Saturday, November 28, 2015

Love conquers all!

I've long wanted to open my house to friends to show off some good work, drink some wine and share in our companionship. I'm doing it next weekend. I have a collection of pots I have made over the past year and 5 or 6 wood firings. It has been an amazing year with lots of change in store for me.
My friend Jen Drysdale is down stairs working on her pots and she came up to see me cutting and colouring away at my invite that I will hand deliver to the awesome people of my community. I was huffing and puffing away cutting out Christmas trees and ripping paper and she said " Are you tired of doing arts and crafts?" I laughed and said " No, I love every part of this job of mine!".
So if you can make it I will have my living room full of one off's and the downstairs studio will have tables full of $20, $30,$40 and $50 bargoons!
Friends are coming over to help me meet and greet.
Thanks everybody, I really, do appreciate you.
P.S Read Carter Gillies blog. Love conquers all!  Giving, giving, get!  What comes around goes around. I hope you are rewarded, Carter.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tyranny of Comparison

Tell my boss I won’t be in to work in the morning.
Had my wood firing gang here for the past 3 days firing the kiln. Kiln fired off like a champ with a good Cone 11 flat top, bottom,back and front.
As with every firing the guard dogs were on duty. Roxy is attacking Emma with love until she finally surrenders. Love conquers all.
There is always good discussion around the firebox about love, life and pots.  This firing had comparisons between those that sell well and those that make well and don’t sell all that well. It is the tyranny of comparison that we all find ourselves struggling with. Contests, competitions and craft sales all thrive on comparisons.  Is the most beautiful woman really the most beautiful person? Is the one that sells the most the winner of the competition? Some will say it is not a competition. Huh!

I must say that over the course of almost 16 months our wood firing mentorship has been going the group has pulled for one another. It is a group that care more about the team than their own personal success. The work has become very individual and special to each member.  We have one more firing together and then it is all over but the crying. What comparisons will be drawn about the work and the process? When I taught at Sheridan it was family until the final show and then it got competitive. Awards, scholarships, $$$$ was handed out and things changed.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Singing Kumbaya

There are many theories on how to fire the elusive carbon trap shino. I remember a while back the late Malcolm Davis was phoning me in a flap because he had lost his soot. Where had it gone? How was I getting it? Malcolm invited a number of us to write an article for Studio Potter about the maverick glaze and how we approached it. Well, just before that issue was to hit the press Bryron Temple died and they cut the size of the article and hence I got the boot.
I have read where people glaze their pots, turn fans on them, face them to a westerly wind, keep them for 3 days under covers and then sit around and sing Kumabuyah to wish the soot Gods well.
My theory- put the glaze on, get it in the kiln ASAP and get firing. The wetter they go in the better.  Here are two bowls. The pumpkin orange boring bowl had all the same treatment as the lustery one minus the blue. It sat around the workshop for 3 days. 

  The soda ash goes off into La-la land and leaves you with Boring with a capital B. I used this one carbon trap shino glaze exclusively for 10 years. You learn a lot more about application and firing when you limit your selection.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Old Dawg, new trick!

I just unloaded my first firing of Sweet Baby Jane and I quickly got busy glazed up another load and she’s firing again tonight. I really hadn’t made pots for this kiln so I was thankful to have a couple of boxes full of slab trays that Andrew made for me during the summer. I couldn’t resist some temmoku- the glaze that potter’s love and never sells. I got carried away with a cobalt blue glaze Jane gave me. I was thinking of paying bills and remembered the motto- if it doesn’t sell reglaze it blue and if it still doesn’t sell salt fire it.
One of the many reasons I like the carbon trap glaze is that it does make the pot look wet again. Wet pots especially freshly slipped ones are my favourite time in a pots life. Because it looks wet it is hard to photograph so I just am showing some close ups. It is dark, I’m tired and I’ll be up till 3:30, teach tomorrow, meeting tomorrow night and then the gang arrives here for a 3 day marathon wood firing. No rest for the wicked!

So the new trick is how this kiln fires. The program Geil suggests for carbon trapping has the kiln go into  light reduction around 1650F. It doesn’t go to the extremes of pushing the damper in and having smoke coming out every peep and around the door.  Something I used to do. It moves slowly up to medium reduction and holding  up to around 2200F. I was talking to Jane on the phone at about this time and she asked “ Has it dropped yet?” I didn’t quite get it, hung up and went out to check the kiln. There was a green flame out the stack, and both peeps. Good back pressure and the gas had been turned up and the damper opened.  Oxyprobe reading neutral to really light reduction. What the Sam Hell? I had always fired all the way up to Cone 10 in reduction with the damper a whole lot further in. Who am I to argue with a computer that is likely smarter than me. Well the computer wins. The glaze is a nice smokey shino wth little mouse gray spots of carbon trapping. This firing I still have the blues I've just tuned them down.