Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Memories are made of this

This being porcelain.Not surprising that God chose clay to fashion Man,if you ask me,rather than,say,starting with a monkey and trying to improve the model.Clay -and especially porcelain- already has a ferocious memory (quite apart from its ability to take an impression and therefore generate copies of itself,an early attempt at reproduction in the mineral world).I have been making a sieries of flat porcelain dishes for the forthcoming crystal-glaze ordeal:they are quite challenging technically,while being at the same time relatively quick to make once you get the hang (literally) of it;in my kiln,where I can't really use the bottom quarter if I want even heat in oxidised firings,they (being flat) give me just the right height of shelf,together with taller pots on top,to fill the kiln;also,being flat,so the eye doesn't see the outside of the dish,I can use a non-crystal-producing version of the glaze on the outside,which has the great advantage of not needing a stand-and-trough (see pic);the relatively-flat inner surface is a good canvas for crystal growth,and,by no means the least of their attraction- they sell well.
However...(and this took me a while to figure,being somewhat slow-witted and easily-distracted) when you take them semi-dry off the batts on which they are thrown and turn them upside-down to dry prior to trimming,as taught in the books,their bases proceed to bow out in an alarming fashion,remembering the downward hollowing pressure used by the heel of the left hand in their making.Since I don't leave too much thickness in the base,not wanting a particularly high foot,this led to the premature demise of quite a few pots as I tried to trim level the bowed base prior to cutting a foot.The solution,and consequent design feature,seems to be firstly (and gingerly) to push the domed untrimmed base back down with a firm kidney,then,having cut a standard rounded base,to push the still-dangerously-low middle section of the base down (again the kidney,again gingerly) until it is concave.Not only does this give the base profile an interesting variation,but it also forms a small convex island at the centre of the bowl itself,which,I hope,will prevent the runny crystal glaze pooling too much in the firing;if it makes some potter think "how/why did he make that bump in the middle of the bowl?" so much the better.
Is this at all clear?I shall now attempt to post some pictures to illustrate,each being worth a thousand words.And then back to work,there being still half-a-dozen more to trim,and another batch of larger bowls to make.We are promised rain,but most of the leaves are still on the vine,indicating that Winter is still a while off.


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