This week is my first back in the studio. Things are serious as this semester is my absolute last chance to complete the masters. Despite the pressure I'm trying to enjoy myself, and I am looking forward to some dedicated time making.
I'm also trying to keep a bit of balance - I have set aside 1 day each week to spend with my husband, as well as a weekly visit to my mother plus 1 other social "contact" each week. I am aiming for 3 solid days of working, (of course, when I say day, I mean "CFS day" which is highly variable, but for me is a maximum of 4 hours work, starting somewhere between 11am and 2pm) and the remaining day is for whatever seems most pressing that week - it might be physical rest, it might be housework or cooking, or maybe more time in the studio.
I am hoping that the time with my husband and friends will de-stress me enough to allow me to keep this up. I guess I will know how I am going in a few weeks. I know 3 days working doesn't look that much, but I know my limits, and I know that the pressure can get to me pretty quickly. I start to feel exhausted and then the migraines start. Will it be enough? I honestly don't know, but I know I'll have to be disciplined and intelligent in my approach, as well as having a good dose of luck!
Anyway, I was pretty happy with the progress I made this week. I tidied up the clay pages you saw here, and loaded the kiln for the bisque firing. For those who aren't familiar with firing, the bisque is the first firing, to around 1000deg C. You take the temperature up slowly (about 90deg C per hour) until you have passed the critical point of 573 deg, where crystal inversion occurs. After that you can take the temperature up more quickly. Once the firing has reached temperature, you turn the kiln off and go away. You have to let it cool naturally until it reaches a temperature where you can handle the pieces in your bare hands. Any over enthusiasm in opening the kiln before it has cooled, may result in your precious pieces cracking at this stage.
Well, I was patient. I was very patient. But still the firing has not been completely successful. Quite a lot of the pages have cracked, and I'm not sure why. Fortunately I made nearly 3 times as many as I need, but even so I'm not sure that I have enough that I am happy to use. I had heard that Imperial Porcelain is inclined to crack, but I presumed this was in the forming. As I had few problems at that stage, I thought I was in the clear, but perhaps it is a problem in firing.
If there is anyone reading who has any suggestions, I would be pleased to hear from you!
For now I'm off to bed, and tomorrow I'll take another look at the slabs and see if there are enough....I only need 8, so keep your fingers crossed for me.....
In the meantime, here are a couple of my photos from the trip. The first one was taken in the garden at Borthwnog Hall and the second is at Avesbury Circle in England. The yellow is a field of rapeseed behind the girl.