Monday, February 28, 2011

Studio Update: Sunday

Just for a brief spell, working in the studio on Sunday.  Not too much, though.  It's been a crazy couple of week(end)s with way too much car time.  It's not getting any better, either, at least not for the next couple of weeks.  *sigh*  So I have to take the potting in bits and pieces, when I can.

Actually, I spent the better part of my studio time committed to cleaning.  Not my favorite thing ever, but certainly rewarding.  Somewhere along the line I quit emptying my splash pans between trimming and throwing and trimming again.  And so the trimmings had begun to take over the corner, just a little bit.  Lots of trimmings on the wheel, on the floor... well, those are really the only two places that dry trimmings can end up.  In any event, we're due for a visit from the inlaws in a few weeks and as my studio borders the guest bath I thought I'd best get a headstart on doing a little spring cleaning in preparation.  So there was a little bit of sweep-sweep-sweep and a just a tad bit of sponge-sponge-sponge.  As we get closer to the visit, there will be more sweep-sweep with a substantial helping of mop-mop-mop and probably a bout of Hoover-Hoover-Hoover.  Well, for studio clean-up it's more like Black'n'Decker-Black'n'Decker but I think you get the point.  There's nothing like a valid reason to motivate you into cleaning and all that.

All that to say, I cleaned up, and then I decided to do some throwing and mess things up a bit again.  C'est la vie.  Here's what I was up to on Sunday:
Still working on this vase.  Waiting for inspiration, or something. 
But see, I carved those rings around the top and bottom?
Bowl.  I need more "plain" bowls coming out of the kiln. 
This is going to be a thingy-bobber for holding all my trimming/carving tools and brushes and such, so that I can quit using the old Daisy sour cream cup that's constantly tipping over and spilling my tools all over the place.  I don't know why it's taken me seven years to finally make something that's designated for my tools.  I think I had one once in college, but somebody offered me twenty bucks for it at the end of the semester or something.  So I clearly don't have that any more.

Oh yeah, I'm also experimenting with adding more color to my slip palette.  Ta-dum!
Some more little bowls, thrown from the hump.  I have some unfinished business when it comes to glaze testing, and quick little things do that the best, for sure.

So that's my story.  Not much else to speak of at the moment.  Congrats on making it through another Monday, and good luck with the rest of the week.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Boring Update

So, here's the boringest update of my other ceramic accomplishments from last night.  One of these weeks I'll go do some more throwing.  Maybe tonight.  Maybe this weekend.  In the meantime, here's what I didn't share with you last night.
Bowls: trimmed and decorated.  Three of these belong to a commissioned set of mixing/serving bowls.  Hoping they turn out alright.
Jar of clay.  <--clever? Still needs to be decorated in a beautiful manner.  I need to make more big vases like this.  Because they're fun, and beautiful-ish. 
I guess that's it.  I had to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  So, more update when there's more to update.  Peace out, homecats.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Well, I'm back to my usual two weeks between posts.  While I have been into the clay a couple of times, I must confess I haven't really committed THAT much time to the pottery over the last couple of weeks, due to a number of distractions, specifically on the weekend.  Last week I blame the Friday-Monday bookends of Krystal's birthday and Valentine's Day, meaning that the weekend was hers, and so was my time.  I still did get into the studio for some minor throwing, but not so much in general.  This past weekend was a holiday weekend, and the first time I've had President's Day off, actually.  We decided to take advantage of the extra twenty-four hours and make a quick jaunt down to Colorado to visit dear friends and mountains.  We made a quick pitstop on Friday night to hang out with some new friends in Rapid City.
For those not in the know, that's Jars of Clay.  And they're awesome.  And now we're buds.
MercyMe's "Rock & Worship Roadshow" tour made a stop in the Rushmore State on Friday night, and while we're (neither Krystal nor I) aren't crazy about MercyMe (or anyone else slated on the tour, actually) Jars of Clay is always worth the trip for a live show.  Especially when you can purchase advance tickets for an intimate pre-show Q&A and acoustic set.  I'm pretty sure there are other artists out there who would cancel or blow off an event if only six people bought tickets for something like this, but Jars of Clay aren't that band.  I recall going to see them in late 2002 when The Elms (exciting!) were supposed to be opening, but had to cancel due to family illnesses.  With no opening act, Jars of Clay stepped up and played an extended set for us including deep tracks and covers ("Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"?  Yes.).  This is a band that steps up and delivers, through and through.  All that to say:


