Sunday, November 20, 2016

Finished Dragon and Other Items from the Fall Session

Continuing on from my other finished ceramics from this Fall session, here are my dragon related items.

Beautiful ceramic dragon mask by Lily L.
7) I'll post more photos of my second dragon mask once I glue on the missing horn.  It came off before the piece was bisque, but I have finished it along with the mask, so I just need to buy some epoxy, and she'll be done.  Then I hope to hang her on the wall beside my first dragon mask, in my "dragon" corner of the family room.  This one I intentionally made a bit darker, finishing the Little John clay with Kingsmill wash, and then a touch of Black under/overglaze on the cheeks and eyelids.  The eyes are finished with Reeves Green underglaze, Black under/overglaze, and Clear glaze.

Ceramic / stoneware dragon hatching from an egg, by Lily L.
8) I think this is my favourite of the three dragon hatchlings - so far.  See this post for the making of this dragon hatchling.  The dragon part is Little John clay, and the egg is WSO sculptural clay.  The eyes are Reeves Green and Black coated in Clear glaze, and the body (and inside and edge of the egg) was sprayed with Celadon (this latest formulation called "Pumice Celadon").  I like the shiny lizard like skin contrasting with the matte egg.

Here are a few more views of this piece :
Ceramic / stoneware dragon hatching from an egg, by Lily L.

Ceramic / stoneware dragon hatching from an egg, by Lily L.
9) This is the smallest and first attempt at a dragon hatchling.  Both the egg and the dragon are made from Little John Clay, which is a bit too dark for the egg, in my opinion.  The eye is Reeves Green and Black coated in Clear glaze.  The remainder of the dragon is unglazed, highlighted only with some Black under/overglaze.

Ceramic / stoneware dragon hatching from an egg, by Lily L.
10) This little hatchling turned out to be pretty sweet.  She looks like she can barely fit in the egg that she's busting out of.  Here, the egg and dragon are both Little John, but I like the contrast between the unglazed egg and the Celadon glazed dragon (with accents in Black underglaze prior to glazing).  As before, the eyes are Reeves Green and Black coated in Clear Glaze.

And finally, a few more items which I threw some while ago, and finally glazed and finished them now :

Amber Celadon ceramic vessel with gecko, by Lily L.
11) You'll see that I made this pot with gecko back in April 2016.  I held off glazing a few pieces, since I thought I might use them in the soda firing, but didn't.  This one was thrown from 3000 g of grey clay, and the gecko hand built and attached.  I highlighted the texture on the lizard with Black underglaze, and then glazed it in Amber Celadon, which is a bit dark, but picks up the texture fairly well.  I like the double ringed foot.

Blue and Celadon ceramic vase by Lily L.
12) This vase was thrown from 2500 g of P570 white clay, with a bit of yellow clay marbled in.  It was just too "ordinary" for me, so I created a pattern in pinstriping tape, dipped it in Deep Blue, and then sprayed it with Celadon.  It bears my "signature" triple foot.  I really like that foot.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Finished Items from the Fall (and Prior) Session

I was pretty pleased with the finished items I was able to pick up on Wednesday, hot out of the gas kiln.  There were 4 platters (1 of them broken), 2 African men, 2 other vessels, 1 mother dragon mask, and 3 dragon hatchlings.  All bear my signature stamp.

I finally had enough daylight to photograph these, so here goes with some photos, and notes (mostly for myself, so I can remember clay and glaze combinations).  The hands are my son's, I borrowed them since these pieces are too big  for me to hold and photograph at the same time :

Dragon scale textured ceramic platter by Lily L.
1) I like to think of this as a dragon scale platter.  It came together very nicely, and is a practical size and weight for serving food of some sort.  It is created from a textured slab of B-Mix clay, formed over my 1" deep oval handmade styrofoam hump mould (see this post for more information).  I highlighted the texture with black overglaze (works the same as black underglaze), and sprayed it with Celadon glaze.

Oak leaf hydrangea textured ceramic platter by Lily L.
2) This beauty was also created in a similar manner, formed over my 2" deep octagonal handmade styrofoam hump mould (see this post for more information).  I highlighted the texture with black overglaze (underglaze), and a Reeves Green stain/overglaze on the leaves (although the resulting green tinge is very subtle), and then again it was sprayed with Celadon glaze.  It has a very smart looking foot, and has a nice feel, some weight to it, but light enough to be practical for filling and carrying.

Colourful textured ceramic platter by Lily L.
3) This was again created in a similar manner, also formed over my 2" octagonal styrofoam hump mould (see this post for more information).  It features a glaze combination I discovered a long while ago, and I was happy to try it again. It was a dip in Deep Blue glaze, then a dip in Amber Celadon, to overlap.  I like the visual texture on the Amber Celadon side, which doesn't come through as clearly through the Deep Blue.  So future platters may feature more of the Amber Celadon.

