Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Beaten Into Submission

Coffee from Jupiter Coffee (an extra large with a shot of espresso) in the Chicago Skyline mug, "I'm a Believer" covered by Smash Mouth on the iPod. Both are *very* appropriate!

Well I wrestled her to the ground and got the pin, Big Bertha that is. It took four schedule modifications and until 10:00 last night, but I got the Seder plates to slump perfectly. Now I just need to be able to replicate it today. My problem (in so many aspects of life) is that I must have it NOW. Good things may come to those who wait, but those of us who need faster than instant gratification will probably never find out.

Kilnformer extraordinaire Bill Zweifel counseled me on the benefits of the three-hour top temp hold for the slump at the BMAC this year, and I just.cannot.make.myself do it! Barb, I know you slump the same way, and I should probably have patience and try it, but I just keep thinking that if I don't up the temp a bit, the glass will never fall.

Last night I thought I would be tricky and stack the deck in my favor. Instead of slumping onto the 1" thick ceramic board on the floor of the kiln, I put a 2" vermiculite board on top of the ceramic board just where the Seder plates would go. This means that the pieces were 2" closer to the elements which makes them slump better. (I catch myself in the use of the word "better" there. Technically it is not necessarily "better". It is faster, and as we have determined above, faster is not always better. Faster can cause your edges to pull in and up and your piece to deform.) However the Seder plates were not the only pieces slumping in Bertha last night, and I did not want the others to overslump during this intensive slump cycle: They were in taller molds and therefore initially closer to the elements.

I started with a top soak at 1225 degrees for 20 minutes. The plates laughed at me, little silicon chortles emanated from the kiln when I opened it at the end of the soak to find the barest dip in the surfaces of the small plates. So I sent the temp to 1240 for 20 minutes. This was better, but with 4.5 minutes left in the soak, the little plates were still stubbornly holding out and up. I determinedly rolled up my metaphoric sleeves and upped the temp to 1250 for 15 minutes. The little plates struggled, but fell a bit more. With 3 minutes left I made my last bid: I upped the temp to 1465 for 18 minutes (the remaining 3 in the 1250 soak and an additional 15).

I did not stay around for the results. I went to bed thinking it would either work and I would do set #2 tomorrow (I ended up making only one set of molds) or it wouldn't and I would have to slump both sets in the medium kiln tomorrow. And, drum roll please, it worked!

So today I will slump the second Seder set and a miscellany of other pieces, and I will ship it all out tomorrow. Three new gallery orders down and ten to go.

1 comment:

Bill Paley said...

Do they actually call those mugs "Skyline" somewhere? Or do the mugs just have photos of the local area?