Friday, January 16, 2015

A Few More Pots From the Latest Firing

There had been a few bonsai pots sitting on the shelf unfinished for the last couple of months.  Mainly because I had decided to play around with the recipe for the ivory crackled pots.

3/4 of this small load was the result of  "cross your fingers and hope it works out!"

I'll sort through them over the next day or two and put some of them on my "Bonsai Pots for Sale" page
 These were the pots that came out.  I was really pleased with them, especially the large round one on the end.
 The bottom of this pot was quite dark, as I realized when I applied the wash to it.  A lot of the darkness fired out, but the lower area is still quite dark compared to the middle and top.
 This pot is one that I've labelled as special.  Sometimes a pot will come out of the kiln and it has that something special. Nothing you can pin point in words, it just has that X factor.  Everything has come together.  This one is quite honey coloured.  The crackling is just amazing on it.  I suspect it may be a "keeper", may have to think about it for a day or two.
 This one is a little lighter in colour and the crackles are quite vertical, a feminine type pot.
 Instead of making a crackled texture on this one, I decided to accentuate the throwing rings on the outside.  The wash picked up most of them, but I'll try making deeper grooves with either my fingers or the end of a chop stick to make them stand out a little more on the next one.

 This pot reminds me a little of a light timber floor finish,  very nice though, and a little different.
 This was the corner of the pot in the previous post (wasp nest under pot)with the attempted wasp nest on it.  I unfortunately had to scrape it off before firing (in case it melted), but you can see where a little bit that remained has melted into the pot (the lighter colour in the corner)
 This was the pot that I'd made from a mold that had been sitting in the shed for ages.  To be honest....there was no enjoyment in making it.  I knew how it was going to turn out shape wise, there was no room for creativity, apart from the opportunity to play around with a glaze.  All I can say about it is that its finished and out of the way!
 Another one of those special pots......Its 43cm diameter, round and has the most beautiful crackled texture. The pictures don't do it justice.  Its one of those pots that you just go "wow" when you see it.  It looks like its been around for hundreds of years, through all sorts of weather etc.  Perhaps this one is a "keeper" as well.

It's funny how you can get so attached to the pots you make,  its a bit like having a small seedling that you've nursed along for many years and now its a beautiful looking bonsai tree. You would never dream of selling or giving it away.  The same goes for some starts as a lump of clay, you shape it, carefully and slowly let it dry, you then bisque fire it, then you have to decide how to finish it before the final glaze firing.  All along you may have an idea of what you want the finished pot to look like, just the same as you have an idea in your head of what you eventually want your mature bonsai to look like.  Granted, it doesn't take years, but the same love, care and attention goes into it.
 Enough waffling I think. The glass of water is for gets stinking hot in the garage when the sun comes out, like sitting in an oven at times, even with the doors open.  Such is the weather down here in Southland, the best in New Zealand I have to say.  

Don't forget to look in my Bonsai Pots for Sale page over the next few days, as I'll be updating it with new pots.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wasps are Natural Potters , See what I Found.

I was quite happily unloading the kiln last week.  My usual routine....turning each pot over...tapping for that lovely ringing sound, scanning the surface looking for cracks etc,then I found this.
This pot had been sitting on the shelf since about October last year, I never seemed to have the right amount of room to fit it in.

When I loaded it into the kiln I remember there being some dead spiders underneath on the shelf, but never though too much more about it, just flicked them off the shelf and carried on.

With a little research it appears that a lone female MASON WASP (native) decided that the underneath of this drying pot was a nice spot to build a nest and lay its eggs.
These wasps are loners, they don't have a hoard of worker bees looking after them.  They do it all on their own.

The female stuns/paralyzes spiders and puts them in these mud/clay cells and then lays an egg in each one.  She seals it off and then leaves.  When the egg turns into a larvae it gobbles down the food left for it (spiders) and then exits the cell.

The thing that amazed me was that the clay cells this little wasp made had withstood the bisque firing temperature of 1000degrees Celsius.  Anything that was in them had burnt out,  but the mud/clay walls remained intact, absolutely amazing!

I don't know the chemistry/biology of how the MASON WASP constructs the mud cells, but obviously with it being a red colour after firing it had a lot of iron in it, as does earthenware clay.  

Does it secrete this mud like substance?
Does it go hunting and collect the clay?
Does it stick to its legs like pollen on bees?                        Who knows?

I would have dearly loved to have left it on the underneath of the pot, but there was a high risk that when it goes into the next firing that reaches temperatures of 1270 degrees Celsius + it will melt and stick to the kiln shelf.

Reluctantly, I scrapped it off this afternoon, but left a couple of small bits in one of the corners just to see if it would melt and turn into a "wasp glaze".

I'm in absolute awe of this cleaver little wasp, just incredible!  

Aint Nature Just Great