Friday, November 20, 2009

Blankeys & Uneven Kilns...

This week I said goodbye to 2 well-loved blankeys I made for a few expecting friends. (I tried to hold off on posting until I knew they were received, as not to spoil the surprise!) Green was for Phil & Nicole, teal for Mark & Jenn. General consensus at work is that the green one was the new favorite of all I have made. Personally I enjoyed making both & though they are the same pattern, they are slightly different. My students think I'm nuts for having that much patience but then again some of their attention spans are like a small puppy. The green blanket turned out larger than expected but not a problem! I love knitting... but I've got 2 more blankets to go before March and I need to figure out another pattern.

I also had to deal with one bitch of a kiln this past week. It made me feel frustrated, stupid, and incapable. I took many pictures and sent them to a college friend, Jared Ward who is trying to take a look at it for me. I did try a few things after talking to another friend whom formerly fired this kiln many times. I vacuumed out the whole thing and stacked the load more open in the bottom. Today I took another go at a cone 10 firing only to be disappointed. The kiln fired uneven again, surprise, with 10 flat on bottom & 9 bending on top. Yep. Fantastical. I refuse to attempt to fire my own work in this beast until it's even! Anytime I close the damper even a little there's SO MUCH reduction, like flames shooting out the kiln. Same thing happens with increasing the air. It hates me. Period.
Pictured above is my crappy ass pyrometer that doesn't work even a bit. Guess I'll have to call in the professionals to check out this thing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

tests & test runs!

I hate glazing. Okay well maybe not hate it, but I strongly strongly dislike glazing. I guess this mainly is because I like consistency & find that there can be many variables why glazes don't turn out exact. If I spend many hours on 1 piece, I don't want to glaze it and have it turn out like complete CRAP. I also miss soda firing a lot so that doesn't help. In order to solve this problem I've been mixing glaze tests over the past few
months and fired them last week...
In the end I tested about 30 glazes. Some I picked out to replace some of our studio glazes at school, but most were for my purposes. Even with my ghetto kiln firing completely uneven (cone 7 on top & 10 on bottom) it yielded interesting results! I've pulled out a couple that I find particularly interesting & really like how they break over the textures I'm working with...
The goal is to build a body/pallet of glazes that really emphasize the detail on my work. I found one in particular that reminds me of soda firing & several that look great over black slip work. I will most likely continue to test more glazes since I'm not 100% on what I've got so far.

I shared the results with my Intermediate/Advanced Ceramics class & of course they picked out the most obnoxious colors (purple, green, blue, etc.) along with a few that I found interesting. They don't appreciate some of the finer details in some of the yellows/browns, etc.

Feel free to let me know what you think! (hence part of the point of this blog in the first place)
*Note, I only dislike glazing when its unsuccessful! When it's frickin' sweet I love it!*

On a lighter note... on Sunday I did a test-run of my delicious apple pie! (a family recipe of course!) I hadn't made one since last Thanksgiving & I always like to try it out a few weeks before, just because. A few friends came over for popcorn, pie & Wii! I would post pics from our wii snowboarding, but those include LOTS of "white man overbite"-ing. lol. So here's the pie instead!

mmm deliciousness!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

11hrs never felt so short...

Long time, no posting. I guess I haven't updated because...
1. I was sick and missed like 2 weeks of making
2. I'm a sucker for superstition and haven't had any good pics of what I've accomplished.
3. ...super busy? Or at least lazy. You decide.

For the past month+ I've been attempting to keep track of my "studio" time. I felt pretty good about putting in 10-12 hrs/wk until I read someone's blog and realized they were putting in 30+, but they teach college & have their own studio space so whatever!

Anyway, the past few weeks I keep forgetting to record my daily hrs so it looks more like 6 or so. Which I feel is kind of lame. BUT I have accomplished several things lately...
- "NEW" big pot! (remake of the one that died)
- roughly 20 cups based on some sketches... not sure if they have the "sketchy" quality I wanted...
- currently working on 4 teapots (detailing now)
- about 20 glaze tests made, 20 more in the process.

I never realized how difficult it would be to make work after school and how hard it is to drag my butt in there on Saturdays... but it sucks. These teapots are a major time suck right
now because I've never worked with porcelain. So far they're pretty interesting. Not exactly what I sketched but pretty darn close.

