Saturday, January 19, 2013

Form - always something to explore

FORM - The shape and structure of an object is an ongoing source of fun, entertainment and challenge for potter as when it comes to clay there are almost no limitations. Pretty much everything what is in your head can be transfer to clay.

I am often asked by bonsai people to make some shapes of my pots in different dimension. Trees are living organisms, unique and original by its nature and so it is up to potter to fit the pot to the tree – not the other way around – it would not make any sense. Over the time I realized that the pure recalculation of different proportion to make pot smaller, bigger or higher just does not work. The form, when transformed by pure calculations does not only FEEL same, usually just plain looks odd. It needs different approach – it needs for me to understand what each form in its original size feels like, what on the form speaks (curves, horizontal shape, vertical shape, edges and details) and then transfer this exact same notion to different size. That seem to work for me much better and although I am still on the start point in exploring forms I like the transformed forms much better and they seem to feel right (I do not like to fire anything, which does not feel right to me and I did almost always destroy those done by pure calculations of dimensions)

I do include some photos to these little thoughts of my, but purely just for fun as pictures never speak much of size. Top bonsai pots are 210x122mm and 216x60mm, the tea boats are 680x110mm and 530x80, the bottom bonsai pots are 250x65mm and 295x107.

I hope you have as much fun exploring forms as I do…

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ash glazes in time of potter’s life

Ash glazes becomes part of wood firer’s life, each seem to define curtain period of potter’s life as over the time one finds that when it comes to ash glazes each batch is original. It can be made from one plant and still there is no guarantee the glaze will be same.

We had this great ash glaze from Japanese knotweed. This plant is listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the worlds 100 worst invasive species and we had it on our property, when we brought it - The only working way to get rid of this all killing and rapidly spreading weed is to cut it, burn all what was cut and keep on spraying all that grow and if necessary again cut it and burn it. After first burn we had quit good amount of ash to work with, the glaze (just wash ash with water) was amazing, our technical porcelain love it. It runs a bit, so Petr accommodate this “skirt” to his teapots to catch drips. It lasted us about 2 years. 

The next batch from freshly grown Japanese knotweed was much smaller and also much different, it run a lot and was more rather greener than golden green. There surely will be time in future, when we again will work with this weed ash, but it did not happened right away, because different ash glaze entered our lives, this time hay ash. Our friend cuted meadow high in mountain for the rare plants to grow again as they did in past, when those meadows were cut every year. As it was high in mountain and no farmer living close wanted the hay, they had to burn it – their car almost couth fire as they did not realized the ash was still warm enough to ignite. So we received very wet (from puting the car fire out) hay ash with parts of burned blanket in it with its own story already. And this glaze was just miraculous – milky yellow glaze with crystals loving almost every clay, we use. It lasted also more than two years. 

Then another hay ash entered our lives, it waited not washed for a while until its time came. It is very much different from the first hay ash we had, more transparent, less crystals forming, but it has this great visual difference when applied in different thickness and this wooden like natural look on one of our stoneware, that we decided not to play with it, but leave it as it is and enjoy its properties.

Different approach we took towards our nuka glaze (usually we mix nuka: 600g of custar feldspar Poběžovice, 400g of silica and 500g of wood ash). This glaze has great look on our stoneware clay Dorda (stoneware clay with addition of iron scaling). Thick, milky fine blue, subtle and not too yowling glaze. When we used new wood ash it changed its properties to more grey, more running, less milky glaze. We add silica (recipes is always just a guide line, no need to worry). So we are back now to our loving, our kind of blue version of this glazes now.

There is walnut shells ash waiting to be washed and tested to see what nature can offer in its unique composition, so perhaps the TIME OF WALNUT ASH is comming soon...