Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sometimes, the Kiln Gods Smile...

...and that's why I work as hard as I do for as little financial reward.

Please pardon the crappy cell phone pics, but I haven't had the time to do "real" pictures.

Anyway, I've been playing around with my Raku technique. Raku is a crazy mixture of art, science, and crazy, random happenstance. If you check out my post from a couple of days ago-you know, the one where I'm setting things on fire?-you can see why results can be random, despite the best of intentions. It takes years of practice and trial and error to be a Raku master, and I am not anywhere near that!

But sometimes, sometimes things come out even better than I had hoped!
 My experimenting with glazing, then carving off some of the glaze, seems to be yielding results. I started with that idea on a lark, last year while I was prepping for Hallowe'en, and got some nice results. Not perfect, not excellent, but enough to be encouraging and to keep me experimenting.
Questions to ask when you're trying to "perfect" Raku:

How thick should the glaze be? How long should it take to bump the Raku kiln up to temp, and how long should each interval be? (You can't just turn it up to "high" from cold, or you'll kill your pieces!) How long does it take that last segment of time in the kiln to allow the glaze to flux perfectly? At what pressure should the propane be fed through the burner? How much oxygen should be flowing in with the propane? Should I burp the cans once the pieces go into them? If so, when?

There are more factors, but you get the idea.

So, anyway, you know from my posts which show is this weekend, and the long hours I've been working to get ready for it, particularly after a number of pieces were destroyed by the post office. Last night was the last Raku firing I could do, and my electric kiln is also cooling off from a glaze firing. (I have literally run that kiln every single day this week! I will have to sit down when I open the electric bill!)

Last night's Raku firing? Perfect!
The small vase turned out so ideally, that I'm keeping it. It's too bad these pictures aren't that great, because then you'd see how amazing it turned out. The crackle was perfect and evenly distributed. The hanged man is clear. The tree's details turned out well because the glaze stayed stable (which is why I love this glaze for this kind of work!). The rest of the piece was really well-reduced, so I got that black carbon all over the bare clay, just as I had hoped.

I'm in love with that piece!

I'm only parting with the large vase because I feel I should. I figure that if my teacher can keep some pieces, so can I! I just haven't deemed very many of them worthy of keeping.
The one above-the large one-will be available for purchase at Halloween and Vine this weekend. It will have another friend with it, but the small one will make a home here, with me.

It will serve to remind me to keep on experimenting, to keep chasing the dream, even when I think I can't do it, any more...


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