Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Year’s Lesson #1: Success isn’t about perfection.

I made a New Year’s goal to fire up my kiln and try glazing my own pots and sculptures for the first time. I’ve done bisque firing but never glaze firing. So this was an adventure for me into the unknown on my own. The feelings: scary and exciting. The results: surprising.

Two porcelain bowls came out great. The glaze was smooth and rich with just a little bubbling inside one of the bowls. The other bowls are a different story. Both were stoneware clay with matte black on the outside and gloss red and purple on the inside. The insides came out nice and smooth but the matte black was a big disappointment. It was a dull black instead of a satin black and there was some pitting too. Not pretty.

I had about 6 cups, all stoneware clay except one. I poured the glazes inside each one in red, purple or white and then painted the glaze on the outsides. Again the matte glaze, this time white, was a big disappointment. I put it on the outside of two of the mugs and it looked dull and felt rough. Unless I can put a clear glaze on top and refire them, I can’t see using them. They’re so rough; I wouldn’t want to drink from them.

My two sculptural faces were another surprise. Good and bad. One was red and white marbled clay. I used only two oxides and no glaze. The color came out as I expected, but the forehead has a slight crack. I can fix it but I’m surprised because I’ve used these oxides before with no problems. The only difference here is the clay. The other face, yet another clay body, I layered oxides with two different glazes. I wanted a depth of color and patina. I got 3 cracks, dark color with some metallic highlights.

Yesterday, I was relieved and disappointed. Today, I’m determined and inspired.

I faced my New Year goal and glaze fired on my own. I learned what worked and what didn’t. I found some new glazes to try in place of the matte black and white. And I thought of ways to use the cracks in the sculptural faces to add to the piece.

The results were far from perfect but I did it anyway. That’s success all by itself.

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