Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

I finally got all of my sculptures installed in the gallery this morning.  That is, Monday morning, now that it is shortly into Tuesday.  I have done many arts and craft fairs with my pottery but this was the first gallery show with sculpture.  I had wonderful help from many people.  Special thanks go out to Allison, Cameron, Jenny and Charlene.  I couldn't have done it without you people.  You are very appreciated!

It was pretty crazy getting all of my pieces out of their boxes and setting them up.  I got all of the wall pieces set up and it looked great.  Then I set everything up on the pedestals and I had WAY too much work for the gallery space.  I maybe could have quit making things a month ago and it would have been fine.  However, I am grateful that I had too much rather than too little.  With lots of help I got the pieces edited down so the space wouldn't look cramped.  This small porcelain piece is about eight inches tall.  I really wanted it in the show along with another black and white piece but they just wouldn't fit and didn't quite work with the other pieces which are quite different.

I like this graphic design and the contrast so much that I am thinking of making a body of work that is all black and white.  That will be quite a departure for me as I am so into color.  This piece originally started out as a test piece.  I  had two forms and some slip left from a throwing session.  I decided to mix some black stain into the slip until it "looked right," although I wasn't sure what right meant.  I didn't know if I would get some shade of gray or what.  This is cone ten and it came out this fabulous rich black with hints of cobalt.  I hope all you clay people who are going to NCECA or, are already there, have a great time.  I hope to make the trip to Florida next year.  I have never been and I want to meet everyone.  Have a great Tuesday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Porcelain, Pots and Pedestals

This week has been a crazy week of glazing my porcelain sculptures and pots to fill the kiln and getting it loaded.  After that there was running around trying to get my postcards and posters.  I had to get the posters re-printed because my image file was too small.  Then I had to prime some black pedestals and move nine pedestals from the ceramics building over to the gallery.  Not very far but they were heavy.  I should have had the foresight to enlist some help.  After getting all that done I spent the day running around campus and around town to put up posters for the show.  Then, it was off to the hardware store for anchors for the hanging pieces.  Hey, this is the first time I've done this.  I had no idea!  By the time I get my show set up on Monday I will probably be so tired I will have to sleep for the week before my reception.

The cone 10 firing went off last night and I just about burned the tips of my fingers this afternoon with my enthusiasm to get to the sculptures to see how they turned out.  I've been working with low fire and haven't worked with cone 10 porcelain for awhile.  Sometimes you just have to get reminded about stuff the hard way.  I forgot how much porcelain likes to shrink and slump in the kiln!  I had two pieces sag over and fuse themselves to something else.  One piece to a small cup and the other to a half shelf next to it.  I got the one off the shelf and I think I can grind down the spot and hide it with the luster design that I want to try out.  I may or may not get it done in time for Monday.  Do you think anyone would notice if I sneak it in a day late?  Shhh, don't tell.

I was relieved to get the work out of the kiln and some of the pieces I am really excited about.  I tried some new things that I think I want to continue exploring.  I finally came home pooped out from the week and I wanted to check up on my blog, email and such, but no dice.  My wireless adapter cannot find the connection even though it is just fifteen feet down the hall.  So I am borrowing the computer from the family members but you know, it's just not the same as your own.  I will have to admit the chair is more comfortable than mine.  Anyhow, no photos for tonight.  I should have some soon, especially of the show.  But I should probably wait until after the reception.  Waiting is so hard!  I feel that I am truly rambling on now.  Have a great weekend!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


It has been a glorious first day of Spring today.  It was quite befitting for a trip to Table Mountain, notorious for spring wildflowers.  We got a lot more rain this year than we have in a while.  That combined with the unseasonable warm 74 degree weather made for a wonderful early showing.  I think this is either a type of clover or an indian paintbrush but I am not really sure.  Does anyone know?  It looks beautiful with the backdrop of lupins behind it.  This was the only one we saw.  I am going to have to go back to see the display as different flowers come out so keep an eye out for more images. Now I must jet off to the studio.  I have one more sculpture to glaze for the high fire kiln.  I also have some work for cone six but not a lot so we'll see how that goes.  I'd love to know what wonderful things you did with your first day of spring!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Porcelain Carves Like Butter!

Good morning everyone.  Spring is almost officially here!  It is so exciting.  I thought I would make this quick post before I head off to my super duper busy, catch up on everything day so I can take some time for myself soon. Phew.  This piece is in the bisque as we speak.  It's a slightly different form from what I have been working on.  I was getting tired of the sharp angles where my round forms would me and I wanted a more gradual transition for easier carving and resist work.  Everyone in the studio, including myself, thought it looked kind of like Mickey Mouse.  What can I say?  I grew up in Southern California and Disneyland was a very regular destination.  Can I help it if those Mickey ears are ingrained in my brain and influence my subconscious choices in form? 

