Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

Water Lilies In Late July

Kenilworth is well worth a visit. Started as an area of reflection after the Civil War, cheap swamp land allowed a vet to purchase and start growing lilies. Eventually he and his daughter planted many different types that are on display in around 10 large ponds on the Anacostia River in Washington DC.

The stunning beauty of the flowers in this park is unreal. Plus, that it is in north eastern DC and that I had never heard of it add to the mystical nature of the environment.

It is not only water lilies that one will encounter above and below show additional flora that grow in the shallow ponds. The combination of different blossoms adds interest to the mellow walk around the pools.

No, I have no idea what these different plants are, but walking among them was a wonderful adventure that I was able to enjoy with my Mom. I’m glad we had this chance to hang out and spend a few moments amongst these beauties.

It was crowded on the Saturday we chose as a festival was taking place, but I’m sure there are times earlier or late in the day when it is less busy. This was only my second time to the park. The first was in mid-late June and the lilies were only budding; no blooms yet. So, I’d say late June to late July are the times to go. I may go on August 20th to check it out again as I would like to show my niece this place and see if the blooms are still full.

These larger lilies are a type of lotus. Look at the seed pods and leaves as they are just as cool as the blooms.

It is incredible as you walk among the ponds. You never know what you will find. I brought my dog and he loved it as well, though it was a little hot for him.

Here a dragonfly took a rest just as I walked by.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

Back to New Mexico

It was time to go back

There comes a time when you need to revisit things and that is just how I thought when I planned my last vacation. I wanted to see old friends and walk the places that had made me the happiest. So, I went back to New Mexico to eat good food, hang with friends and walk amongst the American Southwest and its amazing geology and stunning landscape.

We walked the Rio Grande down at the Bosque in Albuquerque. It is always a good experience to revisit the river. What a significant part of New Mexico and as well as a big part of my interaction there. There is so much to do and see that involves the river and don’t forget how important water is in a desert land.

The Fiery Food Festival: Yes, it is true that his was the main event of my trip to New Mexico. I walked Sandia Pueblo Casino and ate burning hot chili samples until my head exploded and my tastebuds didn’t accept the difference between beer and corn chips. As always good companionship and burning hot sauce was a great combination. I will always cherish going to the Fiery Food Festival. It was a yearly endeavor that promoted good times in New Mexico.

Tsankawi in Bandelier National Monument was another highlight. I wandered the ancient ruin and tread in the footsteps of another time. The day was beautiful and the landscape amazing. I have only been there a couple of times but it was well worth the effort. The cave dwellings are epic.

Not only can you see the how and where people lived, but you experience a time shift that puts you in their landscape. You see the craftmanship of creating livable space and surrounding areas where they grew their food and hunted for survival for thousands of years.

Centuries of walking on soft stone cut deep grooves.

The low road to Taos lets you pass through many environments and ecosystems, but this spot has always been a favorite. To some, just a barren hill, but I love the religious iconography placed upon it and the graves in front.

Spanish influence can be seen in many ways in New Mexico, but I picked this cross as Catholicism is everywhere. On the streets, promoted in festivals and in the museums you see the symbols.

Though an unknown mountain to many, San Antonito just south of the CO border is my favorite mountain. It is beautiful in many ways, but I like how it stands by itself. Powerful, peaceful and ready for life.

Abiquiu is such an amazing place. While I was there a blizzard arrived and the complete white out sent me packing back to Santa Fe. I can see why Georgia O’Keefe moved there and spent so much time making art work.

There is so much beauty in the environment; in the wild of New Mexico. You can also find it in the towns. Above was in Cerrillos, but all the different towns have such history and dynamic spaces it is difficult not to see beauty. Below is in Taos. I enjoyed pizza, great art, unexpected wildlife and some native perspective while I was there.

New Ceramics from the Varina Woodkiln

These pots were fired in a 2 chamber woodkiln by Tree Hill Pottery. They fire with revitalized wood scraps and logs found in the Richmond, VA area. The kiln fires from cone 6 to cone 11 in oxidation and reduction depending on the area of the kiln. The following work represents my glaze tests in different locations of the wood/salt chamber of the kiln.

Magnesia glaze on the inside with 3% iron as a colorant. This cup was once fired in a wood/salt atmosphere to cone 10. Cup was hand built over a wood hump mold with texture added to the outside by pressing and paddling with hand made and found wooden sticks.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
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Wood/Salt fired cup with woodash celadon glaze in the Chinese Longuan celadon tradition.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
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Trans Clear Pumice Glaze that can be found on This glaze is high in Calcium Carbonate and goes clear green where thick in reduction atmospheres over 1260 degrees cooled quickly. In an oxidized atmosphere this glaze goes clear/yellow. This cup is clear/yellow on the inside and clear/green on the outside indicating 2 different atmospheres at different times in teh firing.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
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VC Matte base. This cup has crystals from dark brown to green. The clay body looks reduced, but the interior of the cup looks oxidized and is a buttery yellow. My guess is the outside is showing carbon trapping from early in the firing producing the dark brown color. The green color may be coming from the salt in the kiln, but more tests are necessary.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
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Fake Ash glaze is darker and more brown on the exterior. Interior is showing more rivulets with more yellow coloration. Glaze has over 40% calcium carbonate, but has not run much. So, very possible the temp was not at cone 10. Surface is dry, but mature.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
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This is one of many tests for a blue celadon. It is showing a blue/green cast, but glaze needs to be much thicker. Glaze analysis was pulled from Nigel Wood’s book Chinese Glazes. Next firing will be same unaltered glaze with thicker application. Slight crystallization is evident.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
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Ceramic Vessels by Matthew Hardwick

Current sculptural vessels by Matthew Hardwick are on display now at Black Iris Gallery- 321 W. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23220. Opening Reception is March 6th from 5:30pm -10pm with accompaning ambient guitar by Hunter Duke.

This work explores time signatures left by textural paddles and sticks that are thrust and beaten into the clay over wooden and bisque molds that are carved with chainsaws, grinders, chisels and knives. The texture left by these tools is a physical manifestation of time; an interpretation of Matthew’s mortality.

The clay bodies are new and were formulated to show off flashing from the atmospheric kilns used to obtain them. The glazes create surfaces that contrast and highlight the surface texture.

The show is open through the month of March with a reception tomorrow, Friday March 6th and a closing reception on March 27th, 8-11pm to correspond with NCECA. This is a venue originated event in conjunction with NCECA and is on the bus tour during the last week of March.

The show was a success and thanks for all the support from those that attended the March 6th reception. The 2nd reception and NCECA was canceled, unfortunately, but it was a great experience to have my work up for a month and have locals get a chance to see more of my work.

Matthew Hardwick

Oahu Vacation

Sunset in Waiamae
The sun burst through the clouds
I love the sun spots left on the water

Yes, I made it back to paradise.

Oahu, North Shore

I didn’t know if it would ever happen. I’ve not been in Hawaii for 8 or 9 years.

Sunset, Waiamae

It was uncanny how the sun smiled upon us for 2 weeks. Only 2 days of rain,

Just north of Makaha Beach on the west side of Oahu

You can see the surfers and homeless in tents on the beach in the background. A dream come true…

USS Arizona
USS Arizona at Pearl harbor

No, it isn’t all fun and games in Hawaii. There are some serious aspects that need addressing. Pearl Harbor is a good reality check.

But there is always the sun. The sun keeps smiling in Hawaii.

Look at the sun as it pierces this wave

The sun is not alone out there, but it is dramatic. The water is just as beautiful.

But it is always back to the sun…

Soda firing

A friend let me use his soda kiln to fire my work last weekend. Here is the open kiln as I saw it a couple days after the firing. The firing was a little cold, but I learned alot from it and hope to use many of the pieces in my shows this coming spring.

Hottest part of the kiln. Bottom shelf – front about cone 9 down with heavy reduction

What I learned the most was how my glazes work in soda. Some did not turn out how I wanted them to, but some came out great. My core 3 glazes looked great and I can’t wait to use them again. there were maybe three other test glazes that I will mix up again. Also, there were several glazes that did not work and I hope to sieve them to get the materials to mix better in the firing and perhaps work next time.

Middle shelf front- About cone 8 down with medium reduction, but some carbon trapping.

