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Friday, March 28, 2008

Orange Results

Ok. Opened the kiln last night at 8pm on the button. And the results of the testing are in.
Yunomi cup which i'd used 2 of Alisa Clausen's "pink" recipes on: one on the inside & one outside.
A nondescript cup made with the sole intention of glaze testing.
And a regular cup, which if it came out of the glaze attractively enough, could actually be used!

All were a huge disappointment.

Alisa Clausen's "pink's" required a slow cooling - so this necessitated a 12-hour firing. And because my "new" kiln (purchased in August; arrived in Sept and already the digital programmer shuts the kiln off prematurely. Current remedy? Sit and watch that puppy every minute! ) shut off midway through, the 12-hour firing took much longer!
Used Chappell's SFG-9 on this one. Should have realized that with a recipe containing 4.1% Magnesium Carb, it would turn out with metallic overtones. Instead, thought it'd work pretty well as a raw glaze. ( Which it did! ) Discovered that (with the magnesium) copper + vanadium produce dark brown. Vanadium + Crocus Martin produce? Dark brown.
xxxxxxxxxxxxx This nondescript cup was supposed to be Orange! On the inside, the results of Vanadium + Titantium (with Rhodes' #18) produced brown. On the outside, we came a wee bit closer to achieving the desired results with Titantium + Praseodymium.
Close but no cigar.
However -- there are possibilities here. (1) reduce the amount of Titanium (2) increase the amount of the other oxides (3) fire at "normal" temps instead of the higher temp with the prolonged hold.
This one came closest to "orange" and it is supposed to be Pink !!! (Cream Breaking Red -- apply thinly for pinks; thickly for cream.) As viewed above, the outside was applied thinly. It was scratchily rough and i sandpapered the dickens out of it.
On the inside "Icing Pink" was applied with 2 thick coats. This one was not supposed to "break". Twas spozed to be a solid tutu-pink. It has exactly one very small area of color on the inside.
OK. So it's back to the drawing board on oranges. We're not there yet. Sorta feel like Thomas Edison when asked by a reporter how it felt to have had so many failures when trying to develop the light bulb.
Edison's reply was classic. "Young man," he said. "I have successfully found One thousand, 2 hundred and 43 ways that don't work."
Or was that: 12 thousand, 1 hundred and 43 ways that didn't work?
Am bisque-firing today. Was up at 3:16am to start the load. Not because i wanted to start that early, but nervous agitation about the kiln misfiring kept me awake and it was easier just to get up and begin the firing.
Happy awakefulness everyone

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quick Thought

May have found my Orange!
Glazed pieces this afternoon and will put them in the kiln tomorrow morning. It won't be clear until Thurs afternoon around 5pm whether this works or not, but had a brainstorn (you know how those go!) that if i mixed Vanadium with Titanium in an alkaline base we'd get orange . . . .
Also tried mixing Praseodymium with Titanium and applied to the outside of the same piece.
Am so excited - am thinking i just may have found the oxide combination which will work for this color.
The vanadium + titanium even looked peachy as i applied it !!!

Happy glazing Everyone

Friday, March 21, 2008

Design Concepts

A year ago , when i opened the kiln and found the various pots cracked -- i was so disappointed. Strange, for now when i open the kiln and the pots are whole -- i'm still disappointed !!!
I find the designs aren't what was expected. The colors are close but no cigar to what careful calculations promised they would be. Colors do not blend. Instead of precise shading, the main color merely looks "washed out".
Such was the case yesterday when the kiln was opened.

It seems that designs which look great on paper aren't necessarily apropo for ceramics. Then, there's the color scheme. So it's a whole new ballgame.

Haven't forgotten y'all. Have been nose to the grindstone, trying to figure out design concepts which will transfer to the ceramic medium effectively. New techniques which will lend themselves to glazes and to the subtle shading necessary to highlight form and indicate depth.

In pursuit of this found Toni Platon-Tiu's site ( ) which questions how we would see our life if we viewed it on a canvas.
Toni asks: "What colors are most dominant? (On the canvas of your life.) Tell me about the figures you see, the shapes and lines that are forming. Is it abstract? Is it defined by still life? Is it set in a meadow with red poppies? Tell me what you see."

Intriguing, eh? But i didn't have time to pursue this line of thinking, for the pursuit of ceramic design and glaze coloring took precedence. Did find a link on Toni's page which led to leaves, trees, and flowers. ( )

Recently, tried Emmanuel Cooper's zinc, nickel + barium recipe #404. Trying for pinks. However, there is no latitude in his 2282 degrees F !!! The glaze did not vitrify at 2167 F. Had anticipated this might be the case, so on the other half of the plate added some Wollastonite hoping to bring the vit temperature down. This sort-a worked. But the glaze pooled in glossy globules. On both halves, the expected "pinks" came out shades of tan + brown.

