Monday, November 7, 2011

First Firing!

Ya know, I haven't blathered much about my Ceramic Artistry Endeavors in awhile... Perhaps we should switch gears, yes???

I *did* blather, rather endlessly, about the Construction of the Studio (in fact, I recall that my "rants" were rather minimal - comparatively speaking!), but I haven't yammered much about what-all goes on INSIDE the studio, since it's been built.

Of course, that's probably because I haven't spent NEARLY enough time out there. But, now that - ahem - WINTER is upon us (and I freaking HATE winter), I intend to change all of that!

Because it's ALWAYS Summer in Nan's Tiki Shack, dammit!!


Earlier this year, my College Bud, D, came to visit. She's the one who retired early (at age 39!). She and her husband sold their house, bought a new one - for cash - in Laka Chapala (just outside of Guadalajara), Ex-Patted to Mexico, and have been living a Life of Leisure ever since, right? ("HATE HER!!!").

Well, while she was here, we discussed the whole idea of us flying down to stay with her for a few days and... If we did... What kinda "Hand-Crafted Artistic Krep" would you like, right? And what "colors" are your house/bathroom/kitchen/yada-yada?

Now mind you - she's very close to Ajijic - which is another HUGE Ex-Pat Community with all kinds of Artsy-Fartsy Folks (to say nothing of Mexican Pottery, in general, which *I* happen to think is really pretty nice). But she did tell me that her house is decorated, mostly, in Terra-Cottas, Yellows, Greens, and Cobalt Blues... She originally expressed an interest in a spoon-rest for her stove. Then later mentioned that she'd like a vase to stand on her fireplace...

Now, I'm not much for "commissioning" Artistic Works ("I can't take the PRESSURE!!!"), but I figured I'd give it my best shot!

And, we are getting ready to fly down to visit her, very soon....

So I made her a Spoon Rest:
I kinda liked how it ended up with almost a "Flame" vibe -
given her last trip out here when she got to Ride B*tch on Roger's Harley!

In the meantime, I also started some Holiday Ornaments...

Every year, I make Christmas Ornaments for all of my colleagues at work. Not everybody exchanges gifts (beyond the usual "White Elephant"/"Gift Exchange" at the annual Holiday Party), but *I* like to give everybody some kinda little hand-crafted, off-beat Ornaments - 'cuz that's how I roll!

Last year, it was Mini-Margaritas Chartreuse (Lime) or Red (Strawberry)...

This year, it'll be Fru-Fru "Hurricane" Cocktails!

Those skinny stems are gonna be problematic, though - so I made some "other styles" as well (in case I experience too much breakage!)

I also 'slabbed-out' some other trays/bowls for selling, or giving, or whatever...

These were all "molded" from bowls acquired from the Dollar Store!

Some of the "other" Holiday Ornaments I made (in case the Hurricane Cocktails break!)

Then I figured I'd get all Fancy Schmantzy. D sent me an email telling me about the empty space on her fireplace mantle, and how she'd like a vase to set there...

I *thought* we had some extra lengths of PVC pipe, stashed in the backyard, and I sort of got a "vision" of a teardrop shaped vase, molded around a PVC pipe.

But when I sought-out the PVC pipe (which I *thought* was stashed behind the shed!), I came up empty-handed :::gasp:::

But, that very afternoon, I found a Wiffle-Bat - on sale - at the Grocery Store. So I used *that* for a mold, instead.

I came up with this:

The "daisy" impressions came from a sink-mat I'd picked up @ Lowes

So, I got to work on the "Wiffle Bat Vase" and figured it'd end up okay... But, unfortunately, it kind of wanted to "split" along the seam where the edges of the slab met. Grrrr!

I tried, unsuccessfully, to repair it while it was still "leather hard," but the crack kept re-appearing.

I came *this close* to smashing the damned thing, in frustration - but then I decided to take a hack-saw to it (while it was bone-dry) and hacked about 2" off the top of it. In the process, it cracked in a rather artistic way:

"I meant for that to happen!!!"

I ended up coating it with Yellow LUG (Liquid Underglaze)...

Anyhoooo.... Over a period of several weeks (maybe a couple months), I ended up accumulating enough "stuff" to justify my first bisque firing...

Mind you, I'm still maintaining a "Membership" at a local studio, and my intent is to complete my bisque firings (which take appx12 hours), up there... But I'm "breaking in" my kiln, so I figured I'd complete my first bisque at home...

First Bisque Firing - Complete!

First bisque - unloaded...
I think I need to do some glazing!

Wiffle-bat vase. I brushed some blue LUG on top of the yellow, and sponged it off
(to give more "definition" to the daisy impressions)

Then I coated it with clear glaze - and gloss cobalt glaze on the inside... It still looks like it wants to crack, but I am being "guardedly optimistic!"

Glazing is Messy Work!
(I wish I had enough room for a sink in The Shack!)

Glazing my "Dollar Store" Leaf Bowl

Actually, this last weekend was a bit "harried" as I was trying to complete all of my glazing so I could load the kiln. We are getting ready to fly to Mexico - later this week - and I wanted my stuff DONE!

First Glaze Firing - Kiln is loaded!

First Glaze Firing - I'm feeling a bit "paranoid!"
"Better Safe than Sorry!!!"

So I ran my first Cone-5 Glaze Firing yesterday. I was alllll kinds of nervous. "Will I burn the place down? Will my stuff come out okay? Will the Wiffle-Bat-Vase topple over and destroy everything else in the process? What about 'overhangs' at the edges of the kiln shelves? Will my stuff warp? Will the glaze drip on my other pieces? Will I destroy my kiln shelves - or worse - my kiln???"

Yes. I *am* neurotic!!!

Well, the kiln ran for just over 9 hours (I had allowed for a 200* pre-heat with one-hour "hold" because I had brushed-on a fresh - and not totally dry - coat of kiln-wash). It finished up last night.

I checked it this morning, and it had cooled from 2175*F to 166*F. Not *quite* cool enough to open - yet...

I did the whole "Work Thing" - but the kiln was lingering in the back of my mind... "When can I open it? I wonder if everything survived? What if it SUCKS?!!" Yada-Yada

Again, yes, I *am* neurotic!

Around noonish, I wandered out again...

Temp had dropped to below 100*...

Time to open the kiln (Eeeeeeeeek!!!!!).........

Happily, everything SURVIVED!!!
Yes, I think I *even* did a Happy Dance!!!

First Glaze Firing, unloaded...

I am Really-Super-Happy with my "Dollar-Store" Leaf Bowl

The Spoon-Rest came out "Okay"
But I wish the yellow hadn't faded so much into the orange...
And the Wiffle Bat Vase came out mighty-fine!

So I am Super-Thrilled that my first glaze firing came out okay. And I'm very happy that I'll have appropriate "gifts" to bring when we go to visit my friend, D, in Mexico later this week.

And I am all-kinds-of-thrilled with my kiln and am eager to start making even MORE sh*t - now that I've experienced a good, solid dose of "Success!"

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