Monday, September 24, 2012

Salt Soda and Wood - A Success - Part III

For my part I had to scramble to get pots that I really liked for the show. My last two wood firings at  the beginning of June and July were real disasters. (See the train wreck posts.) so I did not have the pots that I had hoped. However I did manage to put together 6 new pieces apart from the pots that I had saved from last year.
"A Bouquet for the 21st Century" - is similar to a piece that I had done for fun last year. It was one of the few carbon trapped shino glazes that worked out OK. The oil barrels got nicely burnt and aged with carbon trapping.

A Bouquet for the 21st Century
Another piece consisting of 4 egg cups also ended up OK, though I could not use the wood fired egg as it had cracked - so had to use an earthenware one that I had made for a similar piece two years ago. I called it "Homage to Rachel Carson and Silent Spring". Her 1962 book was really the start of the environmental movement and detailed how DDT found its way into the food chain. The DDT would result in eggs having very thin shells so that when nesting, the large birds especially, would end up cracking the eggs - resulting in a decline of many bird species- hence a silent spring.
"Homage to Rachel Carson and Silent Spring" - shino woodpecker
cups with wood block and pileated woodpecker chippings and earthenware egg

Vase with Rocks - woodfired. Shino with slips and glazes
On our farm there are huge stone fences that the first settlers in the late 1800's started building when they were clearing the land. Today they are slowly being overtaken by the forest and I have been trying to incorporate something about these fences in my pots. This is the second version of Vase with Rocks that I have made. I don't think that either of them were very successful - what I wanted was a seamless transition form vase to rocks - sort of vase turning into a rock fence. However it was fun to try and it was fun arranging the rocks as well every time I had to move the vase. I intend to work on that theme some more.

I also had several of my appliqued tree pots  - a couple which made it through the last two firings - so over all I think I ended up with a decent display and hope that I upheld to the quality that my co-exhibitors are noted for, though I think I will have to work some more on my seams and bottoms..

We also had a few large photographs of us firing our kilns with an explanation of each process, so it was not only an artistic experience but an educational one as well for the gallery visitors.
Many thanks to Anya Blake of South of 60  - who set up our exhibit and who does a superlative job of curating shows there. In just a few years she has turned the old railway station in Barry's Bay into a great resource and arts center for the area.
Woodland vase - MD Shino - woodfired

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Salt Soda and Wood - A Success - Part II

Dan Hill is one of the few potters that soda fires to cone 6. He is well known for the wide variety of beautiful functional work, and from time to time he also strays into purely artistic work with great effect.

Corner display with Dan Hill's "Time Capsule"
at the back and his two jugs - one wood and the
other salt (blue one)

Dan Hill's pitcher set - soda fired

In the show I especially liked his large covered jar - that had the lid wired down with steel wire and crimped shut - entitled "Time Capsule". His other large jar was very different - with a high iron glaze that results in small crystals that give the glaze an amazing amount of interest. He had three large, boldly designed jugs - each fired the three ways The blue was salt, the browny one was wood fired.( It just had a few dots of blue slip on bare clay ) and the soda one used his signature combination of white slip with blue and black slip trailing on the soda flashed bare clay. So totally different looks. However this time different clays played a role as well, as Dan fires just to cone 6, but the salt and wood firings were cone 9 and 10 respectively.
Dan's high iron glazed jug - soda fired
Dan Hill's wall plaque - Storm Warning - slip and soda
I loved his wall plaques which really stood out - both visually and artistically as he frames them on the back with a strip of clay that goes all the way around, but angle sharply inward so it really pops the flat surface off the wall. Also his surfaces remain absolutely flat - no sagging or warping during construction or firing..
Another very outstandng  piece which unfortunately was not given justice as it was displayed in the small cabinet and not on a plinth was a triptych. It had holes in the top holding long rods of clay that had flashed wonderfully in the soda. I thought he was influenced by the view from his studio which is at the top of a slope and overlooks a swampy area with bullrushes. You can see more of Dan's work as he is also on the Madawaska Valley Studio Tour on Sept 28 and 29.
Dan's triptych - wonderful flashing around the tops of the
clay rods.

Dan's squared canister set - soda.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Salt Soda and Wood - A Success! Part I

Well the show that I was participating in closed near the end of August - and by all reports was a great success - we even sold lots of pots! We (Tim Storey - salt, Dan Hill - soda and me - wood) have kilns all within half an hour of each other and work independently. This time, although we would use our own kilns, we would also put a few pieces in each others' kilns which was exciting and so we had a few representative pieces fired three different ways. As there were three different potters, three different styles and three different methods of firing there was always something for visitors to like!
(I have to apologize for the pictures - they are not the best - I always am too impatient when taking pictures.)

