Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Simple variation

I've been making small dishes from my scraps of clay for some time--simple ovals with corner darts cut out and clay brought together with seams. These bowl sized dishes are based on the same technique using the template I've been using for leaf plates. It feels nice adding to the leaf boat bowls with plates and now smaller serving-sized bowls. It'll be swell if they all stack together nicely after firing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Back to Work

Why is it that after completing a couple of deadlines it is sometimes so hard to motivate back into the studio? Suddenly it's too messy to work in (tho it's been like that for months). The laundry piling up in a corner next door is yelling at you. The clay is too wet.

Just to DO something, started with four basic shapes and made myself play around with a bit with decorating. Nothing vastly different but possibly a start to something new.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A "Real" Artist for a Day

Attended the Sitka Invitational Opening on Friday. What a treat. Food and Wine galore, great crowd, beautiful artwork sporting many red dots. As an artist I was honored to be included in such a wonderful group. As someone who finds less and less time to be in the studio it took a bit of gearing up to "feel worthy" for it all.

Haven't been to the show in several years so spent most of the opening being amazed and inspired by the wonderful work being done throughout the state. My work nicely displayed (thanks Greg Wilbur for your muscles carrying them about). Was very happy to see a couple of those SOLD stickers on my new boat bowl sets. So many friends at the show and new artists to meet. Enjoyed talking with at least one gentleman who liked my sculptures and wished to know a bit more about them. Always nice to get a nibble on the bigger pieces!

Nice post-show article in the Oregonian after the show linked here. Hope our efforts as artists helped bring in the $$ Sitka needs to stay doing the work they do! I spent the $$ I earned on more artwork (a lovely print by Alex Chitty) so did my small part.

Earlier in the day had a very nice conversation with Sandy Japel at Beet Gallery and dropped off work to her. Over the holidays she will be showing a few of the woodfired vessels that have popped up on this blog. Nice having an opportunity to show work in her beautiful spot. Hope you can stop by to see them. Beet Gallery: 18th & Lovejoy, Portland. beetgallery.com

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Special Projects

This piece was created for the Arts Center's Shrines and Reliquaries Show. I started one of my "twist" columns but it needed to be a container so tried several lid variations. Instead of having the top just be seamless to the rest of the piece I decided embellishment would be the way to go and thus the fanciful DQ-court jester styled lid.

The "fun" came in the glazing. First round was my high fired cream glaze with a hint of blue sprayed over the top. This often give me a nice pebble effect but in this case the glaze glassed out and turned grey-ish instead of creamy. When I opened the kiln and saw my sad piece I grabbed it still piping hot and layered as much white underglaze over the top as I could. The pot's heat helped dry the layers of new glaze and then it was back into the kiln to get the new layers to fuse. I was hoping for a tad bit of crackle but it's hard to get that much glaze to adhere to an already high fired piece.

After the second firing the layers of underglaze covered up the grey color, only letting a faint bit of it to come through in places the top glaze was too thin. The underglaze was very dry to the touch tho so I worked cold wax medium into the new top layer to give it a sheen and enhance the multi-layered effect of the glazes.

Put all together it seemed to have a jaunty, cocky attitude thus the title: "The Ghost of Foghorn Leghorn" -- a favorite cartoon as a kid. $150 with silent auction bidding starting at $50.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vase Sets

One of a potter's greatest challenges is making a piece to replace a beloved favorite piece. When I got a phone message from Real Mother Goose that a customer had broken their favorite 10.5" tall dancing vase and wanted a replacement, I was glad the gallery person could give me more detail than that. "About 2" diameter top, base is 4" x 5" oval and it's the greenish-blue rather than the blue-blue." In the end we decided I better make several from which the customer could chose the one he thought was closest to his broken piece. (Wish it had been wisked away rather than being a sad reminder of the accident and to which the new piece will be compared.)

