Saturday, November 10, 2012

I haven't posted in awhile because I have been doing this ^.   Teaching drawing is very rewarding, but also very time consuming.  I did find time this weekend between bouts of grading to watch some of the talks from the Renwick Gallery's Symposium: Nation Building: Craft and Contemporary American Culture that they had in conjunction with their show 40 under 40: Craft Futures.  I have really enjoyed what I've seen so far, it's given me a lot to think about.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I finally got around to doing some proper photography of the work I have been blogging about since June.  Having just finished the photographic process I can tell why I procrastinated so long.  Photo editing is painful, physically and mentally.  I don't mind taking the pictures, in fact figuring out lighting angles and getting the perfect shot is kind of fun, but the process of fine tuning in Photoshop is awful.  I'm all done now though, including resizing the images for the internet.  Now all I have to do is choose the perfect image to put on a postcard to represent 4 months of hard work.  It's like being asked to pick your favorite child (well not quite, but close).  Maybe I'm still too close to the work, perhaps after a time I'll be able to clearly see what is the best.  Too bad I don't have that kind of time.  Well once I've made the decision I'll post it here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Finally some glaze results from the work I have been posting about all summer.  It took me a week to get around to taking pictures, because school started this week.

As I was taking pictures I decided to test out the wares and see how well they worked.  This is what I had for lunch today.  It felt distinctly middle eastern.

Some of the glazes came out better than others.  The blue green seems to have done the best and the lavender the worst.  I will need to use them on bisque that has been fired to the proper temperature before I decide which glazes I like best.

The teapot looks good from the side, but it had some glaze crawling issues and pouring issues.  It would seem that the spout is too long.

This is how my first mishima attempt came out, I think I like the second one I did better (see below).

I think this set is my favorite from what came out of the kiln.  I wish sgrafitto didn't take so  long.

The preferred mishima set.

I'm trying to decide if I should present this set like this...

...or mixed like this.  I think the first option might be a bit visually overwhelming.

The color on the image below is a bit truer to life.

This set seems more fun with the mixed colors.  Hopefully I will have the time soon to actually set up my lights and back drop and take proper photos of this work.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I am finally doing the glaze firing for all of the work I did this summer.  It has taken me more time than planned.  The bisque firing of this work was way over fired.  This was entirely my fault because I was more than a little distracted that day.  I woke up early to start doing kiln turn ups.  After I checked on the kiln I noticed that my cat hadn't come to greet me, which was highly unusual for the early morning, so I went looking for him.  I found him hiding and not looking quite right.  I discovered that he was having trouble using his back legs.  I have known that he has a heart murmur for a number of years and had been warned that he could get blood clots which could damage his arteries.  He had a blood clot last spring that while painful he recovered from almost immediately.  This time has not been the same.  We have been wondering whether he will make it through this or not, some days seem more promising than others.  He seems to be getting slightly better, but he still has trouble walking and isn't using his litter box.  This means I have spent the last week mopping and doing laundry all day (with my husband doing an equal share of the work).  Anyhow, all of this emotional roller coaster riding has been a little distracting from the studio work.  However, I did manage to get everything glazed and the kiln is firing away as I write.  Hopefully I will not get distracted again today.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Salt shakers, the very last castings to be done before I load the bisque kiln, which is good because I only have enough slip left to make tiny things.

This is a teapot that I have been working on.  I'm still not sure how I feel about the lid.  The lid and the pot itself are inverted bowls.  I made the spout and handle molds specifically to make the teapot and I'm quite happy with them.  You may notice that I decided the spout would also make a good salt shaker.

This is one of the surface design options I came up with for the Arrowmont set.  It was inspired by a shirt my husband was wearing he other day.

This is another surface option for the same set.  I doubt I will replicate it often, but it is something I have done on other pots and enjoyed.  It took me about 6 hours to do a set of four (there is a pitcher to go with that already made it's way into the kiln).

Lastly I am contemplating what to do with these forms.  I don't want to get overly complex.  I am tempted to leave them undecorated with simple one color glazing, but minimalism hasn't ever been part of my work before.  It feels like I am imitating someone else to have minimalist pots.  The stripe pattern is an attempt at compromise between the 2.  The stripes go around the bottom as well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I haven't posted in awhile because I've basically been doing the same two things over and over again, making molds of the triangular shapes and casting from the molds I've finished.  However, I have finally come to the end of my mold making for the summer.  It was great fun when I started, but by the end it started to wear on me.  In spite of that, I still have many ideas for new forms and if I wasn't pretty much out of plaster I would probably continue to make molds.  I can easily see myself ending up with so many molds I won't have room to do anything in my studio (no danger of that yet though).  These are the last three molds just completed, still wet from sanding.