I am really enjoying the way it has turned out, being a small test sculpture as it is.  This is made from cone 10 English Porcelain from Laguna Clay Company.  I love this clay.  It fires very white in reduction, is translucent when thin, has a slight self-glazing characteristic and is relatively easy to throw with.  And did I mention, it carves like butter!  I am in love.  I took my slop clay from my slip bucket and turned it into a thick slip and then added about a teaspoon and a half of commercial black stain,  Then I brushed three coats on the piece and let it set up before carving.  It was interesting to find the right consistency for carving and how effective it was to carve different areas that were drying at different rates.  It turned out being on the dryer side of leather hard made for cleaner carving.  I can't wait to glaze this up and see how it turns out.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Etsy Treasury Love

I finally made the call.  I am not going to make any more pieces for my show.  I loaded all my dry sculptures into the kiln this afternoon for a bisque firing.  Woo hoo!  Now I have one more cone 04 glaze firing to do.  Then, when my porcelain pieces come out of this bisque, I will have a cone 10 firing to do.  That's it!  I am excited to say the least.  I am even going to take some time off for ME this week.  It is spring break after all.  I am a little giddy about it.  Oh, what should I do?  Where should I go?  So many choices and such lovely weather.  It is supposed to be 74 degrees tomorrow.  I actually felt overheated today.  When it is 100 degrees this summer, today will seem cold in my memory.

On another lovely note, I keep getting put in these wonderful Etsy Treasuries.  This is completely awesome!  This treasury was created by dorothydomingo who has a delightful Etsy shop with ceramics, beadwork and quilting.  My piece is the Sea Foam Pasta bowl which is on the third row down, first image.  It is a great beginning to what is shaping up to be a wonderful week.  I almost forgot, my son got off his crutches yesterday!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Poppytalk Highlight

I just realized one of my photos was chosen by Poppytalk to be highlighted for Spring Color Week!  I'm on the second line, 5th image "Blue Grafitti."   I can't believe it.  I checked on Poppytalk's blog the day after posting my photo but didn't see it.  Then I double checked today and there it was.  Woo hoo!  Thanks Poppytalk, you've made my day. If you click on the link you can go and see a larger image of this shot.  I took this photo while walking along the train tracks behind my old studio on a morning walk   Now I've really got to get to the ceramics studio. Happy Day:)

Porcelain Shellac Resist

Getting into the studio late and working late can have it's advantages.  I have really been able to focus more the last couple of days on my sculptures.  Yesterday I had about three projects going at once.  I started by brushing some black porcelain slip onto my newest sculptures.  While that was setting up I would bop over to the porcelain pieces that I was painting a shellac resist on.

When my arm would get tired of wiping back the porcelain I would go work on glazing some work to go into the kiln.  Talk about circuit training!  I rotated around these three projects for seven hours.  I did make sure to take a dinner break and treated myself to a little meal at Upper Crust Bakery.  Yum.

I've learned a few interesting things by exploring this shellac resist technique.  One, I'm not too fond of the smell of shellac.  Two, It is possible to use clear acrylic gel medium instead which has no odor and cleans up with water.  Three, letting the shellac dry overnight produces crisper lines.  Four, I'm too impatient to wait and usually start washing away the porcelain starting with the first area I've painted which is the driest.  My lines are not the crispest and I'm not sure if shellac is better than gel medium.  It probably dries harder than the gel medium so if you really need super crisp lines and are willing to wait for it to dry it would probably be the first choice.  Unfortunately, when I bought my shellac I couldn't find a tiny can.  So now I have a whole pint which might be a lifetime supply for me.

This piece is going to be in my show.  I'm trying to decide if I should stop here and keep it simple or if I should go back into it with a second layer of resist patterns.  It really adds depth and interest to add another layer under this first one.  I am just not sure if I can commit the time to going over it again.  Hmm, maybe I will do at least one with another layer.  Hmm...    Well, I've got to go open that kiln I fired off last night and make sure some things are not getting over dry without me.  Then later tonight I think I am going to set up my light tent in the studio and shoot some images of my work.  I can't stay up too late though, I've got to head out of town in the morning.  I am going to stop at the clay supply and pick up some new stuff to try out.  Yeah!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Countdown to Exhibition

Here is the poster for my upcoming exhibit.  This is the first time I have had an exhibit of my ceramic sculpture.  I am really excited and a teeny tiny bit nervous.  I am on the countdown now.  I have only two weeks left to finish up before I install my work.  The hardest part for me is my head is still swimming with ideas for things that I want to make but I think I only have time to detail, bisque and glaze.  Maybe I can squeeze something extra in.  That means I better tear myself away from the computer and the gorgeous sunshine and get over to the studio.  I have been working in the evenings lately because there are less people around and more space to work.  It's more peaceful and I seem to get more done.  It's spring break now so it ought to be pretty quiet.  Ah, that whole big studio almost all to myself.  Anyhow, I sure would like to see as many people at my opening on Thursday, April 8 at 5:00pm so come on down!  Bring friends and children are welcome.  Have a great weekend. everyone.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Spring Bowls

I have been hard at work on my sculptures.  I've needed to make that last final push to get enough made and ready for my show at the end of March.  I did make the time tonight to post some new items to my Etsy shop.  All of my sales will be going to rebuilding my studio.  I lost almost all my equipment to some unfortunate events this past year and I am eager to get it up and running again.  I'm making some time in between school projects but it is not the same as having my own studio.

