Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Potters Nightmare / Girl Interrupted


As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I am in a bit of a time crunch to get some mugs finished that I have been commissioned to create. I backfilled all the handles on Friday and left them loosely covered over night until I could get back to them on Saturday after work. I left them uncovered in the sun on Saturday afternoon for about an hour and then put them uncovered on the plaster to hopefully wick out more moisture. On Sunday, I got to the studio bright and early (9am) & put the mugs outside to dry again for several hours. If a non potter were watching me, they probably wondered what the heck I was doing. Every half hour or so I would wander outside, pick a mug up and press the base of the mug against my cheek, shake my head and put it back down. This is the only method I know of to tell if there is any moisture left in the clay. If it is cold, it is probably still wet & my cheek is the body part I rely on to gague the level of dampness. I nervously began loading the bisque kiln at bout 2:00 and set it for a 2 hour delay and a 2 hour preheat, so it wouldn’t start until 4:00. I went home and that night I sweated bullets in my sleep worrying about the mugs. Could they have been a little too damp? Will the handles and bottoms get blown out by the moisture being boiled out too vigorously? All the worrying was for naught. I checked them on Monday, and all was well, now I am a couple days ahead of schedule. I was originally going to wait until Tuesday to fire the bisque, but now I can glaze instead and take my time to get that part right instead of rushing through it and then I can load on Friday night and unload Sunday. Even thought these are very simple mugs, I am really happy with how they have turned out so far. The handles are perfect (in my opinion). They are not too big, and not too small, they are juuust right. I also had a few shellacked pots in there that have the layer of coloured terra sig slip. I am eager to see how these come out in the glaze, especially since the process is rather time consuming. I want to know that going cross eyed from all the dots and squiggles was worth it. I am not 100% sure how they will end up glazed, but probably in the translucent Amber as I love the way it reacts with the rutile in the sig).

I taught my Tuesday class last night and the kiln was on from a firing that one of the other instructors had loaded and fired. It should have been done a long time before that. About a half hour into the class, the computer on the kiln started beeping indicating that it was not heating fast enough, and it shut off at 2140 F when it was trying to reach 2175 F. I have a sneaking suspicion that this load only reached cone 4. So that means that my load of mugs etc will not be fired in that kiln this weekend as I had planned. Now I will be madly glazing on Friday night in order to pack it all up and take it to Ceramics Canada on Saturday to load in their kiln. I got the feet waxed on the mugs and a few other pieces, so I’m a little bit ahead.

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