Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hatching Dragon

In the recent soda firing, Sharon Reay had two dragons hatching from their eggs.  I realized that a hatching dragon would be a perfect addition to my dragon collection, so I asked if she would be willing to sell one to me.  She wasn't ready yet.  I don't blame her.  I'd want to enjoy them a bit longer, take photos, etc.  But since then, I've had hatching dragons on my mind, so tonight I decided to try my hand at it, and this is the result.  I was able to create most of it while waiting for a banana / blueberry loaf in the oven (which took over an hour to bake) :
Dragon hatching from egg, pottery/ceramic, in progress, by Lily L.
I'm pretty happy with the result.  The dragon was created from Little John clay, and I had planned to switch over to a white clay for the egg, since I want a pretty white glaze (Sharon had used the Cobra glaze which provides a beautiful crackle effect).  But I'll figure something out, even if it's using a fairly heavy coat of white glaze.  Doesn't matter anyhow, since I have a feeling this may not be the last hatching dragon I will be making.  Here are a few more angles :
Hatching ceramic dragon, in progress, by Lily L.
Hatching ceramic dragon, in progress, by Lily L.
Hatching ceramic dragon, in progress, by Lily L.
I'm pretty happy with this first attempt.  I learned lots, and I'm sure the next one will be even better.  In the meantime, it looks like my kitchen counter (good thing we have a very large island) will not be cleared off for some while.  I guess that may be the new state of being until the studio opens again in late September.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Photos of Finished Porcelain Sculptures

I recently picked up 3 of the 4 pieces from my porcelain workshop with  Tanis Saxby.  I finally took a few photos today, while it was bright.  Although the photos turned out pretty dark, and I'm too lazy to adjust the brightness through editing.

Porcelain Tanis Saxby inspired sculptural bowl by Lily L.
This is the biggest piece, and the first one I created.  It started as a thrown bowl, which I then deformed and shaped into what I consider a floral shape, although it was interesting that someone in my class thought it looked like something from the ocean.  I'm pretty pleased.  Originally it was going to be a wall hanging, but I didn't figure out the logistics of how to hang it, and anyhow, I think the interest is mainly from the open side, so I think it would be better to sit on a low table, where it can be viewed from all sides.

Small porcelain Tanis Saxby inspired sculptural bowl by Lily L.
I threw a few small bowls, to make the center ball for my bigger pieces.  This was one of the extra  bowls, which I deformed into a pleasant shape. 

Small unglazed porcelain bowl by Lily L.
This was also an extra "center" bowl, which I let firm up for some while.  I could have wet it to deform it, but I instead just did a bit of decorative carving, and left it as a small bowl.

All three pieces were fired to cone 6, and unglazed.  As I mentioned before, I am a bit disappointed with the off-white colour, but they are still quite pleasant.  Although I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be top sellers if I had to sell my pottery to make a living.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Finished Items from my First Soda Firing

I enjoyed and learned a lot at this first soda firing.  I look forward to the next opportunity, whenever that will be.

Here I am at the soda kiln, before the unloading.
So many treasures and surprises waiting inside.

Here are my pieces, with my notes so I'll remember what I did to achieve the results, even though I know I will never be able to reproduce any of them exactly.  But it's a great learning process.

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
1) This is one of the pieces from my collaboration with Fredi, so it is a delightfully light piece, thrown from B-Mix clay and altered.  On the outside, it was dipped in Jane Hamlyn Blue slip, and then the smooth bulgy part into Gordon's #3 slip.  Then I sprayed a bit of titanium dioxide on the Jane Hamlyn Blue, so that I would get some green.  The inside is glazed with Robin's Clear glaze.  I like how there is blue dripping inside the mouth of the vessel.  It is very shiny, almost metallic.  Not what I had imagined or planned, but I'm okay with it overall.

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
2) Another one of my Fredi collab pieces, this one is a sweet shape and also very light.  I stained it with "Garbage" stain (a mixture of recycled oxides or stains), and wiped it off with a sponge, so the stain was left only in the indents.  The gloss is from the soda.  It is glazed with Shadbolt Tenmoku inside and on the rim and handle.  I like the bit of brown which shows on some of the leaves, otherwise I don't find that the leaf pattern stands out enough for me.  I think I prefer the stained and unglazed look of the previous leaf imprint vessels.

