Friday, July 30, 2010

Upcoming Posts

Getting settled back into life in Florida after my month-long adventure in Montana.

As soon as I'm caught up a bit I plan to post...
Looking forward to teaching a private workshop in my studio tomorrow. Today is dedicated to unpacking, cleaning up and additional prep.

More to come!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More tiles - layered surface tests

And they're out of the kiln. Overall, I'm still very pleased with the potential of these new lowfire test tiles. I've got to be careful not to overdo the layering or they start to get a little muddy looking though.
They look a little jumbled shown all together like this - seems better to process them individually.

We'll, gotta run. We're off to the Bray Bash!

Friday, July 23, 2010

And the Experimenting Continues...

In addition to experimenting with new sculptural forms and attempting to make plates and cups, I've also been working on glazes and surface. (Yes, it's been quite a month!)
While I absolutely love many of my current cone 04 low fire glazes, I have still been itching to develop the surface a bit more. I'm hoping for visual depth and crunchy, textured surface areas.
So, I started by adding texture to slabs with various found objects and then cut them into 4" and 6" square tiles.
Then, I covered the whole surface with 3 layers of terra sigillata. (Whoops forgot to snap a photo here.)
Next came brushing on underglazes and colored slips before scratching/drawing into the surface with needle tool. After the drawing was done, I went back over a few areas with some slip trailing. Here they are pre-bisque firing...
Here's some post-bisque firing...
After the bisque fire, I layered several of my current sculptural glazes, brushing them on with a more painterly approach. Pre-cone 04 glaze firing...
After firing to cone 04...
And I've got another set of tiles in the kiln now. Cant wait to unload it tomorrow!
Still haven't figured out how I will incorporate this surface into my sculptural work, but that will come with time and more experimenting. Here's a little piece I made to see how the surface would wrap around a 3D form.
(Note: This piece is also a scaled down version of the first sculpture I made during my residency here in Missoula. Thought a smaller, maquette-like piece would help me resolve some of my technical problems. We'll see...)

Until later!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Potter I am Not

Kudos to all those functional potters out there! Though I've had my suspicions, I have confirmed that I am definitley not one of them. I love drinking, eating, and collecting pots, but making them is not my forte.

One of the requirements as a resident artist at the Clay Studio of Missoula is to donate 2 cups and 2 plates for every month of your residency. (Lucky for me, I'm only here one month, so my numbers were small.) The plates and cups are used at thier annual fundraising dinner Missoula Valley Thyme and Plate, which just happens to be this Sunday, June 25 from 6-10pm. So glad I extended my stay to that I can attend both the Bray Bash this weekend and Thyme and Plate!

It took me the better part of 2 days to make just these 6! This is actually my 2nd round of tumblers - ever! (The first 3 I made are too embarassing to even look at, much less post pictures of for the whole world to see.)

They are handbuilt from 1/4" earthenware slabs using a paper pattern that I made from a standard pint glass. Fortunately, I was able to adapt my usual handbuilding techniques fairly easily for this step.

There were casualties early on, however. I lost 2 after applying a few layers of terra sigillata and saturating the bone-dry clay. This one split right down the middle - mostly along the carved lines.
I'm was already down to 4 when I had to face my real challenge. With to do with the surface??

See, none of my standard, favorite, low fire glazes are food safe. So, after exchanging a few emails with glaze guru John Britt, and running a few tests (on the broken cups I might add), I was able to come up with a solution. They're in the kiln now (glaze to cone 04) and I hope, hope, hope that I get 2 decent ones out to donate. And I only made 4 plates. So fingers crossed there too! I'll know tomorrow afternoon...

In the meantime, here's a little eye candy from the market Saturday morning. The lilies this woman had were absolutely amazing. I'd never seen so many varieties and colors!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Unsuccessful but Necessary

Well, I unloaded my work from the kiln on Monday. As usual, it takes me a few days to look at and process the work.
As soon as the work was cool, I eagerly rushed off to Lowe's to get the necessary hardware for assembly. Back in the studio, I quickly started to thread the bolts, washers and nuts into place. It didn't take long for me to realize that I was up against some serious technical difficulties! Ugh!
I had anticipated being able to tighten the hardware enough so that the pieces would stay snugly in place. This, unfortunately was not the case in 2 out of 3 new works. Even with rubber washer to help absorb the force, the ceramic pieces wanted to spin about in all directions. Great if I was making a windmill, but not so much for a stationary hybrid-flower-type form.
Though I am disappointed with the outcome of this work, I still feel it was a HUGE learning experience. And I've been able to go through that learning curve much quicker because of the focus I'm able to get during this residence.
I am reminded of a quote from the book Art and Fear - "Even the failed pieces are essential."
So, with that in mind, I'm off to the studio to make and learn more!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Field Trip - The Archie Bray Foundation

Tuesday afternoon I went to The Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT - a 2 hour drive from Missoula. I've known about The Bray (its resident artists, clay supply business, and support of for all things ceramic) for years, and was excited to get a chance to check it out.

Archie Bray Resident Artist Exhibition and 2010 Bray Benefit Auction

View outside the Warehouse Gallery

Met up with current resident artist Courtney Murphy who gave me a tour of the short-term and long-term resident studios. Courtney and I met briefly in Asheville, NC a few years ago through mutual friend and ceramic artist Cassie Ryalls. The ceramics community is amazing! If the rule of 6-degrees of separation is true normally, within ceramics I think it's more like only 3!

Long-term Resident Studios

It was also great to meet some of the other artists (Kelly Garrett Rathbone, Steven Roberts, Kensuke Yamada, Kevin Snipes, Gwendolyn, Yoppolo, Del Harrow, and Johnathan Read) and see their work in the Resident Artist Exhibition in the Warehouse Gallery. I was blown away by the quality and variety of the work!

Some of Courtney's work from the Resident Artist Exhibition.

It was a quick visit, but I'm looking forward to heading back there next Saturday, July 24 for The Bray Bash - thier annual auction and fundraiser.

From The Bray's Website:
"The Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts is a public, nonprofit, educational institution founded in 1951 by brickmaker Archie Bray, who intended it to be 'a place to make available for all who are seriously and sincerely interested in any of the branches of the ceramic arts, a fine place to work.' Its primary mission is to provide an environment that stimulates creative work in ceramics. "

View back toward the resident studios and kiln yard

If you ever get a chance to go, I highly recommend it! (And I was only there for a short visit!) In addition to offering ceramic workshops and classes, The Bray offers ten 3-4 month short-term summer artist residencies and ten 1-2 year long-term residencies.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In the kiln...

Loaded and fired an electric kiln with fellow resident Danny Crump yesterday - my first firing at The Clay Studio of Missoula. Here's a picture (pre-firing) of the various pieces and parts for three new experimental sculptures, my "warm-up" work from Monday, samples for my upcoming workshop at Arrowmont, and a couple trial plates and cups. (Plates and cups you ask?!? Yep. More about this challenge later.)
(Note: Imagine that white plaster mold isn't there for support and the pieces are bolted together.)

Tomorrow's plan - glaze, load and (hopefully) fire the kiln again. Cant wait to see some of this new work "finished." I have plans to include various glass and steel parts, so they may not be truly completed until I get back home to the studio in FL. But a trip to the hardware store for nuts and bolts is in my near future.