March 2016 Newsletter

Greetings and welcome to the new readers who recently joined this group.

The March firing was disappointing in that it fired a bit hotter than it should have and the marbleized pieces came out badly. The hotter temperature resulted in some unusual glaze results, particularly with the pieces that had Coastal or Arctic Blue. Other colors turned out fine.

I made a set of four bowls for myself, using the new black clay mixed with white. I hoped to get a marbleized effect. I learned that the black clay doesn’t play nice. It formed a lot of bumps, ruining the set. Some of the pieces that don’t turn out well enough to sell end up in my cupboard but these were awful. I belong to a clay group on Facebook that is a great resource for questions and tips. I learned that the black clay is very temperamental and it will take some practice to get it right. There are two bowls that were made with the clay ready to go in the next firing.  We’ll see how they turn out. I had a platter drying but put it in the reclaim bucket.  Better to stick to smaller pieces till I have it figured out.  I was so looking forward to seeing the black and white pieces and they are what I saw when I opened the kiln.  I think I’ve mentioned that opening the kiln is like Christmas morning every glaze firing.  Well, this was definitely a “lump of coal in the stocking” Christmas morning.  It seems that no matter how long one is at this, there’s always new things to learn.

This firing was another re-stocking effort. Bundt pans and Brie Bakers were the main focus. I also made a bunch of spoon rests, baguette holders, key rests, phone holders, etc. I’ve never had a piece that people use for so many purposes. Drying for the next firing are small casseroles, large batter bowls and the two black clay pieces. I have to sit at the wheel and throw more. I’ve been working in the studio but not producing any pieces.  Glaze mixing, cleaning, rearranging tools and equipment, as well as taking pictures and getting them in the newsletter, are all part of the work.

Here’s the pictures of the Bundt Pans.  They are about 9″ wide and 3″ deep.

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There was some work going on in the studio that didn’t produce any pieces but will make it operate better.  My nephew built a sturdy table for my pug mill.  It has a shelf, which will make holding the clay to be pugged a lot neater.  He also covered an old wood worktable that I keep by my wheel.  It will help with cleanup, something that I’m constantly doing to keep dust down.  Clay and glaze dust isn’t good to breathe.  After I got things put where they belong, I gave the floor a good mopping.  So, I’ll be ready to go after Easter.

Two Brie Bakers were in this firing.  The plate is about 6″ wide.  They can also be used to roast garlic or as butter dishes.  These pieces, like the bundt pans, can be used in the oven or microwave at any temperature.  However, it’s not good to take pottery from the refrigerator and place in a hot oven.  The thermal shock could cause the piece to crack.

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One small casserole made it in to this firing and there are three more lined up for the next.  They are about 7″ wide and 3″ deep and hold just shy of two quarts.

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I had one snack tray in this firing.  It measures about 7″ x 5″ and has Good Fortune in Chinese lettering, along with the English.

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I also had some small test pieces to see how the sample glazes worked on the black clay. They, too, need more testing.  I did fire a couple of pieces with the new Amber Celadon glaze that I’m adding as I’m fazing out the brown that I’ve been using.  Celadons look nice when there’s carving or texture.  The glaze pools and makes a nice effect.  It’s transparent on the flat spots.  For the first try, I think these came out fairly well, though the carving should be deeper.

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This firing had several spoon rests or baguette holders, etc. I’m not going to post all of them but here’s a few.  Most are about 6″, though there are some shorter and a couple longer.

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As I’m writing this, it’s gorgeous out.  My dogs were basking in the warm sun.  It could be that spring really is around the corner.  Let’s hope.  It’s a lot more pleasant to work in the cellar with the screen door open than with a space heater running.  March is nearly over so it won’t be long.

A big thank you to MaryAnn Vogel who posted a picture on FaceBook of her grandson and the bacon she was cooking in her new bacon cooker.  As a result of that posting, I got a couple of orders!  As you can imagine, my advertising budget is small, so postings like that are appreciated.  Forwarding my newsletter to your pottery-loving friends would be appreciated, as would postings on Facebook showing the piece being used.  Word of mouth is the best advertisement for a cottage industry like mine.

Thanks for your time and happy spring to those of you who have that kind of weather already,  We in Upstate NY are getting a taste today and tomorrow with the high temperature of 64 but, to make us humble, it’s going to be a high of 32 on Saturday or Sunday.  It will be a good day to sit at the wheel, even if the space heater is needed!

Lauren