mel jacobson on mon 30 oct 06
i was just awake...3 a.m. thinking:
david baumee was right on the button, as usual.
it is what ron and john have been teaching for years.
i hope i am on that same page.
think of this scene:
art center, loading the kiln. 121 pots all lined up.
the pots are from 45 people, and they all glaze
their own way.
there are at least 60 glazes in combination
on the 121 pots.
HOW IN THE HELL DO YOU FIRE THE KILN?
HOLD AND SOAK AT THE END
MEDIUM REDUCTION, LITE REDUCTION, HEAVY REDUCTION.?
do you down fire? make crystals? no no no...you open the
kiln at the end and crash cool.
none are correct. they are all wrong.
because your firing will never match all those glazes.
some thick, some thin, some layered, some plain.
of course there are temmoku's, celedon's, shino's
fat white, dark blue shinny. each is fired with a
different schedule. `our art center has 83 glazes and we
use them all every firing..` GOD, WHAT AN AWFUL THOUGHT.
how often do folks fire their home electrics the same way.
twenty five pots, twenty five glaze tests..
`oh, do i have to fire differently for those twenty five glazes.`
some of the most wonderful glazes of all time have never
been seen, because they were over reduced. `oh, you mean that
sick brown, metallic, crappy glaze? we hate that glaze.` uh hmmm.
that is why many of us complain about `glaze recipes`.
i want a hell of a lot more information than a recipe.
in fact, in most cases, i want to actually see the kiln
it was fired in. often the people firing that kiln have
no idea what is going on, and they give the wrong
information. i see it all the time.
`oh mel, we never reduce hard...we control our reduction.`
look at the kiln...black smoke at all the ports, going up the
kiln three feet. soot on the ceiling an inch thick.
in some cases, that sooty kiln does not reduce at all.
all the carbon is on the outside....actually we have no
way of knowing how the kiln was fired or what happened inside.
does anyone wonder why i do not use a lot of test tiles?
they fool me, far too often. plus i have to see how the
glaze reacts of different shaped pieces. of course, i am
willing to lose an entire load of pots...so what? make some more.
(welcome home rick, hope your trip was marvelous....and yes.
any pot that has a flaw is better put back in the slurry pail.
it will just haunt you later..even if you repair it with cat tail and vinegar
`sludge spong`.....great advice.
as usual.) that cracked pot is the one that breaks, the piece
falls off the shelf right into the middle of the most beautiful
platter that you have ever fired...it was the one that was
going to be on the cover of `cm`. oh crap. and the repaired
pot is a piece of dung too.
i look at the glaze family...celedon, temmoku, iron red.
they get a certain kind of firing.
`iron saga`, totally different.
shino...all different again. what cone do we start the reduction?
oh, yes...cone 011. what is your bisque temperature...how thick
do you apply, how many layers. do you have hot soda ash on the
outside of the shino???????? oh, and just by the way...what clay
body do you use...it makes a huge difference.
why do you think i fire rhodes 32 style pots, all together?
just them. i have a schedule for them. why do i use an iron
bearing clay body?
bob anderson emailed me.. we are going to the farm
for deer hunting soon. he said,`let's fire a load of pots
in the little stoneware kiln.
what kind of pots?` he has to know what to bring..what glazes
and how will we fire the kiln?
i said, `sure, we will fire `iron saga`...i need some new samples.`
`oh crap, those buckets are frozen solid.` outside storage.
we will get bob holman to stick a couple of those buckets
in my house to thaw....then they will be ready for us.
can glaze in my kitchen. there is always a way. and, we
have those nice batters gloves..velcro straps....we adjust those
straps before we load each pot. just like a baseball player.
these are important things to deal with when fairly new in the
ceramics endeavor. even knowing to use batter's gloves when
it is cold.
you have to remember, to be a potter you have to think of
many things...design,craft, skill, chemistry, good calculation, record
keeping...but in the end, the last thing you are is a `firing fiend`.
a pyromaniac. you have to love the fire...commit your work to
high temp and site back and be ready to hammer them to bits.
because then you become the art critic.
now it is 4 a.m., i think i will open the window a bit more, 31 degrees
outside, so i will wrap up in my new `ikea` quilt with the bright aqua
`duvet` $19.95. and sleep a couple of more hours. then a pot of
my new `amann blend tea`.
swim, then make pots the rest of the day. all the pots i need for the
farm will take three hours to make...those deer hunting saga pots.
bring home real food, and pots.
Clayart page link: http://www.visi.com/~melpots/clayart.html
John Hesselberth on mon 30 oct 06
On Oct 30, 2006, at 5:15 AM, mel jacobson wrote:
> think of this scene:
> art center, loading the kiln. 121 pots all lined up.
> the pots are from 45 people, and they all glaze
> their own way.
> there are at least 60 glazes in combination
> on the 121 pots.
> HOW IN THE HELL DO YOU FIRE THE KILN?
> HOLD AND SOAK AT THE END
> MEDIUM REDUCTION, LITE REDUCTION, HEAVY REDUCTION.?
> do you down fire? make crystals? no no no...you open the
> kiln at the end and crash cool.
> none are correct.
That is an excellent description of the issue that teaching studios,
whether they be schools, community centers or whatever, have to try
to deal with on a daily basis. For the most part they end up either
frustrating a significant percentage of their students or do a lot of
shelf grinding or some combination of the two.
That is, of course, a strong reason why most potters want their own
equipment in fairly short order. And they should have it. The amount
of development you can personally achieve in a community studio is
limited--and it is not just the glazing/firing, but also the problems
of not living close to your work and being able to customize every
step of the process to get the results you want when you are only
there for a couple hours 2 or 3 times a week.
But on the glaze problem specifically, I think a teaching studio is
wise to find a "matched set" of glazes that are known to work well
with each other and keep the number of glazes down to 6-10. I have
seen studios trying to fire Floating Blue in with some of the MC6Gs
glazes--it won't work. If a studio wants to teach glaze development
then they need to have a couple small kilns so the potters involved
with that can fire in their own way. Ron and I have been pleasantly
surprised to hear of a number of teaching studios that have just
adopted MC6Gs glazes across the board (usually and wisely omitting
Waterfall Brown)--they are a fairly well "matched set" and give a big
enough range of color, surface, etc. to satisfy most students
desires. Whether it is that set of glazes or another assembled over
the years I would hope teaching studios would periodically review
their glazes to make sure they are working well together.
The same goes for clay bodies, by the way. I have seen studios trying
to use the same body for everything from cone 6 electric firing to
cone 10/11 wood firing--they just love these bodies that the
manufacturers rate as good for cone 4-10--it simplifies their
inventory. Other studios put 6 different clay bodies in the same
firing. Fortunately angle grinders are inexpensive and do a nice job
on most problems of dripping glaze and melted clay bodies. But there
isn't an equivalent tool I am aware for the damage done to the
student's enthusiasm when they see their bloated pots that glued
themselves to the kiln shelf with an unsuitable glaze.