Monday, January 9, 2017

think of it as an internship

This is going to get wordy, so I'm telling you right now to pass unless you have a curiosity about artist's co-ops.  I am writing in defense of them, sort of.  I say this having recently resigned from one- ha!  But, as I was ending my three and a half year involvement with this particular co-op gallery, I thought about all the good stuff learned from the experience:
  • How to coordinate exhibits:  painting and patching panels, communicating with visiting artists, setting up the show, reception, marketing...
  • Brainstorming ideas for exhibits, classes, community events.
  • Some of what it takes to run a brick and mortar business.
More on the plus side:  You have control over your display- change it out, rearrange, whatever. Also, there is no denying the creativity boost from being part of some of the exhibits and being around other artists.  Then there's a pool of customers- some may be new to you, and it's a shop with regular hours so they know where to find you.  I have to admit, it was a difficult decision to end my time with this gallery.
Why did I leave, then?  Time and money.  Some travelling may be in my future.  Pottery is time-consuming work.  So is working at the co-op.  Being gone is a problem.  And, it wasn't making financial sense. The combined commission fee and rent comprised a yearly average of 40- 43% of what I sold.  I was not selling enough at this location to offset the costs. This is a small community and raising prices is not an option.  As I expect to be compensated for my time and experience, a better use of my time is to participate in shows where fees typically take 10 to 15% of my sales. Also, I've found it impossible to keep up with my Etsy shop, which I hope to have stocked and active again in a few months.

Anyone who has been involved in a an artist's co-op knows there are other factors which make it a difficult balancing act- getting a dozen or more people to agree on one course of action (often, things just did not get decided), and equal division of labor are a couple of famously common difficulties in co-ops. Then there's the age thing.  This didn't seem to bother anyone but me.  As a 58 year old, soon to be 59, I was one of the younger members.  For a variety of reasons I felt the organization needed a more diverse age range. But, with a shop open 6 days/week (closed Mondays) younger artists who are working full time (actual paying) jobs and may have little dependents are scared off by the thought of giving up a couple of weekend days per month to man the gallery.  I don't think they get past that consideration to even contemplate all the other responsibilities.

Remember, I started out talking about the positives. My advise is take a look at your local co-op and see what it has to offer you.  Don't forget, you'll probably have to jury in.  Here's the thing- if you can possibly swing it for a year or two, look at the experience as an educational tool.  The knowledge gained is invaluable.  Think of it as an internship.  You might get paid, too.
 all packed up

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Local Artist Show 2016

A little late getting these pictures out.  It's usually best to post pictures before the show.  This was the Local Artist Show in Marietta, Ohio. I was flying last week to get things done. Pictures had to wait.
Here's a few of the items left at end of show.   I made four of these cairns.  One had a rabbit jumping over it.  That was a fun one.  These bird cairns are two I still have.  They are now at Riverside Artists Gallery in Marietta.
A few words about the cairns-  The roundish "stones" are thrown on the wheel.  Sometimes I alter them a little so they lose the perfect roundness.  Birds are hand built. The flat stones are shaped from rolled out slabs.  A metal rod runs through the middle of all so, obviously, I cut holes in the ceramic pieces while the clay was still soft enough. In the cairn above the rod also goes into the wood block.  I first used a drill press to drill a hole in the block.  It's really easier to have that block anchoring the whole thing, as it automatically makes the metal rod nice and straight. Many adjustments were needed to get the cairn pieces with no wood bases to line up.
And mugs.  The ones with the transfer images all sold.  I kind of resent that these mugs with the more interesting glazes weren't chosen.  I guess that's what I get for going down the transfer image road.
The red whatever-it-really-is/not tenmoku glaze makes another appearance.
Little lamb, little lamb.  Also ringed turtle dove and jumping hare.  Gone to good homes, but not forgotten, are:  raccoon, mouse, bear, squirrel, 2 make believe owls, 1 barn owl, and another sheep.  Critter ornaments.

