Monday, July 31, 2006

The eyes have it...

This week-end was busy and I had no time to be in the studio. Yet it was full of good pottery experiences! I spent some time looking at, feeling, and analyzing the test tiles from Diana Pancioli. These are her tests of cone 6 reduction glazes. There are 22 tiles, each measures about 2X2.5, the glazed part is 2X2 below which is a code for identifying the glaze. She also sent the recipes for the 22 glazes with notes on application and results on different clays.

The other interesting experience
was making colored labels for my
glaze materials containers. This was stimulated by a suggestion of Hank Murrow in Clayart. He suggested
making labels with colors to represent the percentage of fluxes, the stiffeners and the glass formers in each of the materials. It was such an eye opener—I guess I am a visual learner because I have read and studied the composition of these materials but never ‘understood’ it till now. The greens represent the fluxes, the blues represent the stiffeners, the yellow represents the silica.

The downer was loosing my purse on Saturday. I don’t know if I left it somewhere or if someone got into my car and took it—though I am quite certain that I had locked the car. I had my car key and wallet with me. But in the purse were my cell phone, check book, another key chain with car key to the Cressida and to the house, a collection of credit cards I don’t use and who knows what all else! I am still hoping to find it somewhere…

Monday, July 24, 2006

Funky fun

Saturday and Sunday I attended Jerry Bennett’s Paperclay workshop at the Southwest School of Art and Craft. It was an interesting experience for me: new clay; handbuilding; and funky styles! But I enjoyed all of it. The paper clay was so easy to work with and lent itself to lots of fooling around because it is so user friendly. But I don’t know that I will do much with it. It is something of a commitment to mix it up in large quantities and it does not keep well for long periods of time. So it would need to be something I would want to focus a lot time and attention on to make it worth the effort. But it was interesting and fun. I might make up a batch and see if Lauren and Conrad would enjoy working with it. They would have a lot more success with the paperclay for handbuilding--which they enjoy more than working on the working the wheel.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Monday afternoon I loaded the kiln for a bisque firing. The heat has slowed me down. Takes longer to act on decisions these hot days!

Tuesday I picked up some supplies at Clayworld and then dropped in on Diana to pick her brain about an idea I have for an independent study project for this fall. She fixed a lovely lunch for us. She said she plans her menus around color combinations on the plate! Looked beautiful.

Wednesday, Jim unloaded the kiln in the morning before I was even out of bed! He had a few pinch pots in the kiln and was eager to see if they survived—I mistakenly put in some that were not quite dry. After I brought all the pieces into the house I set up in Kitchen to wax the bottoms. Generally, I do this on the fly—when I’m ready to glaze I realize that I have not waxed the bottoms and do it in a rush. I don’t allow time to really dry and I don’t take enough care with the application. As a result, the foot ring looks very sloppy on most of my pieces. So today I took care—to the extent that I can control my application. Still I want to remember to check the foot rings after I apply the glaze to make sure I have a nice line. I took a lot of time doing it but realize that I need to give more time/attention to these parts of the work if I want my finished pieces to be nice.

I also mixed up the last 3 glazes that I could not do last week because I was short on supplies I needed. They now need to be sieved and then they are ‘good to go’.

I want to set aside a big block of time for my glazing, too. I can’t be very creative if I am just allowing a couple hours to get a huge batch of work into the kiln! I’ve been trying to collect ideas for glaze decoration—I am tired of my just dipped or sprayed pieces. I want to do something more interesting. Looking through books I see things that I like and want to try. But when I am with a pot in hand, standing in front of a pot of glaze I never can remember any of those good ideas!

