Wednesday, January 28, 2009

tortoise here

Glad there is no race! I'm slow--but hopefully I'll get there finally! I have just started a glaze firing--first in a long time! It is full of 'tests'--squares of clay to see if I can improve the vitrification of my clay by the addition of some material to lower the maturing temperature; also several small pieces with some glazes I mixed up a while back and had tested on tiles.

I also painted some designs on the small test pieces to see how the stain mixture I have will work on the glazes. Hope there is some success in this firing--I was not happy with much of anything in the last glaze firing. In the photos below the test tile shows the underlying glaze and the design I applied.

The lesson I am trying to accept and work with is that I am not going to have lots of time to be in the studio. My work is going to be piece-mill. I just have to find a way to work within the constraints I have here. I just have to be more disciplined about my time that I really want to be!

I wish I could get a handle on my glazes. I wish i had a palette of glazes that I am comfortable with, that I know how to combine/overlap. Right now I have about a dozen large tubs of glazes and about 2 dozen small tubs (2 cups) of test glazes. But there are very few of these that I feel attached to. It seems that I am a glaze junkie--always looking forward to the next great, perfect glaze!

Well, so much for apologetics!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

clay work

I have spent a few hours each day in the studio--no long blocks of time--but enough to feel like I am back! Did some trimming on pieces I made Monday and Tuesday--but I had done such a good job of covering everything that they really were not ready for trimming. After struggling with 3 pieces I just covered the rest and will get back to them tomorrow.

I have another 'project' at the same time. I have become unhappy that my clay is not vitrified at cone 6 but I am attached to the clay: Black Jack clay from East Texas. My mother was from East Texas very near the source of the BlackJack clay, I was born nearby, and spent the years my father served in WW II living with my grandparents in East Texas. I've thought "I am working with the bones of my ancestors!" And besides all that, I really like working with this clay. BUT it is sold as a "cone 6 - 10" clay--and it really is not vitrified at ^6--as one might expect--vases leave rings on the table! Another reason for my attachment is that I have a LOT of this clay on hand! So I began wondering if I could adjust the clay to increase the rate of absorbency (or decrease--not sure how to express getting it more vitrified.) I queried Clayart discussion group for some suggestions and now I am trying a couple of the suggestions. I added some Nephline Synite to see if that lowers the maturing temperature. Another suggestion was to wedge in some earthenware clay to lower the mature temperature. I am making tiles from both these experiments to run tests to see if either works--and what negative changes it might bring about at the same time.

So, really, with not so much time, I do have a lot going on!

Monday, January 05, 2009

opened, but not as imagined

I did spend most of today working with clay--hooray! But it was not just as I had imagined. I went to bed especially early last night (~9:00)as I was determined to get an early start in the studio. Kenny does not get to breakfast until around 10:00 because it takes that long for him to shower and dress. So my plan is to get up early and go right out to the studio and come in for breakfast when he was ready. But last night Kenny called for help at about 10:00. He was not feeling well and was showing some baffling symptoms. We got him to bed and back in our own beds by 11:00 but then spent a bit of time worrying about him--maybe we should have called EMS?? There were a couple more calls for help during the night. So I did not hop out of bed as early or as energetically as I had planned. But I did go out while he dressed, then I came in for breakfast with him, and back out after breakfast. Kenny decided to spend the day inside "taking it easy". He did need some help mid-morning but after that he was fine. I was able to work until about 3:30--so I got some good time out there.

I made 2 slab pieces that I am optimistic about--a large oval casserole and a smaller rectangular casserole (sorry the pictures are not very clear)--from wood forms made for me by my friend and fellow potter Herb. Those are drying slowly now under cover. Then I put about 7 pounds of clay on the wheel to do some work 'off the hump'. There was no 'theme' to that work--just getting my hand back into the work. It felt good getting back to work!

Tomorrow Kenny goes out to the medical center for the first of 12 therapy sessions. That punches a hole in the middle of the day three times a week for the month of January--Jim is going to share the taxi service with me. I don't know if I go tomorrow or not yet. Then I have a doctor's appointment with my eye doctor at noon on Wednesday. Gosh, life sure gets in the way of doing what I want to do!! I'm sure I'm not alone in that experience. And I am luckier than most given the support Kenny and I have.

I have restarted my meditation practice. Jim and I began regular meditation practice and study in 2000. We had incredible experiences in that pursuit. Yet, a couple years ago, I dropped my commitment to my meditation practice. I have regretted that failure but have not had the fortitude to get back on the cushion. So I am very happy that with the new year I am back on the cushion. My experience in the past was that meditation was a very empowering practice.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

on schedule

I spent some time Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday getting ready to "open" the studio tomorrow. By gosh, I am ready! Took several hours on Thursday just to get the leaves swept out of the studio! (Our studio--formerly the garage--is also the laundry room and the thorough-fare for getting to the cars--now parked in the added-on carport--so that even when we are not using the studio the space is in use. Every time either of the doors is opened leaves blow in if there is any wind at all.) Then I went through my part of the studio straightening out and organizing tools and paraphernalia. I pugged clay this afternoon so the clay is ready to go and I laid out some molds that I want to use tomorrow for starters!

Last week I found some plastic 'boxes' designed for tree ornament storage that I am excited about. I've been wanting to make some 'cubby-hole boxes' to put tea bowls into. I have even wondered if I could make them. The plastic storage boxes looked just like a great substitute--but, alas, they are a little too small and, of course, not as nice as wooden boxes. I am going to use these to hold my small glaze test bowls--most of them fit in the little cubbies. But it still leaves me wishing for the wooden boxes that would hold tea bowls.

Compare that to Betsy Williams' in her studio/gallery in Dixon, New Mexico:

She built her's. I am a great fan of Betsy's work.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Resolved, studio opening January 5

By hook or by crook, we will be working in the studio--on a regular basis--beginning next week!
It has been a long haul, but it seems that things are settling down now and with a bit of discipline we can be in the studio regularly again.
I am so eager to be working again. I have really missed getting to spend time with my hands on/in clay. I have so many things I want to try out--but watch me get there and not know how to begin again!
This weekend I intend to spend time getting the studio back into working order. It is pretty disordered right now and I can't work in that. It may take a couple days to get everything ready to go--but I want it ready by Monday!