Below are pictures of Tim's meticulously crafted and very expressive wall birds for which he is justly famous - all roasted 3 different ways. Yum! Tim uses a mixture of metal oxides to colour his creations and in the wood the colours, especially the black on the birds ended more washed out, resulting in more brown and orange tones than in the salt.

In the soda, his bird ended up with turquoise blue colours around the head - we were not sure, but it possibly came from copper fuming . The best wood results I thought were on one of his mortar and pestle sets of which I unfortunately do not have a picture, but there were bright yellow and green flashs as well as the brown and blacks.

Tim Storey's Bird - salt fired
Soda fired
 and wood fired
Tim Storey's Gravy Boats - salt
Tim's regal ocean liner with 3 of his teapots and gravy boats - all salt

Tim's fish and snail teapots - salt.
I really liked his "gravy boats" - went great with his nautical theme of boat teapots. His stately ocean liner boldly held center stage. His reputation for attention to detail - needless to say - is well deserved! His seams are incredibly smooth and he incises a line all around the bottom of his pots, about an 1/4 inch fron the edge and it really makes for a nice surprise when you look at the bottom and also gives it a fine finished look that often handbuilt pots lack. Tim only does handbuilding - he's definitely a master handbuilder - no wheel for him!
For those that live in eastern Ontario and wish to see more of Tim's work he will be part of the Madawaska Valley Studio Tour on Sept 28 and 29.
To be continued.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ottawa River Pot - Black Sand and River Clay

The Ottawa River beaches around Deep River are striped by bands of black sand. Our children used to have great fun picking up the sand with magnets as the black colour is due to iron minerals.
small magnet picking out the black sand
Having seen Navajo sand paintings in the American Southwest this winter I decided to develop my own version of a sand painting. Instead of using glue as the Navajos do to attach the sand I use glaze. The black iron particles melt into the glaze creating a black pattern.

First I concentrate the black sand by picking and repicking the sand a few times with a magnet. Then to be able to paint with the sand I need a suspending agent - I could use wax but that will repel the glaze. I cooked up some flour, water and sodium silicate to a consistency to thick cream. The sodium is so that once the pots are bisqued, the sand will not readily fall off when handling or glazing. I find that using just a thin MD shino  with a top spray of soda ash gives me a nice orange colour that contrasts well with the black sand. I also tried stencils as the Navajo do but as I do not like using commercial ones, I need to make my own and that is very time consuming. So I mostly use brush decorations.

Mugs, tray and teabag rest with black sand brush decoration and shino/soda ash glaze. I also tried using stencils as for the fish.
For the mugs I glazed the inside again with a local material - clay found in the Ottawa River in Deep River. Although we are surrounded by sand - Deep River is built on sand dunes left from 10,000 years ago when the glaciers retreated and we were then on the edge of the Champlain Sea,- and our sand beaches rival any of those found in famous resorts, in a few places if you dig down in the river's edge there are layers of clay. When fired it gives a nice glossy brown. So that is the Ottawa pot and I sell them with an explanation about the sand and glaze - which helps them to fly off the shelves!.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Seventh Firing of the Train - The Wreck Continues

I'm trying to catch with my blogs - just too much to do in the summer!
The early July firing was my last chance to fire things before the Salt, Soda and Wood show that I am taking part in from mid July to end of August. In the front section top and bottom it was a repeat of the last train disaster - the 6th firing at the beginning of June. So it was not the hard bricks and under firing, it was not the fault of letting the pots with MD shino sit around in the damp and fog - it was something that was happening in the first part of the flame path where there is the most ash, flame and unburnt gases.

Also none of the blistered pots didn't remelt when I had put them into the gas kiln for another cone 10 firing. Even if reglazed with another glaze the bubbles and blisters stayed - so obviously the MD shino had the flux -  probably the soda - vaporize and so the bubbles could not smooth out.
So not sure what is making all the soda vaporize. Again this wood was mostly soft wood - white and red pine that has a lot of resin and probably somewhat damp for some pieces. Also all had bark on it.
Another possibility  - perhaps reduction cooling? Would the gases cause bubbles? In both firings I did not let the embers burn down that much before clamming up as in previous firings - both times due to just being too tired.

Still in the previous 5 firings any shinos in this front section were fantastic - in fact my favorite place for shinos. So I am pretty leery of doing another firing - will have to get other glazes for the front section.
It was a good thing that I had saved pots from last year for the show otherwise I would not have had many pots to put in.

The middle section was not bad, the white salt was pretty good. The tail end - still had some unmelted ash on the pots which when put in the gas kiln did smoothed out.