All posts by Charlie

Charlie is an artist who is new to the WordPress world and is currently experimenting with making a WP website, and transitioning from a prior Dreamweaver site.

A Good Outcome from Pit Firing

Great joy comes from a good pit fire day, which was the case this weekend. Here are the new pots resting on a shelf in my garage studio.  For those who might want to try pit firing, my method is outlined below.

Incidentally, the picture at the top of the photo is from a  painting by Norman Jensen, a Gainesville artist.

CAW’s method for pit firing:

  1. Use stoneware clay that will not crack under uneven heat stress.
  1. Throw your vessel, and then burnish it to a smooth surface during the drying phase.
  1. Bisque fire them to cone 06. My bisque-fired clay has a light tan to light rose color.
  1. In a 50 gallon galvanized washtub, drill ½ inch holes in the side and bottom, about 8-10 inches apart. Put 4 inches of sawdust in the bottom of the washtub then sit or tilt the pots into the sawdust, about 2-3 inches deep. Put a few teaspoons of copper carbonate and iodized salt on the sawdust around the pots.
  1. Place 12-16 inches of chopped-up boards on top. I use dry, lightweight wood (cut about 1x1x3 or 4 inches long). I want the wood to burn fairly clean and not smoke out the neighbors.
  1. Say your prayers or whatever spiritual encouragements you desire then light the fire and let it burn in open air. Do not move the pots until the ashes are completely cool and settled. Now Scrub them with soap and water and let them dry. I use a dry box and sometimes a blowtorch to speed up drying.
  1. Apply one coat of Future Premium Floor Finish (a clear finish) using small piece of cloth. Use just enough wet the pot, it does not require much coat material. Let that dry then rub the pots with steel wool to change the gloss finish to satin. Now admire your work.

Tribe of Four Shawabtis

In ancient Egypt, a Shawabti was a funerary figurine with a hieroglyphic spell written on it.  The spell enabled it to come to life in the afterworld and do work for the deceased. This Shawabti has a contemporary spell written on it that enables it to do work for you in the present world. The spell reads: “If you are called, I will do your work so that you can rest.  I will protect your home and keep you safe from trouble and despair.  I am strong and able, and you can depend on me.”

This Shawabti is 7 1/8 inches tall and is solid, mid-fired, porcelain.  The marble base is 2” x 2.5”.  There is a thin metal rod in the  marble base that stabilizes the figure via a  small center hole.  A separate divider of grogged porcelain (with gold overglaze) sits between the foot of the Shawabti and the marble base.

New Shawabti update

After many months of experimentation, I think I have now come close to making a viable, contemporary Shawabti. Here it is

Shawabti (also called ushabti or shabti) funerary figurine

In ancient Egypt, a Shawabti was a funerary figurine with a hieroglyphic spell written on it.  The spell enabled it to come to life in the afterworld and do work for the deceased. This Shawabti has a contemporary spell written on it that enables it to do work for you in the present world. The spell reads: “If you are called, I will do your work so that you can rest.  I will protect your home and keep you safe from trouble and despair.  I am strong and able, and you can depend on me.”

This Shawabti is 7 1/8 inches tall and is solid, mid-fired, porcelain.  The marble base is 2” x 2.5”.  There is a thin metal rod in the  marble base that stabilizes the figure via a  small center hole.  A separate divider of porcelain (with gold overglaze) sits between the foot of the Shawabti and the marble base.

Update on Shawabtis

I am still working to develop a satisfying prototype for a current life shawabti.  these use Mason stains to color the porcelain clay.  They are solid clay except for a 1/4 inch linear hole that extends the length of the figure (used to support standing).  More to follow as I work on improvements.

Ceramic Icons at Mendocino Art Center

In October, I worked in the ceramics studio at the Mendocino Art Center. I made clay figures that had some resemblance to, or aspects of, ancient shawabtis and contemporary vigango (singular: kigango).  Shawabtis are Egyptian figurines placed in tombs; in the afterlife, if you are called to do work, these figures come to life and do your work.  Vigango are wooden grave markers (4-5 feet tall) currently used in Kenya.  They help keep the deceased spirit present in real life.  Here are the bisque fired group of figures. I tried various glazes but was not very enthusiastic about the outcome. The smaller grouping uses an red iron and rutile wash.

Back to the marble stone

Last month I finished working (for a while) on the idea of raven carts.  Here are the last ones that I made:

Now I have returned to working on a piece of marble, obtained from a quarry near Birmingham some years ago.  Last week, I moved the stone (and its clay model) out to nearby McIntosh where I will be working on it at George Ferreira’s studio, next to his Ice House Gallery.

2017 Raven Carts

I’ve been back at home in Gainesville for a while now. When I returned, I tried to replicate the glaze effects that I achieved in Mendocino last year. To make a long story short, I could not do it. Perhaps, in Gainesville, the composition of the rutile was different or the mineral content of the water was to blame. There were too many factors to sort out. However, in the last month I have had some success with new glaze recipes.  Now, I am back to making new carts and I feel the new ones are improvements in design compared to the earlier ones.

For this cart. I used a 5  x  20%  base glaze (kaolin, silica, wollastonite, frit 3134 and potash feldspar), plus 1% cobalt oxide and 4% each of rutile and tin oxide. There is a black underglaze, Mayo UG 50, diluted to gray with water and painted over the entire cart; after that, one coat of the glaze is painted on vertically.  The firing is oxidation, at cone 6, and the clay is porcelain.