Today is the first load of bisque aimed at the fall firing of the wood kiln. About 28 ware boards worth of pots, I really tried to get as much packed in as possible, to maximize the gas used.
I don’t pack glaze firings very tight because I want the calories getting around to everything, but for bisque I’m not too picky.
700C – 750C is my usual peak temp, I like the ware to be very absorbent for glazing, however the resulting ware is quite fragile and needs careful handling.
This time around there are quite a few slab plates of various shapes and sizes, which I am a bit worried will crack. These are stacked on spacers, then more spacers between stacked plates, because I don’t want to take any chances with cracking. The rest of everything is pretty safe, so packed and stacked without too much thought other than to get as much in as possible.
Lately I’ve been spending all my potting time making large stuff for the next firing. It takes forever to dry, and I need extra time to bisque it all. Yup, all of it. No more cracked pieces because I glazed them raw and effed up.
So I was at a big drinking party the other night. My neighborhood mens group gets together bi-monthly to catch up and eat good stuff. A good custom overall. Anyway, the guy who hosted the party turned out to be a sake enthusiast as well, and while everyone else was drinking shochu (a hideous drink fit only for odd, uncivilized folk… just kidding….), he broke out a bottle of the local brewery’s best, and two very nice guinomi, one wide and shallow and one deep and tall. The hira-sakazuki (low, flat one) was a beautiful blackish red uber reduced surface, and made from really nice clay that contained quite a bit of iron, was fairly fine, and which was trimmed to perfection. The taller guinomi was Bizen Karatsu style, otherwise called yakishime. Neither were signed so I have no idea who made them.
The gorgeous hira-sakazuki inspired me to get back on the wheel and start making smaller work for the next firing. I started with hira-sakazuki and finished with Karatsu style tea bowls. It was nice to be back in the saddle, and the clay, which came out of the ground near my house, was beautiful to work with now that it has aged a few months since I processed and pugged it.
I ended up spending more time than I wanted on each of these, forcing myself to slow down the wheel and throw slowly, with as little motion as possible. I wanted these simple shapes to remain simple and not look too refined. One of the buzzwords for Karatsu ware is ‘Soboku’ 素朴, which roughly translates as ‘rustic’. Too much handling and you lose that quality. Spent all of that time processing local clay, it would be a shame to waste it by over-handling it. All of these pots will get a thin to medium coat of 90%spar and 10%ash. Maybe a couple of the sake cups will get a thin coat of iron and ash.
I’ve spent the better part of the last week working on a wedding gift order. In Japan, the guests give the marrying couple cash, and the couple gives their guests presents.
Here are the yunomi and small plates for the bride. The yunomi were altered, carved, then given a slip deco, the plates given iron brush deco ( irises with grass and birds), and they are all going in the bisque this weekend.
There is a small artist show at the house and garden of another potter here in town. I have a small space there for the next 3 days. Quite to my surprise, there were many guests on the first day, and I even made some sales, though I wasn(t really expecting to.
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.
This last weekend we had the show in Karatsu. It was a 3 day weekend, so we did Sat, Sun, Mon. Well, if you are thinking about having a show on a 3 day weekend, let me give you a little advice: don’t. Everyone goes somewhere else. The first two days were absolutely empty, and it was only the during the last day that I was able to make some good sales. Thanks to guests from Osaka, Kyoto, and Chiba. I guess they were using the 3 day weekend to get out of their respective areas as well.
Well, lesson learned. Overall, it was still a very enjoyable experience, with lots of time to sit and chat with friends over tea. The highlight of the show was without a doubt, the shiboridashi teapot with the river crab knob. It is a pure silver crab holding a ruby in his right claw.