Friday, September 16, 2016

not as expected

I like a lot of different glazes, and seem be particularly drawn to rich, dark glazes.  However, my usual tenmoku glaze is temperamental.  The plum, almost black, glaze that I love may be driven to extinction by poor record keeping.  Note to self:  Do not assume you will remember which Albany Slip clay substitute you used.  Several mugs have been sitting around for some time waiting to be glazed with plum glaze once I figure out the Albany Slip thing.  I have a couple of containers of Albany Slip that I made using different recipes.  I seem to remember combining these to get the right look for this glaze.  Or did I use some of the commercially made stuff?  There are a lot of recipes for Albany Slip- apparently no one has found the secret to duplicating the real thing since mining ceased.
I have temporarily given up on the plum and decided to try a new tenmoku.  Normally I make 200 gram tests, but was feeling trusting and made 500 grams so I could skip the test tile and go directly to glazing a mug or two. This meant having just enough to dip the bottom half, then turning to dip the top half.  I did place mugs on some reject wall tiles saved for this purpose in case something really bad happened (like glaze melting off the mug and later cooling into a pool of obsidian on the kiln shelf).  I expected a standard translucent brown, but got this great deep rust red.  Okie dokie.  Tested a few brushstrokes of other glazes underneath the tenmoku and even took notes- and put notes in a sandwich bag with the glaze recipe taped to the lid of the glaze bucket. I'm hoping this proves to be a reliable glaze.  Recipe follows at bottom of page.
We should all have a blue pumpkin.  Just made one of these because I thought it might be too weird but I kind of like it.  I veered away from my usual pumpkins this year and went with a satin matte glaze instead of shiny.  Let's try a spotted pumpkin, too.  Speckled clay used here.
There is an iron oxide engobe on some stems, which is dark and metallic. For a couple of the pumpkins I brushed the iron oxide engobe on much lighter and went over it with a rutile engobe resulting in a less shiny golden brown.  Then I remembered that I have an iron ox./rutile/frit wash which I dabbed here and there on the pumpkins to get some interesting spots on the ones with non-speckled clay so they wouldn't be jealous of their freckled pumpkin siblings.  This wash may have worked well on the stems, but I'm fresh out of pumpkins, so no more experimenting for now.

Tenmoku   cone 6 oxidation, source unknown (yeah, I didn't write it down)
slow cool:  125 degrees/hr. from 1900 F. to 1400 F.

silica flint        25.
EPK                16.7
Neph. Sy.        16.7
G.B.                  8.3
Dolomite          8.3
Talc                  8.3
bone ash           6.7
Red iron ox.    10.    used Spanish Red

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Poetry in Art 2016

The "Poetry in Art" exhibit is a collaboration of poets and artists, mostly in the region of Marietta and Athens, Ohio and Parkersburg, West Virginia.  Poets submitted poems and artists used the poems as inspiration to create art in their chosen media. Poems were displayed alongside the artwork. The opening last night at Riverside Artists Gallery included a reading of the poems in the exhibit. The exhibit continues through Sept. 29.   Below is a progression of the making of one of my pieces for the exhibit.  As usual, I did not think ahead about taking pictures so many steps are missing, especially ones of building the forms while in the greenware stage.
 So, these are in the greenware stage, but out by the kiln in the garage, probably dry or almost dry.  Clay is stoneware (tan).  White slip was brushed on, then cobalt slip over the white. The small figure was left white.  A fragment of the poem was etched into the surface.

These are forms after bisque firing and after a black slip was brushed on, then wiped off.  Also did the same with a little iron engobe. I made two because I was nervous about the possibility of not getting the results I wanted so I gave myself better odds.  Since, with clay, the process often takes weeks, I think the advantage many other forms of media have is the artist usually knows to change or scrap the piece in a matter of a few days, if not hours.  

After cone 6 firing.  This is the one I preferred.  I was pleased with the results.  The words are there, but not so commanding as to take away from the image and form. Though it can stand on its own, it is meant to hang on a wall and I made attachments in the back to hold wire.
The poem, "Insomnia is my Father's Bartender" is a wonderful, haunting work by the very talented Christina Veladota.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

the show, the birds

My plan was to take a couple pictures of the show, "Elements" so that the show can be seen as a whole.  The gallery is a co-op with member's work displayed all the time, while a center section towards the front of the shop is devoted to separate exhibits which change monthly.  Taking a picture of the "Elements" display results in picking up a lot of background artwork not in the show.  It is not distracting in person but becomes rather confusing in a photo.  Also dealing with fluorescent light!  So, I am showing just a small sampling of "Elements":

 One of Steve Comb's rings.  He has a nice display of jewelry set on a plate of glass and raised up on clear shot glasses inside an antique case.

An encaustic work by Shila Wilson.  There is a green tint applied to this, though this pic may not  represent the exact shade.

 This is my favorite panel.  Works by Shila.  To the left of the panel you can see a sliver of some member work in the gallery.

 Most of my pieces are in one place on a cluster of pedestals.  My attempt of getting a good shot of my work here in the gallery failed, but I wanted to show the display stump that Ivin cut for me.  He noticed that someone had left a dead tree cut down along the road and asked if he could cut some pieces from it. (Yes, take the whole thing.)

