Makin' It! April 23, 2011 10:05

  It's no big secret that we savoured every flake of snow that fell this winter because it added to our resolve to stay in the studio and work. For the last few months our lives have been dominated by making pottery but for the last few days it has been almost feverish! We've never subjected our electric kiln to such a marathon of back to back firings but it is definitely the little engine that can. The pottery glazed in blue, white and amber glazes are a straight cone 6 firing (which means that the kiln heats up to about 2100°F in 11 hrs). The green, grey, and cream coloured glazes are cone 6 but require a controlled cool to bring out small crystals in the glaze which cause them to have more of a matte finish (heating the kiln to 2100°F in 11 hrs and then allowing the temperature to drop to about 1400°F gradually over the course of the next 5 hrs). Beyond this the white pottery with the owls require a third firing to burn the decals into the glaze but this firing is considerably cooler and takes less time. So with our bowls, tumblers, plates and mugs sorted as to the colour we want them we dip the bottoms in liquified wax and then dip them in the glaze. Of course some pieces have details coloured in different glazes which means we need to brush these on and then use a wax resist over them to repel the glaze that we dip the entire piece into. We've been loading and starting the kiln at night before bed and in the morning the firing finishes. It then takes the entire day for the kiln to cool enough that it can be unloaded and the next round loaded in. Unfortunately the entire cycle takes a little more than 24hrs so everyday we've had to stay up just a little bit later to unload and reload the kiln. Last night it wasn't until after midnight that we got the kiln started. However, if we can get a load of white pots with the decals ready then we may be able to earn a few hours back because those firings are considerably shorter.   With the Make It show in Calgary coming up in less than a week now you might expect that we'd be starting to feel a lot of stress with this punishing schedule of kiln firings but actually we're having a lot of fun. There is something very satisfying about this balancing act and every time we open the kiln it's like Christmas. As much fun as being feverishly busy making new work that we're proud of is, it wouldn't be quite as enjoyable if we weren't allowed this slow, undemanding time every morning to sit and drink our coffee and to plan the intricate course that the rest of the day is going to take.