Thursday, June 30, 2016

Glazed Work for Rotary Commission (Completed)

Over the weekend and Monday I fired the work for my Rotary Commission. I ended up making and firing 55 pieces, 45 of which are exactly what I wanted them to be.

pieces being unloaded (hot) from the under-fired kiln

The last firing seemed to be taking longer than usual, so I shut it off before the kiln sitter dropped. The kiln sitter is the part in a manually fired kiln that holds a cone. The cone melts at a certain time and temperature (referred to as a cone). When the cone melts, the bar that rests on top of the cone falls, causing the kiln sitter to shut off the kiln.

on the left, my half bent cone; on the right, a correctly bent cone in the kiln sitter

As it turned out, the cone was melting, and I was just impatient when I shut it off early, but most of the glaze melted anyway. Almost all of the commission work was fine. The stuff on the very bottom (not commission work) was under-fired and a few pieces on top also seemed under-fired, including one commission piece.

finished, fired commission pieces

I also had a few pieces that developed cracks in their bases during drying or firing. One cracked during drying, but I forgot and fired it anyway. The others have minor cracks, but I won't send them for the commission.

finished, fired commission pieces with stamps visible

For almost all of the pieces I threw for the commission, 51 pieces, to be exact, I used the same set of stamps to mark the pieces. One stamp says Rotary Yakima, the other has a gear symbol with S/S inside the gear, representing "Service over Self" the Rotary motto. These pieces also have my signature stamp on the other side. 

The stamp set I ended up using for most of the commission.

All three stamps were pressed into the wet clay and later inlaid with blue underglaze to highlight the text and image.

the individual letter stamps and the button stamp

Early on in the project, however, I tried a few other approaches to the stamps. For two pieces, I used the S/S gear stamp and individual letter stamps to write "Yakima Rotary". These are legible and clear, but take up a huge amount amount of space and were time consuming to stamp. Another approach I also scrapped because it was too big: I added a button of clay with the S/S gear stamped into it.

 on the left, the impression of the incised stamp; on the right, the stamp made from the incised stamp

I also fired a piece stamped with one of the very first versions of the Rotary stamp. In fact, this early stamp had lines incised into the Sculpey clay. The stamp I ended up using was one that I made by pressing Sculpey into the first stamp, thus creating the look of incised lines in the clay once the piece is stamped. I fired the test piece so I could see how it looked with underglaze. It looks worse than the new stamp.

most of the finished work

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