Procrastination comes to an end…

Procrastination comes in a many forms – gotta wash the dishes, I’m shot from work, should do the laundry, clean the yard, relax. It’s productive procrastination sometimes. But I’ve finally got 5 glaze test going with the kiln at 700F and falling. Can’t wait to see if I’m on the right track or if more tweaking is necessary.


Moss ash, Temmoku with moss ash, my marshmallow white with moss ash, standard wood ash, a ru Celadon with some Zircopax. Up front is internally glazed with celadon and externally with moss ash. Bake until bubbly!

Here is the list for anyone interested in the recipes (ru is incomplete, I’ll update full recipe later)


My workspace is in complete disarray  but the shelves are up and I now have a space to mix and glaze and some spare room to house greenware. There are three bags of recyclables being collected for another art project for a friend and you don’t want to see the rest of the place! (There’s a Christmas tree out of frame! Etc…)

Tomorrow I’m meeting up with a few fellow potters to do the math on the new Anagama kiln which hopefully will be built and operational before this time next year. Something similar to this.


Single chamber, smallish but perfectly workable. I mostly do smaller pottery, yunomi a and chawan and the such, so no problems there! We’ll be able to stack high and deep. In fact Jay has no intention of fully relying on this kiln as his livelihood comes from the controlled firings he gets in his gas kiln. But man what fun to see what the fire brings to the collaboration! All 3 of us work within our own styles and that is a kind of symbiotic / synergetic thing! I love that I can get ideas and input from various sources and filter it through my own sense of taste.  We might already have 1000 bricks so it shouldn’t be too much more expensive to get the rest of the materials.

Myself, I have a cone 8 electric kiln which I really have no desire to peruse firing in that manner except for bisque and the ocasional glaze test. I’m prepared for the inevitable frustration of having a priced piece of work come out different from what I envision. Along with that should come some happy accidents and having my physical input into the process is something that I highly desire. Kind of like shooting film and thendeveloping it yourself. It’s a beginning to end process. It is a collaboration after all.

Back to being excited and motivated thanks to getting my diet and supplements in order. Some medications just take it all out of you. So goes life.

I’m also working on a list of decoration techniques (other than form based). Mostly to just solidify different techniques in my brain so I can compliment the forms I make. Probably hundreds more of these to come, just getting started.


So my day pretty much looks like this when I’m able to focus on ceramics. Being a potter with a 45 hour a week side gig at a fortune 100 company is sometimes full of challenges, both logistically and motivationally.


So there you have it! My Fourth of July update. No red white and blue pots, but some gold motivation to keep on pushing. It just takes time to get any better and you got to put in the work. Same goes for anything. Life itself. You get out of it what you put in!

Speaking of Nuka

Speaking of Nuka. I got some great information from my friend Lance​ who is continually learning things about the beauty of the world and he creates videos to educate on his findings. He talks about “the living fossil” : Equisetum, which was around in the days of the dinosaurs. It is edible and has medicinal properties but what struck me was that it is very high in silica.

Since rice husk ash is used to create the beautiful nuka glaze. Its color is not easily describable but it has shades and hues of blue, green, white and grey. Every nuka glazed pot is different. I think that the somewhat random nature of the glaze is one of its greatest characteristics.

Look at this beautiful square bottle by Shoji Hamada Sensei using nuka over black glaze. Exquisite!

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Image from Pucker Gallery

 

I have a theory about my own work: that it needs to have an element of control (shaping the clay) and an element of relinquishment (letting the fire do its thing). And since my shapes are so simple, the two need a perfect balance.

Miranda Forrest published a book called Natural Glazes: Collecting and Making in which she describes the glaze using horsetail:

“The first test with horsetail ash alone produced a melted, creamy, greenish glaze with an optical blue in the centre, perhaps the most interesting single land-vegetation result to date. It also mixes well with other ashes and rock dusts. One of the other interesting effects associated with horsetail is carbon trapping during the firing, which gives a dark smoky colour to the glaze in places.”

Very very interesting! I’m all about local materials and making work that is harmonious with nature. After all, nature gives us what we need to live, to thrive and to create. Working with clay is a very primal type of creation for me.

I read somewhere that Shoji Hamada Sensia made nuka using the following

1/3 rice husk ash
1/3 wood ash
1/3 terayama stone ( a high silica bearing feldspathoid)

The highly respected Michael Coffee uses the following:

Custer Feldspar    36.00
Quartz   30.00
Whiting   22.00
OM-4   6.00
Wood Ash (unwashed)   3.00
Talc   2.00
Bone Ash   2.00

Another potter, Steve Mill uses

Silica  40
Rice Straw Ash  50
Feldspar  60

I plan to start somewhere along the lines of the simpler one and work from there. Now… Horseail grows in very wet conditions. It favors clay (how appropriate!) It’s summer. It should be around somewhere. I just have to find it 🙂 (then burn it, then wash it, then test it, etc…)

Terra Sigillata

Long story short, I needed a small amount of Terra Sigillata by way of alternative chemicals. Well after literally hours of research and no answers from any of the clay forums I created my own recipe for Terra Sigillata. I needed an alternative to sodium silicate as none is on hand and I’m impatient so I’d rather play kitchen chemist and see what I could come up with. It’s not rocket science. So I thought I’d share and save some folks from having to go out and find sodium silicate.

1 Parts Clay – I used a manganese wet clay (everything else calls for dry ball clay and I was not sure about using wet clay but it worked out fine)

3 Part Water

2 Teaspoons Jet Dry (for deflocculant)

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Jet-Dry and some old black clay with manganese as colorant
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Shake it up and you can see the separation clearly after an overnight sitting. The entire top was filled and I only got a picture after I had drained most of it. There was no layer of clear water on top. Entirely Terra Sigillata.
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Poke a hole in that mug! Just above the heavier solids.
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Drain into some kind of container
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I’m impatient so I boiled off the excess liquid by about 1/2
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1/2 cup morning piss (aka terra sigillata!)
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You can see a bone dry burnished piece with a few coats

Chemicals contained in Jet-Dry

Tetrasodium EDTA
Citric acid
Methylisothiazolinone    
FD&C Blue #1    
Water
Sodium Polyacrylate    
Methylchloroisothiazolinone    
Sodium cumenesulphonate

I think the Tetrasodium EDTA is the main source of deflocculant as it is used for a chelating agent and sequester and decrease the reactivity of metal ions that may be present in a product. DigitalFire lists Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate in their database of deflocculants, which is not the same as Tetrasodium EDTA but it seems to do the same thing.

The knife is a Kiridashi made from a recycled tool file by Jared Kramer Studios. The handiest knife I’ve ever known.