Sunday, September 28, 2014

More Fall Ceramics in Progress

I was disappointed to have my Wed morning ceramics course cancelled just one week before it was to begin.  However, I have been very fortunate that my family has allowed me to sneak away on Sunday afternoons to attend the open workshop, in addition to Wed afternoons.

Today I decided to try some throwing, since I haven't thrown anything since Spring, and I don't want to lose my confidence.  I still find throwing quite challenging.  In particular, I have never really learned how to center the clay.  So today I think I was spending 20 or 30 minutes centering, then 5 or 10 minutes actually throwing the piece.  At least that's what it felt like.

The first piece I threw was this little jug / vase.  I painted it with green slip, and will decorate it with sgraffito.
Ceramic stoneware jug / vase in progress, decorated in slip in preparation for sgraffito

The second one I struggled with, trying to create a two-walled vase.  I have been inspired by some young ceramic artists on Instagram who throw two-walled vessels, and carve the outer part.  It didn't turn out anything like I had imagined, since the outside part went out of balance, and I had to cut it down a couple of times, and then I didn't have enough clay to get any height out of it.  But I should be able to make a few cuts into the outer part.  We'll see.
Double-walled vase in progress, prior to carving

The final one was prompted by one of the other potters today, saying that she was making a jewelry container.  I remembered that I wanted to make a container as a structure to hold some beads / pendants while firing.  I plan to poke some holes in it, and buy some high temperature wire to hang them on.  You'll see.  I guess I didn't take time to snap a photo of the leaf beads/pendants I just sent to the bisque.
Plain cylindrical thrown ceramic container

After 2 hours, I was exhausted from throwing, and spent the remaining 2 hours cleaning up bottoms and edges of some of the platters and bowls I started the past 2 sessions.  I painted the Davidii leaves in one of my bowls, using Green slip.  I think the effect could be pretty good.  It almost looks like just painted the leaves onto the bowl, but the texture of the leaves still shows through.
Handmade ceramic bowl in progress with davidii leaves painted in slip

I should have paused to take a photo of the two rectangular platters I sent to the bisque, decorated by rollers and stamps.  They look really good.  I hope they don't go missing like one of the previous rolled/stamped rectangular platters I sent to the bisque.

The ceramics sessions are great therapy for me.  On one hand, I am continually challenged, and making mistakes, and learning lots.  On the other hand, the creativity and decorating and bringing pieces to life feels so natural for me.  I wish I could spend more and more of my time creating the ceramics.  I guess at some point it would depend on whether I am creating anything which other people would truly enjoy.  So far, I have been quite encouraged by the feedback I have received, so that tells me that it's at least not a waste of my time.

I am still reveling in the sight of my sea dragon on display in the student exhibit.  I have visited her a number of times, including with the family (they were at Shadbolt for music lessons).  She looks so good there :
My ceramic sea dragon / ogopogo on student display at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts
My ceramic sea dragon / ogopogo on display at Shadbolt Center for the Arts

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Ceramics in Progress

I wasn't sure I would go to the ceramics drop-in workshop today, but after a frustrating morning, I was glad I did.  There were not too many people, so I was able to focus, and make some really good progress on more new pieces.  Although I ended up rushing at the end, I took a few moments to take some photos while I worked.

These are two bowls I started on Sunday.  The bowl at top with 3 Davidii leaf impressions, just needed some cleaning up the rim.  Otherwise it is ready to go to bisque firing.  The sunflower leaf bowl at bottom is the piece which cracked a few times, and I patched it up.  So I'll see if it survives the bisque firing.

In the meantime, I made 3 more today, so out of all 4, then at least some of them should survive.  This time, I shaved the big central vein so it wouldn't split the dish.

