Sunday, March 29, 2009

Etsy Supply Street Team hosting a First Weekend Shopping Extravaganza

Beginning on Thursday at 12:00 AM EST, the Etsy Supply Street Team is hosting another "First Weekend Shopping Extravaganza." This month’s event will run from Thursday, April 2nd - Sunday, April 5th, 2009.

ALL ETSY SHOPS - HANDMADE, SUPPLIES AND VINTAGE - are invited to participate by placing an announcement in your shop and joining in with promoting on the "Official" Promotional thread in the Etsy Forums.

This will be a “Shopping Event” similar to a Public Marketplace. There will not be a "Overall theme" since Etsy is a Global Marketplace hence, the seasons, cultures, holidays, etc can vary quite a bit. Although not required, we do strongly encourage shops to have a feature, theme or sale as this can pique interest and help you to draw people to your shop.

You do not have to participate for the whole weekend simply join in when you can on the Promo thread in the Etsy Forums. You can search for the official thread - “APRIL FIRST WEEKEND SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA APRIL 2ND-APRIL 5TH”.

It should be a lot of fun! Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Misson ... (part three)

Here we go ... two coats, thick glaze! The crystals in this glaze helped the glaze to pool to the bottom making what I would call a nipple bead. These are all about 12 mm hole to hole and about 14 mm at their widest.

The places where glaze is the thickest is definitely the same glaze as the originals. The originals were about 17 mm. I'm thinking that this batch might have pooled because they are considerably smaller. So one one hand I would say Mission Accomplished, but on the other, I still think I have to try these larger.

Sidenote: I researched my photo archives and found a date on the originals. I usually photograph new beads the morning I take them out of the kiln so the originals were fired on September 5, 2008.

I found a website which contains files of daily average temperatures for approximately 150 U.S. cities: Temperature Data Archive

On, September 5, 2008, the average temperature was 79.7 degrees in Fort Worth, Texas. It was just a bit warmer then than it is now. I'm always amazed by what I can find on Google.

I also found out that USA today has every bit of data I need in order to record weather data for a firing and I am certainly going to take advantage of that for future firings.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Letter Press Dingbats

I love texture and stamps so it was inevitable that I would eventually stumble upon letterpress. These are so much fun to use in designs! A lady in ceramic's class was kind enough to loan me her set of alphabet letterpress and she ended up giving me an almost complete set (minus the letter 'q'). I'll be giving her some extras from this set.

These are a small 12 pt font so I'll also be to easily use these also on beads and pendants to create some geometric designs.

Mission .... Part Two

This is bead batch #2. I fired these at cone 4 on three different clay bodies. On the left is an ironstone clay from Texas Pottery. The middle is a white Laguna stoneware clay called Soldate 60, and on the far right is another clay body from Texas Pottery called "Taos Red". The look I'm aiming for is on the far left.

When I uncapped this glaze it was a bit thick so I added water. However, I must have added too much water. Also, this clay body may have absorbed more glaze that it did last time simply because of the humidity levels this time of year. I'm not really certain, just rambling about the whys. So many things are possible. The color where it is thicker is very similar to the effect I hope to achieve.

Therefore, I left that glaze uncovered and later that day applied an extra coat. They're in the kiln right now. I'll know tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

One on top of Another

Yesterday I decided to throw a few pots and stack them one on top of another to see what would happen. These are all about 7-9 inches tall and 5-7 inches wide. Only one has a bottom. The others are thrown hollow.

The top right is the pot with the bottom. My idea was to end up with a tall container that could store water on my kitchen counter. The spout would be 1/3 of the way up.

I stacked them together, scoring and slipping and adding coils. I attached a bottom to one of the hollows and cut off the 'bottom' of another to use as a lid. I also added a flange inside of the lid, too.

It was all a bit too narrow and straight so I put it on the wheel and tried to shape it a bit, but it was too jiggly. So while I waited for it to firm up a bit, I took a small spiral ceramic stamp and began stamping for texture.

After it was stamped (and it took a LONG time to stamp all these coils individually), the piece was firm enough to turn on the wheel and shape with a rib. The stamping helped compress the clay quite a bit, too.

Now I have to think about where to put the hole for the water spout. Is it even called a spout?

Hmmmm... Maybe tomorrow I'll put nice round fat feet it on it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mission .... Impossible?

The mission? To duplicate the wonderful color in these beads. I was asked by a customer if it was possible to get some more of these in my etsy bead shop and since I've been a very good potter and keeping actual notes on glazes and firings, thought, "SURE."

Now before we go any further, I must say that my notes were somewhat lacking. When I consulted them, they ran somewhat like this, "Love this glaze! (type of glaze and how many layers are described) Try it again with texture and deep holes. ... must put them on different kiln shelves again sometime soon, nice variations!"

Um, not very good very notes. Something like, "These ones, beads A were put on kiln shelf 2, the east side, during the month of (fill in the blank) when the temperature varied from ??? to ??? degrees. The sky was clear and it was not humid that day" would have been SO much better! Oh, it would have been nice if I had also mentioned what cone I had fired to, though I assume it is the normal temp that I fire beads to... although I was doing a lot of variations last summer when these beads were originally fired. Lesson learned.

Yeah, additional notes like that would have helped a whole lot. I know now.

So I looked through my bisque beads to see what I could experiment with. I had no rounds in stoneware available, but I did have some with texture. And the clay body on these beads I was almost certain was Ironstone and not Red Taos. I'm still pretty certain about that.