What I should be working on in the next few weeks
- Firing our gas kiln so I can get these tiles tested!!
- Working with glaze results *fingers crossed*
- Making 3-4 more large pots.

As of now my tentative show is still set for Dec 1st. With 1 month to go I'm very concerned that I'm not going to cut it in time. This next week will be pretty hectic. If not much gets accomplished, the show will probably be postponed until sometime in the Spring. But then again, maybe it would be for the best? More work to choose from = better work to show! :-D

Monday, October 5, 2009

'the swine' and grading interrupts everything!

My first week that I kept track of studio time I spent about 10 1/2 hrs making pots!  So I was planning on kicking major butt last week in a similar fashion, but about 5 kids from each of my classes were out with either H1N1 or the regular flu. Talk about crappy timing.  Which in turn got a TON of teachers sick and made me have sympathy sickness.  (never having a fever, which is okay by me!)  Plus I had to grade a ridiculous amount of work, so alas, no studio time.  I did find a few minutes to fire a small load of pots...
I'm still testing the dots.  The first 4 came out looking nice but if you handled them the dots fell off :-(  I think I just added them when the pots were too dry because this load is better.  

I'm also working on testing close to 20 cone 10 glazes. Which has made me realize how much I suck at and/or dislike glazing.  In college I borrowed a lot of glazes from Grad friends, but without really recording what I used (beyond just the names) I'm pretty much at square one.  Not to mention that I have no access to a soda kiln which makes me sad for when I make large work again. I should be firing student work soon so I'll be able to test them out in the gas kiln but time will tell if anything actually looks good.  --If you have some sweet glazes or ones I probably used on work previously, feel free to share!--   I'm starting to think about cone 6 glazes, but I'm not sure where to start. I guess more research in my little spare time.

This week will probably be spending some time on detail for a damp box worth of pieces I still need to finish. Plus I want to start teaching my Advanced students how to throw larger forms in sections (they're diggin my big work & want to watch how it's possible).  I'll post some pics of my progress- goal is about a post a week to make sure I'm doing something!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

what's the happenings...

 1st 4 cups from my new work

This is where I tell you why I decided to make a blog...
  I'm tired of being a lazy ass and not making work.  There, I said it.   

Since I graduated I've only made demo pots. I had a go at big pots again last year, but alas, it ended in tragedy. *RIP big pot* I went back to just demo pots until this past spring when I made a ton of simple cups & bowls for my Avon Walk fundraiser. Things seemed to go pretty well so now I'm back at it. Soon after the fundraiser I came across the work of Peter Pincus in Ceramics Monthly & got inspired.  I began to realize how much I love tactile pieces.  I hate going to galleries where I can't touch things that I really REALLY want to touch.  Maybe I've been working with high school kids too long, but I think I'm a little ADD. 
My 1st big pot since 2005, which blew up cause I suck.

Anyway, I've started to throw smaller pieces in porcelain & experiment with surface more.  These cups were the first in a body of work I'm currently creating.  I wanted to make something tactile that's fun & keeps your attention.  (Hence, the little tiny clay dots that make you blind while making them.)  I also wanted to make a comfortable form & focus on the negative space created by the beneath the base of the cups.  I'm still attempting to translate these ideas into other utilitarian objects- (vases, jars, teapots, etc.) while exploring added pieces.  I think my next step (now that my clay order has finally arrived!) is to expand these ideas into big pots again!  I've always loved throwing large forms & I really need to just dive back in. 

So, back to my previous statement of being a lazy ass... I've spent the past 3 yrs teaching high school ceramics.  This leaves you little to NO time/brain power to make art or even function beyond relaxing. My goal is to record my weekly time in the studio & occasional images (but not before things are bisqued because that's awful luck... see below) and post them on this blog. 

I know that several friends may help keep me in check & give me some feedback.  I've definitely realized that not being in a studio makes it hard to get feedback on the good, awful & potential in pieces.  Plus I'm used to giving all the time with little take from kids. (anyone who teaches or has kids would understand this one!) I'd love to hear suggestions, ideas pretty much anything about the work so please, send it my way! :-D