Saturday, November 15, 2014
Reposted from my old website.
I just came back from the blacksmith, Toby Kroll. I can not wait to fire again using my new tongs for Obvara. Let me explain.
When you raku or Obvara fire your ceramics, the work is in a kiln, and brought up to 1800 degrees F. It takes about 30 minutes to reach that temperature. But the crazy thing is, that you open the kiln and take your piece out-red hot! I used the traditional raku tongs purchased from the catalogs. They just didn’t hold the work very well. I could not manipulate the piece, I felt lucky that I could hold it long enough that it did not drop. How could I ever expect to manipulate the piece and control how I dip it in the mixture, if I was just praying it would not fall from the tongs. When you put the work in the Obvara water-the pressure from the heat of the ceramic work touching the water creates a force, that pushes the piece away from the water, and sometimes such a force can be created that the piece can go flying out of control.
I decided that the European tongs I saw in the Obvara videos might be the solution. . So I brought a picture to Toby Kroll and the journey started. First, he didn’t like the design, but did try them. And he was right, they didn’t hold my bisque fired geese any better. Through a google search I found Robert Compton’s clam shell raku kiln and some interesting tongs. I showed these to Toby, and being an expert at making tools, he analyzed what he liked and did not like about the design. He made tongs similar to the tongs above except on one side there are 2 prongs and the other side has only 1. Three is a better number to work with for balance and it holds my geese very well, whatever the size.
So, I need some warmer weather, so it will be time to try out these new tongs. I will report back and take a picture of my tongs.