Friday, October 30, 2009

Busy Week Ahead

I am getting ready to fire the glaze kiln twice next week, cone 6/7 on Monday and cone 10 on Wednesday. With Jay out of town, Brenda is going to come up and help out. I can fire by myself, but I have to leave the house twice a day to deliver and retrieve the kids from school. There are just not enough hours between drop off and pick up to fire even a shortened cone 6/7 load.

And as sometimes happens, I stumble upon a really nice form towards the end of my "making" cycle. I was going to try to make some wall pockets, but the cylinders were the wrong shape. Instead I made some bud vases and these sweet baskets from the leftover pieces.

I really like when I can combine the creation of two different forms from the same cylinders without having to recycle too much clay.

What is pathetic is that I only have 15 bats to throw on, so I was only able to make 7 little baskets (2 cut cylinders for each basket). I am hoping they will dry in time to make it into a bisque on Sunday. Otherwise they must wait for the next cone 10 firing, and I don't know when that will be. With all the prep work I need to do for firing and the subsequent photo-taking, I have had to stop all my wet work, but all I want to do is make these little baskets. It's just not fair.

So, rather than accepting the hand fate has dealt me and use the time to tackle a couple of home projects, I have decided to squeeze in another cone 6/7 firing before the TRAC Studio Tour. I have two weeks to make more work. I'll be gone the week of Thanksgiving so everything will have plenty of time to dry. I can bisque the day I get back and if I glaze fire by Tuesday, the pots will be out in time for Friday.

Sounds like a fool-proof plan. Doesn't it?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some Things Are Just Not Meant To Be

Over the years, I have developed a positive outlook on life. This came in handy this week when I inadvertently destroyed one of the biggest pieces I've made (the basket on the left). I was covering up some adjacent damp pots and knocked one of the handles. It broke into too many pieces to be repaired. Oops.

I didn't spend much time mourning the lost work hours nor the wasted potential. I had made three large vessels out of Brownstone, a clay I had never before worked with. The handles of the one I fired slumped into the basket (see the post below for a picture). Mysteriously, a handle on a second one turned up broken. That break was clean, and I was going to try to fix it. Then came my klutzy studio performance.

I decided the universe was telling me, in no uncertain terms that Brownstone is not the ideal clay body for vessels of this size, not to waste any more kiln space or time on these baskets. I proceeded to cut my losses, bust the pieces up to be reclaimed and move on. Unfired clay can be reused indefinitely.
Although, with all the Ellen Buff I got from Henry Pope, I have more than enough clay to slake down. I guess the Brownstone will be relegated to a corner of the studio, along with a bag of bone dry Little Loafers to be dealt with at a later date if at all.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cone 6 Reduction Rocks!

I don't think I've ever been as happy with a kiln load of pots than I am today. I fired my third cone 6 glaze load yesterday and couldn't be more pleased after unloading it a short while ago.

Even with the handles of the sole large basket slumping into the pot. I had attached the top handle at a funky angle and during the firing, it slumped down and on top of the other handle. The look like noodles. Right now, it's hard not to see the flaw, but I'm starting to see it as a happy accident.

I tested a couple of Ceramics Monthly's cone 6 glazes with mixed results, and Brenda brought a few test glazes with her. She is bolder than I am. She'll pour a test glaze all over a pot, while I refuse until I've seen a test tile. And while there are a couple of glazes I'm going to add to my palette, I'm giving up on one that had shown me so much promise in John Britt's class. It's not just that I cannot get the same results, it's that the results I am getting with this particular glaze are uninspiring at best.

I am most thrilled with my new baskets. I had virtually no cracking, and the glazes I chose are really complimenting the forms. I've been struggling with how best to approach my surfaces, but that's a topic for another blog post.

So tonight I go to bed delighted and can wake up with a clear sense of where I am going. I can't ask for anything more.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Can we stop this ride, please?

I'd like to get off now! Somehow this week, I managed to overload myself with pots to be worked on. I usually work on baskets in batches of 6 to 8. That's about all I can keep up with and still take care of the rest of my busy life. This week, the laundry is piling up, the bills haven't been paid and it's all because I am trying to work on 15 baskets at the same time. I've got the first of two handles on only 3 of them.

These baskets are waiting handles.

New cone 6 work awaiting their turn in the bisque. The large basket second from the right is too large to fit in my electric kiln. I guess I could have worse problems.

I have started bisquing some work. I work in two different temperatures and have been fastidious about keeping them separate. My current bisque has both, but it's tough to find what can fit in with the baskets, especially the larger ones.

Above is new cone 10 work. Several of the flat pieces have jsut been loaded into the bisque. Even though I might have to bisque the larger baskets individually, I still have hopes of firing a cone 6 glaze kiln next weekend. I'm very excited about my new work.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Autumn plans

Today, I demonstrated my pottery making techniques for 3 groups of middle schoolers. They are having a bowl fundraiser for the Yancey County Humane Society and the United Fund of Yancey County. The groups rotated between making bowls at Arts Centered, my demonstration in the Bakersville Library and some other speakers. My last demo was down on the Creek Walk. I can't say that the kids were overly enthusiastic watching me. However, when I sneaked up to Arts Centered, they were definitely engaged handbuilding bowls.

During a break, I had a delicious coffee at Dot's, served in what I'm 99% sure was a Shane Mickey mug. I think I'm going to have to buy one of his mugs. It had a nice feel in my hands. I also went to the Crimson Laurel Gallery and checked out the "Sharing" show as well as the "Connecting" exhibit featuring photographs from the book "Lost Crossings" about Western North Carolina's Historic Footbridges.

On the home front, Jay attempted to top the white pines in front of the house. I admit that it does not appear very environmentally friendly to remove trees for the sole purpose of gaining a gorgeous view. Anyone who knows me knows how many trees I have planted in my lifetime. Many more than the 3 or 4 we're cutting down. It works for me. Doesn't eveyone need a good rationalization every now and again?

Anyway, Jay quickly realized the job was a bit too big for him, but he managed to cut through the 3 large upward-growing branches, only to have them get caught on other branches rather than falling to the ground. At this point, he conceded that it would be much easier to cut the whole tree down rather than topping it.

Then today, we had wind gusts of 30 mph or so and down they came...only to reveal a small scrubby hardwood tree right behind it. I guess we'll have to cut that one down, too. The pile of branches is ugly and going to be a mess to clean up, but I can't see it from the house. And it doesn't cost any money unlike our neverending list of home improvements.

I'm back in the studio tomorrow. I've finished most of the cone 6 work and finally decided to fire a bisque. I hope to glaze fire in a couple of weeks. I'm still working wet in cone 10. I really like the direction my new work is going and have found myself incapable of stopping. I have literally run out of ware boards and shelf space. Sometimes the shift from creating to glazing is tough. Stay tuned for some pictures of new work, at least in greenware.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm published!

I got a nice surprise when I opened yesterday's edition of the Yancey Common Times Journal and saw this:

Does this mean fame and fortune for me here in Yancey County?