Final set of ceramic clay matroyoska dolls painted by CIndy Couling.

‘What if’s’ during the ceramic firing process – Pages 08/14/13

Opening the kiln is just like Christmas morning. It’s always a surprise, (and sometimes can also be a little disappointing.). It’s the anticipation. It often takes an entire day for the kiln to fire to temperature and then another day for it to cool down until it’s safe to open it. I always have to hold myself back from opening it just to have a peek (which is not good to do!)

Since we’ve been having some minor issues with the 06 glazes we’ve been using, we decided to fire a tiny bit higher to cone 05. The higher firing seems to have solved most of the issues, but it’s still not perfect. I am still seeing a few pinholes in the glaze which is maddening. I think I need to pay better attention to how much transparent top glaze I’m applying. Perhaps it’s too thick?

At least the first set of ceramic Matroyoska stacking Russian dolls came out really nice! The outside surfaces fired perfectly smooth. Further inspection inside shows me I went too light on the glaze and I’ll have to run them through the kiln a second time. I can’t seem to win with glaze right now.

This is one of the disheartening things about working with clay – there are so many ‘what if’s’ and opportunities for things to go wrong. Think about it. 1. First the clay piece needs to dry error free. Free of warping, cracks or breaks. 2. Next the bisque fire. Will it make it through the firing cycle without breaking, warping or exploding? Will it make it through the dozen or so things that could happen unexpectedly? 3. Glaze stage. What if I spend 10 hours painting something carefully or carving it and then pick the wrong glaze combinations?? What if  the glaze runs and my piece sticks to the kiln shelf?

What if? What if?

I guess this is part of the learning process with ceramics. I honestly think that even the guys who’ve been doing this for a bazillion years still have to deal with the the ‘what if’s’.

Here’s the final pottery Matroyoska doll set all lined up. Let me know what you think!