Thursday, October 27, 2011

8 kiln firings later....

Here is the dress I've been working on for a couple months now. Eight firings in my kiln and many layers of glaze later and this is what I got. I'm really pleased!

Jen Harmon Allen sculpture artist Dress of Armor
Dress # 28, Glazed Steel and Ceramic, 2011

Dress of Armor #28 (detail), Glazed Steel and Ceramic,
Dress of Armor # 28 (detail), Glazed Steel and Ceramic, 2011

Ever since I "made a mistake" with the glazes on Dress of Armor # 14 a couple years ago, I've been wanting to recreate it. Why a mistake? Because when I opened the kiln after layering new glaze on top of an ugly white glaze, I cried. I was sad that it still looked splotchy and the white under-layer had created a streaky effect with the green/silvery layer on top. Turns out to be the best mistake I ever made. The mottled surface drew oohs and aaahs from viewers. Here it is, one of the dresses sold to the Salt Lake County Art Collection this summer:

 Dress of Armor #14, Glazed Steel and Ceramic, 2009
The problem has been to recreate this magical accident, a common difficulty in the hoodoo world of ceramics. Gladly I kept records of the glazes I used, but when I fired them on a new dress (the unfortunate Dress #24), I got some frustrating results. Glazes cratered and blistered in some parts, were smooth in others, etc. Here are some details of my efforts:

Dress of Armor # 24 (detail), Glazed Steel and Ceramic,
Dress of Armor # 24 (detail), Glazed Steel and Ceramic,

I LOVED what was going on with the glazes in separate parts of the dress, but they ultimately didn't blend well together.  She was fired over 10 times and I finally had to count her as a loss, albeit a very educating one. 

So I'm happy that #28 turned out rather well. It is brighter in color than #14. The shape of the dress is better I think. What amazes me still though is that I was able to conjure #14's glaze effects in a mere two firings. Number 28 took eight. Better, more complex glaze perhaps? I think so!