I touched up and finished my strawberry dish from last session :

While the Davidii tree still has leaves on it, I decided to make a second bowl with the leaf imprints.  This one is splattered with Brown slip, and has a rolled under rim, not exactly a hollow rim, but something like it.  By the end of today's class, I was able to take it out of the mold, but set it in the cellar to dry upside down.  I've made the mistake previously of turning a bowl upright, and having it flop.  So this time, I may have learned from that mistake.  :-)
Instead I made a *different* mistake with this bowl.  The sun was coming through the window, so I decided to set the bowl in the mold, onto the wheel, turning at low speed, so it would dry evenly.  I set it down on the wheel, and then plugged in and started the wheel.  But instead of placing the pedal on the ground, I tried to press the pedal with my hand, and it was stiff, so when I pressed it, it started at high speed, sending the piece flying through the air.  I reached out to catch it, poking 3 fingers through the bowl.  Having already pretty much finished the bowl, I decided to patch it up and save it.  Here it is after the patching :

Then I started this funky little bowl, which may or may not survive the bisque either, but I sure hope it does :

Monday, September 22, 2014

Shadow Splash in Student Ceramics Exhibit

Shadow Splash on display in the main floor atrium of Shadbolt Center for the Arts in Burnaby BC.  I dropped by to visit her tonight, and take a few photos.  The lighting was not good, but here are some of the photos anyhow.
 She doesn't look happy to be in such a small little case, but I'm so proud of her.
There were not too many people looking at the display tonight, but there will be lots of people expected for the Culture Days festival on Friday and Saturday.
She is in great company, with the 5 other cases displaying the works of some very talented students and instructors from the ceramics program.
I took photos of many of them, too, but my photos don't do them justice.  I'll only point out that there is another dragon nearby, from the talented Sharon Reay, a collaborative piece with ceramic artist and instructor Linda Doherty, fired in the wood kiln.  Much more beautiful than this photo indicates :
Look at a closeup of this little dragon:
Poor little guy looks even sadder than Shadow.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ups and Downs

This week was a mix of good and bad news, in the ceramics part of my world.

I was phoned Wednesday, only 1 week before my class was scheduled to start, and after two months of waiting, the news was that the class was cancelled due to lack of enrollment.  That was a big disappointment for me, since I've taken Wednesdays off work, to do ceramics.  Even if I could switch to another day (and rearrange my schedule at work) - the class I would love to take is Tuesdays - then I wouldn't be able to do both the class and drop-in session.

The good news is that I've signed up for January already, and the class is all about building bird baths and other items for the garden, which is PERFECT for me.  So in the meantime, I'm a little unsure of how I'll proceed, whether I'll still do the open workshop drop-ins on Wednesday afternoons, or possibly enjoy some Sunday afternoons, if my family will let me.

On the happy side, I delivered Shadow Splash to the Shadbolt Center today, she'll be on display as part of a ceramics student exhibit there.  I'm so happy.  I'll be happier once I see her there.  I'll be sure to take photos, and let all my friends and family know!

Today since I needed to deliver her anyhow, I stayed for the 4 hour open workshop, and managed to start and pretty much finish quite a number of pieces.  There were only a few people there, and I kept my head down and focused.  I made 2 bowls with leaf impressions - 1 with strawberry leaves, the other with my beloved Davidii involucrata (dove tree) leaves.  Then a rectangular plate with stamps and rollers (like the one which disappeared during the summer session - see the first photo in this post).  I also made a few leaf cutouts (trying out some new stamps/cookie cutters I bought online from China), some with a hole so they could be used as charms/pendants, and some little "fossil" fragments, using my fossil stamps.  Then a bowl made from a sunflower leaf.

As always, I learned from my mistakes.  Today the sunflower leaf bowl proved to be a challenge for me.  I should have shaved the deep vein in the middle before pressing it, since that large groove became the weak point, and the bowl started breaking down the middle several times during construction.  I don't know that it will even make it to the bisque, since it seemed to be breaking again as I carried it into the cellar.  If not, at least I know how to make it next time.

I was so focused today, I didn't even take any photos.  Now I wish I had.  So hopefully I will go back soon, and check on my items, as well as on my sweet Shadow Splash.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Shadow Splash in "Water"

Poor Shadow Splash, my ceramic sea dragon, has been sitting on my kitchen island since I finished her, waiting for me to buy colored glass, and build her a "pond" in the garden to swim in.  I finally bought the glass last week, but now that it's September, I will at least wait until Spring before sending her outside.  So in the meantime, I bought her some material which looks a bit like water, for an indoor display.
She looks happy in the "water", doesn't she?
Those first two photos were touched up on a primitive editor, with a mouse that skipped too many times, but I wanted to remove my kitchen island from the photo.  I didn't spend the extra time on these ones :