Here are the weekend's pots. They are proof that for defined marks, you have to do the first (bisque) firing at a lower temperature. Next step is to raise the temperature gradually on the first firing to see where the "tipping point" is. Its interesting that at the lower end of the temperature scale the colours are so black and white - a strong reduction atmosphere I guess. As I understand it, this means that the oxygen trapped in the "skin" of the pot got used up in the fire and was "swapped" for carbon. Maybe this "carbon exchange" is simply less pronounced the more "closed" the surface of the pot (which is what seems to happen progressively at higher temperatures). The actual amoke firing technique is always the same, so that shouldn't change anything. Sorry, this is all a bit "thinking out loud" technical talk! If its any consolation, I am probably still not much more enlightened than you!
Other than the smoke firing, I didn't do much making this weekend. I continued investigating the carved vessel shapes, but no breakthrough there. I also had a visit from my wonderful six year old godson Rufus. We went to see the Art of the Brick exhibition - which is basically sculptures made by an ex lawyer artist made from Lego. I was sceptical to begin with, but there is a skill in it - a lot more than meets the eye - and some of the pieces communicate clear messages about the human condition. You could see that the public were interacting with that, so I can see why its so successful. Smart lawyer playing with Lego or legitimate artist with something to say? Discuss!
When we got home, Rufus was keen to get stuck into some clay action. We didn't have time to make anything, so we did clay volcanos.... Basically, you get a ball of soft clay on the wheel, get the wheel spinning and make a volcano shape, and a hole in the top. Next, fill the hole with water and squeeze the volcano to close the top (and compress the water filled space inside). Finally, with the wheel still spinning, stick your finger into the top of the clay volcano to open the hole again. If you get it right, a muddy clay spurt shoots up and hits the wall, and possibly the windows, your hair and the floor. After we finished, Rufus asked if he could have one of my pots to take home, which made me laugh alot. I wasn't expecting such earnest pot appreciation from a six year old. So Rufus is now my official shed apprentice, and the proud owner of "Parsnip #1" (the nick name for the first ever swan necked pot).