The past week has been focused on the firing and glazing aspects of the process and I’ve been trying to refrain from making more work in aid of finishing these pieces so I’ll have something to ship home. It’s now looking like I’ll stay a week into September as to make sure my pieces to date are fired and glazed accordingly. I’ll be moving to a cheap hostel in a couple of days time so have been finishing off projects in my studio and getting rid of excess materials as I won’t have my own space to work from here on in.
We bisque fired my larger pots in the wood fired horno or kiln stacking them in with pieces of broken and old ceramics surrounding them, we then covered the top with old ceramics and proceeded to light the fire constantly stoking it with wood to get it up to temperature. It burned for many hours and needed constant stoking, we also built it a roof out of a couple of sheets of corrugated iron as a rain storm came through during the firing.
When I returned a couple of days later the pieces were ready to come out and be glazed. Now I had the difficult task of choosing colours and trying to translate techniques I hoped to use in doing so. My maestro mixes up each glaze when needed and didn’t seem to have any ready made glazes stored although he had a whole shelf of colours, powders and oxides and showed me his note book full of coded recipes. This process was quite difficult given our lack of communication as I tried to establish the different temperatures for the different glazes and if I wanted to use more than one together whether they’d be compatible in this way as well as shiny verse matt finishes. Luckily he had a lot of swatches and I managed to put some ideas together. My mottled pink glazing job was inspired by a painted fence I walk past, to combat graffiti some owners just paint their fence with any old colour making for a cool patch work affect. In this case the fence was shades of pink and white and I tried to mimic this to a certain degree on my pot. My various other glazing techniques and colour combinations were rather experimental and my maestro frequently called me crazy but we were both interested to see what would happen and how they would turn out in the process.
In the mean time I set some plaster at home and proceeded to carve myself some stamps to then be set in clay and fired. The purpose being name/ signature stamps as I’ve been meaning to make some for a while. With a bit of trial and error I carved a couple that were satisfactory and they should be fired by the weekend. I also went about making a few more of the faced pots with legs from barro negro that I had but once again the clay cracked during the drying process and the legs would not take so I had to give up on them which was unfortunate as I think this form in the barro negro would have looked awesome.
After the first of my glazed pieces were fired there were a few problems, the ‘grey’ glaze I had selected to go with a ‘white’ had come out a dark green and had reacted quite badly chemically with the heat. It was too thick and bubbly and generally looked bad. We decided to grind it off and make a new batch to put over and fire again. This new glazing came out of the kiln today and had also turned green haha. Although a brighter shade and not so bubbly, not very well. I’ve decided I’ll leave this one behind for my maestro haha. The pink fence inspired pots finish was not much too my liking either, it needed to be sieved before application and I think it was too thick. It’s funny now I think I could combat these problems I’ve had but initially I just assumed my maestro was setting me in the right direction. Turns out if you have doubts always trust your intuition, especially if you can’t communicate well enough to ask the right questions. Today I hand painted the glazes on my final pieces and there’s definitely a few things I would have done differently by the end of it but time will tell and on Saturday I’ll know how successful (or not) they’ve been.
By the end of this week I should be able to pick up all my glazed and fired pieces and take them to the collective to prepare for shipping. I’m glad I’ll have some work to send back to the southern hemisphere and I definitely have a lot of new ideas ready and waiting to be worked on when I set up in Melbourne again in future months. In the mean time you will have to wait to see the results!