Friday, March 30, 2007

clay friend

I have a good friend and fellow potter, Herb, with whom I enjoy talking about Bill Van Gilder's TV shows. In a recent program, BVG demonstrates using a slump mold to make a serving dish and a baking dish. So Herb made a couple molds cut from wood in his fabulous wood shop and offered to make some for me. I made a couple patterns for some ideas I've been toying with lately and Herb made beautiful wooden slump and hump molds from my patterns. We are having a great time trying figure out exactly how to work with the molds to get what we want.

One of my patterns was for a soup and salad plate. It is pear shaped and will accommodate both the soup bowl and a large salad. That is a favorite meal for Jim and me but we are confounded by having too many plates to fit on our place mats. So this would be a solution--it could also be a soup and sandwich plate. Or even hold a bowl of dip and a pile of chips. But it may turn out to be too specialized to warrant taking up the space in the cupboard.

The other was intended to be a mold for a gratin (baking) dish. So it would be an ellipse with deep sides. Unfortunately, I cut too small a piece to get the deep sides so this first try will be more like a shallow platter. Or it could hold the soup and salad!

I am impressing stamps into the surface of the plates that I hope will be attractive when the glaze pools in the indentions made by the stamps. (You can only barely see the stamp impressions in these photos.) All this is in the experimental stage. I've done very little hand-building and have not been attracted to it. But right now, I'm a little excited about what we are doing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

working on it

Monday I realized that my class at SSAC is almost ending and I am supposed to be able to present 4 of my best pieces for a class criticism! I don't have 4 pieces to present. So I began trying to get something ready to offer to the class criticism. It has raised more questions in my mind than solutions to the challenge. But I have some green pieces ready to go into a bisque firing this week and, hopefully, into a glaze firing the next week--in time for the last class!

Since I like my green pieces better than my glazed ones I will put in some pictures of what I've produced this week.

Both of these casseroles are about the same size--about 10" wide before firing (and shrinking).

The next piece is much smaller and is my 'fun' piece. It is about 4" tall. I might call it "Cinderella's coach".

I've also made about a dozen 'rice bowls' and an experimental piece that I have my fingers crossed for. Actually, I've been pretty busy in the studio this week!

Monday, March 19, 2007

home from NCECA

It is good, being home again. I came home full of ideas and inspirations. Went out to my studio this morning and was about to get into a big throwing session--all good things begin with throwing, in my book! But got scared that it might be too soon as there is still a small scab on the hand-wound of 2 weeks ago and I am out of protective gloves. So off I went in search of gloves--and some kind of organizational set-up to hold my tools. I am so tired of having to hunt for the tool I want but which is not at hand. And, too, I have those nice tools I bought at NCECA and want to have a 'handy place' to keep them safe and at hand. So here it is mid afternoon and I have not thrown a thing! But I'm on my way.

At NCECA I fell in love with the Korean "punch'ong" (in Japanese it is mashima) a process of decoration using stamps, over painted with slip, then the slip is wiped away leaving only the stamped impressions filled with slip against another colored background. I bought a few small stamps from a Korean site promoting the biennial ceramic celebration in Korea. I am very eager to throw some bowls to practice the technique on. I have done a little of this at the Southwest School of Art and Craft and know that it will take a LOT of practice to be able to do what I dream of doing with these little stamps.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

some good news

I unloaded the kiln tonight--when I should have been packing (so it will be a late night before an early take-off to Louisville)! I was happy with some of what came out of the kiln. Two of the shushi plates are nice--two were pretty ugly! But I'm very happy with one and pleased with the other.

The one I really like is the turquoise with brown rim. I am happy with the tan one because it has no glazing flaws.

But what I am really happy with is the test tile box! I think it is great--and the tiles came out great with the glazes on them.

The other 5 tiles have combinations of these glazes with a rutile glaze. Interesting stuff and promises lots of good experimenting to follow.
I had some problems with glazing technique--but no problems from the glaze/clay interaction--and that is a big relief! So I am inspired to do a lot more work with the glazes and glazing when I get back home!

Monday, March 12, 2007

hanging on

Well, I did fill the kiln and start it today. It is not really “full” but the contents are spread out through the kiln pretty equally. I don’t know why I was so eager to fire today. I have said to myself, “I don’t have great expectations, but I do have high hopes.” So that is pretty much a set-up for grief! I am most eager to see the test tiles. The rest of the pieces are all pretty much test pieces, too, because I have covered them with the new glazes to see what they will do on larger work. And I had problems with the application of the glazes to the larger pieces—clearly I need to seek help in that area.

I was a little encouraged today when I read Sand Miller's blog. She had photos of some pots she had just pulled from her kiln (beautiful pots). She said she had been working to get these pieces for 2 years! And she talked about how much she had learned from the exercie. I think she once said she has been potting for 20 years. Makes my four year practice look pretty puny! If I can get another 16 years to work on my pottery I may be in good shape. Hang in there girl!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

joys and frustrations

I worked pretty hard yesterday and today trying to get a load of glazed work ready to fire before I leave for NCECA. I mixed up some glaze tests yesterday and even got the test glazes onto the new test tiles and carefully positioned into the box ready for firing. I am excited about that project!

Today I spent several hours glazing the pots just out of the bisque firing. But I am pretty discouraged about that work. Glazing is so hard for me. It is not that I have mastered the throwing part, but I love doing it and am always convinced that the next piece will be just right. But I don’t have any of those feeling about my glazing. It seems I always get it either too thin or too thick—never hit a happy medium! I would love to find some help or directive for glazing. It is not recipes that I need—got lots of those. But I do need help with application technique. And I can’t visualize what would be appealing by looking at a pot and at my glazes. Perhaps one solution is to plan to refire—do a coat of cone 6 glaze, fire it, then decorate with a low fire overglaze and refire. Maybe I could build up something I would like that way.

I don’t think I am going to get that kiln load ready for firing tomorrow. It will have to wait untill I return from NCECA.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

cleaning-up, cleaning out

The new clay provokes all kinds of changes. I was cautioned that it needs to dry slowly--so right now I am waiting on the last few pieces to dry enough to go into the kiln for a bisque firing. I also must test all the glazes I've been working with again on this new clay--glazes react with the clay and react differently with different clays. Last night, in a flurry of activity I emptied out all the small batches of glaze tests I'v accumulated over the past couple of years.

Today I will wash out the containers and then I can start mixing up glaze tests using my cleaned out containers. Not only have I gotten rid of the old glazes (some so hard-panned in the bottom of the container that I thought I might not be able to dig it out) and have a whole stack of empty containers but I have also gained 2 empty shelves which I badly need! Lose some, gain some!

In the bisque firing I will have two pieces of special interest. Diana suggested that we could consider refiring pieces that aren't entirely satisfying using overglazes. Yesterday I painted a design on a piece that came out of the last glaze firing that was satisfactory but not very interesting. If the overglaze I used (bought 2 years ago) works I think I might be happy with this project:

And I have made a box and tiles for testing the new glazes.

The box and tiles will be in the bisque firing and then I will begin using them for testing the new glazes. The advantage is that the box/tile set-up will take less room in the glaze firing than individual tiles took.

I get the stitches removed from my hand tonight--so maybe soon I'll be back at the wheel.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

wounded-hand hand-building

I went to class on Thursday evening-but was not much help with the kiln loading as none thought a one-handed loader was trust-worthy! But I had another plan for the evening anyway! I wanted to roll out some slabs on the school's wonderful slab-roller. I thought I could make some sushi plates if I had the slabs already prepared. Lyn Woods graciously helped me as I have not used the slab roller enough to remember exactly what to do! I came home with 2 nice size slabs to work with.

Friday morning I made two sushi plates using the wooden plate former I got from Japanese Tools on the web. I used my Japanese stamps to decorate the surfaces and matching springs for the feet. And I used the rough edge of a broken shelf to press into the edges of the plates to give them a rough hewn look. That was all I could do yesterday as I had a lunch date with Justin and an afternoon-evening date with his son Reed (aka babysitting).

Today I made two more of the sushi plates--same style using different stamps and sprigs. I painted all the bottoms with a mixture of red iron oxide, frit 3134 and epk.

I must say that having a palm wound is the least incapacitating wound I've ever had. It seems that the only thing I have to avoid is direct pressure on the palm or stretching my hand out over-extended. I have had no problem working with the slabs today. As Diana said, "maybe the stigmata is over-rated"!