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Monday, February 21, 2011

First Firings and Learning!

I did my first bisque firing, with my own kiln, all by myself last week. No longer a firing virgin! I was surprised by how easy it was. Simply load it up, hit a switch ever hour for the first four, let the cone melt and kiln sitter automatically shut off the kiln at ^05. Luckily, I did have some experience as a lab assistant during my undergrad so I know all the basics of loading and not to instantly open it up when its done out of excitement. Surprisingly the kiln has not been used in probably 10 years but everything worked perfectly. The firing took about 5 hours and another 12 to cool. Only one piece exploded, not sure why, but life goes on. I am fairly certain it was an untrimmed test piece so not all is lost.

I then tackled my first glaze firing. I was way more nervous about this one because so many things can go wrong. The glaze can destroy the entire kiln, things can explode, the garage could burn down, I really didn't know! So I went and got some Cone 6 glazes and got the ball rolling. I think I made the nice owner at my local pottery supply very nervous when she asked me what my clay body was and I responded with a blank stare and no answer. Ha, but she still sold it me! I have been very spoiled by always working with glaze in big buckets for dipping and a spray booth for large pieces. Welcome to MFS Ceramics, where we actually thought painting glaze on would work. I think it could have if I was willing to do 3 or 4 coats but who has time for that??? So unfortunately, I made a rookie error and most of the glaze is way too thin and the pieces look like a 5th grade art project. It really is amazing the effect that glaze has. So no picture of that. Too embarrassed.

Then I trimmed some mugs and instantly felt better because my handles have come a long way baby. The most important thing for me to remember about handles is that they do not need to look like they grew out of the piece. They simply need to be there as a way to bring the drinking vessel up to your mouth. What I used to was try to smooth out the entire thing and basically the handles ended up looking like a big ole mess. I would say they look somewhat elegant now. Well, maybe not that far, but at least better.

Nice to see some improvement. Looking forward to trimming some big bowls and platters this week, finishing up some more mugs, and getting the kiln going again. Also, may have ordered 5 gallon buckets with 25 lbs of raw glaze mix in the them. This has officially gotten serious!

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