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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Prepping clay can knacker you out!

Saturday morning, I managed to spend 3 hours reclaiming the only bag of my existing clay I had left (a great little surprise when I found it under some stuff in the garden!) and getting this new clay to a workable consistancy. I cannot express how draining that was. It made we want to just go back into the house and forget about going any further for the day!

I don't know what it is about this new semi-porcelain clay that makes it so unattractive and uninviting when taken out of the bag. At first glance, the wet sheen on the surface of the clay lump makes it look adequately soft. However, the minute you start to try and knead it, the whole of the lump (bar the skin) is quite firm and doesn't kindly "give". So unworkable is it that I go through the "pancake" process (slabbing slip between layers of clay to increase moisture content of clay) with the whole lot of it.

Even then, when it has been kneaded into a solidified cohesive mass again, it's as if the movement of the clay caused layers of it to seperate away from the rest, causing loads of air bubbles. I would question my method of kneading, but I have never had this problem with the other clays I have used and I have been kneading for up to 7 years now. I'm blaming the clay, damnit.

I persist and end up bringing it to the wheel as prepared as I can get it, yet not fully satisfied with it's workability. I guess it does have a hard act to follow, insomuch that my existing clay and I have had 5 years together of hard work and understanding always making it an extreme joy to throw with! Too bad I can't get the darn clay to turn white and lose it's speckle.

It isn't that easy, is it?

Anyone know why this clay misbehaves so much? Is this what people who work with porcelain mean when they say porcelain clay is "difficult" to work with?

Well, onto bigger and better things! I was commissioned!!

Okay, in all fairness, it was a request from a nice guy at work who asked me to make him a potpourri holder. He wanted to be able to shake the potpourri to release the smell and asked for a container that had holes in I came up with this shape....

I threw some lids too and managed to turn both pots:

Now, all I need to do is pierce each of these with holes all over and see how it looks in the end!

Bisque Fire Success!

Round One of bisque fire returned some promising results! I had thrown some tall bottles about 4 months ago, but due to their height, I never had enough to make it worthwhile to fire them without losing valuable space in the kiln.

On each of them, I used the slips I had developed, with additions of stains and the bisque outcome looks good! In fact, I am really liking the chalky effect of the unglazed bisqueware so much that it may just influence me not glazing the finished product in the gloss firing!

Decisions Decisions!