I love the way the dark blue melts into the sea foam glaze and drips down the sides of this fluted bowl.

This one is a nice low pasta type bowl.  The pink blush on the rim is a nice accent.

Here is another bowl looking like a spring flower and ready for summer salads and ice cream sundaes.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Chocolate and Raspberries the Perfect Pair


Yesterday was my son's 21st birthday. It was an eventful day.  I started out in the ceramics studio glazing my sculptures and getting the kiln loaded and firing.  It took longer than I thought and I never got around to making the recycle clay so that will have to happen today.  After that business I headed home to work on the cake.   The day made for a good time to reflect on life and remember what I was doing when I turned 21.  I was a young single mom and my son was almost three months old so not too much partying for me.  I lived in Santa Barbara, CA at the time and I was a real beach girl go.  So hanging out at the beach for a barbaque with family and friends was just right for me.  It was also a day of much gratefulness as my son was hit by a car just over a year ago while he was walking across the street to go to a ballroom dance class.  It has been a year of many challenges and we are glad to have made it to this point. 

I was planning on making a cake and I asked what kind of cake he would like.  I thought it would be pineapple upside down cake or cheesecake.  He was thinking of a chocolate beer cake and we eventually settled on a Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Raspberry Filling.  I found a couple of recipes and combined the batter from one with the frosting from another.  It's kind of funny how things repeat.  The one thing I really wanted for my birthday party was this incredible chocolate cake that seemed to be frosted with fudge and covered with chocolate leaves that a local bakery made.  Now, we're having chocolate again.  I can't remember if I have ever made a layer cake before but I did have to go buy some round cake pans.  Unfortunately, I found out after eating some of my birthday cake that my nursing baby boy didn't really like chocolate milk.  But I'm making up for it now!

I ran to the store in the morning to get some ingredients for the cake but the store I went to charged way more than what I am used to so I had to run to another store in the afternoon.  That was almost a fiasco as the store was packed which makes me kind of freak out.  I ditched the shopping cart just to get through the throng and picked up another shopping cart down the way.  Then I got to the check out and forgot that they don't take credit cards and I didn't have cash or a check with me.  Luckily they held my purchase while I dashed home for some money.  Finally I got started with the batter and realized I was probably making the world's most fattening chocolate cake.  Yum!  Butter, chocolate, sour cream, heavy whipping cream and a pound of chocolate.  What could be better.  Oh yeah, raspberries!  The cake ended up being a two day affair.  Both the cake layers and the chocolate ganache filling/frosting needed to cool before I assembled the cake.  My son was heading off to a party with his friends so we decided we would have it today.  This is a picture of the first cake layer with a smear of ganache and a spread of fresh raspberries mashed up with some raspberry jam.


This cake probably has about half an inch of ganache covering it, probably overkill but that's what the recipe called for and I wasn't sure what else I was going to do with the leftovers.  I know, your thinking just eat it.  Yeah, I thought of that but was having too much fun frosting the cake.  I had lots of extra raspberries so naturally the needed to adorn the top of the cake.  Now my son is sleeping in from his party last night and I'm not sure when we will slice into this baby but it is calling to me.  The question is, should we add some vanilla bean ice cream to the mix.  I mean, after all, we might as well go completely overboard.  Right?

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Filling

For cake layers: 
 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, knocking out excess flour.
Into a bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl whisk together sour cream, water, and vanilla.(Note:  I accidentally picked up 8" pans and wish I had divided the batter among the three pans per the frosting recipe.  I probably would have used more in the filling and less on the frosting that way)
In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in batches alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until batter is blended well.
Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth tops. Bake layers in middle of oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on racks 10 minutes before turning out onto racks to cool completely. Cake layers may be made 1 week ahead and frozen, wrapped well in plastic wrap. Thaw layers before proceeding with recipe.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Visiting Artist David Linger

We had a very interesting and talented visiting artist from the bay area generously share his time with us in the ceramics studio at Chico State today.  David Linger gave a wonderful slide presentation and shared his thoughts, processes and inspirations.  David screen prints photographic imagery onto ultra thin translucent porcelain and combines that with text printed with an intaglio technique.  He will be having an exhibition of his current work at the Braunstein/Quay gallery in San Francisco.

David Linger studied with the well known ceramic artist, Richard Shaw who will be having a concurrent exhibition at the gallery.  I can't wait to go!  The reception will be right at the end of my spring break and it sounds like a great excuse to head to San Francisco.