Saturday, March 10, 2018

More Finished Items from this Winter Session

We finally got a bit of sun, so I could take some photos in natural light.  Although it was still not bright enough, so most of them needed a bit of digital brightening.

First, I'll start with my 3 sea-themed lidded trinket boxes, from my course last Fall with Fredi, focusing on lidded vessels.  I was really pleased how this set worked out, and the glazes finally worked for me rather than against me.  I think my experimenting and detailed note-taking is finally paying off.

11) This octopus vessel is my favorite, and a few people have expressed interest in him already.  As with all 3 boxes, it was formed from a Willamette Yellow clay which was extruded or slab rolled.  It was quite a process, building the box, but by the third one I had fallen into a rhythm, and was really enjoying the process, even though quite time-consuming.  I'm very happy with the fit of the lid on all of them, it feels like a good quality fit, even though the box is naturally a bit off-square. The octopus was hand built using Little John clay.

The box is glazed inside and out with Bamboo, which is my favorite glaze at the moment for the iron rich clays.  The octopus was glazed by brush, four layers.  Then waxed by brush before dipping the piece in Bamboo.  Very time consuming.  It is the new Flambe glaze, with Deep Blue glaze accents.  I really like the color variations.  Too bad it doesn't show well in the photos.  And the eyes turned out really intense.  Quite stern, and it looks like he really is looking back at you.

12) The starfish also worked out really well.  It is again Deep Blue accents on top of Flambe, hand brushed and waxed.  I really like how the texture shows through the Flambe, which is white in spots. It really looks like the starfish is gripping onto the box, and it makes a great handle for picking up the lid.

13) The seahorse is really cute.  I like how the colors and visual texture on this one turned out also.  It is Ash Yellow glaze, with Khaki accents.

14) I think this piece would make a nice footed cake stand.  I started out making regular plates, but had in my mind to elevate one of them, and chose this one since it was a very large size (finished diameter is over 10").  So I fluted the edges and added the pedestal.  The glazes are white (all over) and then dips on the outside with Daly Blue.  I really like the soft blue color, and the purple edge that forms between the white and blue.

15) This one is also a footed plate thrown from 1700g of Columbia Buff w/ Grog clay, but it was a bit too flat to start out with, so it has drooped a bit on the edges.  Still functional, but funky.  I poked holes in it, as a possible piece for the pine needle weaving workshop, but didn't get it back in time.  But I still plan to do some weaving on it one day, when I figure out what types of branches / materials would be suitable.  My notes say that I dipped it in White and Daly Blue, but I'm pretty sure this is just Daly Blue with no White (otherwise I'd see the telltale purple color instead).  The Daly Blue is quite fluid, so those concentric ridges in the center show beautifully.

16) This plate was also thrown from 1700g of Columbia Buff w/Grog clay.  It is very rustic, with a sun pattern carved in the center, and is glazed in Ash Yellow with blotches of Khaki, and a highlight of Deep Blue on the back and edge of the rim.  It has a double concentric ring foot, and a really reasonable weight (some of my other plates are still a bit heavy for everyday use).  I am loving this result, and hope to make more variations on this theme.

17) This little mug was thrown from 700g of H440 brown clay.  Then I added a white slip ("Arlynn's") around the belly.  It is glazed with Ash Yellow, with Deep Blue drips from the rim.  It has a wiggle wire bottom, and a really nice weight to it.  I'm very pleased with the result, and it will make a good companion to someone.

For the first two ammonite wall hangings which I made in Tanis Saxby's porcelain course, I decided to apply a thick layer of stain, as I know from experience (do you remember Sedna, who went to live with my friend Miranda?) that the iron oxide will result in a metallic finish, much like an ammonite fossil which has been pyritized.

