Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More adventures in pottery making

There are many, many steps in the creative process of pottery making. I am chronicling them here in an attempt to show people how much goes into the creation of hand-formed pottery. Most people know the wheel-throwing part of pottery making but there is so much more that needs to be done before clay becomes a finished and functional piece.

The mug or bowl you use had to be:

trimmed or had attachments made
fired a final time

Then there is the glaze mixing, the kiln maintenance, the loading, and so much more.

Yesterday I had to give my gas kiln some attention. I always give it a good vacuuming before a firing so any stray bits of brick or flotsam don't mar my pottery during a firing. It seems though, that despite my best efforts, one or two pieces of pottery always comes out with a bit of brick stuck in the glaze...

...Probably because some of the soft kiln brick is showing wear and needs to be repaired. (The holes you can see around the edges of the floor are the burner ports where the flames come into the kiln chamber.)

I'm certainly no expert at this kind of thing but since I still don't have an apprentice to handle this stuff, I needed to just take a stab at it myself.

So using some refractory cement and a putty knife I filled some of the broken and worn areas and cracks. We'll see after the firing what kind of difference it makes.

The next project was to get some glazing done. I tackled the small, easy stuff that is pretty straight-forward.

For these, the glazing is done simply by dipping each piece into the bucket of glaze.

This glaze will be an emerald green when fired.

This will be a rusty red.

And this will be a golden yellow.

Once these small easy pieces are out of the way, I can spend time on the more detailed and time-consuming glazing.

These pots from my vine and garden series require special glazing techniques and take a lot of time to prepare for the kiln.

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