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misc: pitiless firing; clay "maturity" ; resist; wine goblets

updated fri 9 dec 05


Lili Krakowski on thu 8 dec 05

1. "There's no panacea, and there are few gifts from the kiln at cone =
6." Dannon writes.

Cardew said the same thing, though not as concisely: " There are certain =
subtleties and qualities of colour, texture and depth which wood-firing, =
properly managed, will give you as it were a free gift. I do not doubt =
that this glow of life in pots and glazes can also be obtained by using =
other fuels; but I am sure that it is much easier to achieve it with =
wood. When you unpack an electric kiln any faults in the work, whether =
of technique or expression, will be displayed and stated clearly, =
coolly, and unmistakably; and if, fearing the candid exposure, you have =
tried to induce artificially some of the accidental beauties of =
wood-firing, this element of make-believe will also be mercilessly =
exhibited in the result."

Having been a mid-range electric firer all my life, I have endured the =
snickerings, and disdain of High Firers all my life. No, this is not =
Schadenfreude, but a different point of view.

I've always known electric fire is cold, harsh, and terribly truthful. =
It's gift is that of an incorruptible judge; a sentence that allows no =
equivocation, nor appeal. You soon learn you cannot kid yourself. =
Which is a great blessing.
The electric kiln's gift is that it forces you to be honest with =
yourself. Or, as I put it: electric firing is like looking at yourself =
in the mirror with a halogen light. Fuel-firing--esp. wood--is like =
looking at yourself by candlelight. (The 75 year old has spoken!)

You also learn to concoct glazes and slips, and like that to achieve =
richness...and beauty. Again and again I direct people to the work of =
electric firers like Eileen Lewenstein (CM: ARE YOU GOING TO DO A =
Lucy Rie et al.
And remember: they achieved wonders before these new digital kilns...

2. Apply to Ron Roy for this one. Many clays are sold as from c.4-c10, =
or c.04-c2. This is silliness squared. Clay is NOT like children whose =
maturity at a physical age may/may not correspond to intellectual age. =
When people advertise books and say Ages 4-8 it means any bright three =
year old can read this, but if your 8 year old is maturing at an easier =
pace, it is fine for her too. This is NOT SO with clay.

As the gurus keep teaching the maturation of clay in the fire is an =
actual physical process of change.
The clay body sold as from c.4-10 is NOT remotely mature at c.4, though =
it will survive, albeit fragile. It will be absorbent, glazes will =
have trouble....At c.10 the clay will be fully matured, with--and people =
argue about this--a permissible absorption between 1.5% and 3%. A =
c.4-10 body fired at c.6 may may not do what you want.

I evoke Ron's name because Tucker, where he designs clay bodies, does =
not do this...their clay bodies are "restricted" and they tell you =
exactly what to expect at the given temp.=20

I do not know what school has a clay and says "one size fits =
all"---when what they mean is: " Hey, Goofballs, here's some clay...we =
neither know nor care about whether it works or not at the temps you =
want, please leave us alone with all that techno (*&(^# and be =
creative! Express yourselves!" (I just cringe at "schools" that toss =
materials and tools at students as though sloppin' the hawgs )

If you plan to fire with wood, then get the right clay...

3. There are two types of resist. Temporary and permanent. Temporary =
is the type generally used when it has to be removed in the "phase", so =
something else can go on top. Latex is one such and paper or similar =
another. I say same "phase" because permanent resist on raw clay will =
come off in the bisque. Permanent resists are waxes of different =
kind, and, I guess, Elmer's glue. Recently there was some exciting =
talk about shellac--but I really do not know where that would go as =

4. Wine is acidic (yes, much Kosher wine is Chassidic as well) =
Remember: wine is the mother of vinegar. Be sure about that glaze! And =
a history lesson. Colored, faceted, stemmed white-wine glasses--which =
I absolutely love--called Roemer, were used for white wines as a =
solution for the problem of sediment. (this before filtering was =
perfected.) Today they are cleaned, and even red wines deserve a =
transparent glass. Which does not mean cider, home-made or mulled wine, =
mead, cannot be served in opaque goblets... Just watch out for that =
glaze.(And maybe Elijah has not come came because the wine awaited him =
in lead crystal.) =20

Lili Krakowski

Be of good courage