When I went to finish the first one, there was no Red Iron Oxide left in the container, so I used the Kingsmill Wash, which is based on an oxide stain, with some other ingredients added.  So I used the Kingsmill for one, and Iron Oxide for the other, so I could compare the results.
18) This one is my first ammonite, finished in the Iron Oxide.  It shows a few spots of brown where the Oxide was not as thick, and I like that variation.  I also love the "crud" which has collected toward the center of the whorls.  It is a beautiful shiny silvery finish.

19) This is the second ammonite, finished in the Kingsmill Wash.  It is also shiny, but a bit darker.  I really like the result also.  I think it will be an interesting challenge for me to finish each one differently, and if all goes well, I plan to use them to decorate the remaining blank wall in my office.  it will be quite a statement.

20) Returning to plates, next to that rustic sunshine plate, this is my next favourite.  It is thrown from 1800g of reclaimed B-Mix clay, with a pinched double rim (nice!), a spiral carved in the center, and a hand stamped border.  I used Black Stain to accent the stamp pattern, and then dipped it in Daly Blue, overlapping at the center.  Where it overlapped, the blue is richer.  It is a beautiful color, and nice result.

21) This plate was also thrown from B-Mix, hand stamped, and a spiral added at the center.  It was dipped in White and then overlapping Daly Blue, which produced the purple which I was hoping for.  At the back, I did a bit of chattering when trimming, which shows through the glaze, but doesn't show in these photos.

22) This plate was thrown from 1600g of B-Mix clay, and decorated with one of my handmade stamps.  My notes for glazing say "White + Daly Blue + Flambe".  So looking at it, I dipped the whole thing in White, then added Daly Blue in the center (which is why it is a mix of blue and purple), and then I highlighted the stamps (which look like flames to me) with Flambe.  The Flambe can range from white to red, so I'm happy I got a bit of red, but I would have perhaps liked a bit more red.  More of an "interesting" result than a "beautiful" result, but at least it's "unique".  :-)

23) I wasn't sure what I thought of this one when I picked it up, but it's starting to grow on me.  I love the matte and rustic bronze/yellow color, and the texture of the stamps, and that gorgeous three-ringed foot, but I wasn't sure about that screaming blue center.  But the more I look at it, the more I am enjoying that surprise center.  The plate was thrown from 2100g of B-Mix clay, and glazed in Ash Yellow and then highlighted in Deep Blue (with a few rings of of Ash Yellow where I rubbed off the Blue, as I had initially added too much to the center).  The handmade stamps hint at fossils, which complements that color and rustic look, I think.  The back features a lot of chattering marks, which show through the Ash Yellow glaze, and are even apparent in the photo (bottom left).

24) And for my last piece today, this mug was thrown from 700g of B-Mix clay, and features a wiggle wire bottom, and since it just seemed to "boring" to me, a little snail is gliding across the top of the handle.  I'm so happy he made it through 2 firings with his eyes intact.  It is dipped in Bamboo, and then Daly Blue across part of the mug.  But in this case, the Daly Blue seems to have almost disappeared into the Bamboo, leaving only a trace, which seems more purple than blue.  So this is probably not a glaze combination I will try again, at least not on a white clay.

I know I still have more pieces I haven't photographed, and I hope to pick up more tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Pine (and Cedar) Weaving Course

We were so fortunate that Linda's sister, Lynette, was willing to share her pine needle weaving (coiling) techniques with us.  My friend Roma arranged for the course, and her son paid for Lynette's flight from Fort Nelson, to be with us for the weekend.  What an amazing weekend it was.

I hope they don't mind posting a photo of Lynette and Linda, who started with a slide show of how their collaboration started 12 years ago, and a sampling of the wonderful work which they have created together.

We were asked to make some pots with holes in the rim, for weaving, but due to the short timeframe, most of us didn't have much chance to make our own pots.  So Linda graciously made a set of pots which we could work with, and they supplied us with the Ponderosa Pine needles and sinew (for the stitching/coiling), and other supplies.

This is a shot of some of the work which our class produced this weekend.  It was really fun that although we started with a very similar base, each person put a unique twist on their work, some embellishing with beads, others with handles or other decorations. 

