Monday, October 28, 2013

There’s A Lot Going On

Well, I guess fall is over. It was a lovely 19 degrees on Saturday, the sun was out, the sky was blue and it was warm. Sunday however was a completely different story. It started out by raining over night on Saturday and by the time I left for the studio at 8:30, it was quickly becoming snow. It then proceeded to snow all day.
But with the snow comes looming sale deadlines, so I managed to finish handling all the mugs I made on Friday, I sgrafittoed 4 mugs in very unique freehand designs, made a couple of glazes, loaded and fired off a bisque and topped my day off by throwing some medium sized bowls.
The 2 glazes I made are very similar; in that they are the same base and that they both contain 4% rutile. One of them however contains 4% tin. I am working with the Plainsman Clays recipe using Alberta slip and Frit 3134. It is the simplest glaze formula, and comes out really, really nice. It feels lovely, it doesn’t craze and it applies beautifully. The only crabby thing about this glaze is that you have to calcine half of the Alberta Slip to drive off excess moisture to reduce the plasticity. Not a difficult job in and of itself, but it just adds another step to the process as well as making you think ahead when deciding to mix glazes. I pop it in the kiln in bisque bowls, fire to 022 and hold for a bit. I do this overnight so I can mix it first thing the next day. It comes out looking like chocolate milk powder. So the one with just the rutile is a lovely purplish lavender colour floating over an amber background. It breaks nicely and is reminiscent of our true Orange Blue Rutile glaze from our cone 10 reduction days. The other great thing is that it plays really, really nicely with our other glazes which can always be an issue when making a glaze that will probably end up being layered with other glazes. This one will hopefully become a studio glaze for all to use.
The second glaze is the same as the first but with the addition of 4% tin. I have not really tested this one, but according to Plainsman, it is a light gloss brown. It isn’t the brown I am after so much, but when a thin wash of Titanium Dioxide is brushed over top, it changes colour to a creamy green and blue variegated glaze that breaks nicely on texture etc. This glaze will not become a studio glaze. The tin is just too expensive for the quantities we would require.
I can foresee that my future for the next couple of weeks will entail more mug carving. I have a few flood mugs I need to finish. I have 19 or so mugs to carve and I will probably do half flood mugs and half whatever comes out of my brain. I will also be glazing and firing as much as I can. There is the Fairview Christmas sale on November 23rd, and the Moe Shelley Craft Market the following weekend on Sunday December 1st. I won’t have much, if any, time in between to restock, so I will need to have stock ready for both.
My nose will be on the grindstone (what a weird saying – how does grinding off your nose mean that you are working hard?) for the next while as I try to get ready with my own work in amongst the student firings that always take precedent in the weeks coming up to a studio sale.
Tonight I will be sending out the reminder email about the sale, so If you are anxiously awaiting the info, it is coming. But until then, I will post the info here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


What is it like to live with family for extended periods of time? Well, the CBC asked me that question on Wednesday night last week. The interview aired Friday morning leading in to the thanks giving weekend.
Here's the link: