It’s a rich time. My last rebuild on my oil burners and fireboxes seems like it was successful. I really hope I don’t have to do any more work on it, it’s been such a struggle. Creative ideas are flowing, not always true for me. Some artists have a dozen ideas a day, I’m more of a one idea a month guy, but I’m back into exploring colored clay projects and loving it. I’m working on throwing patterned blocks of colored clay. The trick with these pieces is “how do you throw a pot on a spinning wheel without twisting the clay?” Here’s a bowl, not glazed yet.I have a lot of excitement for this process. I think there’s great potential for unique and beautiful pieces. I’m also working on my next image block.
Puff, the Magic Dragon has been a kind of mascot for many years. The Puff sculpture on my homepage was born in my studio about 10 years ago. Puff has a lot of fans on Kauai, partially because of the song reference to “a land called Hona Lee” which many people take to mean Hanalei. People drive around singing the song with their kids. The energy fits with Kauai. It seems like the kind of place Puff would want to live. I didn’t plan on making a dragon (life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans..) but the project I started was going dismally wrong and Obie (apprentice) & I ended up making a dragon. I set him up in the yard and stepped back for a good look after a month of work and recognized that it was Puff. A customer asked for a tabletop version and I asked our friend Renee to do the clay while I handled the glazing and firing. She’s a really good sculptor, way better than me, to wit:
I’m drying the dragon reaallllllly slooooow to prevent cracks. Meanwhile, my fascination with Flambe glazes continues. I do lots of tests I have tested thousands of glazes in my life as a potter. It’s tedious work and has to be accurate. Here’s a mistake, it’s supposed to be red but has 10x too much silicon carbide in it:
It takes 5-10 minutes each to make these depending on complexity. Only about one in a hundred is useful, the rest are “educational”. I have 10 boxes like this and have thrown out about the same number:
This one is interesting. These are exactly the same except the darker, uglier one has 1% tin, the lighter prettier on has 0.5% tin, a tiny percentage but the difference between a beautiful glaze and a failure:I wouldn’t have expected a small amount of tin to have such a big effect on color, it usually doesn’t have any effect on color at all. It must be a chemical reaction that I don’t understand. Trying to figure out how to make beautiful glazes is totally frustrating 95% of the time and incredibly rewarding the other 5%. The finished glaze is a result of the combined effect of chemistry, firing conditions and temperature, application and type of clay. The variables are infinite . A glaze that works for one potter may not work for another with slightly different materials or conditions. When I started getting good Flambes I felt like I’d hit the big jackpot after 30 years of gambling addiction. There should probably be self-help groups for potters.