Thursday, August 27, 2009

Some More Sgraffito...

More studio last night, mostly spent slipping/decorating/trimming, but I tried to squeeze some throwing in there as well. I'm not sure what's up, but my throwing has been just a little bit off the last few weeks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A little trimming

Last night, a little trimming, a little decorating. I had to toss a few bowls that had gotten to hard to trim (bummer!) but that's what happens when you don't get back to the studio in a timely fashion!

So, here's some snapshots of some of the little bowls from last night. There were a few bigger pieces in the works, too, but they got wrapped and put away before I got the camera out.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Last Night I Threw Some Plates

Last night I threw some plates, trimmed some bowls, and thought about my future. No picture from any of those three activities, sorry.

In the meantime, here's a gorilla, because gorillas are sweet. He was just chillin' at the San Diego Zoo while we were there. I think we could have been friends...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A real pottery Update!

Kind of. It'll be brief, but it actually involves pottery, and making pots, and being in the studio, etc. With minimal music. Although, that s aid, I once more must praise the merits of KBCO 97.3 as a radio station. Here's the set that was on the radio when I first got into the studio:

1. "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden
2. "How Many More Years" by B.B. King
3. "Man on the Moon" by R.E.M.

Amazing diversity, all good music. But I don't know if I would ever think to play B.B. King right after Soundgarden. It's this kind of diverse juxtaposing that makes me love KBCO, and not tire of it.

Anyhow, I went to the studio last night. And did some throwing. Even though I really need to do some glazing. Here's a couple piles of bisque that's waiting to be glazed. And this represents about a sixth of the bisque that's waiting on me.

There you have it - some pots that I should have been glazing, but I didn't. So I threw some bowls. Here's all but one (you can see the shadow of bowl #10 in the bottom right of the photo. I did something different in that I threw most of these little guys from a hump.

Throwing from a hump, you say? That's the process by which you center a large amount of clay, but rather than throwing a single piece, you throw several (or many) smaller pieces using only the top portion of the clay. When you're done with one piece, you cut it off the hump and set it aside, re-center the top portion of the clay, and begin throwing again.

There are several advantages to hump throwing, primarily in speed and efficiency: less wedging, kneading, and centering to get the same number of bowls; less clay lost in each stage of the process; fewer bats used throwing. Of course, it also means that you have to be able to handle the bowls you throw to get them off the hump - if you're not careful, you can easily end up with a dozen warped bowls. Anyway, I threw five of the small bowls off of the hump, and then the big bowl was the bottom portion. Because I got tired of little bowls. And that's what I did last night.

Also, I wanted to share some detail shots of the new pots posted earlier this week. I keep referencing the Turkish Amber glaze, and how much I appreciate what it does on the inside of bowls, but haven't ever really captured that in a photo. So here's a few pieces that have TA on the inside.

It really is primarily a brown/caramel colored glaze, like what you see on the rim there, but in the proper light, the streaking blues, greens, and purples on the inside are just beautiful. So, in certain lighting, and from certain angles, even that really rich blue in the bowl above looks a rich caramel brown. Until you tilt it and get the blue streaks.

I'm not sure why this one has all the blue spots in the streaking, but they're not just fingerprint smudges. All these pots have been scrubbed with soap and warm water. But you can really get a sense here for the streaks through the brown - below as well.

The marbling in the bottom of this one was intentional. Each glaze has a different chemical make-up, which means they react differently in firing, and interact differently as well. Even two glazes that have the same firing range have different temperatures at which, for lack of better term, they melt, or solidify in the cooling off. Using glazes together that "melt"/"congeal" at different ranges can result in interesting results. At least, that's my theory on how it works.

It could also have something to do with the crystalline structure of certain glazes not bonding with others, so rather than getting a simple blended color in the bottom of this bowl, there's a more distinct marbling where the green glaze maintained its structure and the brown filled in around it. Hmm. I'm actually thinking that might be the better answer. Although I know the melting has something to do with it too, from past experience... Hmm... suddenly I have more questions than answers...

