Friday, July 16, 2010

Green Anole

The analytical part of my brain started counting imaginary beans, I mean pots, today. What size work will fit in my new kiln efficiently. Should I make work to fit on the shelves? Should I keep making pieces as the inspirations strike me and let the pots fit willy-nilly? There's always a consideration of making what might sell.

Then I was pleasantly distracted by a green anole lizard crawling on the screen of my studio window. He came by yesterday too. I waited for him to crawl on the window to get a better photo, but he never did. I did catch him with his red dewlap extended. Be sure to click on his photo to see his eye, the texture of his skin, and the pads on his toes; lizards are so wondrous to observe.

What about you? Do you have a grid of your shelf size and do you make work to fit on it. Some time ago I remember Meredith saying she has ware racks which correspond to the size of her kiln shelves. I think that is the most efficient method of determining how much work will fit in a kiln load.

This analysis all came about because today I decided to make a really tall vase. I can't go any taller than about 16 inches and get a piece to fit in my new kiln. The challenge of making a vase this tall was fun. When I was looking for a place to dry it, it was a problem. All my drying shelves are a maximum of about 13 inches. The top shelf is taller, but hard for me to reach and I didn't want to risk climbing a step stool with this vase to put it on top. I decided the bottom of a kitchen cabinet would do. Then I started thinking about firing the vase.

By the way I used this plastic tube as a form to hold up the tall vine vase till I got it together. The guys who tinted our windows with wind resistant film left the form for me to use. I just spray it with WD40 and wrap the clay around it. Then when the seam is pressed together and the clay firms up a bit I slide the form out. PVC pipe can also be used in the same manner. Don't leave the form in too long or the seam will open back up again. I once left a dowel in a vase over night. In the morning I had to pull like heck to get the dowel out of the vase. The clay had shrunk around the dowel.

I could fire almost 30 of these vases in one kiln load. That's a lot of the same vase. Or I could fire 15 and have three half shelves and fire other sized pieces on those shelves. That seems more reasonable. I can't see myself making 30 vases that are sixteen inches tall all in a row. Than again maybe that's more efficient.

I have a lot of tall vases I've made recently but most are about ten to thirteen inches tall. I can't fit another shelf in the kiln if they are 13 inches tall, nine inches maybe. More for my brain to ponder as I work with clay, day to day. When I showed Gary my outline of pots on kiln shelves and told him about the numbers of pots which could fit, he said he was glad he wasn't a potter. Comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome.


  1. i bisque in the electric and fire in gas... while i do have lots of shelves and posts in varying heights it is easier to fill the kiln if i make larger work... but i don't make a lot of big work... thank goodness that jeff does! i do sometimes set aside a few days to throw pots of a certain size. i don't really like to do it, but it is a necessity.
    you must be so excited to have NEW kiln to fire!!!

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  3. I have to be pretty creative loading my baskets in the bisque. I hate wasted space, but after breaking a few handles while trying to fit them tighter, I gave up. I don't have the correct shelves for my electric and end up having to run around with the ruler and draw it all out.

    After a few firings, you'll have a good feel for how to load. keep making the tall pots!

  4. the vase is wonderful and I love the pattern running all around it. It does help in loading to have vases or tall pots close to the same size. But my mind works that way-sometimes in the gas kiln if Mark has not made enough tall pots I place bricks under the ones that are not as tall to take them up a notch. It helps to fill the space so the top does not get too hot.
    Just keep making Linda- then the work will work it's self out.
    You are going to have plenty of time to fire now that you have your own kiln!
    I am going back to look at the vase again.

  5. I agree with the sentiments of the other comments on here. Make what you want; worry about how to load everything later. I try not to let outside circumstances dictate what I do or do not make. If you decide to go in more of a production route, then it would be more efficient to fill the kiln with similar sized pots. But even that would only work if you enjoyed making those kind of pots. Otherwise it is just another job. Don't sacrifice creativity and enjoyment for efficiency.

  6. I miss the lizards!

    Your vases are wonderful!

    I used to worry about loading my kiln until I worked as an apprentice at a community clay center. Getting other folks' work to all match up correctly to load the kiln efficiently was always fun and a challenge -- that taught me I can make almost any group of pots fit -- and it's much easier to handle your own work.

    Soon you will know that kiln so well it will be second nature to load it -- no matter what you've made - size-wise! Yippee on having your own kiln!

  7. Hi Michele, thanks, I usually just make work that I like and lately I have a lot of flat pieces, bowls and platters which take up a lot of room, so then I thought I needed some tall pieces. I've been thinking of exploring the same form but with a different texture and color glaze, haven't done it yet, but I may. I usually have so many ideas of other stuff I never get around to making repeats.

    Hi Kari, thanks, I can see where your baskets would be extremely difficult to load and not break, but those are always the pieces that are so worth it.

    Hi Meredith, thanks, so if the gas kiln has empty space at the top it gets hotter? would that be the same for the electric kiln? Ok I'll take your advice I'll keep making. If I have an overabundance of work then I'll have plenty of choices to fit them in all the spaces, good idea. Thanks about the vase. I was actually thinking I might make a few of these and glaze them in different colors to see how I liked them.

    Hi Rob, thanks, I am thinking out loud in the post, but when I sit down to make something, I usually make just what I want at that time and worry about the firing later. I just got kind of scared about this vase till I measured it because I just made it and then wondered if it would fit in the kiln.

    Hi Judy, thanks, I read that this one is a Carolina anole, so you should have some in Georgia too. Tonight I saw a little tiny one, probably just hatched out of his egg, he was so cute. If you click your tongue they will look at you and cock their heads and listen. You are probably right, once I get going I'll be going full speed ahead.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment