Monday, November 30, 2009

The much anticipated apple green fired bowl

Amazing what one can do with a limited palette of glazes. Anxious to emulate the Granny smith apple green color, but not wanting to take the one hour plus trek to Baileys in Kingston, I decided to work with my meager collection of glazes. Relying mostly on a few underglazes, topped with thin coat of Seaweed green overglaze, I was very happy with the results. Now I’m inspired to make a series of iterations of these bowls and plan to explore the world of glazes with a limited palette and focus on the color wheel mixing primary colors to produce bold pots with secondary and complimentary colors.

I must travel to Baileys this week and pick up a few glaze colors to work with and am excited for the challenge. To proceed with this series, the looming need of a kiln of my own is ever present. I’m conflicted because there are economical needs that take precedence and this just seems so indulgent and unnecessary. But what is a driven one to do? Last Saturday, Joe and I drove the long and windy road up a mountain in Cold Spring to participate in the much anticipated wood firing opening in which I had two small bowls and a plate. Looking forward to commune with fellow potters we all behaved like children on Christmas morning. The unveiling of hundreds of pots in the huge kiln was amazing; shiny pieces with the unpredictable but spectacular glow that only be achieved through reduction firing. With camera in hand, I was planning to document the whole event and show the process of a collaborative effort which typically takes a good eight hours to get through. To my dismay, I spied my three unfired pieces perched forlornly along with a few others in the kiln masters studio. My heart sank, much like being stood up on a date. Tears welled up and the only way I could contain my disappointment was to leave. I wanted so much to be a big person, suck it up, and experience the day. But I left and Joe understood. Why such a reaction to a small thing when I have larger than life challenges to wrestle with right now? I guess that in life when there are things beyond ones control, it is the little pleasures we look forward to - as a coping mechanism. And when they disappoint, our already fragile self falls apart. I emailed the kiln master and he apologized for the error and promised to prioritize my pieces in the next March’s firing. And that I will do. I will also make a piece so unique, so beautiful, and suitable for reduction that it will not be excluded. And I will also take that plunge and order myself a small kiln this week. Then I have only myself to blame for my mistakes. A new kiln, something to look forward to!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

There must be ravens in the air

Seeking a new direction with clay, I’ve been observing the many ravens sneaking on my porch for leftover dog food and feeling a particular kinship with them. Ravens, you either love them or hate them - and I never understand the detractors other than they see them as scavengers rather nature’s housekeepers, doing the dirty job of cleaning up road kill. Or maybe it is the misinterpretation of Edgar Allen Poe’s supernatural poem, “The Raven’, where he symbolized the bird as "Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance “; a natural human conflict for wanting to remember and wanting forget:

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.' Edgar Allen Poe 1994

Like blue jays, ravens are corvids and the most intelligent of the bird species; tough, scrappy, curious; traits that I identify with which explains my lifelong fascination with this mysterious bird. Seeking inspiration to paint a raven plate as a Christmas present for my beau, Joe, a biologist and birder (but not a fanatical birder), I want to emulate the ravens from this series of casein paintings I did long ago. I’m thinking of using colored clay slip (which I haven’t tried yet), or experimenting with a cool set of glaze water colors I picked up from Bailey’s clay supply. Is it possible to combine both techniques without disappointment? There must be something in the air because I’ve spotted quite a few clay bloggers talking about ravens too. Great minds think alike. Off to the studio before the day gets away from me…

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grannie apple green glaze and pie

After a long day mixed with work, parent teacher conferences for my two teens, and making my bi -monthly batch of homemade dog food, I wanted to glaze the interior of this new bowl with a color I have yet to achieve, apple green. As a painter, I like to work with under glazes with paint brushes and and am itching to achieve a Mark Rothko effect with color. It’s all in my head right now, as are many new creations swirling around in my thoughts waiting for me to carve out the time to do it in what feels like my ADD life. My boyfriend Joe drove up from Maryland last night, so I skipped the glazing plans and surrendered to the kitchen for the evening to make some filet mignon, risotto, spinach and feta cheese salad with walnuts complemented by a nice bottle of Cote de Rhone. Subconsciously, the apple green glaze was weighing on my mind so what did I do, make an apple pie. Kneading the dough felt much like porcelain while peeling the Grannie Smith apples helped me formulate the palette of glazes I need for my apple green bowl. I’m just building up my glaze collection and must to take a trip to Kingston (an hour and half drive north) and pick up some cool new glazes from Baileys Pottery supply. The problem is that place is too tempting and I always want more than I can afford. Lacking the time, I could just order what I need and wait the delivery but impatience is getting the best of me. I may just glaze this bowl with combination of orange glazes on hand and just be done with it. There’s always the next pot to make….

