Yesterday, I spent all day working on small, 3D sketches of various floral forms. These maquettes were a great warm up exercise! And man did I need the warm up. It can take a while to get settled into a new space and find a routine.The first thing that took some adjusting to was my clay body. I have been using the same clay body for at least 5 years now. (Lymen Red from Highwater Clays.) But out here in Montana it makes more sense to get it from The Archie Bray (only 1.5 hrs from Missoula) than to have 100lbs of my usual stuff shipped from the East Coast. So I made the switch and the two are definitely different! I don't know yet if I prefer one over the other, but I'll have to report back after my month-long residency. ABF Earthenware is darker brown when moist and seems smoother. It has virtually no grog compared to the Lymen Red I'm used to working with at home. I'm curious to see the fired color and compare shrinkage, absorption and warping.
The second issue I'm tackling is related to this gorgeous weather I've been experiencing. Humidity. Or lack there of. In Florida (80-100% humidity) clay dries very, very slowly and often needs to be put into a dry box or blasted with a heat gun to speed the drying process along. Not necessary here in MT! Slabs seemed to get stiff with the blink of an eye! I will definitely have to adjust my work time and modify some of my usual building habits.
These small pieces not only helped me learn more about my new clay and environment but they were great visual studies. I picked several flowers on my walk to the studio and took the time to really observe the structures, textures and colors of each. So, with the some 3D sketching and traditional sketching done, I tackled my first "real" project today. And I must say, I am pretty excited about it! But more about that one tomorrow. I'm off to bed!