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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Raku Workshop and Kiln Dilemma

Guess i should start with the raku workshop. Two Saturdays in a row. While there were only 4 of us the first Saturday, the group energy was terrific. Fun. Thanks Tim.

The local arts council pottery dept is well supplied with equipment: wheels aplenty, a slab roller, an extruder, a couple of Skutts kilns and a new raku kiln.
Tim Rein X X hosted the workshop, brought his raku glaze recipes and his expertise. We threw a few pots, slab-constructed a few pieces, fired the new raku kiln for the first time with several of Tim's pieces which he'd brought for demo purposes.
The next Saturday, we all glazed and fired the pieces created the Saturday before.

Now, i want to brag on Olympic kilns. They are really nice people to work with; solution oriented folks. When we spoke the last time, approx. 2 weeks ago, we thought the firing problem might be the oriface size. So they put larger orifaces in the mail right away. Received them the first Saturday of the workshop. Put them in the kiln the following Monday.

However, didn't try to fire the kiln until today.
And while this firing was not a success, i'm extremely optimistic that the next one will be !!!
When today's firing only produced temps to 2050°F with a lot of bushy yellow flames, i called Olympic again. Spoke with Bob Hogan this time and he asked the magic question: "That's a 3-ring kiln, isn't it? Are you using all 3 rings?"
"Ummm . . . no. Just 2 of them."
Bob replied: "I believe that's your problem. The 1827G will only reach full temp when using all 3 rings."
Tomorrow, i'll add the other ring, raise the hood higher towards the ceiling and refire on Friday.
Betcha it works like a charm . . . .

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Red Glaze Experiments

The very first thing i want to do here is give a special word of THANKS to John Post. He's an awesome fellow. In my book, he stands 120 feet tall !!!
Gotta mention that for 3-4 years, i've been trying to achieve reds. Have mixed this chemical and that; followed this recipe and that. Testing one procedure after another.

Without success.

The fact, that neither of my kilns operate "right" hasn't helped my pursuit a'tall.
ok. All that said, let's get on with the story.
Found John's site: and perused his ceramic creations along with his detailed glaze information.
Decided to try out one of his glazes:

Petes's Tomato Red #13 (+ more bone ash) +++
10.8 % -- Frit 3134
23.1 % -- Nepheline syenite
10 % -- Bone ash
6.2 % -- Magnesium carb
7.7 % -- Whiting
21 % -- EPK
21.2 % -- Flint
John says to add:
2 % Bentonite
10 % Red iron oxide

However, i skipped the bentonite and only added the RIO.
Please see his detailed notes at the link above.
Ought-a explain here that it's in my nature to tinker with things. And i'd read that talc helps enable reds. And too, cause i haven't yet gotten either of my kilns to fire past ^5, i wanted to bring the glaze temp down a wee bit. So i reduced the 23.1% Neph. syenite to 22 %; reduced the EPK to 15 % and added: Wollastonite at 10 % and Talc at a generous 6 % plus Rutile at 1 %.
Now if you follow along his site you'll find that on one of his bowls, he puts a glaze called MYB over the top of the tomato red. I noticed that the flint, EPK, Neph, Whiting were all basically in similar amounts as the tomato red; the only additive which differed greatly was the zinc oxide.
And, being lazy that day, decided to use the tomato red base and add 12 % zinc oxide instead of the former additives.
Applied one thick coat of the PTR#13 with one thick coat of the MYB adoptation over the top quarter of the inside. John had said the MYB was runny and yes. even the adoptation was runny.

Now to stir this stew with absolute confusion: remember i mentioned that my kilns don't exactly work well ???
That being so, here's the scoop on firing: fired the gas kiln in oxidation, then at ^012 started body reduction. At ^05 -- returned to oxidation and continued firing. Even with extreme coaxing and trying every thing i knew, couldn't get the kiln to fire hotter than 2012 degrees F.
Had started firing by 5:30am and it was after midnight. Whether or not the pots had glazed, my eyes had glazed over with exhaustion !!! So. Put it back in reduction for approx. 20 minutes and shut it down.
The next day found that the glazes had not vitrified and there was absolutely no indications of a red color.

A couple of days later, had a new theory on how to get my electric kiln to fire to 2167 degrees F. In searching for a pot that i didn't mind losing if the theory failed, my eyes lit upon the pot described above. Put it in the electric kiln for a totally oxidized firing . . . .
And below, you can see the results:

Now on this next photo, i changed the procedure of the glaze a wee bit. Had some dabs of a Rhodes #18 glaze. So applied this to the outside, and splashed the PTR#13 with zinc in a small area. Intriguingly, believe that if the whole had been glazed with the Rhodes and the PTR#13 would have achieved a most interesting red-surfaced pot exterior !

Ok. For anyone who is mixing their own glazes and seeking a red -- this is the best i can currently offer.
Good luck
And good glazing

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Susan Sheehan

Here's a link to Susan Sheehan's sites:
She creates awesome lampworked beads.
I know they are awesome for back in the years when i lampworked glass, i tried unsuccessfully to create the very effects Susan is creating. It takes a lot of skill and talent to turn out such elegant floral beads.
Her work is splendiferously delicious.
The link above takes you to her main page. From there you can find her Etsy store and her blog.
Her blog is informative. Interesting. Short directives on marketing avenues which lead you to more information.
Worth the journey to her site to see what she's all about.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happpy Easter

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Happy Easter Everyone
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Chae

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Firing Gas Kiln

You would think that i've forgotten everything i ever knew !!!
Panic attacks are like that -- they cloud the mind and blank out useful info which is stored there.

