Patience and Pottery Cycles

Vic shaping a pitcher on the wheel
Vic shaping a pitcher on the wheel

There are so many things that provide artists with fairly quick results; photography, some styles of painting, drawing…. It does not take too long before these artists know whether or not they’ve achieved their desired results.

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Squeezing a neck and spout into the pitcher

Of course there are many other arts that require patience, and that’s certainly true for pottery. Even so-called rapid fire methods, like raku, still require time and patience.

Making a Spout
Beginning to Form the Spout

With stoneware pottery waiting for the final results can be a very slow process. From mixing and preparing clay, through creating with clay, drying it, adding engobes or slips, drying a little more, adding handles or knobs or spouts, and drying a little more.

Pitcher Throat
Forming the throat of a spout.

Bisque firing the work, and hoping you’ve dried it enough to prevent warping or cracks from appearing, or engobes flaking off.

Finishing the Details
Finishing the Details

Adding dipped, poured, or sprayed layers of glazes. Drying the pottery again. Oh yes, and drying a full day between the layers to ensure that each glaze is completely dry before another layer is added.

Rack with pottery drying
Pots drying… waiting for trimming, handles and more

Possible firing another bisque, but this time with glazes on the work.

Handled Pitchers Drying
Handled Pitchers Drying

Waxing the pottery in places where you don’t want further glazes to adhere, especially the bases of the pots that stand on shelves in the kiln.

A Sweet Handled Pitcher
A Sweet Handled Pitcher

Applying additional glazes, and then waiting for these to dry before carefully loading the kiln for that all important final glaze temperature firing.

Trimmed Pots and Orders Drying
Trimmed Pots and Orders Drying

Of course it’s important to try to maximize the work coming out of a kiln. That means waiting until you have assorted sized items to take advantage of the space available. Yes, tons of waiting between every step.

Throwing a pitcher
Carefully Loaded Kiln

Once you’ve gone through all these steps you’ve probably been waiting anywhere from 6 weeks to 2 months for some of those special pots to make it to the shelves in your showroom. In fact, you sometimes wait so long you can’t remember what you were hoping to see. Maybe the waiting is a good thing; after all, every time you unload a glaze firing, you’re surprised, and while not every surprise is wonderful, you’re always excited and sometimes blissfully happy.

Unloading a Glaze Fire
Ah yes, time to unload the kiln. Say “ooooh.”

 

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