Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tears and Sighs of Relief.

Last post, I was waiting. I'd loaded the kiln to the brim with new work ans was looking forward to posting pretty pictures here. When I lifted out the first three bowls on top, I couldn't believe my eyes. I wished for the best. My wish was not granted.

I worked hard on these bowls. Throwing and trimming went especially well. I painted on the black under glaze, did the sgraffito and bisque fired them. They came through it all looking great. Then, it was time for final glazing. I mixed up the clear glaze just like I’d done before and poured it into and around them carefully tipping out the excess. I put them carefully into the kiln and closed the lid.

The glaze that was supposed to be crystal clear on all three bowls was bumpy and bubbly. This is bad.

And, I’m ashamed to admit it but I cried. I was that disappointed.

Now, here’s the point in my story when the music swells and I tell the story of problems solved and lessons learned and achievement. I'm not there, yet. But there is some good news.

This hand-built vessel that came out with all the sculpted leaves whole and the colors soft and even. This piece was another labor of love that took a long time and a lot of patience. I'll share the process in more detail in another blog, I promise. But for today, let's just say I lifted the shelf, saw it and let out a very big sigh of relief. My labors were not lost here.

And, to be honest, I did get a lot of pieces where the clear glaze did work out ok. Maybe not quite as well as I wanted, but the mugs, vases and bowls are fine and functional. Still, I am far from solving the problem of getting a nice, smooth, even coat of clear glaze over my black sgraffito. I’ve googled and emailed and asked the few people I know only to find out that, well I’m not the only one who has this problem. I've had several people suggest that I re-fire the bowls. At this point, I have nothing to lose. I'll try it and let you know how it works out.

I guess the biggest lesson learned here is this: that doing your best isn’t going to guarantee the best results. You just have to wish and wait and hold your breath. Sigh with relief when something turns out and cry a little (or swear) when it doesn't. Then, you just have to move on.

If you have any suggestions, please pass it along in the comments!

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