This post is a long one because I have three confessions to make.
First on the list, I don't have a kiln. There, it is out (*sigh*). I'm embarassed to admit this. Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking. "How can you be serious about ceramics and not own a kiln?" I have a personal rule and that is, I have to "earn" my kiln. Until I truly and honestly believe in my work, I will not pony up the bucks to buy one, period. The fact that I don't have a kiln speaks volume about how I feel about my own work so far (thus, my second confession). This has been my thought pattern for quite a while now. Does an artist ever get to a point when he feels confident in his art? He must, right? He has to believe in his work before he can even fathom that others will too.
Now onto my third confession, I have been having endless problems with glazes for years. Because of my "kiln situation", I fire my pieces at two local pottery facilities . Each facility is impressive in its own right. You can see photos of one here. We're talking about a combine inventory of 4 gas and at least 8 to 10 electric kilns (I have lost count). There is ample room to dry, glaze, throw, carve, etch, and do whatever else you can imagine to your clay. I am very lucky to have such resources where I live. All of this goodness, comes with one catch, both facilities fire in cone 10 (reduction) or cone 06 (oxidation) ONLY, and nothing in between. This fact presents a big problem in my process. I happen to love working with porcelain and I prefer to paint designs using bright colorful glazes (no dipping). That type of glaze don't exist in cone 10, at least in my experience with commercial ones. They do come in cone 06, but they consistently craze (crack) on porcelain (i.e. not food safe). I've tried all sorts of work arounds but to date, I am still nowhere closer to where I want to be. If only I can fire at whatever range of temperature I need, all my glaze troubles would be solved.
I guess you're seeing my dilemma now, right? It's the age-old question. What comes first? the chicken or the egg? Or in my case, the kiln or my art? I need a show of hands please. Which way should I sway?
The picture above is that of a raku kiln taken by my friend, Natalie, earlier this week at our pottery facility.