Saturday, January 26, 2008


What you have to be ready to deal with in making pottery is that every process is fraught with potential risks as I am learning all too well. The base of my sculpture with its final glaze did not make it through the final firing intact. The tip of a leaf broke off in the kiln and fused itself to the base. So I had to make another base piece which is now awaiting bisque firing. The flowers (darn it, I forgot to take pictures of them all lined up on the final glaze firing shelf), are ready to go into final glaze kiln though and I am hoping eventually, this all will come together without hazard.
In the meantime, I have been asked by a friend of mine --Camie Marion,to make some "kitty banks" for a fund raising effort by the Feral Friends of the Sandhills. I have come up with a unique design and after total failure on my first try, have managed to produce a prototype which is currently awaiting bisque firing. I will then use my screenprint technique to finish, then clear glaze these to be used by the group. They have ordered 50 of them, so upon my return (short trip away this week), I will be finishing up my donation piece for the foundation and starting on the commission for the 50 "kitty banks."
Here is a look of prototype in process:

Camie Marion by the way, when she is not donating time to her animals and animal rescue and suppport efforts, does wonderful pet (and other) portraits and paintings--check out her new website when you have time here

I spent yesterday making forms for the kitty banks so that I can produce more than one at a time, otherwise, it would take me months to get 50 done. I will start on this when I get back. I also have lots of ideas to expand this basic form into other interesting items.

In the meantime, I will give a class on what I have learned about screenprinting on clay on February 9th, and I have created this piece as an example of what can be done. I will do another and take more care in the design/etc, but this was done in a hurry. This picture shows what it looks like coming out of the bisque kiln, it has since been clear glazed and is also awaiting final bisque firing:

Also, produced another little lamb to face the first one I made behind my range:

More on all this when I return!

Monday, January 21, 2008

The pottery continues

Well, I really meant to post something for Christmas, but the whole holiday zipped by me so quickly, I didn't get around to it. I did manage to decorate the house and tree but less so than last year, but in the end, quite enough since holiday decorating follows the rule of gravity, what goes up must come down.

I have been spending every spare moment at the pottery studio. Yes, I am immersed in my newest hobby trying to learn more and create unique pieces. I blythely volunteered to donate a ceramic item for a silent auction to raise funds for a local charity. I envisioned an unusual piece, but am taking quite a risk trying to produce it for the auction, never having done one, or anything like it before! But that is part of my personality and hey, if it doesn't work, nothing really terrible happens. I had to write up a description for the item to put in the print materials that are being created for the Gala event at which the silent auction will be held. Talk about pressure huh? Especially since the piece has not been finished. I was a little heady with excitement when the first phase progressed rather well. That is the base with the stems. By the way, here is the description I wrote up for the piece:

"This unique ceramic sculpture incorporates the artist's love of all things botanical, and the desire for combination of both art and function whenever possible. The sculpture is the artist's original design and was constructed from a blend of stoneware and porcelain clay using slab handbuilding techniques. When glazed with clear coat, the clay body results in a creamware that fits in any decor. The design was inspired by the unusual stems of the Amaryllis plant. This dramatic sculpture is useful as a vase since each of the ceramic stems will hold water and showcase your favorite "real" flowers which become all the more dramatic against the creamware finish. When not displaying live flowers and/or foliage, separate removeable ceramic flowers fabricated from the same clay body and clear glazed, can be inserted into each stem."

The base piece with the stems is in the final glaze kiln now and will come out on Tuesday. Here is a photo of it covered with glaze awaiting firing:

As you can read from the description, I wanted amaryllis-like ceramic flowers to be inserted into those tubes when they are not being used to hold water and "real" flowers. Creating the flowers and thinking about getting them into and out of all the processes safely has been a huge challenge, but I have made several of them, after finally figuring out a technique that would work (or should I say "might work"). At any rate, I think I see the light at the end of this tunnel. While pondering exactly how to make those danged flowers, I created a few other pieces to keep my hand busy. Here is my little lamb inspired by the tea towel (now I must make another one facing in the other direction to go behind my kitchen stove, and some sort of little ceramic wonky house to be in the middle I think):

And while the flower challenge was churning back in the brain cells, I thought I would make two wall vases to hang over my fireplace. I had thrown and altered (that's a funny word used to describe something you do to a thrown piece deliberately to make it look "not thrown", but I must come clean and say that this piece flopped and I just rearranged the floppy pieces to create this cute little "whatever.") But I purchased two commercial glazes that I tried on this piece shown below, and loved it, so hence the more aggressive project, large wall vases, handbuilt, not thrown to be glazed similarly to this piece:

So the vase will be coming out of bisque kiln and glazed like the above piece (green on outside and inside the honey color with the ruffley bit done also in the honey.

If this piece works I will attempt to make another one just like it, or close so I can have the pair I had originally envisioned. I can see it with long branches sticking out of it on each side of the painting above the fireplace.

So kids, you can see I am busy ---perhaps not focused, but having fun with all of this with hundreds more ideas playing around in my head. I am also scheduled to give a class on screenprinting on ceramic on February 9th. I have experimented a whole lot with this technique and am ready to share what I have learned and also to put the technique to some interesting projects.
By for now!