When an experiment WORKS!

Part of the process of pottery is experimentation. Throwing the form is the first part. Adding design or embellishment is second and trimming is the trimming is third. The final stage where you can experiment is during the glaze process. Like all of the stages before it, during the glaze stage things can go terribly wrong or end up being absolutely wonderful. At the time you do the glazing you really have no idea which you will end up with, you must wait for the reduction firing to be complete.


Even if you are using the same process you have used before - the same glaze or glaze combinations, the same form, the same clay body...the end results can vary dramatically. It can change depending on where your individual pieces was sitting in the kiln. Did it get just a bit hotter, or was it just a couple of degrees cooler. Maybe there was more or less oxygen in that area of the kiln during a key few seconds. Maybe it picked up some gases from a piece sitting next to it. Maybe, maybe, maybe...you just don't know until you life the lid and start to take the pieces out. In our community kiln, there are typically a couple hundred pieces to load and unload. It take about 18 hours to load and an hour or so to unload. When you see your piece emerge...you may be thrilled, or ill...or just meh.


This time - an experiment worked beautifully. This was a spare bowl I had thrown as part of the breakfast set I was making for a customer. I tend to always throw an extra...just in case. Sometimes I hold on to all of the "extras" and make a full new set. This time, I didn't want to bother holding the piece indefinitely. I decided to play with a glaze combination that I had used on different clay bodies, but had never used on this particular clay body (a blend of a white stonewear and porcelain). I dipped the bowl in our Sun Valley glaze and then (using a bulb syringe) sprayed it with "Vegas Red". The bulb syringe gives me the option of adding more or less of the second glaze in random patterns on the inside and outside of the form. As you can see...in places it is very diminished...almost a shadow. In others, it pooled to create a marvelous mottling of the two glazes. A very happy experiment indeed!


I posted this piece shortly after picking it up and it sold within five minutes. I may have to make a few more of these. Experimentation may not always result in the look you wanted, but you can learn so much from it if you simply take the time to do so.


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