In preparation for glaze testing I decided I needed many more small wares. I’ll be mixing up my glazes from scratch and common practice is to mix up a smaller batch of glaze first and test it before mixing up a full size batch. So, rather than my normal batches of 5000 grams, I’ll be mixing up batches of 200 to a maximum of 1000 grams. I dip my bisque ware into the glaze, so smaller volume of glaze means I need smaller things to dip!
In addition to making a large batch of test tiles (whose sole purpose, as their name suggests, is to provide a test of each glaze as well as combinations of glazes) I wanted to have some small (potentially sacrificial) functional work I could glaze. I’m curious how other potters go about testing glazes when they are starting out a studio and have no previously tested glazes but having a kiln filled solely with glaze tiles seems a bit of a let down (and boy would I need a lot of test tiles!). I figured that my coqui espresso cups would be perfect candidates for glaze testing. I measured out 16 lumps of clay, and started throwing! While I waited for the cups to dry enough to be flipped over and trimmed (i.e., shape the bottom of the cups), I started making the saucers as well as the handles and the coqui stamp “plaques”. Quite a production line of little pieces!
I found that the nice thing about working in such large batches (which is new to me) is that one gets into a nice groove of things, everything becomes more refined and efficient.
As the process of making the cups happens over a few days, you will see a lot of plastic covering sheets in the photos. Clay can be worked and reworked as long as it is still wet (greenware). Once it dries out, game over! I’ve discovered that here in Puerto Rico, not surprisingly, wares want to dry out very quickly. I keep my water spray bottle handy and cover everything up very tightly. Damp paper towels and sponges also help add moisture to covered wares. Once the cups “stiffen” up a bit, I’ll go back and tidy them up if necessary. Then, slow drying and they will be ready for bisque firing!