Last night I tried my first biscuit firing. I had made a few small egg cups, a mug and some tester discs for my glazes. Everything seemed ok and I was set for a 7 hour firing, including an extra hour on the dial. I was home and started the kiln low then ramped up slowly every hour at first then two hours. However when I went to check on the kiln at the 5th hour, the light was off and I couldn’t hear anything. It was still hot but I didn’t think it was working. I left it another hour and when I cam back the handle was cool enough to touch. Something had gone wrong!
I tried to turn the kiln on and off but nothing was responding. I checked the cone and it hadn’t bent at all, so it hadn’t gotten anywhere near 1000 oC. I’m guessing it’s something electrical.
It’s frustrating. I’m away this weekend and I’m not sure what to do. I could open it up, but I’m not sure what I’m looking for. SB said she has a good kiln guy, perhaps I’ll call him and see if he can diagnose whats wrong.
If anyone has any tips or knows of online resources to help diagnose kiln problems please let me know! The stumbling block I’ve come across is that it is an old kiln and most things online are far more modern. Mine doesn’t even have a programmer!
Frustrating! But the price you pay for a cheap second hand kiln I guess.
I have a lot to thank my parents for. They have supported me through the ups and downs, very highs and very lows. I wanted to make them something special and personal. Mum was over recently and really liked my Phnom Penh vase and so I thought I should make something for Mum and Dad!
My parents have the most beautiful garden and so I thought this would be a good starting place for a piece. I took to my sketchbook and came up with a few ideas.
I actually began making a vase but as I was working with the clay I wanted to narrow the neck to make the shape more interesting and then when I added an extra piece of clay to elongate the neck, I realised the shape lended itself to being a tall thin jug. I cut a long handle and left it to dry out a little while I cut out pieces for the garden and added textures to the clay using a stamp I made and a fork. Once the handle was a suitable dryness (it held it’s shape well) I attached it, no problems.
I’m really happy with the outcome, I just need to think about getting the glaze spot on. I was inclined to think all white or a block colour but I know my mum would like something colourful. I just don’t want the colours to be garish or too clumsy. Parts of the Phnom Penh vase look great but other areas look messy. Perhaps SB will have some ideas.
If you have any ideas for glazing, let me know!
I wanted to share a few photos with you of finished pieces. Often my posts are talking about the construction/formation process or ideas, but it isn’t so often I get to post about finished pieces. I won’t be going to SB’s studio for two weeks or so, so this morning I popped over to collect a few items I had recently glazed and that she had fired.
These pieces are more experimentations with shape, form and glaze. I slowly feel like I am getting the hang of the construction process but I am still getting to grips with glazing! Whereas I know roughly what colour items might be, it’s still difficult to decide upon what glazes or colours for different items.
Of the pieces that came back to me this week, I really like the consistency of the white glaze used on the bowls, egg cups and inside the star mugs and bowl. The tek moku glaze on the turquoise/light grey bowls created a really interesting effect too, although I think it might have had even more impact with a different coloured glaze.
The star mugs were actually glazed with a low temp blue and a high temp white and fired at high temp. I was really happy to see how clearly the stars came out and the even coverage of the blue glaze. I think the contrast between the blue and white is classic and effective, I particularly like the white on the inside I think it gives a more professional finish.
Finally the white outside and turquoise/green inside bowls look great! Both glazes gave good coverage and the combination of colours is one I will definitely use again. It was interesting to see the different results depending on the shape of the rim (thin and pointed or thicker and rounded) and whether the green was taken right to the edge or the white brought in.
Each time some pieces come back, I learn a few lessons and I feel that my next glaze decisions and techniques are better informed. Happy!