Friday, February 6, 2009

Throwing Marathon

I put in a 5 hour evening in the studio. It was beautiful.

I decided to focus on producing "larger" work, rather than a number of smaller pieces. It was fun to take some time to to just concentrate on throwing larger pieces.

There were some fumbles along the way. The wide bowl is thrown from clay that might've been a smaller bowl and a vase. But the clay was disagreeable - a little too firm, some air bubbles. Fortunately, once you've thrown clay once, it's generally softer if you scrap the pieces and start over, so the "too firm" issue is resolved, and the ensuing wedging and kneading of clay before re-throwing cleares out the air bubbles. In the end, I'm significantly happier with the large bowl than I would have been with either of the two smaller pieces.

See that green thing? It's about 24 inches across. This bowl was so large it didn't fit on any of our other bats to trim it. Pretty sweet. This is sgraffito-ed inside, but you'll have to wait until it's finished to see!

(left) This bowl was a 10 pounder - it's about 14, 15 inches tall, a good 12 inches across. A different direction for me, a vertical bowl. It would make a good punch bowl. Or mantle adornment.
(center) These are two plates, waiting to be trimmed. The space under the plate is packed full of plastic padding - a major difficulty in trimming plates is the center sagging. Thus the padding.
(right) A planter for my wife. We have a decent sized Norfolk Pine in a less than decent sized pot. Apparently it's my job to remedy the situation.

The plates, post-trimming and decorated. The larger is about 14 inches, the smaller is about 12.

Planter, trimmed and carved. What do you think, dear?

Each of these had to sit for some time before they could be trimmed up. Fortunately, the studio's industrial fans in the glazing area are a great place to let pieces firm up a bit. Well, between the fans, the kilns, and the fact that it was 65 degrees here today, these pots didn't stay wet for too long.

In the meantime, I had a batch of bowls to finish decorating (from last weekend). They proved a little more work than I meant them to be. I left them on a nice flat board to set for the week, wrapped in plastic. A flat board. When I took them off my shelf today, the board had a lovely arch to it. Like, serious arch. Like, you could build a rocking horse from it. Consequently, the bowls had warped some with it. I had to spend a little time reshaping the bowls - fortunately they weren't too dry. A little spritzing with water from a spray bottle, and then leaving them on a flat surface for a spell, cleaned them right up. All except one. The one I tried to bend back into shape without water. That one did not fare so well. But the carving of the rest went fine. So that killed some time between throwing and trimming.

It's an interesting thing, being in the studio for so long. I get to enjoy the company of so many people over such a span. Really a grand evening. And listen to so much music!

When I started throwing, I relied heavily on my own music+headphones to stay focused, drown out distractions, and stay entertained. After a year of that my ears were really not happy with me, and the cords were cramping my style. Not to mention falling into ruts of listening to the same album for days on end.

So I switched to radio. KDEC, 100.5 FM out of Decorah, Iowa, to be precise. This station plays "music for people who love music." Heavy doses of Bob Dylan, Ray LaMontagne, the Rolling Stones, Jack Johnson, Tom Petty, and dashes of U2, Death Cab for Cutie, Maroon 5, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers thrown in for measure. This was the soundtrack to my senior show, my thesis exhibit. Pete Yorn, Josh Ritter, Donavon Frankenreiter - folk, blues, rock, soul. Beautiful, so beautiful. I miss you, KDEC.

Out here in Colorado I've found a fair substitute in KBCO 97.3 FM out of Boulder. It's not perfect - I miss the splash of Dylan in the mix, but it's probably a wider variety of music overall, mixing in a little bit more music on the rock end of the spectrum, but still with plenty of the roots and folk vibe. In short, radio like this gives such a variety of music to listen to in the studio, promoting the "creative process," whatever that means. It's also such a great way to a) discover artists that you otherwise would not have, and b) hear music that you may not choose to listen to everyday, but still enjoy. [options a and b are potentially mere derivatives of each other and are not meant to be mutually exclusive]

Radio also means listening to other peoples' music. Fellow potter Dave Ellis has an affinity for jazz, regularly tuning the radio to Denver's public radio. When I returned to the studio after my dinner break, he had helmed the tuner and I got an hour of jazz/blues classics, before the late night "Latin Soul Party" came on. It was a groovin' fun time. Included was a samba-flared rendition of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," which was particularly interesting for the Spanish lyrics during the verses but the entirely English chorus. Not a radio station I would normally tune in to, but it made for an enjoyable end to the evening nonetheless.

So, to all you iPod fiends out there with your trendy little white ear-buds: Give communal music a chance.

It's late, and I should go to bed. Big day tomorrow. Still trying to decide if there's just cause for heading back into the studio. I think I probably will. It's just too much fun not to.

Thanks for stopping by. You stay classy, San Diego.

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