The explorer in me is greater than the perfectionist. And since this was an exploration forey, i also tried woodash and strontium carb mixed in with the 404 recipe with the addition of the Wollastonite on a section of the plate.
Here were my pinks !!! Floating on top of a glossy dark brown pooled between the plate's side and bottom.

Ah sure now, and if you don't hear from me for a day or two, you'll know i'm knee deep in chemical dust trying to transfer what is in my head to plates, bowls, etc., and have it appear to be more than just a jumbled mess of colors!

Toni, still referring to the palette of our lives, says: "If you don’t like what is on your canvas, no worries. You have a palette of unlimited colors and you are in control of what colors and strokes to use."

Betcha anything, she's never messed around creating pottery !!!

Happy Glazing Days

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Recent Experiment

Recently, have been doing my best to develop glazes. Success with the Rhodes #18 and his #15 glazes (They are a dream to add coloring oxides to! ) gave me the courage to branch out and see what special effects could be obtained.

Am using an electric kiln with an oxidation atmosphere. Firing to Cone 5 (2167 degrees F) with a 15 minute hold.

Without further ado, here is one of my recent experiments.
Having read that silicon carbide over copper oxide will produce "reds" in oxidation, decided to try this out. Applied a wash of copper, then added a layer of silicon carbide mixed with CMC. The cmc was used in order to get the silicon carbide to stick to the cup !!! xx Covered all with Rhodes #18 + Tin Oxide which i usually use for white.
Observation: No reds. Rough texture. White turned blue.

Next: on the inside of the same cup, applied a layer of Rhodes #18 + Tin Oxide. Then applied a layer of salt diluted with water (as a wash) over the Rhodes. Thirdly: applied another layer of the Rhodes over the salted solution. Was trying for an inglaze affect. Made some swirls with my "lavender" and covered all with 2 layers of Rhodes #15 as i always do.
Result: xxxxxxxxxxx
Expected: an orange peel effect
Observation: No obvious difference with the salted solution between the layers.

Note: Silicon Carbide "jumps". It transferred from the outside of this cup to the inside; also jumped into another cup, and there was a spot of it on the kiln wall!

Happy Experimenting folks !!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Non-Working Bright Ideas

Does anyone else have trouble with handles?

Have watched quite a few videos on pulling handles. Then, re-watched these videos. The technique seems pretty easy. Still, just to be on the safe side --
Yep! You guessed it. Watched those handle-pulling videos again.
Even took a seminar once where the instructor demonstrated pulling handles.
So it ought to be a piece of cake, right?

Durn it. Mine turn out clunky.
They are too thick.
Or too thin.
One side's higher than the other.
They're crooked.
They warp in the middle.
Or have ridges.
They're too round.
Or too flat.

It's pretty safe to say: xx Even the thought of pulling handles fills me with an emotionally charged, blood and thunder condition of hypertension.

So last night, just before news time at 5:30pm, when a brilliant inspiration slipped into my consciousness, i jumped right up and raced to the pottery room. Couldn't wait to throw a cup. Wanted to try out this new, keen-witted plan. It was a clever design concept which would totally bypass my lack of ability and skill in creating handles !!!

Except . . . .

It doesn't work.
Darn! I was just sure my muddleheaded dilemma of forming handles was solved forever.

Here's the scoop. Throw the cup.
After it's formed, cut two slits in the clay.
Form the clay between the slits into a handle -- an organic extension of the cup itself.

Here's the result: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Ah sure now, it's back to the drawing board on this one.
Happy handles everyone

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Quick Note

Where did all my creative energy go?
It flew away. Flew away.

Somewhere to a sunshine land blossoming with Spring flowers and songbirds chirping merry melodies. Where the days are balmy and the night time skies sport a full moon; where couples dance rag-time waltzes by the light of twinkling stars and women still wear dresses which billow in the gentle breeze.

So! In its absence have been making cups. Which about says it all . . . .

However, have indulged one piece of creativity.
And here it is:
A double-walled pitcher.
It was fun to do, except the outer wall was about to collapse on me so brought it together before achieving quite the concept i had in mind. Wanted it fatter! With the outside folding in rather than the inside slanting outwards.
For a first attempt, it's not terribly bad. Eh?

Another hour to go before i can check the kiln and see how my "red" experiments turned out. Didn't feel quite up to par Sunday when i was trying to wrap my mind around chemical combinations -- so will actually feel lucky if any color turns out !!!