Though they've leaned into their indie rock influences on the last couple records, it was an amazing experience to hear them get back to their roots (anyone remember that song "Flood" from the 90's?).  Two acoustics (their own signature model Taylor guitars), one rhythm shaker, and four voices harmonizing in a room the size of our kitchen.  In addition to creating the purest sound I may have ever heard in my life, these guys were the epitomy of authentic humility.  My only complaint is that they didn't blow off their later set to sit down and play their entire catalog for us.  But seriously, one of the neatest experiences of my life, and definitely near the top of my list of live music experiences.  Maybe the top.  Probably. 

But I've digressed.  (It was amazing!)

On to the pottery.  I've had some pots sitting around drying for quite some time.  Some were trimmed a couple weeks ago, some just last week, some tonight (not photographed).  I still have a little more work in the studio before bed tonight, so I thought I'd save those results for a later post (maybe within 24 hours?!).  I'm thinking I'm nearing a full load of greenware to load up a bisque firing, but I'm waiting until our local temps get back above freezing before I go stand in the garage for an hour loading the kiln.  Not to mention that firing kicks our car out into the cold, so the less cold it is, the happier our car is.  And if Volvo ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  So here are the pots!
Some bowls, and a bigger vasey thing.
I rather like these pots.  I think they've got quite the lovely shape going on.  Excited to glaze these, actually, without any additional decoration.

Bowls!  Of the decorative variety.  These are slightly larger than a kookabura, and probably would not fit into a breadbox.

Alright, that's it for now.  "Catch ya on the flip side," as the hip folk say.

P.S. For some fine listening experience, here are my top 5 Jars of Clay Albums, in no particular order.  Actually, in Chronological order:

Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay: Self-titled debut.  Classic, acoustic post-grunge.  Has anybody gotten tired of this one yet? 
Furthermore: From the Studio, From the Stage
Furthermore: Double album includes live concert recording, plus collection of reworked classics and new songs in a very acoustic vein, giving a foretaste of...
Who We Are Instead
Who We Are Instead: They cover America's "Lonely People" and go folk.  The touring in support of this album was stripped down and gritty: upright piano, acoustic and pedal steel guitars.  This is Krystal's favorite, by far.
Christmas Songs
Christmas Songs: The only Holiday album I listen to year round.  It's just beautiful.  Mostly original songs, you'd think they were old standards by how Christmassy they make you feel.  Plus, covers of the Charlie Brown Christmas song and Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime."
Jars Of Clay Presents The Shelter [+Digital Booklet]
The Shelter: Their latest.  Because it's just that good.  And I couldn't actually pick a #5.  Because they're all just that good, uniquely.  Although I'm also partial to their widely underrated sophomore effort, Much Afraid.  The back half, as we would say if it were on vinyl, is a haunting collection of modern hymn-ish tunes.  Gosh.  They're all so good!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Throwing and such.

Six day posting gap!  I don't feel so bad about that.  Ideally I could get more than one update per week, but I'll take what I can get these days!

I had a healthy bout of throwing/trimming/decorating/claywork this weekend, I believe Sunday afternoon.  Enjoyed some shuffled musical options which gave me a pretty diverse stuff to throw through for the afternoon. Started out with U2's 1983 (breakthrough?) War, which is certainly not one that I default to when I go looking for U2.  Which is often.  Ended with the latter half of Led Zeppelin's Early Days/Latter Days hits collection - again, not the side I normally go to.  Where Early Days has the big hits ("Black Dog," "Rock and Roll," "Stairway," and my personal favorite "When the Levee Breaks") Latter Days has some serious blues-metal psychadelic jams.  Seriously enjoyable stuff.  Sandwiched in the middle were M.Ward's Hold Time and the Man in Black's always great Live at Folsom PrisonNow that's a soundtrack for the creative process.
WarHold Time
At Folsom PrisonLatter Days: Best of Led Zeppelin, Vol.2
So that was the listening experience on Sunday.  I also had a great time listening to quite a variety of stuff for some Monday night throwing as well, but it's currently escaping me.  I know it included a fair bit of the Jimi Hendrix experience, so there ya go.  Pictures below from my weekend's work.  Didn't document yesterday's throwing, but there was a bit of it.  Some vases, some bowls.  A couple of moderately exciting things.  Getting to the bottom of my fresh clay supply - guess I'll be needing some more soon.  Not much more than that, as far as news is concerned.
Recycling clay - time to make up for not having any more of the good stuff!

