Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Unpredictability

Believe it or not but the two pieces shown above were glazed in the exact same way using the same glazes. OK, so my fellow clay-heads who are familiar with reduction firing will believe it (they are all nodding their heads up and down saying "yep, been there, done that."), but those of you who aren't are probably saying "Really?" Or maybe you could care less (probably more likely). Anyhoo, we fired the gas kiln this week at the studio and I went in bright and early this morning to unload. Aside from pinching a nerve in my neck and getting a leg cramp while lifting very heavy kiln shelves in a tight, contortionist position (how old am I?), it was a good firing with pretty good reduction throughout. The pale green piece up top, however, escaped reduction. It should be as bright and flamboyant as its partner but alas, it's green.

And no matter how many times I tell myself "don't fire earring pieces in the gas kiln" I continue to do it and every time I end up with a group of pieces that don't match. It's all about location in the kiln and if two pieces get separated (as the two above did) they are often receiving different amounts of reduction and therefore won't look the same. Most of the time this unpredictability is exciting but when you need to match two pieces it can be rather problematic.

Thankfully I was lucky in this firing and most of my earring pieces matched, like the pair above. Yay!

The true joy in reduction firing, for me, comes with results like these, above and below. The colors that can happen are so freaking incredible - I can't stop staring at them! I love to glaze. The chemistry involved thrills me probably more than it should. I like chemicals and I like to see what happens when different ones are combined. My goal is to be a glaze painter. :)


This one, above, is going into my keep-it-forever pile.

This last piece is one I made quite a while ago but never glazed until this week. The design was made with a water etching technique. Seeing how this one turned out made me want to play around with this technique some more. I used to experiment a bit more with textures and techniques - sometimes it seems like I get a little stagnate and need to shake things up a bit. We can't have that! What to do, what to do...

15 comments:

SueBeads said...

Nice! They look great!

sundownbeaddesigns said...

oooo...I love the red & blue round ones...very pretty

mairedodd said...

wow - so cool... i love learning about what you all do, how it happens when you are satisfied and dissatisfied... i can see why you love glazing!

SummersStudio said...

Ah yes, reduction firing. Oh how I miss the thrill of the unexpected and those results that are just completely unique. But it does have its drawbacks if you are looking for consistency. But still, I know this will sound strange, but I love the smell of a kiln that is in reduction.

Kella said...

Gosh you are so talented and what beautiful pieces.

But I have a question (I am a complete novice, just trying to understand your craft), if you say don't fire your earings in a gas kiln, how do you then fire them?

Oh duh! I think I just answered my own question, are you saying to use an electric kiln? Would that give a more even distribution of heat?

Sorry for all the questions, just trying to understand it really.

Thanks in advance for answering :)

Round Rabbit said...

Yes, Kella, you are right! An electric kiln has a more controlled/steady flow of oxygen which provides a stable atmosphere in the kiln. Thus the results are much more predictable and reliable. Good question! :)

jenny said...

I for one love the slightly mismatched earring pair, and would select them on purpose. I am a clay person, and v. familiar with reduction - so go figure!

Loading our outdoor, homemade gas kiln at the studio where I work - makes me get in touch with my inner Cirque du Soleil character! It is a feat. And I seem to be allergic to ceramic fiber - make bricking up the door.

Your glazes are gorgeous. Do you ever use a shino?

kelleysbeads said...

I had no idea until now that you non-glassworkers sometimes depend on kiln reduction. Is the color set now, or can you put pieces back in for a second shot at being reduced through another firing?

Alice said...

Beautiful beads!

I took art classes all four years of high school and my favorite medium was ceramics. It wasn't so much the building of the piece, but more the process of glazing and wondering what the outcome would be that had me excited.

I'd love to spend a week with you in your shop!

Erin said...

Ah, yes! I do believe it and I do know as I fire my pieces in a reduction kiln as well. I don't particularly like glazing. I would go as far as saying I don't like it at all. Don't get me wrong,I love glazes! They are beautiful and I love admiring all the wonderful colors and affects that come out of the kiln, it's so exciting! For me, I just don't enjoy the process of glazing and some of the glazes can just be too unpredictable and the fact that I've lost too many of my pieces to bad glaze batches as well. I've just had too many unpleasant experiences with it and I'm just about ready to throw in the towel completely. It's an art within it's self, for sure and you have it mastered, my dear! You are a glaze painter! And have been for a while. It's one of your specialties! These are just amazing! Beautiful work as always.

TesoriTrovati said...

I am fascinated by the insight into the process since I don't make anything of my own...

I think that little "happy accidents" from your glazing would make great grab bags... I love little orphan pieces and challenge myself to find a way to make them work!
Thanks for sharing today!
Enjoy the day!
Erin

The Noisy Plume: said...

The same is true with enamel...I never QUITE get the same color twice...

Gardanne said...

You would love making glass beads we have the same unexpected surprises. If I am happy with a reaction I better make more beads,because I may not be able to duplicate the conditions again.

Round Rabbit said...

Oh this is so interesting! I didn't know that the kiln conditions affected enamel and glass too! Yes, I would like to try them both, please. :)

missficklemedia.com said...

This was a fascinating post!
As someone who has always been interested in glazes but never had the opportunity to learn their mystery, it was really interesting to read!
Thanks for sharing.