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.

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Merry Mayco Christmas!

Ho Ho Ho! Meeeeeeerry Christmas!

I spent a good few hours last week making Christmas decorations and mugs in preparation for my first biscuit firing at home – and I’m happy to say it worked great! The kiln fired perfectly at home and the results were fab.

With a loads of Christmas tree decorations, trinket boxes and mugs to glaze, I got going with my new Mayco foundation glazes. It recommended 2-3 coats, so I applied 3 on pretty much everything. I also did a few testers indicating 1, 2 and 3 coats. The blue, grey, green and white came out well with 3 coats, although I’d go as far as to say go for 4 coats if you wanted a more bold colour. The ‘coral’ pink colour was quite washed out at 3 coats, so I’d definitely do 4 coats or even more if possible to try and get a bolder colour.

Having biscuit fired one day I was able to get the items glazed and fully dry by the weekend and fire for glazing! This was really exciting as I’d pack the kiln to the absolute brim, balancing stars on kiln accessories just to try and squeeze everything into the one firing. I even use the bottom of the kiln and tripods to add an extra layer. I don’t know if you should use the bottom of a kiln, but I did and it worked out fine. This isa  photo of the kiln lid being opened after my first low temp glaze firing!

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And here are a few more pictures of what came out. You can see I used a designer liner to highlight some of the snow flake pattern and on one of the stars I used a blue glaze over a white glaze, which gave a nice effect for the snowflake.

And here they are hanging in the tree! Lots of friends and family will be getting these little stars for Christmas!

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And then mid-week I was able to get back to SB’s to pick up some things that had been glazed a few weeks ago! She’s shut for Christmas now, but I was happy to pick up a few items as they were made as presents for people as well.

First is a little cup I threw on the wheel and added a pulled handle. I twisted it slightly and then glazed on an angle too – I really love this little mug, although if the twist had gone the other way, it would be comfier to hold. But it isn’t bad! And the new glazes SB has got are great – the colours are vibrant and overlap really well!

These were a pair of mugs I made, using lace to add detail to the clay and then highlighting the lace area with the pink/purple glaze and the rest of the mug with the blue/brown and a white glaze inside. I really like them and I know they’ve gone to a great home!

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And finally a tea jar to go with my coffee jar and two little vases I made! The tea jar came out great, although the lid slightly curled up.

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And the two vases were inspired by my Phnom Penh vase – I used the techniques from the larger vase to develop these little pieces – there is a 3rd but it needs more work so these were glazed in anticipation first!!

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It was my birthday recently and beloved got me a spot on a glaze making class in the spring, which is so exciting! Didn’t he do well? And I got a few ceramics books and bits and pieces from friends and family. I’m one lucky Potter Girl.

So there we are! Christmas eve is a week away and I can’t wait for some time off work to spend with loved ones! Clay is all wrapped up for now but no doubt I’ll be back on it again over the Christmas holidays – much remains to be made.

Wishing everyone a fantastic festive period and a happy and healthy 2017! Take care of yourselves

PG X

Not one but TWO kilns!

Well hello! Avid readers will remember that very recently I was looking at the pros and cons of secondhand kilns. Well let me tell you this past weekend I found myself buying not one kiln but two!?

Top loading electric kilns regularly sell on eBay for £250-800 depending on the size, make, condition and accessories etc. On Gumtree they sell for a similar amount. Being the dedicated bargain hunter that I am (albeit an impatient one at times!) I regularly checked both sites for good condition kilns for sale.

You can imagine my excitement then, when I saw a Cromartie kiln listed for £100! I looked at the timing of the posting on Gumtree and new I was in for a chance – it had only been up an hour or two. I immediately messaged the seller and we arranged collection for the coming weekend – woohoo!

Beloved and I dropped Little One off with her Granny and drove on over to checkout the kiln. I must add that in the week leading up to this, I read as much as I could find online about kilns, firing and buying kilns secondhand, so as to avoid buying a complete doozy.

As it happened the seller was clearing a house and had an entire potters shed to clear with not one, but TWO kilns, tons of kiln furniture and literally hundreds of porcelain moulds. He wanted £100 for each kiln and would throw in the kiln furniture for free. It was such a bargain I could hardly contain myself! Even Beloved got excited!

One of the kilns was the advertised Cromartie kiln:

And the second was a smaller, but in better condition Olympic kiln:

We shook hands on the deal, money was exchanged and the kilns were loaded into the car. I was unsure which kiln to keep but I was certainly keeping one of them and I knew for a fact that I could sell on one of the kilns and make my money back instantly.

I took a look at the kiln furniture and had a good think about storage and use etc. As I don’t have a studio I’d need to find a space not only safe to store the kiln but to fire it too. As it happens we have an outdoor toilet in the garden that has turned out to be the perfect space for both storage and firing!

After taking all of this into consideration I decided on keeping the Olympic kiln. I took a few photos of the Cromartie kiln and popped it on Gumtree for £300. My experience with Gumtree is that people will negotiate down considerably and so I priced the item high, but it wasn’t up there an hour before someone offered to pay full price and pick it up the next morning! And sure enough, they did! Not only did I cover the cost of my kilns but I made £100 which I shall be using to buy cones to fire the kiln and a couple of pots of glaze.

It goes to show, it’s well worth waiting for a bargain!

Now I just need to get to grips with kiln firing… If anyone has any links or tips, do let me know!

PGx

Kilns for beginners

I don’t have a studio or a designated pottery space, but nonetheless I have been considering buying a kiln. Going to SB’s studio is great, but getting pieces to her in the car in one piece, waiting 1-3 weeks for them to be fired, another 1-3 weeks to be glazed and fired again… it’s a little frustrating. You can buy small-ish top loading electric kilns on wheels that would be perfect for keeping stored away and brought out for firing.

All this kiln talk got me thinking about firing and the different kinds of kilns and firings etc. As ever, Ceramics Daily have a great article introducing kiln firings, dos and don’ts, with lots of advice thrown in! I would recommend anyone new to kilns to read this article: Ten Basics of Firing Electric Kilns

But. Kilns are expensive. And not just expensive-like-a-pottery-wheel. Kilns are incredibly expensive. Literally £1000+ for a small, top loading kiln that can plug into a normal 240v 13amp household plug and £2000-3000 for larger studio or front loading kilns. I don’t remotely have that kind of money to spare and so I have been trawling eBay and Gumtree for a while for a second hand kiln.

I’m worried about a second hand kiln in many respects, there is a lot that can go wrong with a kiln (and is expensive to repair) and often the paperwork is lost or the kiln’s elements are old, it might be full of rust or all kinds of things. I don’t want to bring something dangerous into my home. But at the same time, second hand kilns can range from £100-500 and this is much more within my price range.

I’ve recently seen a kiln for £100 on Gumtree, a Sitter Kiln LT-3K. I can find the guide for this model online as it is a popular model and make. I’m thinking that as I can get it so cheap, I can bring it to a kiln repair place for them to give it the once over. That way I can be sure it wont burst into flames the first time I try to fire it! If it requires a lot of repair work then I’ll just sell it on.

I have to say the guys at Pottery Crafts at Art in Clay were really wonderful when I spoke with them about their kilns. They didn’t mind me asking probably very basic questions and they didn’t try to push me towards a larger, more expensive kiln. They even had a 10% discount for Art in Clay! If only I had £1,000 lying around.. I’d definitely purchase a kiln from them! I’ll ask Beloved to combine Christmas, Birthday, Valentines & Anniversary gifts for two years… Perhaps one day!

PG xx