I've got a larger kiln now that can heat to a cone for stoneware firings so I've been playing with cone 6 glaze mixing. Here are my first results, two platters and two mugs. My next project is going to be a platter with a southwestern background and a horse. Stay tuned!
Most of my updates are via my Facebook page these days but I did want to finally update my blog to reflect that two of my custom glazes placed in the Top Ten in custom glaze appaloosa workmanship at the NAMHSA NAN in Harrisburg PA last month. Also I have some custom glazes for sale. Here is a link to the page with photos and pricing:
My mother was the person who got me interested in ceramics, just as it was my father who got me interested in horses. I had always collected model horses, brought to me by my Dad when he would visit family in VA, but when I was a child Mom took a ceramics class from a friend and made me several horse pieces and a chess set. Fast forward 20 years to when I was in my late 20s and putting my first husband through medical school. A friend asked me to go to a ceramics and stained glass class with her. I was bit by the bug and by the time my parents relocated to TX in 1984 I was producing custom tiles, lamps, windows, etc. for a local builder. My Mom got interested again and we entered pieces at the Texas State Fair. Somewhere along the way I learned to make clay flowers and made a few pieces for her. Then my Dad and I started showing horses and the ceramics/glass went by the wayside.
My parents passed away in 2004 but a few days ago when I was going through a box I found one of the ceramic flowers I made for Mom. She was English and loved roses so it was a lovely surprise to see that this piece survived. I mounted it with a copper bail to use as a necklace now. I miss you Mom!
Fresh out of the kiln, a horsehead candydish and two slab cast terracotta tile awards, all for the Breakables At Breyerfest 2012 show coming up this month.
Below is a hobby mold of a horsehead container that I cast in earthenware, fired to bisque, and then glazed for a Breakables at Breyerfest Show auction donation. I cast it fairly thick and made it into a candy or pencil holder. It's fleabit gray and then antiqued with rubbed gold and silver.
Below is a handcast slab tile made from earthenware terracotta clay for the Breakables at Breyerfest 2012 Lakeshore Division, sponsored by the Lakeshore Collection. The imprint is from a Lakeshore Status Symbol. This tile is for the highest placing Lakeshore CG finished by myself. There is a similar tile with the reverse impression for the highest placing Lakeshore OF SR finished by myself as well. The tile was fired to bisque, then glazed with clear crackle, and then antiqued with black and gold rubbings.
Last week I took the dive and purchased a larger kiln, one that will hold the bigger bisque pieces I've collected and will also fire much higher, to cone 8. I will still use my Paragon Home Artist Kiln for smaller lower firing jobs and my microwave kiln by Fuseworks. As it turned out I ended up needing an electrician to fix the receptacle for the dryer outlet for the new kiln: Biggest Little Kiln from Paragon. Once that was done, I headed out to Fort Worth and American Ceramics and Glass Supply to purchase some porcelain clay. I've worked with porcelain before but someone else did the bisque firing. I'm finding out that firing porcelain to bisque in my new kiln isn't going to be as simple as firing earthenware greenware to bisque. Apparently porcelain clay or slip will fuse to other pieces during the bisque firing, unlike earthenware. As a chemist this make sense due to the much higher firing temps but it didn't occur to me until I started researching firing porcelain to bisque. This article from Ceramics Arts Daily on Porcelain Clay was a great start.
So I'm going to go in baby steps and learn the "soul" of porcelain clay. First step is easy, putting kiln wash on the new shelves, drying them, and firing the shelves and posts to cone 01 for the first ever new kiln firing. While that is going on, I will work on creating a swirled open-weave vase using a balloon as a form to fit the vase pieces around. I will post in-progress photos as I go. My main goal is to become familar with firing porcelain to bisque so that I can throw it on my wheel etc. I don't like throwing earthenware clay on a wheel because it has a lot of grog in it and is very rough compared to the porcelain clay which is like playing with butter. Stay tuned!
I have a bad habit of starting projects and then putting them on the shelf while I work on something else. This can result in some pieces sitting for a year or more, partly finished, waiting for me to return to them. Such is the case with this piece, a bisque Ravenhill by Hilary Hurley and produced by Horsing Around UK. I started china painting him two years ago and decided I wasn't advanced enough to tackle him. I'm feeling more confident and decided to work on him again. He needs more work on the face and in the hindquarters but I really like the way my roaning technique is evolving. I hope to have him done in a few weeks.