I’m looking forward to firing soda again, though I dont’ know when that will be, but I hope to do some tests again soon to see if sieving a glaze will improve how it looks.

Me before I unloaded the kiln

Freer/Renwick Gallery permanent collections

The images are from the Freer/Renwick Galleries on 2 separate occasions in September 2019. I have seen the pieces in the Freer a million times as it is my favorite museum, but this is only the second time I’ve been to the Renwick. Both have amazing pieces that I have not photographed or seen deep in their archives. I wish they would rotate their collections more often.

Woodfiring in Woodstock, VA Sept, 2022

Hardwick Celadon Glaze
New tea bowl form fired for the first time in this September firing.

I’m still chasing firing this kiln the way I imagine my glazes and flashing clay body will work the best, but this was another great firing in a kiln that just keeps producing quick, fairly even results. Firing went 12-14hrs in this down draft bourry box kiln. We used mixed wood, but mostly oak cut as firewood, which is unheard of firing a kiln from start to finish. Smaller wood would have helped build heat at the end with less coals build up, but we used big chunks the whole way and it worked.

Flashing was red and coated all sides of my work as shown on the back of this plate.

We fired to cone 8/10 with cone 12 on the bag wall. I called the firing a little too early and my work in the cone 8 areas were too cold for the glaze to melt, but overall my work looked good and I only lost a small percentage due to underfiring. The end of the firing turned into “throw everything into the firebox and see what happens”, and we ended with a pretty even kiln top to bottom and side to side. I wish I had the forethought to allow the kiln to sit at the peak temperature for 30min or so and then close it off, but now I know that my glazes need cone 9 down to work.

My hope in firing is to do an early reduction at cone 012 and that was accomplished, but then I want no late reduction which I think will make my glazes pop. What I did learn is that my flashing clay bodies do not care if they have late reduction and maybe, they even like it. I hope next firing to reduce early and then keep a neutral/light reduction all the way up to completion. Coal raking needs to stop at cone 7/8 to eliminate dry patches on pots and smaller fuel needs to be utilized at the end to keep the fire box clear and the coals small enough to allow the necessary air.

Late coal bed raking caused large deposits of dry ash to accumulate on the side of this tea bowl.

The flashing on these pots was the 2nd best I have seen. The better firing was due to wet wood and nail accumulation due to using pallet wood for half the firing. Now that we don’t use pallets and there are no nails the firings have been steady heat building until the kiln is a rocket ship that has difficulty slowing down.

Flashing was red on both the EPK and Grolleg bodies with about 1% iron in them. The high silica test body flashed brown/red and went white with too much ash build-up. It slumped at cone 12 on the bag wall. The basalt body flashed brown with slight deep red flashing at cone 12 on the bag wall. The basalt created black spots, so the test needs to be redone with pumice substituted for the basalt or the basalt needs to be bisqued and then crushed into smaller powder for better results. As shown below the store bought clay I used for drip tiles did not flash, but went darker brown. On the right are 2 or 3 different flashing clay bodies I manufactured that went a true red in this firing. Early reduction was for 2 hrs with neutral/light reduction to cone 7, then moderate to heavy reduction to cone 10.

stoneware did not flash red (Soldate 60)
Flashing clay bodies flashed red
Test cups 1-4
Test cups 5, 6, 7

The 7 test cup glazes were as follows: Robin’s Egg, Ru, Chai, Blue Longquan, Dayao 1, Dayao 2, Hangzhou-Guan. These glazes were chosen as they all have high quantities of Grolleg porcelain as an ingredient in their recipes and exhibit crawling as a result. The test was to glaze them each, bisque them and then glaze them a second time to see if the crawling would stop. The crawling did stop on all of the first pre-bisqued coatings except for #1 &2. #6 crawled on the post-bisque coating, but not the pre-bisque coating. The other glazes worked, though some were slightly underfired.

