Sunday, March 9, 2014

Flipping back and forth...

Still Standing. Mid-Fire. Note the lip at the bottom. I added that to give a lip that
didn't have to be glazed, and would catch any drips. I was working with all new
glazes so wasn't 100% sure they wouldn't run. I would have made the lip even if I
planned to use low-fire clay as it "worked" with the overall piece. However, I
would have glazed the bottom of the pot if low-firing.
In recent months I've been experimenting with a variety of clays, flipping back and forth between low-fire (cone 05) and mid-fire (cone 6). Both have a whole lotta pluses and a few minuses.

I like the way low-fire majolica clay handles and works with my highly textured pieces. It isn't brittle when fired and doesn't form as many sharp edges as some other clays. I love the way the red clay marries up with various glazes, too.

However, there's a lot to be said for the wonderful glaze effects when working with mid to high fired pieces. I've found a couple of beautiful brown clays that I am enjoying working with.

I do find that my mind doesn't flip quite as easily between the clays. I'll start working on a mid-fire piece only to realize part way through that I really, really need to be able to glaze the bottom. There are options for glazing the bottom with mid-fired pottery, but if you don't plan ahead it just ain't gonna be possible sometimes. I sometimes squash the piece, rework the clay and move on to something else... or go grab some low-fire clay. Sometimes I'll adapt it.

Ramblin' Blues. Low-fire. Note how the glaze goes all the way under
the large, textured bowl. This piece sold.
Low fire has the advantage of easily being able to stilt works when they're fired. Being able to stilt a piece means it can be glazed on the bottom and it won't stick to kiln shelving. I've talked with some artists who have had success with stilting cone 5 and 6 glaze firings but I've not been brave enough to try. There's always the possibility that the piece will just slump over the stilts and be ruined. Not to mention it'll ruin my kiln shelf if that happens. Those things aren't cheap! I think I'd be more upset over losing the pottery than the shelves, though. I never do anything twice, just not in my makeup to be able to repeat myself.

One of the things I love about clay, one of the many things, is that it's a never-ending experiment. I can't get bored. In fact, my biggest challenge is not going in a thousand directions.

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