So, in indulging my fixation, I had another try at Ido teabowls yesterday. Still not getting it somehow, but am happy with the bowls as bowls. One of the problems was the clay. Too nice, too smooth. It was recycled from some sandy stuff, but in recycling, much of the tooth was lost. I re-added sand, but not enough.
If I hurry, these might make it into the kiln for the Nov. 11 firing. Feldspar glaze, raw glazed and once fired. Who knows, perhaps some good could come of it after all…
These last two summers in Korea got me interested in some variations on coil and paddle techniques. The Korean onggi coil and paddle is very good for quickly making large jars. The south west region of Joellanamdo has a variation on this which uses slabs rather than coils. The slabs are slapped out on the floor in a very even thickness, then added to the pot and paddled. One of the demonstrators of this technique said that if you could slap out an even slab of clay, that was 90% of the battle.
One thing they don’t tell you is the importance of a suitable clay, and the hardness of the clay. It’s hard. Like slap it down on the floor and it doesn’t stick hard. Stretching it out requires a pretty plastic clay, which is somewhat hard to come by in my neck of the woods. However, when I was cleaning out the studio a couple of days back I uncovered some white clay from Seto that I had ordered a few years back for making Oribe ware. I mixed that 50/50 with some Karatsu clay and got something that while not ideal, is somewhat suitable for onggi work.
In the pictures below I slapped out 3 slabs and made a tall jar. If you make all of the slabs first, the construction process goes fairly quickly. It took me about 40 minutes to make the jar. The craftsmen I saw in Korea could make the same jar in 10-15 minutes. This jar is about 50cm tall.
The date for the fall firing is official! 2011/11/11. There must be some sort of astrological significance to this, be it good or bad.
Since I’ve been making a lot or work to go into the kiln for this firing, I’ve been constantly short on ware boards, so decided the best way to free some up would be to get the pots off of them by loading them into the kiln. This has the added benefit of breaking up the loading process so it is not so danged exhausting.
This afternoon saw the completion of the rear setting, all cone 6 ware give or take. E-Karatsu, Kawakujira, and Kohiki. Most everything is smaller and doesn’t have much height, so to fill in the higher spaces many of the pots were balanced on kiln posts. The added benefit to this is that if the temperature gets too high, the pots will collapse, invert around the posts and stick to them completely and utterly. Post-In-A-Cup.
The two jars are refires that had a lot of unmelted ash on the shoulders. In order to melt it, I’ve applied an ash glaze that should melt and flux the sintered ash underneath, hopefully. And, if I’m really lucky, they will slump or split in the firing, sticking to everything around them.
Although I dig a lot of my own clay, every now and then I find a bagged clay that I like, and use it for certain projects. Since getting the big wood kiln, I’ve done more of this, because I can blow a lot of clay in one firing, and wasting collected clays is a real waste of time and effort. Once I’ve nailed down how to fire the woodie, I’ll go back to my collected clays since my loss rate will be much less (or at least here’s hoping).
Shoko Todo in Ureshino has a couple of clays I like, one of them is called Karatsu Kishidake because the base clay in the formula is from the Kishidake area. It also contains a lot of very fine sand, which is something I really like. Still, I like to add things to bagged clay to improve it, and this is no exception. If a lot of fine sand is good, then a lot lot must be better, right? Perhaps not.
I started by adding about 15% of my own sand to the clay, and to my surprise it improved the workability, giving the clay more backbone. It also gave the trimmed surfaces more character.
For the next hump, I added about 25% extra sand. I should have known I was in trouble when I couldn’t even wedge the stuff without it splitting apart and having chunks fall out, sticking to the table more than the clay lump. When I started throwing the hump on the wheel, pots would split vertically as I pulled the walls, and I couldn’t get near as thin as with the 15% sand/clay mix. Most of the bowls I managed to finish still had rips in them that I had to go back and fix later. When trimming, this clay gave a very rough texture, and I really liked it, but not enough to go through the frustration of throwing the stuff again. Although, for small things like guinomi this clay is the bomb.
Below in the pictures are two trimmed feet for comparison. One is the 15% mix and the other 25%.
The simple handle-less teapots that I fired in the last wood kiln load all sold, which is very good news. Granted, not a lot of them survived the firing because wood tumbled over on them during the stokes. Not making that mistake again, combined with a larger batch of pots this time around should give me a good little stock of pots to sell.
These are spoutless, handle-less teapots, with vertical grooves cut on the interior where the mouth is, to allow the liquid to escape. They work surprisingly well, and are far easier to clean than a standard teapot strainer.
Also, (my apologies to the squeamish here) I ran into a strange thing on the way home the other day. A Praying Mantis had been run over on the road and its internal parasite was coming out. I couldn’t resist snapping a couple of pictures. These Gordian worms, or horse hair worms as they are sometimes called, really creep me out.
I finished the deco on the cups from the previous post a couple days back, and glazed them. After doing the iron brush deco, I gave them a THIN coat of clear glaze, very watery: about 32 on the hygrometer. The deco images were visible under the glaze when it was still wet, though once dry it was no longer transparent.
Here are the images of one of the cups before the glaze was applied.