I had prepared my raku pots with really large holes, and I soon realized that the scale of the pots, and the dark colors, didn't suit the pine needles.  They could be stained, but I still think they didn't suit the scale and boldness of the pots.  So I was very pleased when my friend Robin found some cedar branches outside, and started weaving them into her pot.

Here is the class photo with the big cedar pieces added in :

The next day, I went out collecting cedar branches which had fallen in a nearby park, even through two flurries of hail :

I was really pleased with how this cedar, and a black hemp cord, looked with my raku pots:

I finished the lidded pot from Linda, and this cedar pot, in class, and brought home a little platter to finish up on Sunday night.  So these are the three finished pieces I ended up with from the weekend :

...with a closeup of the lidded pot :

...and of the little platter (with handles that look a bit too big, when I look at them now) :
It was such much fun to spend the weekend creating, with a great group of friends and fellow creative people.  My hands were a bit cramped the next day at work, but it was so worth it.

So Much Pottery Going On

I have been blessed recently with lots of pottery activities.  The recent raku firing, and then the pine needle weaving course this past weekend, and lots of finished work coming out of the gas kiln.

Today was my last day for pottery before Spring Break.  So I was happy that I glazed nearly all my remaining items, and then created this beautiful garden sphere :
I've been thinking about making a shape like this for a long time, which is why I made hemispherical clay mould, in which I could build it.  And the fossil shell is also a spring mold which I made a while back.  It worked out pretty much as I had hoped.  We'll see if it dries and then makes it through the two firings okay.  It has a hole in it, so if I put it in the garden, I can set it on a short post / rebar, to keep it from rolling.  If I make more of them, I'd be tempted to make two holes, and add them to a garden totem.  I think that would look really good.

Once I get some good lighting, I want to take better photos of the three sea themed trinket boxes which came out of the kiln today.  They turned out exceptionally well, and this is one of the first times the glazes turned out as well or better than I had hoped.

Here is the batch that came out today :
There were a lot of good pieces in this batch.  I can't wait until I have a chance to do them justice with proper photos.

The bowl at the bottom right, with the blue and white glazes, is part of my set of 4 nesting bowls.  Unfortunately, the other 3 didn't make it into the kiln at the same time.  So hopefully they will make it into the next firing, and I can pick them up this weekend.  I'm really pleased with how the glaze worked out on this one.

As for the pine needle weaving, I think I'll close off this post, and give it its own post, as it deserves.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Finished Items : Plates and Mugs and Such

I've fallen behind in posting lately, due to a combination of having a particularly busy life at the moment, and being too tired at night to post, and the weather being very dark, so I am finding it hard to take photos with any decent lighting.  But enough excuses, I brought some finished pieces home recently, and will post a few, since I hope to be picking up more this coming weekend.

Let's start with some plates :
1) This plate was thrown from 1700g of BMix clay, and textured with my handmade stamps.  The stamps were highlighted in Deep Blue glaze, before dipping in White and Daly Blue glaze.  I am liking the soft purple which results from the overlap, and will have some upcoming pieces featuring more of this glaze combination.

2) This plate was thrown from 1900g of BMix clay, and carved to give it that rough texture.  It is glazed in Amber Celadon and Deep Blue glazes.  I like this strong glaze combination, although the visual texture comes through so much more on the Amber Celadon side.

3) This cute little mug was thrown from 700g of H440 clay, and decorated with one of my handmade stamps, to which I added white slip dots.  It features a wiggle wire cut bottom, and is glazed inside and on half the outside with Bamboo glaze, and then dipped halfway into Daly Blue glaze. 

4) I'm not sure if I should call this big boy a mug or a soup bowl, or what.  It was thrown from 900g of H440 clay, and since it was so large, I gave it two handles.  It also features a wiggle wire cut bottom, and my notes indicate that I glazed the bottom part of the mug in White glaze, then Matt Green, and used Deep Blue on the inside and top.  But I hardly see any White at all.  That H440 clay is quite dark and speckly.

