Monday, May 31, 2010

Tea time...

Happy Memorial Day!... We unloaded the kiln on Saturday evening and we were like kids in a candy store.... shiny, happy people loving the work that came out of this firing. There were so many good looking pieces from this load. Below are some of my teapots and a large oval vase along with Nancy's awesome Snowy Owl mug. Those are also her faceted cups...the middle one now belongs to me! It was a very hot firing where we flattened 11 all over...and I do mean flattened. We feel that we most likely were closer to a good bent to flat 12. The shinos were really glistening and we had great flashing along with a nice bit of ash spread throughout the kiln. It was a pretty painless firing all in all. We drove it up fairly fast and then held it in the upper temps for about a third of the 20 hour firing time. We added around four and a half pounds of a mixture of soda and soda ash which proved to be plenty.

I am really pleased with my teapots, they came out better than I had imagined. Two or three will be going through another electric kiln firing to incorporate my decal images, but the rest are so juicy that I love them just the way they are now. I made a bunch of tea bowls to go with the teapots and they came out real sweet too.

Four or five out of eight teapots will be going to "Teapots,Teapots,Teapots" an exhibition of (guess what?!) teapots at the Strohl Art Center in the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua New York. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I oversee the ceramics facility there in the summers...firing and maintaining all the kilns, ordering supplies, coordinating with rotating faculty, and more general studio management. We have some new faces with us there this summer and you can count on me blogging from there because there is so many cool art oriented happenings going on fact, that may be where my next posting comes from. I am taking a bit of a vacation and will not be making or firing anything in the next few weeks. So check out the images from unloading the booty ...and tune back in to check out Chautauqua 2010!

Monday, May 24, 2010


So much going on it seems...tomorrow I finish glazing and load the bourry box, wood kiln...we are hoping to fire on Wednesday and Thursday. I do not have a ton of work in this load but I do have some fairly significant pieces. Among the work I have in the firing are a bunch of teapots, a couple baskets, and a handful of mugs and small tea bowls. I have been working on teapots for an upcoming exhibition in Chautauqua, NY that will take place in late June. In this load I have 8 possible candidates for that show...I only need 4 or 5. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the kiln gods will smile down upon my lowly teapots and not let any strange or unfortunate happenings come to them inside the kiln. We shall see.

I have also been trying to "change up" my work. I think everybody gets into their own routines and ways of doing things and this applies to how a person pulls a handle, glazes a pot, or what they like to make. I have been pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to glazing and what I make. So when I said, "sure, I would love to be involved with the teapot show", I was in a sense, throwing down the challenge to myself because... I never liked teapots. I do not use them and for the longest time, simply didn't make them. Its been a challenge to sort of re-learn the teapot. Now after working on 10 or so, I can not stop making them. I want to make more pieces that require a slower pace and (my favorite part) assembly. Its the putting together part that I like the best and this is a very time consuming step. I have found a greater sense of satisfaction in this as opposed to sitting down and throwing forms that only required a little trimming or a handle. Don't get me wrong, I like pulling handles and working out what type of handle would be best for certain types of mugs, but the small complexities of making interesting teapots has absorbed me in the last few weeks. Now I am working out the slip and glaze for them. I am using way more slips than I have in the past and using them in a way that is a little different in my surface decoration. Some of this linear slip striping that I am doing can be seen on a couple pieces from the last salt firing. I am liking how the striping on only portions of a piece seem to set up larger geometric spaces around the surface area. These "window" like spaces are great for decals. Not only have I augmented my glazing but I have thrown in a lot more texture in the mix too...sectioning the surfaces into neat divisions of texture, pattern and eventually image...again, we shall see if this all comes together as planned.

Above are a some of the teapots that I will be firing in the next couple days...most have been slipped with a VC Toasty Orange. After I shot these images and since they were bisqued, I have applied my usual Helmar Flashing slip and also dipped my brush in Nancy's Neuman's Red. Tomorrow its shino city and getting my wads on ...then... into the kiln bitches!(thats ceramic thug talk)

On another note, let me just say thanks to all you folks who have tuned in to my blog. After 100 posts, I understand why I like this blog. I understand why I do not have a regular web site and why I rely on this format to be the conveyor of information and images of my work. I like the constant change...I like being able to update the blog real quick, just throw something on there or post a new picture. I'm not saying there isn't going to be a Kyle Houser web site before the end of this year but I am saying ...I like this blog...hope you do too.

See ya next firing!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

THE BIG 100...

That's right brothers and sisters...this is my 100th blog post! I am celebrating by just posting a bunch of images from my last firing with Nancy in the salt kiln, most, post-decal. I was also very pleased with my surfaces once I had fired my decals back to 04 in the electric. The blush from the flashing slip changes, it gets darker, just turns it up another notch. The shino glazes do not change that much...some flatten a little...some get better...some stay the same. I tend to like "stay the same". Enjoy the images, as I enjoy goofing off from life on this wet and cold Tuesday...this calls for a trip to the Indian buffet for lunch, yum....and if you are interested in purchasing any of these...I am posting most of these and more in my etsy shop. So step right up...come one come all.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hello Mr. Salty...

I unloaded the salt kiln yesterday and Nancy and I both said it was one of the best firings out of that kiln...hands down. We are in the middle of making and firing and making and firing some more. This coming Friday I am taking our work down to the Sweetwater Center for the Arts in the Sewickley area of Pittsburgh for a one day ceramic sale. Its not a bad deal, you just drop off up to 35 pieces after you have registered it all online and they sell it and you come back Sunday to collect whats left and a little moola hopefully. Nancy also has her red ware sale at the hospital here in Indiana on Friday too. Busy, busy, busy I tell you.
I spent most the rainy afternoon today working out my decal compositions for the group of pieces that I chose to add images too. I will have a good bit of new decal work come Tuesday! I did hold back quite a few nice pieces however. The decision to add the decal is often a no-brainer for me but there are some pieces that I simply cant fire back to 04 in the electric kiln. The glazes are sometimes way too juicy and or the effects from the firing are just not to be screwed with and firing in the electric kiln does change some of these things. So I thought I would just show some images of work from the firing that may or may not be getting a decal. Lets enjoy them now...its not too say that we wont enjoy them even more when they have a decal, but lets just enjoy them as the product of a good salt firing first.

Above is a small olive shaped bud vase from me and a bird house with a serious orange peel roof from Nancy.

This basket piece came out really nice...I'm trying something new with the slips and glazes on several pieces in this far so good. Even though the glazes are pretty sweet on this piece, this guy may still see a decal. Sometimes the graphic decal can put it right over the top.

And lastly here are a couple images of a couple of new mugs with their elongated handles and also a couple of fancy new batter bowls. Its great to unload a kiln with so many sweet pieces. Nancy fired it this past Thursday while I was teaching my last day before finals(YES!). She has got this kiln down pat...really good reduction, even on top and bottom and 14 pounds of salt...that's the ticket. So be on the look out for some new decal pieces from me popping up on Etsy or if you are in the Pittsburgh area, head on over to Sweetwater on May 8...sounds like its going to be fun.