Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day

Returned to the studio this afternoon.

The two raku test pieces were bone dry; it appears that when we open the vents to keep the studio warm in the winter, then the damp box doesn't work as effectively. The dryness of the pieces isn't really a concern with these, since I didn't really need to trim them. We plan to glaze the test pieces, along with all of the throwing chucks from my rockets, to use as raku test pieces.

I threw two raku vases. On the first, I got things a little too thin about two inches from the lip of the piece. I collared the piece in at the top, and was starting to finish the lip of the piece, when the weakness of the wall caused the piece to start to collapse. I saved the piece by trimming everything above the weakness off with my needle tool, so the piece flares out instead of closing in, and looks like a vase for a dozen roses. Since the raku piece is never vitrified, it can't hold water, so the vase can only be used for dried flowers.

When I throw a cylinder, the mouth tends to flare out. After I raise the walls, I end up going back to collar the piece back in. I tend to pull the clay with my inside fingers above my outside fingers. Picture looking down on a piece on the wheel, the pot looking like a circle. I'm pulling from the foot to the rim of the piece at about the four o'clock position. The second joint of my left pointer is wrapped over the top of my thumb, and the length of the second joint is in contact with the piece on the inside of the pot. The fingers of my right hand are held the same way, but on the outside of the piece, but held a little lower. I can feel my opposing hands through the wet clay. As the wheel turns, I'm compressing the clay between the second joints of my pointer fingers, and drawing my hands evenly up. This is raising a wave of clay from the base of the piece into the walls.

What I remembered on my second vase was that, as I raised the walls of the piece, I could change the position of my opposing hands so that the inside fingers were below the outside fingers. What this does is reverses the flare at the lip of the piece as I finish each pull, so that the walls of the pot curve inwards at the rim.

I switched from raku clay to 266, and threw another piece. It is a lidded vase, with the opening for the lid only four inches across. It took me three tries to create the step inside the throat that the lid rests on, using three different techniques. I finally suceeded when I used the right angle in one of my ribs to push outward from the inside of the rim. I measured the opening with a 'lid master', which is like a double ended pair of calipers, one for measuring the inside of a piece, the other for outside. I then threw a domed lid. I asked Julie if she would put one of her dragons on the piece. My plan is to glaze the piece in Floating Blue, with the dragon left unglazed. The finished piece will be a rich blue, with everything unglazed being like a bittersweet chocolate.

A mug was the last piece I threw, since I had a little piece of clay left over from making the lid. I put some lines around the rim for decoration, and will pull a handle for it tomorrow.


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