This week I've been busy trying to get ready for my very first Indie Craft Fair. If you happen to be in the Columbus, Ohio area on April 1st, stop by Little Brothers on N. High St. and say hi! I'm really excited about this event, especially after listening to the CraftyPod episode on Urban Craft Uprising. It just feels like such an exciting venue.
In preparation for the event, I've been busy making more Shawl Pins. I have a bunch of dark stoneware beads to make into pins tonight and tomorrow but what I'm really excited about at the moment is the promising results of my early raku experiments.
In the past, I have achieved metallic reduction using pitfiring techniques developed in cooperation with a friend with whom I'm no longer in contact. Since I live in the suburbs and my studio is near my home, all of the pitfiring was done at her more remote rural studio. The unfortunate result of this is that I have always been dependent on her firing schedule and have had to answer inquiries about ordering my reduction fired goddesses and other work with a lack of certainty which I fear has translated to lost sales.
I have been uncertain how best to solve this problem. To be honest, I've been somewhat reluctant to even acknowledge that there was a problem. The whole situation between the two of us was just too complicated already without trying to factor my dependence upon her for this into the equation. I guess that I always felt, on some level, as though I was imposing upon her for these firings and never wanted to appear ungrateful. When our friendship started to disintegrate, I started letting my regular pitfire customers know that the supply had dried up for the foreseeable future.
We started pit firing because our early raku efforts were not entirely successful. Beads don't have much thermal mass and generally cooled too quickly to ignite the materials in the post firing reduction chamber. By taking our glazed and fired beads to the pit and refiring them there, the thermal mass issue wasn't really a factor. Everything was fired until the fuel had been reduced to embers and then buried to smother the fire and cause the reduction of the glaze. The thing is, there are actually quite a few raku bead artists who have solved the thermal mass problem and who consistently produce beautiful raku beads. I've known this all along. I've only just recently decided that the results are worth the added experimentation required to make it work for me.
I'd like to think that the pins shown here are a good start. I'll probably be posting some pictures of my process as I work more of the kinks out.