First test glaze: A success!

 

Cobalt Crystalline Pillar candlestick

 

As you can see, I had a very successful first glaze firing!  Hurray!  I was so excited to fire up the kiln, but you just never how the firing truly goes until you open up the kiln and see for yourself!  Since I have had several firings in the past that were, well, horrible, I decided to channel my excitement.  I didn’t want to have my hopes up and open the kiln to see no crystal formations, but that didn’t happen.  It went beautifully!  Naturally this makes me super excited to glaze everything I have made so far and continue on in my production.  I feel like I have finally come over the hump and can fully produce from start to finish now!  That is a great feeling.  I have a few final steps to take, but I am in full swing now.  I want to share with you the glazing process for several reasons.  Number one:  it’s pretty cool.  Number two:  there is a lot of work in prepping for a crystalline firing.  Number three:  it is beneficial to learn “the behind the scenes” aspect to an artist’s work.  I think a greater appreciation can come from the knowledge of all that goes into a single piece.  I think artist’s of all mediums would back me up on this one.

 

Melting wax

 

Yes, what you see here is correct, I am melting a candle in a skillet!  For every piece that I glaze, I have to put wax on any part of the pot that I do not want glazed.  Glaze will not stick to wax, so this is a big help when I am ready to glaze, to have this first part done.  When the wax melts in the skillet and covers the surface with about a quarter-inch of hot wax, then I am ready to go.  I place the bottom of each item in the skillet for a few seconds and let the wax adhere to the bottom of the pot.  This really protects my kiln by not allowing glaze to attach itself to my kiln shelves.  That is a nightmare to get off!  When the pot fires in the kiln, the wax will burn off the pot and the glaze will remain in place without dripping.  (Remember though, that crystalline glazes are meant to run off the pot, so this doesn’t happen in my firings.)  So, why do I continue to wax then?  It makes the glazing process a whole lot neater!

As you can see here, there is a ring attached to the base of each ceramic piece.  This is called the pedestal.  The pedestal allows for the glaze to run off the pot without touching the base of the pot.  After it fires, this pedestal ring is removed from the pot using a chisel, leaving the base free of glaze.  Once this is done, there are bits of glaze that are razor-sharp around the foot of the pot.  These need to be ground away and made smooth.  The best way to do this is to grind the base of each pot on a diamond-impregnated lap grinder.  I am currently in the market for one, so that final step will have to wait for the moment.

Once they were all glazed, I started to load up the kiln!  Each piece that sits on a pedestal must also sit on top of a collecting dish.  This collects all of the glaze that runs off the pot and pedestal without touching the kiln shelves.  Since this was my first glaze firing, I only tested my glazes on about a dozen junk pieces.  They turned out great, so I cannot wait to glaze my good pieces today and fire up the kiln again!  This has been a very big step and is encouraging to see that the glazes I mixed were done correctly.  I also had to look online for my kiln’s firing manual.  I have never fired my program into this kiln before and needed to know how to set a custom firing cycle.  My program fired quite well!  I am so pumped!  I will be firing my first “real” kiln load today.  I should be able to open up the kiln once it is completed on Wednesday.  Definitely check in then to see how the next batch goes.

 

Glazed Pieces

 

 

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