Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New pots, briefly.

Well, I haven't done any potting for a couple weeks now.  Apparently having a puppy is a near full time job, even with two, we think, relatively bright adults to share the duties.  But we're getting there.  I anticipate getting back into the throwing in the next week or so.  Hopefully.  But no promises.  I'm trying to be realistic in my limited optimism.

Meanwhile, I've been processing the results of my glaze firing, of which I shared a preview.  I had some (I think) really stellar results.  And some that were anything but. 
Remember this guy?  Red, green, and yellow bands of slip.  All blue and white.  Wild.  I think the pigments were just too close to the natural clay composition.  I will re-attempt with a white slip body.  But at least I now have a lovely new place to store all my trimming and carving tools.
Same here (from left): Red, green, red, green.  Not so much, post firing.  Try, try again.

Set of bowls - special order.  Very pleased with this glaze result.

 Anyway, I'm still working on the "official " shots of all these pots.  Spent a couple hours sanding all these feet last night while watching the remake of the Karate Kid.  Entertaining, fun movie.  Lots of deja vu throughout the whole thing.  Kinda bizarre.  Anyway.  So there will be more pots coming shortly, but this should do it for now.

Oh, just one more thing: which of the following glazes do you think turned out better for the exterior of my mountain vases?  I think it's pretty clear that the iron red glaze is the right choice for the interiors.
Sandstone (left) or Caramel Cream (right)
I'm a little torn on this one.  I think the Caramel Cream is lovely - it does a much better job of showing the brown slip vs. the rest of the pot.  But I think I'm more keen on the general feel of the Sandstone.  If you think to, please leave me a comment if you have a preference or feeling.  I think this is what they call "market research" in the business world. 

Thanks for stopping by and keep posted for the rest of the pots from this firing!

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Look

Where there's smoke...

...there's a fire!  Fortunately, electric firings generally come with minimal smoke.  Which is good news for people who fire them, people like me.

Krystal had some work to tackle this weekend (family visits are great fun, but they can set you behind if you take time off while they're here!) and so I thought I'd take care of some glazing and, by association, firing.  I was concerned that I might not have a full kiln, but that worry proved erroneous.  Not only did I fill the kiln, but I still have (probably) another full load to go.  I'm hoping that this load provides me with confirmation of some of my glaze hopes, namely that I receive positive affirmation of my choice of glaze for my mountain vases.  We'll just have to wait and see.  As of 5:10 PM (CDT) the kiln was still cooling and sitting at about 650 degrees.  At noon it was still a toasty 1400 and had dropped to about 1250 by the time I headed back to work at one.  At this cooling rate, I may get to open it tonight.  However, based on my previous firings (and basic laws of physics/thermodynamics), the nearer the kiln comes to room temperature the slower the progress of cooling.  If JohnX wants to write me a physics oriented explanation I'd be happy to post it here, but basically it cools faster when it's still really hot and gets slower the cooler it gets.  So, while I'd like to believe that I can open and unload tonight, that may not happen.  Also, I tried some new things in my firing, namely using delay (delayed start) and preheat (holds at 180 degrees) functions.  This was helpful for me because it allowed me to set the kiln to start firing later in the evening (off prime rates?) and also to insure that all the glazes were dried (there were a few pots where the glazy dryness was questionable).  So, rather than having to sit around waiting for glaze to dry before I loaded, and having to wait for the right time to turn the kiln on, I glazed, loaded, set it and forget it.  So there you go.

Enough words, it's time for some pictures, I guess.
My mess.  Took over the kitchen again.  Stripped down my palette for this firing - 4 primary glazes and maybe 5 accent glazes.
Bottom row of the kiln.  Set of bowls, some other things. Ta dum.
Top shelf of kiln.  There's another row of bowls in between the top and bottom.  Very excited to see how these all turn out!
Well, there it is.  Countdown to unloading?  I'll do my best to get pictures up as soon as possible!  I hope you all have had a lovely Monday, and good luck with the rest of your week!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Post #151!!!

Apparently my last post was the monumental post #150.  But I didn't notice, so I didn't mention it or do anything awesome to mark the milestone.  But I'm here to make up for it!  I'm finally home without any plans for travel in the near future.  Granted the last couple trips out of town have been for funerals, and thuswise out of my control, I'm looking forward to some downtime.  Or at least hometime.  And also because it is time to introduce to you my new studio assistant!

Ladies and gentemen, I proudly present to you Miss Temperance (Tempy) Langholz!
Yeah, I know that's Krystal.  Tempey is the little fuzzy one.

She's cuddly.
Ferocious.  Yeah, that is a Tyrannosaurus she's owning there.
And of course, as my new assistant, she also exhibits those most all-important traits such as dilligence, responsibility, go-getter-ness, and, clearly, is a VERY hard worker.  We're very excited to have her on board.
She's still of course on a probationary period before she'll be handling any studio responsibilities, but she's a very quick learner and expect great things from this young creative prodigy.

