Monday, March 23, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Red vase - thrown in one piece, pretty consistent thickness from base to top, so I'm feeling alright about it. Still needs some shape work and trimming, in the bottom half specifically. At least this time the trimming is not so much about weight as it is about shape. As mentioned before, vertical forms are more challenging for me, but I'm getting there. It's all about the practice.
The clay was also less than perfectly cooperative, but it happens. I was working to combine two different batches of red clay, one which was too hard, and one which was a little soft. In short, the first pieces I threw with the clay were scrapped and rethrown. The centering process did a lot to homogenize the clay, work out lumps and bubbles, etc. In the end, the clay was pretty workable. Hence the vase. Below is the paten to match the chalice I was working on last week (2 weeks ago? Time flies a little...).
Monday, March 16, 2009
There's another glaze firing in the works; it will probably be unloaded Tuesday sometime. So, more new work in the process.
Still haven't gotten my plates glazed - I had an unsuccessful time of it last week and so decided to just leave them and come back later. I still haven't come back to them. But they'll get done.
That's all for now.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
I then turned my attention to a special project. This chalice (seen below) is to be part of a communion setting for a friend of mine working in ministry. This is just one of the two I threw last night for his approval, and this is the one I prefer. I'm not sure if it will come out to the size that he's looking for, but I do like the proportions of this piece. It's a definite departure from what I've been doing a lot of lately, and for that I am glad.
It did of course mean buying more red clay (to get the finish he's looking for), so I'll have some more red pieces coming up. Maybe something large in red clay? I really enjoy the end result of these pieces, it's the staining of my hands that really irks me. I don't mind being covered in clay most of the time, but when my skin is stained orange, I'm not happy. Also stained orange because I did a lot of kneading, wedging, and recycling of said clay. Yuck. What a process.
I also spent some time working on my Artist's Statement last night. I haven't really updated it since I graduated, and so the version I have laying around is more specifically influenced by my senior exhibit than by my work as a whole. Not that they're that different. Here's an album of work from that exhibit. Anyhow, it's definitely time to come to a more concise definition of what I'm doing in my work. Here's an exerpt, or rather, some of the thoughts:
"I find the appeal of pottery in the marriage of beauty and functionality, embellishment and simplicity, form and function, fine art and humble craft. Equally at home on the mantle or in the dining room, my work is created to be well used: I find the most joy in sending a piece of my work into a home where it will be used and loved.
I produce quality stoneware pottery of all sizes and shapes, from small mugs to large vases. Each pot begins as a lump of clay and must be shaped and molded to the perfect form before I will move forward with it into a finished pot. Smaller pieces are often created with function at the foremost thought, but receive the same attention to detail and care in decoration as my larger fine art pieces. I approach larger vessels as challenges – larger surfaces waiting for my mark, works of substance.
Trained in the Bauhaus tradition that values strong shapes and clean lines, I approach each thrown pot as a medium for expression through my use of decorative carving and colored slips. My decorative work is entirely freeform. Through my decoration I try to capture natural movement along the surface of the pot in lines and gestures that compliment the form and nature of the piece. These gestures often reflect bonds that exist between the clay and the natural world – suggestions of flora and fauna, earth and water.
In form and style, I draw from rich ceramic traditions of the American Southwest, East Asia, as well as the heritage of my mentors and teachers in the Upper Midwest. It is my desire to honor these traditions while exploring new territory in my own work."
I've been trying to approach it as free writing - going for a while, letting the thoughts out, before doing any editing. There are still some things that I always want to express about why I love pottery, why I love the form, what my favorite pieces are, when they become my favorites. Some of these things are better saved for personal conversation. And some of them still need to be a part of my professional statement. So we'll see where it goes. I never have any trouble talking about my work, so writing about it should be fine, once I remember what I have to say...
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Below is a picture of the test-piece I fired last week with a new glaze. As you can see, the coloring itself is quite nice, but the bubbling in the bottom is less than desirable. Apparently this will be a glaze that needs to be intentionally applied thinly.
The bubbling is the result of the glaze being too thick and so, while in the kiln upwards of 2400 degrees, it does in fact run to the bottom of the bowl and then bubble. Some of the bubbles then remain as the piece cools. I have since popped the bubbles. Sometimes you can file down the edges of the popped bubbles and still have a nice smooth piece, but since this one is quite small, it may just have to be tossed. It might also make a nice piece to leave in the studio to hold slips, glazes, etc. Hmm.
I spent the majority of my time in the studio glazing, which requires less setup than throwing, and generally less clean-up as well. But it still can be a little messy. Here's a picture of my glazing mess:
It also perhaps just seemed more messy than normal last night on account of using numerous glazes. Prior to this week, I have tended to glaze small batches of work at a time, generally as parts of a cohesive body of work, so I would work with one, maybe two glazes at a time. Not quite the case last night.
Here's everything glazed/in process of glazing.
I decided to be brave and did a couple pieces in that new glaze - after watering it down a bit and doing my best to make it a thin application. We'll see if it works.
My non-glazing work last night was of the decorating variety, which is fun and requires little cleaning or setting up, provided I've already slipped and trimmed. Below are the bowls.
The ones on the left are the larger of the four - those boards they're sitting on are about 7" squares, so that gives some perspective on the size. The ones on the right are marginally smaller - they could nest nicely inside of their color-coordinated neighbors there.
That was it for the evening - abbreviated, but adequate. I've got a couple of commissioned projects to get cracking on, so I'll probably be back into the throwing later this week. I'm also thinking I'm pretty well-stocked on the sgraffito-work side of things, so I'll probably be getting away from that for a couple weeks. I'm starting to feel like I'm repeating myself with some of the designs, which shouldn't really be happening. So taking some time away from it to clear my mind of it will be good. Not quite sure what I'll do instead - perhaps some relief oriented carving, and certainly more glazing diversity. We'll see.
I'm excited to get all of this glazed work back, and excited to share it with all of you when I do.
As always, let me know if you have any questions, comments, or thoughts about my work.
Of if you want to buy something. Then you should really let me know.
Monday, March 2, 2009
That's all for now. Studio night tomorrow (Tuesday). Will keep you updated.
(See that? That's a whole shelf that's just me.)
So, that's about half. And then another significant amount of work that was being bisqued while I was in there. So, I still have plenty more to glaze. Which will happen this week. I want to see these pieces finished!
I also paid my bill yesterday. It's not free, working in the Guild. I pay monthly dues which support the regular upkeep (utilities, repairs, a well-stocked pot of candy on the counter) and also secure my access to the studio. Also in my bill are the charges for clay and firings (16 cubic feet of bisque firing in February!). I don't have to buy my clay from the Guild, but it's much more convenient for me than any other options, and, when you figure that I don't have to drive anywhere to pick it up, cheaper. It's a pretty great deal overall, and I don't think I can state too much how I appreciate it. A place like this is not so easy to find, generally.And finally, here's a picture of a larger jar/vase. It's I think 14 inches tall. I like it.
I'll be out to pick up the stuff from the glaze fire tonight. Check back later for pictures of that stuff. It should be sweet.