  1. Robin’s Egg- This glaze was slightly underfired, though it has been beautiful in other firings where it went to cone 10. My guess is the samples in this firing all went to cone 8 and did not reach maturity. Samples that did not have a pre-bisque coating crawled like crazy. interior of this cup crawled extensively with bare patches that were not flashed, so glaze either moved after early reduction or glaze became glass before late reduction. Possible there was little reduction in this back area of kiln, but foot of cup has flashing on it. Glaze needs to have 100% calcined Grolleg in recipe and more tests will need to be done if the 100% calcined kaolin does not solve issue. it is possible that fast firing cracks the glaze so that it cannot repair itself in the late stages of the firing.
  2. Ru- Both layers of glaze crawled extensively. Glaze surface was perfect at cone 8/9, but crawling ruined most samples. Drips of glaze show that maturity was reached. Cone 12 samples of this glaze did not all crawl. Glaze must have evened out at higher temp, but glaze goes shiny and white frosting or foamy appearance accumulates in thick areas. Beautiful both ways, but glaze crawling destroys effected pieces. 100% calcined Grolleg kaolin needs to be used to reduce crawling. Bentonite or Epsom Salts will need to be altered as there will be no clay to keep glaze suspended. Cone 9 seems to be perfect temp for this glaze.
  3. Chai- I liked old version of this glaze better, though this sample looks pretty nice. Thick 2nd coating stayed consistent overall and was not too green as in previous firings, but inside bottom of cup showed dark green pools, so maybe gray coloration was due to underfiring. Dark green coloration looked to be in pooled wood ash areas in bottom of cup. Crawling was non-existent, but cup looked slightly underfired. Needs a good cone 9 down. White specks may be calcined Grolleg, so glaze needs to be double screened or 100mesh screened (I only did 80mesh). Crazing was heavy where wood ash hit it, with possible fish scaling where wood ash was thickest. I think this version of the glaze accidentally has 1% iron put into it instead of the .25% indicated in the recipe, so next version should have 100% Grolleg kaolin with no iron added, to lighten this version. Maybe, mix up the old version with 100% Grolleg and add to this version to see if iron is okay. Old version was more like Ru in surface quality, but was white as there was no iron added to it. Somewhere in the middle is probably perfect in color and surface.
  4. Blue Longquan Celadon, Southern Song #2- Looked good as is, but is a little underfired to get true color. This test looked gray, but there was minimal crawling which should be fixed with hotter firing. Close to a true Guan with wide craze lines. Earthworm tracks shown where glaze drying cracks did not fully close up. Cone 9 needs to be down, otherwise glaze will work as is. 100% calcined Grolleg will help once I get enough of it to use, but pre-bisque and post-bisque glazing works for this glaze.
  5. Dayao 1- Glaze was too green with slight clumping shown where glaze was between crawling and healing. I’d say sample was slightly underfired and has a little too much iron in it, but can’t really tell about the iron without additional tests. pre-bisque seemed to solve crawling.
  6. Dayao 2- Glaze was failure with thin coating of pre-bisque not crawling and thick coating post-bisque crawling like mad. Glaze recipe has already been altered for next kiln firing. Test is also too green, but again it could be that underfiring it caused coloration. Another test to temperature should be done.
  7. Hangzhou-Guan- Test looks to not be mixed thoroughly. White flecks indicate it needs to be screened again at 80mesh or taken to 100mesh. More gray may be due to underfiring, but surface looked good. Pre-bisque glazing worked well here and glaze does not need to be altered, though the color may be too green, so iron may need to be halved. Another test needs to be done to know.
Test 4 Blue longquan
Test 7 Hangzhou-Guan

Of the pre-bisqued glaze tests the above are my two favorites. The Chai test #3 also looked good, but it was a little too anemic and shiny. The Blue Longquan has a great satin surface and the Hangzhou- Guan is so fat and smooth I’m not sure which I like better. If they had both been fired a little hotter or held at temp for another half hour, they may have been perfect, but overall I like what happened on these two.

Other pots that came out well are below. Captions show some are new forms and some just got that kiss of the kiln that sets them apart.

Bottle with Ru glaze- New form with great flashing
Jug with Pete’s Clear
Tea Bowl- New form with great flashing and interesting interior glaze
Lidded Form- beautiful flashing
Lidded Form- I love the flange on this one
Robin’s Egg glaze- I kept this one due to the crawling, but I use it every day. I really like the lip striations
This is a PV/Pumice Celadon I created that goes blue when it pools. Cone 12 did it right.