 I have one panel for my 2-D work.  Orange panel next to it is my nemesis. Don't ask.  Shila's work looks great on it, though.

Below are close-ups of bird images.  I just noticed I used this bird seven times on my work for "Elements". 
I am not so confident with free hand painting on pottery. I usually draw the image on paper or cloth, place the paper on the leather-hard clay, then trace so it is etched onto the surface.  Then I paint inside the lines with slips or engobes.  Or, when the piece is bisque fired, paint over the etched design, then rub off the excess with a damp cloth, leaving the dark color behind in the lines. 

The show remains up at Riverside Artists Gallery through July.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

river rocks and garden stones

Here's a couple more things for "Elements":
Though I call these "garden stones" they could go anywhere.  These are the only ones with critters on them.  There are a few more at the gallery with different designs.
I'm calling this one "river rock" because I had to call it something and it has a line running through it which represents a river.  There is one more river rock at the gallery with a little different glaze treatment.
I am very pleased with the way the show has come together.  It is almost completely set up and officially opens Friday evening (tomorrow!) and will remain up through the month of July.  Shila Wilson has some wonderful monotypes and encaustic pieces.  Steve Combs will bring in his silver jewelry tomorrow, which will be a great addition.  Steve is known for his artistry and craftsmanship.
Riverside Artists Gallery is located at 219 Second St., Marietta, Ohio.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

details, process, failures

Most of the time I do not take pictures showing the step by step process.  I am so involved with the work that the thought of interrupting to take pictures does not occur to me. Often, there are many steps to get to the finished project.  In the wall pieces below I have incorporated some aged wood and other found objects with the ceramic tiles.  These may be part of the "Elements" exhibit at Riverside Artists Gallery along with works by visiting artists, Shila Wilson and Steve Combs.  We are setting up today and will have to see how it all fits together.  The pieces shown here are also part of the show.
 I may be adding one more found object to this piece.  Have to decide when enough is enough.
 The bead board was helped along with the aging process. This piece was left over from a house project, so not so old as it now looks.  To age it I first painted the raw wood with some strong tea.  Then I soaked some steel wool in white vinegar for a few hours, or until the steel wool started to break down a little.  After the tea was dry, I painted some of the vinegar mixture over it.  During the next few hours the wood starts to turn a dark gray color.  Instant age.  I'm sure you can guess the rest- I had some house paint, painted a thin coat of light blue (darker color may have been better), let dry, scraped and sanded here and there down to the gray wood, then a thin coat of white paint, let dry, more scraping. 
 I used a jigsaw and utility knife to cut out the center.  And a file.  Lot's of filing because I was afraid of making the cuts too big. This was plan B.  I found I was completely inept at chiseling a recessed area in wood to receive a tile (that was plan A), but I can use a jigsaw. I did not think ahead, that when I cut the wood, the new exposed edges would not have the aged appearance so I had to do the tea/vinegar solution thing again.  This ended up being a plus because it helped the aging of the painted surface by making it look yellowed.

"Aerial of River" 
Melted bottle glass in the tile represents a river.  Wood piece is driftwood found along the Ohio River near Marietta.
 Picture below shows the bottom of the piece with a sinker, also found near the river.

 "The Grid"
Much of the hardware you see on these pieces came with the found wood.  Some, like the screws in the vertical piece of wood, are new but have been aged to get rid of the shiny silver look by soaking a few hours to overnight in white vinegar.
Click on the pics if you want to see them bigger.
Inspired by a poem by Becca J.R. Lachman submitted to Riverside Artists Gallery's Poetry in Art exhibit in 2014.  A couple of other artists used the poem as inspiration for artwork for that show.  I loved the poem and it stuck with me.  The gallery will be doing another one of these exhibits with new poems and artwork this Sept.
What you don't see-  Sometimes there are fails behind the pretty pictures.  This structure was going to be a garden piece.  The top slab was the last to be attached.  The sides and bottom had dried too much and the top slab cracked along the seam.  Usually I can avoid this by equalizing the moisture after I make attachments.  Covering with cotton cloth followed by plastic sheeting works great for that.  In my concern that the pressure of attaching that last piece could weaken the sides and bottom, apparently I allowed those parts to dry beyond the point of no return.  I really wanted this to work, and would like to try again. Being part of an exhibit seems to push me to try new things and sometimes the trial and error involved with that process gets a bit too lengthy with a deadline looming.  

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