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
3) I wasn't going to put both of my leaf imprint vessels into the soda firing, but I found out that 2 cubic feet was a bit larger than I thought, so I put them one in also.  It was stained with Black stain and wiped off, and again, it is the soda which has glazed the sides, making them smooth and glossy.  It is also glazed with Tenmoku inside and on the neck.

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
4) This was one of my twisty pots from back in February 2016.  I had held back a couple of them, trying to figure out different methods of glazing, staining, and otherwise finishing them.  This one was thrown from 2600 g of yellow clay, so a very dark clay (which turns a milk chocolate colour in the cone 10 firing).  I applied Goldart slip to the outside, and rubbed a bit of it off with a sponge.  The inside is glazed with John's Tenmoku.  I like the outcome, although I'm not sure I like the gloss on it.  I think a matte finish would be more suited to the rugged shape and texture of it.

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
5) Again, I wasn't planning to put both into the soda firing, but I had room in my allotment, so in it went.  This one was formed from 3500 g of yellow clay, with black and turquoise slips applied (although I think only the black is still visible, the turquoise is completely invisible).  I sprayed two of the twisty panels with Helmer's flashing slip, and left the other two bare (although I can't see the difference in the finished piece).  Inside is glazed with Shadbolt Tenmoku.

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
6) This bowl was formed from coils / chunks of red clay back in May 2016.  I dipped the whole thing in Gordon's #3 flashing slip, and then brushed it with Tesha glaze inside.  The Gordon's #3 can have a nice variation from green to brown, but I suspect my red clay was too iron-rich, and attracted lots of soda, so I ended up with this dark brooding colour.  I'm not fond of the colour or finish, but at least the bowl feels very functional.  I would have otherwise been inclined to leave it very rough on the outside, but then it would not be practical for washing.

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
7) This one was another of the coil-formed bowls from May 2016.  It was formed from red and recycled (which is mostly grey) clay.  I applied Black stain to highlight the texture of the seashells, but otherwise the finish is from the soda.  The inside and rim is Yellow Salt glaze, which I believe I brushed on, since I was not having particularly good success that day with pouring out glazes and not spilling or splashing all over.  I'm generally liking it, although it is a bit too dark for my tastes.

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
8) This is the final coil formed bowl from May 2016.  It was formed by coils of red and recycled clay.  I applied "Garbage" stain to highlight the textures , and then dipped the whole thing in Mansfield Celadon glaze.  I like that there are some variations in colour between the different coils, although not as much as I would have liked.  But overall the colour is pleasant to me.  It's a fun and funky little bowl.

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
9) This sweet little cup / bowl / vessel is one of my two favourites from this soda firing.  It was 800 g of P570 white clay, with a white slip-trailed pattern.  It is Malcolm Davis outside (dipped, I guess), but it doesn't really show the green to brown variation which I had hoped.  It shows a beige to brown variation.  Although that is quite pleasant, and I'm glad the texture of the slip contrasts nicely.  The inside and rim is Tesha glaze, so there is some rich rusty redness inside (couldn't get a good photo).

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
10) I love this little tea cup / yunomi cup.  It started as 500g of P570 white clay which I poked with a poking stick.  I glazed it with Robin's Clear glaze inside and on the portion of the outside which is above the poking pattern.  I applied the Cobra slip/shino to the area below the poking pattern.  I really love that crackly texture, with the brown of the soda showing through between.  If and when I do another soda firing, I want to experiment with Cobra a lot more.  I love the colour variations on this little piece : greys, whites, creams, reddish-browns.  It is quite light and even with the visual texture, not unpleasant to hold in the hand.

