Due to the amount of ceramic work I have been doing on the wheel, I wanted to learn how to glaze my work and fire my work in the kilns, so I signed up to a glaze and kiln induction. It was interesting to discover all the different technicalities that come with glazing and firing a piece of ceramic work. Mixing a glaze is quite straightforward, however measuring the correct ingredient out to make the glaze needs to be very accurate to achieve a good glaze outcome. There is an endless number of different glazes you can mix up using the large range of toxic ingredients, all with different effects depending on how you combine them, and how you fire them in the kiln. Everything about clay work seems to take a long time! First one must have bisque fired the clay piece to turn it into a piece of ceramic ready for glazing. Then you can apply the glaze in a variety of ways; you can dip the piece in a bowl of glaze, or you can spray it with a spray gun using the spray booth. The spray booth is good for applying an even coating and is good for large pieces. If you are glazing a vessel you must first pour the glaze into the inside and tip it out again to apply an coating to the inside. You can then spray the entire pot.
The kilns are also highly technical pieces of kit. There are the test kilns which are small and fire rapidly over the period of a day, and then the large kiln fire over 2 days. You must also allow time for the kiln to cool down. So a lot of what using the kiln is about is timing the firing right so the kiln does not over fire and ruin you work as well as the kiln. The test kiln you must manually control, changing the firing frequency in an hour by adjusting a knob, beginning with small and working your way up to 100% through 20% increments, changing the dial each hour. The larger kiln has a controller to do that for you. It is good to use a pyrometric cone for both types of kiln to ensure that the temperature reading on the thermostat is correct, because they are not always accurate especially on the test kilns. When the pyrometric cone bends and touches the kiln shelf you know the kiln is up to the temperature of that particular pyrometric cone. You must also load the kiln in a particular way so that the kiln shelf isn’t touching the walls of the kiln.
Below you can see some images of my work which has been Bisque fired and is ready for glazing and firing in the kilns. I am looking to experiment with some white glazes with different finishes such as matt and gloss. I really like the pure, luxurious feel of a thick white high gloss glaze. It also give the pot a very simplistic look which I like.