Today Kevin and Cat, two of my glaze buddies, came over for lunch and just to chat about glazes. We had no assignments this time. Kevin showed us her new glaze program, HyperGlaze. Cat had brought samples of her glaze tests to show and talk about with us. I had lots of questions about glaze vocabulary (they are being very patient with my never-satisfied quest!) It was nice meeting in the middle of the day when we were not so tired. And very nice that it was such a small intimate group. We pledged to repeat the pleasant experience soon.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Back at the wheel

It has been hard to find time to work in my studio. But today I was back in my favorite place--sitting at the wheel. I trimmed a bowl I had thrown on Tuesday--amazed that it was still trimable. But in fact, it was in perfect condition for trmming--just shows what a good job a little plastic cover can do. And I got to make some test tiles and two colanders from a new clay, Dillo. I am still searching for my perfect clay!
This weekend I will fire a bisque load. And hope to get to do a glaze firing by the end of next week. I am looking forward to taking a workshop next weekend at the craft center. It will be working with paper clay--which I am interested in knowing a little more about. And I am looking forward to working with a group again. I've missed my weekly trip to the craft center this semester.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A day in the studio

A quiet day in the studio—with breaks to sip on a cup of coffee and chat with Jim. I trimmed the mugs I threw yesterday (no foot rings) and put handles on them early in the day. Then I threw a bowl from a scrap of clay left from the handle-making project. It will make a nice “empty bowl” contribution. Then, with another piece of left-over clay, I threw a largish salad bowl that will be a thank you to Steve for his part in my new shelves, if it turns out well after all the next steps!

Then, just to add some excitement to the day, as I was moving the largish salad bowl very carefully to a safe place for drying I kicked over a bucket of slop—lots of water and lots of soft clay scraps all over the floor! What a mess! I had been ‘intending’ to map the floor because there were some clay drips in that area around the wheel—so I got to do it today! Lots more water and the mop to float the clay up and the shop vac to suck it up with the water. Because the floor is that pebbly concrete it is very hard to clean, the clay just settles in between the little stones and does not come up easily. I made two attempts at watering it down, rubbing it loose with the mop and vacuuming it with the shop vac and letting it dry between. You can still see a haze of clay where the slop bucket went over. But I think that is a good as I can get it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

small steps

I unloaded the kiln this morning. Not as successful as I had hoped—but some interesting pieces and some good information on the new glazes and combinations of glazes. I had tried to duplicate the error I had made that produced such a nice dark forest green with lots of texture in it (the Burgundy from June Perry) but got a much lighter color—almost a light turquoise but also with nice variation in it (mug on extreme right). Perhaps the most curious bit of information was the mug I fired with Paul Northway’s ‘Burgundy’. When I had mixed up his recipe and fired on a test tile it came out very purple—very close to the eggplant purple I have—when I showed it to Paul he was convinced I had not mixed it properly. So he gave me a tub of his glaze to test. I put it on a mug (mug on extreme left) and it came out the same purple I had on the test tile! So it is something to do with the firing. Paul showed me a piece he had fired with the glaze and it was very burgundy—almost pink burgundy. Interesting. I guess that the most successful bit were the mugs. I am happy with them—the shape, the handle. I like the ones made with 1 pound of clay best—the 3/4 pound were too small.

Friday, July 07, 2006

a bit dispirited

The glaze making project ran much longer than I expected and my ‘arrangements’ for it were inadequate. My back problems slowed me down a lot and there were other responsibilities/commitments that also slowed me down. So it seemed an inordinately long drawn-out project. Now I have a kiln load of glaze firings—with lots of tests of the new glazes and tests of combinations—and I have my fingers crossed for some good outcomes. But it has been a long haul and past outcomes have not been very positive. Today, with the kiln loaded and firing, I finally got back to the wheel. That is what I love. That is where my enjoyment of pottery is rooted. I threw 4 small plates, a larger plate, a large salad bowl and an smaller altered bowl. So I am a bit up-lifted today. But there is the opening of the kiln ahead of me. I do very much hope to be encouraged by the outcome of this firing.

In the meantime, we have adopted a baby raccoon. We did not know its vulnerability when we took it in. It seem to be in need of help so Jim rescued it and made a temporary home for it in the fireplace. Then Jim brought in our ‘dog cage’ and made a home for him with wood blocks, newspaper, towels—all the comforts of home. He very compassionately feed him, cleaned its pen, and provided water. That was on Sunday and since then the baby has deteriorated. He seems now not to be able use his hind legs—he pulls himself around the pen with his front legs. He was able to get around but seemed to be 'wobbley'. We took the cage out on the porch mid-day today and left the door open. But he has made no attempt to move in or from the pen. Perhaps he was kicked out of the ‘family’ because of some congenital defect. But he is not improving based on our loving attention.