Glazing Daze…

One of the things I love about working in clay is when you’re in the studio and you’ve got the tunes jammin’ and you zone out into that world that has no time. Later you look up and hours have past and it only seemed like a fraction of that.

Zone is an accurate word and has very positive connotations whereas sometimes the zone can turn into a daze and you’re not even aware except that the blissful feeling seems to have disappeared. That being said, I offer a bit of rare and obvious advice… zero out your scale! I had some base glaze mixed and was ready to add some tin oxide the other day and had to wait (see 2 posts previous). I use a digital scale thats capacity is 400 grams accurate to the 1/10 of a gram. This means that after accounting for the weight of the measuring cup (tare weight), I can only put 300 grams/cup of any ingredient and if I need 1300 grams of EPK, I put four 300 gram cupfuls plus weigh out another 100 to get to 1300. But when I’m done with the base glaze, for various reasons I shift to another cup for colorants. This cup has a different tare weight and this is where I need to re-zero out the scale, otherwise the weight of each cupful will be off by the difference in weight of the two different cups. So when I finally got the tin, I weighed out the remaining ingredients with the small cup and after sieving that went back to start another base glaze. Did I zero it out or no? Well I measured out the entire 8000 gram base glaze and when I set the small cup on the scale and hit the re-zero button, in that split second, I thought I saw the wrong number but it was gone because I just hit the zero out button. I mixed and sieved and the amount of mixed-up glaze just seemed wrong but no way to prove it without starting completely over and comparing the two. After fretting for a while, I decided to trust my gut and I calculated the difference in tare weights and multiplied that by the number of cupfuls of each ingredient and added the percentage of each partial cupful and added all that into the glaze. I feel more than 50% sure that this is correct because when I added up all the numbers (even though there were numbers on my mix sheet like 1448, etc.), the total unmixed ingredients came out to an unbelievable 900 grams even. I bet you’re wishing you had back that part of your life. So this is where you’ve left the zone and entered the daze. The daze is a dangerous place. I have 3 different strength reading glasses lying around the studio depending how close I have to get to something and I had a pot in my tongs ready to go with a recently agitated slurry of glaze and I realized I had my “too far away” glasses on instead of my “medium I’m gonna dip this piece” glasses so I hurriedly reached over, grabbed the correct specs and proceeded to jab myself right in the center of my left eye with the part of the glasses that rests on my left ear. Aside from hurting like hell, I had a side to side phantom image of everything I looked at up until I went to bed. It seems fine now, much to my relief… the fluid in your eyes while you sleep is a miraculous liquid. Anyway, getting there slowly and maybe I’ll get to run a kiln this weekend… I guess only then I’ll know if I zeroed out that scale or not. More pots…

This big bowl is drying because I had to rinse it off yesterday. The shellac leaves detritus on the surface of the pot after the bisque and I checked the outside but forgot the inside (the daze) and there was just a touch around the rim which became obvious after dipping the big boy…

It sounds worse than it was and I did have some help from the bug who came in to glaze some of her tiles. They’re on the shelves in the shot above. Today is a new day though, the sun is out, my eye is healed, the glazes are all mixed and global warming has been solved… oh wait, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.


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14 Responses to “Glazing Daze…”

  1. Connie Says:

    Hi Jim!!
    Great post today, I can relate on so many levels!!! Also, I am reading this on my planning period at school and another teacher’s class is in my room, I look up to see the entire class watching me laugh hysterically with my old friend the computer and my new friend (you).

    Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Miri Says:

    Oh boy! I’m about to mix up some glazes myself (running low on Licorice Black and Raw Sienna of course…) and some tests. Good reminder to watch it with that tare button!

    Did you end up mixing up some raspberry or variation thereof? That tin oxide has to be going somewhere good!

  3. Eleanor Hendriks Says:

    You are so right! I love The Zone but The Daze is killer. Good name for it…

  4. zygote Says:

    I’ve lived through this particular lesson a few times now… seems like I’d learn it well enough the first time, but no.

  5. liz Says:

    it must be international mix your glaze week. I have been doing just that very thing at the school, and needing to run home to rob my own studio for the one missing thing…. more than once!

  6. ron Says:

    Man, I can totally relate to that whole glaze mixing mess. I’ve gotten lost/confused several times and just thrown a whole batch out. Or started over with the batch in question just sitting in a corner. It really sucks when you’ve put your most expensive materials in there already and you get down to the ball clay and totally screw it up.

  7. Cindy Gilliland Says:

    Lol.. sORRy 😦

  8. judi tavill Says:

    I TOTALLY relate. This is my big issue… sometimes I feel like:Who am I kidding? and then I get a little rest… of course when I’m feeling this way I never think to get a little rest… It is always nice to know that someone of such talent and fabulosity pulls crap that I pull…I’m always so anxious to see results that glazing becomes a cryptic blur of me jotting things down so I know what worked and then I can’t even read what I wrote… well… I am going to step back and take my time a bit… I wanted to turn on the kiln NOW so I could see results before I leave to go out of town this weekend (tomorrow afternoon) but you know what? I am not doing it… I will fire this kiln on monday after trying various combos and taking clear notes so by Tuesday I may actually have some decent results. Thank you Jim. Thank you.

  9. keith Says:

    I can relate! My glaze daze came a little over a week ago. My glaze recipes are in excel and have columns for different size batches… 10K gram batch, 5K gram batch, 2.5K batch, and 1K batch, etc. . I was measuring out a copper red and for some reason I started out measuring from one column, and switched to another, didn’t realize it till the last ingredient and was like… that’s a lot of copper… doh!

  10. Ben Stark Says:

    Man! I’ve got to mix glazes, and now I’m all worried I’ll get all screwed up. I think we’ve all been there before–it’s so easy to mess some part up while mixing glazes.

  11. ang Says:

    and speaking of reading glasses jim do me a favour and put a paragraph space in….i think i must be due for an eye test man they’re sore…
    anyhoo i was up late drawing last night so thats prob it…mixing glazes man i tick. i read, i measure, i measure again and dont talk to me while im doing it either! hope it all come outta the kiln magically all together…

  12. Meredith Says:

    Oh we have been right there.
    More then one time.
    We once had a young women working for us and she was mixing our glazes- yes I hear the laughter now- we unload the kiln and 3 shelves of pots are sitting glued down to the shelf with glaze.
    She forgot to add something……. needless to say we never have anyone but us (Mark) mix the glaze.
    And we tossed out the 30gal. batch because there was no way to figure out what she did not do.
    Lessons learned.

  13. eugene hon Says:

    Concur on all fronts especially the bit about the 3 strength reading glasses – well I have four, one to read the text on the TV (bottom of the screen) when lying on the couch. Two specifically for my drawings and decoration and the other reading. One in particular works for computer and general admin. I now have six glasses – just in case I forget them somewhere. Always keep a pair in the boot of the car – to read the menu at restaurants etc. God thinking about it – its a nightmare. It is amazing how we adjust to these kinds of situations – and quickly. I need to color code them – I keep on misplacing them all over the teaching studio (at work) and at home, either in the kitchen, bedroom god knows everywhere.

    Mixing is not my strengths either especially plaster for mould-making – The mixing mode can have disastrous consequences

  14. Al Says:

    It’s Czikzentmihaly’s “Flow,” and it is great, no?

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