Insta-updates

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sorry, loyal readership - I have been out of commission this week due to some seriously uncouth illness. I'm still nowhere near 100%, so it will still be several days before I'm ready for a studio excursion.

I have a feeling that throwing pots will not go well if it still hurts to move from the couch to the bathroom. I'll return, someday.

To tide you over, here's a big bowl. And a moderately sized vase.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New work from the kiln last night.
Recycled clay.
Will probably be in studio tonight.
Pictures? Maybe.

happy wednesday to you all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

pictures.

Pictures from this weekend.

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

Just a quick update...

Did some throwing this weekend - just a couple hours in the studio. Threw through some red clay; a few bowls, a vase, and a paten to accompany the chalice which I'm working on. i'll post pictures later, as well as the "official" slides of the stuff that came out of the kiln last week.

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

New Work.

New batch of work out of the kiln yesterday. Here's just some group shots of the pieces all out on our table. Overall I'm really pleased. Whether it's the last batch of slip I made up, or something in this firing, I'm pleased with the sgraffito, and the tone of the clay is really nice too. Looking at these pictures, though, it's clear to me I need to take a little break from this style of work and start doing some pieces that can handle exterior glazing.

Above is a close-up of the set of teacups. I made six, four of them match nicely. And each one is distinctively designed so you can tell yours from your friend's. I like these.

This is a shot of pieces so fresh and so clean-clean (sorry, little Outkast joke). I got about half of them sanded and washed last night. The rest will probably have to wait until this weekend. I was pleased overall with the glazes this time around - some of them were a little funny, but that happens sometimes. The Turkish Amber (brown) was quite pleasant in this batch. It's hard to capture in these photos, but inside the bowls, the brown glaze produces subtle streaks of blues, greens, and purples, giving it a really nice sense of depth and varied intensity of color. When it turns out right it's probably my favorite glaze.

And one more with trying out this new glaze, "waterfall brown." still just a little thick in this bowl, but not too bad. I may have to give the glaze a serious thinning before I use it again, because I really like this iris effect - the blue melting through green to brown. I think it's absolutely gorgeous, and if I can figure it out, it will be a great addition to my pallet. In the meantime, however, it's just doing a lot of bubbling and dripping.

I had a couple other more experimental things in this batch that I'll post in detail later - new slip, glaze combinations. It's been a slow studio week because it's been a busy life week. I'll be putting some time in tonight, I believe, and then some this weekend.

And one last piece of news, I have a couple of pieces available in a local gallery on sort of a trial basis. Not a lot, but a few nice pieces, and hopefully more in the future. The gallery is Illustrated Light, which actually is a gallery of fine art photography, but carries some 3D artists as well, including pottery, blown glass, and turned wood. If you're in Fort Collins, check it out.

For those of you in the upper midwest, I do also have some older work available at the Clear Lake Arts Center in Clear Lake, Iowa. I hope someday soon to find my way back there to update them with some more current work.

That's all for now. Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dimensions

Dimensions on a number of my pieces have now been updated on my Facebook albums (here, here, and here) and also on Picasa (click on slideshow at right for a link). This is an ongoing process for the less recent work, and should be information I can provide with finished pieces as they finish from here on out. That's it for now.

Friday, March 6, 2009

more red clay...

Brief night in the studio yesterday. Had some glazing and a small bit of throwing to do, but didn't accomplish either as thoroughly as I'd have preferred. Went in to glaze some plates, which did not happen. I started out by waxing the feet - applying wax, that is. Not removing unwanted hair via wax. Water based substances don't like to stick to wax. That includes glazes. So, in areas where glaze is unwanted, wax is quite handy. Apply, dry, then glaze. The glaze will bead up on top of the wax and either run off by itself or be quite easy to wipe off. I don't wax all my feet (especially given that I don't glaze the exterior of many of my pieces), but I thought these plates could use a little wax.

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...
That's all for now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

pictures

Top: 11" wide x 8.75" tall
Bottom: 8.5" widest x 14.25" tall

Glazing, Glazing, Glazing

Abbreviated Tuesday night studio session, so I spent it primarily glazing through the rest of my bisque. I've now glazed everything I have to glaze, save my set of plates. Which I'm still debating how to do. I'll figure it out.

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.

And here's everything (almost - a couple larger bowls
had to move to a lower shelf) ready to fire. So, officially,
I have 2 1/2 shelves of pots waiting for the glaze firing.

Given that I'm glazing such an expansive amount of work at a time, I have been using more glazes at a time. I think yesterday was perhaps the most diverse amount of glazing I've ever done at once - I used five glazes in all, as opposed to my normal two. Five isn't really that many more, but compared to using two at a time the clean-up really seems much larger. 150% more clean-up. Or, 250% of my original total. Yeah, that's right. I used percentages. I can do it in fractions, too.

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.

Seriously.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ta-dum!

Here's the big piece. It's about 15 inches tall, and I love it. That bowl is pretty nice, too. Also in the firing was a bowl and mug set (special order), and my little test piece, which I may post a photo. Tried a new glaze in it, which I think I'll like in the future; I used it too thick, so it pooled and bubbled in the bottom of the bowl, which is not a desirable result. But, used thinner, with more control, I think it will be lovely. However, with that test piece I also discovered that my green slip doesn't fire green (unglazed) but just a lighter (cobalt) blue. Which is odd, as it's copper based. Which is green. Not blue. Curious.

That's all for now. Studio night tomorrow (Tuesday). Will keep you updated.

Peace!

Some afternoon.

Sunday afternoon in the studio:

some throwing,

some trimming,

some recycling,

some glazing,

some anticipation of a finished glaze fire,

some jazz,

some clean-up,

some pieces flying of the wheel

(throwing and flying are completely different verbs),

some Thin Mints,

some paying of Guild bills.

That's it in a nutshell. I had 9 pounds of clay yet, so I thought to throw a few smaller bowls. I've been doing a lot of larger pieces lately, so I was feeling the need to do some small quick pieces. I forgot to photograph them, but I threw and trimmed and slipped 5 bowls of various smaller size. One bowl did not survive - it decided to hop off the wheel in the trimming phase. Which is okay. I couldn't decide which color of slip it wanted, so it decided to avoid the decision altogether. I'll finish decorating them my next trip into the studio.

If you've been reading long, you know I haven't been doing much glazing, but rather stockpiling my bisque. Now that it is March, I can glaze things. So I did. Lots of things. A little under half of my stockpile. Here's a picture of my work glazed and waiting to be fired:

(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.