Soda fired pottery by Lily L.
11) I quite like the effects on this little tea cup also.  I think the soda firing gave me more colour variations than I would have gotten from a regular cone 10 gas firing.  It was also formed from 500 g of P570 white clay (which is the same clay body as all my favourites).  It was textured and poked when formed.  I sprayed it with Helmer's slip on the outside, so for the most part it resisted the soda, and gave me the pleasant red-brown patches.  I think the grey ones are where the soda landed more heavily.  The inside is glazed with Yellow Salt, which is really a very beautiful glaze.  It shows quite a bit of "movement" or variations / streaks, and is quite a cheery contrast to the otherwise darker greys and browns.

This little bowl was thrown by my pottery friend Cindy, who only recently has started throwing, and it has been a pleasure for me to watch her pieces progress to more beautiful and larger each time.  I wanted to achieve a "blue" look on this one, so I glazed it with Chun's Blue (a light blue) glaze inside, and sprayed it with Jane's Blue outside.  I then sprayed stripes of titanium dioxide, which was supposed to turn the Jane's Blue into stripes of green.  But instead I seemed to get two shades of brown, with only hints of green.  I wonder if I didn't spray the Jane's Blue thick enough.  Hard to know.  So many variables in this soda firing.  But I think the outcome is still nice, and I love the blue dripping down from the rim.  We don't otherwise have any drippy glazes for our Cone 10 firing, so I love anything which looks runny or drippy.

Overall, an interesting experience, and I'm glad I participated.  On my next soda firing, I will stick to whiter clays (my favourite being P570), and play more with Cobra, a much thicker coat of Jane's Blue, a much thicker coat of Gordon's #3, and more of the cheery Yellow Salt.  And more slip-trailed and poked pieces, I think.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Soda Firing - Teaser Photos

It was a long but rewarding day, especially this afternoon when we unloaded the soda kiln.  For my first soda firing, I was pleased with the results.  Here are a few teaser shots, since I'm too tired for my usual thorough posts.
Soda fired ceramic vessel with maple leaf imprints - pottery by Lily L.
Soda fired ceramic vessel with slip trailed design - pottery by Lily L.
Soda fired ceramic vessel with poking decoration - pottery by Lily L.
Stay tuned for more photos soon.

Monday, July 25, 2016

First Finished Porcelain Items

I made four pieces in a recent porcelain workshop with Tanis Saxby.  Three of them have been through cone 6 firing, and I was happy to be able to bring them home yesterday.  I will take better photos when I have a chance, but here they are in the studio :
Tanis Saxby inspired porcelain floral sculptural pieces by Lily L.

I was a bit disappointed by the colour of the finished pieces.  They are noticeably yellow.  I had the impression that we fired them to cone 6, rather than our usual cone 10, so that they would be more white.  But Linda Doherty indicated to me that they should fire more white at cone 10, so I have my final piece awaiting a cone 10 gas firing, and hope for better results.

Here is the final bisque fired piece (left) beside the cone 6 fired piece (right), so you can see the colour difference:
Tanis Saxby inspired porcelain floral sculptural pieces by Lily L.

Tomorrow I will be picking up the 12 pieces from this weekend's soda firing.  I can't wait to see the results, and to find out whether I will be hooked on soda firing.  I hope not too much, since I had to cancel the soda firing I was registered for in September, as I just found out that it happens before the studio at Shadbolt re-opens from summer break, so I won't have enough time to make 2 cubic feet of objects before then.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Another Dragon Mask

I had so much fun making my first dragon mask...
Bob Kingsmill inspired ceramic dragon mask, in progress, by Lily L.

...that tonight I had to make a second one :
Bob Kingsmill inspired ceramic dragon mask, in progress, by Lily L.
As before, it sort of winged it, but it didn't turn out quite like I had imagined.  But I am still pleased with the outcome.  There should be some nice textural shadows on this one.

Here are a few more angles.  From the side :
Bob Kingsmill inspired ceramic dragon mask, in progress, by Lily L.

...and from "below" :
Bob Kingsmill ceramic dragon mask, in progress, by Lily L.
Such fun!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Soda Firing : The Glazing and Anticipation

My long-awaited soda firing workshop started today, with a 4 hour glazing session.  This is the first time soda firing for me, so I was overwhelmed by all the glazes and flashing slips and information, such as : a glaze can be applied on top of a slip, but a slip must not be applied on top of a glaze.

