While it may look like I’m getting ready to bowl with my ceramic materials, I haven’t quite lost my mind yet! With the help from my friend and ceramic’s mentor, Mary Cay, I performed a more complicated glaze test this past week. It’s called a “Triaxial Blend” and I used Robin Hopper’s text, The Ceramic Spectrum (page 96) as a guide.
The idea behind the testing is that you get 21 different variations on 3 base glazes which opens up quite a new world of color development to the ceramic artist. It was a pretty cool experiment. For base glaze “A” I used a Val Cushing cone 6 glaze, VC Satin White Liner, pg. 130. For base glaze “B” I used another Val Cushing cone 6 glaze, D base pg. 123 and added copper carb at 3% and cobalt carb at 1%. For base glaze “C” I used Denton 6, pg. 282 from the Electric Kiln Ceramics Book and added copper carb at 2.5%. There’s a few keepers, but I’ll need to look at them a little more closely in the next week.
Meanwhile back in the real world, my Epson printer died! BooHoo. It’s been acting funny for the past month and last night when I went to print an invoice for someone, just blank pages. I tried cleaning the print heads and all the other maintenance tasks and all I get is yellow ink. Not very practical. BTW, I also replaced all the ink cartridges so it’s not low ink levels. This printer has lasted 2 1/2 years and I’m convinced that unfortunately they’re made to be disposable! Off to Costco this afternoon to replace it with another. Sigh…
I was a busy bee at the Art Student’s League of Denver yesterday. That is where you will find me most Wednesdays until it’s time to pick up my daughter from school. I brought all my bisque that I had fired at home this past weekend to the league to glaze fire, since I haven’t made any bucket glazes at home yet. I’m trying to decide on a palette. As you have probably noticed, I tend to favor cool colors such as watery blues, aquas, whites etc. Could it be my Pisces nature showing through?
The 2 vases above were an attempt at a technique called Mocha Diffusion. Lest you think I was hyped up on a double caf non fat mocha latte while making ceramic ware, let me quell your confusion. Mocha diffusion is a technique where an acidic stain is applied to wet slip. Where the acidic stain and alkaline clay collide, the stain forms a dendritic pattern much like a fern or fossil. The original recipe calls for urine or tobacco juice as the acid and either iron oxide or manganese as the colorant.
I tried a little less drastic and alternative route after having watched a Robin Hopper video. I used apple cider vinegar and black mason stain. I didn’t have the ratios correct, so I didn’t exactly achieve dendritic patterns, but still like the effect. I also didn’t have any iron oxide or manganese on hand, so made do with the black mason stain. I should have read Robin Hopper’s article first – the suggested ratio is 1 heaping tsp. of colorant to 1/4 c. vinegar. I’ll try again after I have the correct ingredients…no not urine, but iron oxide. I also added water to my mixture which diluted the acidic content. I won’t do that again. I chalk it all up to learning. As soon as these are bone dry, I’ll bisque fire to cone 04 and then figure out how to glaze these pieces.
Must go now,
You know I couldn’t just end this post so quickly…. I decided to go out an preserve an image of my crab-apple tree that is almost in full bloom right now. Why, you ask? Because the Denver Metro area is under a Winter Storm Warning. We’re expecting up to 12″ of snow by tomorrow. Today may be the last time I see the blossoms until next spring. It’s going to be a little cold out in the garage studio tomorrow!
Gee, is it really Thursday already, because it feels like the week is just flying by! Here in Colorado, we have been enjoying warm spring days for the past few weeks; that was until Mother Nature decided to remind us that she’s still in charge. We woke up to about 4 inches of snow in the Denver metro area this morning. I really can’t complain because come summer we’ll be crying for moisture.
My goal for my blog is to post every 2-3 days, and this week I let 4 days stretch between posts…. Not my intention, but what can you do? I could backdate my post to make it look like I posted yesterday, but I won’t. It’s not like I don’t have anything to say either. I have a blog post saved as a draft with future blog topics all ready to go.
Anyway, let me get back on topic. I wanted to share my glaze test tiles that came out of the kiln last week. I had tested a high calcium semi-matte base glaze recipe from Mastering Cone 6 Glazes, page 89 in the book, and then added variations in color: 3 to be exact. I also re-tested the cone 6 Chinese Blue Green recipe, which compared side by side with my tests from college, turned out perfectly! My ceramic’s mentor, Mary Cay, is coaching me through my glaze testing and is having me use Robin Hopper’s method using the “color progressions pie” from page 187 in The Ceramic Spectrum.
Do you remember back in high school or college math, thinking to yourself, “when am I ever going to need to use this information again?” Well, I had to dust off my algebraic capabilities from my brain files in order to calculate the glaze recipe once my tiles came out. I was scratching my head, wondering how am I going to get the colorant amounts for test tile #5 from the pie?? Algebra to the rescue. The algebraic formula is explained on page 190 of The Ceramic Spectrum.
In other news, I subscribe to an online newsletter called Practical E-Commerce and there was a really good article today on keywords and how to choose wisely to optimize your website’s ranking with search engines. I’m paying attention, because when I google my name, my blog comes up first and foremost, but not my website. I have two domains pointing to my website, http://cynthiaguajardo.com and http://coloradoartstudio.com, and my website doesn’t come up on the first few pages of my google search. Now my blog comes up #1 and my blog does have a link to my website, but how many people are going to poke around to find it?
If I search for pottery, ceramic pottery, ceramic vase, handmade pottery or other vague search terms, my site is no where to be seen. So, the question is how can I choose and narrow down the focus of my keywords to help people find my website? Here’s a link to a free keyword analyzer that will help to narrow down that search. Obviously, hitting the streets, networking, word of mouth will help people find my work, but my quest is to help my website stand out anonymously on the Internet. The article advises that webmasters use narrowed down specific search terms. In other words, pretend to be one of your customers. Think like a consumer of your product. What would you search for?
First off, thank you to everyone who left comments and emails after my last post. I really, really appreciate all your kind words. Our house is oddly silent now, and we’re slowly returning to normal and are remembering Helper as he was when he was healthy and happy. Thank God for my dog, Zuzu, who is my constant companion and follows me from room to room as I go about my day.
I thought I would share some recent glaze test tiles I did in the past 2 weeks. I was trying to recreate a glaze that I made in college. It’s a cone 6 oxidation glaze called Chinese Blue Green. Oxidation means that it’s fired in an electric kiln vs. a gas or reduction fire. I’m working with my ceramics mentor from the Art Student’s League of Denver right now on a glaze refresher since I’d like to get my studio up and running. As you can see from my original tiles and my new ones, the recipe is off-it’s almost as if I didn’t add the copper carbonate. So, last Wednesday, I remade a small 100 gram batch of the glaze and adjusted the colbalt carbonate down to .5% because cobalt carb is such a strong colorant.
If you take a look at my recipe below, you can see how closely linked the ceramic arts is to understanding geology. All of the raw materials used in the clay bodies and glaze ingredients come from the earth! I don’t know about you, but when I start to read all this technical stuff, my eyes tend to glaze over. (Pun intended.) I could buy pre-made glazes, but they’re expensive and I really believe that if you’re going into this art form, one should understand the science and technical aspects behind the medium. Making my own glazes will allow infinite color and texture possibilities and I will be able to develop a signature set of glaze colors.
Meanwhile, I spent yesterday at the Building Creative Businesses Expo in Denver and ran into fellow Colorado artist, Lisa Call who alerted me to the expo in the first place–thank you. More about the expo later this week.