A pony in the toaster, and an army on the counter

I thought I’d never finish him, but at long last my sabino Lirico has all his ticking and is ready for firing. That’s him in my smaller kiln, an AIM 88, affectionately known as “The Toaster”. It’s only 8″ x 8″ and 9″ deep, so larger horses – or larger loads – don’t fit in it. But it does allow me to fire individual pieces without wasting energy. Most pieces I glaze are fired multiple times, and even if I start a group together they always get out of sync in their firings, so having the AIM saves me from firing the larger Skutt half empty.

The other advantage to the AIM is that it has a computerized controller. That means I can turn it on and never touch it again until the horse is ready to come out. The larger kiln uses old-fashioned cones, and I have to turn the heat up manually every two hours during the six hour firing cycle. Since I usually fire at night (because no one wants to run a space heater in the day during the summer!), and I’m really not a night person, I like not having to stay up with the kiln.

So Lirico is in The Toaster, waiting for the cooler part of the day. And I’ll be working on improving the ranks of the Finn-and-Al army.

Don’t they look like those Chinese terra cotta armies? If Emperor Qin’s horses needed giant yellow sponge cradles, that is.

With the upcoming summer and fall lotteries, I decided I needed to replenish my supplies and Finns and Al-Hadiyes. (I know that “Al” seems a most inappropriate name for a delicate little Arabian. But ceramic artists almost always give molds a shortened moniker, and I must admit that I still don’t know the proper pronunciation of his real name!)

One of the problems with casting in ceramic is that it’s a bit like boiling pasta. It doesn’t require much skill (removing the castings is another matter), but it does require just the right amount of waiting. Just the right amount, as it turns out, to tempt a person to do “just one little thing” during that time. And just as it’s easy to forget the cooking pasta, it’s easy to forget to refill or drain the mold. I am a master at ruining a casting this way. Add in my children (random “just one little thing” generators), and I am truly hopeless.

But while we came back from Alabama, my children stayed for the rest of the week. I don’t retrieve them until Sunday. So I have been taking advantage of having only my own distractions at play (a high enough risk), and set about making castings. So far I haven’t forgotten any!

The other problem with ceramic castings is that they require a lot of clean-up, as this close-up of one of the Finns shows. Cleaning them requires a lot less effort than resin because the material is soft (and water soluble). But it does take time, so today I’ll be perfecting my little army of ponies. And maybe I’ll take my chances and pour another set!


One Response to A pony in the toaster, and an army on the counter

  1. mel July 26, 2008 at 3:51 am #

    AH! That face! Those ears!!

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