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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.
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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


Sister Creek Potter said...

Goodness you are a brave and determined one! Congratulations! Seems you have hit on something great! Gay

chaetoons said...

Thanks Gay
I was pleased with it too!
Am posting todays "experiments" in a few minutes.