Here's another look at it, from a few different angles :
Colourful textured ceramic platter by Lily L.

4) This one was formed from my 3" deep hexagonal styrofoam hump mould.  When I was forming it, I could already feel that the clay was resisting being stretched so aggressively from a flat slab into this deep shape.  But it seemed successful, until it came back from the bisque firing with a small crack.  I decided to continue with it anyhow, if nothing else, to have more chances to experiment with different glazes.  The crack has deepened, so the platter will be unusable for anything other than perhaps a garden decoration (I'll figure something out, I'm sure).  It is glazed with a few dips of Deep Blue glaze.

One remaining platter is still awaiting final gas firing.  It is the triangular one.  I hope to have it soon.

Okay, on to my two African men.  These are fun pieces.  I really like how they turned out, with the rich brown colour of the Little John clay.

African man in colourful boubou, ceramic sculpture by Lily L.
5) I am pleased with the result of this first African man, with his multi-coloured boubou, and his missing finger (but he doesn't seem bothered by it, so nor will I).  Although I wish the colours were more vibrant and cheery.  But this is what I can achieve with a Cone 10 gas firing.  The glazes were Deep Blue, Tam's Green, Amber Celadon, Celadon and Copper Red.  His eyes were glazed with Amber Celadon, I believe, with a dot of Black Overglaze for the pupil.  I also touched up the unglazed parts (e.g. on the eyebrows and lips) with a stain.  I don't seem to have it in my notes, but it was either the Kingsmill wash or the Red Iron Oxide wash.  I think it was the Kingsmill wash.

"Why Lord?" African man in colourful boubou, ceramic sculpture by Lily L.
6) I think I enjoy this character even more.  He is looking up to Heaven with a "Why, Lord?" expression.  It is also the same set of glazes (but in different combinations) and the Kingsmill wash on the skin parts.

Another time, I will have enough courage to risk one of these pieces in the raku firing, and then I think I can achieve some brighter colours.  Although it has the backdrop of the dark iron oxide rich Little John clay to compete with, so it's hard to know.

I think I'll save photos of the dragon pieces to post another day.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Dragon Hatching

I had a funny feeling yesterday when I brought the ceramic egg home, that it may not take too long for something to hatch.  Tonight I found this wee dragon hatching already :
Hatching dragon pottery egg by Lily L, in progress.
Hatching dragon pottery egg by Lily L, in progress.
Hatching dragon pottery egg by Lily L, in progress.
Hatching dragon pottery egg by Lily L, in progress.
What do you think?  Should I keep him?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Last Studio Day of the Year

I arrived at the studio today planning to trim the two remaining pieces from last week, and glaze the three which have been bisque fired.  But when I arrived, the damp room was still locked, and none of my pieces had been unloaded from the bisque firings.  So the only thing left was to throw more, working through my leftover clay.

If you ignore the big bowl at the back, these are the 3 pieces I threw today, and then managed to dry enough (with the help of a hair dryer) to flip and trim, all in the same session.
Pottery by Lily L, in progress.
You'll see that the one at the front is a closed shape.  It is meant to be an egg, which means that something may hatch from it some day.

The two at the back were intended to be eggs also, but both times I misjudged and ran out of clay before I could close them up.  So they will be vases, I guess.  When I was trimming the larger one, I noticed that the trimming tool started chattering.  Cool.  I've never done chattering before, although it is on my to-do list.  So I chattered as much of the sides as I could, and hope that the subtle texture will show through after I glaze it.  Or maybe I'll need to enhance the texture with an iron oxide first?  Any thoughts on that?
Ceramic vessel with subtle chattering by the trimming tool, in progress.

I was really pleased when I trimmed my vessel from last week which was thrown from a mix of greyish sculptural clay and white porcelain.  I intentionally didn't work the clays thoroughly, so I ended up with a very nice marbling :
Marbled clay vessel by Lily L, in progress.
I flipped it over, and trimmed all the way to the hollow rim, to reveal more marbling :
Marbled clay vessel by Lily L, in progress.

I'm still playing with multi-ring feet, such as this one today on my big open bowl :
Fancy multi-ring pottery / ceramic foot, by Lily L, in progress.

The big gas kiln was unloaded today, so that I was able to pick up a number of my pieces.  I will post better photos when I have time, and better lighting (it is so dark lately!).  You can see here my African men, the big dragon mask, and the 3 dragon hatchlings :
Assorted pottery by Lily L.