That said, she's keeping us busy.  Add to that a visit from the inlaws (love you guys!) that coincided with her arrival, and we've had a very full week.  Without nearly as much sleep as I prefer to get.  And certainly not enough potting.  But I did get into the studio today to take care of some pots from last week?  last fortnight?  Something like that.
Yeah, thought I'd try another rainbow pot, with some carving.  We'll see.
Also, there's been some studio changes for me lately.  Namely my decor decided to descend from the walls, so now there is none.  Trying to come up with a creative way to get these cork sheets back on the wall, because clearly the little adhesive pads aren't cutting it. 
Rebellious cork squares.  How am I supposed to draw inspiration from an empty wall?
I also swapped out ye olde folding chair in exchange for a more pottery-suitable stool, courtesy of my folks.  This may not sound that exciting, but boy, let me tell you, it really is!  Thrilling!  Stools are the only appropriate thing to throw pots in!  Also, this stool has been in my family for as long as I can remember.  Like, literally.  At least 22 years.  I don't remember Dad assembling it, but otherwise it's always been a family staple in his music studio.  Rearrangements at home (and perhaps in his lumbar vertrebrae?) have resulted in a different studio arrangement for him (a real chair) so I got this beauty:
Isn't it great?  Adjustable legs!  Now it fits my wheel perfectly!
There you have it.  Post #151, full of excitement.  Also, it's been sunny and warm all week.  What more could you ask for!  And all sorts of great music this spring!  Have been grooving with the new Radiohead and bopping with the new Strokes record (it was streaming all week on their website, here!)  So that's awesome.  And I'm looking forward to some new Foo Fighters in April, not to mention NPR's insane amount of live concert recordings from the SXSW festival in Austin, TX (find them here!).  Post #151, you didn't fail to deliver.  It's been an awesome week full of wonder and excitement.  Next: moving on to a full docket of glazing + more wonder, excitement, and discovery galore!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lobster! Crab! Tomato Basil!

Yes, I'm talking about bisque.  Not the soup, but the pots.  They were fired just fine, and unloaded quite merrily.  No explosions or anything like that.  Also, I made it home safely from my 24 hour whirlwind tour of the tristate area.  Here are some pictures:
The bottom of the kiln.
The top of the kiln.  First to be unloaded, second to be uploaded.  There's something Biblical about that...
Experimental slips.  Red and green and yellow.  We'll see how they glaze!
Finally, as long as I was running around outside (in the garage is like outside, right?) with a camera I thought I'd show y'all how winter drags on up around here.  But we're hopeful!
See that?  Grass!  Unbelievable!
I guess we're still ten days away or so from the first day of spring, but we're very optimistic that the snow is on its way out.  Maybe.  But we wouldn't be surprised by another blizzard sometime next week. You just get used to these things after a while. 

That's it for now.  Glazing on the horizon.  More throwing, too, I hope.  Have a great weekend and don't forget to set your clocks ahead tonight (for those living in areas that observe Daylight Savings Time, that is).  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Brief Firing Update

Continuing my themes of not doing pottery, I haven't done any pottery recently.  And I'm on the road the next couple of days for a family funeral.  And then I'm home to host the in-laws for a visit.  And then it's back to the daily grind.  Blurgh. 

But, I did get the kiln all loaded up and fired last night (Wednesday).  I didn't get to unload it as it was still 1000 degrees at noon, but all seems to have gone well.  Firing was completed in 12h52m - slow bisque fire to make sure my vases were all super dry.  Filled the kiln pretty well this time, too, so that was nice.  Glad I didn't wait much longer. 
Bottom level.  Apparently I need to start making mugs/cups again to help fill those little gaps in.
Top split-level - had to fit those taller vases in!  More bowls under that shelf.
So there you have it.  In the time that I haven't been making pots I've been giving a lot of thought to the craft of it, and the art.  I've read a couple of very interesting essays/posts from one of my favorite authors regarding creativity, as well as mulling over some saved passages from a book I read last year; these things have kept me thinking hard about the way I approach what I do here.  Which I will hopefully flesh out in a later post.  But for now, bed. 

Good night, moons!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Busy busy busy...

It's been a hectic week(end) and the next one looks to be no better.  Mostly family stuff, and that's just the way life is.  BUT! I did get to do some potting last week, even if it wasn't nearly as much as I'd like to be doing.  Here's a little of what I accomplished, and then some stuff that needs to be accomplished yet.
Finally got around to decorating this vase.  Not sure how I feel about it at this point - starting to feel stuck in a rut with some of my decorative styles.  But they're my styles, so I shouldn't feel like it's a rut to be producing work that is stylisticly repetetive, right?
Trying out some new slip colors on these bowls.  Trying some new-ish pattern types of things.  We'll see what happens!
Here's some of my white clay that started out as slip and ended up bone dry.  Which is great for recycling, if I take the time to recycle it.  Which I need to.  Just showing a little life around the studio for ya.
Here's a shelf of greenware still waiting for a bisque fire.  Maybe this week?  Don't know how I'd fit it in, but I kind of need to.  Maybe on Wednesday - firing on Ash Wednesday seems appropriate, right?
So that's really all I have to show for last week.  Of course those bowls involved trimming to go with the decorating, and that does take some time.  Mostly I haven't been able to dedicate large chunks of time to hard work (more than 30-40 minutes at a go) and not being around on the weekend has been a real productivity-suck on the artistic front.  Blurgh.  But that's the way it goes sometime.

Otherwise, I've been listening to a lot of Jars of Clay back-catalog stuff in the studio and in my free time - relishing the underrated efforts that make up their sophomore and junior (?) releases, and also picking up on some new music to be excited about.  Radiohead released their newest as a direct download a couple of weeks ago and it is a funky electro-jazz experience.  There are also new singles out from The Strokes and Foo Fighters which bode well for spring albums from those creative guys.  So I'm pretty excited about that.  And finally, the latest in the Yearbook project from Sleeping at Last has been enjoyable: of the three tracks on the March EP, one track is a beautiful instrumental, and another features guest vocals from none other than Switchfoot's Jon Foreman.  So that's a treat.  You can listen to that track in the "video" embedded below, which is titled "Birthright."
Have a great week, and hopefully there will be potting news from me sooner than not!