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Friday, September 25, 2009


OK !!! I feel a little more positive now.
It's as if, after much searching thru the convoluted maze of pathways at the world's fair, i finally found the cotton candy booth. Oughta mention here: i love cotton candy!
Here's the scoop.
About three-quarters of the way thru yesterday's firing, realized i was trying to do two opposing things simultaneously.
1.) Was still working under the theory, that with different programming, i could get the little electric Paragon to reach a mid-range temp.
2.) That i had concocted glazes for a much lower temperature range, and if brought up to 2142°F quite possibly, they would "boil" and the effects of the whole firing would give misleading results.

Opted for the lower temperature range. Specifically 2016°F with a 15-minute hold.
Used 3 different glaze calculations.
Here are the results:
Glaze 1 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Glaze 2
Both glaze 1 and 2 vitrified. Glaze 2 is richer, more glossy and a much better glaze. In both cases, i poured glaze into the bowl, swished it around, then poured the remaining out. Glaze#2 is a Conrad G170, cone 3-5 gloss. It worked well, but if used again, will apply 2 coats for i think that will give better results. The pea-green color resulted from the basic glaze with 1% copper carb and 0.25% Rutile added. The dark purplish blue had 0.5 cobalt oxide and 0.25 magnesium added to basic glaze.
Neither of these glazes ran at all.
Now for the prize. This next one is a glaze formulation which i found on the internet which had been published in Ceramics Monthly's April 1998 issue. Notes on the glaze mentioned that it had a Cone 1-6 range but sometimes bubbled at Cone 6.
It is a rich creamy glossy turquoise glaze. Perfect. Only needs one coat. But 2 coats wouldn't hurt it. Doesn't run at 2016°F temp with a 15-min hold. Will definately use this formulation again.
Name: Wrights Water Blue
Cone: 1-6 Oxidation
3% Lithium Carbonate
9% Strontium Carbonate
59% Frit 3110
12% EPK
17% Silica
2% Bentonite
5% Copper Carbonate
Wasn't sure the clay i am using would vitrify at this low of a temperature either, or that the glaze would marry the clay. It's Georgies G-mix 6 with grog. It has a stated range of cone 4-6. However, the clay is extremely versatile and i've used it before when doing raku firing. Had noted, then, that the pieces with a raku 80/20 glaze would hold water indefinately without the liquid seeping out. No leakage.
If sound counts for anything a'tall, a fingernail pinged against the side of the bowl gives a lovely melodic sound as if the clay has vitrified !!!
Currently, have water in all three bowls checking for seepage or leaking.
So !!!!
There you have it. There may be a way around dysfunctional kilns.
After a year in the doldrums, a wee bit of my lifelong positive attitude is returning! And i am soooo glad to meet and greet it again . . . .

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Watching that kiln like a hawk. New glazes. New schedule.
If the glazes come out to anything a'tall, will post photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Up at 3am this morning, to try just one more time to get the little Paragon's cooperation!
Found a glaze firing schedule produced by the Paragon company themselves, which i thought i'd try before chucking the whole Cone 5 venu and remodifying all my glazes to lower temps.
The paragon schedule gallops at high temps up to 1120°F, then crawls slowly to whichever cone completion you're seeking.
Seems backwards to me.
Still . . . . if i didn't try it, how would i know that it didn't work?

The kiln didn't like the Paragon firing schedule any more than i did !!! Shut itself off around 1910°F instead of its usual 2112°F. Yet, true to its own personality quirks, when it was immediately restarted, the onry puppy completed to 2167°F. Of course, you had to be sitting there, nose to nose with the rascally critter, to catch the exact moment it would shut itself off !
Remodifying my glazes it is.
It's worth the effort, eh? Unless i want to sit thru another winter, eyeballing the digital readout dressed in 3 sweaters, an Alaskan parka, mittens and muluc boots trying to catch the exact moment it decides to misfire.
I'm sure there are other possibilities. Just haven't thought of them yet. An' sure now, isn't experimentation a grand pursuit?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Greenware On The Drying Rack

Have i mentioned?
Became fascinated with the old Russian teapots which sported a hole in the center. It took me a minute or two to figure out how to throw such a piece on the wheel. And, as heavy as it is, have a hunch that perhaps the originals were slab-built.
This is my first one.
The pitcher was my second attempt at the theory and it's much lighter.
With practise, ought-a get the technique perfected, eh?