And here's a close up of the big vase, just because it's pretty. That's it's for now, except for one more piece of music, because it's kind of been my thing lately. Mute Math is a band that I've actually only been listening to for a couple of years but I think their music is fascinating - musically unique, lyrically poignant, and their videos are always solidly entertaining. Their latest album, Armistice, was released this week, and I'm pretty excited to get ahold of that one. Have I mentioned I'm excited for this fall's music?

Here's the video for their new single "Spotlight," followed by a video from their last album for the song "Typical."

Links to the videos: "Spotlight" & "Typical"

Monday, August 17, 2009

New West Fest/New Pots

Not much news to report, but I do have a couple picturese to document the weekend. I put in my two hours tending the Guild's booth at New West Fest on Saturday afternoon. It was more or less uneventful, aside from the couple times I had to chase down our brochures thanks to the friendly gusts of wind we were experiencing.

I believe we did sell some of our pots/plates/cups over the two day festival, but not too many. To be honest, getting our name out there a little more was definitely one of the key objectives to boothing. We had a lot of interest in our classes and workshops from folks, even in the short time I was present, and we also got to talk to a lot of people who didn't know we existed! If you found yourself in our booth at New West Fest this weekend, many thanks, and we certainly hope to see you at one of our upcoming events!

One of my sets.

As I mentioned, we did have some wind this weekend, and scattered occurences of minor precipitation (aside from one torrent on Saturday, I'm hesitant to call any of it truly "rain"), but the ominous and omnipresent clouds didn't stop Krystal and I from biking back up to Old Town for Ozomatli's set to close the festival.

I've never given Ozomatli a listen before, but they were definitely enjoyable - a fun, musically diverse, very danceable performance. I think I'll be looking further into their music, and would recommend them if you're interested in latin/funk/salsa/hip-hop/reggae/ska/world music. They made me think of a latin Supertones, or No Doubt, if they'd been born & raised south of the border.

And I stop by the studio to pick up a couple more pots that were fired last week. I've been really pleased with the firings lately, and that's a good thing. Although then it does always leave me wondering why I didn't have more pots in said good firing. You can't win them all.

That's it for today. I'm sure I'll be in the studio sometime this week, though not tonight. Check back Wednesday or Thursday for more studio updates.

Friday, August 14, 2009

And they gnashed their terrible teeth...

On a completely unrelated note, I stumbled across this site today:

It appears to be an online community art project featuring works inspired by Maurice Sendak's timeless children's classic, Where the Wild Things Are, which just happens to be one of my favorite books of all time. The artwork is phenomenal, the story is engaging, and I think there's something very relatable about Max's character. I know I have my days where I just want to put on my wolf suit and sail off until I find an island of my own... but that's another story entirely.

Head on over to Terrible Yellow Eyes and check out some of the artwork, and read more about their art project. I found myself drawn in by the variety of style and approach to capturing moments from the familiar tale, familiar characters. Pretty cool stuff.

Also cool stuff is that we're now 9 weeks away from the release of the film also based on the book, and I'm quite stoked to see that as well. Hopefully it doesn't disappoint. Check out the official trailer here, or embedded below.

"And now," cried Max, "let the royal rumpus start!"

(Have a great weekend!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More bowls and stuff...

Last night, more decorating and a little throwing. There was a glaze kiln going - I've got two pieces in there. It was at 1400 F and climbing when I left at 9 PM, so it will probably be cooled off late tonight or early tomorrow. With any luck, I'll have two new pots to share the next time I come home from the studio.

Hot kiln.

Bowl, waiting for a bisque. I hope I don't screw up the glazing...

"Egg pots" - the one on the right wasn't cooperating with me, so I trimmed off the lip and bellied it out more. Now it's more bowl than vase.

Bowls, decorated, drying.

Bisqueware, awaiting some glazing.

That's it on the pottery front. If you're in Fort Collins this weekend, come check out the Guild's booth at New West Fest. It's supposed to be a good time. Plus, free music. Really.

