Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Muse of Fire and Mud

Its been a hectic week. We realized on Friday night, while I was prying up boards, that the damage the the deck is greater than we thought. It looks like we need to pull up the entire surface of the deck, and replace it. Julie voted for something that can't rot, like the composite boards that they sell at Home Despot. With so much going on right before vacation, and so many projects left unfinished, we decided to wait until September to finish ripping up the deck and repairing it.

Yesterday, I worked on the ray guns. Julie had made me a handle for one our of flexible sculpy, but when it was finished, and the gun reassembled, I did not like the way it looked. The trigger guard of the gun didn't fit right any more, and the space between the trigger and the handle was too small. I finally realized that I had switched handles on the guns, and when I swapped them back, I ended up breaking the joint holding the guard to gun, which was buried in sculpy. I had to remove the handle before I could re-solder the guard. I was rebuilding the handle to a different design.

Julie was in the studio, glazing. She was working on raku dragon vases. She was also firig a glaze kiln with a bunch of wonderful pieces in it, including a dragon teapot with two matching tea cups. We were planning to fire the raku kiln on Sunday, so we needed to get everything glazed and dried.

To increase the complexity, we had company coming over for dinner Sunday, Ronnie and Tom, and also see us fire the raku kiln. We were planning to grill greek chicken, with sweet potatoes and portabella mushrooms. Our guests were bringing a couple of salads. We also wanted a blueberry crumble pie, so we bought some fresh blueberries.

When I got into the studio, I glazed three rockets, and four of my smaller closed forms. The rockets all had a black underglaze on the fins, with a cone O6 candy apple red glaze on top. I had tried the glaze in raku before, but it had turned out a more pinkish red. I was hoping that the red low fire glaze was partially transluscent, so that the black underglaze would darken it. An underglaze is like a matte paint that doesn't change during the firing process, and is placed under the glaze.

The big rocket has its body covered with Seth's Luster, with copper red on the engine bells. I left the cockpit windows and the 'vents' between the fins unglazed, so they would turn matte black.

The second rocket has Seth's around the cockpit window, and Seth's on the belly and nose cap. I used a white underglaze on the rest of the piece, with a clear crackle over the top. Copper red was used on the engine bells.

The third rocket has the candy apple red around the cockpit windows, with black underglaze underneath. Copper red was used for the engine bells, belly, the vents between the fins, and on the nose cap. The rest is white underglaze with the clear crackle over the top.

There is a lot of uncertainty when we fire raku. The thickness piece and of the glaze, the combination of glazes on a piece, how the kiln is run up, and what the conditions are in the reduction chamber all contribute to the final piece. There is a lot of luck involved to get a sucessful piece, or there is an acceptance that a piece is what it is. Serendipity.

The muse of fire and mud sang today; every one of the pieces that we pulled out of the reduction chambers was wonderful. We spent the evening, camped out on the remains of the back porch, eating chicken with fine company, and talking pottery. As we talked process and techniques, Julie or I would run into the house, and pull down a piece from one of our shelves, or out of a box. We ended the night around the kitchen table, eating blueberry pie.

When we return from our vacation, we're helping Ronnie and Tom build their own raku kiln. They had spent this morning pouring a concrete pad for it outside of their studio.


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