First Pit Firing of 2017

It’s summer time, and to me that means it’s time to pit fire! Last weekend we were able to finally fire the first of the pots I have been stock piling all winter. I’m really happy with the results we achieved. I learned a lot and ended up with some awesome pieces. I just finished putting all the pots up for sale and you can check them out here. Just like the firing we did last year my favorite piece is a collaboration between my husband and I. I created the pot and he wrapped copper wire around it to create an eye catching design.

My favorite piece from our first pit firing 2017.

Pit firing is a very old method of finishing pottery. Probably the oldest method. and there are different variations of the technique that different potters use today. I’m still refining the process for myself, but I enjoy this kind of firing immensely and I’m seeing good results.

After I create the pots I bisque fire them to cone 018 (around 1320°F-1350°F) in my electric kiln. This is actually a pretty low temperature which keeps the surface of the pots more porous, but still hardens and drys the clay out in preparation for the pit.

After the pots come out of the bisque it’s time to prepare the pit. We fire in my father in law’s fire pit. We dig it out extra deep, somewhere between 2 and 3 feet. Then we make sure the bottom of the pit is free of any rocks and is as dry as possible. I started a small fire to dry out the bottom this time because we dug the pit out the day before we fired the pots.

Next I covered the bottom of the pit in a thick layer of saw dust. I mixed  1 part copper carbonate to 2 parts salt in with the saw dust. I’ve heard of this mixture being called “magic dust”. It helps add color to the pots. A lot of the reds and pinks are created because of it.

After I got the bottom of the pit prepared I placed the pots in with other colorants scattered around and under them. A few of the things I’ve used for colorants are coffee grounds, iron nails, dried grass clippings, cobalt carbonate and  steel wool. When the pit gets really hot, these colorants create the reds, pinks, oranges, browns, yellows, blues and other interesting effects on the pots surfaces. The way the pots are placed in the pit has an effect on them as well so I put some on their sides and some sit more upright. It’s fun to play around with 🙂 

On top of the pots I put a good layer of news paper and other bits of junk mail. This helps protect the pots and get the fire burning.

After the paper layer it’s time for the wood. I’m so thankful that my hubby not only enjoys splitting wood, but is also really good at it. I would have a very hard time doing this kind of firing with out him. 

He made a lot of small pieces of wood for me out of much larger pieces 🙂 I stacked the wood carefully and as even as I could on top of the paper layer in the pit. 

Then we lit it on fire!

Once it’s on fire it’s best to not breathe in the smoke. We let the fire burn down and check the process every hour or so. It gets really exciting when you start to see the pots peaking through the ash. After the fire burnt down all the way I got my first glimpse of how things turned out.

We covered the pit with a metal cover that my husband fashioned to let things cool slowly and keep the dew off over night. The next day it was time to pull the pots out 😀 My husband and I always call these moments Christmas. Pulling the pots out of the pit, or out of a glaze fired kiln, is just the best! They were barely cool enough, but I just couldn’t wait.

I cleaned the ash off the outside and insides of the pots with a clean rag. Then I brought them home and polished them up with some furniture wax to create a nice finish and protect the pots from the moisture in the atmosphere.

I can not wait to do this process again. I have some very cool pots waiting in my studio to be pit fired and am expecting even cooler results next time around. I am planning at least one more pit firing this summer, but I would love to get 2 or 3 more in before the weather gets cold. I’m almost ready to do another mid-range glaze firing as well so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks. As always thanks so much for your interest and support <3

Bowls, Mugs and a Vase

We had another firing of my electric kiln and there was definite improvement 🙂 I did have a casualty involving 2 mugs, and a few minor glaze issues. Over all things went well though. I now have some nice new work up for sale. 7 Bowls, 5 mugs and 1 vase.

You can shop all my work by clicking on the Shop tab on the main menu above (or click here).

I also have some cool news to share. I have started working on ceramics full time! I’m excited to be devoting myself to my craft and to continue in the direction I’m heading.

There will be more bowls, mugs and vases being made soon. I also think we will be doing a pit firing in the near future. I’ve been waiting all winter for that! Planters, cups, pitchers and candles are some things I’m thinking of exploring next.

Thanks for the support <3

The Process

This isn’t easy for me. I happen to be a quite a perfectionist. I enjoy sharing my triumphs and my steps towards my goals. I don’t feel comfortable sharing the set backs and bumps along the way. I have come to realize that it’s healthy for me to share the good and the bad though, because it’s all part of the process.

Yesterday I put a lot of my work and effort into a glaze firing. For me this is a big deal. I haven’t been in a position where I’ve been able to fire my kiln, especially glaze fire (cone 5/6), until quite recently. This is the first time we’ve fired it for a glaze firing since moving it to our garage too. I have a good amount of time and experience in the throwing and creating part of ceramics, but I have a bit less experience when it comes to glazing and firing.

After two days of glazing work that I had made over the past few months I gave it a go. One thing about ceramics is you never quite know what is going to happen in the kiln. Once it’s loaded and you start firing all you can do is hope for the best. This time was not the best.

The planter pictured above is the same one that is in the middle of all the mugs in the picture of the loaded kiln. The clay body that I used to make the hanging planters apparently isn’t made to be fired to cone 5. When a clay body is over fired it starts to slump and melt. Unfortunately this planter slumped right onto half of my mugs. When glazes melt together there isn’t much you can do about it. My husband was able to clean up some of the mugs that were only messed up on the handles for us to keep and use personally, but they look a little rough. Some were just not salvageable.

