Thursday, June 23, 2016

Glazing for the Rotary Commission

This week I've been working on my commission for the Rotary Club. I threw and trimmed the pieces last week, fired and washed the pieces over the weekend and have been under glazing and glazing them this week. I also fired some sample pieces this week to be sure the glazes were behaving like I expected.
bisque fired pieces drying after their rinse
I had to wash all the fired pieces because I had sanded them while they were dry, before firing. I don't usually sand my work but these pieces had some rough edges as a result of the slashing marks I added while they were wet. If a piece is dusty, glaze may not adhere correctly, so I took the time to wash each piece and rinse off any dust or residue from sanding. 

underglaze applied roughly
For rinsing the pieces, I had a handy bucket of water in the studio leftover from emptying the malfunctioning water heater on Sunday. For some reason I have a dishwasher rack in my studio, so I stacked the pieces on it to dry.

lots of underglaze applied to the first kiln load of work
After the pieces dried, I painted the slashed marks with underglaze and wiped away the excess. 

washing off underglaze and the resulting blue water

Most all of my processes this week felt like assembly line processes. I sanded 50-some pieces, then I washed 50-some pieces, then I painted underglaze on 50-some pieces, then I washed 50-some pieces again. 
all the pots from all the kilns, underglazes and washed
After washing the surface of the pieces again (which left the underglaze inside the slash marks and the stamps as a highlight), I glazed just a few so that I could test the new glazes. 

the test pieces before firing
I am using four glazes, plus the underglaze. All of my glazes are commercial celadons. I have three different interior and rim colors and all of the pieces get a clear coat on the bottom over the underglaze. I ran a small firing this week to test the colors for this commission and to finish a few unrelated pieces from last summer.

the test pieces after firing
After I checked my results, I started glazing the whole batch. I picked just 10 of each color to begin with and was able to glaze the interior and rims of almost 30 pieces in the not-quite-three hours I had available in the morning. In the afternoon I was able to glaze the exterior bottoms in the not-quite-two hours I had between commitments.

The first 10 pieces glazed with Jade on the rims and interior
I'm firing a second kiln now, but because of the size and setup in my kilns (and the fact that I probably need to buy another shelf), I will have to fire at least three more times to complete the commission. Tomorrow I should be able to finish the glazing for the last 20-ish pieces. It should probably take three hours. 

Sky and Jade rims and interiors
To prepare the clay and throw the 50-some pieces took about 6.25 hours. I only needed to make 47 pieces, but I wanted extras in case of cracks, problems with glaze, or other irregularities. I didn't time the trimming very well, but that probably took 6 hours including the time it took me to prepare the stamps. I also spent maybe an hour sanding the pieces, an hour washing the pieces, and a couple hours for the underglaze process. The glaze application should take roughly 8 hours total. Of course I am also loading and firing kilns throughout this process, but I did some of that in between hauling buckets of water up from the water heater with my family and thus didn't time it. At a very rough guess, I'd say this commission will have taken about 26 total hours, not counting planning, firing time, or clean up (the wheel needs to be cleaned between throwing and trimming, the dirty towels need to be rinsed before going in the wash, the trimming scraps need to be collected, the blue underglaze water needs to be changed for clean, the brushes need to be washed between glazing days, etc). 

All 30 pieces with a wonky panoramic shot
Last week, with some of my other commitments, I figure I spent about 25 hours in the studio. I threw and trimmed for this commission, but I also threw a little for a few other projects and I did some unrelated glazing as well as several rounds of firing and I wrote a blog post. This week I was only about to spend about half that amount of time in the studio, but I worked mostly on this commission.

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