These are from a firing from about a year ago. I know these were fired to cone 6 because they are glued to a piece of cardboard and labeled. I have a lot of beads that I have documented this way and it does help tremendously. But I haven't done it with every new firing of each glaze combination. The flower bead at the far right looks like it might be what I am looking for. It is the closest of the three. However, I'm thinking I can find a closer match at a different temperature.

Normally I fire at either cone 6 or cone 06, but recently I've been firing mostly at cone 4. Therefore, the question is: did I fire the originals at cone 06 or cone 4? And which part of the kiln did I place them into? And will the temperature/humidity make a difference or not?

Here is an example of cone 06 on all three types of clay bodies. I put these in different places in the kiln and they all fired much the same way. I still don't know precisely what they would look like in a smooth round, but I do have a good idea.

Tomorrow I will fire to cone 4 and see what happens.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Big 'Ole Gas Firing

These are some of the things that came out of the big gas kiln at the college on Monday. These two porcelain mugs I used a clear glaze over and their kiln neighbor fumed red onto each of them. I love how they came out. I'm keeping them both! The brown and white coil bowl I formed by hand (see earlier post) and the other is a small dish I made using a piece of lace for texture.

I was asked to explain the difference between several stages of clay so here goes. Greenware is clay that has been shaped into a mug or bowl or whatever, but it is has not been fired. If it sits out in the rain, it will dissolve.

Bisque is clay that has been fired at a low temperature. It is porous. It is not mature (vitrified -- turned into glass). We bisque our ware in order to shrink it a bit so that when we apply glaze and fire, the glaze 'fits' the piece. Sometimes if we glaze and fire to maturity, the glaze will shiver or craze ... we can fire from greenware to maturity, but it is a firing that is very long. Sometimes I do this with beads if I have a rush order. But the normal thing to do is to fire a greenware so that it can be further sanded and then glazed.

A glazed piece is a piece that has been glazed and fired. It is not always 'mature', ie., vitrified. I usually vitrify all my pieces. Some artists don't (and that's okay). For example, different clay matures at different temperatures. Cone 6 is about 100 or so degrees cooler than cone 10. If I am using cone 10 clay and I glaze fire to cone 6 with a cone 6 glaze, the piece is foodsafe, but it is not mature. If the piece chips, then it has to be thrown away because the clay body is revealed, and bacteria can get into those cracks and cause illness.

However, If I take cone 6 clay and fire it to cone 10, the piece will bloat and crack, and may even melt onto the shelf of the kiln. So there is nothing good that comes from that. But if I take a cone 6 clay and fire it to cone 6, or a cone 10 clay and fire it to a cone 10, then if the piece ever gets chipped, I do not have to throw it away if I don't want to. I can continue to eat or drink from it. It also has a better 'feel' if it is a mature/vitrified piece. That's my opinion that is.

Why Cone 10 or Cone 6? It is the rare potter who fires their electric kiln up to cone 10. Why? Because that extra 100 degrees (or so) are really tough on the coils that heat up in the kiln. Think of toaster coils and how they heat up to make toast. Well, that's kinda the same thing with an electric kiln. Cone 10 firings just make nicer looking pieces because the hotter a piece gets, the better the shine of the piece, the richer the colors.

Cone 6 firings are great, but cone 10 firings are great, too!

Same thing goes for gas vs electric ... the gas firings typically take a lot of the oxygen at some point from the firing. Electric firings are full of oxygen ... you can get some nice colors, but they are not reduction colors.

Wood firings are the ultimate OH MY firing experience. The firing usually lasts a couple of days and someone has to keep throwing wood in the entire time. The results are fantastically unique. Salt firings are something I haven't quite figured out. Raku is something I'm only experimenting with this semester.

Anyway, I hope that explanation helps a bit.

Friday, March 06, 2009

No Plaster Disaster Today!

I have been making these small tea/rice bowls in a long labourous sort of way for the past couple of months. Each one takes at least 1/2 hour to form. Each coil is laid into a wooden mold and then when the bowl is complete, I smooth out the coils without disturbing the outside of the coils. I have lots of different ideas to decorate these. This one is plain with the red inside and bare clay outside. So I thought I would make a mold of one that is in bisque form at the moment.

The plaster I'm using is a high quality potter's plaster. I bought this batch about a year ago. I stored it outside (wrong wrong wrong) and then my puppy dog, a huge beast of a dog, opened up the container and had a snowy day in the middle of summer. I scooped up what I could, grass, twigs and all, and put it back in the container. I do realize though that I should use new plaster. I even bought new plaster yesterday. However, I hate waste so I thought I would try the old stuff to see how it performed.

So it seemed to be fine, just a bit lumpy and of course the leaves, grass, and twigs were fun texture. So I strained it and put it in this bisque bowl that I never glazed and refired because of a small crack in the bottom. The crack doesn't go all the way so it is great for other uses, like holding greenware beads while they are firing. I thought it would also be just the right size for this small bowl mold. There is the same amount of room on the bottom as there is the sides. I read that a good mold has the same amount of plaster on each side for even drying.

I coated both bisque bowls with Murphy's oil soap beforehand: the inside of the bigger bowl and the outside of the smaller bowl. I mixed up the plaster, strained it into the bigger bowl and placed the bowl to be molded inside. It began setting up immediately.

So we'll see what happens. I don't even know how long it will take. Maybe it will be ready in a few hours. I have no idea. I know enough not to mess with it until it is self-released. Any suggestions are appreciated.