Second glazing

Following on from my single firing post – where the glazed greenware came out in one piece, but the glaze hadn’t been quite as dynamic as I had hoped… I re-glazed everything and fired again!

In order for the glaze to take well I heated the mugs/bowls etc using a hair dryer and added thin layers of extra glaze, two extra coats in total. I also added an extra stripe of green or blue as the best interaction was between the indigo float and seaweed.

I don’t think the toasted sage Amaco Potters Choice glaze is a great one for encouraging movement and interaction between the two glazes, in the same way the tenmoku glaze is, but nonetheless I am much happier with the results so I thought I’d share a couple of before and after photos!

Here is an example of the mug, with an added stripe of blue:

And this is the bowl!

I like the green seaweed and the indigo float, but I want to find a better base for the two of them. The range seems to focus on darker under coats, which wasn’t what I was after. The only other lighter colour seems to be oatmeal which is quite yellow-y from the picture.

Actually the toasted sage comes out quite grey as the photos show, which in of itself is a lovely tone but wasn’t as light as I’d hoped it to be. But at least now I know I have a nice grey glaze – so every cloud has a silver (toasted sage!) lining!

A couple more things using this glaze combination and tenmoku in my etsy shop – check it out!

PS xx

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Single firing

First of all, to clear up an issue from the previous post. I soaked my flaky kiln shelf and used a steel wire scrubber to remove the flaky batt wash and it worked like a dream! I thinned my batt wash with water to the consistency of skimmed milk and reapplied a thin layer and left it to dry. My kiln shelves look as good as new!

And now to single firing. I had used this technique when I made a birdbath as I was tight on time. The Mayco glazes are pretty steady with no movement at all. They also give a pretty good colour and coverage with just two thin coats. I glazed greenware and single fired the birdbath and it came out great. However I didn’t know how this technique would work with Amaco glazes.

I did a lot of throwing last weekend knowing that I wanted to use my Amaco glazes. However when I looked at my pyrometric bars, I saw I only had one or two bisque temp bars left! My little Olympic Kiln is old skool with a manual ramp dial and kiln sitter. So with precious bisque bars in short supply I thought about single firing my thrown mugs and bowls.

Amaco Potter’s Choice glazes mix and move and create beautiful effects but in order to do so, you need to apply 2, 3 even 4 coats depending on the thickness. I let my pieces dry to leather-hard and applied two coats of Toasted Sage then two coats of Indigo Float and two of Seaweed on alternate pieces. With all the glaze on they took a long time to dry but I was patient. I didn’t want to add too much because I didn’t want them running and ruining my lovely new clean kiln shelves.

I managed to pack the kiln with 3 layers and get everything in! And as I was doing a single firing I did a really slow low heat before raising the temp after an hour or two.

I fired to cone 5 and it took longer than expected to get to temperature, but it did get there in the end! I left the kiln to cool and opened up the lid holding my breath..

..Everything was in one piece! fantastic. But the glaze? ..it looked dull and thin. Not like Amaco at all and obviously not the effect I was hoping for!

20170805_145327

The only ones that looked decent were the two pots I used the tenmoku on first. I was hoping the Toasted Sage would be a little lighter than the grey but then again I hadn’t done a test tile and trying to guess colours from the Internet isn’t a good idea.

I admit I was a little disappointed but it’s all part of the learning process! I think overall I was happy that my single firing worked, it was just a lack of experience with Amaco glazes that meant I didn’t add enough layers.

I am confident that should I want to single fire again I could achieve results close to what I wanted.

I spent this morning re-glazing my mugs and bowls for a second firing! At least it won’t need such a long slow ramp as the mugs ceramic now but I still don’t want to rush and risk an exploding kiln! I added more layers of each glaze but also more stripes of Indigo Float and Seaweed. The colours look great when they interact so hopefully this will achieve that effect.

20170805_145347 Once they’re dry I will fire them again, sometime early this week if not tomorrow and post the final results!

I guess I’m must also admit that I’m keen to get single firing experience as it saves a lot on the electricity bill!! And if it produces the effect you want, then why not single fire? My only advice is to make sure your pieces are dry as a bone before firing and then allowing a long slow ramp. I was advised to leave extra clay clean from glaze to allow gas to escape from ghee clay body, but I just left the bottoms clean as usual and this was fine.

Happy potting!

PS xx

Throwing and Kiln shelf issues!

During the week I very nearly signed up to an intensive throwing class… it was far away and expensive. But I really want to improve my throwing. However money is tight at the moment and so rather than spend the time and money going somewhere else, I thought I should try and have a good few sessions at home! I was hoping that the sun would be out and I’d be able to save the mess in the house by throwing outside… but no. It’s rained on and off all weekend.

Nonetheless! I got my little table top Shimpo out of the toilet in the garden and cut out about 8-10 chunks of 500g clay, and two 750 chunks. I wanted to throw some mugs and a couple of bowls.

