Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sgraffito Madness!

I was sgraffito inspired by all of Kathy Kings work while at Penland so I decided to use this technique with some of my organic imagery.  I WAS originally going to use some of my silk screen slip images but those need to be transferred while the pieces are leather hard. These, I, um, forgot about and they were dry when I went to trim them.  Not wanting to have some boring bowls I decided to experiment with some colored terra sig.  I know, I know!  I should use test tiles first.  I am a bit worried that the sig will repel the glaze.  I did stick to the colors that I am fairly certain won't disappear at cone 6.  I will at least get these into the bisque and MAYBE, just maybe, I will make some test tiles before I glaze these.  I actually love test tiles but I get really excited about an idea and sometimes just go with it. That's the way I roll.  It's an adventure!

These tumblers where the very last pieces I made out at Penland but ran I out of time and couldn't get them into a glaze load.  I really wanted to see them fired out so I stuffed the bisqued pieces with socks, wrapped them in bubble wrap and gently nested them into my carry-on bag.  Success, they made it!  I took them over to the University and put them into the last cone 10 reduction of the semester.  Thanks peeps!  Pun intended:P   I  love the way they turned out.  I am addicted to tumblers, even more so than mugs. These have a great balance and feel awesome to hold.  I am drinking out of one of them as I write.  

It's warming up here in the interior valley of Northern California.  It is supposed to be 99 degrees today.  I'd better head out to the post office and get the last of my Kickstarter rewards shipped out before it gets too hot.  Then back to the real world of paperwork today.  Happy last day of May!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Bowls on the Horizon

Before I tell you what I have been working on, doesn't my breakfast look absolutely scrumptious in this delightful Erin Paradis bowl?  

I am convinced that great food tastes even better when eaten out of great pottery.  I picked up this new bowl at Crimson Laurel Gallery while I was doing my studio assistantship this spring at Penland School of Crafts.  Erin's work is delightfully inspiring!

Working with Kathy King for two months inspired my use and love of black.  I forgot to take good pictures of the dinnerware set I made in black and white so now I am making some more pieces.  These will get a coat of satin matte glaze.  I can't wait to see how they turn out!

And here are a few more of my "Nirvana Bowls," as I called them on my Kickstarter project.  I didn't realize they would be so popular so I am trying out a few different bowl forms and a few different clays.  One is Cone 6 Porcelain from IMCO and the other is Icelia Porcelain from Clay Planet.  Both of these fire at cone 5-6 so I will be trying out some different celadon-like glazes.  My other bowls were fired in cone 10 reduction so I am looking to see what I can do with them at cone 6.  Fun stuff!  My progress has been a bit slow, but at least I am making things:)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Farmer's Market with My Son!

I love this guy!  I got to spend the evening at the farmer's market tonight with my son.  It was absolutely delightful.  We headed down just about the time when the sun begins to set and the changing light  starts to make all the colors pop.  It was the perfect temperature, warm but not hot with a very light breeze.

We shared this marion berry pie with vanilla bean ice cream.  I can't remember pie ever tasting as good as this one did.  My son had a blueberry lemonade and I had a lavender lemonade. 

And somehow he talked me into giving him my favorite new tumbler (the one on the right and the only one like it that I brought home) that I made while I was at Penland.  It was when he told me how much he loved me and thanked me for being a wonderful artistic influence for him.  I just kind of melted and handed it over.  Tears in both of our eyes!

 It was a sensory kind of evening.  Ahhh....

Monday, May 14, 2012

Back in the Saddle

Well, it may seem that my life is full of flowers and nature these days and that would be partially true.  I was extremely out of shape when I headed to Penland and felt like I had gotten in a little better shape by the time the eight weeks were done.  I wanted to keep that small edge and get in better shape when I got home so I have made my priority every day to get out for a hike, a walk, or a bike ride.  I can't help it if there are beautiful flowers all around.

