On Establishing a Rhythm

Art takes rhythm. Ceramics is no exception and probably needs it moreso than the majority of other art forms. It is especially slow paced and the process from beginning to end to create a piece can be weeks to months depending on firing schedules. Not to mention that it can take years before you truly master your materials. Testing glazes alone will take me many months to complete.

The rhythm with ceramics tends to go at “life pace”. Most of us hold down full time jobs, have families and other obligations to attend to before working on our own projects. It seems that it falls into a slow seasonal rhythm spanning years and this is something that I do not mind.

Winter is spent mostly indoors for me so I tend to work on pinched vessels and things that I can do away from the wheel. Spring is a time for re-invigoration, cleaning the mental ¬†clutter and getting back on the wheel. Summer is hot and with that comes the long days and trying to tighten up with routines. Fall is a magical time where I feel the most creative and bold. We’ll see how it goes over the years and how it gets more integrated with life until the goal of life being pottery and pottery being life comes about.

Here is a nice video on Establishing Rhythm with Dionne Swift. While not specifically a pottery video the core concepts span across mediums.

Establishing a Rhythm from R&A Collaborations on Vimeo.

A long day getting ready

First thing to test is the kiln. If it is over firing or some other malfunction is going on its of no use to be even attempting to make a base glaze. Sarah from Olympic Kilns gave me a few cones to test with. I’ll place on each shelf so we can see if we are getting even heating from top to bottom. One thing I noticed in the last firing was that the click to turn on the elements stayed on longer than I heard it before. Almost a full 60 seconds. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but we’ll see.

I keep notes of glaze tests that I’ve done in the past but got a great tip from Jason and Megan at Stone Mountain Clay and Glaze – Keep a firing log and record the times that it takes to reach temperature and I suppose its good protocol to record the cooling times to room temperature as well. This will tell you if your elements are going bad or a thermocouple or something like that. Or maybe in my case if it runs very short and over-firing we’ll know by the time it is supposed to take to reach temperature. I’m trying to eliminate as many variables as possible as is standard in just about every type of troubleshooting.

Also on order and will be here shortly:

Amaco Hydrometer – for measuring and keeping a consistent glaze density

The range for dipping or pouring glazes is 0.9 to 1.00.

The range for spraying glazes is 1.5 to 1.7.

The range for brushing glazes is 2.2-2.5.

Kemper DTA Glaze Dipping Tongs – Because I’m tired of brushing on glaze and getting inconsistent applications.

Aftosa Wax Resist – For creating a more precise glaze line on the feet of my pots.

Stainless 8 Inch Caliper – I really really want to get into making lidded vessels.

Ozeri Pronto Digital Scale – Need precise measurements for each ingredient (duh!)


 

For those interested in the base glaze recipe that I intend to match to my white clay body

Recipe – Plainsman Cone 6 M370 Transparent Liner Base

Material Amount Units +/- *Stat
Nepheline Syenite 18.30 kg
Ferro Frit 3134 25.40 kg
EPK 19.60 kg
Wollastonite 6.90 kg
Silica 37.60 kg
Talc 2.30 kg
110.10

 

Witness Cones 5, 6 &7 to see where it ends up at and where in the kiln.
Respirator, because I like to breathe and want to continue to breath even after mixing dusty chemicals.

 

Christmas part 2! 5 lbs each of a bunch of chemicals.
Broken scale – new one on the way from Amazon!