Friday, April 27, 2012

In the studio

I'm most charmed by the carving on this piece, and the glaze looks much better in this photo than it does on line.

Mostly sewing this week folks, a bit of jean patching for the Hubby, and some maternity shirts- which I'm working on a tutorial for, also a few alterations on a dress I bought myself a while ago (on sale- beautiful print and fabric, but sort of weird spaghetti straps/ unflattering fit). I'll take some photos of them when the sun comes out again- they're summery tops, and the weather has been a little wintry this week (well- it was 25 at the beginning of the week, and now it's freezing rain on Friday, so who the heck knows what season it is in Manitoba)

I also fired the Kiln and glazed my vases- which I was less than impressed by, perhaps that's why no clay has gone on in the studio this week. I'll re fire them- but all in all the colours were too wishy washy, and the gloss surface that I love on mugs, is just not right for carved pieces, it's looks a bit too, I don't know flashy, and I'm going for classy. So yeah, back to the drawing board.

I'll mix up some satin matte glazes and see if any of them will do better, also I'll try some more intense stain levels, maybe that will be what I'm looking for- they're very pastel right now, and just not jiving with the image I have of them in my head. I'll get there in the end, I know (I'm not garaunteeing how far away 'the end' is, mind you) though it can be so frustrating to have it turn out not quite right. Time to get he sewing stuff cleared away, and get back  on the clay horse I suppose.

Friday, April 20, 2012

In the Studio

Fiddlehead carved boat

My 'helper'- in this case a small plastic farm boy- who was helping me adjust the pot
you'd be suprised at how often this happens.

the pile of beckoning bright fabric

I'm a little picture light this week- but a bisque kiln produces no photos- and I spent the week carving some gravy boats. I also made a cake plate- which was about 60 percent what I wanted it to be, so I recycled it. I could have saved it- the old me would have cried over it a bit (not literally), but I would have spent some time trying to patch it or sand it or just generally make it work. Really it's much better to just scrap it- before you fire it.

I have learned that by working regularly- when I only make a few things a year- whatever they are, they get precious, and I try very hard to save it from it's proper end, but when you work regular hours, and therefore produce lots of work (or more than you are used to producing), it's much easier to let it go. I think that comes from my painting background a bit too, when I painting doesn't go right- we paint over it until it is right- we are in complete control of that medium. But Clay is different- it's a bit wild, it depends on how it dries, and what type of clay you used, and how you attached it, and once it cracks, warps, slumps and then dries- it's usually too late to fix it. That is the correct moment for quality control- not after you fire the darn thing and then decide it's not really good enough- because you see- before you fire the clay you can add it back to water and re use it, but after it's fired you just have to throw it away.

Anyhow- I began writing this because I wanted  to write about my studio hours, I have wanted to set up regular working hours for a while- and only in this past month have I actually been able to manage it. I now work from whenever I get up until lunch time, N keeps herself occupied with snacks and shows right next to me, occasionally 'helping' me, and I get some work done. And I'm surprised at just how much work you can get done, just by putting in actual part time hours, I figure I'm spending 20-25 hours a week on clay right now, and that's ridiculous to me because I 've spent most of the last two years on baby and toddler time, which is like being in a time vacuum. I know I'll have to go through that vacuum again when the next babe comes along- but I'm so happy to have discovered that a couple of years in I'll be able to actually produce work again. It's thrilling.

So I know I wanted to try seasonal studio time, but I think I'm going to keep it up through the summer, maybe cut back to quarter time, do an hour or two of studio work in the morning and then go out to the garden, If I can until the baby comes. Because the one thing that happens when you make work is that you realize how much more stuff you want to make, and how many more hours you need to make the things you want to try (on my list are cake plates, carved canisters, french onion soup bowls, shorter vases, platters, and dinner plates).

Anyhow- after carving three gravy boats this week- and with the Babe getting up earlier and earlier (damn that summer sun),  I was feeling a little clayed out- and I think I'll try to get some sewing done this next week (as well as some more mugs), a couple of cotton maternity shirts, and some jean patching, in some bright colours is just the remedy I think.