Bowl.  Still needs a trimmed foot, but I like the carving.

A couple of theses Arizona pots. 
Baby little arizona.

Playing with shape.  These will probably just get glazed.   Pretty bold move on my part.
Test plates - gotta find out how some of these glazes play on a FLAT surface.
Baby mountains, to test glazes.  Boo. 
So that's it for now I guess.  I'm looking to make some updates to my site/blog, visually and functionally, but I need to get some time to sit around and do that.  For the moment, I'd still generally rather be throwing then coding, but sometimes these things must be done.  So, maybe, if somebody out there nags a little bit, I'll get around to it.

Peace out, and stay warm.  Don't want any of my few faithful readers freezing away from me out there. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Absence makes the heart, etc.

I better have a lot to show for taking 10 days between posts, right? But that seems to be my average of late. Sadly, I haven't been doing too much with the pottery this week. Scant though it might be, here's what I've been up to:
All these pots are still sitting on the dining room table.  The reasons are threefold: 1) it forces me to keep evaluating the glazes and allows me to develop second or third opinions.  2) it's always useful to have bowls hanging around in the dining room.  I've used them for cereal, ice cream, salsa, and trail mix.  So far, they all pass my rigorous quality control standards. 3) I'm kind of lazy and haven't made the time to pack them up.  This is probably the primary reason, but my desire to keep evaluating the glazes certainly plays a large part as well.
Krystal's a big fan of this glaze.  On this vase.  I think it's kind of pretty.
Here was trying something a little different - it's a black faux-ash glaze.  I think I'll keep playing around with the effects therein.
I keep coming back to these little vases.  Left: two blue glazes used together.  Right: really excited to work some more with the blending effect there.  Whoo!
This is my choice of the three of these that was fired.  Apparently it doesn't care much for pooling in the center, so I'll have to look out for that.  But mostly I think it's pretty cool.
More little vases.  I like these glazes, I think.

Bowls.  Trying to break out of my standard designs.  It's tricky.  Will have to make more of these.
New vase.  Carved this guy while catching up on Season 5 of PsychSo much fun to have a studio at home!
A couple mini-mountains in progress.  Basically, I need some small mountains to test fire before I glaze all the big ones and ruin them.  Small issues with the brown slip + glaze combos in the test fire.  Hoping it was just an issue on the first round of bowls, as my mountain vases were painted with a different batch of slip then the first bowls to go through.  Here goes nothing.
Also, I've been waiting for pots to dry.  It's very exciting.
So that's most of what's been happening around here. I've thrown a few more things that didn't make the photo gallery - little pieces in various shapes and sizes to get some more specific glaze testing on - plates, for example, to test glaze behaviors on a flat and level surface. It's also been very cold, which means I really ought to be firing that kiln.  But I'm just not quite ready for another full firing yet.  Soonish, maybe.  But that'll require significantly more throwing than what I've been up to lately.
Currently, I've been snagging new music for the listening.  This week it's been the very hot full-length debut by the Civil Wars, a roots-folk duo comprised of singer-songwrite John Paul White and one-time CCM pop darling, Joy Williams.  It is fabulous, and currently only $7.99 on iTunes for the full album+bonus tracks.  They sound a little something like this (video also here):

So, that's enjoyable.  Also picked up the Arcade Fire's 2010 offering The Suburbs as an Amazon download steal for only five bucks. I stand firm in my belief that they are extremely overrated, but that really has more to do with the blatant fetishization of their music in critical circles than anything else. After one listen I'm willing to say that it's a great album. It's really very good, and interesting, and sort of epic in sweep (don't let the suburban focus fool you - this thing is pretty grandiose!). I just don't think it's as great as everybody else, apparently, which is why I was willing to pay five bucks for it, but not any more than that. I guess that's all I have to say about that.