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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Read somewhere recently that fuming with metal salts is also known as Kosai. Originally a Japanese technique.
This intrigued me. I dearly love to apply unusual names to techniques and other items as well.
So! Googled the word - Kosai. (As much to explore more info on the technique rather than a cute word application.)
Got to laughing so hard, i darn near choked.
Definition of Kosai?
Compensated Dating !!!

I've always been naive and usually gullible so merely thought i'd been "had" . . . . However, the artist, Eduardo Lazo, seemed so serious and genuine that i googled the word again. This time with "pottery" placed in front of the word.

Walla! It is an actual Japanese term for: hue of light.

I'd suggest if you decide to pursue this method of fuming pottery with metallic salts and want to fancy the description of the process up a bit with the terminology: Kosai
You might want to qualify like crazy and stress that while this is a method of creativity (as is the other, i presume . . . ) this one is strictly limited to pottery.
Or somesuch.
There's irony in this. I'm just sure of it.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Best Yet

Was going to shoot this outside where it would sparkle.
It's snowing . . . .
First we had 45 feet of snow
Which finally melted.
As the last mountainous drift faded away, i discovered there not only was grass . . . .
It needed to be mowed !!!
Now just how can that be?

So! Shot these photos inside. The lighting isn't quite right so am not sure you can see the luminescent quality of the glaze. It's awesome !!!

So! Without further ado let me present photos of the most braggable piece produced to date. Only took me 2 + 1/2 years to learn enough to accomplish this!

Isn't that a fascinating blue?x

The horsehair did nicely too!x

It's irresdescent and when the light catches it "just so" the "mother 0f pearliness" shows up.

Happy Experimenting !!! Chae

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More Fuming


Love this process of firing to 1700 degrees F and removing pots from kiln to spray with ferric chloride, stannous chloride and bismuth subnitrate, then transferring them to a barrel loaded with straw and wood chips. It's quick and i can see the results the same day !!!
However, this piece was only fired to 1563 degrees F as am still trying for reds - which didn't happen. It might have - for when first taken out of the kiln, it appeared darker but am afraid the reduction turned the "red" to orangy-yellow.
Also, instead of spraying a solution of stannous on the piece, instead set it on the hot bricks and sprinkled approx. 3 tbsp of the stannous crystals around the base. xxxxxxxxxxx
Did spray the bismuth subnitrate over the whole piece.
The barrel had been prepared with Baking soda, Borax and salt on the straw. Both underneath the piece and on the straw atop.
Gotta run. Piece in the kiln for today's experiment is almost ready to come out to be sprayed with a different method . . . .
Happy experimenting everyone

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Nother New Addition

These 4 pix are of the pot done today using more or less the same method as Tuesday. Except this time i used a different glaze.
Applied a glaze of: 80% Gerstley Borate + 20% Custer Feldspar on the inside. On the outside used the same with the addition of 1.25 [1/8th tsp] of Copper Carb.
Tried using more sugar today. Also sprayed Lightly.
On one side using Ferric Chloride:
The other side using Stannous Chloride.
Over all of this sprayed a mist of Bismuth Subnitrate.
Then put it in barrel with straw, cherry wood chips, salt and copper sulfate.
Have never done this before and am afraid it smoked more than burned.
Couldn't see any positive benefits of this last step as i was trying for copper reds.
Probably should have drilled holes in the barrel near the bottom to draw air. One of my projects for tomorrow so next time we'll be sure to get a good fire burning !!!
Happy experimenting days

New Additions

This little fellow joined the family the day before Mother's Day. Cutest little guy who prefers to sit on my shoulder rather than anywhere's else !!! Named him Kama which is another word for love.
Tried to post pix of newest vase. It didn't work. So will try a new post and see if we get better results!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Technique

OK. So no sooner was everything ready to proceed with this technique in the yard, than the weather decided to present us with a mini-blizzard.

Was so frustrated at the delay, decided to try a very similar technique in the house in the back room near the electric kiln.
xxxxxxxxxxxx xx
Basic setup: Have banding wheel close to kiln.
Glaze a bisqued piece with a low-fire raku glaze.
When temp reaches 1700 degrees F remove pot from kiln with long tongs and place on the banding wheel.
Sprinkle sugar over it. Then apply horsehair. And feathers if you wish.
Then spray with ferric chloride. After which it is misted with water.

