Friday, January 1, 2016

Making 64 oz. beer growlers

This Christmas I decided to make some growlers for my parents who have gotten into home brewing.  Mostly my father who has become a very talented maker of excellent beers.  My mother makes her own hard cider which is also very good.

To start I wanted to make a growler that was as close to 64 oz. as possible.  64 oz. is the standard size for a beer growler.  I had to calculate volume and account for the shrinkage rate of my clay.  I also purchased some flip top lids for the growlers and had to calculate how to make them fit the top of the growlers.  Math is not my favorite activity, but seems to become important in my work more frequently than I would like.

I ended up throwing five growlers.  These are the first three I made.  It turns out that it was a very good thing I made so many.  In the end only two of the growlers fit the lids I purchased. The rest were about 1/4 of a centimeter too large.  My lack of precision in throwing may have had something to do with this. I later added on to these growlers to create a lip that would better hold the flip tops.  I was so excited to get started making them that I didn't properly research how the tops fit.

The finished products were decorated with laser printed decals fitting the end users.  My husband designed a logo for my father's beers that I used on his growler, and I drew an apple tree for my mother's growler. The decals were fired and then I painted over them with China Paint and fired them again.  I also did this on the lids to make them match the growlers.

                                 On the beer growler I took advantage of the fact that you can erase sharpie marker with rubbing alcohol so that the growler can be labeled with whatever beer is in it at the time.


All in all this was a very fun project, but if I decide to make more of these I will make a mold.  I would like to be able to make them more consistent in the future.  Or maybe I should just throw them with some other clay body than grolleg porcelain, that might help too.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Work in progress and new work for Savannah Clay: 2015

Work in progress for the upcoming show Savannah Clay: 2015 which opens September 4 at S.P.A.C.E. Gallery in Savannah GA.  This little guy is hanging out with the new kitten, who is making him look bigger than he is.  I will endeavor to post more images once this work is complete.  It is fun to be getting back to making sculptures after a long hiatus of making strictly functional work.

I completed this piece in June, although it still needs a little fine tuning before I install it.  I've been scornful of the new trend towards photographing work on a white background, but I really think it works well with this piece.  For a long time most of my work was fairly white, so a white background was not a great idea, but now that my work is getting more colorful I think I am becoming a convert.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Over the holiday break I made some good progress on a project I have been intending to complete since we purchased our new house.  The entryway to our house, which is directly outside of my studio, is carpeted.  This is silly for the design of a house, but particularly for a ceramic artist.  I have decided that the floor needs to be tiled to be more practical.  But of course, I can't just go out and buy tiles and be happy with them, so I had to design a tile entryway.

My original intention was to hand-make all of the tiles and then decorate them.  After doing the math I discovered it would be more cost effective to purchase finished commercial and add glaze decoration on top.  I'm using the Mayco Stroke and Coat glazes, which seem to be able to stick well on a glossy glaze surface. This is my test tile to make sure it would work.  Now I just have to glaze all the rest of them.
The overall design.  It actually took me close to a month just to draw this out.  Hopefully I will have a tile floor by summer.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mishima/ wax inlay

How to:
Cover a leather hard piece with wax resist. This technique ony works well on leather hard clay, too wet and the wax takes too long to dry, plus you risk squishing your piece, too dry and the wax will flake off as you are drawing.  In the video I am using Forbes wax which I find to be the easiest to work with for this technique.  It dries fast and is slick, not sticky when it dries.  I have also used Mobile Acer wax, but I find this too sticky to work with happily.
Once the wax is dry use a sharp tool to incise your design.  In the video I am using a needle tool because it creates the line width I wanted for this particular drawing.  I have used many different tools depending on what line weight I want, from an X-acto knife to a nut pick.  Anything that will smoothly cut through the wax will work.  Make sure you have cut all the way through the wax or you will lose that part of your drawing.
Once you are done cutting, coat the piece in the color of slip/ underglaze you want to use.  It will bead up on the wax.  As soon as you are done painting you can wipe it off easily.  I find it easier to wipe off when it is still wet, but you can leave it there indefinitely and it will still come off with a damp sponge.
If you want a multi colored drawing all you need to do is re-coat the piece with wax, and then follow the same steps you did the first time.  There is probably a limit to how many layers you can do and still be able to easily cut through the wax.  It will get thicker with each layer.  The most I have done is 5, and I had no problems with that whatsoever.

