Thursday, December 29, 2011

Development of a Form

Progression of small Pitchers
Customer reminded me that I used to do small creamers and asked if I still make them? Of course that pattern is long gone so an opportunity to work out a slightly new shape.

I cut a paper pattern and used it to cut out the first pitcher and put it together. A little too petite. 

Made second pattern slightly wider with a broader base for the next couple of pitchers, and then finally used the second pattern and cut about 1/2" wider still on the sides to get the final pieces. The spiral stamp decoration will be the only handle, which will save a lot of fussy construction time.

When I get more clay dried to the right consistency for slabs I'll try an even wider version to see just how far to take it. Plus, after shrinkage these may be smaller than I want them to be in the end. With my paper pattern all I have to do is just make them a little taller as well as wider for the next tweak.
Using a paper pattern can help you tweak forms as you develop them.
Differences in the top from first to final shape

Wider profile fits better in the hand and leaves room for decoration

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is it a Series Yet?

Second Pod
I can blame the lack of production a little bit on the new pup in our household, but that would be wrong. It's really more a matter of not really knowing where these are going. The long lag time between making and firing and whether or not the glazing works out or not is being complicated even further by my desire to wire these up post-firing. That will certainly change their look and it's hard to know what it will be then. Unfinished work is so unnerving. Doesn't help that I kinda need a kiln load worth to be bisque fired at a longer and lower temp than my production stoneware.

The concept for the pod above came about on the back of an envelope after envisioning it strung with a spiderweb-like wiring that may or may not get papered.
Moonscape Pod
The moonscape pod was just a shape that turned into a moonscape along the way. Funny when that happens.

The pod below just came about and changed many times as it was being formed. Still a lot of finish shaping to do, but it's getting there. All three of these are a mix of sculpture and paper clay. The two pods on top have been layered with velvet underglazes

Shell-like Pod
Maybe after I get three of these finished I'll waste a little kiln space and fire them up so I can go to the next step.

Monday, December 12, 2011

So much Greenware, so little time...

I've done it again... clogged my tiny studio with too much greenware I'm having to hop around and keep the dogs from running over. All are pieces I'm not sure how it to glaze/decorate now, and so they sit taking up valuable room and foam padding.

After so many years suggesting to students that one should have a vision of the completed piece in mind as one constructs, I rarely follow my own advice, instead just making shapes and hoping they'll turn out.

These pieces are the start of a couple stacking sculpture. I go back and forth wanting to glaze them differently than the bright colors, stripes and dots I've done before, and then worry that if I put too much thought into it I'll wreck the whole thing for sure. Too much time invested already for that.

If I can find the space, I may start Stacker #2 as some of these pieces may fit better into the next piece than this one. Maybe, just maybe that will help me decide how to bring Stacker #1 to a close.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to be Extreme...?

Big pile of scraps after cutting out a bunch of items. Thought, hey, maybe I should do something for the Ceramic Guild's Extreme Show with these, or in other words, attempt to PLAY with clay instead of just make stuff.

If I lived in Opposite World I would be making cutesy very saleable items with little hearts all over them. So, picked up a lump and started making what I hoped was a stylish heart.

THEN, mid-way I flipped it over and saw this little lovely:

Spent the rest of the day making Scrap-Pile Hearts allowing their humble beginnings to show. It was fun and totally different than my regular fare. Will see where this takes me...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rainy Thursday Musings

When a gallery owner invites one to be in a show and has a special request for a certain type of work, I'm not one to turn her down. Show opportunities are too few and far between.

The challenge is how to put a NEW spin on an old form. My stacking sculptures began as a way to create some organic shapes, get out the bright low-fire glazes and brushes and just have fun with how it all came together. I've never meant for them to be art per se, but last year I did challenge myself a bit more with the forms.

Now I'm working on the first stacker for the show with the idea of making some crisper shapes and slightly more complex forms. Here's how it's going so far. The base flower shape reminds me of a cock's comb, so think a top knot will have to repeat it on top. Last year I made some interlocking shapes that have become more refined and will have centerpieces rather than interlock since shrinkage and warping didn't play out too well.

So many possibilities for stacker number two.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What Inspires Us

Ahhh, Europe. No matter which way you turn there is art staring right back at you. Cornices, bridges, on the floor, in the cobblestone, lighting up above. I got to spend two fabulous weeks having time to walk about new streets and sit staring at the clouds passing by.

