Friday, January 30, 2009
Unfortunately, I forgot to bust out the camera until everything was packed up, so no progress photos today.
Trimmed and decorated two larger bowls in progress, with perhaps a bit too much time doing some sgraffito work inside of one. When you do everything in spontaneous freehand, it's hard to know when you've gone too far until it's too late. This bowl got a little too busy in its embellishment, so I had to spend some time correcting that. It would have gone much better for me if I had avoided that, but it happens.
Recycled a lot of clay - my slop bucket is now empty. Will have to go in tomorrow to wedge and knead; hopefully it's ready for it.
Threw a number of smaller (soup) bowls. Hoping for a set. Or something. I wanted to throw, and didn't want to mess with anything too big. So, lots of little bowls.
It was a pleasant evening; the throwing room was all ours, though there were some Guilders glazing that were in and out. It was nice to have some time together, Krystal and I, even if I was throwing and she was reading. Her presence is soothing, and we don't get to spend enough time together. Basically, nobody should have to work an 8-5 job. It's just not fair.
In other news, U2's new single was on the radio while we were in the studio. I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but I didn't think that "Vertigo" was a great indicator of the sound of their last album, so I'm thinking that No Line on the Horizon should still be solid, regardless of how I feel about this song. It's kind of catchy, in a"has-no-melody, can't-remember-the words, mildly-obnoxious" sort of way. Oh well. March 3rd, here we come. Anybody else have any thoughts on this song?
Good night, friends.
I'm still working out the best lighting, etc. for these. If anybody has any advice/experience with taking slide shots of artwork, specifically glossy ceramics, pointers would be welcomed. Click here for an album of other newer works. I spent some time last night sanding and washing all of these bowls, but I'm hesitant to pack them up until I've shot them.
I should be putting in some serious studio time this weekend, but until then, I'm done here.
Note: I've also added a slideshow to the right sidebar, so all my finished work should be displaying through there.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The only thing I threw Monday night - it's 15" across, 8" tall.
Had some experimenting in this kiln load - something I haven't done for a while.
(right) An attempt at a "checkered" style that my uncle, Tim Langholz, used. Not bad for a first attempt, but still a long way to go before I can do it justice.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Was in the studio for some glazing last night - all those Empty Bowls I threw needed glazing! Also got a decent load of finished glazed work, and threw another decent sized bowl. And then was back home to watch the new episode of House.
Photos will be up later. For now, I should probably shower and get ready for my first real commute ever.
Monday, January 26, 2009
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.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Glazing is more time consuming than difficult, and also quite exacting - at least in my style, I try to prevent my glazes from running, drizzling, or dripping anywhere that I don't want them. This takes a little more time and patience and care than simply dipping pieces in the buckets of glaze.
Glazing is always a little bit of a crap-shoot; you never really know what you're going to find when you open that kiln, even if you've used the same glaze a hundred times. Hopefully they all turn out the way I want. Or, at the very least, in a way that somebody else likes enough to pay for!
That's it for tonight - short blog for a short trip to the studio.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Potters at work.
I discovered something last night: I love throwing. A lot of my work is very simple, formally, with a stronger emphasis on the decorative aesthetic - something that might indicate the decorating is my favorite part. But really, I love to throw. If somebody called me up and said, "Hey, I've got a hundred pounds of clay here - will you throw it for me?" I'd probably have to say yes. Because I love it. I love the centering, I love the mess. I love the raw work, pre-trimmed, pre-finished. I love cranking them out, bowl after bowl. I love the process, I love to throw. Makes me think that going into production work might not be so painful after all.Aside from a mix-up over whether the clay we were using was in the right firing range (It wasn't. It's a good thing we caught it, or the first 20 bowls produced would have melted in the firing. Yes, clay can melt.), it was a good night of throwing for me. I threw in the neighborhood of 20 bowls before they told me I needed to stop. So I went on to trimming them (trimming = turning them upside down and putting a nice smooth foot on them, so they don't scratch your dining room table. a good trimmed foot is also aesthetically pleasing) until it was time to go home. I still have lots more trimming to do.
Now we just need to trim, bisque, glaze, and fire them again.
Special thanks to my lovely wife, Krystal, for sharing me with the Guild on a Friday night. After I finished, we went to Perkins for a slice of pie and some conversation. It was great. The pie, that is. And the conversation.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I got up to the studio this afternoon for a few hours when I escaped from my real job (they were painting my office space and the fumes were pretty special. I think that justifies a sick day. Or maybe I should have stuck it out, OD-ed on interior paint, and collected workman's comp... Hmm...).
All things considered it was one of the better Tuesday afternoons I've had in a while, though I wasn't nearly as productive as I would've liked to be. My primary clay body (Speckled Buff, Cone 5, by Laguna) was too soft to work with, so I started out with a red clay I've been using lately. This clay body has been pretty pleasant overall, but has a tendency to get kind of firm, by throwing standards.
I did end up moving on to my Spec Buff clay after it had set for a while, but it was still pretty soft. I had a pretty sweet bowl going, but it wasn't agreeing with me, so I had to toss it. It happens. Sometimes you have to cut your losses, otherwise you end up fiddling with a piece for an extra hour or three and still lose it. The other Spec Buff piece (a vase/jar) has survived so far.
We'll see where it goes; at least the way I work, I need to let vertical forms set for a while before I flesh out the shape too much. It's a precautionary thing. I'll be back in the studio in a couple days to finish of the Red pieces and continue on the vase. Sometimes a little patience will go a long way.
The red pieces, fresh off the wheel. The dark band around them is a blue slip (liquid clay) that has been brushed on and will be used in future decoration. These are covered in plastic and sit for a few days until they're firm enough to trim and decorate.
Monday, January 12, 2009
My aim in this is to offer a glimpse into the studio process, providing regular updates on life in the studio. Hopefully there will be plenty of photos along the way.
A pottery story:
I had the opportunity to throw pottery as part of a worship service last December. We had a camera zoomed in tight on my hands and the wheel, and as I threw, the entire process was projected big-screen in the front of the church. Considering I hadn't touched clay or wheel for nearly 8 months, I was pretty pleased with the end results. I sat behind the wheel for 5 hours - several small warm-up pieces, and then one piece to each of the two services - two decent sized vases. Well centered, good height, clean lines. I was pretty pleased with myself, to be honest.
After each service a good number of people came up to talk with me as I finished up the pots. Some complimented me on how lovely the pieces had turned out, but more overwhelming was the response from people who had always admired pottery, but honestly had not even the slightest idea where it came from or how it was done.
The experience of watching a lump of clay transformed to a jar right in front of them was a new and exciting experience. And it doesn't get any less exciting just because you know how it's done. I'm always amazed by the process and the result - sometimes the clay doesn't cooperate or behave the way I want it to, or maybe it performs even better than I thought it would. The result can be disappointing, or just different from expected, or an exciting step in a new direction.
I'd like this space to be a forum for sharing that process - life in the studio. Success, failure, and everything in between.