Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
(historical pots and pots by Gary Rith)
Greenware is something I can sink my teeth into. English pots, white clay, green copper glaze, nice shapes, about 400 years old. Potters used the materials in their neighborhood which gave rise to local styles, and I love this one. So, little ribbed goblets and a pitcher in the style of greenware. As you see on the right, I have a perfect green glaze. Also, from the painting down a couple of frames, you see some nice looking jugs. When I set out to reproduce something, I look at it, then move off to make it in the studio partly by memory, partly the way I wish to make it, so these are not xerox copies.
My pal Greg is very interested in the early 1600s in England, style, dress, items of everyday use, food, habits, history. An interesting time, as the New World was settled, and the Old moved ahead politically, technologically, theologically.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
(The King Drinks, circa 1638)
Greg and I have been discussing old pots, and this painting has some fine pitchers on view. A big one such as the guy in the lower right was absolutely essential in a pub: the beer barrel was cool down in the cellar, and the jug was filled and then poured into mugs. This is a joyful scene, except that cat under the chair.
Am I the only one who sees great things in my basement? Note baskets in front holding bags of kaolins and frits, on the left on the table a number of labeled tins full of colorants, on the right prepared clay.
Jack looks impressed and my tomatoes do too.
Blistering hot this week, hopefully blowing out, but I am reminded of the usual weather in northern NY.
So, yesterday I finished mixing what I could, and accidentally dumped the equivalent of a sack of flour (feldspar) all over. I had planned to clean, then had no choice. So, the basement glaze area is totally tidy and organized. All the expensive powders are no longer sitting in piles but sorted together in little tins. I had 8 one pound bags of cobalt, for example, each worth about 50 bucks! When did I buy these? A miracle none of those little bags broke open. Then I cleaned the rest of the studio, what a good boy, and cut the grass too since I was filthy anyway.
So, today, the routine is back, glazing and throwing per usual.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
(purple shark mug by Gary Rith)
When I was first trying to make a purple glaze, I started seperately with 2 different recipes, each with about 8 items in it. The 2 different glazes looked OK, but not great. So, I did something very unscientific, and dumped the 2 buckets together. The result was my gorgeous purple glaze, which I call grape. It is very consistent every time I mix it, but uses a lot of ingredients. That includes my most secret ingredient, at 50 bucks a pound, d???? red stain.
So, many of my glazes contain a small amount of t??????? d?????? which gives them their sparkly, speckly appearance and increases the melt a bit. I have dozens of bags of ingredients, but down to my last scraps of t????? d????? Enough for 3 more mixes, leaving 3 undone for now. I made an emergency call to Sheffield pottery, and the box is on its way.....
Goes the question over at Meno's.
I too had read blogs for 2-3 years before starting pottersblog. I could never find any potters blogging which surprised me. They're probably too busy, but I am chatty with a keyboard, and spent a lot of time emailing blather and pics to my friends, so it was a small leap 10 months ago. Now of course I have met many of my commenters in person, what a great group, although it would never have happened otherwise. The blog keeps me busy, because people are watching what I do. I had noticed that customers like to watch a potter work, and that is true of readers as well.
Um, enough baloney, I really ought to move on to the dungeon and finish mixing glazes and then clean the whole mess up....
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
So, messing around down in the dank and cool basement (62 degrees compared to 92 outside!), and I am now a fine tuned machine. The new batches are clean and silky mixes. I have a hose and the yard just outside, so I can make a mix, hose off the equipment, go in and make another batch. Excellent.
BUT, nothing is more fun than trying new glazes, esp. ones you feel have a high probability of working. I have toyed with the idea of a new bright blue glaze, and just mixed an experimental bucket. If it doesn't look good, I can add some ??????? or some ???????. It is based on my ?????????? glaze, and I decided to simply add either ????????? or ??????????? but settled on plain old cobalt oxide. I had a potter friend say once 'I don't want to be the guy who makes the blue cup', implying that every potter makes blue cups and it is banal, but I love blue and blue cups! So, not counting my glazes which have a little blue in them, I have: baby blue, blue jeans, and slate blue. The new one will be called bright blue. All my recipes, designed by me and kept locked in a safe (really!). I will experiment with it on a piece later this week and we'll see how it looks.
So, here we see that yes indeed, the house was originally a little log cabin. Somebody dug a hole, laid a million rocks for a foundation, then cut logs by hand and made a house. Neato! Except for the new electric wires, our basement looks much as did in 1865, except dirtier.
OK, me and my piles. I have bags of glaze ingredients all over the basement, and boxes of clay too. For example, the red-brown bag has Spanish red iron oxide. Lastly you see the measuring scale. Glaze ingredients are powders of silica, kaolin, frits, limestone, talc etc, with oxides like cobalt or iron or nickel or copper or commercial colorants added to make colors.
This is probably my most boring series of posts ever, but it makes a change, right?
Monday, June 25, 2007
OK, the fellow had an accident and died of a heart attack 50 yards from my house in ETNA. Channel 10 has the story. This is pretty awful.............
(Mr Pottersblog all dressed up with nowhere but the basement to go)
Ugh. Worse than I thought. As you will see in tomorrow's pics, my organizational systems involve messy piles. In this case, unidentified leaking 50 pound bags of silica, kaolin, ball clay and the rest. I needed one spoonful, ONE SPOONFUL of nickel oxide and spent 45 minutes looking for it, where it was on the bottom of the last pile there was. The up side is this: cobalt oxide, main ingredient in blues, is 30-60 dollars a pound, and a pound is small, and I found A LOT of it. You see, over the years I didn't realize what I had, so I bought extra, and suddenly, in looking at it all, I find I have hundreds of dollars of the stuff all in different piles. I think mixing may take a couple of days, then maybe a little organizing down there? The weather report is quite steamy, so a cool but dirty basement beats other options.
(Gary's basement, empty bucket, kiln full of pots awaiting glaze)
90 something today, wicked scorching hot. Time to finally finally finally mix glazes, which I have talked of for months. They all need to be mixed. I have about 14 glazes, each has between 5 and 16 powdered ingredients to be measured and mixed. The basement is this old ugly stone place, dating back to when this was built as a log cabin in 1865. It does have a concrete floor and it is dry, just very cool and damp and dirty. Maybe 30 degrees cooler than outside....So, in the studio just to the left of the kilns is a trap door leading down, and all the ingredients, clay and a work table just for this job are down there.
(to be cont.)
Sunday, June 24, 2007
I am out of it. I seem to live in my own cloud, or is it a fog? The police, ambulances, fire trucks and whatnot have been next door in the woods on the riverbank all day doing something. Somebody just told me it was that guy who had been missing all week. I didn't know anybody was missing. A dead body has been sitting in its car all week next to my house and I never noticed?