Monday, March 22, 2021

Glaze Expectations: A Pottery Post

Hello! It's spring here, the flowers are in bloom, and I look forward to being vaccinated soon. I always love the beginning of spring, but after all that's happened in just a little over a year, I'm feeling an even stronger sense of renewal and hope than usual. Not much longer to go, I think...I hope...

While I wouldn't say I've completely lost my sewjo, I definitely haven't felt as inclined to make clothes. For one, there is the extra pandemic weight I've put on that puts me off making new clothes. Not beating myself up or anything, just being honest: Like quite a lot of people, a year of being less active and eating for comfort has caught up with me. The other reason for less sewing is, of course, devoting more of my spare time to my recent pottery obsession. I've derived so much comfort and pleasure from working with clay, and now it's become something I can't imagine not doing. 

I toyed with the idea of starting a pottery blog to record my thoughts and experiences with clay, and maybe down the road I actually will. But, for now, I think I will just make a note in the title when I'm here to talk about pottery.

The biggest learning curve for me so far has been glazing and adjusting my expectations for how a piece will look. To start, a lot of glazes look completely different when wet. I still sketch with Procreate to get my brain going, but I know that, even with test tiles, there is a bit of surrender that happens once something goes into the kiln. Of course, that's also part of the thrill. I'm currently trying to balance the delight and excitement I feel in experimentation with giving thought and intention to each item so I'm not bringing a lot of random stuff into a world already filled to the brim with stuff.

I'll start by sharing some pieces that I only had to glaze once that I'm pretty pleased with. Note: all my pottery is handbuilt (I don't have a wheel and I like the look of hand-built ware) and I'm only using brush-on commercial glazes for now. 

Clockwise from top left:
Coil Bowl with Wax Resist and Scgraffito. This is the biggest bowl I've made, and it's surprisingly light (for stoneware). I enjoy wax resist quite a lot--especially with the kind of simple designs I'm drawn to. It's a good technique if you don't want your glazes to run together, or if you like the look of the bare, fired clay body you happen to be using. This is cone 5 speckled buff, which is my favorite with a black gloss from Western and Amaco Indigo Float. 

Slab Bowl with Layered Glaze. This one was fired with two coats of Western Celadon and two coats of Amaco Frosted Turquoise on a cone 5 white stoneware clay. In this case, I included a few test tiles where I layered two different glazes in an earlier firing, which helped me decide how I wanted to glaze this. I think this is a good practice, and now I always try to remember to include a couple of test tiles with little experiments. 

Pinch Pot with Feet. I've named this sweet little guy Julio. Like many of my early pinch pots, Julio is a bit heavy, but it's good for planters to be sturdy, right? Here, I carved the pot in greenware stage (carving is kind of addictive). Then I tried to go for a sunset effect by gradating-the yellow, orange, and purple glaze for a little Tequila Sunrise. (Totally had that song in my head the whole time.) Then I went in and scraped the glaze out from the recessed areas. This worked pretty well in that I was successful in the glazes not running together too much. Sometimes I want that--but not with orange and purple because I think mixing could look a little muddy since they're opposites on the color wheel.

Pinch Mug for Beej. This is probably the least experimental--more of an accumulation of techniques I'm learning--so there were no surprises. However, I LOVE how this turned out. If you want to learn how to make this mug, go to YouTube and type in "Still Life Ceramics, pinch mug" for a free tutorial. Gina is a great teacher, and her work is inspiring, modern, approachable, and utterly charming. I'm signed up for some intermediate zoom classes next month and can't wait. I bought some lower case stamping letters and am making a number of personalized mugs for friends. Great gift, right? To make, I carved and stamped at the greenware stage, bisque fired, added underglaze to the text and wiped away, and then applied wax to the area where you see the bare clay. 

Well, I was planning to write more about some projects that required multiple firing, but this post is already a bit long and I'm cooking dinner at the same time. I'll write the second part a bit later. 

Thanks for reading. Be well!

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