Kiln opening

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So we’ve got a bit of catching up to do, haven’t we? On the Saturday of last weekend I went on a three hour pottery throwing course at The Ceramics Studio in Ettington, which was so, so useful. I learnt such a lot in those three hours that on Sunday I went back to their website and booked another session for next month. I wanted to try out throwing on a sit down foot controlled wheel rather than my hand controlled desktop jobbie. The same yet different is the conclusion. The new term of college pottery lessons has also started, so I’m using the wheel there. No instruction there though, as the tutor is taking the class through making coil pots, but we can use the wheels if we know how.

I’ve also been making some more of the slab built ratty ornaments to take to the Midlands Rat Club Christmas show in December. I had some requests on Facebook to turn them into tea light holders, but it just doesn’t really work. I like them as original, just as ornaments. There aren’t going to be hundreds of these though – the wheel thrown stuff is more fun right now.

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The yarn bowl I showed in progress came out of the glaze kiln today. I just love it so much, it’s my favourite pot so far. I made a video of the opening if you would like to see how it came out.

That’s it for now.

Cheers,

Annette πŸ™‚

 

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Yarn bowls

We’re now post glaze firing 5, so I’m a hexpert! Maybe not quite. I’m getting a better idea of what the glazes will do. The current thing to make is carved yarn bowls. They keep me occupied for a few hours each. This is the first one.

yarnbowl

Websiteness will be happening soon. I’ve got a whole pile of photos to show off, but need to get around to processing them.

See you soon,

Annette πŸ™‚

First glaze firing

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Well nothing terrible happened. Some of the glazes didn’t do exactly what I expected and one pot stuck itself to the clay biscuit I had set it on, but there were no major disasters. I now have a set of test tiles for my glazes, even though the effect on the tile doesn’t always resemble what I got on the pots. Some pots went straight into the bin.

kilnglaze

This is my favourite pot – a tea bowl that was one of the first things I made on my wheel.

teabowl

The textured pots were disappointing, with most of the pattern being wiped out by the glazes. I need to carve deeper next time.

plantpot

And finally I have a spoon rest to replace the teapot shaped one I broke at work.

spoonrest

Have fun folks,

Annette πŸ™‚

Cooking my clay

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The new kiln arrived shortly before the Midlands Rat Club Summer Show, so I had no opportunity to play with it until after the show. Then it needed firing in – taking up to temperature whilst empty of pots, but with the kiln furniture. The next job was to paint the base of the kiln and the shelves with kiln wash to protect them from glaze running off pots and sticking them to the kiln shelves. Finally, finally, I got to fire some pots. It takes about 24 hours to fire up the kiln for a bisque firing and let it cool enough to open up, and somehow I had accumulated three full loads of pots waiting to be bisqued. I guess that’s about a kiln load a month, which means the kiln is around the right size for me.

kiln

Currently the kiln is full of glazed pots from the first bisque firing, fired overnight and now down to just over 400 degrees Centigrade. I am so nervous to see what is inside. The Amaco glazes I bought can be quite runny, so each pot has a kiln washed circle of clay beneath it in the hope of catching any runs. I also have a test tile of each of my glazes just so I will have an example to keep. Future glaze firings will have layerings of glazes as well, but there is limited space so I will have to do a few at a time.

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Kiln Anticipation

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I’ve been and gone and done it. Ordered a kiln, that is. It’s the final admission that it’s time to have a break from pet rats for a while to pursue a hobby that lets me have time off. My Rohde Ecotop 60SΒ is on its way from Germany and we’ve spent the weekend so far making a space for it in the garage. It feels like a big investment, but it’s less than a year’s vet bills for 60 rats when I was breeding rats in earnest.

I just want to say, 60 rats sounds like a lot, but that can include two litters of 10 to 12 babies each and 30 to 40 resident ratties. As I have never re-homed my ex breeders (because they are my pets as well) and also as there are always rats who have been homed out but come back again due to changed circumstances, I found it very difficult to breed selectively with fewer than that. I’ve been up to a maximum of nine cages including nursery cages, which took me four or five hours an evening at half an hour’s freerange each. Urgh. Currently I only have three cages and 18 ratties, which takes me just over an hour and a half and leaves more time in the evening for visiting my mum and for pottery.

So, back to kilns. This one is economical to fire and will run on the current electricity supply to the garage, with two cubic feet of space inside for pots and kiln furniture. Two cubic feet means far more to me than 60 litres, but I have several 35 litre Really Useful Boxes, so envisaging just less than two of those also makes sense to me. We British have such a split personality with regard to metric and Imperial measures. (Does Metric need a capital letter, anyone?)

With a kiln on the way it’s time to start thinking glazes. I’ve ordered a selection because I honestly don’t know what I want to do, so there is much experimentation to come. I don’t know if the colour-blind thing is going to cause problems. Presumably I can find some combinations that look OK to both me and my husband and/or daughter and go with that. No good asking my son, he’s as colour-blind as I am.

Take care,

Annette πŸ™‚

tiles

Glaze test tiles ahoy!

