Botz Glaze Review

Bots glazes! Thick brush on glaze that can give a punchy colour, but that can also be sensitive and shift around or not come out as expected. Botz were the first glazes I used because these were the glazes SB had in her studio and they are affordable at around £5-13 depending on the supplier and size of pot.

I began by buying ‘Black Blue Speckle’ and ‘Ice Crystal’. However I used them on two pieces that had quite a lot of detail and these were ultimately swamped I felt and the overall effect did not bring out the detail in a way I had hoped. The Black Blue colour had been as expected but the Ice Crystal had given a more sandy, beige effect rather than the white/blue speckle I had been hoping for. These items were made at home and fired at SB’s studio.

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When I fired the Ice Crystal at home however, it gave a dramatically different effect! This is exactly the same glaze as the top white pot, but fired by myself to cone 9 (1260 oC).

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I used the Black Blue again on a coffee jar with a white from SB’s studio and this was much more successful I felt.

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With my confidence restored a little, I decided to buy a couple more Botz glazes from Bath Potters as they were offering 10% off for first time customers. So, I decided to buy a Basalt Grey and a satin matt white called Creme. I didn’t have time to do testers and so used the glazes on some thrown pieces I did recently, and a couple of left over stars from Christmas to be used as testers.

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Overall I was reasonably happy with out the pieces came out, however the Basalt Grey was really more brown. I was surprised as I painted it on quite thickly for two coats. I didn’t think I would be able to get a third coat on without it pulling away, however perhaps that’s just what it needed to reach that deep stoney grey colour.

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Overall I find the Botz glazes to give good coverage and depth of colour (holding judgement on Basalt Grey), however they are far less predictable than say the Mayco and you use up much more glaze per coat than the thinner applying Mayco. For example air bubbles appeared in the white and in one area it completely shifted away from the ceramic underneath – there must have been grease or something on the clay, as I’ve no idea why this would have happened. The white also showed brush strokes in some areas, which I found with the Ice Crystal and grey as well, wheres this was not the case with the Black Blue. I had hoped the colours would interact between the gray/blue and white more, but this didn’t really happen.

Overall I like Botz glazes, however I think to get the desired effect I need to spend more time with testers and experimenting with firing at different temperatures. I would definitely buy them again but they are less versatile in terms of mixing and layering. (Perhaps they aren’t, if you have a different experience please let me know!). They also obscure surface texture quite a lot due to the thick layering required, but the colours can be striking and have a depth and quality to them that I really love.

A few pieces, fresh from the kiln!

Hello!

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.

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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.

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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!

PG x

Throwing for the first time!

This weekend just gone I went for a one day throwing class. A few weeks ago I bought a Shimpo Aspire table top (with foot pedal) wheel and I was basically getting no where, having real trouble centring clay and even less luck throwing a vessel. I had been hunting down a one on one session or throwing day but the 2hr one on one sessions within a 30-45min drive were £60+ and the throwing days were even further and started around £100 per day, not including the items you threw or lunch or whatever.

But as luck would have it, the initial pottery instructor I had a course with back in the winter was running a single day, 10am-4pm class for £70. Much more reasonable.

I went along to the studio and met some really lovely people. Although I knew in theory what I should be doing, I’ve never had the clay in abundance or continuity of time to really bring theory and practice together – and this is what the throwing day offered. It was a little bit of a slow start but after a while I got the hang of things! Centring is still very difficult and can take a while, but I slowly got the hang of making cylinders and bowls (bowls are much easier!). Another person on the course gave me the tip of closing my eyes for centring and I really found this helped. Keeping elbows in and my hand slightly raised from the wheel also helped immensely.

I also discovered, as with many things, I am ambidextrous with the wheel’s turning direction. I am right handed but I find with most things I actually lead with my left hand (or foot is we’re talking about surfing or snowboarding). And so I had the wheel turning both anti clockwise and clockwise, depending on what I was doing. It wasn’t intentional, it just felt more natural.

The only frustrating part of the day was the fact that because we hung around and wedged clay for the first hour or so, by the time we had thrown a few cylinders or bowls, they weren’t dry enough by the afternoon to turn. This was pretty frustrating as it was taken for granted you could just pop back another time and finish them off – when my circumstances don’t lend themselves to this. Also, as I found previously, the studio is so dusty I get a blocked nose and sinus after spending a few hours there. I’ve read how dangerous breathing in clay dust is, and I’m sure the instructor knows this as well, but it made me long for the cleanliness of SB’s studio.

I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of the items I produced on the throwing day but if I am able to go back to turn them, have them fired and glazed, I will certainly post the pictures on here and instagram (pmstrat).

