I don’t think I ever even wrote about this here, but for this past Christmas, my dad gifted me with a much larger kiln than the one in my apartment, so that I could finally start making larger ware with more regularity. It’s big and beautiful…and unfortunately can’t actually live with me here in San Francisco. Theoretically I could rent studio space for it, but practically that’d be way outside my price range (which is about, uh, $0). However, my dad also recently bought a house in my old hometown, Sacramento, which is less than 2 hours away from me. The house has a large empty garage, so we decided to install the kiln there.
Because of the its size, and the travel involved, I decided to only use the big kiln when I have a lot of stuff to fire. This means slower turnaround times, but gives me an incentive to make stuff on a larger scale.
Earlier this week, I finally decided I had made enough greenware to make it worth the trip. Two days ago, Orin and I carefully loaded the backseat with well-padded boxes of goodies, and off we went. Everything survived the drive intact, which pleased me very much!
My dad’s house is in a very picturesque setting, right over the levee from the Sacramento River. While I unloaded the boxes and snapped some photos, Orin climbed the tree in the front yard.
Then he helped me load the kiln, which I think took at least a half an hour to do.
It takes my kiln about 8½ hours to heat up to Cone 07 (roughly 1800 degrees Fahrenheit), and then probably another eight or so hours to cool down again. We took the time to relax and have a little “vacation” of sorts.
Then, yesterday afternoon, everything was ready to come out again.
I remember, when I was in ceramics classes, my instructor often said that our ware would be hard to recognize after it came out of bisque fire, because everything shrinks, and items sometimes warp, crack, etc. And sometimes things sat around for so long before firing that you’d even forget you made them! Indeed, I remember occasionally not knowing my own work, and only realizing it was mine when I saw my signature on the bottom. It’s hard to say whether or not that has changed simply because, you know, everything in the kiln is made by me now. I would rather think it’s because my work is more defined now, because at the end of the day my work simply looks like mine. Which is a good thought to have.
And now I’m back home again, with my bisqueware in three big boxes, waiting to be glazed and fired again. I really like making lists, so here’s a nice numerical rundown of what I brought back today:
- 6 burnished white stoneware plates, for me to try some maiolica-style illustrations
- 1 special white stoneware plate with a complete poem stamped into it
- 12 (4 sets) descending canvas vases, in a couple different size variations
- 10 ice cream bowls in both red and white stoneware
- 6 wee succulent pots, significantly larger than that first prototype
- 18 wee bowls in red stoneware clay. I’m going to be streamlining my wee bowl line so that they come in two standard sizes; these ones will be the smaller size
- 102 flat porcelain buttons, in various shapes, sizes and textures.
- 31 rings; hopefully, counted among this number are the myriad custom sizes I’ve been trying to get for the last couple months
- 3 new button molds
- 29 poem drop pendants
- 5 big beads. My beads have suddenly decided to get popular, possibly due to some advertising I’m doing on Ravelry, so I’m planning on making a lot more of ‘em in the near future
- 22 big shank buttons. I’m really excited about these. I redesigned my shank buttons so they’re bigger, and made entirely of clay, rather than metal in the back. I’m making them from molds of vintage earrings.
Also: I’m now making all my little ware (beads, buttons, rings, pendants) out of porcelain, for extra strength and durability.