Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sunshine Cobb Visits CSU Chico

I have been a teaching assistant this semester at CSU Chico and one of the added benefits is getting to know about the visiting artists!  On Monday and Tuesday we were honored to have the talents of Sunshine Cobb as she gave a ton of amazing demos.  I first learned of Sunshine about a year ago and have been a big fan since.  In May she was featured on the cover of Ceramics Monthly so we felt pretty special having her visit.  She squeezed us in between having just returned from presenting at Utilitarian Clay VI at Arrowmont  in Tennessee and just before leaving for her residency at the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana.  Phew!  Great job, Sunshine.  Thank you so much!  It was wonderful meeting you.

Lidded Boxes in progress.

Showing us how she uses a cheese cutter to trim the tops of her boxes.

My sweet score is this delightful garlic storage vessel which now sits on the shelf in my kitchen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Paperclay Vessel

All the beautiful flowers blooming and the early morning coolness on my front porch enticed me to stay home and experiment with some paperclay ideas.  In July I was able to work with ceramic installation artist, and professor at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Rebecca Hutchinson.  She was our last visiting artist in Clay as a Medium for Sculpture at CSU Summer Arts in Monterey, CA.  She taught us an amazing array of techniques for "breaking the rules" when working with clay. She taught us about the different kind of cellulose fibers to use and what kind of stuff to dip into paper clay slip.  She also showed us how to make durable, non-fired pieces and how to incorporate silkscreen and stencil use with colored slips for surface decoration.  It was a ton to cover in just three days.  If you ever get and opportunity to go to one of her workshops I would highly recommend it!

I thought I would start out simple with these little clay medallions I made by dropping dollops of paperclay onto a plaster slab to stiffen up.  Need more plaster slabs!  And minions to make these little cookies while I construct the forms.

The construction process was oh so delightful! I started the base out on an upturned bowl covered with paper.  I left it out in the sun to stiffen up and then took it off the mold, turned it over and started adding my cookie "shingles."  This stuff is amazing.  I love that you can add wet pieces to bone dry work.  It is also really easy to rehydrate areas with a spritz of water as the paper keeps the clay from weakening.

Day two.  You can see where the bottom section has dried and I continued shingling on the fairly dry rim.

I really wanted to continue and make the form even larger if it wasn't for a few crucial factors.  One, I ran out of slip!  Two, I needed to make the base thicker and better able to take the weight of the piece and not be topsy.  Since I started out with all these cookies of pretty uniform thickness there just isn't enough weight at the bottom.  I think the next one will have a thicker pinch or coil base to start working on. The last issue is transportation.  Oh yeah, when one does not have a kiln...  You get the idea.

I love how the interior looks like scales.  I might flip the cookies around on the next piece so the flat, scale-like surface is on the outside.  Now to figure out how I want to finish and fire this piece.  I am thinking of the soda kiln but not sure if it will fit.  I might need to make some smaller ones for that little kiln for sure.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Recent Soda Firing

Opening up last week's kiln load. Or was it longer ago than that?  I'm not sure where the time keeps slipping away from me!  Anywho, check out those cones on the bottom.  Cone 12 maybe?  All I know is my tumblers were on the bottom and I had a lot of bloating.  Maybe B-mix at this temp is not so good.  Or maybe we just need to figure out how to get the kiln firing a wee bit more even.  I know!  I'll just put my stuff on the top next time.  What a concept.  I know, sometimes I'm a tad slow.

Here are the four tumblers that came out good.  One still is pretty bloated but I turned it around for the shot.  I actually had eight tumblers but four of them cracked.  Pretty weird cracks too.  I'll have to get some pics of those too show y'all.  Could use some postulating on causes.  I have a theory but we'll see.  
I've got some bowls just like these tumblers going into the kiln next week plus I think I'll put in a couple of porcelain pieces and see how they do.  B-mix on the top, not sure where to place the porcelain but I think it would withstand the bottom.  Hey, I could put a porcelain one on the top, one in the middle and one on the bottom.  I astound even myself sometimes.  Just kidding!  Oh, and as for surface technique, that is paper stencil with a baur flashing slip brushed on.  I also used the little sewing wheel thingy texture maker and then bisqued.  Then a black slip was rubbed into the texture.  I glazed the inside with celadon but it doesn't look as good as I'd like.  Maybe not enough reduction on the bottom.

The recycle clay is liking the soda.  And check out that design and texture!  Wish I could claim those as mine.  I am thinking of stealing, ahem, borrowing, the technique.

Happy mugsy.  My tumbler in the back, otherwise known as a giant test tile.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Good Morning Breakfast

I love it when I actually take time to cook something for breakfast instead of just having a smoothie or pineapple and cottage cheese.  Mmm, saute'd veggies and scrambled eggs with fresh basil from my garden.  I have ruby red chai in this mug I made at Penland in the spring.  There were glazes left in the studio from the fall intensive with Suze Lindsay and Kent McLaughlin. I love how the layered glazes turned out.  Now if I had only gotten the recipe, sigh!  Molly Kite Spadone, a core fellow at Penland, taught me how to make that handle with the nice little ridge on top.  

In my last post I told you about my garden and flowers, so here are some eye candy pics for you.  This is the flower bed right out my front door.  My little bunny sculpture that I made in Susannah Israel's workshop just had to situate herself right in the middle of all the loveliness.

Snow and snap peas, kale, chard, bok choy, cilantro, carrots, lettuce.

Rainbow chard before the neighbor's kittens had a wrestling match in the middle of it!

Darn kitties!  But check out those luscious blue eyes.  Oil spots on the nose from hanging out under the cars.

Volunteer Four O'Clocks!

 Neighbors Rudabeckia

Next blog post I will have some pictures of the soda firing from last Tuesday.  Gotta go pay bills now.