Normally when I'm making these pieces a ruler never comes into the picture; I just cut them out and put them together as whim would have it. Today I got it out the ruler and made allowances for 10-12% shrinkage and then a little more on one (a little less on a couple) to try and get the right height. Trouble is, I've never done my own shrinkage test on this clay so will have to go with the manufacturer's shrinkage percentage on this... Hope customer is not a stickler.

Here is the set of today's vases, all slightly different poses, opening sizes and heights. The clay was wetter than I like to work with it so there were more than a few finger marks to rib out. All together they make a nice still life with just enough off-kilter in them to make it interesting.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lefty or Righty?

I know it's hard to tell on this slightly fuzzy photo, but one is a lefty mug and one is a righty. The handles were applied with a slightly larger opening on one side or the other to facilitate being held in different hands. Me, I'm a righty and often a one finger person at that, but the heavier the mug the more fingers are needed. I've tried to make these mugs be light enough for a full cup-o-beverage, but still feel substantial and stable. Some are one finger handles and others at least two. If you're a three finger or whole hand person my mugs will probably not feel right to you. Some of my earlier handbuilt mugs could've been door stops, but I was compensating for the disturbingly thin-feeling of some handbuilt mugs.

After many years of mug making I feel like mine are just beginning to get there...

How Firsts turn into Seconds

Yesterday's firing turned out some super seconds for bargain hunters at next spring's Garden Sale, but of course, that wasn't my intent. Slightly muddy-looking glazes, (that one bad burner?!?) and over reduced colors. Bubbled up glaze two pieces--different places in the kiln which is unusual. One glaze too thin so application of it not thick enough for desired results on any of the pieces I used it. Gunk on kiln shelves bungling up the feet of one of the "good pieces." Pieces fired for a friend running on to one of the new shelves.

And the capper: Arts Center Reliquary that was already making me nervous it was so odd looking was a real YUCK, so no photos of that. I'm trying a reglaze/refire of it that is sure to make it worse, or may do what I hope and be better...we'll see.

Is it possible to turn around make new ones for approaching deadlines in the limited time I have? I guess I'll make an attempt and see how it goes.

PHOTOS: Above--Mugs getting water tested. $20 ea. Below--One set of Stacking bowls that look nice but are light on the glaze drips on the outside.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Firing Fun

It always amazes me that ones internal alarm clock seems to function all too well sometimes. The past month I've had an abundance of adrenaline due to all the "get-up and Go" I've had to do with the festival. This past weekend was the first in awhile that I could've slept in and just taken it slow and easy in the mornings, but nooo. Dogs and that internal alarm had me up and going anyways.

This morning the I.A. came in handy as a 3:30 am wake up was timed just right for cranking up the gas on the kiln so it would be hitting Cone 010 at 6:30 for regular wake-up time. Sure enough 6:30 am saw the first cones starting to soften and bend both top and bottom. Damper in, gassy smell and some flame out the bottom peep and back to bed until the hounds convinced me it was time for their breakfast.

The kiln has changed in the way it fires. It never used to get so warm on the bottom in the first few hours of the firing. One spot in the kiln seems a little more reduced, too, and no manner of burner/orifice cleaning has seemed to do anything. Infrequency of firings keeps me from truly problem solving this as I forgot all about it until this morning seeing that that burner was the only one without nice blue flame (orange).

Also, I had hoped the storm might come in bringing a little moisture but this clear blue sky may bring some turbulence and unevenness as the day progresses. So far so good.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Neptune's Folly

Have I created work only another potter could love?

Here are my two Sitka sculptures completed -- Another case of expectations and the finished pieces colliding instead matching up...

I wanted these to have a darker finish so I did a heavier layer of black underneath the top layers. This created even more bubbles, pitting and leathery look of the multi-layers. Some of it looks positively lava-like.

