Sunday, September 27, 2009

Journey Sept 21 - 27 More Burnt Toast

Well after the August firing where all my glazes were too thin, I tried harder to watch how I was spraying. The resprayed pots looked a bit better, but still like burnt toast. I had really liked the applique on the woman and fish pot - tried to simplify the applique, but I must remember that the drippy ash glazes are distracting on the wavy applique areas. The back would have been fine with just the ash and no fish to distract. Also the dark brown area of very thin glaze could use another coat but I am afraid to refire again as the ash may run down too far. The pot looks better in the pic that in reality as the white background seems to simplify it.

New pots - some where not much better. Somehow the stony yellow did not come out very well and the Hannah blue was too strong. I have changed clays - using the paper version of Sandstone - maybe that made a difference, though I doubt it. I think the firing was rather muddy - I didn't get to reox at the end until after cone 9 was halfway down as the firing was rather fast. I had to slow it down and hold cone ten for an hour or so. Usually I start reox once cone 8 starts so I get about 2 hours of reox instead of one - I think this of what Steven does. Anyway I feel it has made the colours brighter especially the ash glazes.

The blueberry picker pot had one great effect and that was the blue ash runs on the front giving the effect of masses of blueberry bushes in the woods. However the stony yellow around the figure was too thin and resulted in mottled effects that distracted from the figure. The back had too much brown, was trying for a sun effect - either rising or setting, over the blueberry bushes, with a spilled bucket and shoe in the bottom corner - trying for that slightly menacing effect of my mother's painting.

The landscape pot - I liked the front top and the stick like figures, and how all that got glazed, but again it fell through with the long wavy appliques and the drippy ash glazes. The blue in that bottom area was distracting so should maybe have stayed mostly with the brown colour schemes and just had the blue in the upper part.

Well I have one more firing before journey's end at Center Street Clay on Oct 22- 25 - so hope to get something that I am pleased with. Right now I like my pots best just in the greenware stage.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Journey Workshop Sept 14 - 20 Paper Clay Pots

Well I have been having problems with some cracking on my hand built pots so decided to try some paper clay - made from Tucker's Sandstone - the same as my regular clay. I was amazed how strong the slabs were and so I could make them a lot thinner. Whenever I start on a hand built pot I usually need to let the form sit around for a while while my mind churns over various applique designs.

However I did find the paper clay was harder to cut once it was leather hard and even the applique, if very fine detail was required, was harder to cut out. However I really like the way I could add to the rim and base to thicken it. We'll see how it fires and glazes.

The first pot was another fishing lady and the second was a landscape-like decoration. I thought that I would take a picture of the raw glazed pot before it gets ruined in the glaze firing. My last firing at the end of August was a total disaster - the sprayed glazes were too thin on all the pots and so they had to be all reglazed.

The tops were fun to do - definitely I find the wavy tops really enhance the design. What a change from pre-Steven when I felt I needed a plain straight top so as not to distract from the applique design.

Journey Workshop Sept 1 - 13 Do You Want to Fit In?

Something that Steven said to me in July still sticks in my mind. It was when we were discussing being contemporary or not. He asked me "Do you want to fit it?"
I guess that I have a unique style and I have always been an individualist - going my own way and doing things my way. So I guess even though I love those wonky, altered pots they are not really me. So is it better to be true to myself than to surrender myself to the latest fashion? I have been trying to be more contemporary and so have been whacking pots a bit, altering them etc - but would I have done all those things it I had not seen them done by others? So I guess part of me does want to fit in.

I made some more watercolour water pots, vases, cups and garlic garlic pots - after several variations I came to a point where every ting finally clicked nicely together - I have never had that feeling before - definitely could say that the designs were finally totally resolved - to my mind anyway. What I like about these is
1. appliqued window on my garlic pots and vases - ties in with my other applique work,
2. oval shape and a whack down with the end of a stick gives it a bit of life and a contemporary look,
3. pushing up the foot in front of the whack to give it movement
4. adding the clay button on lids (to designate the front for better fit) off centre to emphasized the end of the stick impression,
5. the curled knob with stick impression on side to tie lid to garlic pot.
6. On the water pots I also pushed out the sides at the bottom to give it a more oval shape and to emphasize the stick impression and kanthal wire addition.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Journey Aug 9 to Aug 30th - Cutesy with an Edge

It's funny how quickly it is easy to get out of the habit of writing this blog - a 2 week stint at MISSA and I have fallen way behind and it is so hard to remember what I have been doing. I also find that when I was writing regular weekly blog I was also much more focused on my work and journey goals. And its been an invaluable record. I regularly go back and read bits of it for inspiration whenever I get stuck.

Because of other things intruding - like visitors, gardening etc. I cancelled my August critique with Steven as I still not not have much new stuff and no time to put up pictures on Flicker.

The end of July - beginning of August is blueberry time in our area and you see pickers by the highway. It always reminds me of a large painting (about 5 feet x 5 feet) that my mother had painted years ago of some blueberry pickers She never liked the picture and kept it in the basement with the face against the wall. I felt there was something always a bit spooky or threatening about it, so it was never a favorite of mine either.

However our daughter has always liked it and recently hauled it away to her home. I decided to use that painting as an inspiration as I felt I needed a break from the fishing/boat pots. The back of the blueberry picker pot just has a shoe and spilt bucket of blueberries - so as my friend said when she saw it - "cutesy with an edge".

Monday, September 7, 2009

Journey July 26 - Aug 8 - Our job is to make good pots

As I had been away at MISSA, I did not have too much new work to discuss for my July critique.

I had donated one of the fish plates to the student auction at MISSA. Looking at my pot among the other pieces of ceramics on the donation table I was struck that my piece did not have that contemporary look - it looked out of place and time somehow.
Anyway I discussed this issue with Steven at my July critique - how I was still not satisfied that my work looked contemporary enough. His response was that it is not our job to be modern, but to make good pots. He felt that I had been doing a good job so far in integrating various design aspects of my pots.

I guess one of the reasons that some of the pots look dated is in the stoneware clays that I use to get the iron spots (which I love!.

Steven also mentioned that definitely some of the glazes and colours - the beige and browns are more from the 70's so if I wanted to be more contemporary I should bring in some more colours. Perhaps for the handbuilt pieces use B-mix with grog rather than the stoneware.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Journey Workshop July 21 to July 26 - Back to my Journey Goals

Well with MISSA over it has taken me several days to get back onto track of working on my "journey" goals - getting a more unified look on pots that really excite and satisfy me.

I started throwing some larger pieces in bottle shapes, with the intent of adding applique work. However I found that shapes with a belly just do not look good with that type of decoration - the belly protrudes and appliques just sticks it out more. So I ended up making bottles with more oval shape, and adding a slab bottom. The flattened side provides a canvas. I often try out designs first with paper cutouts.

At MISSA on the bellied bottles,(see the bottom photo)- instead of hitting the foot with a stick, I decided to stomp down on the foot with the end of a stick and this gives a different look that I like. I also sometimes added a clay button first and then stomped down. Once home I have carried through with this method on my paint pots, bottles, vases, cups etc. and I'll see how I can integrate this into my other designs.