Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WYSIWYG, or not?

As the alarm clock rang 5:30am Monday morning I popped right up remembering I could peek at the ^6 load. No reading the newspaper in bed with my sweetie this morning. In my jammies I ran out to the shop and lifted the still warm lid… Truly, I said to myself “if this kiln load is a total disaster let it be big so at least it will make a good Blog post!” Well, no graphic explosion images or total glaze meltdown shots, just some mediocre results. At least my large Pod survived and actually turned out OK. Not FAB,

just OK. I intentionally rubbed off the glaze on the lower leaf areas on my large Pod. The big surprise was my “sure fire” Pods, the ones I’d already used the Galaxy glaze on, appeared this time like the glaze had settled out -Arrrggh! I was trying to have a set of at least 3 matching Pods for a sculpture. These were supposed to be fine because I’d already lovingly TESTED this glaze. In one of the photos the original Galaxy fired Pod is on the left and this latest Pod I'm holding is on the right. What the...?? Another set of Pods I used the Seamist glaze on really looked like the glaze settled out (they are the small ones on the right in the large photo at the top). I could see miniscule spots where if that glaze

had worked as I’d hoped it would, it would have been beautiful, but it was not to be. There could be a lot of explanations for the “settling out” considering that these glazes were purchased blindly used with no dates, instructions or firing details on the buckets. I’ve read about microbes destroying old glazes or freeze/thaw and heat temp issues negatively affecting the necessary “float” of glaze components. Or not(?) Who knows. It’s just that after the first firing using the Galaxy and Antique Iron I did have high hopes, especially considering I mixed the second batch even more slowly and evenly. I set the kiln controller to use a SLOW FIRE ^6 GLAZE schedule, HOLDING for another 25 minutes for good measure. Or not(?) I am learning not to plan a sculpture using my clay components until AFTER they are completed to satisfaction. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) was a term we used in my graphic design business days of what appeared on your computer screen was not necessarily how the file would be printed at the printers. There were so many digital variables we were forced to check and recheck a file before it was sent off to the client, publisher or printer. I’m learning that even when I’m working with clay that “What You See, (is NOT necessarily) What You Get until after the LAST firing!”

Kristen sent me this picture of her sliding down the ice slide at the World Ice Art Park in Fairbanks! She was wearing her favorite Skhoop Skirt over her snow pants and she said she took off like a rocket! I noticed on the news last night that Fairbanks warmed up to a balmy 25 degrees ABOVE zero yesterday! Spring must be on the way.


Christine--RHP said...

oh Cindy--welcome to my world. (of jumping out of bed to unload a kiln in my jammies!) Sometimes it has taken me months of working with a glaze to, learn its requirements to get consistent results in a ^6 firing. Not as simple as you think. I have a boatload of questions for you:

1. did you use the same bucket of glaze at the exact same viscosity over the same clay body? Did you stir just before glazing both times?
2. did you dip or brush or pour the exactly the same way both times?
3. same firing sched.? same location in the kiln?

You get the picture. You have to be really consistent in each step to get consistent results, or else it's a crapshoot every firing. You have to check viscosity each time you glaze, you have to stir before glazing each piece with some glazes....
I have one glaze that looks thinner but the viscosity is where I need it when it's a fresh bucket, but after sitting for a few weeks it 'looks' thicker visually, even tho the viscosity is the same. Crazy!

It looks to me like the applications were different, not so much that microbes or freezing temps did you in. If I'd hazard a guess, the new ones look simply like a thinner application, and you need to attend to the drips by smoothing them down more after it dries. No worries, you'll get the hang after another 30 or so firings....

cookingwithgas said...

Ditto Christine!
Now that she has said all that I want to say- nature does not produce all things alike.
I know, I know, you want them for something and they should all match- but should they???
It could be interesting to have them all be different- more contrast more color- somewhere for the eye to go and create interest.
That's my 2 cents.

cindy shake said...

Hi Christine! I think you are right... I do remember the viscosity not being quite the same, and I agree it looks like it needed another coat doesn't it? I did dip glaze both but some settling could have happened. The large pod suffered the most drips and did have uneven glazing due to it's sheer size :o( I really struggled with it in the bucket!

The other big thing that WAS different is that I set the second firing schedule for SLOW ^6 GLAZE with a 25 minute hold, the first firing was FAST ^6 GLAZE and NO hold at temp. Silly me, I THOUGHT I would be HELPING this load :o)

Hi Meredith- I sort have been thinking along those same tracks of contrast as well. I suppose I'm more finicky on the lack of glazing skill quality, don't want to be criticized and really just hate to toss them... maybe I'll combine the ones that turned out well(?)

Christine--RHP said...

Some glazes just don't care if you fire them fast or slow. From my experience, slow (especially when cooling) works well if you have glazes that tend to bubble or also when you are working with semi-matte glazes that you want to have a nice depth and crystal development. (I don't mean crystalline glazes)
I always fire on medium, but I have this weird thing that I do at the end of the firing to avoid bubbles with my one PITA glaze, yet get a good melt on the whole load: I have to fire to a bit lower temp than I think, cones are slightly bent, then cool it about 30 degrees, then bring it back up, cones are close to ready and then shut it down--takes about 40 minutes. Do you know how long it took me to figure this out?? about 9 firings--with copious notes each time about the load size/shapes, placement, etc. I thought having an automatic kiln would save me this insanity, but no.

And people wonder why I would want to raise my prices.

Kristen :) said...

Trial runs suck, but you'll get the hang of it :)

Gary's third pottery blog said...

My plan? Start my kiln whilst in my jammies so that Thurs I can unload that same kiln in the jammies, also at 5 am :)
I dunno what to say---I have developed glazes that work with my lazy system and doubt it would work for anybody else, but best wishes :)

Linda Starr said...

I really like the pods. Sorry about you're not getting what you expected, but I lean towards what Meredith said about not expecting them all to match. I have better luck brushing my glazes. For Cone 6 I put three coats and let them dry between each coat. What a beautiful shot of Kristen.

Tracey Broome said...

I would probably just plop some more glaze on and re fire those suckers. I have a friend that tells me to just keep firing until you get something you like :) doesn't always work for me but it always works for her. Welcome to my glaze hell, so sick of it! You could always raku those pods, no expectations so whatever you get is fun :)

coffee miklos said...

so the glaze firing sounds like a box of chocolates...keep firing girl. remember like my last boss used to say "if it was easy...everybody would be doing it".

Abbi said...

I think we're art clones? art and science lover correct?
clay and metal?

I think you're my art clone! but better than me - way way better.
cheers to your wonderful work