Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to lose 5lbs in 1 day

I went to Medicine Hat last Wednesday to fire the Salt and Soda Kilns at the Shaw Centre at Medalta.
I left right after work on Wednesday afternoon and arrived at our motel at 7:30. Kathy and I got up early and went to glaze and load the kilns on Thursday and turned the kilns on low and slow overnight to preheat. There were various issues with this round of firing. The cone packs in the soda kiln blew up during the preheat, so we were flying a bit blind. Aaron found us an optical thermographer called the Cyclops. He was not sure how to use it, so had one of the train kiln operators from the old IXL brick factory to come over and trouble shoot it with us. As this was our only guide for temperature, we used it as well as colour in the kiln. By the time a witness cone bent in the salt kiln we had finished adding the soda, so that was pretty much a shot in the dark. We took a reading when cone 7 bent, and it looked like the “cyclops” was out by a hundred degrees or so. I think we were slightly underfired in the soda, but got some decent results. The salt was much better, although it could have used a bit more salt. In total, we added about 6 pounds of soda ash, and 14 pounds of salt. I did not take many pictures during the firing as it is too hard to do that when there are only 2 of us. If I could find a way to grow a 3rd arm, that would help. I would look weird though.
As to the weight loss, it was all sweat. The temp in Medicine Hat on the day of the firing was about 31 degrees Celsius (87.8 F). Without the kilns it was pretty darned hot out. The kilns themselves were at about 2385 F or so at top temp. We were a little limp with the heat by the end of the day. While we were waiting for the salt kiln to reach salting temp (it took until 9 pm or so), we ordered a pizza, around the time the pizza was to arrive, a torrential downpour sprang up. So we had heat, lightning, thunder, rain and pizza.
All in all I think the firings were OK. The soda was a bit dry in spots, but the salt was relatively juicy. There were some really nice glazes in this firing. I had some excellent carbon trapping in a Malcolm Davis shino, some good colour development in the yellow salt glaze, and some really lovely pink halos and blushing on the insides of some of my rice bowls where I used the Andrew Wong Lustre glaze. That glaze can come out quite boring and white if not reduced enough (?), but this time, I think we had good reduction. Not too much, just enough. 
Oh ya, I also saw the Medalta International Cup Show. The labels had not been put up yet, but I was able to recognize quite a few potters. There were several of Jim Gottuso's yunomis and beer glasses, a couple of cups from Zygote, a wall piece from Mindy Andrews and a ton of others that I just can't recall the makers of off the top of my head. There was stoneware, porcelain, low fire, high fire, salt, soda, functional and not so functional, etc etc...Very good show. Great job Carol for picking all of these amazing cups.

Friday, August 2, 2013

My Camera is in Newfoundland, but I am not...

I loaned my camera to my sister and her husband for their belated honeymoon trip to Newfoundland so they would have 2 cameras instead of just 1. Therefore, no pics for a bit until they get back. I am currently house/fish/plant sitting for them and am apparently also in charge of feeding and bathing all of the neighborhood sparrows. I put out water and seed for them the first day , I was not sure how much to put in the feeder, so I filled it up. I came home in the afternoon and it was gone, all of it. They are little flying pigs, and are now on a one scoop diet.
This is the Heritage Day long weekend, so I will naturally be spending it at the studio. Dave is working at the Canmore Folk Festival as Instrument Security, so I am going to be opening and closing for open studio time,  as well as teaching on Monday night.  I also need to bisque the last of my pots for the salt/soda firing and pack them up. I am also teaching a couple of hand building classes on large(ish) soft slab vases next week, so I need to get all the slabs rolled out so they are suitably stiff for construction, as well as a few examples of finished pieces just in case. Nothing like trying to build a large vase when you slab is all floppy. It is kind of weird about this hand building class. I don't normally hand build. I am not sure why I said I would demo this. I have no patience for hand building. Too much waiting for things to dry in my opinion. But, throwing is a skill learned over a long time and if you are a new student it can be frustrating when all you can seem to make are lumpy dog bowls. Hopefully this will get them thinking tall and make them feel like they are accomplishing something. I may include some basic "printing" techniques with underglazes and how to incorporate texture with found objects and bisque stamps etc. This is definitely stretching my envelope.