Saturday, March 3, 2012

Glaze firing #2: Full of surprises.

I loaded the kiln on Thursday morning to glaze fire 5 cups, 2 trays, 1 bowl and 2 sculptural faces. I rubbed on a combination of underglaze and oxides , painted layers of sculptural and matte glazes, then poured a satin glaze inside and over cups and bowls.

It was time to load the kiln. It’s still a giant puzzle to me. And with all the sculptural elements, it’s a delicate matter to make sure that handles, legs, leaves and vines were given enough space. I fired up at 11:30 in the morning, kept my timer on, turned up the heat, watched and waited. The kiln turned itself off around 9 pm. I don’t open the kiln until the temperature inside the kiln feels the same as the outside.

Today, two days later, I opened the kiln. I saw my gingko bowl with its new satin black surface and smiled. The big tray was perfect. The cups all looked even better than I’d hoped. Good surprises!

Some surprises were not so good. Some leaves popped off the sculptural faces. Two legs came off the gingko bowl. And one tray got stuck to the kiln shelf.

I got the tray pried off the kiln shelf and it broke in two places. Why? Two small drops of glaze left on the shelf melted fusing the tray to it. Lesson learned, always clean that off before you glaze fire again.

I’m thrilled. I’m celebrating. I’m smiling with wonder at these sturdy, satin glossy cups, trays, bowls and wall art that started out as lumps of soft clay. I’m not worried, the leaves, gingko bowl legs and cracked tray can all be fixed with a little epoxy. Yes, some of the surprises were not so good, but all in all, that’s not a bad thing.

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