 

Clotted cream

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I’ve started on a different batch of clay today. I’ve bought a load of clay described as Β Production Throwers Earthenware / Stoneware because it sounds nice to throw with. It is. It’s really lush, feels like clotted cream whereas the three bagsΒ Buff stoneware clay I bought beforeΒ felt like more like velvet. It took me a couple of goes to make the transition, but I really love the stuff, especially as it’s not too hard to use straight out of the bag so I don’t need to spend time mixing it with wetter clay. Somehow it needs less water too, so it’s less messy. Good job I like it; I bought 20 bags.

yarnbowl

A very solid yarn bowl

This week has been a bowl week, although they take a lot of trimming because I need to make the bases really thick to avoid them collapsing. More stuff to learn.

Annette πŸ˜‰

Parsnip Pottery

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Predictably I’ve come up with a name for my pottery, even though it’s a new thing that isn’t really off the ground yet. Parsnip Pottery. No amazingly deep meaning – I’ve had a rat called Parsnip, a beautiful black Essex-marked boy who died fairly young, I also like roast parsnips very much indeed, yum, and the word has a good feel to it. Nicely hobbyish, not pretentious or too serious.

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I’ve spent most of the morning wedging and kneading clay. It’s actually an enjoyable task, taking my reclaimed clay, my throwing failures and the hard clay from the bag and mixing it all together to get set up for the next few days of clay play. I begin with the piles of different hardness and cut them into slices to make layers that let me mix them all together. Then I take the big block and cut slices across the previous direction, turning the slices as I pile them to get the maximum mix. The final step is to take 2kg lumps to knead, and as I knead it slowly gets less lumpy and sticky, becoming more plastic and almost silky to the touch. There you have it, eight amazing little parcels of potential. It’s making me smile just to look at the photo.

shelves

I’m starting to hit a storage problem right now. My shelves are already full of books and stuff, so there’s limited space for the pots. I’m going to have to start keeping just the best and recycling the rest. That’s probably a good thing for quality control. I’ve got the next week off work, so I need to start finding space in the garage for a kiln. I don’t think I can contain myself much longer without starting to play with surface decoration. Obsessive or what?

dampbox

Finally, we have a damp-box full of stuff to decorate and/or add handles to. More fun!

Take care.

Annette πŸ™‚

Pottering on

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The cat colouring book has been on sale for a few days now. It’s sold six copies so far, which isn’t too bad until you factor in the fact that I bought five of them myself. Not going to be rich this year then?

A few more photos today. First of all, here’s the ratty slab sculpture from pottery class that I promised to show you. I was going to stick a tail on the back but he got a little too hard to add anything to so I cut the tail into the back instead. Then I got carried away with the carving and scoring so he ended up decorated all over. We’ll see what he looks like once he’s been glazed.

ratslab

Last weekend I managed to get a fair handle on a cup, using my ratty footprint stamp to fix it on and then during the week I made another cup shape and a bowl. The second cup still needs a handle, the bowl got a line gouged in it so it got carved to hide the mistake. The carving technique needs a little refinement maybe.

smallcup

bowl

So today the project was to produce a decent pint mug with a kilogram of clay. Six attempts later I have maybe three shapes that I like. The first two were too straight, then I managed curved but too short, then it began to go the way I wanted. I guess can practise trimming and putting handles on them all and then decide if any are worth keeping. I’m cheating by keeping them on the bats for now so I can do the first bit of trimming while they are still fixed on.

pintmugs

I’ve had a go at putting a pattern onto a plate too. The plate was slab cut and then put on the wheel to shape the edges, following this video:

Then I copied one of my rat pictures onto it using the tissue paper tracing technique, tracing the image onto tissue paper and then drawing over it with a Sharpie so the line goes through the tissue onto the plate. I want to learn to do Mishima with wax to get the line drawings on, like this video from Jessica Putnam-Phillips. I’ve got some wax and some black underglaze on order. I think I can combine my colouring book drawing and the pots in that way.

I’ve been looking at kilns online, but although I have enough pennies put by there is nowhere to put the thing right now, so it really does need to wait.

Clay time

I’m still busy learning clay. Last week I used the plaster slab I had made to recycle some of my throwing scraps. I’ve now got a system of three buckets going, my throwing water, my scraps bucket and my recycling slip bucket. A potato masher seems to be just right to mash up the scraps into a nice thick slip, and then after standing for a few days it will pour out nicely a little at a time onto the plaster slab. Then it takes a few hours or a day or so to dry up, depending on the weather. This past week has been really hot, but humid too, so it’s taking a while to dry.

My throwing is slowly improving, with my pots getting a little more even now, although they are still rather thick-walled. We’ll get there – there’s plenty of time before I can get a kiln.

The pottery classes at college have ended until September, although I still need to pick up a bowl next Monday. Here’s the little pot I made at the beginning, slab rolled with a jumper and embroidered flowers for texture. It’s not as round at the top as it began; I’m not sure what happened there. I’ve made a little ratty slab sculpture too, but it looks like I forgot to take his picture. Later.

knittedpot

Thanks to anyone who is listening to my ramblings.

Cheers,

annettesig