Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I've been getting some amusing e-mails, asking why I keep writing about ceramics on this wood blog. Let me try to explain...

I love woodworking, but in an attempt to add color to the pieces I build, I've found that the best way is by adding ceramic tile. While much of my focus has been on tile making, I'm discovering that the process of glaze making is quite interesting.

Who knew!?

Formulating my own glazes allows me to add a dimension to my work that is simply amazing. It compliments the wood, much like adding paint to a canvas. Speaking of that, if you look on my website, on the "Custom Tile" page, you'll read about "Doug's Table," one of my favorite pieces. It's pictured here.

Doug was a painter who commissioned me to build a table to display a painting of hers. The painting is protected by a sheet of tempered glass; the table is completely functional. Complimented by the colors in her painting, the mahogany glows. This piece is stunning.

So adding tile isn't the only way to add color to furniture, there are many options. I've experimented with milk paints, worked with aniline dyes, and dabbled in inlay, but I keep going back to the one I like best - handmade ceramic tile.

Friday, February 23, 2007

#7 - RIO 12.5
Rutile 1
Cop. Carb 1.5

#8 - RIO 12.5
Rutile 1
Cobalt Carb .5
(This one runs the least)

#5 - RIO 12.5
Rutile 1
Cop. Carb .5

#6 - RIO 12.5
Rutile 1
Cop. Carb 1

These glazes are all based on the formula for WaterFall Brown, in the book Mastering Cone 6 Glazes by John Hesselberth and Ron Roy. It's an incredible book, worth every penny spent on it.

In fairness to the men who came up with this original glaze, I won't include the base formula. It's hard enough to sell books as it is, so posting their recipe isn't fair. But in their book, they challenged everyone to play with their recipe. I am posting the modifications I tested.

All of these tests were applied to a medium color clay (Long Beach) and like the authors suggest, it runs like crazy. In my next tests, I will experiment with flux levels, to try and
lower the amount of flow on vertical pieces.
All numbers below are based on percentages.

#1 - RIO 5
Rutile 1

#2 - RIO 0
Rutile 1
3195 +3% (29% total)

#3 - RIO 10
Rutile 3

#4 - RIO 10
Rutile 2

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

While I've never considered myself a ceramist, I have to admit I've learned a good deal about the subject. There are cycles to my madness, I'll read, read, read, only to head to the studio for a month or two of tests.

And then.....more tests!

These glaze samples were recently done, and are quite interesting. The color balance seems to be a bit off when I transfer the images from my camera to this blog. But - the close-up of glaze #1 (below) reveals the merits of slow cooling.

Many thanks to John Hesselberth and Ron Roy for getting me started down the right path. And to the crew at Aardvark Clay for their guidance.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

There comes a time in every artist's life when they have to make some decisions about the direction of their work. It's often a hard, confusing time, where financial matters are offset by artistic expression. In some circles, it's known as the big sellout.

Or not.

If attention is paid, an artist will probably remember the piece that sent them to this precipice. I remember mine; it's this newspaper/magazine holder that I made in the late 1980s.

I opened Wood It Is!, a small gallery near Akron, Ohio. My original concept was that we would only feature work from woodworkers. No paintings, ceramics, prints or glass....only wood. And while it was marginally successful, it attracted many woodworkers, who would stop by to chat and check out the competition. It morphed into a woodworking supply store; I sold far more lumber, veneer and inlays than I ever sold furniture. But custom pieces became commonplace. Customers would venture in, look around, and see a piece they wanted, like a desk or a cabinet. But they would want it in a different wood, or a different finish. To stay afloat, I found myself making (and selling) custom pieces, exactly they way the customer wanted them to be made.

The defining moment for me came when a customer commissioned me to build them a small newspaper holder. I came up with a few sketches, none of which they liked. So they came up with their own drawing, I'm not sure who designed it or sketched it on the napkin on which it was presented. And WHAM! the moment was at hand- to build or not to build?

Rent was due, business was slow, and ... and ... I built it.

The big SELL OUT was initiated...

To be continued...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Still in a ceramic mode, but I'll be starting a new piece of furniture shortly.

Meanwhile, enjoy the latest sushi ware.