Yesterday I completed my first set of crystalline dishes (service for four). I am really excited with how they turned out and learned, of course, some ways to make them better for the next set.
I mixed up a new batch of copper crystalline as well as a satin white non-crystalline glaze. I was stunned when I opened the kiln and saw the crystals that formed on the plates. Some of the crystals span two inches in diameter! I wish I could say that I controlled the actual growth of the crystals, but I can’t. I mix the glaze and program the kiln to allow for crystal growth, but what actually goes on in the kiln never ceases to amaze me!
Crystalline glazes are known for being “running” glazes. This meaning, the glaze literally runs off the pot: it is a flowing/moving glaze. The challenge that this presents, is in the finishing stages of the pottery. Each piece has to sit on some sort of pedestal that matches the diameter of the foot of the pot. This allows the glaze to run off the pot without coating the foot in glaze. The tricky part is after the firing is complete, those pedestals need to come off. They get cut off or chiseled off the foot of the pot and, unfortunately, can take small chips or chunks out of the foot of the pot. If the pot didn’t break (which is sometimes a 50/50 chance), then each piece is ground smooth on the diamond grinder. In the past I have always made my pedestal rings from clay and then fired them to match the pot. This time around I tried a new method using porous kiln bricks coated in kiln wash.
The kiln bricks are the same density and softness as pumice stone. In the pictures here you can see that the glaze does run off the pot and needs to be cut off. I sawed off the kiln brick first and then used a chisel and mallet to remove as much of the pedestal as I could before taking it to the diamond grinder. Some of the ceramic foot did come off the pot with the kiln brick as well, which is frustrating, but that is part of the process. Each time I do it, it gets smoother and more refined. I am working on perfecting this method so I can get to the point where I am able to produce a perfect piece, top to bottom.
The pots look pretty jagged at this point. The next step is grinding down the rest of the kiln brick on the diamond grinder. The feet of the pot do not look as finished as the rest of the dish, but that is the part that sits on the table. I keep the feet as smooth as possible so they don’t scratch a table surface and the grinder keeps them level as well.
Last night was the Seacoast Young Life fundraiser banquet. This dish set was donated for the silent auction. It was a blast to be a part of this event as a business and help raise financial support. There were somewhere between 30 to 40 different items in the silent auction and my pottery ended up in the top four highest bids! I was shocked! It was so exciting to hear that and be apart of the Young Life banquet in that way. I hope the winners truly enjoy their dishware.
The plates were definitely my favorite pieces! I love how the crystals came out!