To keep the momentum going I spent this morning on my little shimpo at home! It was certainly different to the larger pottery wheel at the studio and the clay I Was throwing was my reclaimed clay which has grog in it, but I divided my clay into five 300,400 and 500g or so lumps and had a go! I was able to throw bowls and cylinders which made me very happy and I also managed to throw a few egg cups off the hump! I even pulled my own handle to attach to a mug. I left a few items to dry out in the sun and had a go at turning this lunch time – that was trickier than I had imagined! Just getting the item centred was a pain. As a result a few items were scrapped, but as always, I’m happy to do this as it’s all a learning process! Three things made it out alive, two bowls and an egg cup.

I’m going to start watching a few turning tutorials, I need tips for centring items and I’m not sure I’m holding the tools correctly to make a foot.

I’m over to SB’s studio tomorrow to pick up things and no doubt glaze the last few items. I’ve run out of clay pretty much now too (I’m in the process of drying the scraps from today). I’ll take over my thrown things as well. Although I don’t know if she’ll be happy with me – she said people should work with clay for 2yrs handbuilding before throwing…!! She doesn’t know I have a wheel either. EEK. Don’t be mad SB!

…The adventures with clay continue!

PG x

p.s. Art in Clay this weekend! And the latest copy of Ceramic Review arrived today. A great pottery day.

Some success! Some learning opportunities..

It’s been busy here let me tell you! I’ve been building a vase inspired by the markets in Phnom Penh, Cambodia all week and then last night I got to pick up a few items and glaze some more!

This is the vase and the sketchpad drawings – you can see how the reality of putting ideas into clay changes things, but I’m happy for this process to take place. I rolled out a slab and used a cordial bottle to get the initial shape and structure. Thereafter I began rolling smaller slabs, cutting out pieces, layering, etching, shaping.. It was so much fun! It’s drying at the moment and will hopefully be fired this week. Then the next step will be glazing. I’m realising that this is an entirely different skill to hand building, and one I certainly haven’t gotten the hang of!! But I am really happy with my vase so far. I’m hoping it’ll be bright and beautiful once finished.

I got back a couple of pieces from SB last night! These were the pieces initially fired at a high temp, which limited the glazes I could use to low temp glazes. I began with this black/metallic glaze on my chess pieces and then used this for the underside of my dishes and bowls. The inside of the bowls were glazed with a clear glaze to show the internal patterning and contrast with the harsh black.

I’m really happy with how the chess pieces turned out! But the glaze on all the pieces ran. The smaller dish broke entirely and the other dishes all melted onto the sand on the shelf below, so I have had to file them down and neaten them up. The glaze also bubbled in some areas, I don’t know why. Obviously all of these are a little extra-ordinary as they are fired the ‘wrong’ way around, but its all a learning process.

Last night I glazed the other chess pieces with clear glaze for a second firing and will be applying a lacquer to make them pearly white. The lacquer will require a third firing. I also glazed the three small bowls, pen holders and my box. I really need to write down what glazes I used.

I’m pretty much out of clay too – I have been collecting my scraps and will be attempting to slake the clay down and reclaim it! But that’s a story for another post..

This week is about getting together more ideas, sketching and glazing ideas!

I’ve been using Instagram a lot and keeping that updated more quickly than the blog so feel free to follow me on that – @pmstrat

PG x

 

 

All the things…

This blog may have been quiet for a little while but that’s because this Potter Girl has been busy! Last night I went to SB’s studio to glaze some of the items I had dropped off for firing last week and to drop off a few more things for firing!

Friends are getting married so I made them three small pinch pot bowls (roughly 10cm diameter). I tried to make them as uniform as possible by weighing out the clay (300g) before hand and adding a foot – but inevitably they have slight differences.

I also rolled out a slab and cut it into a couple of different shapes to make desktop pen holders. My Dad had asked for one for Christmas, just a simple flat pen holder, but I couldn’t find one anywhere. So… I made some instead! I initially made a large triangular shape and added ‘waves’ to hold different pens, but then as I was finishing I realised that part of the utility of the pen holder is that it’s small and fits neatly on the desk. So I cut it into two parts and then used the cut off to make a third piece. We’ll see how they turn out after firing – one shape might be better than another to hold a pen!

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And, the project I’ve been working on for some time… I also finished my Khmer inspired teapot! It took an awfully long time, particularly getting the handle right. I had also made a larger spout but it looked out of proportion so I trimmed it down. Before I dropped it over to SB I neatened up the handle and etched into the base a diamond-tile-like pattern, to reflect the roof tiles and adornments that inspired the piece. Getting the glazing right for this will be a challenge!

