Thursday, June 27, 2019
Second Firing + The Potters Cast
My latest batch of ceramics went through its first firing cycle which is called bisque. My kiln fires for about 8 hours and then cools down for a couple days. I unload it all onto my studio table. This latest firing has 30 small vases that I plan to take to the farmers market and sell at our Leyden Glen Farm booth. Cut flowers are very popular at our market with about 5 different stands featuring all kinds of beautiful blooms. I thought it would be perfect to have small vases to complement the flowers others are selling. I hope to debut them this coming weekend.
After the bisque firing, the next step is to coat each piece in a clear glaze. I use a shiny clear glaze from Amaco called LG-10. I paint it onto all sides of each piece so that the entire piece becomes covered in gloss.
The clay I use is called earthenware and it is low-fire (different from porcelain and stoneware which needs a higher temperature to mature). I love this clay because it is smooth and easy to work (sometimes called plastic). It has no grog (little bits that are added to stoneware which I find annoying when throwing). Because it is low fire, the kiln doesn't have to get as hot so it is less expensive to fire and fires quicker. The underglaze colors fire very bright and vivid.
Many earthenware pieces "sweat". You probably have some vases that leave rings on your wooden furniture - that means they are sweating. To combat the pots sweating and ruining furniture which leave a water ring, I cover the bottoms in glaze. It adds a step to glazing but I think it is worth it. When loading the kiln, I raise each piece on something called stilts that are pieces of high fire clay with needles sticking out of them. The little needles keep the pot from fusing to the stilt and only leave a little mark that I sand off before selling them.
Because I am not a "trained potter" (i.e. I didn't go to college for this), I have had to learn a lot of this myself. Before the internet, it was pretty impossible to figure things out but now there are thousands of pottery videos that I can watch. There is also a growing ceramics community on Instagram. It seems to be a friendly and supportive community and although I don't add much - there are many potters I follow and watch what they are making. Unlike the knitting/crochet/Ravelry community, there does not seem to be too much nastiness nor politics mixed in. Let's hope it stays that way.
Handmade ceramics seem to be having their "moment". There are so many people who want to learn how to make pottery or have started collecting it. There are amazing ceramic artists out there. It is fun to be a part of this growing community. I listen to a great podcast called "The Potters Cast." You might want to add it to your podcast feed. They are interesting interviews and I always learn something. Here is the link to find The Potters Cast.
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