Matte Fired Stampy Bowls. December 02, 2011 22:19

Last year, after Christmas but before New Years, we spent a few days sitting at the table in our pyjamas watching movies and making clay stamps. We rolled out sausages of clay, cut them into short sections and then impressed the ends with everything from the heads of screws, the toothed edges of gears and the butt ends of pens to clay sculpture tools, pieces of fabric, string and even other stamps. We ended up with a couple hundred different patterns to use on our future projects. Besides the obvious choice to use them on our ever popular christmas ornaments Pixie really wanted to use them to decorate bowls. Stamps provide an easy and beautiful 3D treatment for clay and the combined use of many different stamps produces unanticipated design surprises. The rolled rim of these pots provides added strength to the most vulnerable part of the bowl as well as creating an aesthetically luscious lip. This feature combined with the stamps makes for a perfect surface for bringing out the full range of detail in the glazes. One of our most popular glazes, our floating blue, is a gloss fired glaze that breaks really nicely on the stamped detail showing a rich brown through the mottled depths of the blue. For most of our stamped pottery we prefer to use matte glazes though. Currently a spearmint green, a creamy yellow and a warm grey that breaks to brown are the colours that we're working with while several others have our interest for future work. These matte glazes require a cone 6 glaze firing that includes a controlled cooling segment to the firing. Once we've reached our peak temperature of approximately 2100°F we let the temperature drop to 1850°F before beginning a slow controlled cool down to 1450°F. This slow cooling creates tiny crystals in the glaze which fogs the glassiness of it and gives it a satin finish. Not only does it create depth to the glaze and create striking colour variations where it flows across stamped detail, it also creates a wonderfully tactile surface that is a delight to caress. Probably the most important features of our matte fired pottery is that they are absolutely food safe and very durable. One would think that this should be self evident but unfortunately many matte glazes being made are the result of glazes not being completely melted during firing. The consequence of this is that the chemicals in the glaze haven't fully undergone their chemical reactions and can be leeched into food. Furthermore the surface can be marred by cutlery, stained by food or discoloured by acidic liquids all of which are unacceptable in what is being sold as food safe pottery. On the table our large bowls make stunning serving dishes for anything from side dishes, salads and pasta to desserts or even party snacks like potato chips or fruit. Our smaller bowls add a bit of fantasy to any place setting whether you're using them for soup, salad, dessert or just cereal. Like all of our functional ware they're totally dishwasher and microwave safe. You can even use them in the oven but be careful not to take them quickly from hot to cold or to heat them unevenly. Remember, it's not the heat that will break a bowl but a sudden change of heat or a difference in temperature of one part of a bowl to the next.