Throwing, unlike previous times, went well! I’ve really tried to put into practice what I have been told and seen online on youtube and Instagram. Gus the Pothead is one of my favourites on Instagram, I’d definitely recommend checking out his throwing videos!

I managed to make eight mugs about the same shape and size. I wired them off and then let them dry a little on the bat. I think I might be going wrong here – should I be taking them off the bat straight away? Two got damaged when I was trying to take them off so I let them dry a little. Any advice on taking things off the bat would be appreciated! What works for you?

I threw two more mugs and then my bowls suffered a similar fate as the two mugs – they completely collapsed as I was trying to take them off the bat. It was so frustrating! I finally managed to throw another large bowl and keep it. But I did as I described earlier, I wired it off and let it dry out a little before moving it off the bat.

My plan is to glaze at greenware stage with Amaco Potters Choice and do a single firing. However herein lies my next issue. My kiln shelves are flaking! The bat wash flakes off and falls onto a pot. How do I stop this happening? Does bat wash come off with water or do I need to do something else to remove it all? I read perhaps a very thin coat is better than a thick one… Please! I don’t want to ruin the cups and bowl I’ve thrown this weekend. And as SB’s studio is closed I don’t have another kiln to use!

Love in advance

PS xxx

Coiling (& Raku preparation)!

Apologies for the long delay in posts, life has gotten extremely busy. Working full time and taking care of a family doesn’t leave much time for anything else. Access to SB’s studio has been on and off as well due to similar circumstances. However the last week or so has seen some pottery action!

We are doing a raku firing in about a week, which meant making a couple of pieces early enough to have them bisque fired, glazed and dry enough in good time!

I have grown in confidence in my slab building however coiling is probably my weakest skill. Therefore I decided to take the opportunity to try and get better at coiling whilst preparing some items for a raku firing – two birds; one stone!

I don’t know about you, but I struggle to keep a coherent shape when coiling. Perhaps I’m working with the clay too wet? Should I be waiting until the clay is drier before coiling? The pot seems to sag and lose shape. Getting the sides smooth inside and out is tricky too. Perhaps my coils are too thin as well.. Any tips or advice would be great!

I read in Clay Craft about using a former to begin the piece and then to coil on top of this. This was more successful, but still not easy!

Nonetheless I created a few items – a coiled bottle, two coiled bowls using a former for the base and then an orb using two pieces shaped using the former. I shaped one of the bowls into a triangular shape just to mix things up a bit!

SB had created about six or seven glazes for the firing. I dipped items, used tape to keep parts of the clay clean, brushed on glaze and dripped it to create movement! Hopefully this will mean I get a lot of contrast between the colourful glazed areas and the naked clay, which will go black in the firing. Plunging the hot pieces into a bin of sawdust and paper will also affect the colours, so I will consider how to create as much reduction as possible before the big day!

I’m afraid I don’t have a picture of the glazed items, but we’re doing the raku firing on the 22nd July so I’ll take as many photos as possible.

SB’s studio is now closed for the summer but I bought a new bag of clay, so I’m hoping to get back to throwing and building more regularly over the next few weeks – and blogging of course!!

As ever, keep up to date with my comings and goings on Instagram and keep an eye on my etsy page for some lovely things!

P Stratford xx

Update & Etsy site

Hello friends,

It’s been a flurry of pottery related lovely things these past few weeks! I must have watched every episode of The Great Pottery Throw Down at least four times, SB’s studio is back up and running one evening a week and there has been lots of buzz on social media about pottery with the new Turning Earth facility open, KBJ attending lots of events in London and the new Clay Craft magazine on the shelves!

A veritable schmorges board of pottery related paraphernalia for enthusiasts new and old.

I’ve also been busy making, throwing & glazing! So much so that our little home has pots and vases and cups and plates and trinket boxes stacked up on every shelf & flat surface. Normally I give things away to friends and relatives but increasingly people are asking to buy them – which is very flattering! But knowing that I only started making pottery about two years ago and considering myself very much a hobbyist (AND seeing all the weaknesses of a pot rather than the strengths); I have always said no. I thought I would feel embarrassed selling my work because I know I have not yet mastered the skills to produce something of true quality. I love making and I am proud of what I make, but I have enough self awareness to acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses.

Having said all that! Space is a premium for a home potter and an increasing appetite for glazes and tools comes at a cost. Therefore I have taken the plunge and set up an Etsy page. To tackle my insecurities, I have created a cheap, generic price structure (small items £5, medium £10 and large £15) and outlined what I think are the strengths and weaknesses of each item in the descriptions.

The idea is to clear space and put any money towards covering costs of clay, glaze & firing.

At the moment items are listed with 2nd class UK postage only (as I am familiar with this price and who doesn’t love cheap postage) but if anyone outside of the UK wants something then we can look into alternative postage options.

So I guess a link to my page would be useful, right? Well here it is

PStratford Ceramics

I’ll add items as I go and adjust pricing when appropriate but hopefully you might see something you like and a little something that I made finds a home!

I can’t believe it. I’ve set up an Etsy page!

PS X