Friday 28 June 2013

Kiln Highlights

I think there is no need to say much today. These beauties are the ultimate highlight of my latest firing. I created them as a soap dish, but you can also put some jewellery on it. Or you can just stare at them – something I have been doing for the last few days.

Turquoise soap dish

Turquoise soap dish 2

Slip casted porcelain, glazed with my favourite turquoise glaze; 10 cm in length.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Kiln Opening

My studio is situated on the ground floor of our old three floor stone house. When you look at the house from the outside, it may look quite spacious. But since its old stone walls are quite thick, we lose a lot of space and the rooms are actually small. The good thing about these walls is that they keep the temperature balanced. When the outside temperature gets high, there is still some cool inside the house. 
Last few days we had extremely hot days, so I wasn't sure if I should fire up the kiln, getting my cool studio hot, or wait for some colder days. I have decided to postpone the firing. The decision was very difficult since I did a lot of glaze testing and I was so curious about the result.

I didn’t have to wait long for the bad weather, so yesterday, at 5:30 AM I was tiptoeing down the old squeaky wooden stairs to the studio to open the kiln – finally. 

This firing gave me a few gems, but also some disappointments. My opalescent glaze experiment was a complete fiasco. I glazed two small cups with the transparent glaze as thick as I could. Nothing happened. I mean the glaze did what it was supposed to be doing: it stayed clear, shiny and transparent. 

But something did happen. I had a vase that was waiting to be glazed for years. I was not really happy how it looked and I wanted to destroy it several times. Somehow I never got around to doing it.

Vase, wheel-thrown stoneware, 15,5 cm in height.

What do you think I've found in the bottom of that vase? There was a small milky, opalescent lake. I will have to give this experiment another try, I guess.

The bottom of the vase.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Musing About Glazing

I have a thing for glass. As a kid I even had a phase when I wanted to be a glassblower. I was so fascinated with the process of transforming the glowing mass of molten glass into beautiful vessels just by blowing air into it. 

I didn’t become a glassblower, but a potter instead. Still, I am dealing with some kind of glass when glazing the pots: Ceramic glazes include silica which is also the main substance of glass. In a few days I will be glazing the recently bisque fired pots. So, lately I was thinking a lot about different glazing possibilities. 

Glazing can be tricky. If you choose a wrong glaze you may aesthetically destroy the most beautiful vessel. However, sometimes a good choice of glaze can rescue a failed vessel. If you use transparent glaze, you are generally on a safe side. The transparent-glazed vessels retain the most of their origin look; somehow they are still naked, yet protected with the translucent layer of glaze. The transparent glaze is applied thinner than the coloured ones. Even though, the glaze is clear, any mistakes can be detected easily. For example, if you apply to much glaze, it may become milky. Here you can see it: 

Since I really like the smoky and opalescent look of it, this time I want to make a little experiment: I will apply the transparent glaze as thick as the bisque-ware can handle it. I am so curious if I can turn this accidental glazing mistake into something really spectacular. Wouldn’t it be great to achieve the depth and opalescence similar to this Art Nouveau beauty? 

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Slowing Down

My sons's gardening tools

I have spent the last two decades of my life running around, working a way too much, studying and trying to do as many things as possible at the same time. When you have a child, it is like having an additional full time job – sometimes with extra night-shifts. So, suddenly you are forced to restructure your life completely, to set your priorities new and – most important – to slow down.

To slow down means that you have to stay serene as you wait for your son to take his shoes of all by himself. It means that when you go for a walk you may need an hour for the route that you would complete in 10 minutes if you were alone. It means that you have to pause to admire each snail, ringworm or digger that comes your way. It also means that you will have hard times trying to recognize the trumpet or the fish your son is seeing in the clouds.

The great thing is that if you get yourself into it and you let your child teach you, you may actually get the chance to rediscover the beauty of small things in life, the things that you normally don’t see, because you are so busy running and getting things done. For example, never before I took the time to observe the hyper-accurate actions of a digger, loading earth onto a truck.

So instead of hurrying to load the second kiln this week as planned we have spent the entire day in our garden. We had a picnic under the old apple tree; we were searching for the latest holes on the lawn made by our hedgehog; we were checking on our berries which need few more sunny days to ripen, we got all dirty – we had a lot of fun.

Hole made by a hedgehog searching for food
Wild strawberries