Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 4--Glazing!

On day 4, we opened the kiln and further checked the status of our greenware pieces (greenware is when the piece is "gray clay"). Although some of my pieces were awkward looking, all of my pieces survived the firing process. One student's fish broke in the kiln; for large, closed-air pieces you need to make a small air hole somewhere. Otherwise, the air can basically get trapped in the piece and the piece can explode.  Whereas they started out as gray-colored pieces, once our greenware was fired, the pieces had a pale pinkish hue to them.

We spent a large part of the day glazing the pieces. We were also able to see the tiles from the previous day. I had assumed that underglaze was still "shiny" like conventional glazes, but I was
incorrect. Underglaze is basically a matte-like finish.

The glazes that we used were all from a company called Mayco. Deborah had small ceramic shards that featured the glaze colors; that way, we could get an accurate idea of the actual color once the piece was glazed.  The specific Mayco glaze we used was "Stroke N Coat." This glaze is excellent for classroom situations since it is easy to apply, has reliable color, and can be fired in many different situations. I have to admit that the Language Arts teacher in me simply LOVED the names for the glazes: Moody Blue, Teal Next Time, Silver Lining, Green Thumb, Old Lace... these names all made me smile:)

Deborah described the firing process to us, informing us of the various cones and temperatures that needed to be used. We fired with one 04 and our pieces eventually reached a temperature over 1900 degrees Fahrenheit. Honestly, the firing process specifics completely baffle me. I never realized how much science was involved with clay and ceramics.

Using glaze is tricky because even though the glaze container shows the hue, the color is always darker after it is glazed. Using multiple color glazes is also challenging; you have to keep a steady hand. Another key to using the glazes is to make sure that you use 2-3 even coats of the glaze. Although we were essentially "painting" our pieces, doing all of them at once took quite a bit of time. I'll admit that I found myself getting lazy and "cutting corners" with some of the multiple coats of glaze.This laziness happened when I glazed the small sushi plates. The pieces looked like they were sufficiently covered with glaze; it was only until day 5 that I saw the impact of my laziness. (cue suspenseful music: dun, dun, dun)...

This is my coveted mug. I glazed it in "grape" (there's 2 layers of glaze, but it is hard to see. I decided to make the stars a bright blue-- painting those stars was a pain!)

These are our pieces in the kiln. The glazing process is deceiving. All of the pieces look muted and neutral. Patience will make them vivid and unique. 

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