The Mishima name may be 17th century, but the style itself goes back to Korea's Koryo Period (935-1392) when bowls decorated in this way were known as Korai-jawan or Korai tea bowls. These were inlaid with various motifs such as floral and animal depictions. A potter would incise the design in the body, fill it in with contrasting colored clay or slip and then cover it with a transparent glaze. This technique peaked in Korea in the 12th-13th-century Koryo celadons, deemed "first under heaven." It's also referred to as zogan. Another inlay style is called reverse inlay. This is where the potter cuts away the background, leaving the design in relief, then the background is brushed over with a slip and the excess is scraped away.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Art to Table

After spending June working on making molds, I spent July making work for the show Art to Table that will be opening this Friday August 8 at Whit's End Gallery here in Savannah.  The incredible Melissa Meyers organized the show as part of her thesis for her masters program at SCAD.  The show will include the work of Lisa Alvarez Bradley, moi, Mitzi Davis, and Rebecca Sipper.  The show is only up for one week, but there is an excellent website to go with the show where there is a sales gallery,and information about the artists and the project.

You may recognize this platter from a previous post.  I started this piece in March, and just finished it last week.  The other platter that was included in the same previous post did not make it through the firing process.  I'm not really sad about that, there were some design flaws with its construction.
This is the platter I made to replace the flawed one, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
I also made some more of these pieces.  I really love carving these images, but they take a ridiculously long time to make.  I think I spent 12 hours on the pitcher alone.
I made a mug like the one in the middle last winter, and fell in love with it, so I decided to make some more work to go with it.  I really like the inlay process, I'm not as excited by the ones I did with sgraffito decoration, but I think it is fun to mix the 2.

Mold making madness

I spent the month of June immersed in the process of making molds and slip casting.  I was commissioned by the Palmetto Animal League to make 15" slip cast cats and dogs for a fundraiser they do annually.  The finished pieces will be decorated by local artists and auctioned off this fall.  The project was quite a challenge (mostly because of the short turn around time).  These were the largest molds I have ever made.  By the end of June I had much better upper body strength than I have in a long timeI had a lot of fun doing this.  Thank you to Marilynn Glacken for finding me for this project.

The prototype for the the cat with the original model.

The prototype for the dog with the original model.

The finished cats and dogs, all 24 of them.
I made an extra cat so I have decided to decorate it and donate it for the auction.  I am still working on this, the painting is done in cobalt so it will eventually be blue.  I'm still deciding what I want to do with the eyes, I had originally planned to make them realistic looking cat eyes, but now I am thinking it might be nice to stick with the blue.

I made a video for my students while I was making the mold.  I am still working on the video, it is a bit too long now.  I got some great suggestions for improving it from Mitzi Davis.  Thank you Mitzi! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I made this maquette about two years ago, and have been meaning to do something with it ever since.  I finally got around to making it on a larger scale a few weeks ago.

This platter is about 18" in diameter to give you a sense of the scale. I think I will try making this again.  I am somewhat happy with how it came out,   but it could be betterThis was my first use of the new wheel I got this winter.  It took me a long time to get around to it because I was finishing the massive (for me) commission I had received.  I finally finished that and I have been able to play for the first time in months!!

As I was making the triangular one I had extra clay and wanted to keep on playing so I also made a square platter.  I ended up being more excited by this form than the triangular one.  I don't usually work late, but I ended up staying up until the wee hours of the morning sketching surface design options for this form.

I think it came out fairly well.  I am hoping it will be more exciting once fired.  I am also planning to add some gold luster into the final design. 

I have also been working on some other forms.  I made 3 new molds over the winter for travel cups.  The one in the middle is the only one I have glaze fired a version of, it works well.  It even fits one of those silicone travel lids perfectly so I have been using it regularly.  I am excited to see what comes out of these forms in the future.  The one negative thing I have to say about them is that the molds are not all that great in quality, and somewhat frustrating to use.  Here in Savannah there is no local source for #1 pottery plaster, so I occasionally use molding plaster.  I have decided that molding plaster sucks.  Every mold I have made from it has problems, including being more brittle than my better molds.  I have decided I will never use it again for a working mold or model.