Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lithium Baby!

I took an order for 14 - 11 inch dinner plates.  The customer had many selections but as in the way of all things under Potter's Law, they picked the most finicky of the glazes I fire.  Sat down immediately and threw 20 plates.  I learned very early on, always throw extra.  For pete sake it's dinner plates I can throw these in my sleep!  Get 'em out here and get on with the business of making pots........ because I am a professional! 

Thrown, bisqued and ready to be glazed in 8 days.  Open the glaze bucket and yes #3 of potter's law; not enough glaze.  Mix up 10,000 grams and get on with it.  I do not have running water in the studio so this takes a good half day to mix up a batch of glaze. 

 I bypassed potter's law #2 as I actually had all the chemicals I needed on hand.  Phew!   

Wax the bottom of the plates in the afternoon, glaze around 8 p.m. and get that kiln going.  Everything is going perfectly until I opened the kiln.  

Brown?......... where is my coppery yummy glaze?  Layer after layer of ugly brown plates.  Stack them on the slab roller and get out my notes.  Sitting on the studio floor with papers stacked and the Hamer and Hamer in my lap I was at a loss.  Had my digital scale gone ca-flooey?   Maybe I put in an extra scoop of something....... but what?  Since I am pretty careful about checking chemicals off and putting them back on the shelf when done I crossed that one off the list....... because I am a geeeenius.

I have been at this for three days now......... jumping up at 3:30 a.m. to check the kiln.  Soaking at the proper times.  Yes, I have a computerized kiln but I jump through a lot of hoops to get this glaze and since I am not a rocket scientist I have no idea how to program this kiln for those particular hoops.  Night after night I jumped out of bed and run through the dog poop in the backyard under creamy white moonlight to get to the kiln at the appointed temperature for each cycle.  

 I am also getting a big fat knot in my stomach if I can't reproduce this glaze!
Oh and did I mention I had a 4 week deadline on these plates?  

Standing in the shower yesterday it came to me (I am brilliant in the shower).......... you have different lithium.  Well yes, it's lithium but it's from a different company.  I was running short on funds and ordered lithium from another company because it was ............ .20 cents a pound cheaper.  Anybody bought 10 lbs of lithium lately?  
Sticker shock is an understatement.  I called my regular company for lithium and bucked up the .20 cents and bought another 10 pounds.  

Yesterday I mixed up yet another batch of glaze, this time 2500 grams instead of 10,000 grams.  Dipped a plate last night and fired it.  Since I am in a bit of a panic here I pulled the plate out at 400 F. and slapped it on a kiln shelf.  Ran in the house, got coffee, check email and phone, beat the dog and
waited for it to cool.  An hour later ran back out to the studio and there it was........ 
the coppery yummy glaze I love.


and every potter I know who I always call while jumping up and down while unloading my kiln is at NCECA today......  so I called my dear husband who has not had a nights sleep in three days and jumped up and down yelling I got it!!!  He said I have no idea what you're talking about but can I get a nights sleep tonight?  YES!  Then he jumped up and down too!  

Dolita, my glaze testing buddy have a glass of bourbon for me!