On the pitcher below, the pink areas will bisque-fire blue on a white clay.

Happy Sunday to y'all

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Random Thoughts and Taller Pots

Stormy here today. This area regularly has electrical storms; we seem to have had a lot of them this summer. Lightening zapping from the sky like a cobra's deadly strike. Hitting the undeserving bushes outside, and once, in the other house, it came right inside, hitting the metal woodstove pipe with a resounding crackling. There's no proper word to describe the sound it made. Loud. Crisp. Zap!
That's a pretty long story telling why i won't bisque fire tomorrow. At least, til i know what the weather intends to do.

Last week, bisque-fired every other day filling the small Paragon to capacity each time. This wee kiln, which has such trouble reaching glaze temps, does a bisque fire very well. Was going to post a photo of all that was done, but realized it was nothing to brag about. In a large kiln, it would only have been half a load.

Transferring photos from my camera to the computer has now become a "situation". Not a situational comedy, mind you. Just a troublesome situation. I should have been paying attention, but wasn't -- when my cockateil, Kama, chewed the connector cord. Now, it's "iffy" whether the photos will transfer or not, even with electrical tape wrapped round the wires trying to heal the partially severed copper strands.

Here's a couple of pots thrown and altered this past week. Haven't a clue why it occurred to me to throw a square teapot. Spent more time trying to configure spouts, handles and lid -- on the square -- than the finished pot is probably worth !!!


Am about to take another detour. Have gotten to the point in life where i intensely dislike detours. They are always so time consuming !!! Average lifespan for American women is 68-years old. So! There's little time left to accomplish a mark in the world of pottery. Two? Maybe 3 years? Less? Guess, even a detour is better than sitting here fretting about wasted time.
The detour?
Learning how to sagger fire. It's not what i want to do. I'd prefer a straight-forward glaze firing. But neither kiln will "get there". It was only within the last couple of days that i realized i had options. Saggar firing is one.

Promised my friend, Gay, that i'd post what i knew about throwing taller pots. I'm afraid what i know about the subject isn't much. But here goes:
Here are 3 links (courtesy of John Lowes of Pottery by John) which give videos showing how to throw taller:
(1) This one was the most inspiring for me:
Throwing a tall fluted porcelain vase by David Cuzick
Throwing a big clay pottery vase by potter at Ingleton Pottery
Simon Leach - Learning from Guy Wolff

In the discussion between John and i, we noted:
1. That is a good comment about the type of clay making a difference. David is using Aardvark Nara Cone 10 porcelain. They also have a Cone 5 Nara porcelain.
2. Also notice that David keeps control of the rim of the pot all the way up with his left hand. He also uses his fingers on the right with the sponge to create a ledge under the clay as he pulls up and as you observed the left is pushing out hard stretching on top of the ledge.
3. The inside hand is just above stretching out the clay and the bottom hand is guiding it up and in, at the same time making the claybody wall thinner.
4. Collaring is a big help too.

In Tom Bivins workshop, i noticed that he applied most of these techniques. He starts with approx. 6 and 1/2 pounds of clay (it may have been more than this) , opens a fair amount, then cones up. Tom uses a lot of water. A very wet sponge which he slowly squeezes over his v-shaped inside fingers to focus the water along the sidewall. Using the techniques above, he brings the pot up; then, cones the clay again. Repeating the process until he has these gigantic pots.
Tom advises: "Don't pay attention to the wobbles. Ignore them and continue to bring the clay up."
He also sets his rim early on. Says it helps stabilize the pot.

You'd think with all the above info, i'd be able to throw tall pots. Not so. The tallest i've managed so far it 9-inches. The taller pots you've seen me post, have used the age-old technique of throwing the tallest pots i can manage, then stripping them together into one pot.
Last i heard tho, John is having much better luck! And better skill
If you're trying to throw tall pots -- good luck and good skill to you . . . .