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!


  1. OH WOW!!!! They look like forged metal! They're fab like that aren't they.

  2. wow, love the deco does look like burnt toast..hehe, and what a surprise with the black...excellent firing!

  3. Hi Christine, the black clay looks fantastic, is it something that you can get commercially, or do you blend your own? I'm guessing that it is predominantly earthenware clay with manganese and extra iron added, or something along those lines?? Love the stools, you are very brave working on that scale!

  4. Thanks Peter. Yes the black clay as a commercial mix. I am not sure what is in it but it is an almost violet brown when wet and your hands get really stained, so I too think it is probably red iron and manganese. I will ask Valentines next time I am in touch.

  5. Thanks for the information Christine. As I live in New Zealand, I will probably have to make my own black clay if I want to use it as Valentines may be difficult for me to obtain. So I'll run some tests sometime soon with adding extra iron and manganese to our local earthenware clay and see what happens. The worst case scenario is that I'll end up with home made Albany Slip! I should probably add a bit of our rather sandy stoneware clay to give it "bones".