These are the perimeters of the technique but i strongly suggest you buy the book (see previous blog entry) before trying this out.
Here are a few observations on my experience with this:
1. Have never done this before. So i was nervous as sin.
2. Did wear respirator, also welding glasses, canvas apron and welding gloves.
3. Had placed everything within a foot of the working area - feathers, horsehair, sugar, spray bottle of ferric chloride, spray bottle of water, pliers
4. Turned kiln off when 1700 degrees F was reached, opened and propped lid. So good so far.
5. With tongs lifted pot from kiln onto the banding wheel. It was exactly at this point that my initial nervousness turned to near panic. Had worn a long-sleeved wool shirt and as the kiln bathed it in super-hot rays of heat, i thought the sleeves had caught on fire !!! Resolved to wear leather arm protectors the next time.
6. Sprinkled the pot with sugar. Again - an unexpected result. When the sugar hit the pot, small flames shot into the air. Not large flames, mind you, but enough to startle the unsuspecting.
7. Tried to pick up the feathers and horsehair with needle-nose pliers. The welding gloves were too clumsy to accomplish this, so took them off. But: by now i was shaking right down to my bootstraps. It's darn difficult to corral feathers which by their nature are flying about in the air even under normal circumstances but nearly impossible when your hands are shaking uncontrollably.
8. Was totally aware that the pot sitting on the bandwheel was cooling rapidly while i chased the feathers about. If the pot gets too cool the method won't work.
9. Sprayed the ferric chloride solution on the pot. Note: a very thin, ever so lightly, spray of the FC would have worked better. The heavier the application, the darker the "rust" effect.
10. Misted with water.
11. The pot cooled rapidly and within a half hour could see the results, pick up the pot and rub it gently with a soft cloth.

Conclusion: Will i try this again? Definately.
Went to the thrift store this morning, bought a leather jacket, and will cut the arms out to wear as protective covering.
Will figure out a way to get more sugar on the pot as (at this point in time) i think this is what turned some areas glossy and luminescent.
Will use less ferric chloride.
The beauty of this is xx -- xx I can fire every day !!!
If the kiln is started at 5am, it reaches 1700 degrees F by 2pm; and with all of the above is completely finished by 3pm which leaves the kiln free to fire the next day instead of having to wait 22 hours for the pieces to kiln-cool.
Tomorrow is another firing of this sort.
It sure would be nice if the weather cleared and it could be done outside . . . .
Here's to adventurous firing experimental days

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sandy Day

Well. I had most of the stuff anyways.
So today seemed like the perfect time to acquire the washtub, sand, salt, Jasco Silicone Grout Sealer and rubbing alcohol. Started out in pursuit of these materials well before 9am this morning.
Shopping in a one-horse town can be challenging, especially if the horse has floundered and it's the only game for 100 miles. (By the way, has anyone bought gas lately? It cost me $27.86 to fill my little car's 5 gallon tank. To do a cost comparative analysis - just a few years back, the cost would have been a schochi over $5.00 !!! And thank goodness i filled it Saturday . . . the price went up another 12 cents by Monday.)

Found the salt, Jasco Grout Sealer and rubbing alcohol right away. And also, the large stainless steel bowl and Pyrex glass lid.
However, the washtub was a bit of a headache. By the process of temporizing reconsideration, came to the conclusion that a plastic galvanized metal washtub would probably work - as the fire and flame wouldn't reach beyond the sand and hopefully, the sand won't get hot enough to melt the plastic.
The only major obstacle left to overcome was the sand itself.
If i tell you that my back is out and my leg seems to have a crink in it - well, that was from trying to drag 80 pound sacks of sand from the car to the back yard to fill the plastic galvanized metal washtub! It took four of those puppies to do the trick. That's 360 pounds !!!

OK. So already yet. I hear you asking: What's this all about ???

Recently purchased Watkins & Wandless's book: Alternative Kilns & Firing Techniques. If any of you have been in a creative slump recently, it's a must have. Just reading the book, stimulates the imagination and gets the creative liquids circulating to nearly the 212 degree mark. Makes you want to jump right up and start trying all these new methods immediately.

Here's a shortened version of Don Ellis' Copper Matte-Alcohol Reduction technique:
1. Acquire tub and fill it with sand.
2. Place stainless steel bowl in sand and place the glass lid close by.
3. Spray copper wash on bisqued piece and fire to 1750 degrees.
4. Remove from kiln and place on banding wheel (my "banding wheel" is going to be an improvised affair.)
5. Spray with rubbing alcohol. Spray 6-9 layers, waiting 5 seconds between sprays.
6. Place piece in stainless steel bowl and cover with the glass lid which you have handy nearby.

Sounds easy - doesn't it?

If for nothing more than the photos, you need the book. It details more information on Ellis' technique than i've outlined here, along with other techniques that are equally exciting. The photography work is excellent. And if your piece comes out resembling the photos of Ellis' work, you'll have a copperized item with luxurous, iridescent blues, pinks and lavenders. I can hardly wait to try it . . . .
My back is protesting so vigorously that i think we'll try this out on Thursday instead of tomorrow.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Southeastern Idaho's introduction to May.

Photo taken yesterday - May 1, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Computors and kilns seem to be the bane of my existence lately.
Come to think of it -- they are both electric.
Perhaps it's the electricity that's baneful.
Have spent all afternoon trying to offload these photos from the camera to the computor.
After every two photos the computor shuts itself off.
Which is one of the reasons i've not been online much lately. It's just too frustrating.
However - by hook or crook - did get these 4 photos postable.

xx x

Was looking for crystals - hoping one of y'all would see what i could not . . . .
Anyone see
Anything that even remotely looks like "crystals" ???

And that strangely colored lid? Stark and shiney blue? It's the very same glaze that's on the rest of the pot. How did that happen?
Ah sure now - it's time for supper.
And i still have to cook it !!!
Happy crystal hunting