Friday, April 13, 2012

In the Studio

the drying luminaries

the three surviving luminaries, and a couple of carved vases.

It was a glaze firing week- so that means *goody*- some colourful photos on the blog- not just drying clay colour (though I snazzed up the sidebars a bit in an effort to give you something colourful or spring like to look at). Mostly mugs in this kiln, and I was really pumped that I love at least some of them. That's the one thing about Clay- you just never really know if the glaze is too thick or too runny or just right until it comes out of the kiln, and by that time it's usually too late to do anything about it. Unless there's not enough glaze which is easy enough to re-fire, if there's too much, or the wrong colour, or you accidentally had a smidgen of black glaze dust on your finger when you put that otherwise perfectly glazed robin's egg blue platter into the kiln, then too bad- that one black spot will just have to stay there (I think, unless anyone has a solution for that one?????)

So mostly a successful kiln, my glazes worked better over texture a bit thinned out, and I also mostly by fluke discovered an effect that I love- a Watercolour-y looking effect, where one colour sort of runs into another and the brush marks stay defined. I usually glaze by painting on- it's just easier for me to control- I get too spastic wild with dipping or pouring, though my official reasons for painting on glaze is as a nod to my painter's heart; I really love when you can tell how an item was made- you can see a seam on a hand built pot, or you can see the brushstrokes on a painting. I want to see the method used in the medium. I've had this brushy effect happen before- but only on flukey pots, that I couldn't recreate, and so I was thrilled when I found a way to do that on these mugs, and I was conscious enough when I glazed them so hopefully I'll be able to do it again.

I think I've also discovered that I love Plainsman's P370 clay- it's the one that I feel most comfortable with- and it's got a great finished colour, very classy looking clay, and it's a bit firmer so I find it easier to hand build with. I just started working with Tucker's cone 10 Porcelain clay too, I made a couple of vases out of it- which was okay, but it's pretty soft, so I had to let them harden up quite a bit. I did however make these luminaries and I'm hoping they will have a bit of transparency when I high fire them. The plan is for them to be transparent in the lace pattern, and if not them to shine out through the holes I drilled. I made about 50 thousand of them- but only 3 have survived so far- they're pretty thin and delicate.

I was hoping for them to be for a sale- but I suddenly got an idea about making lots and lots of them, and having on the floor of an art gallery somewhere. I seem to be drawn to handkerchiefs right now, and I think I may have to put together a body work with that in mind, maybe including my mom's wedding dress? I don't know it's still embryonic, and knowing that the next grant deadline in in September, and the baby is also due in September- makes me a little nervous, though not enough to stop thinking of it. so yeah...

Friday, April 6, 2012

In the studio: March 26-April 6


A slightly pale glaze test- things turned out a little less saturated than I'd like-
 but it did give me a testing starting point or two.

Okay so I missed a week last week I actually got a lot done- but I didn't get a post written- also I didn't get much done this week, so it's sort of a catch up post. I did a glaze fire and a Bisque fire since I wrote last- finished a carved platter and a carved vase, and just today loaded another glaze kiln, so I've been keeping up- of course I've also been increasingly filling pots and starting seeds, so that's been keeping me a bit busy.

So yes- on to the pots- I've glazed the birch carved gray boat- and I really love it- I think the size is just right now that it's fired down, a bit big- but also big enough for a turkey gravy, and I love the way that the black glaze rubbed off highlights the carving. I also love the seashell platter- it looks very special in person, though small- it shrunk down to almost dinner plate size- though actually I think I may do more un-carved (with maybe a small pressed in lace embellishment) for a set of oval dinner plates- just clear or white glazed would be nice I think.

I did have a few stinker mugs though, most notably the four diamond impressed ones- which I did in four colours, rubbed off on the outside solid on the inside- I took off too much in some spots- not enough in others- they are going back in the kiln to see if I can improve them- I really loved the pattern. I'll have to make more like that- oh well, c'est la vie, especially in clay.

Also we've been dreaming up a stone patio area with a clay oven outside, and clearing up some rather scraggly trees around the yard, not to mention the super unsightly rock garden. And inside all the early stuff is planted, and the flower seeds are winter sown in milk jugs, things are looking mighty green around here...