There's nothing like the moment when you look at your pieces fresh from a glaze fire. It is either intense like, or intense loathing.
Today was a massive haul, over thirty assorted hand built bowls, carved bowls, chattered bowls and cups. I set them out on the table - and some really moved me...but mostly I felt the overwhelming urge to simplify and better plan my glaze process. Here's some of the points I want to remember:
1. The more surface texture, the simpler the glaze treatment.
I really enjoy carving, chattering, texturizing the surface of my clay before it is fired. The effect always gives another layer of complexity with glaze application. Especially if you are fortunate enough to have access to a gas kiln (which I do). Knowing that so many different things can happen in the firing (oxidation and reduction), I need to remember to keep the glaze simple. The texture is one element or ornamentation. Getting too busy with the glaze just overpowers and complicates the piece. Since I'm crazy about texture, it's time to acknowledge that with glazing - less is more.
2. Stick with the colors you love, not the colors you think you "should" love.
I'm an earth tone girl. If you've ever been to my home, you can quickly confirm this. Browns, creams, dark oranges, deep reds and murky greens. I love the colors of fall. The glaze colors that bore me most are usually the ones that sell quickly at an event. As I've been trying to build inventory, I am finding that I am tempted to glaze based on what I think others want, as opposed to what speaks to me. Well, the moral of the story is...you don't change your preferences to serve everyone. You make what you love, and hope that the people who have similar tastes will come and find you. I work well with glazes that I love. I tend to not work well with glazes that feel unfamiliar to me.
3. Don't glaze in a rush.
I start off great. And then...I get overwhelmed. Bored. Tired. And I just want it to be over. Glazing is unforgiving. Like some evil, demented Santa Claus, it knows when you've been bad or good - so be good for goodness sake. Being fastidious in every part of the process promises consistent (if not great) results. Whenever I'm watching the clock, or I'm distracted by my own growing to do list - my work suffers. And that is NO good.
4. Don't hesitate to have a dress rehearsal.
I love making big bowls. I love carving big bowls. I do not love glazing big bowls. Why? Because depending on the foot I've given then, inserting that bowl in a giant bucket of glaze is incredibly difficult. I've tried tongs, I've tried all manner of clever grasps. I've tried swooping the bowl through a shallow wide tub of glaze. All of these techniques have worked. But each piece requires a different approach. Before actually glazing, it seems helpful to go through the motions practice the dip, the swoosh, the tong, whichever technique you plan to use. See if any step feels foreign or unsteady. Plan it out. If the dress rehearsal goes well...proceed. If not, revise the strategy. Avoid the oops.
5. If it "feels wrong"...wash it off and try again.
This is hard to do if you struggle with commandments 3 & 4. It is a lesson in patience. A lesson in diligence. Sometimes the best laid plans go wrong. You'll live to glaze another day if you take that piece of bisqueware and wash it off and leave it out to dry for a few days. Don't push it through to fire if you already know there's something you don't like. You'll only like it LESS when it's irreversible.
So there it is. After reviewing today's haul, I'm happy...but I could have been happier. I think I'll print these out and post them somewhere on my studio walls. Healer..HEAL THYSELF!