Just the Beginning

 

These little pieces might not look like much now, but I see their potential! I see pendants and cabochons, necklaces and rings! It’s such a pleasure to open the kiln to reveal what I’ve sculpted and glazed, hoping they will turn out as imagined. I’m still experimenting with techniques and finding the right firing program. This firing went far too long at 24+ hours! I’m experimenting with single firing, skipping the initial bisque firing and instead glazing the greenware and firing in a single step. This is supposed to cut the firing time down, but obviously, this last firing went on too long (should be about half that time). Once the kiln is programmed it takes on a life of its own. I can’t know how long it will take to get up to temperature, hold temperature, and then cool down. (It takes an entire day just to cool down!)

An experienced potter will notice the flaws, the tiny “pinholes” in the glaze. This could be from the kiln being too hot, or cooling too fast, or a number of other reasons. If these were functional pieces, such as cups/bowls, these would be an issue because they would allow food particles and bacteria to get into those tiny holes. But these little flaws only enhance these pieces, I think.

I’ve been scouring potters’ forums, searching online for single firing programs, but there isn’t a lot out there. I’ve learned that single firing was the way it was done until about the mid 1700’s. Then, with mass production, they started bisque (biscuit) firing the greenware so it would travel better. Back then, the pieces were distributed to women throughout the village who were paid per piece to glaze/decorate the ware. Greenware (dry clay) is very fragile, so to bake it to a hardened “biscuit” state, made sense. But for a home studio setting, where the pieces are handled only by the artist, it is not a necessary step. The final outcome is the same!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *