Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Castle jar, tests, and stuff on the shelf

True to my status as an un-production potter, I sometimes (often) take on individual projects such as this reproduction jar for The Castle Museum in Marietta, Ohio.  The jar is an approximate reproduction of one made by Nathaniel Clark who once operated his pottery on the site of The Castle, and is destined for a raffle fundraiser at a garden party there on Thursday, June 14.

 Below are some very small jars, approx. 5 inches tall, that will be for sale in the carriage house gift shop at The Castle Museum, along with, eventually, 70 others.  Unusual for me, the outside glaze was applied to leather hard (on the dry side) green ware.  On bisque surfaces the air bubbled through, making small craters.  
And, tests.  Round one for the Castle jars.  There was also a round two.  The time frame for testing is easy to underestimate.  I can get quite fascinated with the endless possibilities.  In this case, trying to get a not glossy, but not completely matte surface in an electric kiln to come close to a pot from a wood, or maybe coal fired kiln. And the right color.  The winner was a primarily Red Art/ ball clay mixture with a little wood ash and nepheline syenite.  Also a bit of Mason Stain and ochre.  The inside of the pot is a glaze I had on hand.  Parkersburg Art Center helped me out greatly by firing my round two tests when the power cord on my kiln fried.  Thanks Vance! The kiln technician suggested replacing a couple of other parts which were beyond their life expectancy after we sent him pictures of the problem area.  It was intensely complicated and I seriously would have been crying if Ivin had not been on the job.
On the shelf:  some toad houses that tagged along with the Castle jars in the last firing.

 These little, um, bird objects below have been in the glaze firing, but are not glazed, only decorated with colored slips.  More to happen with these, as far as mounting/display. I have about a dozen ideas, and hope the one I go with will realistically be within my skill set.  Have to remind myself that I am not a cabinet maker.  Stay tuned.
More tests- this time of slips with various colorant combinations.  These for above birdy objects.  I am pretty well maxed out for spots to place test containers and test tiles. Need to edit.
Future flowers.  The pressed lace flowers at River City Farmers Market sold out last Saturday and I have some other ideas I'd like to explore.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Bowls for Empty Bowls 2018, Marietta, Ohio

The 2018 Empty Bowls Luncheon to support area food pantries will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta on April 7 from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM.  
Buy a bowl and you will get a variety of soups donated by area restaurants, breads and rolls donated by Panera Bread, beverages, and deserts supplied by the sponsoring churches.  Bowls are donated by area potters and woodworkers.  Here's a look at some of the bowls I have put aside for the event:

These jade green bowls are each  carved with a different design.

A bowl in a chawan tea bowl style.

More chawan bowls. I think I have at least four of each glaze.

A bit of oribe green glaze runs down the inside of the tenmoku bowls.


Outside of tenmoku bowl.

A couple of the larger bowls are for the silent auction part of the event.

A not-so-blue heron.  I'm O.K. with it, but often wish that glazes were like crayons or paint, so I could see, without testing, what happens with this or that combination of materials.  Most of the time it is best to test.  But so time consuming!

Also going on in Marietta same day is the First Settlement Festival .  Check the schedule- first performance starts at 1:00.  Have some soup then walk over and catch some live music.

Friday, December 22, 2017

barn owl ornaments

Barn owls ornaments finished with slips and engobes, no glaze.  Real twigs are used as perches, attached with the wire which runs through the owl and also serves as a loop to attach the hanger.

 Each owl comes with a stenciled box filled with shredded maps for nesting material.  A length of twine ties up the box, making it a gift-ready package.

Below pictures were taken on a beautiful winter solstice afternoon in Marietta, Ohio. 

And, the owl ornaments remind me of this local news:  A snowy owl had been recently hanging out in the area, which is unusual this far south.  It had been injured so was captured for treatment and release. This picture is taken from the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge facebook page.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Toad houses...with toads

I made two toad houses for a customer who wanted to give them as gifts. I was instructed to make each one a little different from the other, and with toads on top of both. I made large toads perching on the sides of the roof rather than try to make tiny ones to fit on the very top.  Getting the details of the feet and legs seemed like it might be too difficult in miniature.  By the way, the toads bodies are hollow and after attaching to the roofs I made a hole through the roof and the toad bellies so as to avoid any unfortunate toad explosions.
The houses were made on the wheel as closed forms.  When leather hard, I placed them back on the wheel and threw the little finials, one an acorn, and the other a beehive (sort of) on top.  
The color application came after bisque firing.  I have some engobes and slips that can be used on both greenware and bisque, but find I prefer to use them on bisque since, being dry and porous, it holds the material better.  Also, I often apply the color then wipe off to leave a light stain in some areas and darker stain in areas with etched designs- a technique which works best with bisque fired pieces.  Next, the toad houses were glazed, then a 50/50 by weight combination of frit 3134 and mason stains was brushed over the glaze to get the toad color.  A little disappointment here- what worked great on a test tile (chartreuse spots over tan) did not work as well on the toads, as the chartreuse can barely be seen.  Actually, at least around here, toads are not green, but the customer asked if I could add touch of green.  I am very glad that this particular customer understands that working with glazes is not the same as choosing crayons out of a box!
One of those grab and go mornings with the items, still warm from the kiln: Quick pictures of the finished toad houses with an oak tree for a backdrop at River City Farmer's Market in Marietta, Ohio just before meeting up with the customer.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Where Catfish Bloom

In the last post I showed the greenware version of this piece. It progressed to bisque fired and now to glaze fired. This project was inspired by the poem by Lisa M. Pursley, "Where Catfish Bloom", which I am sharing with Lisa's permission.

Where Catfish Bloom
Yesterday she was daisies,
dahlias and a spray of baby’s breath
until she was trapped
by the frailties of a civil engagement;
an iron woman achieving honesty,
sanity and swept floors.
She shares a confident understanding
of individual smallness.
All her lovely habits fortified,
trampled like the spirit
of a goddess in the rain.
Now she sits, cut
and stuffed, in a clearly gripping vase.

Lisa's poem was one of many submitted to Riverside Artists Gallery's 2016 Poetry in Art and was one among some great poems that were not chosen by any of the participating artists.
It was in my short list of poems I was considering for myself, but at the time I could not seem to solidify my thoughts on how I would approach the project.
I am no longer with the gallery but at that time I had been coordinator of the 2016 Poetry in Art exhibit and had a file of poems that were submitted by poets for consideration by the artists. When cleaning out files this spring "Where Catfish Bloom" was one of several from that exhibit I kept. 
It was very difficult to delete any on them!  
Above:  As you can see the piece stands on a flat surface, but is also wired for wall hanging.
Below:  Some decision making about whether to leave it alone or keep going.  This is the bisque fired head. I thought about leaving the head just like this.  The color of the bisque fired clay is very much like flesh tone and I had burnished the clay a bit so it has a smoother appearance than usual.  The glaze I used on the box is rather rustic so I decided to go ahead and fire the head to cone 6 (my usual glaze firing) in order to get the tan color this clay obtains when fired to maturity.

Below:  I decided to add a little iron oxide to the hair and darken the irises with a combination wash of cobalt ox. and copper carb.  Later, I brushed a little clear glaze on the irises (not shown).  The bisque fired head is among some pots awaiting a cone 6 glaze firing.

Friday, August 25, 2017

box in a box

A new project underway which may be submitted for an exhibit if it works out.  I never like to say it's a sure thing until I open the kiln after the final firing.

The head is decorated, somewhat minimally, with colored slips and engobes.  Not sure yet if I will be glazing this.
 The main part of the project, building the box, especially with the extra step of a recessed inner box, requires a fair amount of planning.  I used templates.  In measuring, you must allow for the thickness of the clay which is 1/4 inch thick.  So for a six inch square box, two of the outer sides are 6 inches and two are 5 and 1/2 inches. Sides are butted together on top of the square slab. Making sure the sides are at a 90 degree angle to the slab which is the front of the box is just as important as all the measuring.  If I continue to use this shape I might build frame or two right angles out of wood to use as a guide.  As it was, I used a couple of small scrap boards to press the sides against.  This seemed to work pretty well in squaring up a couple of wonky areas.  Same process used for the recessed box, only those sides are a quarter inch narrower than the ones on outside of box in order to accommodate the small slab which backs it.  Then the box is flipped over and the small square is cut from the front to form the inset.  Of course all the pieces were slipped and scored throughout  assembling and I followed up with working narrow coils into the seams.
You can see in above picture that I also added a couple of blocks to thread a wire through for hanging.  Unless some warping occurs in the firing this piece has the option of standing on its own.

All the pieces were a stiff leather hard before building.  It is very important to have the separate slab cut-outs dried as close as possible to the same moisture content.
Right now I have the box slowly drying.  Then bisque fire, glaze, glaze fire and cross fingers!

Monday, July 31, 2017

clay and found object sculptures and some toad houses!

She's come undone-
A clay/found object sculpture which is partially the result of a kiln accident.  Though the head had been destined for a similar project, the theme somewhat changed when the back of the head blew out in the firing.  I admit to rushing the process due to a hurry-up on a mug commission and wanting to get the head in the same firing.  Some moisture must have been trapped despite the candling time I programmed into the kiln.  Or perhaps her mishap occurred as she was facing the other character in the kiln-

Click to enlarge.
"Tweetily Dee" came about this way: Having seen pictures online of hats made of felted cat fur, and since Red the cat sheds copious amounts of that substance, I decided to give him a good combing and try my hand at cat fur felting.  I placed a mass of fur in an old shirt sleeve, tied the ends of the rag, poured boiling water over it, then tossed it in the dryer.  It turned out looking like a small toupee. See below.  So, the next thought was to make a clay head- one whose hair seemed to resemble Red the cat's, and glue the toupee on after the head was fired.  As I formed the head it seemed it wanted to be too big for the toupee so I gave up on the cat fur gluing idea.  And, I doubted anybody would care to have my cat's fur in their home.  I don't want my cat's fur in my home.  But he does have a great personality.

Scavenged political sign frames were used for the arms in "Tweetily Dee". 
Quotes from tweets were taken from ones which were sent out since taking office.  Seven coats of polyurethane over the tweets!
Acrylic paint used on both "She's come undone" and  "Tweetily Dee".

Motivation for these projects came from Riverside Artists Gallery's upcoming Found Object exhibit opening Friday, Aug 4 during First Friday in Marietta.

Red, the cat.  A source of inspiration.

A plein air event at The Castle in Marietta, Ohio. I threw 3 toad houses on the wheel a couple of days in advance.  During the event I added decorative elements, some of which were taken from The Castle's architectural details.
Other artists present were Ginny Killian, Lynda Rhodes, Karol Goldstein and Alan Norris.
The day started out chilly with a little drizzle which didn't bother me but challenged the painters at times. Pictures are thanks to Janet Chase.

This is one of the toad houses.  Another one has an owl on top and a third has a squirrel.
Will be using some engobes and washes on these after the bisque firing.

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