Thursday, 26 August 2010

Ok, another question!

I started another couple of vases yesterday, but before too long they were too floppy for me to work on, so I started another couple of vases while I was waiting for them to set a little.

So now I have four vases on the go and one big problem - the weather. I'm leaving the vases unwrapped, but the air is so cold and damp that they just don't want to stiffen up!

I'm thinking about actually using my hair dryer on them! But I know that usually quick drying results in cracking. Do you think it will be ok since I'm not completely drying the pot?

I saw a video on youtube once of a man using a blowtorch on his pot! I really thought it would make the pot crack, but apparently not. So, surely a hair dryer will be ok?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Inspiration struck!

Well, as I said, my original plan for those vases was to slip inlay a Jane Austen character on each one, but I just wasn't feeling excited about that and I didn't know what to do with them. Then... inspiration struck!...

I looked at my little sketches of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. How could I bring their characters to life? What was there about the sketches that said "Mr Darcy" or "Elizabeth Bennet"? Nothing really.

I thought about the story. Neither character really has anything about them individually that makes them easily recognisable, like Emma and her snobbish match making, and Marianne and her love for hill walking and her pining for Willoughby. Except...

...their love and hate for each other! Of course! The two need to be together to bring the story to life! And so on one vase I have them turned away from each other, and on the other vase I have them turned towards each other! I was so excited about this idea that I had to do it straight away! So I was up until about 6am!

My slip inlaying never seems to photograph very well, so I have no photo of the other vase and this one might not be very clear, but I hope they will come out well after firing.

I must say a big thank you to Scott and Kim for their advice on my last post. Although I won't be using low fire glazes on these pieces after all, the advice won't be wasted as I plan to try the idea on another piece. Thank you!

Need some advice from experienced potters please!

I finally finished the two vases I was coiling and I'm very happy with them. Here they are:

These are made with white stoneware, and I had originally planned to slip inlay a couple of my Jane Austen designs and just glaze them clear. But now I'm thinking how lovely these would look with one of Mayco's Crystalite glazes. The problem is that those glazes are for earthenware...

...bear with me now while I think out loud...

I know a bisque firing would normally be between 955c and 1060c, bearing in mind that the more the clay matures the less absorbent it will be for glazing... yeah, I'm thinking I might have just answered my own question...

Reader: What question?
Me: Yeah, I talk in riddles in person as well.

...Well, usually with stoneware you would (obviously) glaze fire at a higher temperature than the bisque fire, but with low fire glazes on earthenware it's the other way round because the clay won't mature at the low temperature required for the glazing. But the glazes adhere to the surface because... they have something in them to make them sticky (apparently). So... and here's the question...

I'm wondering if low fire glazes are sticky enough to glaze stoneware if the piece is fired at a stoneware temperature first??

You see, I don't want the piece to be under fired, and previously I have used low fire glazes on stoneware that wasn't matured and the glaze cracked on the inside. (I know, I know, that's why there are high fire glazes specifically for stoneware!) But the low fire glazes are so pretty... and I can't coil with earthenware. You see my dilema.

I'm thinking that if I go ahead with this plan it's just going to be an experiment isn't it?

Breaking news: Inspiration struck at about 4am! Update to follow!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Soooo behind with the blog thing...

Hello everyone. It's me. Remember me? That's ok, I forget who I am sometimes too :)

It feels like such a long time since I have updated my blog! Or read any, for that matter! My apologies if you write a blog and you've been wondering where my comments are!

This summer has been a little bit crazy. I've been trying to spend as much time with my nieces and nephews as I can while they're off school. The problem with that is that I get exhausted very easily and I struggle to juggle everything else. "Everything else" including down time, which I need quite a lot of for the sake of my sanity. "Down time" meaning no communication with the outside world, and that doesn't include when I'm asleep!

Today I finally had some clay time all to myself! (as opposed to clay time with nieces and nephews - not the same at all) This isn't the first time I've had clay time since I last posted though... I have a vague memory of having some clay time before... once. After the tealight swans I made yet more tortoises, the same design as the trinket boxes but money boxes this time. The nieces and nephews have seen them (oops!) so now I'll have to make many many more!!

Today I started on a couple of vases, using the white stoneware clay that I had used before. I'd forgotten what a dream it was to coil with! Or maybe I just didn't really appreciate it until I tried coiling with that awful earthenware clay!!

And that's really all I've done, clay wise. The kids have been making some amazing stuff! I really wish I had the energy and the patience to have them round all the time! They are so creative! Here are just a couple of examples...

Elliot's (10) mask...

and Dylan's (9) scary castle...

I'd love to tell you about all the other things we've got up to this summer, but it would be the length of a novel!!

I hope you are all having a great summer, whatever it is you're doing! :)

ps. You can keep up to date with me now on Facebook! All the news without the waffle! See the side bar!

Monday, 2 August 2010

I can't help it...

... I like swans :)

I'm going to have a table full of swans aren't I? Oh well.. :)

I actually broke the neck off this one this evening, so I shall have to attach another tomorrow. Ooops!

In other news:
I gave some of my pieces away that didn't sell last time. I'll never have an inventory at this rate! I don't know why I keep doing that. The recipients were very happy though :)

And my big shopping spree will have to wait a while (damn bills!) but I plan to get some more clay this week. I'm down to my last scraps, and recycling pieces as I go. Actually, that's not strictly true... I do have a freezer full of clay (it's not switched on, because that would be silly) but I can't remember what's in there... some crank... some terracotta... I'll have to sort it out. The terracotta was rescued for me from a school that was clearing out it's art department. I've never used it because not all glazes show up on it particularly well. I could make some terracotta vases though...