When finishing the greenware I left surform marks and a few deeper gouges for glaze to pool into when applied, and stay lodged when everything is sanded. As I sanded away between bisque and high fire I tried to do it strategically: leaving enough top layer glaze to accentuate the twist, but also get down to the base layers for the patterns to show. Even with all the "control" I could muster, during the firing the kiln just said, "Hey, let's bubble and burn." Honestly, I don't know how I got what I did on two pieces in a row... (Changes in the glaze formulas?)

I alternate between thinking these are swell and wishing I'd used even more restraint.
Here's to More is Better, and hope that someone out there agrees with me.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What a difference some heat makes

So here's the top of the first twist of the pair fired. What was once subtle layers of color is now a riot of rich, lizard-like skin and bubbles of glaze. Nothing too wrecked, but everything pretty on the edge of going into full boil of mess. This isn't what I expected but I finally got the darker colors that I first got when I started multi-layering and multi-firing pieces.

Boy it's dark but I like it.

Now hope the second one turns out half as good.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Two Twists

This pair of twists are being created for the Sitka Invitational in November. The one on the right has been glazed with multiple layers of underglaze and bisque fired to a fairly low temp. Next I'll sand through the layers to reveal the different colors and enhance all the marks left by the sureform blade. The sanding is the part that I put off because it is messy and it's easy to go through too quickly getting to raw clay. It takes patience that I seem to lack.

The piece on the left started out a little too narrow, making it seem really unbalanced when complete. Went back and beefed up some of the edges and gave more definition to them to offset it's slightly too large top... here's hoping that works. As soon as it gets bone dry I'll begin the multi-layering glaze process on it.

These look nice as a pair and would be nice to sell them as such, but separates sale great too. Twists - $750-850 each if they turn out (knock on wood!).

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Work

Seems like all the work for which I have deadlines all comes due about the same time. Not that this is hundreds of pieces, but work for a couple of shows at which I want my to have my best. Trouble is I've got one little distraction the next 4-6 weeks, (producing Fall Festival) but have managed to keep plugging away, even if it's for just an hour a day. These pieces go up rather slowly anyways--especially with temps in my basement studio being coolish--so it's been easy keeping them covered to come back to.

This piece is the start of my entry for the Arts Center's Reliquary Show, with me posed working on it. Last week's piece is beside me with several layers of glaze on it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Twist

Here's what I've been working on the past couple of weeks. I had an idea for the end results, but let the form flow as it went up. Unlike past Twists that kept wanting to get wider as they went up, I kept this one constricted and it got narrower than I'd anticipated. Left the waves of surform marks on the surface, which will be nice for sanding through layers of glaze application. The little "peep hole" at the place the curl comes back on itself is what makes this piece work.

Simple forms are sometimes the most challenging, so think there are a few more iterations of this one to try...

Monday, July 20, 2009

July Already?

This prototype is an experiment for another ceramic/glass collaboration between Jerri Bartholomew and me. I've made this hollow clay module with an inside ledge for the glass and one screw hole attachment point. The slab piece will be what the glass can be hump molded over and hopefully after the clay shrinkage the glass piece will still fit in snugly like this slab does. The glass will be cut in a much more interesting shape -- the slab is just to get the curve right for the glass.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sunny June

Finally, another finished piece from those first shown green. Anthony and Doug Gordon fired this Twister in her beautiful Chimera wood kiln. In less than 24-hours a nice amount of ash and sheen was put down on our pieces from their steady stoking of pallets and limb wood. The kiln is designed so one person can stoke and make damper adjustments from the same spot. Very nice directional flame marks.

The top and bottom of this piece are slighly different tones due to placement in the kiln: bottom looking a bit more leather-like, and the top a chalkier but warm feel. Thanks Anthony and Doug!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Good Oldie

This piece came out of Jay's woodfire kiln looking so bloated and forlorn that it made me laugh it was so ugly. I missed it when packing up and when it was returned to me after some time, I noticed the bright red coloration, and the way the ash added a soft contrast to the red, AND that the bumps accentuate it's lovely "little bird-like" form. Now it's one of my favorites of all time. Only about 7-8 inches tall and almost that big around. Little Bird Vase - $150.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Art in the Garden Week

Oh Dear. The rain is really setting back gardening plans and the sale that shows my work, and that of Louie Gizyn and Jerri Bartholomew, gets set up out there in just a couple of days. This little creature got a couple of bites at Showcase, but still came home with me. "Garden Friend" is stoneware with colorful additions attached post-firing.

