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Making Interesting Mistakes

I thought I was using a mid-fire clay. Turned out I was using a low-fire clay. Why is this important? Because when low-fired clay is fired to a mid-fire temperature, the low-fired clay melts. All over the shelf and on to two really nice pieces. I had soaked dried clay in water to turn it back into useable clay – reclaim. I didn’t realize I was mixing low-fire clay with mid-fire clay.  IMG_1767

These didn’t completely melt – but they will live on in the proposed Crock Garden. It’s like a rock garden, but I’ll be planting plants in failed pots.

Having made several more pieces from that batch of reclaim, I had to be creative.

I couldn’t use the mid-fire glazes on low-fire clay. If a mid-fire glaze is fired to a low-fire temperature, the glaze doesn’t mature. It stays nasty and powdery. Jim dug out the under glazes. Under glazes are colored glazes that go under the final – usually clear – glaze.


I’ve been experimenting by giving one shape many different decorations/glazes/carving. Above is a pointillist sort of sunflowers on a sky background. Alas, I neglected to put the sky in first, so I had to do background around the sunflowers.


Originally, I was going to use the same glazes on this piece as on the piece made from white stoneware. The brown clay would cause the glazes to look a bit different. Because this clay is low-fire and the stoneware is mid-fire, I had to rethink how I wanted this vase to look. So I played with underglazes and brushed water over the top of layered glazes. I’m hoping that will give the underglazes more depth.


This piece is made from mid-fire clay, but I wanted to see what would happen if I layered  a number of different blues and purples.


Usually, underglazes applied to a brown clay are duller after they are fired so I’m curious to see how this will look when it’s finished.


To test out some of the underglazes, I used buttons that will eventually go on a fiber art piece.

All of these pieces are greenware – they haven’t been bisque fired so they are fragile and the colors of the under glazes may change once the pieces are fired. The bisque fire is scheduled for tomorrow. The kiln will be unloaded on Tuesday and there will be photos.



I retired from the Public Defender Dept. November 12, 2015 after 21+ years as a criminal defense attorney. Now, I'm a full time multi-media artist and writer starting on a new adventure. As an artist, I create with beads, fabric, fiber, and ceramic clay. Sometimes separately; sometimes in assorted combinations. You can find my on-line store at: