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Lonna

How To Complete A Mistake? Please Help

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Hello to all,

This is my first post so bare with me. I have learned so much over the years from all of you insanely knowledgable people, I am hoping you can help me once again. I started playing in the studio a few weeks ago and long story short ended up with a 22" tall hare, my very first sculpture since grade school. In the midst of my excitement, I realized the clay I was "playing" with was Highwater,s little loafers; not exactly a sculpting clay. Having no idea what I was doing, I did hollow it out the best I could and dried him out over several weeks. I need to fire him now and have several questions.

If he lives through the bisque firing, is that enough? I would choose a non-fire finish?

Should I once fire him all the way to cone 6? Again, a non fire finish.

Any suggestions on firing schedules?

I would soooooooo appreciate any suggestions or ideas to help me complete this rookie mistake.

Thanks so much, Lonnapost-18649-0-57591600-1412605967_thumb.jpg

post-18649-0-57591600-1412605967_thumb.jpg

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I would think that the texture would be enhanced by a light wash of iron oxide. I really think light wash as you don't want him too dark. At the same time, I would consider washing off the surface perpendicular to the linear texture to leave a little more of the wash in the valleys. It is a beautiful piece, and firing could be either way, but with the wash I would bisque then wash and fire again. You may want a little heavier wash on the ground to help separate him from the ground.

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I'm no expert, but methinks you don't have a mistake at all.  I wouldn't worry about the clay body, but just make sure that it's really dry when you bisque.  Then iron oxide or whatever you choose, and then I would fire it to ^6 to harden it up.  It's a beautiful piece.  :)

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You say that you hollowed it out as best you could; how thick is the thickest area?  I'm a sculptor too, and I'm not terribly particular about getting all the walls to be the same thickness, but I do try to keep things under 1/2".  I would suggest that you preheat the piece for a long time if it hasn't been drying for more than a few weeks.  I prefer to play it safe and preheat regardless of how long the piece has been drying.  The alternative to losing a few bucks on electricity could be losing a sculpture that took you days to make,  To me, there's no question which way I'm going on that decision.  I've tried firing without a long preheat and with a long preheat, and I can tell you that it makes a huge difference.  I never lose sculptures if I preheat, but I've lost week's worth of work allowing someone else to bisque it without preheating. Because it uses so little electricity, I usually preheat for about 12 hours under 200 degrees.  Then I go with a slow bisque.  There are posts on here regarding suggestions for a slow bisque schedule.  

Jayne

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what information do you have that makes you think little loafers will not work for sculpture?  have you called highwater to ask their technician or the owner or anyone who really knows?

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Why is the clay body a problem? I use little loafers every day and its fantastic, not for sculpting, but sometimes I make some pretty large bowls with and they hold up just fine. As far as the sculpture goes, it looks amazing. Make sure you give it plenty of time to dry, and then do a preheat for a good duration like Iscuplt recommended. Before you make any final decisions I would make some test tiles with the types of grooves you have on your hare and try a bunch of different washes and light glazes to make sure its what you want before you do it. 

 

Beautiful work, take the time to make sure it's finished right.

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The clay body should be okay; the real challenge will be preventing cracking during firing. You'll need to think about using either a thick layer of grog on top of the kiln shelf, which will allow the sculpture to expand/contract during firing, or use some clay slats or cookies underneath. The slats will also allow for a more even cooling, which is especially important given the size/height. If just put on the kiln shelf, the bottom will stay hot longer as it will be slow to release heat and is sitting on an equally hot kiln shelf. Go slow on the firing, as others have recommended -- real slow.

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Carl, the bandana says " Karma". When finished he will be holding a sterling carving set. I am surrounded by hunters!

 

Bciske, do I need those slats for the bisque firing? He is so tall I am going to have to sit him directly on the floor of the kiln. I obviously will have more room for the glaze firing. Could you please explain those in a little more detail; how thick do they need to be and how close together should I place them?

 

Thank you all for your help and kindness, I will definitely sleep better tonight! Again, the collective knowledge in this community is simply amazing.i

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Bciske, do I need those slats for the bisque firing? He is so tall I am going to have to sit him directly on the floor of the kiln. I obviously will have more room for the glaze firing. Could you please explain those in a little more detail; how thick do they need to be and how close together should I place them?

At least 1/4 inch, maybe 3/8ths, about an inch wide. I would make enough so you have about one inch or so between them and enough of them so they start and end with the ends of the base. Don't worry if they crack or break, you just want them to be a buffer between the kiln shelf and the sculpture and to let air circulate underneath the sculpture. Since you are setting the sculpture on the kiln brick floor, which is not likely covered with kiln wash, the floor surface will be rough and likely to snag the sculpture. If you have a floor vent for the kiln, do not cover the floor holes used by the vent.

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I agree with Carl. If you haven't done a sculpture, since grade school, I can only imagine what your work would look like, had you kept with it. That sculpture is very impressive, both in terms of scale and the detailed sculpting.