5) This little guinomi or sake or whiskey cup, was thrown from BMix clay, and then while soft, I pressed into it trimmings of Willamette Yellow clay.  For the most part, the trimmings stayed.  Although if I tried this another time, I think I would add some slip before pressing in the trimmings.  It is glazed in Malcolm Davis Carbon Trap Shino.  Shino is a difficult and unpredictable glaze, but this time it really performed.  I love the contrast between the deep orange inside and at the foot, and the creamy light outside, and the almost metallic rich brown/gold highlights on the iron-rich trimmings.

6) This lidded jar was thrown from H440 brown clay (1300g for the body, and 700g for the lid) and decorated with handmade stamps, and roughly brushed BMix slip.  I threw it back in October 2017, but I was saving it, waiting on the Daly Blue glaze becoming available, and also toying with the idea of saving it for a soda firing.  So I've finally glazed it in the Daly Blue, both inside and out.  I am very pleased with how it turned out.

7) This set of stacking containers with lid, was also created back in November 2017.  It was built from slabs and extruded Willamette Yellow clay.  It is unglazed outside, displaying the natural beauty and brown colour of the clay.  On the insides, it is glazed in Bamboo, which has become one of my favourite glazes over the darker clays.  Each side is stamped with a different handmade stamp, and the impressions are glazed to highlight them : the trees in Matt Green (with stars in Bamboo), the swirls in Deep Blue, the celtic knots in Daly Blue, and the sun in Bamboo.  The branch on top was darkened with Kingsmill Wash, which I applied and then sponged off, to leave the stain in the crevices.

8) These are two hydrangea leaf plates, formed from BMix clay back in November, when we still had leaves available.  The larger one features two ladybugs, and the smaller one only one ladybug.  They were glazed in Tam's Green, which is a very natural leaf colour, and also shows the texture beautifully.  The ladybugs are detailed in Red and Black underglazes, and then glazed in Clear.  The are time consuming but very satisfying to me.

9) These two BMix plates are formed from leaves of my beloved Davidii involucrata (dove or handkerchief) tree.  They each feature two ladybugs, and are glazed in Tam's Green.

10) When the weather improves, I can't wait to get outside and build another totem from all the pieces I've been assembling throughout the winter.  These are two more leaves for my totem, both glazed in Tam's Green.  The one on the left with rounder edges is from a fig tree.  The one of right with the pointy leaves, is from an oakleaf hydrangea.  I only added one ladybug to this set.

That's it for photos.  I hope to post more as soon as I find suitable conditions, and am not too busy.

I also just finished a raku firing on the weekend, and I hope to get better photos of these soon, but here is a quick shot of the four pieces I fired :
I hope to start some pine needle weaving on at least one of them this weekend, as I will be attending a weekend class with Lynette, Linda Doherty's sister, who does some beautiful pine needle weaving in collaboration with Linda (who makes the pottery).  I am excited for this opportunity.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Plates and Ammonites

I am sore and tired from being in the studio all day today, but very happy with how all my pieces are progressing.

I finished all 5 plates now.  When I made some plates previously, they ended up a little thicker and heavier than I had liked.  But Fredi challenged me to take them off the wheel, check the thickness, and put them back on to trim more if they were not done.  So I did that.  One plate, I ended up centering and trimming 4 times, but in the end, I am very pleased with the results.

I added a handle to my mug, but it was too ordinary for me, so I added a little snail on the rim.  Poor little guy, I think one day he will have his eyes snapped off, but hopefully not any time soon.

Fredi showed us how to chatter with a specialized tool, and also just with a metal rib.  I didn't realize I could do that with my metal rib.  So now all the latest plates feature chattering marks.  Most of them my signature multiple ring foot (Fredi called it a bulls-eye pattern).  Even though it will make them a bit heavy bottomed, I really love the look of that foot.

