Wednesday, August 28, 2013

NEW Handmade Ceramic Buttons!

Well, this is very exciting for me: I just unloaded my first batch of handmade ceramic buttons that I fired myself in my new kiln! I'm sharing just a selection here in this post, as there are far too many to display at once...
Until last week, I have been using studio kilns to fire my pendants and buttons. Working in a studio is great because you get to socialize with other like-minded artists, and you learn from each other.
But working in a studio can have its limitations: In my case, I had to work with cone-10 clay and glazes, and fire in a gas kiln. The colors just weren't my favorites (mostly browns)—not to say they weren't pretty, but I was kind of hoping to make ceramic art with brighter hues.
Naturally, some grunge is always acceptable in my world! Anyway, a few weeks ago I found a used Skutt kiln for sale in my neighborhood, and the very kind lady who was selling it actually delivered it to my house at no charge. I then had to hire an electrician to wire me up for 240 voltage, which cost more than twice what I paid for my kiln!
I also had to purchase some extra shelves and posts, glazes, and cone-5 clay. But once everything was set, I was in business.
Last week I fired two kiln-loads of bisque. I had previously spent weeks (yes, weeks) making hundreds of buttons, and they were all nice and dry by the time I was ready to test-fire them in my kiln for the first time. Both bisque firings went well. I used white porcelain and brown stoneware, and a really cool super-black clay too. The buttons shown above were made with Basaltic Black clay and glazed with "crawl" glazes for a super-grungy look. The glaze looks like it's going to flake off, but it's actually quite durable. Reminds me of tree bark...
I also worked with some lighter glaze colors. Lots of blues, yellows, greens, and whites.
The color of clay you use has a huge effect on the outcome of your glaze firings. As the glaze melts and interacts with the clay, chemistry takes over and you get lots of results you were not expecting!
The buttons shown here are from my very first glaze firing, which I unloaded from the kiln early this morning. And naturally, I've already reloaded the kiln with hundreds more buttons, and they're in a firing cycle right now.
It's simply wonderful having my own kiln. I feel that my creativity has been freed up and I'm ready to rock it now! I love experimenting with clay and glaze. You just never know for sure what you're gonna get...
In a few days I'll start putting my buttons in my etsy shop, but right now I have to get back to work and paint more glaze on my next batch of buttons!
I hope you've enjoyed this little preview of my latest work. I love making buttons!!!
Cheers,
Sharilyn

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