I ran a glaze firing in my electric kiln last week. I’d say I got mixed results, but ended up with some nice pieces and lots of information. The new functional ware is up in the shop here. This bowl mug is by far my favorite this time 🙂
I would say I got mixed results because I’m dealing with some common potter problems. When you run a glaze firing there are a number of things that can go wrong. Two of the most common glaze defects are pinholes and blisters. I have been seeing both on my work and it’s super frustrating. I put in a lot of time and effort creating my pieces and carefully glazing them. When I open up a freshly fired kiln only to see glaze defects it’s disheartening.
For example, I created two pitchers for this last firing.
They both ended up having gorgeous glaze combinations, but they have too many defects for me to feel comfortable selling them due to major blistering on the inside and out.
On the one hand, cool I get a couple of pretty pitchers to use personally. On the other hand, I want to smash them in my frustration! Unfortunately it was more than just these two pitchers that came out of the kiln blistered. Fortunately, a lot of the other work is usable in one way or another. I don’t like to sell work with lots of glaze defects if it’s going to be used for food or drink. It isn’t a big deal if the work is more decorative though, like vases and the candles I am working on.
So, after the initial disappointment of things not turning out the way I had hoped I went into research mode. I don’t need to go into all the details here. Glaze firing is more complected than one might think, even in an electric kiln. Suffice it to say, I now have a plan for the next glaze firing that I think will reduce/eliminate the pinholes and blisters. I will probably always be learning more in this craft, but ultimately the mistakes only push me to improve.
Looking forward I have plans for another pit firing in a week or so. I think the candles that are in the works will be pretty neat. I’m also thinking of making more mugs, bowls, cups, vases, pitchers and the like. I’m just going to keep moving forward!
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.
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.
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