When the Kiln Gets Too Hot

On Saturday morning I was recovering from a severe hangover by lying in my underwear and moaning loudly on our purple couch. A bird was chirping outside the window and although I was thoroughly out of sorts, I knew it was a bird I’d never heard before. I dispatched Isaac to investigate, he called through the window, “It’s a baby!” Walking outside in nothing but a singlet and a pair of purple undies, too hung over to give a shit about the neighbours seeing me, I observed that Isaac had found a fledgeling thrush. We took the bird inside and placed it in a box with a towel over the top while Isaac mowed the lawn and I lay on a different couch moaning and making sure the cat didn’t get too curious. The predator in question was indeed very curious but was also far too well trained to jump onto the table.

After the lawns were neatly trimmed be took the bird, safely in its box, outside to the hedge opposite our house. I watched (in actual clothes this time) as Isaac wedged the box high into the bush away from wanton cats, the fledgeling could leave if it wished or stay in relative safety.

It was about an hour later that we were confronted by this scene as we prepared to leave to go to my sister’s exhibition.
I’d just like to quickly mention that our cat is microchipped and wears a collar with a bell, which seems to have protected the birds in the area thus far.

Just before I snapped these pictures, Tandem had accidentally batted the fledgeling off the edge of the box with her tail without realising it. The fledgeling was fairly unconcerned, it fluttered down to the ground and took off into the bush to avoid the cat. Tandem proceeded to climb onto the unsteady box, cry, and search for the no longer present bird. The carton wobbled and Tandy attempted to back off, only most her weight was on the box already, she’d come too far, she was stuck. She cried.

And we laughed.

Where is birb?

Later that evening when we returned home, I spent some time brushing sticks, leaves and tree gum from Tandy’s coat. She liked that.

So many foxes to finish!
So many to put on the website!

I’ve had a problem in the past with finding an item on my web store that I’d just sold at a festival. I’d need to find it and remove it from the website so that it doesn’t get sold twice. It gets confusing when multiples of something have been made, I have to start looking for minute differences in the shape and paint. This has become even harder with the addition of fox and bear pins to the store, so I’ve started working on a SKU system.

Now every item in the store has a SKU code and I should hopefully never have that problem again! It’s been super fun to work on, building my own secret language like I did with my sister when we were kids. I’ve had so much fun with it that I’ve been procrastinating doing my other freelance work and I feel like I finally deserve every time I was dubbed a nerd in my life.

Look. I’m using pastel highlighters. It is very exciting.

When The Kiln Gets Two Hot
a tale of woe

I’ve had plenty of ceramic disasters this term, from the kiln running too hot, my ceramics getting a little too close to the kiln sides, to utter and total ceramic shattering failure. After one particularly gruelling week, the week that I went home to cry in the arms of my husband, my tutor congratulated me on coming back; “you know someone is a real potter when they face that kind of heartbreak, pick themselves up and keep potting.”
I walked away from that conversation and said to Isaac, “did you hear that??? He called me a potter, I’m a real potter!”
Put that on my gravestone guys, I’m a real potter now.

This is a good example of a small failure. I won’t share my worst story because that one deserves a fucking essay of its own. I’ll share that story in the new year, once my heart has healed. This cup was a commission for my neighbour, I spent some time illustrating it with dice, this was to be his DnD mug after all! The purple paint is made from cobalt oxide and goes a beautiful navy blue once fired.

But alas, the mug was over fired and the detail was lost. Still a beautiful mug and makes a gorgeous “ting” sound when flicked, but the illustration is now a sad blue smudge marring the side of the cup.

This happened because the glaze is essentially glass, the hotter the kiln gets, the more the molten glass wants to run down the side of the cup, pulling my hard work and all my dreams down with it.

Some victories

I’ve been working on this pot for the last couple terms, I’ve had to put it off for ages to finish my commissions but now she is finally out of the kiln.

I created this planter from a black clay imported from LA. It’s an interesting clay to work with and takes to hand building well. Its high magnesium content makes glazing difficult though so I left it unglazed and decorated it with white slip and white underglaze. Around the side of the pot is a quote from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and illustrations of the native New Zealand puriri moth.

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am.”
Sylvia Plath

I may have accidentally left out the word “old” but let’s pretend I didn’t fuck up one of my favourite quotes. The pot now houses my chain of hearts which is looking rather magnificent cascading down the livingroom wall.

This next piece has my logo slapped over the centre to keep it a little bit secret, but this is for the commission I’ve been spending the last few months creating. This is the job that has caused the most heartbreak I’ve ever had from a piece of ceramic but it has also been an incredible learning curve. I will go into more detail in another post, but for now, I’m just glad some of these fuckers made it through that goddamn kiln alive.

This is quite possibly my last post for 2017 so I’m going to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year! I hope to see you all back here in 2018. ~~<3

Becky Hunt

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