Thursday, April 18, 2013

Breathing room.

Last time I wrote about waiting, I’d just loaded the kiln. Inside were many pieces of clay work including three big, porcelain sgraffito bowls. I had high hopes. I wanted these three bowls to come out smooth, shiny and perfect. I tried to wait patiently but I was excited and anxious.

When they came out, they looked like they had a bad rash. They were bumpy, not beautiful. And all my hopes of entering them in a local ceramic show were over. I’d never had this happen with any of my bowls before. I didn’t know what went wrong.

I do know what I did right.

I asked friends for help and support. They were kind and sympathetic and helpful. But even though they have many more years of experience than I, they weren’t sure what went wrong. I found out that this, glaze business, is not an exact science and it goes wrong all the time. I called the glaze manufacturer for help and got a few ideas. I got on the internet and did searches, read forums and took notes. I found out my problem isn’t a new one and I’m not alone.

This time, I was going to give myself time. I was going to wait before trying any more glazing on anything. But although I told myself I was just being wise and cautious and careful. I was just procrastinating out of fear. Then, my stubbornness kicked in. I wanted to persist. Push on. Fast forward through this failure to success. Now. Today. That’s when I saw the flip side of my fears. Pushing and over working.

Breathing room.

That’s what I really needed. A little space to digest the disappointment. Research the problem. Gather new information and glazes. Devise a testing strategy. And try again. I spent days glazing mugs, vases and bowls made with the same clay, using the same underglazes and bisqued at the same temperature with three different clear glazes. I coded each and every piece, made notes of the glazing procedure and took pictures of what they looked like before and during the process. I’m planning on firing them in two smaller batches at two different cone temperatures to see how that affects the clay and glazes. And the smaller batches give the pieces more room for heat and air circulation.

Today, I loaded the kiln to fire the first batch of clear glazed pieces. While the kiln fires and cools, I’m giving myself time to rest, write, catch up on laundry and make a roast for dinner. Because I see I’m a lot like my clay. It needs room to breathe during each stage of the process from throwing and glazing to firing and cool down.

It needs breathing room and so do I.

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