Trip to the Coast

an easy hike in the Hoh Rainforest

Went to Olympic National Park and Forest to take care of some business that I have put off for too long.

It started with a camping trip that Chris, Keith and I had planned for the summer of 2012. We were about 1/2 way through planning it and Keith killed himself. Like so many of us, he just couldn’t hold it together. He left 2 beautiful children and his wife Anne to carry on which was so hard on them. What a devastating situation.

It took me almost 10 years to get back to the Olympic mountains to spread his ashes and walk in nature, hopefully with his blessing.

Keith in the Bisti Wilderness- New Mexico 2010

It was Chris’ idea to go on with our camping trip in Washington State and spread Keith’s ashes. So he had me ask Anne for the ability and I took them with me when I moved away from New Mexico.

We came up with this plan hiking just before or after Keith’s Celebration of Life 11/19/11. It may have been during the hike where I took Chris’ image below.

Chris hiking in Sandia Wilderness- Albuquerque, NM 2011

Chris and Anne couldn’t make the trip due to issues with the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, so I set off by myself to see what the Pacific coast had to offer.

Wow, it was splendid.

The fog crept up the mountain like dragon’s breath

Early the next day I awoke and started the climb at the lower trail head. The lower trail head was free to park and allowed me a 2 mile warm-up, which I needed as I am so out of shape.

When I got off the plane, I immediately drove to the mountains and set up my tent in the dark. I arrived at a campground at the base of the mountain around 2am. It was a long trip from Virginia to Washington State and I was exhausted.

Rainier was out as I slowly ascended the mountain. It seemed like everyone was passing me, which didn’t surprise me as I am so out of shape, but everyone was nice and gave me positive vibes as I went up. the sun was out and I met a bunch of cool people.

Keith would have loved this hike except for all the people that were out and about. Oh well, everything else was perfect.

I made it to the top and had someone take a pic as I spread Keith’s ashes. No one said anything negative as I did it, so I was happy that it went well. Though, I asked no permission and told only the pic taker what I was doing. It was just as it should be…

Afterwards, I drank Keith’s favorite beer. It was good and just what I needed.

On the way down
When I made it down, I was totally exhausted. It had taken me all day and the rain was coming in. I staggered back to my car and drove down the valley to the next campsite. It was worth the drive to Olympic National Park. I spent the day in my hammock and rested in a cold camp.

Olympic National Park had open hiking trails and fewer people. It was rainy and cold, so that kept some away, but most Washington State people are used to the rain.

The beauty of the place was astounding. Everywhere I looked I found a better picture. I took several thousand, but have reduced it down to just a few for the website. I hiked along a river. The moss and ferns were everywhere.

small, but strong river

The river’s strength was evident as I left and saw the large tree trunks that were swept into the adjacent lake. I drove for 5hrs and made it to the west side of the park where I hiked for 3 days and 2 nights and Graves Creek.

Campsite- Graves Creek, Wa

Several waterfalls were along the road as I left. What a tranquil and beautiful spot. I shall not forget.

The valley opened up several times as I drove though the rainforest.

Then, I made it to the beach.

Don’t let the image fool you. There were hundreds of people here, but most were in their cars as it was raining.

I spent the day driving up the coast. I drove for several hours, but spend most of the time stopping and hiking down to the beaches. I visited 3 or 4. It started raining at noon.

I love the raindrops on the lens in this shot. Also, how grey the day is. It is almost a black and white photo.

I finally made it to my cabin on the coast and then for something different went down to the beach to take some pics.

First pic of the following morning
Surfer checking out the dawn
crows were competing with the gulls for food

In the distance islands stood centered above the waves.

The beauty of the morning blew my mind- so subtle, so perfect.

It was time to drive for another hike, so I went up the road and hiked to Third Beach.

As I approached the beach I had phone service and paused my call to take this pic.

The light was perfect at this time in the morning. The men camped on the beach were just awakening as were the gulls begging for food. A harbor seal followed me, looking for a handout, but I know better than to feed wild animals.

harbor seal’s head

I love the contrast of these pics

I headed back to the cabin only to find that the only restaurant in La Push, Wa is closed on Wednesdays, so I bought some gas station food and went to the cabin to sleep. I read and studied music.