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Close up of the lid…

 

All the items I’d dropped off last week had been fired by SB and were ready for glazing except… She had fired them on the wrong temperature. She said first biscuit firing was usually a low heat, then the items are glazed before being fired at a higher temperature. However, she had made a mistake and fired the biscuit firing too high. She seemed upset and was very apologetic, but to be honest I didn’t mind. It’s all a learning process for me! And, as SB explained, I could still glaze the items (although I was limited to low firing glazes) and actually industry does their firing this way around – high and then low. So all was not lost, not by a long way!

To be honest I was just chuffed that all my chess pieces, mugs, bowls, dishes and my box were all still in one piece!

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So last night I spent almost 3hours glazing… and barely got through a third of the items! I decided on a black/metallic for one part of the chess set and then used this for the underside of my bowls and dishes. I then used a clear crackle glaze for the inside of the bowls and dishes. I want a really punchy colour for the other chess set – I had originally through black and white, but the crackle isn’t coloured and will be more beige (the colour of the clay). So I will have a little think – there is a nice green colour that might work, but I think it’s high temp firing. These are the glazes I used last night (you can see the chess set in the background):

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So hopefully next week I’ll be able to see how one side of the chess set will look! As well as my bowls and small dishes. The dishes are supposed to be a present for someone, I hope they come out ok.

Last but not least I got one of my little Khmer jugs back! I’m pretty happy with it actually. I need to write down the colours I used on it for future reference, and the green dripped a little, but over all I think it looks pretty good!
Busy girl.

PG x

 

Yesterday… all my troubles seemed so far away!

Yesterday I began working on a cup for my Khmer inspired tea set and a desk tidy for my beloved.

I started with the desk tidy and things started to go wrong pretty quickly! I tried to level the edges and that was going ok so I turned the lower dish over to create a bit of a foot and this is when it went wrong. To be honest, there just wasn’t the thickness. As I took away a little from the uneven edge, I opened up a hole. GAH! I tried to patch it in, but as I worked on the dish, it became clear that it was simply too thin and uneven.

Rather than scrap it completely I cut away the wall and was left with the base. I thought about the techniques SB has been showing me with box construction and so I cut a 45 degree angle around the base of the dish and then re-worked the wall into a coil, scored both edges and used a little water to create the wall. This worked out pretty well and I have managed to save the desk tidy!

The taller cylinder had dried a little and so I scored the edges of that and the dish where I wanted it to stand and stuck it together. It didn’t look very sturdy so I made a thin coil of clay and added it to the bottom, smudged it in and cleared the join… and… I think… it’s finished! It needs to be fired and I’ll have a think about the glazing but I think it might be done! SB told me to keep them leather hard so I will endeavour to do that. Although where I am going to store all these things I have no idea. Our house is piled high with toys and ‘stuff’. Perhaps I can clear out the shed..

My cup! The body of the cup is going well, again its hard to get the thickness even and edges smooth but I think I’m getting there. My first hand-built mug so I’m happy enough – the handle however. URGH! Two failed handle attempts yesterday. I made one thick handle in the hope that I could get it down to size through the process of application and then carving the shape once it had dried a little – but the shape wasn’t right and then it weakened and thinned in one area so I just scrapped it.

The second handle I cut was much thinner and I left it to dry a little. I made the handle in two parts and then stuck it together (something I did for the jug adornment that was successful at the time). However I despite letting it dry a little, after I applied it to the cup it just sagged and no matter how much I reinforced it, it just became misshapen. Frustrating!

So. I have left the handle for the moment and will return to it when I have more time and have given it some thought.

Finally, I have made a bowl! We have a geometric shaped bowl (purchased from one of my favourite shops – Tiger!) which is smooth internally but has a lovely geometric outside shape. I thought this would make a great bowl so I rolled out a big lump of clay (on cotton – learning from my mistakes!!) It made it as even as possible but I also left it quite thick because I knew I wanted to push it down and smooth it over the bowl surface to get the geometric impression. I covered the bowl in clingfilm first – I needed too so that I could remove the clay from the bowl, but hopefully it doesn’t affect the internal impression too much. I laid the rolled out clay over the top and trimmed the edges. I left it to dry a little and then cut a foot into the bottom of the bowl. I haven’t turned it over yet as I don’t think it’ll keep its shape, but hopefully it has worked out ok! My plan is to let it get ‘leather hard’! The key word at the moment, and then remove it from the bowl. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long to dry – I need my fruit bowl back…

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I’m also keeping all my little trimmed bits so I can make my own slip once I have a tub full – woohoo!

PG x