Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Lucky Break

funny pictures of cats with captions

Ceramics isn't for wimps. You gotta have a certain moxie to handle the unexpected whims of this capricious media. And boy...did Big Al open up a big can of slap-you-in-the-face-with-whim this last fire! Feast yer orbs on this:

ook at that big fat crack in my kiln shelf. Cone 5 got medieval on my tiles! I am flabbergasted that the shelf didn't collapse down completely, but remained somewhat semi-detached by its last little tendrils. Only that upper corner teetered down to the shelf below it. And those shelves are $65 each. Crud.

I pull up the two broken parts to find the aftermath on the shelf beneath. Broken shelf bits everywhere, and six otherwise beautiful tiles ruined. The broken shelf bits simply fused into the molten glaze. One tile, in particular, went out with flair, actually melting onto that one corner of the broken shelf (red arrow).

Now I will say this: I did notice a tiny crack in the shelf beforehand and, tempting fate, decided to ignore it. I can be silly that way. So let's just say I won't be making that mistake ever again. I shudder to think of what might have happened if this was a Mayhem fire!

So that was a bit of excitement in the midst of this latest batch of tiles. Anyway, this is the last batch of this design, since a new version has been made to replace it. I also got new crackle glazes, and I can't wait to see how they come out. But I had pondered why the glaze still was so uneven, even with dipping...

While the glaze itself is pretty, it's uneven! I can't sell this!

Why was I having this problem? And then I reflected on how I dipped...after pulling the tile out of the glaze, I'd roll it to one corner and shake off the excess. Then sit it, face up, on a table to dry. Why -- of course! That thicker area of glaze is where the glazed ran into when the tile was tipped! DUR SARAH. You can imagine how stupid I felt, after that shelf incident and now this. Live and learn -- eventually.

So I got to thinking: How could I still dip, but remove the excess in a more even way? Why dab, of course! Dip n' dab! So I got a towel, dampened it, and wrapped it around a large tile to keep it flat. I did my dipping, but rather than tipping the tiled, I immediately dabbed it -- face down -- onto the towel. That worked pretty good. Not great though. Too much texture, and I didn't know how that would translate into the glaze. But I was on the right track. I knew I needed a sponge. A big damp sponge. That was my ticket -- but we didn't have one. Or so I thought! Hubby came home, and immediately dug one out from some secret Harley place in the garage and voila! It worked like a charm!

The glazing tray (on the right), with the damp sponge (on the left). Below the sponge is the damp towel.

Suffice to say I'll be getting an array of big sponges to experiment. I'm so happy with how it worked, and I'm really hoping it's my solution. The Laguna high fire crackle glazes are so beautiful, and a more even application would allow me to use them in production, which is my goal. I need a measure of predictability for the regular line. In particular, I want to put Laguna Desert Skye into production, because it's my favorite, but that glaze is so variable. My fingers are crossed that Sir Sponge will grant my wish. Now one thing I did notice from this first batch: Laguna Ocean Teal applies really evenly, even with the tilt n' shake method. Every one of them came out perfect. Which suits me fine -- it's one of my favorites! So I think I can put that one into production. In this fire I also experimented with some mixes, so we'll see how those come out, too.

Anyway, here's hoping that Big Al isn't such a prankster this fire!

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." ~ Carl Sagan

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