa pots in there. So some might have been shielded a bit from the soda. But people were pretty happy with the results. It was a learning thing for me and Crystal Ribich, the woman in charge of the workshop, is a good teacher. There was no question she wouldn't answer.
I went a bit overboard on the Bauer's slip, hence the great number of orange pots among my 30 that came from the kiln. Bauer's takes the soda well, when it gets in touch with it. And there were several pots that showed evidence of that. The top of the pack was a bit underfired, reaching only a bit over cone 7, so I will refire some of my pots to cone 10 in my own kiln. Should be interesting to see what results from that. In the past I've had very good luck refiring salt pots, so I expect there will be some happy improvement in already decent pots.
I'll take some of the slipped but unfired pots down to Castle Hill art center in Truro for a salt firing early next week. It should be interesting to see the difference in the slips' and glazes' reaction to salt over soda.
I'll attach some photos. Anyone who has questions about the process, feel free to ask in the comments section.
Photos, top to bottom: A lovely result glazing a teabowl in the studio's Carbon Trap; yes, by God, a turquoise that I like; the opened kiln; a small paddled vase; three teabowls.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Women of fire at Harvard ...

The soda firing at the Harvard ceramics program went off as it should today, one day late due to an electrical failure that crippled the vent system. I was up there with teacher Crystal Ribich, and fellow workshop participants Lori and Henriette. (I apologize for possibly misspelling names.)
Hot and sweaty work spraying in the 1000 grams of dissolved soda ash somewhere around cone 8. But all went well. The kiln will be opened Monday morning.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Soda firing in Boston this afternoon

I've been involved in a soda workshop at the Harvard University ceramics facility in Boston for the past couple of weeks. Falmouth potter Sue Wadoski and I drove up yesterday to work the first shift of loading with teacher Crystal Ribich. I'm headed up again in a couple of hours to be involved with the application of soda as cone 7 goes down. Because I'm seriously thinking of building a soda kiln here, it seemed like a good opportunity to get some hands-on experience. Lots of faceted teabowls of mine in there.
Meanwhile, I sold pots at the Harwich Cranberry Festival this past weekend, about an hour to the west of here. Not a great show. Lovely weather, but a rather strange group of vendors. Including one fellow who sold so-called "scrimshaw," but also had a rotating sales gondola in front of his tent, covered with flat white dog bone shapes, with "I (heart) my Shar Pei," "I (heart) my therapy dog," etc.
OK, I'm off to Boston now. Soda pot photos, hopefully, late Friday.
Photos: Crystal Ribich with soda pots; the back stack in the Harvard soda kiln, mostly done; a selection of Dee's flowers in my pots in Harwich.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why we live here ...

Those of you who have read this blog for the past couple of years know that we spend time in and on the water in the summer. And you've seen plenty of photos of hardshell clams (we call them quahaugs, their Native American name) on this blog.
So I won't show you any more clams, at least not on this post. But I will show you dawn over the little cove off Buzzards Bay where I usually dig quahaugs with my friends Mike and Tammy. I was there this morning, about 5:45, the sun not quite up over the trees behind me, waiting for my friends to show up with their kayak. I was not the first clammer there, as you can see from the photo. A lone man was already out in fairly unproductive water, scraping his rake across the bottom.
The three of us paddled across to the island you see in the distance, a much more productive area, and we had our limit of a half-peck basket by 7. Then we left the cove to the ospreys, blue herons and loons.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Green Ash Glaze from Blair Meerfeld

This glaze was a test in this week's firing here. It's a recipe from Phil Rogers' book "Salt Glazing," and I think is a Blair Meerfeld glaze. In any case, it's listed on the same page as Meerfeld's pots. The photo on the page, a salt-glazed ewer, looks a good deal different from my results. Not a big surprise, since that often happens in different kilns on different clays and in different atmospheres. The glaze on the ewer looks like a blue-green Rob's Green. And mine might have been mixed thinner than this one, and is a faceted bowl made with Laguna B-Mix, a white porcelaneous stoneware. Anyway, here's the recipe.
Green Ash Glaze
Whiting ..........20
Wood ash ......20
Kona F-4 Spar ... 20
SGP Ball Clay (I used OM-4) ... 20
Flint ........20
Black Copper Oxide ... 4
Cobalt Carb ... 2

Friday, July 1, 2011

Surfaces from Thursday's firing

I fired the gas kiln yesterday, filled with chowder bowls and tumblers and a few odds and ends that didn't get into the firing two weeks ago. I've got a show coming up in Harwich, down-Cape from us, next weekend and needed to get as much inventory finished as I could.
I have been unhappy with my Shinos for a few firings now, and I decided to throw out all three buckets and mix new batches, hoping that would solve the problems. Looks like it might have, after I opened the kiln this morning. I suspect the problems may have been as simple as letting the Shinos get too thick. The results in the Bright Shino, Red Shino and the Malcolm Davis carbon-trap were much more like they should be.
And I stretched out the firing time, from about six hours to eight and one-half hours. I let the temperature rise much more slowly than I have been. These are all more or less blind stabs in the dark, but the attempts might have hit on a few things that will work for me. Though even though I didn't top cone 10 either top or bottom, I still got a few more glazes running off the pots than I'm used to. Maybe it's the extra hours up near and slightly above cone 9.
One of the things I look for in my glazes is texture and detail. There were some that I like in this firing. See the photos.