Sunday, May 15, 2011
Work in progress - 3
Remember the lizard? Well, it's time for him to progress. Today I'm busy glazing and decorating. Tomorrow I'm working at Gloucestershire Arts and Crafts Centre all day but then on Tuesday I'll fire the kiln. So here's the lizard vase, which has survived the glazing process. This isn't a particularly risky stage but as I've said before, with unevenness on a pot, raw glazing can be just too much of a shock for the clay. If it is too much, the pot will crack quite drastically, so you can tell when it's happened!
Deciding how to decorate this vase wasn't easy. Usually I am pretty clear from the outset what I want a pot to look like. In this case perhaps there were too many choices for just the one lizard vase in white clay. What I went for was plain white/grey vase and painting the lizard green. Other details to both lizard and perhaps vase will be added in the form of lustres later on.
The firing stage is much more hazardous. There was a time some years ago, with my previous, much smaller kiln, that it was probably a 50/50 chance that lizard dishes came to grief. I was often on the phone to H, a friend and jeweller, to wail "another two dead lizards" in the weeks leading up to our annual exhibition.
I do still get casualties but in this larger kiln I have a better chance of having the lizard not too close to where the flame jets out from the burner and yet close enough to that side of the kiln to get the steady highest heat to turn the glaze blue if needed. It's fine tuning. I had a lovely big fish dish in the kiln the other week but it didn't like the place I put it - too near the burner on the bottom shelf - and the stresses caused it to break apart in three directions. I think four or five centimetres further away could well have been enough to prevent the break, but it's always hard to judge.
Last week I fired three lizard serving dishes and two butterfly vases, all of which survived. I can't help thinking this isn't a good omen for this next firing, which will contain two lizard dishes, two fish dishes, two lizard vases and two butterfly vases. It must be somebody's turn by now.