Monday, August 31, 2009

friends and mentors...via web

It is so amazing the relationships that are developed via the web--primarily, in my case, through our blogs. I have friends I feel very close to that I have never met--may never meet face-to-face--yet they are closer to me than friends I see frequently. Part of it is the shared passion--clay--but it is so much more. My blogging buddies are the ones who encourage me when I am discouraged and who celebrate my successes. They are also the ones who mentor me--though they may never know that. The comments section of this blog has so many examples of support through dry times. It is amazing how significant that support is to my work.

Not so easy to see is the mentoring I receive. In several instances, blogging friends have read of my struggle with some problem and sent me solutions--glazes or techniques that might solve the current impasse. In other cases, something someone wrote about or showed in photos inspired some activity in my own studio. Thinking about this so many instances came to mind--too many to mention in this post. Maybe I need to write a series of posts on my blogging mentors. Today, just one--who does not even know me or my blog! June Perry recently described and photographed her "command Center". I liked that idea so much that I set up my own version:

My "command center" is on the side of a rolling cart. When I'm not throwing, it is rolled up close to the wheel--out of the way. When I am throwing, it moves to an easily accessible position.

I have long felt myself to be in June's debt for her incredible study of ^6 glazes. I've tested several and one is my favorite glaze that I use over and over again. That site is a gold mine of information on glazes.

June has also inspired me to join in the search for the perfect pizza dough. I have not actually begun the search but every time I read about her pizza supper I am encouraged again to start the search!

Thank you dear friends and mentors!

Friday, August 28, 2009

change is in the air

Today is the first day in a LONG time that the weather prediction is under 100 degrees--it is to be 99 degrees today. Moreover, we got a little rain last night. When I stepped outside after dark and it was cool--for the first time in a long time I thought of sitting outside for a bit. Oh, gosh, we are eager for autumn! What a long HOT, DRY summer it has been.

I like to tell myself that is why I have been in such a funk lately. I threw a couple pots last weekend and have not done anything since. My studio is air conditioned and I have running water there--I know how lucky I am. But I just can't seem to make myself get out there and stay out there long enough to get some work done. Besides, I'm not trying to make a living, this is supposed to be fun. So my hope is that it is the hot, dry days that have taken their toll on my spirit and with the coming of more accommodating weather I'll regain my enthusiasm for my clay work.

As I leafed through the new Ceramics Monthly yesterday, I began imagining work I WANTED to make! That is a good sign. I even got out my studio log book and began sketching some of those images so I would not forget them. I don't sketch my plans for work--or anything else! So it was quite remarkable that I was doing that. Don't you think that portends a renewed enthusiasm for studio work? Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

clear glaze

On to the less successful products of the last firing!
I have become interested in working with slips. But when I put my clear liner glaze over a piece that had been slipped before the bisque, it became cloudy where thick--as in corners. So I mixed up 3 new 'clear' glazes and fired them over slipped pieces in the last firing. Only one of the four clear glazes gave a really clear cover--Kate the Younger from Lana Wilson's book. The others were cloudy and made the colored slip look pastel--or changed the color completely. The really clear (Kate) was very high gloss and it did the most amazing thing to the slip. I had covered the piece (bowl and platter) with an iron slip--painted on in 3 coats, in 3 different directions. Under 'Kate' the iron slip became bright yellow with dark brown streaks. This striation did not occur with the clear glazes that became cloudy. I guess I am looking for an explanation AND for a clear (^6 electric) glaze that does not go cloudy and reveals the true color of the slip. Any ideas?

These are the glazes that clouded over. There is a stripe of red iron oxide on the right side of test tile.

Here is the test tile for "Kate'.

And here is the bowl:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

at long last

The pagoda is fired. And it is nice! Whew.

The kiln was about as full as I can get it--but I have not much to show. That's OK since I am happy with the way the pagoda came out. There is a small pagoda, also, but it is not as nice--I may refire it, not much color. Funny because the small one gave me all kinds of trouble from start to finish. Had that been the experience with the original I'm sure I'd have thrown in the towel long ago.

It is just the top section of the taller one--the bottom section collapsed while drying. The top part was still intact so I just went ahead with it!

I've made some dogwood flower drawer pulls for my bathroom. Hope I can figure how to attach them to the drawers! (I want them for the kitchen, but I have to go slowly there!)

Otherwise, the kiln was full of tests: testing 3 different 'clear' glazes--not all clear glazes are clear! And a new slip with various colorants--under the new clear glazes--not all clear glazes are clear. And 3 variations on a new black glaze. So lots to study now.

BTW, the firing was much more even top to bottom. It did over-fire a bit--but only one of the clear glazes screamed about that (by way of lots of pin holes).

All in all a good firing.

Oh, and one more thing. I also made a small batch of John Britt's new glaze, Gnu Blue ( It is nice--almost a satin glaze, nice feel and great variation. It does not look much like his--but that is the way of pottery, right?