Here are the glazes and shinos and flashing slips we had to choose from (had to break into two photos) :

I thought I had more then enough to fill 2 cubic feet of kiln space, but it turns out I was on the light side.  I had a few more pieces I could have retrieved from the kiln shed, and added, but I had plenty to keep me busy today, with the 12 pieces.

I am hoping there will be good results, and as always, I kept detailed notes of the clay bodies and glazes and slips used, so if I find combinations I like, I will be able to try them again in future.  The loading and start of firing is tomorrow, and we retrieve our piece on Tuesday.  So I wait in eager anticipation.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Just Coasting and Enjoying Now

It looked like I wouldn't make it to pottery this Wednesday, so I attended open workshop on Sunday.  it was a beautiful day, finishing up some of my items which were on the go, and enjoying the company of friends.  A perfect Sunday afternoon.

It has been a while since the Porcelain Workshop with Tanis Saxby.  So I was happy to be able to clean up and complete my 4 pieces.  One was too dry to stamp, so I just carved my name on the bottom.  They are all now awaiting bisque firing :
Porcelain sculptures by Lily L.

Tanis Saxby inspired porcelain sculpture by Lily L.
I plan to leave the two large pieces unglazed, so I hope they will be stark white after the cone 6 firing.  I haven't thought about the two smaller pieces yet.  I may want to glaze them inside, and leave the outside pure white.  That could look pretty nice.

I forgot to take photos of my 3 big pieces from the Bob Kingsmill workshop, but I cleaned up all 3 and also took down the 2 masks for bisque firing.  Here is one of them, which I did take another photo of.  It amused me that another student came by and commented that they had beautiful lips.  I was thinking the same myself :
Bob Kingsmill inspired tree man mask, by Lily L.

The big dragon bowl / boat, I have left to dry more slowly just in case.  I wouldn't want her to lose a head or tail.

Speaking of broken body parts, one of my African men lost a finger while transporting him from home to the kiln shed.  I was very proud of myself that I just let it be, without agonizing or trying to repair it.  He is simply an African man with one missing finger.  That adds to the mystique.  You'll have to ask him for the story...

So other than the dragon mask drying on my kitchen counter, I have all my pieces done, or at least in the bisque firing, and I think I have enough pieces to choose from, for the soda firing later this month, so I can attend drop in workshops whenever I am able, but I don't feel under pressure.  After all it's summer, and I'm just coasting and enjoying now.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Dragon Mask

I was so inspired by the recent Bob Kingsmill workshop, and so love the feel and performance of the Little John clay for sculptural purposes.  I can't seem to keep my hands out of it.  Last night was no exception.  I was "watching" a couple of episodes of TV (on Netflix), and this dragon mask emerged on the kitchen counter :
Clay dragon mask in progress, by Lily L.
It's a bit more dinosaur or rhino than dragon, but I still like how it turned out, and the textures that I played with should pick up a stain very nicely.  The clay will be a beautiful brown when fired to cone 10 in reduction (which is what we have available to us at Shadbolt).

Here is the side profile :
Clay dragon mask in progress, by Lily L.
And a closeup of some of the texture.  The little circles were from the front of a retracted ballpoint pen.  I'm pretty happy with that effect :
Closeup of clay dragon mask in progress, by Lily L.
I'm pretty happy overall with this first mask.  I already know where I will hang it, above the fireplace that holds my dragon collection.  There are two walls above the fireplace, so I will need to make another one also.  Which will be my pleasure.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Finished African Man and Pick Up of Two More Finished Items

This morning I had the day off, so finished the African man which I started last night.  Here are both the smaller one, which seems to be saying "Come" (although not too friendly about it), and the larger one, who seems to be saying "Why?" or "Why Lord?"  Both are wearing the African robe which I believe is called a boubou or bubu :

And a closeup of the larger one, before I added his hands :

It's funny, but it ends up I had a lot of beginner's luck on the first one.  This second one, I had a number of problems with getting the body stood up, the cardboard I had prepared was too stiff to manipulate, and the end a bit sharp, so he ended up tearing along the top edge, and I needed to add more clay inside/underneath to reinforce him, and then re-stamped some of the stamp patterns.  I think he'll be okay, but there were some challenging moments.

