Monday, March 22, 2010

What's New

It's been awhile since I've written, have been sick...and absorbed with some new stuff I'm working on.   Thanks to Jenni of Foreverbeading I was inspired to make my Cheshire Cats into beads.  I'm pretty excited about them so far.
I've also been working on some more designs where I incise an image into the moist clay. It gives a stamped appearance but it's an original each time.
I started to make another raven today, but it ended up being a dragon.  I try not to fight the process to much because if it didn't want to be a raven, it wasn't going to happen. 

 I think I'll try to do something where I give it a light coating of glaze and stuff most of it in the pressed design. Can't wait until it's dry and bisque fired!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spectrum Raku Glazes, Amaco Raku Glazes

So I've been really getting immersed into my raku firing.  I started out with Amaco Raku Glazes and I do like them, but I'm really excited about my new Spectrum Raku Glazes .  I do my raku firing on a very small scale, I have a small kiln about 8 inches by 8 inches. My "receptacle" is a repurposed metal pot with lid.  My "organic material" of choice has been by far to be newspaper, newsprint-not the colored ads. From my own tests and experiences I have learned this :
  1. don't allow a lot of open space inside the "receptacle"
  2. newspaper is superior because it readily ignites and doesn't mar the surface as much
  3. allowing the item to sit in the flames with the can open has produced more dramatic color effects and thicker smoke which helps blacken unglazed surfaces better
  4. always use the recommended three coats of raku glaze for best results.
  5. Stoneware clay makes an excellent raku clay
Of course, this is my own personal observation, but since I've been following this, I've had better results with my pieces.

Spectrum Gator Skin is my new favorite. If anyone is just starting out and only buying one color, this is the one I recommend.  Applied thin, it gives an almost dappled streaky copper look. Applied thick, it looks very much like the sample picture.  It is a gorgeous matte color.  With a thick application it gets nice and crusty. It's a more expensive color but very well worth it in my opinion.
This picture is good for showing the glaze in thick and thinner applications. Applied thinner it is more earthy and dappled brown.
The pendant above has the "gator skin" put into the grooves of the heart.  Then I put 3 coats of Amaco white raku glaze. They seem to react very nice together, developing a warm silvery ivory to shades of copper.

Spectrum Nebula is another shade that I purchased.  This one is a bit trickier to work with, but I think I've discovered a trick.  Without enough time in the flame, "Nebula" is kind of a flat aqua shade, but if you give it enough time in the flame, it becomes very worthy of it's name. What I ended up with was : 
Blues, reds, and copper colors mainly.  It can produce a pretty rainbow effect.

Another color I purchased was Spectrum Cobalt .  So far I've gotten a few different results. None quite like the picture shown when I ordered it, but still very attractive.  I've gotten a deep slightly transparent blue, and with optimal conditions a lot of silvery metallic as well.

This is the cobalt. I used the gator skin for the beak, a very thin coat (produces a pretty rusty color).  I also rubbed some of the gator skin into the letters. When the two react, I've gotten a bit of a golden hue surrounding. 

This is what happens if there is not enough reduction going on in the "receptacle"
Still a pretty color, but not very dramatic.

I still like my Amaco raku glazes quite a bit. My favorite colors are white:
Copper Patina:
and Bluebell:
Hoping this helps anyone looking for some visual examples of some of the glazes out there. Please feel free to message me if you have any questions about any of my experiences with these colors.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

More Favorite Glazes to Recommend- Stroke & Coat

It's been a busy week! Have been trying out some new raku glazes, with promising results, but no pictures quite yet.

I wanted to mention a line of glazes that I have discovered. Mayco Stroke & Coat  glazes are pretty great.  For one thing, they are almost true to shade.  It makes it easy to plan a design because the colors will be fairly close to the finished color, though usually a bit lighter. This glaze works wonderfully with a "watercolor" effect, if you top with a matte or glossy clear glaze. It works like an underglaze, but with 3 coats it doesn't need a clear glaze.
This pendant has several "watercolor" layers of "stroke & coat" followed by a layer of clear.  I used a mixture of blues, greens, pinks, and yellows. 
Here I have used the Tuscan Red, Tuxedo, and  It's Sage.
Here is the Hot Tamale, thinned with water, 1 coat then sealed with clear. Dandelion yellow center.
One technique I love is to coat a piece in black, then remove most of it with a wet sponge.

It settles into the incised designs and creates an almost pen and ink look.
Lastly, I've used the "stroke & coat" with raku firing as well. I do like to give it a coating of clear, just to avoid having a color change. I like the way the clear crackles a bit during the process. I've also had some luck mixing the colors, the toucan's beak was created by mixing Tuscan Red and Dandelion Yellow. His eye rims were done in The Blues.

This line of glazes is great when you want a nice basic way to add dependable color.  It can be layered to help with depth. There are some pieces where I really just want certain colors in certain places and this brand is perfect for achieving that purpose.