Monday, August 11

Mug test #2 and zero common sense

2nd mug test before (above).

after . . . some good stuff, some not so good stuff. I had a few more successes with this firing. A couple of real bombs, but there are a few pots that I would actually sell without too much embarrassment. I also fired a piece of my test clay. Here I'll post a photo of this, it's kind of wierd. The fired test and the raw clay are almost exactly the same color. I don't think I've ever really seen that. At least I haven't, maybe I'm sheltered. The nice thing is that it is really vitrified. Hard, has a nice ting and a slight sheen. Next I'm going to throw a couple of little test pots from the lump and see what some of my glazes look like on it. I'm researching on how to make my own clay from slip and dry it in frames. I've only used a mixer in school, which I don't want to do again even if I had a free mixer. I hated it. If anyone has any advice on things they've learned about the slurry proccess or building frames, how powerful the drill needs to be or whatever, any help would be greatly appreciated. I did read at St. Earth Pottery site about re-inforcing the frames under the fabric with wire mesh which I thought was brilliant.





During my first test firing the other night, Friday I think, I was lying in bed and I head this strange sound. I would have just chalked it up to the cats but since my grandson was over I got up to check just to be sure there were no boogey men lurking about. Fortunately Adam was deep in sleep and so he was safe. While I'm in the living room I hear the sound again and now I can tell it's coming from the basement and I then knew what it probably was.

I had tried to raw fire a piece, but the piece itself was really still somewhat (okay very) much in the leatherhard stage, and when I opened the lid of the kiln, which was at 600 degrees by this point, There was the cup standing perfectly, except for the bottom which had blown itself into a million fragments, some landing in the bowls of the cups on the same shelf. I really didn't want to stop the firing and if it had been much hotter I probably would have had to, but instead I threw common sense to the wind and pulled the pieces out, dumping the broken fragments from them, pulled the shelves out and dumped those clean and assessed that the bottom layer was fine. There didn't seem to be a bunch of pieces logded into the element channels so I loaded back up and continued on, the kiln chugging away the entire time. This was a little hot as you can imagine and so I had to handle things quickly and set them down before the smoke rising from my gloves turned into intense heat burning my hands. Obviously I would not have done this with a full sized kiln. That would be a wee bit silly.

7 comments:

Ben Stark said...

You are braver than I am--unloading at 600. What kind of mixer did you use in college that you hated so much? I've mixed in a bluebird and Soldner mixer and actually preferred the bluebird, even though it cut the crap out of my hand on more than one occasion! I kind of miss mixing my own clay--having control over clay formulas was nice. Sorry, no help here on the slip into clay making. And sorry for the longish comment :)

Deborah Woods said...

Brave, stupid, probably not much difference. We had a Soldner mixer. I just found it to be incredibly dusty, backbreaking, knuckle scraping work, and I hated scraping the clay from the mixer. From what I've learned so far I can make up my clay in a large 55 gallon drum and make it like a really thick slip and then pour it into frames to dry to consistency. Something about that appeals to me a lot more. No need to worry about longish comment. I am the wordiest one out there I think.

Ben Stark said...

I was never a fan of the Soldner mixer because of cleaning it--and it really didn't mix that well--always had a lot of buildup. Anyway, the drum idea sounds cool, and I remember seeing drying racks on someone's blog a while back. I'll go check and see if I can find it.

Ben Stark said...

HA! I found it! This was on Alex Matisse's blog. Maybe a little more than you might need ;)
http://alexmatisse.blogspot.com/2008/03/its-dirty-job.html

Deborah Woods said...

Ben, thank you soooo much for finding that for me. I really appreciate it. I'm going to go read it right now. Thanks.

Hannah said...

Hi, I love the way you work through all these things on your blog. It makes for very interesting reading. The slip and the broken handles, I'd say the handle is just too thin to cope with it.
I like the surfaces you have onthat batch of mugs there.

Deborah Woods said...

Thanks Hannah, and I think you're right about the handles. Since I already think they are too thin for me that should be an easy thing to change. I really enjoy sharing all of this with everyone. It's helpful for me I think. Helps to keep me motivated and moving forward. Thank you for reading.