Glazing Day

Time to do a little glazing!  Or a lot, as it were.  Here’s a glimpse of what things look like when I spend an afternoon up at the studio.

I do my glazing and firing at this amazing place.  The facilities and available equipment and materials are pretty much everything I could possibly want at this stage in my career–I’m learning so much!

What’s available in the glaze room:

Glazes!

Test tiles with possible glaze combinations!

Raw materials!  (This makes possible my foray into mixing new and exciting glaze colors–I’ll get quasi-technical in a later post, but right now I’m mostly experimenting with celadons and ash glazes.)

A spray booth!  This is a big deal.  Beautiful gradient effects are possible using this application technique;  I spray most of my larger items and my mugs.  (To clarify: you could spray without a booth–you would just inhale a lot of corrosive and carcinogenic particles.  The booth has a powerful fan that pulls the airborne particles up and away from your face.)

Pictured below are pots that are in the “bisque” stage–they have been fired once, to a low temperature (around 1800 degrees–you know, no biggie), enough to harden them so they can take a little rough treatment, but not enough to make them impermeable to moisture like the finished product will be.  At this stage they are very porous and will absorb the water from glaze, helping the glaze to dry quickly into a relatively solid surface that can be handled.

Today I need to glaze a bunch of these soap dishes and card holders, and also a  pitcher and cup set.  The set I’ll spray; little guys like these just take a quick dip in a glaze bucket.

I neglected to photograph the actual process of this, but you always want to make sure there is no glaze on the feet, or foot, of your pot.  Glaze basically turns to glass in the kiln, flows a bit, and will stick to whatever it touches, in this case kiln shelves.  To avoid this, you want about a quarter-inch of blank clay on the bottom of your pot, to allow for a little bit of flow (this can be pushed once you know your glazes).  So the bottom of one of these trays will look like this after I’ve dipped it, used a damp sponge to wipe back the excess glaze, and fired it:

When I have more than, say, one pot to glaze, to keep from going crazy I create little stacks or groups of them and dash off little notes on scrap paper so that I don’t have to revisit the umpteen glaze decisions I made 10 minutes ago.  This week I have a lot of these little trays and business card stands to glaze (I may have been heard to use the term “a million” when stressed.)

This pitcher and these cups were my donation for the auction at the St. Charles Artwalk this past weekend.  Since I’ve gotten onto this ash glaze kick (more on that later), I decided the set would look stunning in a combination of ash glazes and a glossy blue celadon.  I also had it fired in the soda kiln, hoping that would add another layer of beauty and mystery to it.

Here’s the pitcher after being coated inside with my favorite deep red glaze, then sprayed on the outside with my aforementioned choices.  Although the picture’s fuzzy, you can see the subtle colors on the piece–it’ll look totally different after the firing.

Like this, to be exact:

It’s wrapped in a towel because I had to take it from the (still pretty hot) soda kiln on my way out to the Artwalk.  (The studio manager was pretty cool about opening the kiln early for me, but I won’t ask him to do it again.)

Love that deep red.  The mottled colors you’re seeing on the outside are from the ash glazes–the gray areas at the top are where I applied it a little thick.  Ideally, I’d like a little more stringing (the rivulets), but I’m learning.  Ash glazes can run if applied too thickly, so I think I erred on the side of caution.  I’m also still learning to take risks, I guess.

Now, if I had dipped this pitcher into glazes instead of spraying it, I would have had hard lines of color instead of gentle fading.  It’s all about your personal style–and I’m definitely the gentle-fading type.

Here are the little cups.  I love them.  (In real life, the cups match the pitcher.  Imagine colors somewhere in between the above and the below and you’ll have it about right.)

I’m definitely making more of these.  Maybe for myself.

Sadly, they are gone, and I don’t know who has them!  Some (I would argue lucky) person got them in a drawing at the Artwalk this last weekend.  Hopefully that person will find this blog and/or write me an email–I always love that.

Glazed pots, ready to go!  A day well-spent, with rewards to come.

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5 thoughts on “Glazing Day

  1. Terrific posting, Rachel! Great writing, too. No doubt you studied under a noted authority. Beautiful work.

    Your Papa

  2. I just read this post, but I want to go on record to say that I like seeing my birthday in large font. Reading this makes me want to make pots with you. Or at least watch you do it. They are so beautiful!

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