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Process continued - Glazing

Here is the same pot after glaze firing:

The process begins with glaze testing; not just creating individual recipes for colour, texture and reactivity, but also testing according to thickness, and how they react together. From very small patches and parts of samples, I develop a feeling for what may happen and some sense of what the final result may be, based not only on these particular samples, but also on my past experience of how these or similar glazes have performed in the past. So then there is a moment of decision, selecting the palette and putting those tubs of glaze around the working area, each with their own brushes, and also stools of varying heights, as for making, to put each particular tub in easy reach. Then, another moment of decision, whether to apply an undercoat by pouring, whether to use bare oxides as well as the coloured glazes, and whether to brush a further top layer. Also the size of brush at any moment.

You may notice I've said nothing about design - because there is no pre-design - the materials come first, and the design and decorating happen concurrently in response to the shape of the piece and how it moves and unfolds, and the preselected colour and texture range. It's unusual for me to add another glaze or colouring oxide once the actual application has begun - but it's not impossible.

So, this large pot is too big for me to hold comfortably in one hand and forearm while I paint on glaze with the other - so I stood it on a highish plinth (around eye level near the top of the pot) and can tilt it as I work if needed, and walk around it also. In this case, after glazing the inside, I poured a dark and reactive underglaze quite thinly over the exterior in a way both to cover and at the same time to achieve more nearly horizontal runs.

Then the turquoise; at this moment I decided to loosely follow the sinuosity of the pot with a band of turquoise. And loosely to continue with a kind of curving stripes, and space between to allow a line of green, and lines of (white which becomes pale blue from the underglaze). From this second photo you can see how in moving around the pot, these from being more vertical become more horizontal, something like contour lines overlaid on rock striations. In this case there was no more to do - the underglaze I felt would be sufficient to enliven and give depth and texture to the whole. Knowing also, that if I felt unsatisfied by the result, another layer or layers could be added and the pot refired - but I prefer to achieve everything in one firing if I can! There is then another decision: in the past I fired always to cone 9 stoneware, but in more recent years I have chosen to fire cone 8 instead, or even achieved cone 8.5 by firing a programme to cone 9 and manually turning off the kiln at the right moment to be at cone 8.5. Yes, it works. In this case, with recently new elements, I chose to fire direct to cone 8, knowing that in my fast firing the temperature will read around 1267 centigrade for cone 8. Then it's just a wait for the cool and the reveal.

A note on colour - A long time ago I chose to avoid using manufactured colours, and use only those which i could develop myself from basic raw materials and metal oxides. It's just another self imposed limitation, in the same way as the size of the kiln and the workability of the clay. But in my experience, the palette self developed in this way satisfies my eyes more than manufactured colours can do!

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