I finished up the texturing of my first ammonite.  I also added a couple of lugs at the back for hanging it.  I think it could turn out quite well.  I'm actually quite excited about this one.  And I still have the big one to finish also.  I'm not so sure about that middle one, I may finish it or not, depending on what else I have going on.

Toward the end of the day, I decided to try to make some penguins, for the raku firing which will be end of February, so I should have some pieces ready for it soon.  Since the photo, I flattened out the neck of that penguin on the left, so it doesn't balloon out anymore.  They could end up okay.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Back in the Studio

I had my first class of both courses this week.  The Sunday course on "Sets and Settings" with Fredi Rahn, and the Wednesday Porcelain course with Tanis Saxby.  I'm soooo excited and relieved to be back in the studio.  It was really difficult being locked out for the past couple of months.

In Fredi's class, I got off to a good start by throwing 5 plates.  I did a bit of stamping on them today, and trimmed two of them (although I needed to force them with a hair dryer, and even then the clay was so soft and sticky that the trimmings kept getting stuck on the plate, and I dented the rims a couple of times trying to handle them).  Here are a couple of the stamped plates :

I don't know why the photo quality is so poor, but anyhow, after taking this photo, I decided to trim a swirl into the plate on top also, and it looks even better now.  All my plates feature my hand made stamps, which I am enjoying very much.

This one I went a bit crazy with on the stamping, but I am fairly pleased with the result, even if a bit busy.

These floral stamps have really served me well.

I have a final plate which was too damp to stamp today.  I also have a very beautiful hump mould which I threw in clay, and need to carve out once a bit dryer.  I can't wait to get that bisque and into action.  And the final piece from Sunday was a mug that I threw, which needs to be cleaned up / trimmed and a handle attached.

Tanis encouraged us to think of a form today that we would want to create, and encouraged us to try several attempts at it, learning from each, until we got something we were happy with.  Anyhow, one of my thoughts is a wall-gripping dragon, but I don't think that will be a porcelain project, I'll eventually make one in sculptural clay.  So my next thought was the ammonite shape which has haunted me for a long time now, and I keep saving screenshots of them on Instagram.  Such as this one :
So today I made three different attempts, each one trying a slightly different approach.  All need to firm up before I do more work on them, but I can decide next week if I want to continue with all 3, or just pick my favourite one, and work with that.  So here they are :

The first attempt, was to lay a slab on the wheel, and draw the spiral (while the wheel was turning), and then shape the slab.  I ended up putting some plastic wadding in the outer spiral, to give it that round shape.  But it was pretty difficult/impossible to wad the inner part of the spiral, so I will just carve / press that part.  This approach showed some promised, but I decided I may be able to improve on it :

Here, the first attempt is shown at the front / bottom, and I've started to work on adding the texture.  The second attempt (behind / above) was to lay a slab, draw out the spiral, and then add extra clay to provide the rounding.  But that was a bit time consuming to smooth and round the clay.  And the center was still pretty flat, as I wasn't sure I wanted to continue adding smaller and smaller coils there.  When it is firm I would carve out  some of the excess clay from the back, at least in the outer part of the spiral.

My third thought and approach was to throw a big slab of clay on the wheel (I needed to borrow an extra large bat for this one), and shape it the thickness I wanted, before drawing the spiral :
So far this one feels the most promising, as I have a wonderful curved shape to work with, and a nice thickness of clay (again, I will carve out the excess later).

So these are the three attempts.  Not bad for one class.  I look forward to playing with any or all of them next time, learning improvements to my process as I go along.

If I can, I will add some holes for potentially hanging these.  Likely inside the first spiral, so they are not visible from the outside.  That should be nice.  I'm excited.  This is a really nice project for me.

When I have a chance, I'll post photos of a few items which I picked up Sunday, as they were stuck in the cage over the break.  Most of them totem pieces, and leaf with ladybug plates.  But a few other items also.