I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday. I had a week off from the job that pays the bills. This afforded me the opportunity to go to the studio every day and play in the mud, test glazes, listen to music etc. I was there on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, all the next week & New Years Day. Some might say that is lame, but as I was pretty much on my own this Christmas, I took advantage of the free time.
I tried out a new (to me) clay body over the break, Plainsman F96. This is a very warm and toasty brown colour when fired to cone 6. It has the look of a wood fired pot, but without the wood. I did discover that it does not throw certain shapes very well. It is a very moist body, so perhaps it could have used a little time on the plaster before I threw it, but patience is not one of my virtues. So, tall was out, but it did nice plates, stretched out platters/trays, teapots, cups, bowls etc. Everything required a lot more trimming that I am used to as well. I usually don’t have thickness issues, but then I usually throw nice smooth BMix that you can thin out really easily. F96 is definitely not BMix. It is pretty groggy, but not too painful to throw. As it was quite moist, I found that things wouldn’t stand up to a lot of height unless there was a lot of supporting clay at the bottom, and even still, it was hard to get that clay up. I still need to see how it works with my glazes, but from what I hear, it should be very nice. The only real downside to this clay is that even though it is not as red as M390, it stains waaaayyyy more than M390. M390 is a very dark terracotta coloured clay when wet and fires to a very dark chocolate brown. You know when someone has used M390, but it cleans up pretty easily and doesn’t stain your skin (very much). F96 on the other hand is very orangey and will stain your skin for days. After I used it the first time it looked like I had been using a really cheap fake tanning lotion, but only on my hands, and only up to my wrists.
After trying out the new clay, I got busy testing some glazes on Christmas Day. I found some glaze recipes that I wanted to try out so see if they would be good as a base, or even just a white. I am trying to find a waxy or matte white that will work within the price restrictions at the studio and that could then be used to widen our colour/texture options at the studio. I was also going to test a snowflake crackle glaze (from the article in Ceramics Monthly a little while ago). If the crackle worked, it would probably be just for my own use, as they are not really food safe, and require a bit of knowledge on how to apply them and in a recreational studio setting this would not work too well. I fired the kiln off on Boxing Day and this is what I got……Brains! As you can see, it is more like a frontal lobe than a snowflake crackle….
My other tests were OK. I did get a nice result from one of the matte glazes I tested. I was looking for a nice lavender as well, and I thought I would try that with this base. It was a bit thin when I applied it, so this looks a bit streaky, and it is tending to a pale blue when thin, but where there are drips, and also on the inside where I could get a thicker application, there is a very beautiful pale lavender.