Putting off the Inevitable

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Are there any other potters out there that truly despise glazing?

I let the rack pile up with bisque-fired pots, until I can no longer ignore them (like there might be an avalanche!).

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I usually wheel throw 6 pots at a time and then hand-build them into something more interesting. Next I take them home from the pottery studio and I under-glaze them. Under-glazes are very much like acrylic paints.  you can mix the pigments up and get pretty much what you were expecting.   Red + yellow= orange underglaze.  They go on while your pottery is still wet or the term greenware which means it has not been fired at all.

Glazes go on after the pieces have been fired once, which is called a bisque-firing.   Glazes are nothing like paints.  They’re more like chemistry experiments.  You cannot take a red glaze and a yellow glaze and expect them to make orange.  Each glaze is made from natural mineral compounds that do their own thing in a fire and each have different chemical reactions when combined.  A red glaze plus a yellow glaze could wind up creating a white/purple/brown reaction which is nothing close to a color wheel orange.  What I’m getting at is that all my knowledge as a painter is completely useless as a potter.  There are all different rules to the game and so much to experiment with and then hope to memorize for future use.

In a nut-shell, pottery glazes are highly unpredictable.  You either go with the flow and accept the good experiments with the happy little accidents or you fight to the death for control over the wild beast that usually winds up biting you in the rear and dragging you out into the forest (or the dumpster!).  I would be the latter.  I’m a fighter.  I’m always trying to figure out how to ignore all the knowledge that has come before me and try to do it differently  .I use under-glazes because I can control the colors I want to see, I use regular glazes like grout – filling in all the crevices with glaze and then wiping the rest off.    The inside of my pots is where I take the most risk.  I will mix 2-3 glazes and let them run and drip however they want.  This way each pot has highly controlled areas and an area or two left for some magic.

I’ve tamed the beast enough to occasionally get bitten, but mostly, I stay out of the forest of no return.  Crazy-fighter actually works for me.  For the most part I don’t have to dump too many utter-fails and I have created a unique style.  My own method-to my-madness you might say.

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Either way, glazing day still makes me flinch.  It’s do or die time.  For all my hard work, it is the one step which will make or break the pottery piece.  That can feel like a lot of pressure.

But, in order to succeed, you have to play the game.  So, I play.  I take the gamble and hope for some cool finished products. Plus, who doesn’t want to slay fantastical beasts?

 

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