Kiln firing continued

After several more loads, I now have several of my original sculptures preserved in the hard terracotta state.

Other than some minor warpage of the JMCCO monogram panel due to it’s tipping forward at an angle in the kiln during the firing process, all the other pieces turned out completely free of any cracks or other issues.

Here are some photos of the now fired sculptures, all but one was modelled in Continental Clay’s raku clay which can be fired up to cone 10, I fired all of these to cone 1 except the angel panel. The thing is, I never actually intended to kiln fire any of these models since they were generated just to enable taking a silicone mold from, but most of the original models came out of the mold making process intact and so I thought it would be a shame to throw them out and just stored them away on a shelf in the basement. A few of these have been stored away since 2005, 2006. A few others suffered some minor to major damage in the mold making process, the owl center sitting in the kiln as I write this lost a little surface of his beak and the top scroll broke off, the Senator Hotel griffin panel broke in half, but I will fire what will fit, and repair as practical.

The where is this kiln firing going now is a good subject, it’s been a goal for a considerable length of time to eventually phase out casting anything in concrete for exterior use and restoration or new installation in a brick wall. Replacing the concrete with a more durable, valuable, and historically correct material like terracotta has been part of that goal. The plans have been to develop a small number of models to be able to offer them in this material.

Most people don’t know a lot about the processes, and it’s too involved to go into detail here, but essentially to make these in terracotta, very complex multi piece plaster molds (instead of silicone and plaster) must be made, and every undercut in the design either accounted for with the mold sections, or temporarily filled in so the hard plaster mold sections can be removed. What that means is, every cast made from clay in these molds will have to be hand refined and detailed to put back any undercut areas that were filled in, and generally clean up the mold seem lines.

This is exactly how the original ornaments were made in the 1800s, but labor was cheap back then and today I have to consider the cost for firing the kiln and my time hand detailing each piece.

I determined the kiln takes a little less than $5 worth of electricity to fire to cone 1 over 18 hours 50 minutes (56 kwh on the electric meter) and for the most part I can only fit one, or at most two pieces in at a time, and even though the kiln is automatic, electronic controllers do fail, so every firing will need me to drive over and check to be sure it shut off properly.

The purchase of the clay and more importantly the shipping costs for it, is another cost to consider that has to be factored into the pricing of these.

I don’t feel the current economic situation is conductive to marketing this with much success, but working on the firing aspects and possibly experimenting with glazes, and then making a mold for a small piece is a good preliminary start towards offering these later.

The 202 cherub


Rear of the cherub 202


The 649 Pan center


D5 Art Deco


JMCCO monogram panel done in Continental Clay “Course Red” clay