Speaking of music, I have to note that pioneering musician and inventor Les Paul passed away today. He was 94. He was a living legend, and a musical icon who spanned generations. His contributions to guitarists and recording artists of all makes will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Messy bowls

Finally made it into the studio last night for a bit. It was good to be back to a regular sort of schedule with time for the studio, albeit on a Tuesday night. It was wonderful to have some company this weekend, though, and certainly didn't miss my studio time too much. The weekend was rather filled with non-pottery endeavors, including a Rockies game at Coors Field, a hike in the mountains (we found a bear!), working in the garden, and plenty of sitting around and playing games. Thanks, family, for a great visit!

Well, I had a few bowls that were yet in need of some trimming, so that's what I did last night. I had a handful of mid-sized bowls to trim and slip, plus one of the large decorated bowls, so that occupied plenty of my time.

Here's a shot of my wheel halfway through the trimming of said bowls. It's a messy business, with strips of clay flying hither and thither in utter disarray. Trimming is certainly not the hardest mess to clean up, but it's more impressive than most throwing messes.

I've tried various methods to minimize the mess of trimming, or at least speed up the clean-up process, but the best thing seems to be just letting the clay fly where it will. I've tried using splash pans (the yellow trays that fit around the wheel) to catch the trimmings, but not all the trimmings stay in the pans, so I still end up sweeping an entire swath of floor. I also have tried rigging up a catch-all net of towels and plastic, but all the trimmings just ended up on the floor anyway. So, in the end, it seems that letting the clay fall where it will and sweeping it all up at the end seems to be the most efficient option.

Unless I'm trimming and throwing on the same day and the trimmings get waterlogged. That's a whole new problem altogether.

So, here's the four mid-sized bowls trimmed, slipped, banded, and ready for carving. Apparently I'm being very secretive about the insides of the other large bowls I've been working on. Mostly I don't remember to take pictures of them. Anyhow, two of these bowls came home with me to be trimmed whilst watching a pleasant episode of Bones.

Pleasant may be debatable, especially if you've ever sat through the opening of an episode. Forensic anthropology is not a clean job. We'll leave it at that.

Looks like the Guild cranked a good-sized bisque firing through this weekend as well, as I had plenty of pots waiting to be glazed when I got in last night. It may not happen this week, but hopefully soon.

That's all for now. If you're in the area, be sure to stop by the Guild's booth at New West Fest this weekend.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A few new pots...

I got a few new pots. Well, three anyhow. There may have been more hiding elsewhere in the kiln, but as it was full of other people's pots, I thought I'd just limit myself to the three of mine that were accessible. Not that I have a problem unloading other Guilders' pots in general, but mostly that I wasn't feeling that ambitious last night.

This one's a little blurry. The pot isn't blurry; the photo is blurry. Really pleased with the glaze here - Turkish Amber with blue/green/purple streaking on the inside of the bowl. Perfect. You'll note that my response to these pieces are officially blog text, rather than my traditional italicized captions. I've decided that if you can't Tweet it, it probably should be a paragraph rather than a caption.

For the record, I don't Tweet. The things I have to say are far to0 important to be condensed to the paltry one hundred forty characters allowed.

Again, pleased with the glaze. This is the Floating Blue that normally goes seafoam on me, which I've developed a taste for. Unfortunately, it hasn't been going seafoam lately, but rather has been taking on sort of mossy tones. Which isn't so much complementary to the blue slip, but I think works really well with the brown. So this one made me happy.

Anytime you get a vase this large out of the kiln without any cracks, chips, pits, or dings, it's a success. I was pleased with the result of this big guy overall. It's time to start working on another big pot, I think.

I actually ended up doing some work in the studio last night as well, primarily continuing in the decoration and trimming of these big sgraffito bowls. You can see two of them below - right now they're each about 14 inches across, so they'll probably be 13 by the time they're done.

Once they're trimmed the trick is to not dry them out too quickly, and then not to totally screw up the glazing. It's a real shame when you put so much time and energy into a big piece like this only to have the glaze suck. But that's pretty much my only complaint about pottery.

That's all for now. Family's visiting this weekend, so probably no studio updates until mid-next week. Take care!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Pots Tonight!

