Friday, July 18, 2014

To wad or not to wad? That is a no-brainer....

by MaryAnn Carroll

Before I write about wadding, I first want to share the process of wood-firing. I spent a good portion of the day today trying to design a banner to put inside our tent when we do shows. I was very impressed with Staci's, which got me motivated. We (Bill and I) had talked about having something to explain the process of wood-firing. We want to hang it in our booth when we do shows. Many (I wouldn't have either) really don't know the difference between clay bodies and the many ways that they are fired. If you are interested in learning more, Marsha gives a great overview in this post.

Hopefully, you can see the pictures and captions. As luck would have it, I was not able to use this design. I worked with Jeff at Lexiprint who was very helpful and willing to work with my pictures to make it work.  I'm a little persistent when it comes to certain things, so I wanted to see it through to the end myself, even though I knew that I wasted hours prior and had to start all over again! I used the website's format and designed something similar.

So, what is wadding? Wadding comes in many forms.... You've got your wad of gum that someone spits on the ground for some bystander to step on. You've got your wad of cash that I never seem to have.  And as I was pressing Bill for more ideas about what we have wads of, he said, "I have a wad of headaches that I always get from my wife for asking too many questions!" HA!!!!

The wad I am going to tell you about is necessary when it comes to wood-firing. They are made from fire clay (does not melt) mixed with hay.

Most wood-fire artists like to get the glaze to mix with ash deposits and runs (melting glaze and ash) to add to the look. With that, you stand the risk of the glaze running right onto the shelf. You can see from the bottom of these tumblers what can happen and how the wads saved these from sticking to the shelf.

This isn't the best picture, but you can see that my bead trees have wadding underneath them too. That is because ash is flying all over the kiln. The potential for ash to land on the bead trees, melt and stick to the shelf is pretty good. When I fire in my electric kiln I don't use wadding with my bead trees. There is no need to.

That leads me into a problem that I had when trying to get my experimental cone six porcelain from the chamber at the base of the chimney. I gently placed them in an area that is subject to falling debris from inside the chimney. There are four flues that lead from the main kiln to the chimney. I had three trees that I placed right behind them. This is the 2nd time we have tried experimenting with this, since it gets hot back there, but not as hot as inside the kiln. We guess it to be around 2200 degrees in the back. With our experimenting, mostly, the results have been pretty cool, but some not so much so. I haven't had any debris hit them, so that's good, right?

As I said, this group was in the back chamber. Two of my bead racks came right out, but I didn't notice that the wadding stayed in when I removed them. That's not typical. The wadding mostly comes off with the piece it was glued to. When I reached in to pull out the 3rd bead tree, it didn't budge! Bill, right away, figured I didn't put wadding on. I was insistent that I did! Upon closer examing, I realized that the bead tree was melted to the floor.

And upon even further examination, I noticed that the flame must have come roaring through melting everything melt-able in its path. It reminds me of what hardened rock would be after a volcanic explosion. If you look closely, you can see the floor difference behind that center flue. It's crazy! The wadding is hidden under the melted rock.

Do you see those four wads in the front? Fortunately, that bead tree came off. The only way the other is getting out of there is with a hammer.

So, next time.... I am using big HUGE wads!

On another note, there were some of my beads INSIDE the actual kiln.....

There is one bead tree to the far left on the 3rd shelf.

The others were in the back of the kiln on the top shelf.

I think you can see why wood-fired beads are rare.  Here are a few pictures of those that had prime seating. These were fired to almost 2400 degrees.

If you would like to learn more about how this kiln was built you can check that out HERE. 

Before I close up for today, the picture below is for the other banner we are making. We only have room for a 2 x 2, but this will be going in front of our tent on a very short easel. I also sell jewelry at the shows, but do not have nearly enough for a booth. I just take up a small section in the front and back, but the booth is mostly wood-fired pottery.

You can see more wood-firing on our facebook page.

When going to shows, what kinds of things attract you to certain booths over others?

Lastly, I would like to thank you for supporting artists who create handmade with handmade AND for attending the shows that many make a living from.



stacilouise said...

I absolutely love to learn the process of things! I have learned so much having glass and ceramic artist friends. there is soooo much to learn in every art form, it never ceases to amaze me. I like that you have a banner to show how they are made. There is a lot of ceramic artists at shows, and it clearly allows you to stand out!! It would bring me in to ask questions :)

Kelli said...

So cool!!!!!! And the time and commitment it takes to achieve this artwork is so impressive.

Erika said...

There's also wadding that used to go in guns.
I like these educational posts! MaryAnn, do you have your beads for sale online yet?

Carol Dekle said...

Wow MaryAnn, you can really tell how hot the kiln gets from the pics. I love learning about the wood-firing process, it makes me really appreciate how your beads are made, and then I am able to share that info with my customers! Ok, so where can I buy???

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Hi Erika, I will be selling beads again soon. I am trying to get an Indie sho going but only have one thing listed. It is http://artisanbeadsplus/indiemade. I am going to list some from this last firing.

Erika said...

Thanks, I'll be checking it out ;-)

Nuit said...


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