I fired 4 hanging planters and they all melted and slumped. Just for the record I had fired this clay body in the previous glaze firing we had done when the kiln was at my sister in laws house. It made it through fine, but the kiln fired much differently over there and might not have quite hit the cone 5 temperature. I have learned my lesson.

Bubbled, melted and messed up hanging planter.
Hanging planter that melted to the kiln shelf. Good thing I had a nice layer of kiln wash on the shelf.

I was pretty bummed when we opened the kiln today. It’s always exciting to see what happened in the firing process, but you hope to see more good results than bad ones. That is the process though. The creative process doesn’t move in a straight line forward. It’s often a winding path and you might need to backtrack sometimes to move forward.

So, I pick myself up and move forward. What did I learn? Actually, I got a lot of information from this firing. Obviously I learned that the clay body I used for the hanging planters needs to be low fired. I also learned that with the new set up in our garage the kiln can easily hit temperature. I got good results from my glazes because of this. My mugs ended up being a nice big size in the end too  (clay shrinks as it drys so a piece will get smaller though out the firing process). I obtained good information to work with in the future and it wasn’t a total loss. I did end up with 6 mugs that turned out nice. That included one I was asked to make by a family member. I’m happy about that.

The mugs that turned out 🙂

I am currently working on some nice soup bowls and will be making more mugs soon as well. I’m still learning as I go. Thanks for the support <3

Studio and Shop are Up!

I think everything in life seems to take longer than I expect it to. Perhaps I should be used the the fact that I move at a turtle’s pace by now 😛 I think I will embrace the motto “slow and steady”.  In any case I have good news to share!

I have had my garage studio up and running for a little while now and things are getting into a rhythm.

I do not have the kiln moved in and set up yet, but I have been producing pottery. I am currently working on stockpiling decorative pots to be pit fired when the weather gets warm.

I have also started working on some large mugs, and pulling handles for the first time since college.

I have plans for more pots and mugs as well as working on different types of planters again. Ceramics had taken a strong hold on me and I have spent all of my creative time as of late focusing on that. I will surly be painting again in the future, but for the time being I have nothing in the works there.

The second bit of good news I have to share is that my online shop up and running now! I was able to make a light box and take nice photographs of the work I have for sale.

Getting the whole system up and running has been a bit of a task, but I believe it is working correctly. PLEASE message me, via the contact form on the sidebar,  and let me know if you have any problems trying to purchase something. I will gladly work to resolve any problems that might occur. You can shop directly from this website by clicking here or by clicking on the Shop button on the main menu. So, go check it out! Thanks for the support <3

New Home, New Studio

I just wanted to post a quick update about what’s going on with me as of late. My hubby and I have been fortunate enough to find a really nice little home to rent with an attached garage to use for my studio.

This means that I will be busy moving and organizing for the next month or two, but will be set up better than ever when I’m done. We are very excited about this new chapter in our lives! I’m itching to get back to creating though,so hopefully I’ll be in my new studio sooner rather than later. We’ll see 😉

Good Times at Cheeseburger 2016

Last week my husband and I packed up all my pottery and paintings to set up a little stand and attempt to sell my work at the Cheeseburger in Caseville festival. Caseville, Michigan is probably most famous for this 10 day Jimmy Buffett themed festival. Since my parents own a bar and grill in the area I thought it would be a good place to start putting myself out there. The Wooded Island Sports Grill was gracious enough to let me set up right outside their front door. It was an enlightening and exciting experience. Many people were interested in what I was selling and how I made it. It was great to get some feedback and even cooler to be able to sell my work to others. I truly hope those who bought from me are enjoying their pieces 🙂

Set up at the Wooded Island Sports Grill
My pottery set up, close up
Hubby and I selling 🙂

I do have to add that we didn’t spend the whole week working 😉 We had a really fun time hanging out at the grill and enjoying the festivities. Participating in Wednesday nights parade was definitely a highlight, even though it poured rain on us. It was good times and great company all week.

I ended up selling more than half of my inventory and I will be working on putting what I have left up on this website for sale as soon as I can. It’s time for me to get back into the studio and start creating some more work!

A New Start

Hello and welcome to my new website. I’m Kayci Stanley and I am an artist and craftsperson. I focus primary on oil painting and pottery.

I feel like I am at a new start for my career. I’m making ceramic work again after about 6 years of not being able to run my kiln. I am now learning my kiln and feeling out my style. I have a strong appreciation for well made pottery and I am pushing myself to improve all around. At this time I am most interested in clean vase forms and planters. I was able to do a pit firing earlier in the summer and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Atmospheric firing is something I will certainly be pursuing more of in the future. I’m looking forward to experimenting with mid range glaze firing in my electric kiln as well.

Pottery in the pit after the fire had burned down
Three of my favorite pots from my first pit firing
My electric kiln firing up some pottery

I feel that over the past few years I have been developing a real style with my painting and I am confident in the direction I am heading. I will be continuing to focus on abstract nature themed paintings. I would like to play around withe some nonrepresentational paintings that focus on intense color and brush strokes as well.

My latest work: Autumn Creeping In (2016) oil on canvas

I will have work for sale at the Cheeseburger in Caseville festival in my home town this week. This is the first time I’ve had enough work to sell like this and I’m very excited about it. I hope this is a real start to something. I’ll be using this website to post about my work and hope to have work for sale here soon as well. Please check back again in the future if you’re interested. Thanks <3