Thursday, April 28, 2011

Survey Sez...

Most statisticians would look askance at anyone drawing conclusions from a small sampling, but sometimes a few people can really shed light where it's needed. Eight people have so far responded to the Lowell Hill Pottery Survey and while I hope more do, I have some data to work with.

I also have work to do!

By a large margin, the most popular glaze color is Ducks Head Black. That's a little surprising to me, but only a little. It is a very unusual glaze with a wonderful character. While it is not yet available for production, its reformulation is the first item on the agenda once I get the water turned back on for the warm season (which I expect to do next week). The science is on paper right now, and I am sure only a few passes will be needed to get a glaze that looks as it should. But then the safety tests will have to be done. Black is a difficult color to formulate and make hard and permanent. But two customers have already called this year to inquire about Ducks Head, so it will take center stage until it is ready to go.

Ducks Head and Turquoise was the next most popular pattern. The Turquoise is all formulated and in production, so once the Ducks Head is ready, this will be a snap.

What really surprised me was the popularity of the Jonquil Yellow glaze. It is as popular as the Turquoise and the Black and Seagull pattern. I have already had on inquiry about it and will begin reformulation very soon. In fact, Yellow is a variant of the white formula, so the base glaze is finished. All I need to do is establish the right amounts of colorant. Then the tests, of course. You have to do the tests.

I am halfway to a good workable Seagull, which I will try along with the new Ducks Head. Rowantrees had stopped using the Black glaze by the time production ceased in 2008, but I am not beyond recreating it. Still, the blue interface between Ducks Head and Seagull is very attractive.

So the plan starting in early May is set. Ducks Head and Yellow need to be addressed.

I will also start bisque ware production. You may recall that I decided to increase the firing temperature last year. This was largely because the glazes were having fit problems at the original firing temperatures on the new clay body. Increasing the temperature a little solved that problem for most of the glazes. But raising the firing temperature caused the older Rowantrees bisque ware to shrink excessively, making the final product too small. For that reason, I abandoned the plan of using up the remaining bisque stock that existed at Rowantrees. I will start from scratch, whis is a bit daunting, but not terribly so.

This move also gives me a chance to advance the firing temperatures even more. The new clay can be fired at much higher temperatures than the old, and the higher I go, the more durable the final product. I see no reason not to head for the top temperature as I go forward.

That move may, of course, require more adjustments to the glaze formulas, but it might not. I'll be finding out soon!

I'll be posting more very soon as there were some comments that I want to answer here. The conversation is a thrill. Getting feedback during the creative process is a wonderful way to find out what is needed.

More later...