After I tested gloss and white on the test tiles, I thought I’d try one more glaze. I bought some satin glaze and gave it a go. These are the results of both 

Satin Glaze

Gloss Glaze

 

I think the satin is nice and creamy has a slightly matt finish and gives the yellow a paler appearance. 

The gloss gives the yellow a much brighter appearance – much more vibrant. The shine appears sharp and defined. 

Now I have a decision to make…

My test tiles came out of the kiln after their first fire. This is called a biscuit fire. They have only gone to about 1100°C in the kiln, so now all of the chemical what I has dried out. Next I need to glaze them. I have decided to test a white glaze and a clear glaze. I quite like the colors the way they are the moment but I know that they will probably change again in the final stoneware fire. Most likely, get more intense. 

 When they go into the stoneware fire, it gets to around 1280°C. I need to make sure that there isn’t any glaze on the underside of the tile because if there is, the whole tile will stick to the kiln shelf. 

the white tile you see actually had pink in it. However in the final firing the pink out. Sometimes this can happen at stoneware temperatureI really like this colour palette. Soft pastels with a strong, dark blue. The clear glaze works best on these test tiles. 

Now it’s time for more calculations so I can work out how much stain to put in about 3 L of stoneware slip. I also decided to give the green another test because I didn’t like how the first test tile came out so I thought I would decrease the amount of stain and try again.


Here is the first batch of yellow cups drying in the sun. 


So before I use any stain powder, I have to test the mold. I test it for a few reasons: 1. To make sure the form is the right shape, 2. To time how long I need to leave the slip in before I pour it out again, 3. Check that the cup can easily be released  from the mold when it’s ready. 

You can see around the rim of the inside of the mold where the posture is getting drawn into the plaster. This is how you get an idea of how thick you’d like your cup to be. 

Then you pour the slip back out, into the bucket again. It can be re-used! I’ll leave it upside-down for about 30 minutes to drip dry. 

 The molds need to dry out again before I can use them. So back in the oven! 

The test cups look great! Happy with the form and how they release from the mold.  

So now I have a form I like, I need to find a colour I like. I picked up a bunch of sample stains to test out. I need to mix a small amount of Stoneware slip (that is liquid clay that I am going to make my cups from) with stain powder. So I made an ice-tray-like plaster mold to make test tiles out of. 


The mold needs to be made from plaster because when the slip is poured into it, the moisture is drawn out of the slip by the plaster. This also means the plaster needs to be totally dry before using it. Hence the oven picture. I chose the coldest, wettest week to pour these molds, so they needed a gentle heat and some airflow to dry them out. Even though I used the oven, it still took a week! 

When the ice-tray mold was ready, I tried out some stain powders, mixing small amounts of powder to slip and recording the ratios. Eg. For 50ml of slip, I added 3grams of Blue/green. 

As the plaster draws out the moisture from the slip tiles, they dry out and pop out of the mold. 


Next, they need a bisque fire, that is the initial fire in the kiln. This bisque fire ensures all the moisture is out of the clay before glazing. If there is moisture in the clay when it goes in for the glaze fire (that is 1280 deg Celsius) it can explode! 

First, I needed to make a ‘positive’. A ‘positive’ is the object you want to make a cast of, so my object is a cup. I made these two on a pottery wheel. They are solid forms so that when I pour the plaster over them, they won’t collapse.  


When they are ‘leather hard’ (that means they are half way between wet clay and dry clay), I can begin to make a mold. 

First, I turned the cup upside down in a bucket, then built some ‘form work’ (that is a wall for the mold) out of sheet metal (I used roof flashing. It’s cheap, from Bunnings). Then I mixed up some plaster and poured it over the cup. 

I am a self taught, Melbourne ceramicist making functional tableware, pots, vases and planters for everyday use. Focusing on simple, clean forms, contrast is seen in the glaze and textures of the stoneware clay. I have completed a Masters of Visual Art at Victorian College of the Arts in 2010, and am currently teaching art and design at a secondary college. My handmade stoneware is simple in design, and practical to use.

Here are some plates I’ve made recently. This satin, charcoal glaze contrasts with the gritty texture of the dark stoneware clay.