 

With something that big, I'd definitely be overly cautious, when it comes to letting it dry. Give it more time, than you think you need to air dry, then fire very slow. The cookies do not need to be bisqued first. I actually used extruded coils on a large slab relief that a student made. We put the coils on the kiln shelf, then carefully slid the relief onto the coils.

 

I also suggest a mason stain. It gives a nice "aged" look.

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Have you thought of drilling a hole or two in it?

 If you do after the bisque you can fill the holes with some slip.

 What makes pieces break is a buildup of steam and pressure. If the steam can escape it should be fine. You could also dry it in an over for a few days...

 It is amazing what lengths you can go to to fire a piece. Good luck with it.

 B

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Have you thought of drilling a hole or two in it?

 If you do after the bisque you can fill the holes with some slip.

 What makes pieces break is a buildup of steam and pressure. If the steam can escape it should be fine. You could also dry it in an over for a few days...

 It is amazing what lengths you can go to to fire a piece. Good luck with it.

 B

 

Um, hate to disagree with you on your first post but there is no need to drill holes in it. Even pots with enclosed air pockets will not explode if fired when dry, any form with a rolled rim or hollow handles for examples. It just takes longer to dry since there is a reduced surface area for the moisture to evaporate from. 

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Have you thought of drilling a hole or two in it?

 If you do after the bisque you can fill the holes with some slip.

 What makes pieces break is a buildup of steam and pressure. If the steam can escape it should be fine. You could also dry it in an over for a few days...

 It is amazing what lengths you can go to to fire a piece. Good luck with it.

 B

 

Um, hate to disagree with you on your first post but there is no need to drill holes in it. Even pots with enclosed air pockets will not explode if fired when dry, any form with a rolled rim or hollow handles for examples. It just takes longer to dry since there is a reduced surface area for the moisture to evaporate from. 

 

Yes but how sure can you be that it is all the way dry. I've been  making sculptures for years. The ones that blew never had any holes in them. Pieces can pick up enough moisture to blow up by sitting on a damp spot on the working surface.

 Clay that has a lot of grog in it is not nearly as likely to explode.

 Little Loafers is not a groggy clay.

  BTW this is not my first post. My email account was hacked and every thing in it went to hell.

 Could you be a little more condescending? I am not really good with subtlety.

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I didn't find Min's post to be condescending at all.

The "Air pockets cause explosions" myth is one that has been perpetuated for a long time. I myself am guilty of spreading it, as that's what I was taught. In fact, the only reason I know, and now teach otherwise, is because of discussions we've had on these forums.

 

Min clearly and respectfully stated the information. A hole is not necessary, but will expedite the drying process. I put holes in all my sculptures, and hollow out thicker portions, for this reason.

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Have you thought of drilling a hole or two in it?

 If you do after the bisque you can fill the holes with some slip.

 What makes pieces break is a buildup of steam and pressure. If the steam can escape it should be fine. You could also dry it in an over for a few days...

 It is amazing what lengths you can go to to fire a piece. Good luck with it.

 B

 

Um, hate to disagree with you on your first post but there is no need to drill holes in it. Even pots with enclosed air pockets will not explode if fired when dry, any form with a rolled rim or hollow handles for examples. It just takes longer to dry since there is a reduced surface area for the moisture to evaporate from. 

 

 

  BTW this is not my first post. My email account was hacked and every thing in it went to hell.

 Could you be a little more condescending? I am not really good with subtlety.

 

 

If I wrote something in a way that you took offense to I can assure you none was intended. 

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Min, nothing to be offended about. You stated the situation very objectively.

I fired a solid sculpture for a friend. It had sat around for years. As Chris said these things pick up moisture from the atmosphere. Keep inside for ages then give it a long, slow time in the kiln at a very low heat, don't know the Fahrenheit equivalent, and a very slow bisque up to 800degree Celsius, soak there then continue moderately to whatever cone you choose to bisque to.

Mine blew with all of the above but in such big pieces I was able to mend it with magic stuff, recipe around this site and it survived the glaze beautifully.

Place it on a shelf,on rollers, by itself as if it blows it may damage other stuff.

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If I wrote something in a way that you took offense to I can assure you none was intended.

 Min I guess I was a little touchy. Sorry for jumping on you. I am doing glaze testing and have already made over 350 ish test tiles. I changed from firing at cone 10 in gas to cone six electric. I want to get back to making "stuff" instead of glaze testing. I have just short of another 100 to go.TOOOOO many ideas out there.

 

 BTW I am not talking about air pockets. I put holes in places where there are joints to keep things like legs and arms from blowing off. I use a needle tool and poke the hole right when I make them. I don't drill things full of holes like a collander. Once bisqued a little slip or glaze in the hole will cover it up.

 

  Sorry but I do believe you need to place a hole where gas can escape when firing thicker objects. You all can believe what you want but just because someone else doesn't do it the same way doesn't mean it is wrong.

 

 Oh and I just took a glaze class with John Britt. He says "it all matters." Sad but true. Every detail in pottery making matters.

 

 Even Babs thought her piece was dry enough but it wasn't. Ya never know.

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