Studio tonight – will get to see the new pots. I'm a little excited. In the meantime, here’s a picture of some seals, just because.

These seals were hanging out at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla while we were there. The Children’s Pool was built back in the day with a large seawall to shelter it from the waves, making it a safe place for kids to play. Apparently the seals like it too. And since the seals are endangered, or somewhat threatened, and children are not so much endangered, the seals win.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Less Pottery, More Music

Studio last night: wedging, kneading, decorating, trimming, cleaning, forgetting to take pictures.

That pretty much sums it up. I finished recycling my clay (37 pounds), and then I worked on some of those large bowls to have sgraffito on the inside. I'm hoping the turn out alright in the end. Every once in a while a piece flops, and that's just a part of the process. But sometimes you put a lot of time and energy into a piece. And you hate to have that one flop on you.

Anyhow, I will have new pots to show later this week, but the kiln was still at 400 degrees when I went in last night and that's still just a little warm to unload.

So, for something that has nothing to do with pottery, and everything to do with good old American rock'n'roll, please check out The Elms, one of the most underrated rock bands out there right now. They've just re-launched their website in preparation for their upcoming album, The Great American Midrange, and this is another one that I couldn't be more excited for (I'm pretty sure I'm more excited about Switchfoot's October release of Hello, Hurricane, but this comes out in September, so it's like a rock'n'roll appetizer). Check out the promo video for the new album, posted below.

You can also watch the video here.

I have yet to see The Elms live in concert, despite following them for 8 years and having tickets and intentions of seeing them on more than one occasion. Once I arrived late to a festival where they were the very first to play. Another time they had to drop their support role on a tour due to illness in the family (it was still a great concert, but it would have been better if they had opened). On two occasions we were in the same town, but I had prior commitments and couldn't make it to the show. And so on and so forth.

I hear they're an excellent live show - I think they'd have to be to spend a year opening for Peter Frampton - and someday I'll get to see for myself. In the meantime, I'm an ardent fan of their music, from their CCM-friendly debut to their last release, the raw, raucous, face-melting Chess Hotel. The upcoming album proves to be more of the same good stuff.

So, if you're in the market for some foot-thumping, fist-pumping, gritty American guitar-rock, do yourself a favor and check out The Elms.

"But don't take my word for it..." - little bit of a Reading Rainbow moment there. Seriously, check out The Elms. You probably won't regret it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bowls, Bowls, Bowls :: Sunday Throwing

Happy Monday to you all! I put in some studio time yesterday, and here are the pictures to prove it! I started off my time with some recycling (up to my elbows in slop) and that should hopefully be aired out well enough for me to wedge and knead tonight. I'm thinking I had close to 30 pounds of clay in the bucket, so it will be nice to get that back into throwable clay.

It also looks like I may have some fresh-out-of-the-kiln work when I get in tonight. Possibly. Here's the kiln, full of guilders' glazed pots, climbing to Cone 6. If you enlarge the picture, you can see that the kiln was at 1317 degrees fahrenheit when I left yesterday.

It should have reached temperature sometime in the middle of the night, and may be cool enough for unloading tonight. I've got a couple of larger arizonas and a great big vase in there right now, so I'm a little excited about that.

Spent the majority of my time in the studio (post-recycling) throwing. And in certain circumstances re-throwing. I've been working on a few more of the low, wide bowls for interior sgraffito, and that's not the easiest form. Especially if you're like me and can never remember the best method for throwing them... clearly just a sign that I need to make even more. In the end, I got two decently large and one moderately large out of it.

I also discovered this weekend that I've somehow run out of nice, mid-sized pieces. I don't know where they all went. Well, that's not entirely true. It's more like it's been a while since I took stock of my inventory, and so now I'm aware of what I'm missing. So, here's four nice mid-sized bowls.

And then I also sgraffitoed this smaller of the two thrown last week. It didn't exactly go the way I wanted it to, but I can't complain about the end result. Assuming of course that the glazing doesn't ruin it. But that's always a risk.

That's it for today. I hope you all are surviving your respective Mondays. Cause I've got a bad case of them...