I wasn't able to attend the open workshop, which opened again today (just for July, as Shadbolt will be closed again in August), but I passed by to pick up some of my work from the previous term.  In particular, this big tree stump which was to be the base for one of my totems :
It is built from iron-rich yellow clay, and then some iron oxide was brushed on it as well, to highlight the texture.  I couldn't wait to get out tonight to add it to my totem, which has been standing on an overturned clay pot since last year :

It turned out that the ants have fully inhabited the bottom few pots in the totem, so to minimize disturbance of their nest, I left the overturned pot, and just added the tree stump over top:
I think it looks complete now.  I'm glad.  I had plans for a third totem, but only a couple of pieces finished, so it may not be assembled until next summer.  I don't want to rush it in the next couple of weeks, I have so many projects already on the go.

Funny thing, I had made a weird little lady sculpture back in March (see this post), and she had gone missing.  I had looked for her several times, and asked my instructor about her.  When I stopped by the kiln shed today, there she was, sitting on a shelf of forgotten items.  So I don't know where she was hiding all this time, but I'm sort of glad she's back (although she adds to my list of unfinished projects).

Oh, and the other item I picked up today was one of my early twisty pots, which has been in a student display at Shadbolt.  Now it's in my hand (i.e. on my shelves).
It was also created from the yellow clay which I enjoy so much, and highlighted with iron oxide, and then finished with Gerstley Borate, and glazed with Amber Celadon inside.  An intriguing and somber looking vessel.  Very rough and earthy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

At It Again : Headless African Man

I had so much fun and so enjoyed the results of my little African man, that I couldn't help myself but to try again tonight.  This time I decided to make him a little taller, and got myself a bit more organized with a folded cardboard ahead of time (rather than improvising with a paper roll and Triscuit crackers box while I quickly assembled a more suitable support.

Funny, but it didn't go quite as well.  I had my cardboard all measured out and folded, and measured the slab of clay compared to the cardboard support...
Clay / pottery African sculpture in progress, by Lily L.

...but when I draped it over, it was a bit short, and the edge a bit too harsh, so the clay started to split at top...  I did my best to repair it, and think it will hold.  But I've left it to firm up overnight (covered in plastic) before I attempt any further manipulation :
Clay / pottery African sculpture in progress, by Lily L.
I like this photo, my first little African man looking on, as the other starts to emerge.  I really like the pattern on the second robe, which is apparently called a boubou or bubu.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Out of Africa : Another Bonus Pottery Adventure

I've had an extra bag of Little John clay calling out to me from the garage ever since I finished that Bob Kingsmill workshop.  Tonight I couldn't ignore it any longer.  I was watching a movie with the family, but had to go play with clay on the kitchen counter.  This is the result.  What do you think?
Clay sculpture of an African man, in progress, by Lily L.

The idea came from a pottery studio in Coombs BC.  I visited there for the first time last month, when my 15-year-old was running in the BC Provincial Track Meet in Nanaimo BC.  The potter there had made some african ladies which looked like a textured sheet draped in a shape of a body, with a turbaned head added on top.  I should have taken a photo at the time, but I remember thinking that I would need to try that some time.

Well, I was going to make an African lady, but I think he turned out to be an African man instead.  Anyhow, I'm pretty pleased with the result.  It will be fun thinking how to glaze and decorate him.  I think the Coombs ladies were raku fired, from what I remember, so they were iridescent.  I think I will just try for colorful.  We'll see.

Here's a few more angles :
Clay sculpture of an African man, in progress, by Lily L.
I decided to add my signature stamp at the back corner, so added a plug of clay on top of the sculpture, so the imprint would show clearly.

Clay sculpture of an African man, in progress, by Lily L.
He should stand okay, even after I remove the folded cardboard and newspaper, which is holding him up until he dries.
Clay sculpture of an African man, in progress, by Lily L.
Making the first hand was easy.  Making the second one the same size was really difficult.  They may still be a bit different sized, but then again, the human body is never perfectly symmetrical, is it?