While it was nice bringing work home when there is another sale just around the corner, it's been hard motivating to unpack it all and get the yard and garage all set up... Here's hoping the sun returns tomorrow!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Showcase Re-cap

Last night Ceramics Showcase ended for me with a bang. Sold "Seafoam Twist," the largest sculpture I brought, during the last hour of the show. Very nice customer who has quite a bit of art in her back yard garden. Hope she remembers to send me a photo once its installed.

This cut-out vase went home on Saturday with some nice folks. "Zipper Vase" - $125.

Attendance for the show was up; hope everyone's sales were too! There were so many beautiful pots there it is still amazing that anyone finds mine in the crowd.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

One Week to Ceramic Showcase

It's countdown week . . . the firing I did last Friday all needs to be water tested and ground (so I don't scratch anyone's furniture) and then it all has to be sorted, packed and made to fit in the van . . . the fabrics all flame retardant re-treated, toolbox put back together and the lightings tested for burnouts.

I'm in love with the new pieces I have. They could always be better; I've made them only a short amount of time. I've got a good selection of work. I just hope we have some loyal buyers and new members of the public to come oogle and buy. We'll be wearing our hearts on our sleeves.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Two Weeks until Showcase

Took part in Jay Widmer's Anagama Firing at Digger Mtn a couple weekends ago. After purposely stoking wet fir, maple, alder and oak--including a lot of limb wood--for 48 hours, we were anxious to see how things turned out. A week later we found many pots with iridescent patterns in the ash/silica build-up, as well as super warm glows of orange, red and burnt umbers underneath or away from the flame. It was cooler in the back, but some lovely colors nonetheless.
We'll be sure to try for those sparkles again next firing.

This pot is one I showed many moons ago just after making it... It turned out to be my favorite of the firing. A little on the cool side but could never get these marks again if I tried.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Non Pottery Post

Ok, I'm giving in to a "cute dog" movie short--cheating I know. Spent the day glazing pots on a sunny, warm afternoon and loading up the kiln. More pot posts soon. In the meantime Danny has a tug-of-war with the couch and his squeaky monkey.

Friday, March 6, 2009

New or Retro?

These shapes have been showing up and are slowly being refined. More wild/more functional? Stacking!!! Useable, decorative or just something that is drawing me back from our youth?!?

These would look great full of salad or vats of compote.

Friday, February 27, 2009


This humble pot, made back in June 08 and posted here in its greenware form, is finally "finished." First it got cooked in Anthony Gordon's fast fire wood kiln and then in our salt kiln at the Benton Center. It picked up some nice color and ash from the Anthony's but was on the dry side. A splash of salt from our residual salt firing help bring it to life. It has a wonderful leathery surface with a little orange peel salt texture where the slip was wiped away.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What inspires us?

Oh to be able to get this kind of surface on a pottery piece. The richness of what we can see in nature--if we take the time to look--is just mind boggling. This marker was at the gate of a moist arboretum on Maui.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What gets us into the studio?

During a snowy December week I woke with this image in my brain after seeing myself make it in a dream, and so laid out some very thick slabs for it, figured out a way to put it together and support the weight of the walls with gravity wanting to flatten them. Over a couple of days let it dry and then carved and sponged this piece into shape. The term "compelling" actually was my mantra while I was making it. It felt like this piece needed to be made -- wanted me to caress it into shape.

I cannot deny its cradle-like shape and all the of the symbolic stuff that its creation implies. Art is the child I've chosen and this beautiful piece says it all. Whether it makes it through the finishing and firing, and whether or not I still love it as much in the end, it's too soon to say.