Trophy Completion Report

Well, the results came in on Tuesday, when James cracked the kiln to unload. They turned out just like I planned, for the most part. I did have 2 that touched another kiln shelf as they shrank in the gas firing, and 2 with cracking problems. I should be able to dremel, re-touch with glaze, and re-fire the 2 with touched rims, hope not to have to re-make those. Regarding the cracked pieces, 1 has a minor compression crack in the rim, the other has an impressive crack along the foot ring and outside wall curvature. That ship would sink, so to speak. I ought to re-make both, so I probably will. The re-makes will slow down my completion date, but that won’t cause any problems because they’re not due until September. They’re a time hog to decorate, though.

Ohata kaki glaze and tripod porcelain foot ring.

I wax resisted the rim and entire foot ring before applying glaze, to keep visual unity in the bowls from top to bottom. I am thoroughly happy with the glaze results, as both were reliable from piece to piece. Even the damaged bowls had flawless results.

A view to highlight the precisely flared rim.

The bowl interior features the logo of both regional Peruvian Paso horse clubs who host a regional Texas-based Peruvian Paso horse show. I carved sprig molds of all the capital letters and the relief Peruvian Paso horse in motion, then slip-trailed the rest. Helpful tip: make sure you carve all sprig molds in reverse, so they read the correct direction once you lift them out of the mold and flip them over. Of course, the current year and show title adorn the flared rim of each trophy bowl. I look forward to seeing how the successful recipients react to their prizes this fall.

Glazed the Trophies, Results to Follow

I made an unplanned trip to Addison yesterday to the Craft Guild of Dallas to help instructor Potter James fill the gas kiln. I glazed all 12 of the horse show trophy bowls shown in my previous posts in double time, from 2-6 pm. I used my own batch of Pinnell Celadon from home as the interior glaze, leaving the outermost rim band bare of glaze. Celadon is pale jade green and transparent, which will display the decorations underneath nicely. Then I sponged on wax resist to keep the outside glaze from sticking to the bare rim and first 1″ of celadon glaze.

Example of Celadon, on a beautiful 18th century Chinese Hu vase.

I used the Craft Guild’s Ohata on the outside, a nice dark Kaki glaze. Kaki glazes use an overabundance of iron oxide for coloring, which results in a shiny finely speckled rust, brown, and black surface. This glaze is very reliable, and I though the pale jade green glaze, dark blue decoration, and rich brown glaze color combination would be appropriate for the earthy, elegant nature of a horse show. I waxed the tripod feet up to the bottom surface, allowing the Ohata to coat the cut out channel along with the outside walls and inside the foot ring.

A good example of Ohata on some faceted bottles.

Actually, Celadon and Ohata are both colored with iron oxide. Celadons use a small amount per batch, usually 2-5% of the total gram volume or so. Ohata probably uses about 15-20%. Iron oxide is extremely intense, even in the raw state it gets on everything and doesn’t wash out too easily. Which may be why over-saturating the glaze past the point of opacity with iron creates a color family similar to iron oxide stones found in nature. I’m excited to see how the trophies fire out, and I fully anticipate success. Okay, if I need to re-make one I’ll bull through it, but hopefully no more than that. I expect to be able to show you the finished pieces by Monday or Tuesday.

In glazing mode…

I must say, applying glaze is my least favorite part of making pots. I am so meticulous and precise, that it becomes a sort of self-punishing process. I have developed a limited palette of my favorite glazes through trial and error, most of which might be mildly toxic in theory. So I always play it safe and do the extra work to line the pots with a very reliable clear, celadon, or black glaze.¬†¬†Since I’m doing two glazes that division on the rim has to be just so: tight, clean, with minimal or no overlap. Which means tons of wax resist work and experienced pouring or dipping techniques which took me forever to learn. All of this = my personal hell. I know many potters who go the extra ten miles in their glazing (ex. Bernadette Curran, see photo below), but I am not that potter. I want the form, decoration, and atmospheric variation to do the talking, and for the glaze to be simple enough to highlight rather than hinder.

It’s worth the effort, though, because the more I put into glazing the better the results become. I strive to edit my extravagant taste down to what I believe is the essential elegant version, letting my visceral reactions to the work drive the decisions. I love satin surfaces that respond dramatically to atmosphere (be it salt or soda). Although black pot interiors speak to me, I have listened to my audience and the general preference is a beautiful transparent glaze to let the porcelain whiteness sing. Yes, I do the black liner some anyway. Then I choose to fire in salt or soda, so I can get that random magic to bring out the peaks and valleys of the form, and so much more texture (both visual and tactile).

I’ve gotten 1/3 of my current bisque batch glazed. I should have all of it ready in 2 weeks at most, which is good because I love firing and I’m ready to get another lot pushed through. Keep an eye out for an update on the upcoming kiln opening. Yay!

Here's a potter going the extra 10 miles with glazing. One of my favorites, always making killer work.