Friday, January 15, 2010

The Waiting Game

The worst part of the pottery game...... is..... waiting.... Now, contrary to the popular belief of those who know me, I am known to have the patience of a Saint! .... OK... so, not exactly.... Turns out I'm probably the most impatient person on this lovely planet.... But we'll get back to that.

Chemicals for glazes came yesterday and I spent part of the afternoon mixing those together in giant pickle buckets I got from work (as every *starving potter* knows, it's called "taking advantage of the resources available to me"-haha!-). I woke up bright and early this morning and headed to my parent's house, which, as some of you may know, has been overtaken by my ever-growing amount of pottery supplies.
*Starving Potter: (Objective Noun) Much resembling a Starving Artist, only less likely to be drawn to eat their medium.

I was almost sure of it, and when I opened my bucked this morning I realized I had, in fact, added too much water in my green "Chive" glaze, and instead of doing the smart thing, and skimming the water off the top of the glaze, I decided to mix it all up, 'just to make sure'.

After waiting (eye twitch) a few hours for the glaze to resettle, I skimmed off the excess water and dipped a load of pottery, experimenting with the two new glazes to see how they'll turn out.

Mom and I proceeded to get the kiln ready for firing... This daunting process includes hauling the snow-blower out of the pottery-supply-induced-over-stuffed-garage (Dad, apparently, is temporarily being allowed to park his car, motorcycle, and snow-blower in "my" storage garage) heaving the kiln into a wheelbarrow, which we had to dig out from underneath the deck, slogging through snow, ice, mud and more mud to get to the back deck where Dad has wired a 220 volt outlet to, all while trying not to either lose a shoe, or fall over face first, in said mud, and finally dragging the kiln out of the wheelbarrow, and placing it on it's base, which is precariously placed in snow, ice, mud, and mud. (Phew!) I then proceeded to load the freshly glazed pottery into the kiln, reviewed my incredibly frustrating and ridiculously vague circa 1971 owners manual, opting to fire instead, following the advice of Blaine, sent up a prayer to St. Tutilo, the Patron Saint of Artists, carefully closed the lid, and pushed start.... It didn't work. So I hit start again, and off it went.

Ok... where was I going with this?...... ah yes. That was at 3 O'clock this afternoon. It's now 7:53 pm, and I'm 'patiently' waiting for cone 6, which in non-potters terms, is approximately 2200 degrees F. Perhaps I'll go check...

1778 degrees. ho hum... So here I sit. ...........Tick...........tock............... I'm hoping that within the hour, we should be reaching temperature, so I can shut off the kiln and... wait... until morning... to even take a peek inside. I'm so nervous!

I'm sure I've driven Blaine to madness the past month or so with all my questions. I'm also sure I wouldn't be nearly as a ridiculous pest if my manual didn't have directions like this, small excerpt from the "Firing Steps for Manual Kilns" section (now, keep in mind that this is word for word from my manual, and, sadly, I'm not even exaggerating here).

"Turn all dials to OFF position.
Open Lid, latch securely.
Check all necessary parts (see page 5).
Lower Lid.
Open Lid, load kiln, including pyrometric cones, in kiln sitter, and behind all peepholes.
Lower Lid.
Raise Lid to highest lid prop position.
Insert all peephole plugs except the top one.
Lower Lid.
Latch kiln sitter (if using) plunger by pushing it in to lock.
Turn all dials to low. "

After opening and lowering the 25 pound lid 50 times, I tossed the manual aside, and opted to truly appreciate Blaine's experience for every word, even if I do pester him.

8:23pm. Time to check the pyrometer again.

*insert "Jeopardy!" theme music*

UHG! ONLY 1890 degrees!! I may be here a while longer. So I'll post a few pictures of mixing glazes, and look again.

Glazes came in the mail!! Look how excited this girl gets to receive chemicals via Postal Service!

Carefully pouring chemicals into pickle buckets, trying to stir up as little dust as possible in Mom's kitchen...
Just Add Water! The best kind of directions!

Mix well. Make sure there aren't any lumps of dry chemicals and everything is blended nicely.
You'll want to make sure that you let your freshly mixed glazes sit at least overnight so they have a chance to blend together. That way you probably won't get any strange results when firing (probably is always the keyword... it ensures no one holds you responsible for crappy advise-haha!-).

8:49pm.... and 1957 degrees... We're getting there! but here I wait.

Perhaps a movie to keep my mind off things while my kiln gets up to temperature. Good night, and I'll post pictures very soon of the results from tonight's firing. .........tick............ tock............

Until Next Time,

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Not Forgotten

I promise, I have not forgotten about my poor Pottery Blog- or you faithful readers (if there are any of you out there)...

Just a quick update to let you know what's going on. I've gotten almost everything I need to start producing more pottery and putting it up for sale!

I'm currently waiting on our Postal system to deliver my new thermocouple, and some chemicals for glazes :) as soon as those come, I'll be experimenting with my kiln and new glazes and some new piggy banks should be up for sale shortly after that.

Also, I've gone through my piles of finished and unfinished pottery, and finally have a stack of things to sell. I have posted those here for viewing and purchase.

Hang in there! I'll keep you posted on upcoming projects!!