Perhaps our own home surroundings are just as full-o-art but we just don't have the time to see it as we zoom by. I'll try and keep on the look out more now that I'm back home.

Photos Below:
Bug eating plant at De Hortus horticulture gardens, Amsterdam.
Bridge on the canal, Amsterdam.
"Gluttony??" Small carving on a pew at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam.
Low-tech fancy lighting at an art show in Paris.
Floor of the Grand Palais, Paris, juxtaposed to some artwork at same show.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Phase One of a New Series

This form, created a couple weeks ago, was bisque fired and received some color via oil paints mixed with cold wax medium. Hard to see in these photos, but when dry, the surface was buffed to a nice waxy sheen. Feels nice. Kept the colors simple. At some point it came to me that I was painting the colors of a big egg--one with concentric hollows inside.

WIred it up using some little tin weights from the fishing supply store and should've taken a photo with just the wire web before adding the tissue. But, impatient person that I am working in fits and starts, I just wanted to get down to adding the paper. First thought was using some old letters on air-gramme paper. Nice with the text on it but not thin enough. Next, tried my old high school graduation present bible's tissue paper pages, cutting out the GENESIS of the first page. (Calling Dr. Freud!). Still a little too thick. Settled on some tissue wrapping paper with some bits of text added for good measure.

It's funny when a piece is filled with so much symbology that just happened due to the materials on hand. As the start of a new series of work, an egg-shaped Genesis is pretty funny as well as apropo.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Expanding an Idea

Behold... something new from the studio. (Ha! doesn't it feel that monumental some days!)

These are first editions for The Arts Center's Portals show later on this year.

Last month attended the mini-workshop hosted by Gale Everett-Stahlke of the StickStones PaperStew Blog. She showed how to create wire sculptures with either layered paper or gut skins. It was a process that I thought could be a nice variation on the "inside/outside" theme I've toyed with over the years on the sculptures with 23k gold leaf (see example below).

Anyhoo, these two porcelain beauties have had some holes made in them for wiring up after they've been fired. Both were pinch pots that just grew organically as I pinched. On the first one I tried to smooth out my finger marks and on the second one I accentuated them. I'm going to low-fire cook them so that the clay will accept some cold wax/oil paint treatment after they've been fired.
Will be interesting to see where this goes from here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Potters, pottery everywhere...

Just became a part of the Studio Potters Team on Etsy and it's an association/community that feels very nice.

Some fantastic work being done by so many of the potters whose work I'm now getting to know. And since joining this team the traffic back and forth and sharing has been phenomenal. Yikes, I can't keep up!

Yesterday my "Meditation" was included in a Treasury of work featuring Eva Funderburgh who makes the most incredible wood-fired sculpture you'll see almost anywhere. I hope you'll give a gander and then go to Eva's Shop, Woodfired Beasts.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What Inspires Us?

Walking the Iron Mtn/Cone Peak Trails in the Cascades over the weekend we came upon this wonderful tangle of peeled sticks. They had been jammed up when the stream was running high and were left high and dry by the time we passed. Could I or any other human have created a nicer sculpture than this one the water made as it smashed twigs and rocks up against this tree root? Then juxtaposed with more roots in the background and the jagged basalt rocks to the side, it was just a photo op waiting to be snapped.

Sorry the photos is a little fuzzy...

I often wonder what type of sculpture I could make to respond to this, but it would take some wire and twigs and other detris instead of clay, I think.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Better or Worse?

The dilemma for those of us with the woodfire bug is that we often have a beautiful pot that has something not quite right with it. Either a little too dry and ashy and/or didn't get hot enough to be vitrified (won't be tight enough to hold water) or they got too hot and distorted or kissed another pot, or, or... It really sounds like quibbling I know.

So, I've now got a basement-load of these and have decided to do a bit of refiring to tempt the fates into giving me something even worse--but Hopefully, something a bit better.

I'll let you decide on these. Above the two "before" pots and below the "after."
Next refiring I'll go even hotter to get all the ash to melt...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Art in the Garden in Photos

Last Saturday was my annual studio sale that I hold in the garden. It was our least sunny year but one of our best sales... You just never know how it's going to go.

Photos here include one of my stacking sculptures, a lovely arrangement of Louie Gizyn's work and a table of Jerri Bartholomews glass creations.

Had at least one customer just happen to see our sale on the way to the co-op. He bought a sculpture before getting his grocery shopping done! Another customer saw one of my "basement art collection reduction bargains" over a decade ago at Ceramic Showcase and remembered it from then. It was really nice selling one of my older feminine gold leaf sculptures to her.