Here, 4 of my 5 platters (the other will be fired in the next gas firing).  Sadly, one of them cracked.  That deep 3" hexagonal mould with its sharp angles will be a challenge, but I'm sure I can make it work :
Assorted pottery by Lily L.
 Here, a better view of the dragon hatchlings.  I'm very pleased with the results :
Assorted pottery by Lily L, with closeup on some dragon hatchlings.
Stay tuned for more photos soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Finishing the Dragon Mask

I am blessed with good friends, like my pottery friend Mariana, who gave me feedback on my dragon mask, that "Except for the defined eyebrows he looks like an ancient dragon. Old and grizzled."  As soon as I read her comment, I knew she was right.  I knew there was something that wasn't quite right yet.  So I went back and grizzled the eyebrows, and then I was happy with it :
Pottery / stoneware dragon mask by Lily L, in progress.

Tonight I got daring, and carved away a lot of the extra clay.  Sadly, I couldn't do this without breaking off the very fine tips of some of the embellishments, but I think it still looks good.  First I firmed up the front of the mask with a hair dryer, and then I flipped it onto a soft foam, to carve the back.  Then I sat the mask upright, and carved some more by reaching "inside" from the top of the head.  I was impressed by how much I managed to carve away.  Since it will hang indoors, I don't want it to be too heavy for our wall.
Pottery / stoneware dragon mask by Lily L, in progress.
This photo shows the trimmings.  I think over time I can learn to be even more aggressive, and make even lighter masks, but I was content with this for now.  It's much more than I've trimmed from my previous masks.

Here's one last look at this handsome creature, from the side :
Pottery / stoneware dragon mask by Lily L, in progress.
My 15-year-old was troubled by the twisted mouth.  I can see his point, but I really like that part.  It is so different for me to experiment like this.  I can't wait to try a 4th dragon mask!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Another Dragon Mask

Tonight I was too tired to do homework from the office, and instead of watching Chef Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares" series on YouTube, I decided to pull out my remaining partial bag of Little John clay (and a bit of P570 white which I mixed in), and make another dragon mask.

I usually spend a lot of time, making precision details, but tonight I challenged myself to use rough strokes, and create an imperfect mask fairly quickly.  I think I succeeded.  My main texturing tool was my thumb and thumbnails.  What do you think?
Dragon mask formed from "Little John" clay by Lily L - work in progress.
I tried to make him a bit different than my first two masks (and see the first finished dragon mask here).  Of course, there are similarities in the eyes, and eyebrows.  But I think I managed to make a different dragon.  I would have liked to add a few jagged teeth, but I wasn't sure I wanted to start fiddling with that.  Maybe my fourth dragon should have some wicked looking teeth.

I will need to let it dry a bit, and then carve away some of the weight, as I think I was pretty heavy on applying the clay.   But otherwise not bad for one night's work.  :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trimming and Decorating

I was happy to have the opportunity to go into the studio today, to trim and decorate the 7 items I had started Wednesday.  Just in case I still had more time, I brought a few more partial bags of stiff clay from the garage, which I could revive.  I didn't need them.

I had fun today, doing the type of decorating that I enjoy so much.  I'm particularly pleased with this little piece, with three vines growing on it :
Slip trailed and sprigged pottery / ceramic vessel by Lily L, in progress.

Slip trailed and sprigged pottery / ceramic vessel by Lily L, in progress.

Slip trailed and sprigged pottery / ceramic vessel by Lily L, in progress.

I enjoyed slip trailing the little swirly design, so I indulged in a few more pieces :
Slip trailed pottery / ceramic vessels by Lily L, in progress.
I know this slip trailed design can hold up well, see the 2nd item in this post, from the last soda firing.  I think Amber Celadon glaze (see the goblet in this post) will also show nicely.

I ended up finishing 3 items and taking them to the kiln shed.  2 more are finished and in the cellar for slower drying.  The 2 last ones are not yet trimmed.  So I will have enough to finish on Wednesday.  Glazing the ones which are hopefully out of the bisque firing by then.  Moving others to the kiln shed.  Trimming and decorating the remaining ones.  And if I have extra time, I will soften and rework some of my old clay.

I had two noteworthy things happen today.  One was that I managed to throw and trim these latest few items so thin, that when I slip trailed one of them, and then tried to flip it over, it nearly collapsed on me.  I had to take the hair dryer to it to firm it up.  I couldn't believe it.  A second one, I had been able to handle it to trim it, but after I slip trailed it, and tried to pick it up, I managed to leave fingerprints in it.  Wow.  Cool.