I slept in and timed my next hike to get to my destination at low tide, which was at 1pm. I went to Hole In The Wall and it was packed with people, but sunny and warm.

Looking to the ocean were islands and columns sticking out of the water, but behind me were huge trees washed up like toothpicks on the coast.

Here you can see a couple people for size reference.

All the people were on the south side of Hole In The Wall waiting for low tide to hit, so I hiked over the top of a ridge to access the next run of beach. I had it all to myself.

Hole In The Wall

Mostly, I saw sea anemones in the tidal pools. I looked around for hours. It was great fun.

After the hike was over, I went back to the cabin for my last night indoors. I read some more, but before, I went down to the beach to take some pics.

You can’t go west, without taking at least one sunset pic.

The birds gathered as soon as the sun went down. Kind of cool.

Mostly, pelicans flew around in circles. I have alot of pelican pics, but I’ll spare you.

The Hoh Rainforest

about an hour from the coast

The next day I drove back into teh rain forest. I was looking for moss and boy, did I find some. The Hall Of Mosses in the Hoh Rainforest was incredible.

It was not just the moss that was interesting, but how the coated objects lost their definition and it was difficult to tell what was underneath it.

I mean, what is that thing? I’m sure my dog would have barked at it, if he had been around.

It was lush and dark, even though it was sunny out, it was like you were inside in your own little room. An intimate setting, though many people were around.

ferns grew on moss that grew on trees that grew on moss that grew on trees.

That night it rained and then I got up and left for the airport. I had 8hrs to kill, so I drove around for 5 and then called a friend- Willy and had dinner. He was nice enough to let me stay at his house, since my plane was delayed, but at the last minute I figured out that my plane was actually leaving that night (not the next morning), so I drove to the airport like a mad man and barely made my flight.

Who was this trip about, besides me? Who you might ask?

On the top of a mountain, while driving home, I ran into this rainbow. It made me think of Keith.

Flashing Clay Bodies

I am currently searching for a deep red/orange clay body that flashes this color in atmospheric firings to Cone 8 and above. I have mixed roughly 20 tests and made cups out of them and fired them in Soda and Wood/Salt kilns to Cone 8 and Cone 10 respectively. Here are my findings.

It seems that red/orange flashing is promoted by small amounts of iron chemically incorporated in high temperature clay and dry material ingredients introduced in the clay body.

What Parmelee suggests in his book Ceramic Glazes that clay bodies higher in silica will need higher percentages of iron compared to clay bodies higher in alumina, stays true. Though, iron percentages stay below 3% on a whole.

Also, it seems that the silica/alumina ratio should stay below 4. The current wood kiln has tests that are below 2 (showing a high alumina content)

My tests have 2 different realms. One direction is a grolleg/PV body and the other is a Neph Sy/silica body. Both directions are currently using high alumina materials.

These are the tests in a cone 8/9 Soda Firing
clay body test #4
Clay body test #5
Clay body test #6

These 3 tests were fired in a first firing on a clay slab to ensure they would not melt down with higher than normal percentages of flux I was a little worried. I believe the firing had too much reduction to promote the flashing and too much soda to allow flashing in some areas. Cup number 6 has engulfed in soda, so no visible flashing is seen except on the foot of the cup.

My belief is that too thick a layer of flux (could be wood ash, soda in this case or salt) will stop the development or cover teh development of flashing. Also, I think that an oxidation atmosphere during 700 degree to 900 degree Celcius is neccesary for red/orange flashing, though I’m unsure if this needs to happen in firing or cooling or both.

This cup is blah blah blay

These 2 tests have 35% Mica with different types of silica mesh in them. Notice the excess iron in the mica has colored them brown as if they were made from EPK or were a dark stoneware, even though they are mainly grolleg kaolin. The silica mesh made no difference in the color. They were fired in different parts of the kiln.

These two tests have lower flux, but more silica and less mica and the color is very light almost a pastel pink. I believe the iron should have been increased to counter the added silica. It seems that 4-5% iron material needs to be added to get a deeper color.