On Friday I got back into the studio a little bit.  It was great to see all my Claymate friends and I had a number of pieces that needed to be glazed so that's what I focused on.  Now that I am home I am in the middle of apartment/house hunting so that is taking a little of my attention.  I am trying to figure out what my focus should be with clay for the next year or so before I head to grad school.  I feel like I want to get rid of most of the work that is starting to take over my space.  That would free up my mind to start on a whole new body of work inspired by my time at Penland.

While I am working all these ideas out I will continue taking hikes like this one scrambling down the path to a nice swimming hole.

The heading aroma of this scotch broom filled the canyon near the creek.

The swimming hole but oh was it cold!

And for your viewing pleasure, here are more images of work I made while at Penland.

 I made these in the first week when we were given a cup exchange assignment.  They have paper resist stencils with underglaze.  When Julie Guyot came to visit, she brought some commercial decals which I had never used before so on they went.  I really enjoy the transparency and how they layer over the stencil images and add another layer of depth and information to the mugs. Julie by the way is amazing, super nice, and a wonderful clay artist!

This is the first time I have made cruets and I enjoyed them.  Definitely going to make some more.

And, finally, I love, love, love these salt and pepper shakers.  Another first with more to follow.
That's all for now.  Have a delightful and creative week everyone!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I absolutely adore Ryan McKerley's work so I was delighted when our Penland class took a field trip to Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville and realized the he had a show up.  I snagged this tumbler which has a slight pink blushing on the inside.  Perhaps this could be considered a flaw as none of the other work showed any flashing but I wanted it because this made it doubly unique.  What really caught my eye, however,  was the richness of the carving techniques, variety of shapes, and the composition of the organic forms contrasted with geometric elements which flow so beautifully across the surface. The attention to detail is impeccable and the piece has a well balanced feel in the hand. I also must say that John Lara and David Trophia are wonderful hosts at the gallery and I look forward to visiting more in the future.

So here I am today enjoy lunch in my bowl and a cool beverage in Ryan's tumbler which just arrived in the mail.  I was a tad bit worried that it wouldn't get here.  I shipped out nine boxes and only eight arrived yesterday.  I was biting my nails until today's box arrived with my treasures which also included a beautiful Erin Paradis bowl.

Today I am going to try to stay off the computer.  I have been slipping into old habits the last couple of days and it is too gorgeous outside that I need to enjoy it.  Besides I have errands to run and I am ready to get my fingers in some clay after my wee break.  I have so many inspirations and ideas in my head I must strike while the iron is hot!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Luscious Lichen

As some of you may know, I love lichen! So here is some eye candy from Monday's hike.  I especially love the chartreuse green contrasted with the orange that's going on here.  I don't make work that calls for the use of lichen glazes but I am tempted to with inspiration like this.  And if I had any idea what to do with felting or textile media I would somehow incorporate this.  Hmmm, maybe I should go back to Penland for a textiles class.  Just sayin'.

All the textures here are just so incredible!

I was feeling quite nostalgic for all the flowers that are planted around the Penland campus, especially outside Lily Loom.  Then I took a morning walk and found all of these beauties right in my own neighborhood.  Too bad pictures can't convey the smell of all the flowers that are in bloom right now!

Ah, but lest you think that the last few days have been all fun and games, I have been knee deep in the shipping and receiving department, otherwise known as the spare room.  Today I got eight of the nine boxes I shipped from Penland.  I'm going to have to research that ninth one.  Now I have about 50 items to ship out that are rewards for my Kickstarter project.  Let the fun commence:)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Goodbye Penland

Well, it finally happened.  Two months flew by in a whirlwind of clay activity.  This is the last sunrise I saw on Saturday morning from my bedroom window in the Craft House at Penland School of Crafts.  On Sunday I woke up at 2:30 am and was in the car by 3:30 headed for the Asheville airport.  I left with many mixed emotions.  There was sadness to be leaving such a beautiful place where I had many wonderful experiences and met tons of great people.  But there was also relief.  Being away from home for two months is quite an experience and I was feeling ready to get back.  Of course now that I am home, I miss Penland!