The other was that a young man, whom I haven't met previously, stopped beside me toward the end of the workshop and told me he loved my work.  I commented that I enjoyed "fiddling", and he commented "that's where the magic happens".  Wow.  I thanked him for the encouragement, and told him that many people shake their head at me, and comment on how time-consuming my techniques are.  He told me about the piece he was working on, a fairly complex two-piece sculpture, had already taken two 4-hour sessions, so 8 hours so far, and he wasn't even sure it would survive the bisque firing.  It was pretty cool to receive the compliment, but also find someone who related to me.  Not that it doesn't happen.  After all, there were two ladies making pierced vessels in this workshop also.  But it's not so often that someone expresses my sentiment so well.  The magic for me really IS in the fiddling and decorating, and taking the pieces well beyond functional vessels.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Few More Items on the Go

Today I decided to go into the studio, although the bisque deadline is Monday, so I'll need to go in Sunday to finish up these pieces, to get them done this term.  Mostly I wanted to revive some clay which has been sitting in the garage for too long, and was too stiff to throw.

I had a full bag of P570 white clay, and a partial bag of P600 porcelain and WSO sculptural clay.  I revived and threw most of it, with only a bit of the P570 remaining at the end of the day.

Here are the 7 items I threw :
It's a pretty mixed bag.  Some of it was intentional, since I was practicing different techniques (narrow neck, hollow rim, etc), but part of it was that I haven't thrown much in this past year (I've been doing lots of hand building lately), so I just decided on what I was throwing as I went along, based on how the vessel was working out.  For example, that one with the decorative (sort of floral) edges, was a bowl which was too imperfect, so I decided to make it look intentional.  One of those vases was supposed to be an egg, but I seemed to run out of clay before I could close it.  But they all turned out okay.

I look forward to a session (Sunday, I guess) of trimming and maybe doing some decorating / embellishing.  Then if I'm lucky, I'll have one more session (next Wed) to glaze, and these will make it through this term also.

Today Linda was loading up the gas kiln, and I'm hoping many of my glazed pieces will make it into this firing.  If so, I could be picking them up next week already.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Finished Glazing

Today I thought I'd finish glazing and start a few new pieces.  But I spent the full 4 hours glazing my remaining pieces, the dragon mask, the hatching dragons, the African men, and a few odds and ends which have been around all summer.

Here's the dragon mask before glazing over the eyes :
And the African men, each in a colourful robe or "boubou" :
A few people commented on my "patience".  I think that was a polite way of saying that I spent way too much time diddling around with these.  But this is the part I enjoy.  The details.  The brushing and sponging off, and the layering of glazes.  I can't wait to see if all my efforts were worth the time.

I am at a crossroads now, with only two weeks left before the Christmas break.  Do I start new pieces?  Or do I take an early break from pottery, and plan for a strong start again in January?  I would have liked to have softened and worked some of my clay, at least, since I have several partially filled bags hardening in the garage and basement.  Perhaps I should just go in and clean up my clay, and make a few small pieces.  We'll see.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Glazing and Glazed Over

I returned from a wonderful vacation in Shanghai on Sunday, and went straight into work Monday, but every evening after dinner, I have been collapsing on the sofa, and then dragging myself to do a couple of hours of work before going to bed.

Today I was feeling tired, but really wanted to get back to the pottery.  I have quite a few items on the go, and only a couple of weeks to wrap things up, and potentially squeeze in a few more pieces.  So today I decided to do some glazing, and was busy the full 4 hour session.  I didn't even do much chatting, as everyone else was in the studio, and I was the only one in the kiln shed, glazing.

First I tackled the platters which I created with my new Styrofoam hump molds :
I wanted to experiment with different glazes for these, and see which results I like best.  Two of them, I dipped in Deep Blue and/or Amber Celadon, glazes which typically break and show off the textures well.  But for the remaining three, I wanted to highlight the textures even more, with inlaid glazes or stains.  For this one, I applied Deep Blue and Amber Celadon with a brush, and then scraped and wiped off the glaze to reveal the texture, before finishing the whole piece in a Clear glaze :
For these two, I applied stains, which I then wiped off to reveal the texture, before spraying them with Celadon :
I also fit in a piece which has been on the shelf a long time now, which was too plain and begging for some fun glaze treatment.  First I taped off a pattern :
Then I dipped the top in Deep Blue, and removed the tape to reveal the pattern :

And finally I sprayed it with Celadon.  I think that one could turn out to be pretty fun.

Back to my current pieces, I have a number of sculptural pieces, from the Little John clay :
I started working on the dragons.  The mask I highlighted with Bob Kingsmill stain, and started working on the eyes, and the eyes of the little hatchlings, while I was at it.  I had lost track of time, when our tech walked in and announced that there was 5 minutes left in the workshop.  So I didn't even have time to finish the eyes, I just loaded my pieces back onto the bisque shelves, and started cleaning up.  Here they are, with the greens of the eyes applied :
I'm hoping I can go in this weekend, and finish these up, so I can use the remaining couple of weeks to create a few more pieces.  If not, then I'll finish next Wednesday, and won't really have time to start anything new.  We'll see.