Glazing and Firing the Play Set

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After the experimentation of the nested monster piece I was interested in pulling away from the very glossy “ceramic” surface of that work.  For this piece I wanted a more varied surface that would reference natural materials such as rock.  To achieve that I mixed two new glazes.  The first was a white reticulating glaze that came from a triaxial blend experiment from a previous semester, the second was a black vitreous engobe.  Mixed in with these was an attempt at a gray clear which was too blue and not suitable for mixing in 10,000 grams.  I like to use 300 gram tests that don’t precede to full batches on one of a kind sculptural work as I am not likely to be asked to reproduce the work by a client.  Sculptural work is also more forgiving of certain glaze flaws that are not negotiable in functional pottery.

Having spent several days in testing and mixing and then on to glazing, the work was finally ready for firing.  Its large size really limited what could load with the piece, this turned out to be a great thing.  Our primary kiln is a very old Skutt on a kiln sitter, up to the day we fired the play set, we had never had any problems with it.  Because of this I had become pretty complacent about witness cones and other precautions to prevent over firing.  So then, since this was an important firing, this is where the problems occurred.  My estimate is that the kiln went at least to cone 10 but probably higher than that.  Fortunately, the sculpture clay that I preferred at the time was a cone 10 body (Laguna’s Soldate 60) so the kiln was not lost, though the shelf the work was on did have to go in the trash.  The glazes and the attachments were fairly ruined.  To my advantage was the brush glazing technique that I chose to use on the play set.  It meant less glaze and so the surface came through fairly in tact, though not at all what I had planned.  For the play set the major problem was massive cracking on the interior.  I was able to do pretty solid repair using PC7 and acrylic paint, so the piece was saved.   The rest of the work in the kiln was a total loss.

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The very dark glossy surface of the exterior forced me to completely change my plan for the little action figures.  I was wanting a drab, gray or brown surface for them originally but that would not have been adequate contrast for the video, so I opted to go with bright color that would allow them to be visible both inside and outside the play set during the commercial portion of the video.  This also makes them more in line with actual toys and so felt like minimal compromise

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