Monday, January 26, 2009

Trimming, Sanding, and Functional Art

Didn't spend a whole lot of time in the studio this weekend, but did still accomplish plenty. Krystal and I stayed up way to late Friday night playing a painfully long game of Scrabble. Good, but long. I should have won. Really. But that's another story. I found it good to pass the time between my turns by sanding the bowls that came out of the kiln last week.

Sanding is not horribly fun, and probably not good for one's lungs, but it's definitely good for the furniture on which these pots will be used. While some clays are naturally smooth to finish, most are left with a pretty gritty surface once they've been fired. Since I prize the functionality of my work, and many people prize the surface of their dining room table, I find it necessary to sand the feet of my bowls so that they can be comfortably used. I just use plain old diamond-grit sandpaper, and finish by hand to a 600-grit. Then the bowls are washed and ready for you to buy!

Drying bowls, now with smooth feet.

These five bowls will be packed up with the rest of my work until I find them new families. Unless one gets pulled into every day use. Which happens sometimes. I made a pretty sweet little mug this fall that would have made me rich, but Krystal really liked it, so that was the end of the story. The smallest one there is a smidge bigger than a custard dish, and then they get larger from there. Perfect for side-dishes of rice or vegetables. Green vegetables look great in blue bowls.

The bowls in the picture are drying upside down, which is also the perspective I have in the decorating process. The carving occurs after the foot has been trimmed, which has to be done upside down. The end result then is always a bit surprising to me once the bowl's been turned over. Sometimes a design that I really liked turns out not so spectacular, and one that looked strange to me ends up beautifully. In any case, part of the appeal for me is that the strokes and lines look oddly foreign once a bowl's been righted.

The small bowls will be packed up for the time being, but the larger one I'm less keen on packing up. It's living on our dining room table for the time being, and I think it enjoys being a functional piece of art. I think most bowls want to be used. They like being used. Kind of like Dr. Wilson.

See that banana on the left? It was part of my lunch today.

The inside of our spectacular fruit bowl.

I'm particularly fond of this bowl, as it's one of the larger I've done recently, and definitely the largest in this series (sgraffito decoration on the inside). It's thrown with Calico, which is a white-bodied clay which suits the fine detail work on the inside quite well. Unfortunately, it also has a relatively high rate of shrinkage, so it was about 5% more impressive before it was fired. Although it is by no means a small bowl now, either. Just something to keep in mind.

I did get about two hours in the studio Sunday afternoon to trim and decorate a few bowls, throw one large-ish bowl, and recycle some more red clay. I need to recycle my bucket of Speckled Buff slop - it's gotta be pushing 40 pounds. Just about took my arm yesterday when I was under the impression it was not so heavy. Also, there was a bisque fire and a glaze fire nearly done, but they were both still over 400° F, so no unloading for me. I'll be bringing home a big batch of finished work tonight, in addition to glazing.

That's all for this time - don't forget to post any questions or comments you may have!

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