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Firing 15

Experimenting with multiple glazes on one pot can be rewarding and also disasterous. However that is the nature of pottery. Opening the kiln after a firing is like opening Christmas presents…you will get some you love and some that are disappointing.

Cascade pots 140mm (h) 120mm (w)

Cascade pots
140mm (h) 120mm (w)


Round pot 150mm(w) 60mm( h)


100mm(w)80mm( h) and 140X80


2 glazes – 150mm(w) 60 (h) round pot


3 glaze combination


3 glaze 280mm(w) 75(h)

Firing No 10

Still enjoying experimenting and learning about glazes and clays and pot forms.

Pretty pleased with some recent pots.


Soft Cornered square pot-110mmx55mm

Oval Pot 225 X 65mm

Oval Pot 225 X 65mm

Round Pot 180mmX70mm

Round Pot 180mmX70mm

Six sided cascade - back probably a bit aof fuming from another glaze on neighbouring pot in kiln

Six sided cascade – back probably a bit a of fuming from another glaze on neighbouring pot in kiln

Six sided cascade - front 230mmX120mm

Six sided cascade – front

Still Learning

I have been busy experimenting with new glazes and doing some single firing of pots ie not doing a bisque firing  but one slow  fire through to a glaze finish. A bit tricky because you need a glaze that can fit the shrink rate of the clay. A pot shrinks about 10% in the bisque firing so a single fire glaze needs to accomodate this shrink. And yes I have had some disasters.

Opening the kiln is a bit like Christmas…you get some presents you love and then there is Aunt Jane who always gives you a shocker of a present!

I have also sold some pots to Ray Nesci Nursery at Dural and Bonsai World at Jilliby so I have been busy doing what I love.DSC06702 converted edit DSC06700

Fertiliser Cakes for Bonsai

Fertilizer cakes

Fertilizer cakes

It has been a strange summer weatherwise on the Central Coast of NSW. Humid, lots of storms and rain with wide fluctuations of temperature. Not a great growing season for bonsai but my trees have grown nicely, assisted by these soybean fertilizer cakes. Joe Morgan-Payler gave me his recipe while here demonstrating in September so I have used them all season.

Joe Morgan-Payler is a great bonsai demonstrator. He has the ability to impart knowledge to the beginner and the advanced bonsai artist in the same session and he is very generous in sharing his knowledge. Thanks for the recipe Joe.

Fertilizer cakes for Bonsai from Joe Morgan-Payler

10 cups blood and bone

10 cups soy bean meal ( or any high protein meal)

½ cup molasses to help bacteria breakdown

Mixed up with Charlie carp or seaweed extract to make to a paste – approx. 3 litre

4  teaspoons trace elements

Mix up and leave sit for 24 hours or longer to soak up the moisture and start to ferment.

Scoop out with ½ size ice cream scoop and dry in the sun on a large boards. You can also put the dry ingredients in  fabric tea bags that you can buy from Dyso (Presoak in the wet ingredients prior to application..

May need to compact down a bit more so holds together well.Put a little thumb indent in the top of each cake to hold and allow water to penetrate.

Dry on a board in the sun for a few days, turning over to dry thoroughly.Store in airtight container.

Place two on each bonsai, in opposing corners of the pot. 2 weeks later add another  two fertiliser cakes to different corners/sides and so on. On a developing tree you may end up with the soil surface completely covered after a few months where as you may want to reduce the amount used on more developed trees to maintain the finer ramification.

PS          1. This can get very smelly if you leave the wet mixture sit too  long.

  1. Dogs and bush rats adore these cakes and will eat them off your pots.
  2. Blowflies also love them when they are drying in the sun

Firing No 3

Some new glazes tested in firing No 3


Oxblood glaze on buff clay


Oxblood glaze on white clay


White clay goes slight grey in reduction firing





Not quite purple – more testing needed`


Matte green glaze on buff clay


Spring – Great Year for Flowering Bonsai

Just a wee brag about how gorgeous my wisteria and plum are this spring. Time a made some pots for these two! I think of the plum as a grand old lady so a simple elegant feminine pot – Not blue! Perhaps a lightly textured deep brown/black temmoku glaze  to imitate the bark.

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The pot for the wisteria could drop dramatically in size and a perhaps a literati style pot but a deep earthy purple glaze would be lovely – a shame  purple glazes are very tricky!

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Glaze Mysteries and 2nd firing

A stoneware glaze firing- reaching 1300 C in a gas kiln takes around 10 hours.  You need to watch and adjust the settings frequently to get the right temperature rise to avoid cracking due to thermal shock. Reduction has to start at the right temperature -usually around 1000 C to get the best results in glazes and clay effects. The kiln may need a soak near the top temperature to allow the whole kiln temperature to even out. ( A soak is really just holding at temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. It is surprising how you can have a cool spot in a kiln where glazes don’t mature- even 20 degrees makes a big difference!)

Glazes react to temperature, the clay and the atmosphere in the kiln. They are different if applied thickly or thinly. Layering one glaze over another can create interesting effects. With glazing it sometimes seems there are unlimited variables.

Below is the same glaze- Janet deBoos 136 on a white clay and a buff clay!



Below a teadust glaze on 2 different clays – I was surprised at such strong variation


This is usually a lovely golden brown but was in a cool section of the kiln and did not mature.


First firing- pots and glazes

I have been experimenting with textures and glazes and combinations therein. So much still to learn – trying to remember it is the journey not the destination that is important!


Lichen crescent pot


Distressed  round pot 19cm diameter


Oval pot 14cm at widest pt


Love this zinc glaze


Ist Firing

25th July2015

6 weeks passed and still I have not got the gas connected. My gas installer became very ill and I am now on the waiting list for another gas man. Kiln is packed and I wait!


August 6th

Today is the day. Scary but very exciting. Can I get the temperature rise just right? Will I manage a good reduction atmosphere in the kiln. So much to learn.

10 hours later – firing is complete. Well there were a few steep learning curves…the flames going up the chimney were not planned…opened the damper and eased up on the  reduction …and now I wait 2 days before it will be cool enough to open.

August 8th

Pretty pleased!


My New Kiln Arrives

I began learning ceramics so I could make some lovely pots for my bonsai trees. I did not realise I would become enchanted with the malleability of clay and the quest for a perfect glaze.

I fired my first pots in the Central Coast Potters Society electric kilns but longed for the magic that happens in a reduction firing. I bought myself a second hand    ( some 20 years old) gas kiln and when I had gained some confidence in firing this I ordered a new kiln from Steve Harrison – some what of a pottery legend himself!

My gorgeous new kiln arrived on the 13th of June on a truck complete with crane. After some fiddling we managed to fit the kiln in my shed. Two roof panels were swapped around so the flue and chimney connected. Now I have to wait 2 weeks for the gas installer and I will be ready to fire my pots.

My Gorgeous New Kiln

My Gorgeous New Kiln