Up ( not so early) this morning to start the gas kiln.
Now, it's been ages and ages since i've attempted to fire this kiln. But, battling with the Paragon electric exhausted me and out of pure desperation, decided to overcome my fear of burning the house down and go for the gas kiln.
Just kidding.
The operation is perfectly safe.
In the past, haven't had much better luck getting the gas kiln up to temps than i did with the electric.
The propane fello and i have modified the gas pressure from the tank to the kiln; shortened the gas line; i erected a hood over the entire ensemble, and this morning . . . .
Well, this morning i'm going for the brass ring.
In my eagerness to see if the kiln would, now, reach temps -- forgot to bring the initial temps up slowly.
Ran a candle flame for the first hour-and-a-half -- to temps of 300°F
Then opened the main burners, not fully open mind you, but ignited.
Temps climbed rapidly. Thought oaah-oh! Too fast. But let it go as it's already past the first inversion layer.
So. We'll see. It's a test run. Right? Merely to see if the kiln will now reach at least Cone 5-6. So far; so good. Good steady heat increase of 300°F per hour. Yes. Yes. i know. That's too fast. Like i said: just want to see if 2167°F can now be obtained.
The 3 cups inside were created with with Georgie's G-Mix 6 with Grog which is a pretty forgiving clay, so am keeping my fingers crossed that it will humor me on this firing.
Great kilning days to y'all

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kiln Hood

It doesn't take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure out the design for a kiln hood. But it may take a Texas wrangler to wrestle the parts into place.

After the Paragon kiln's latest failure Tues, have more or less given up on it. It was a worthless piece of junk when i bought it brand new. The Paragon kiln manufacturers misrepresented their product, saying that the 110-volt kiln would reach temps of 2300°F. Heck. It won't reach temps much past 1900°F. 2085°F is a real stretch for it. And if you want temps over that, sit a hairslength away from the kiln and pray over it - for that's about your only recourse. Of course, this last technique works best if you have long hair. If your hair style is short, things may become a wee bit hot.

There was nothing left to do but attempt to build a kiln hood. Last time i tried to use the gas kiln, the ceiling became overly hot. Now i know, pottery is spoze to come thru the crucible of fire, but we, as humans, are not. Catching the ceiling on fire isn't the optimal solution.
Tuesday's Paragon failure was Wednesday's trip down to Ace Hdwe to buy the supplies needed to make the hood.
Wed. morning the construction project began.

I might say that at 88 pounds, i am poorly designed to accomplish anything which requires strength and might. So i eyed the steel angle-iron bar with a great deal of trepidation. Could i really get a drill bit to speed-twirl its way thru that thick mass of uncompromising metal? Would a regular old Skil power drill do the trick?
It only took me 4-5 hours to accomplish two holes in the angle-iron! From there we were oly-oly home free. Sawed the metal sheets and the flimsier metal angle-iron suport bars, drilled the rest of the holes, attached the strong eyelet bolts.
By late last night had an acceptable kiln hood which i reckon will deflect the heat from the ceiling. Have to admit tho, by late last night i wanted nothing more than to sit on a heating pad and watch the stupid murder whodunits on tv. Will be ever so tickled when the networks bring comedies back on the air.
This morning my son, Reed, visited and he helped me hang the hood from the ceiling over the kiln.
So! In the next few days, i'll be reconstituting all my Cone 6 oxidised glazes ( for electric kiln firings) to glazes which won't be "ruined" if they go into reduction. Let's face it. Having only fired with the Paragon electric, i'm not the brightest intellect when it comes to gas kilns.

Ho Well . . . Enjoy small victories while they are, still, victories. And the kiln hood is just such an occassion !!!
Happy days to all who are constructing kiln hoods
And may you all have a healthy supply of bandaids . . . .

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Difficult Birth

You have no idea the extreme trauma these critters suffered just to be born. Their journies into creation were almost destroyed by my Paragon kiln.
Paragon kilns are an abomination straight out of Hades.

For nearly two years, the Paragon kiln didn't even pretend to function properly. Then, for one month exactly, it decided to work correctly. After successful firings 3 days per week, for a month, i decided to trust it with this piece.
A sweet little fello who i didn't want to consign to "chance".
Because there was room in the kiln for one more piece, added this cup to the load.


Up at 3am to start the kiln as usual.
It "finished" the program 45-minutes early.
When removed from the kiln the next morning, the pieces were "disasters" of unmelted, underfired glaze. I just about sat down and cried.
ok. so we re-fire, right?
Up the next morning at 3am to start the kiln.
It wouldn't even pretend to start.
Called Susan at Paragon. Now Susan is the dearest, sweetest person in the world, who genuinely cares about people. She diagnosed the problem as a mal-functioning thermocouple and put one in the mail that day.
Received it. Installed it. And Tuesday
Yep! You guessed it ........
Was up at 3am to start the kiln.

Seems like we were right back to square one.
Fought for 17-19 hours to complete a 10-hour firing, fighting with a malfunctioning kiln.
Have a feeling the thermocouple doesn't know how to talk to the control panel. But that is just a hunch.
Like i said in the beginning: these critters suffered extreme trauma whilst coming thru the crucible into existence. I wonder if future generations will fully appreciate their journey?