sixteen, seventeen, experimenting, learning

Hello! This weekend is the inaugural Urban Barn Market and I have spent the last week finishing, firing, and glazing.  Yesterday I did my last glaze and I just unloaded the big kiln to refill, fire, and have time for one last firing for anything that needs a touch-up.  And well, let's just say it will.  I have been just in love with the porcelain I've been using since last July.  It throws like stoneware, is nice and white, reclaims better than English porcelains, and looks lovely with all of my favorite forms.  Someone gave me the most beautiful clear glaze I've ever used about a month ago.  It stayed suspended, went on smoothly, didn't drip or splotch or anything.  It was wonderful on cups, teacups, vases.  Really bad on flat plates and platters, but I thought that firing a tad hotter would fix it.  Temporarily, it did.  I talked to some very experienced potters in my neighborhood and tinkered with the recipe, to no success.  Found a glaze that was less delightful, but worked ok, and I decided to just go with it and some leftover commercial glaze I had from a large order last year and finish up my work for UBM. 

I always let my kilns cool for 24 hours to reduce any chances of thermal shock (I learned this the hard way), so as I began unloading this last colorful kiln, I was dismayed to find all of my white, aqua, and cobalt pieces (two of these are commercial glazes), plus the very few pieces I glazed in commercial clear, covered in a spiderweb of crazing.  Friends, this spring has been a period of painful learning experiences, and I am slow to learn.  It's the clay.  The first batch I worked with, of which I still have 75 lb, have been lovely.  The last batch doesn't fit with anything.  I buy my clay with another potter, and sure enough, she has been having similar issues.  I am almost relieved to learn that our problem is the clay and not the near-perfect glaze.  Almost, because this means that all of the work waiting to be fired will need to be fired hotter and it still may not fit right.  Onward.

I do have plates to share with you.  Plate sixteen is a handbuilt, octagonal plate that I painted in a floral cobalt inspired by my favorite Japanese textiles.  It is glazed in a commercial clear glaze, and even though I dipped it, it's pooling strangely and it's crazing.  I'm going to refire it and see how it does, but overall I like it.  I don't seem to tire of this pattern, happily.

Plate seventeen is my favorite in this series, and I'm keeping it.  It's the last thing I finished before I went to the Country Living Fair a few weekends ago.  I drew into the not-quite leather-hard piece with a pencil and walked away to do something else.  When I came back, I noticed that the lines I drew were fairly deep because the clay had been wet, so I left it for the weekend.  On Monday, I took a dry brush I use for covering faux bois pieces in cobalt and dry brushed the piece so that if left cobalt deposits over the entire plate/tray.  After bisque firing, I washed the excess cobalt off, then dipped it in commercial clear glaze.  Again, crazing issues, but I'm happy with it for my own use.

The cobalt is quite dark in some places, nonexistent in others.  It's much more loose than I usually work, but I love the end result.

I hope to pop in later this week with a preview of what I'll have at the market.  Please visit Urban Barn Market for more details if you're in the Memphis area!