I wasn't quite ready for the flat landscape of home.  It seemed rather foreign after all the verdant rolling hills of North Carolina.  It is also drier than I remember and I think we are in for an early, hot, long summer.  After traveling all day yesterday I felt pretty cramped up and sore.  This first morning home I decided I should go for a hike in the park where there are actually some hills to keep my muscles active on and work out some kinks.

And here are some of the last photos I took of work I made with Helios porcelain.  Right after this pic they were bubble wrapped and packed for shipping.  I shipped home nine boxes of work and could have shipped home twelve if I hadn't run out of time.  I did all the packing on the last Friday and most of the work had just come out of the kilns a day or two before.  I did pack some stuff in my backpack and carry-on and dragged them through the airport and on and off the planes with no breakage, yay!

I had a lot of fun with these.  I was working on refining this tumbler form and incorporated three different techniques for the surface decoration.  I have silk screened slip transfers, ez-screen print transfers (which are essentially unmounted silkscreens with wider mesh) and sgraffito.  The botanical imagery was created from my own drawings and the water tower image is from a photo that I took here in Chico of one of the downtown water towers.  These are probably my favorite pieces from the concentration and I am looking forward to exploring this some more now that I am home.

I really enjoy the simplicity of these bowls.  I didn't have time to do anything decorative before they went into the bisque.  Then when they came out we were all in a rush to get everything glazed and into the final firings.  I quickly drew some lines and circles with black underglaze in a slip trailer and filled them in with tinted glazes.  Then I waxed them out and dipped into a fantastic clear glaze.  Viola, I love how they came out!

I wish I had more time to test glazes while I was there.  I am a total glazeaholic!  These dots were created by layering Steven Hill's cone 6 Strontium Crystal Magic (from the March 2012 Issue of Ceramics Monthly) with a copper tinted transparent glaze.  From tests that I had done, I figured the combo would run a bit and pull some of the black underglaze and it did not disappoint. 

It is only 9pm, but my body thinks it is midnight so I will get some shut eye soon.  Sleep well everyone:)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

How time flies!

I can hardly believe that I am halfway through my eighth and last week at Penland.  Boo hoo!  I have made far too few posts while I have been hard at work.  Yesterday and today were the hardest, busiest, most challenging and yet most rewarding days here.  We have been loading, firing and reloading kilns back to back to get everyone's work finished and out on time.  This piece was one of the first pieces I made when I got here. I am just now getting around to taking photos of my work and there will be a bunch more when kilns get unloaded tomorrow.

With both of these jars I used a technique called sgraffito which means to scratch or carve through.  I applied black underglaze to the surface and then when it was leather hard, like hard cheese, I carved through the black to white clay underneath to create the designs.  The first jar was glazed with a clear, transparent glaze.  With this second piece we had the transparent glaze colored with a bunch of different oxides and stains so I glazed each individual section with a different color.  Indeed, it was laborious but worth the effect.

We have had two wonderful core students in our class, Molly Kite Spadone and Rachel K. Garceau. Rachel mixed up a new clear that was supposed to fit Helios porcelain at cone 6 so I was very eager to try it out.  I glazed up this tumbler and put it into her small test firing last night.  Tiny kilns are wonderful in that they fire fast and cool fast.  I was able to pull this piece hot out of the kiln although I had to carry it around with my t-shirt while I admired it and showed off.  I promptly glazed up a bunch of other pieces with it.  Actually, I trusted Rachel's experience with this glaze so I didn't wait for the piece to come out.  I actually was in the studio at 6:30 am to unload kilns and get started on some glazing before the class showed up.

Speaking of our core students, Molly and Rachel are both in the Containment III show at Crimson Laurel Gallery.