People came celebrating their birthdays, their moms, themselves. Other came by just to be friendly and lend some support to the day.

Thanks to all who came by and to everyone who help support the arts!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Six months of Etsy

At the sixth month mark of being an Etsy seller I'm employing only 1/10th of the tools out there to increase sales. One that seems to be working is the cross promotion that comes via the Treasuries. Buyers and sellers alike create themed mini-collections. They help bring visibility of our work to a broader audience. This one was entitled "Brown" and is lovely.

A month ago I joined a Treasury Team that requires members create a treasury of team members' work at least once a month. So far I've been included in 1-3 treasuries each day! (See links in the sidebar.) I've also had a few more sales in the past week--my first since the first of the year--so perhaps this extra traffic helps. Of course, if I could manage to list a new piece or two more often that would help, too. Watching traffic on Google Analytics shows that each new listing brings a spike in viewership that drops off after 3-4 days.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ceramic Showcase 2011

Ceramic Showcase is a pottery mecca for three days every year in Portland. Not only is it a chance to sell some work, but it is also incredibly inspiring to see all the new work that our peers are making.

A few booths blew me away with incredibly clever displays (Brenda Scott) or outta sight work (Brad Mildrexler yet again). Sorry no photos... More and more wood fire is coming to the show. Glad that there more iterations than just "asian knock-off". Most of us are Amis for goodness sake...

Thoroughly enjoyed myself even tho still exhausted five days later.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ceramic Bowls Finished Product

Here is how my roly-poly bowls look after being glaze fired. I'm enjoying making them even tho they're time consuming, they're certainly different than a thrown bowl--different than most all other bowls for that matter.

Will people like or dislike their river rock-like bottoms?

A show in two weeks will let me know...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Promoting Art on Etsy

One of the ways Etsy is nicer over some of the other "catalog" art sales sites is the cross-promotion by all the artists and buyers who use the site. We all chose favorites that we promote by "liking" and hope that our work gets picked up in other people's favorites. Another way people promote work they like is in Treasuries -- little "mini-shops" of work people chose based on themes. Themes can be about color, the season, humor, bawdiness, horses, dog, cats, bird, books, movies...whatever people chose to group together. Needless to say there are thousands of Treasuries on Etsy.

I've been lucky to have been picked up in a couple of Treasuries and I've made a couple of my own. Below are some recent groupings in which my work has been featured. (To go directly to the Etsy page, use the link below the screenshot.) Would love it if you took a look at these collections and see what you like.

And one I created with pieces showing some off-beat humor. "Washing out the Sunday Blues"

All this cross-promotion has brought many new viewers to my Etsy shop and hopefully one day it will translate into more sales for all of us liking each other's work.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Comedy for Throwers: Handbuilding a Bowl

It takes about 16-17 separate steps to handbuild a simple roly-poly bottom bowl, even though there are only two shapes to cut out. The first is a circle that is slumped into a mold to get the concave shape, the second shape is a long strip of clay cut to the height you want for the sides of the bowl, and the length that will go around the inside edge of your bowl bottom.

Let the bottom concave circle set up to leather hard, but keep the side strip moist and fairly pliable. Once the bottom has set up it is time to put them together. Bevel the short edges of the strip and then seal them together to form a ring of clay.

Attach the side ring to the base, giving yourself a little bit of overlapping edge on the outside.

When it's all together it'll look like this.

Then using your thumb and forefinger compress the side ring to the bowl base with as much pressure as you can to make the attachment secure and begin to smooth out the transition inside. Here is where the bit of overlap on the outside helps keep the sides attached to the base with all the inside compression outward.

I use a piable rib to shape the inside of the bowl, and then use a piece of plastic to compress the rim of the bowl.


Because the base and sides are slightly different moisture contents good idea to cover loosely with plastic so it can dry slowly and the seam can relax without distorting as it dries.

By now all the potters who throw are probably having a good chuckle at how long this took.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Inspires Us?

Oooh, to make beautiful sculpture as nice as this weathered log. Saw some beauties on the Big Island this year. This one was at a sweet little beach at Waialea Bay. Gentle waves the day we were there but the trade winds were blowing just enough to drive us off the beach a little earlier than we'd planned. We're wimps.

Undulations and smoothness, little surprises in places, and one big dramatic flourish.

What more could one want in a sculpture?

Now, how to translate into something I can actually make in my studio...