I have also finally gotten around to completing my glaze tests.  Unfortunately the camera I used to take this image doesn't do the best job of recording color from life, the red isn't quite that orange and the blue green on the far left isn't really that blue.  I'm too lazy to get out the good camera and rephotograph, I'm sure I'll have better images of the glazes in use.

From the tests I selected these 4 to mix up, they really aren't quite as subtle as they look in this image, but I did choose mostly the more subtle colors.  The highlighter yellow was a bit too much for me.
My shelves are starting to fill up and I should be ready for a bisque firing soon.  Then I can play with the new glazes and see how they come out.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I was bold and did make a drop-out mold of the pitcher.  At first I thought I had made a mistake, because I had trouble getting the model out.  It was moving about a quarter of an inch, but no matter how much I banged on it the model wouldn't move any more.  I didn't give up though because I knew I could make a drill bit to get the model out.  With the excellent help of Mitzi Davis our ceramics studio technician and one of the technicians from SCAD's industrial design department I now have a screw welded to a threaded rod which I can put in a drill to help remove models that have gotten stuck.  I wish I had pictures of the process, but it took both Mitzi and me to make it work, and there was no one else there to hold the camera.  In the end the model popped out and with a tiny bit of patching to repair the small damage from all of my banging I have an excellent one part mold.

I took a break from the mold making for a few days and started casting from the finished molds.  As you can see the pitcher comes out well, as does the little dish.

I am still working on how I plan to decorate them.  My original plan was to use a printing technique involving xerox copies and slip, but after I tried that I really didn't like it.  These were decorated using mishima inlay.  I have been mixing up slips using the same clay body as my casting slip. (I had some trouble last year with commercial underglazes and how they interacted with my glazes.  I think the fluxes added to commercial underglazes cause them to block absorption of water from the glaze significantly more than my casting slip does causing uneven glaze application.  I am hoping that mixing my own slips will fix the problem.)  I like the way the mishima looks, but it is very labor intensive and I wonder if it is a good idea for production.  Perhaps I am just being lazy, but I am thinking about making some silk screens instead.  I also still haven't worked on developing the new glaze.  How that turns out will make a big difference.  I've been reading up again on proper firing of glazes and optimizing the results from an electric kiln.  It makes me wish I had a computerized controller, or at east a pyrometer instead of just relying on cones and a kiln sitter.  I know I can still fire the kiln correctly, it will just take a lot more babysitting the kiln than I want to do in the dead of summer in Georgia.  I'll post results when I have them.

I have also been casting the triangular dishes that I made from sledging plaster models.  The casts look good so far.  I'm still working on completing the molds of all of these.

These are some of the last molds I made, today I will finish the last mold of a sledged object.  Then I have a few more things to make molds of and I will be done.  Ha, yeah right.  Every time I think I am coming to an end with this I come up with new ideas.  I guess this is a good thing, it means I am still excited by the process, but I need to control myself if I am going to get some finished pieces before the  end of the summer.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

After spending a week making this pile of prototypes I began to loose interest in the triangular shape that I was repeating.  I had cast the cups from my previous post and really enjoyed them, so I decided to make a pitcher to go with them.

I started off with what turned out to be a slightly too big plaster block.
I ended up cutting about an inch off the bottom to make it a more reasonable height.

I sketched out a shape that I thought went well with the cups.

Starting the carving with the compass saw made things a little quicker, it was still a long process, it took me about 6 hours in total to finish this.

I gave myself blisters with the double ended rasp.  Whoever invented that tool has no concept of how to make a tool ergonomically friendly.  The surform is my favorite.

The form completely carved.

After carving I spent a lot of time sanding, making things perfect.  My intention is to make this a drop out mold (we'll see if I am bold enough to try it).  If anyone reading this was at the Arrowmont workshop, they do sell the large sanding screens at the Home Depot, just not with the drywall supplies.  I found them in the tool rental section being sold for floor sanders.

I was on a roll after making the pitcher and decided to use the piece I cut off the bottom to make a plate to go with the set.

I made a successful drop-out mold of the plate yesterday.  I will spend next week making molds of of all the other models.  As I was playing with them yesterday I regained my interest in the triangles, so it won't be boring to make molds of them.  I can see potential for combining castings and making more interesting forms.
After I was done with my carving frenzy I had this pile of scrap left.  It feels sort of wasteful.