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!