New Kiln Equals Business Growth

kiln-e28t-open-950

programmable L&L kiln

During the holiday season last year, I felt that I couldn’t get all the work fired that I needed to fire. I think part of that is knowing how and when the clay is ready to process and not to push it too fast. But, I also didn’t feel that I had the kiln space to push the work through. So, I have ordered a new kiln from The Kiln Doctor and hopefully, in 2-4 weeks, I will be up and running and working harder to fill it up.

The kiln that I currently have is over 35 years old. It has, and continues to serve me well but I feel that I need to upgrade to a programmable kiln and to give myself a bigger goal to work toward. The old kiln will still be used for smaller firings or to do the bisque work. It will continue to be in the basement. I inherited this kiln from my mother-in-law, many years ago, after she tried her hand at ceramics as a hobby.

Originally, the plan was to add a small building to the upper side of my studio to house the kilns. Due to money constraints, I am needing to add the kiln before I add the building. When we renovated the studio, we had the electrician run the wiring for the future kiln and those wires are available on the upper side of the studio, in the wall. Hopefully, he can extract those wires from the building and extend them out to the building that we call the “garage”. The garage has a concrete floor and a good size space to accommodate the larger kiln and then the next upgrade can be a new building so that I am not having to carry work between buildings for the different phases of the process. I can also put the glaze compressor in the garage and get it out of the garden pump room where it currently is. For now, the kayaks and the mower will have to find a new home until we can afford a kiln room addition onto the studio.

The new kiln is now going to be three times the kiln that I currently have and so I hope that, with my skills improving, and my desire to make larger items, that I won’t have any trouble filling this larger space. Growth is good and this is part of the process of growing the business.

Kiln Results

As you can see, I had some breakage in the firing from yesterday. This is the plate that had the glass on and I imagine that there may have been too much glass and that is the reason for the breakage. The colors did run together so now I will know in the future to either use one color or to place the color in the approximate area of where I want it to melt. This was the only casualty though because many of the leaves that I did turned out great.

The leaf in the foreground is from my earlier post with the glass strips laying on it.

The leaves that I put the glass on managed to melt and stay put and look like they are holding water. They are really pretty and I will definitely try this again because it seems that they did fine.

leaf with red glass

 

 

 

 

bird nest pins

These small bird nests were created with an extruder tool that is like playing in “playdoh.” I have lots of dies that create lots of fun shapes and textures. These were made using one that extrudes a spaghetti like string of clay and then I made small balls to be the eggs. The blue of the eggs aren’t as vivid as I would like so I may end up using an oil paint or an acrylic to color the eggs. They will make a nice little pin for a bird lover for Christmas.

I used  a metallic glaze on a few of the leaves so they look like they have been dipped in gold. They are incredibly shiny and will look like jewels on the Thanksgiving table.

metallic gold leaves

My winter garden will now be more complete since I now have markers to mark some of the greens that are not really traditional greens. I now have a marker for the Mache, the Arugula, my carrots, cabbage and broccoli. I don’t have Kolarabhi planted but when I get some seeds I will be able to mark those as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, the frog tiles. I did four of these and have bought some trivet frames to put these in. They are 4″ x 4″ and the frames are black. There are 2 black tiles, a green one and a chocolate brown one. I already have someone that is interested in purchasing a couple of these. They are fun because they look like fossil frogs appearing in the surface of the clay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And some additional images of the leaves:

fire engine red with celadon froth

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 oak leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

golden lustre glaze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

group of leaves

Creating Fall Leaves for Thanksgiving

Several weeks ago when Thomas was here and we played in the clay together, I made some leaves out of stoneware to put on the table at Thanksgiving. I have been wanting to make some of these for a long time. So today, I glazed them and have them firing in the kiln. I am also experimenting with using some stained glass and adding it on top of the clay item and letting it turn to liquid in the kiln. I have never done this before and a friend at work who does stained glass gave me some of his scraps so that I have several colors to place on the leaves and on a plate and see how they do. I am hoping that on the leaves that the glass will liquify and run into the veins that I drew in the leaves. I used fall colors and am hoping that the reds will really work.

The leaf is curved enough to hold the liquid glass and hopefully won’t run off onto my kiln shelves. On a few of them I put a shelf liner down to catch the glass in case it does run off.

The glaze colors that I used are a fire engine red, a celadon, lustre gold, lacy mauve, and a metalic gold and agate. The glaze colors are on test tiles that I make when I get a new glaze so that I know how it is going to fire in my kiln and to use as a reference to know what the color looks like. I have lined out the colored tiles as you can see here, as my fall palette.

I had made a platter with my fossil frog on it and am experimenting with the glass on this platter. This is how it looks before it goes into the kiln with pieces of glass just laying on the plate. I am wondering if the colors will all run together or will they move together and mix.

 

The kiln is then loaded with glazed items.  The leaves, the garden markers and a few of the frog tiles that I made at the same time I was working on the bench.  In a glaze firing the pieces aren’t allowed to touch each other or the kiln shelf if they have glaze on their bottom sides. The leaves are sitting on little stilts and the markers and tiles are just sitting on the kiln shelf. The firing will go for about 7 hours.

Late tomorrow (or maybe sometime Monday) we get to see how they look!  Giving them plenty of time to cool so that the glass won’t crack when exposed to the air.