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday in the city

End of a busy weekend. Got up early this morning to take my daughter, Audrey, into the city for her weekly pre-college art class at FIT. The fog was floating in horizontal strips across the deep yellow and grey mountains signaling the end of Fall - except that it was too warm to wear the suede jacket as I drove. Once over the GW Bridge, the city driver kicked in and left the country girl behind as I re acclimated to maneuvering between the lanes dodging the yellow taxis along the way. Made it to her class in time with plenty to spare. Then downtown for a quick three hour visit with my sister's family - and off to meet Audrey at a lower east side art supply store. Every time I go to the city, I realize how much I miss zipping around, people watching and feeling the energy - but the traffic is so crazy! Forgot how nonchalant and oblivious New Yorkers are, daring for anyone to hit them. And finding a parking spot on the street - forgeddaboutit! Tried enjoying a mother/daughter Italian lunch in the East Village while angsting about my car parked in a tow zone. Even meter maids need a Sunday off so all went well including the nice drive home. Dealing with a few computer problems tonite got me cranky and I really wanted to pound some clay and make a pot or two to relax - but too much to do this evening. Maybe tomorrow …..

Friday, November 13, 2009

Psycho purple....Qu'est-ce que c'est? Fa fa fa fa fa...

There's an oft used word in my vocabulary which basically plays it safe when expressing a non commital unobjective opinion about a piece of art - that word is 'Interesting' - pronounced, "inn-ter-estttinggg". Essentially meaning, 'eck', 'ick', or 'ugh'. What an 'interesting' psychedelic purple surprise! Unhappy with my glazing from the first try on these little echinacea bowls (Oct. 19th post), I researched and found that applying hairspray to the piece, reglazing, and refiring would do the trick. I applied Coyote Pansy purple high fire glaze, channeled my pop art upbringing, and wow - these look straight from the 60's! I prefer these in the bisque white state and think I'll make another more subdued not so interesting set glazed matte white.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Achieving a pit fire affect with high fire

Imagine recreating a raku or pit fire affect with a Cone 6 porcelain firing with just a glaze. Like this Raku pot I made 30 years ago, back in the days when I actually spent time throwing on the wheel and making conceptual pieces. Due to the fragility of raku, I abandoned it after losing all of my work moving cross country from California to DC. I always loved the earthy smokey look and never thought it could be achieved in porcelain. The Georgie's kalamata black on the outside of this Oak leaf bowl has me thinking of an entire new direction in glazing. The bright red orange inside is a nice contrast but in the future, I'll paint an underglaze to give it more depth and saturation.

Warped plate(s) of the day

So much has happened in the past week, I don't know where to begin. I participated in my first wood fire kiln event last Saturday and it was an amazing learning experience. I only did two small bowls and a plate so we’ll see what Thanks giving unloading ceremony brings. I unloaded a kiln full of cone 6 porcelain pieces on Tuesday and am mixed about the results. Although satisfied with the glazing, lots of warping on my poor morning glory plates. After much research, I know what to do next time and much depends on the porcelain drying process; the longer the better (not good for impatient people like me). Though not functional for everyday use, they will make good serving platters. More pics of other pots later today.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A scattered week

Like these milkweed seeds and fallen oak leaves, my week flew by and scattered it was. Two teenagers, two dogs, three cats, the eternal job hunt, IT consulting, a house to maintain, and squeezing in time to make pots, well that keeps me occupied. One minute I’m installing a wireless network or cracking open an Apple iMac to replace a DVD drive, the next minute I’m transporting pots to glaze at the Philipstown rec, or racing to my friend’s pottery studio dropping off a few leather hard pots for tomorrow’s big wood fire kiln event. Meanwhile…. my son calls me 5x in 10 minutes that he missed the bus and can I drive across the river to pick him up. Cell phone ringing and a text message arrives; my daughter needs help with her college applications. Oye. And what do I really want to do? Sink my hands into the luscious Highwater Helios porcelain clay lost in the moment and make something, anything to get away from it all. Just a few stolen blissful minutes. But really, the IT stuff sharpens my left brain, while the clay keeps my right brain from atrophying, and the kids and pet menagerie, well they give me a reason to keep going. And today brings more surprises - yesterday I carefully packed a kiln full of porcelain plates and bowls for a cone 6 firing. Am anxious for the results because I experimented with glazes on the plates and it’s a crapshoot on how they will look. They’ll either make it on the ‘Plate a day’ blog or the dogs will end up with a new set of pet food dishes to lap up their home made food. Hope they like them. Will posts pics later today.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wood burning event - Something new to try

I'm so excited because I'm participating in a local wood fire kiln event of like minded potters on Saturday. My friend, Nancy of White Forest Pottery (her work is beautiful!) gave me some cone 10 white porcelain clay and brown clay for the event because any clay lower than Cone 10 will melt with the high wood burning temperatures. I'm hoping these pieces will be bone dry for bisque firing tomorrow. You can't rush the drying process, so let's hope for no cracks in the edges. The vinca leaves will burn off and leave a faint impression on the bowls.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall Back - An extra hour added to our day

Monday morning, DST, and everyone is tired including Riley basking in the sun and blending in with the leaves. It's brisk outside but he doesn't seem to mind. I picked some milk weed while taking my dogs for a walk last week. Put them in a vase in my kitchen and the pods are bursting all over the place - releasing seeds anchored to these very fine puffs ....very beautiful and 'other worldly' looking. They are known for attracting Monarch butterflies. Not sure if I can capture the essence of these in clay.

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