Saturday 28 February 2009

Bird Candle Holders

Friday was spent contsructing a group of Bird Candle holders. They seemed to go down quite well last year and I have got better at handling them. I threw the 'stalk' and holder and the bird body is an extruded triangular hollow tube. I found it is best to bend it as it comes out of the extruder. Kind of rewarding to make as they are a cheerful little gaggle. I'll get back to the jugs later - I think I'm putting off slipping them as they are a rather big and could collapse. I am also unsure as to how to put on the handles. The smaller ones look fine with extruded handles, but somehow a pulled one on these large ones might look better. I have never been great at pulling from the jug itself, maybe I should give it a go?

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Reluctant commission

At the beginning of the year I was asked if I would make a large traditional full belllied jug for a special birthday. I was so busy with stools and finishing off my funded project etc that I politely declined, or tried to. But somehow the commisioner was willing to wait and accept a jug gift token. Well that time has come when I had better get down to it, but I havn't thrown anything big for ages and jugs aren't really where I am 'at' right now. If it hadn't been for the fact they wanted my boats as a decoration I would have sent the commission on to someone who is RIGHT in the jug zone. As it was I had to ring Hannah to ask how much clay she would use.

But you know what, I am pretty pleased with myself.

Extruded wiggles are more where I still am - this one is going to be another upright double skinned fellow.
Some glazed pots from this Monday's kiln. The penguin mugs are for an order - I am not sure why their white bibs are rather fawn, it looks like I used the wrong slip trailer. Still, I quite like them like that.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Burnt Toast?

These test tiles came out pretty well and I feel quite encouraged. This was taking the clay to the 1160c bisc temperature, and though it was a bit trickier to get the glaze on, it wasn't impossible. But then these are flat - the stools have upright bits. Adding calcium chloride to the glaze does thicken it, but then if it is too thick it hides the texture and bubbles. I really like the way the glaze on these tests brings out the scoring on the wings of the birds - it reminds me of etching. This is what I want to achieve on the stools.

Two successful bisc firings. It was quite a shock to open the kiln and find the BLACK clay had turned er.....BLACK! 'Burnt the toast', was the first thought. They are growing on me and the black does give them a presence that you can't ignore. Not that you CAN ignore them - you can't get through the front door! I still have a few tests to go; I need a bit more confidence in my ability to get the finish right. The colour may look great on the test tiles, but will it work on a larger scale I wonder...?

Its been a busy few weeks. Apart from the above firings, I've done a lot of making of smaller pieces, and there is a big glaze kiln to unpack tomorrow, as well as some more large (wiggly) dishes to work on. Other boring jobs like 'stock taking' and re-ordering has also had to be done, as well as getting my report for the Scottish Arts Council finished off.

Di Bruce of Mainhill Gallery is taking some of my larger pieces down to the Affordable Art Fair in London next month. The showroom was left with rather a lot of gaps when they left and it was a good incentive to have a pre- half term Spring clean and re-arrange. Rather a lot of pot lurking spiders found themselves out of a home.

How will we manage without our wonderful Craft Development Officer who is moving to Glasgow next week. Thank you Helen for all your help, advice and encouragement, and without whom I would never have been writing this blog!

Saturday 14 February 2009

First stool in the kiln

This good old tea trolley is one of the workshops best assets. It has been re-enforced but it did creak somewhat alarmingly under the weight of the stool.
The tip from Jim Robison was to not onl y use a layer of sand, but also a sheet of brown paper to assist with sliding the clay with out damaging the surface of the clay. I lined up the levels pretty well with a spirit level.

We got it into the kiln with only the merest chip on the under edge when the stool rolled over the merest change of level - a millimetre at most. (Next time 'nearly' level isn't good enough, Christine). I fired it last night, taking it up to a high 1160c bisc for the maturity of the black clay. I was so excited having got it into the kiln in one piece and was concentrating on programming a slow rate of initial climb, that it wasn't until bedtime that I remembered that I was mean t to be going to 1160! Panic, and back into the workshop late at night to alter the settings half way through the firing. Did I remember to put vent holes in ALL the hollow sections...?

Monday 2 February 2009

Seven Ages of Slip Trailer

Today I decorated a batch of extruded dishes. I 've used three designs in various forms- shrimps, doves and cabbages and fox and foxgloves. I'll finish the scraffito detail tomorrow as well as the trailed lines whi ch I am finding easier to execute in a fine and fast manner when the body is a bit drier.
The seven ages of slip trailer, in other words all the types I have tried, From left to right, a) huge and clumpy, b) tendon straining hard, c) the bicycle inner tube - good but messy to fill, d) the glass nozzel, didn't work at all, e) definitely getting better, f) the first German one, recommended by Mathieu van der Giessen - nice fine lines and pretty soft too g) the WINNER ,with oh such a fine range of nozzels, is the German 'Malhorn set fur engobe'.
What a job, I cleaned out ALL my slip trailers. I keep them filled and in the damp cupboard to stop them clogging up, but I had abandoned several colours last year and never got round to emptying them. Nothing like a clean slate.
SNOW today!