Shivering and Dunting

I went to the ceramics studio last night with high hopes of collecting my latest two holey bowls that had been fired. The kilns had been broken for a while now so I was really eager to see how they turned out now the kilns were running again.

It was not as I expected!

I was faced with a kiln shelf that held the shattered remains of the two bowls. Strangely the glaze had vitrified and there was no slumping, so the bowls must have cracked and shattered during the cool down period of the cycle. Amazingly, another artist’s piece that had shared the shelf was unaffected, so although it looks as though the pieces exploded they probably just cracked, shattered and fell apart. At least that was good, as I would have felt dreadful if someone else’s hard work had been destroyed too.

161130_Shatter.jpg

We discussed this for a while and the studio director said she had never seen anything quite like it.

The glaze on one bowl had sloughed off, a situation she described as “shivering”, but it was odd that it had happened in quite large areas.

There was nothing unusual about the way I glazed the bowls, they were both dipped in the glazes and then left to dry as usual. With the kilns out of order for a couple of weeks I can definitely say the bowls were dry, so moisture should not have been a problem.

Afterwards, a search on the web resulted in the introduction of a new term  into my vocabulary – “dunting,” and also provided me with some fascinating scientific background to explain the probable cause.

As the ceramic cools down in the kiln below 1063°F (573°C) the silica molecules in the clay abruptly rearrange themselves and cause the pot to contract rapidly. The same occurs as the temperature drops to 439°F (226°C). These two temperatures are known as silica “inversion points,” and they set up lines of stress on the pot due to differential cooling. This effect is exacerbated by  the amount of silica in the clay used, the pot shape and even the thickness of the glaze applied.

It would appear to me that the holes in my holey bowls probably created additional areas of stress by causing uneven cooling of the sides of the bowl, resulting in catastrophic cracking.

At least that’s what I think happened!

It is annoying but it does also serve to illustrate just how precarious is the work of a ceramacist. Problems with creating the initial piece by hand or wheel merge into issues of potential cracking when the piece initially dries to leather hard, possible damage when turning the piece, and chances for chipping when dried ready for the bisque firing. The possibility of cracking and breaking during the initial fire is the next risk, followed by the risk of damage when removing and storing prior to glazing. And lastly, the risk of failing in the final glaze fire – both from the kiln cycle not being correct leading to glaze problems through under-firing or over-firing (I’ve had both) or, in this (the worst) case, catastrophic structural failure.

When I look at some delicate ceramic ware that artists produce I am truly amazed it actually survived all this – only then to be placed precariously on a shelf for someone to knock onto the floor!

I have another two holey bowls ready to be fired but, to be honest, I am a little worried about what will happen with these pieces too. I also need to create a couple more to replace those that were lost, although I may vary the design a little to reduce stress on the pieces, as I really liked the glazes of these two!

~Richard

52 Week Challenge: Week 48

WEEK 48: Artistic: Bokeh – A shallow depth of field is often used to isolate the subject. Create an artistic interpretation using shallow depth of field.

 

The term bokeh is used to describe the quality produced in photography by having parts of the image out of focus. I like to use this effect in many compositions but, seeing as we are nearing xmas I decided that I could use the lights on our tree to convey the shape of the tree itself without actually showing the tree. This is really an extreme bokeh effect. Let me know what you think.

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~Richard

52 Week Challenge: Week 47

WEEK 47: Landscape: Abandoned – Capture an image of that which others have forgotten. It may be the last image before it’s gone from us forever.

These are the abandoned smokestacks and factory buildings of a local Pennsylvanian steelworks. I deliberately focused through the chain link fencing as I think it adds a certain context to the imagery, as do the grasses growing in the yard.

161128_52Wk47Abandoned.jpg

~Richard

Short Story – Shattered View

Shattered View

It’s been over 6 months since I shared a photo related to the 52 week photography challenge but I didn’t share the short story I wrote to accompany the photo on my website. As it has been a while since I have shared a story on this blog I thought I would post it now in its entirety:

160429_Urban2

He looked out at the tops of the houses through the shattered window. The town was quiet now that it was daylight, although even the sun seemed to begrudge showing itself this morning. The battle had been unexpected, extremely violent but thankfully localized. Oh, and weird, to say the least. When the biker gang had ridden into town like some cowboy gangsters they hadn’t expected much resistance. They’d been before and got what they wanted without much trouble from the townsfolk. They hadn’t figured on the resentment that had been building up all year in anticipation of this day and so were totally taken by surprise when the doors of the convent burst open. The looks on their stunned faces were priceless, especially from their evil tattooed leader. He thought he was tough, but when faced with shotgun-wielding nuns screaming obscenities he, like the rest, was momentarily paralyzed with confusion. That’s all that was needed, as Mother Superior had predicted. The invaders had only managed one reflexive shot in response and it went high and broke the window up in the tower. And this gray morning the gravedigger was busy digging twelve holes…

© Richard Reeve, 2016

Haiku: Black Friday

~ B l a c k  F r i d a y ~

 

Tempers flare, shots fired

Ignored by the craving crowds

Black Friday indeed*

42

*Inspired, if this is the right word, by the depressing statistics on http://blackfridaydeathcount.com/ 

Somehow my abstract “The Meaning of Life” seemed an appropriate image (click image or here for more information)

~Richard

A stitchin’ time

We have an art show tomorrow so, as is usual, I spent some time this evening rushing around trying to get the entries framed, backed and wired. Of course this was after I had scanned the works so that we can keep copies and upload to our websites. This time around I am not entering anything but the “family studio” was represented through one of my daughter’s photographs and two of my wife’s acrylic paintings.

I still need to sort out my office, to make things easier, but my trusty Epson V600 scanner does a grand job, and for the larger paintings I take multiple scans and then stitch them together using the fabulously free Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor). This may involve 6 or more images on some of the larger works (like the chickens, below) as the scan bed is about 12” x  9” (30cm x 22.5cm).

Then I run the resulting image through GIMP to color correct as I still haven’t made the leap to Lightroom or Photoshop even though my daughter has these (I’m a creature of habit, I guess),  and we have the final saved images. It can be a bit of hard work for my old ASUS Pentium laptop, but it still manages it.

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161117_wildflowers

161117_hens

So, after a few hours of preparation everything is framed up and ready to be submitted to the show tomorrow.

What do you think?

161117_pix

~Richard

Our Own Installation Art

My daughter is currently putting together her art portfolio in order to apply to art colleges in Pennsylvania. This involves showing a variety of skills to add to her passions of animation and sculpture.

Over the weekend she finished her most recent addition – the adaptation of our oil tank in the basement into a  version of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. This is a sister piece to a great animation she made earlier in the year to the Fab Four’s famous song.

This certainly has brightened up the basement and is our very own piece of Installation Art!

161114_YellowSubmarine.jpg

~Richard

Holier Bowls

And so it continues. After the stress of this week I managed to get some time to continue with my latest hand made “holey bowl” This one is 10” (25cm) diameter and I decided to make the rim undulating rather than flat, so it was time to get the shaving tools out while the clay was still at the “leather hard” stage. I’m looking forward to getting this one fired as I have some interesting ideas for glazes that I want to try out too.

161113_HolierBowl.jpg

Anyhow it was nice to be able to disengage from the outside world for a while and concentrate to an artistic endeavor for an hour or so.

It’s definitely something I would recommend to induce calm at this time!

~Richard

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