[Clayart] Sea shells in the kiln?

Snail Scott claywork at flying-snail.com
Tue Jan 3 15:57:35 EST 2017

> On Jan 3, 2017, at 7:56 AM, Ken Chase <kchase235 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I really like the idea of a glazed foot ring.

If you glaze the footring, you’ve gotta have some other way
to hold the piece up in the kiln. (Sometimes I fire things (not pots) 
on pedestals that sit inside or up from the lowest point of the art, 
so that the low points can be glazed. For my sculptural things, it 
makes sense for some forms and not others. If you don’t leave 
unglazed spot(s) for such supports, then you have to work stilt 
scars into your design instead. You will see the classic standard 
stilt scars on a lot of commercial stoneware dinnerware that has 
glazed footrings - little dents or tick marks in the glaze, three or four  
of them evenly spaced around the underside. The shells mentioned 
previously are an example of making a virtue of necessity, by using 
the ornamental shells in place of some merely functional stilts, and 
planning for the  esulting marks as part of the design.

It can be tricky to position the work in the kiln on top of the stilts (no 
matter what kind), so a little dab of Elmer’s or white craft glue can 
hold them in place on the clay object as you load. 

If you have a very runny glaze, be aware that it may run down the 
stilt and stick it in place, preventing it from breaking off cleanly. It may 
also drip unevenly from the footring, leaving it un-level and requiring 
grinding to level it anyway, substantially eliminating the appeal of 
having a glazed foot. 

Some people have made a virtue of this, using the drips of the glaze 
as ‘feet’, lifting the whole piece up off its nominal bottom by the thickness 
of the drips. When it works well, it can be quite ornamental, but since 
drips - even planned ones - aren’t always equal in depth, these end up 
(ideally) sitting on their three deepest drips like a tripod, but may require 
at least enough grinding to make three relatively coplanar points to level 
the piece. Plenty of water is needed when grinding glaze drips, since if 
they overheat, they can shatter and break off entirely.

A nice aesthetic compromise might involve an outer ‘false foot’ that 
the glaze is allowed to drip off of, and a deeper inner foot that actually 
supports the piece but is somewhat hidden underneath, behind the 
drips. Obviously, a catch slab or some such would be needed under the 
drip zone. With practice, you can predict the amount of dripping with fair 
accuracy, but never perfectly.


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