Getting Ready for Pottery

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I recently made over 75 new pottery stamps.  They are just leaving the kiln now and are ready for me to play with.

This past spring, I felt a tremendous gratification from the pottery pieces that bared my own designs.  They felt really personal.  Taking what I learned from then, I have a better idea of what I want now. This time I created a lot more stamps of larger leaves and petals, insects and butterflies as well as a bunch of different kinds of fish.

I look forward to creating my very own wonderlands!

Remember Me?

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Do you remember me?

Last, I was working on this painting.  That was June 20th.  The last day of school for my kids.

Guess what?

That painting is sitting exactly where I left it on June 20th.  Maybe, just maybe I will get to finish it now that the kids are back in school!

So much happened over the summer that I didn’t have the opportunity to blog.  My last post was dated August 2nd!  Subsequent to that post, I taught 3 weeks of pottery camp and then marched right into teaching adult painting classes this fall.  I feel like the universe is spinning so fast, I am desperately holding on by my pinky fingers!

Here’s a summary of the projects we did with over 60 pottery campers:

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Just because the three weeks of teaching pottery camp were over, didn’t mean pottery camp was over for us instructors.  We had to fire and glaze over 600 of their pots.  Needless to say, that took the following three weeks moving us right into Labor Day.

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If that wasn’t enough, I was invited to my first member’s invitational.  What an honor to have my art displayed in such a beautiful gallery (The show is running until October 13th)!

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I also carved out some time to devote to my own art-making.  Hopefully now that I summed up the past month, I can start posting on a more regular basis!

Here’s to the slower winter months!  Please dear Lord!  ;)

My Favorite Time of the Year

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My first jug has come out of the kiln and I am IN LOVE.

The flowers find their place in it perfectly.

Both pieces above feature my hand-crafted stamps. I keep gushing about this, but it really makes it feel so personal. LOVE.

No faster than I could park my car, was I in my garden finding the perfect buds.  This is my absolutely favorite time of the year, especially as a potter.  I get to take my pots from form to function.  I get to bring the beauty of the outdoors – in.  It is simply delightful!

Here’s a few more pots out of the kiln:

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Seriously though, the jug below here is my FAVORITE.  I generally don’t keep much that I make because my darling cherubs break them all, but this one might be a keeper.  I’m holding off though, I have two more coming out… you never know ;)  They might be winners too.

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I’m crossing my fingers!

Bowled Over

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I have quite a few good-sized bowls coming out. Thought I’d share.

I’m also plugging away at another big watercolor.  They take a ridiculous amount of time…I’m trying not to ask the question if they are quantifiably “worth it”.  If I were to be paid by the hour, these paintings would be incredibly expensive (like Trump might hang them up next to his golden toilet expensive).  Whether I get paid at all is the hard part of justifying why I do what I do -ever.

I just have to quiet my mind and say “don’t think… don’t quit… this was the gift God gave you.  God didn’t give you accounting skills, corporate feistiness or amazing memorization… All you can do is show up everyday and use what God gave you… have faith… have faith… Listen to your inner voice… there has to be a reason you intuitively know how to do all things artsy… don’t quit… don’t quit…

Yes. Yes I do.  I talk to myself all day.  You don’t?

I also tell myself to shut-up all day too…  What, you don’t?

Ha.  OK.  On with the show…

Here are some pieces that came out of the kiln this week.

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As I look at these, I am reminded I should make some more of my own stamps.  I like how soft and non-mechanized they look.  They make my work more personal. Note to self – make more stamps…

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Here is the new painting I am working on.  I challenged myself to quite a funky perspective.  I am looking down on the subject matter.  I hope I can pull it off… still so much to fill in/block off… boy that’s going to take A LOT of time…

It’s been cold and wet for well over a week.  I find it so hard to motivate myself. I am going to have  to revert back to talking to myself just to get myself out of this chair.

…Get up.  You don’t have that much time…If you don’t work on this thing you’ll never finish it…   No.  sitting on the couch wrapped up in a blanket bingeing Netflix is totally out of the question…You’re an adult right?  Adults do responsible things all day?  Go do something “responsible”…

What? Oh come on. You do talk to yourself too right?

I thought so. Totally normal ;)

Pitcher Perfect

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Greetings.  May the 4th be with you.

I have a ton of stuff that has come out of the kiln, but I’ll start with some pitchers/vases I created.

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These vessels have wheel thrown bottoms, stamped slab-work on the tops, under-glazes for the colorful parts and classic ceramic glazes as a topcoat over the entirety of the piece. In essence, they have a little bit of everything which is how I like to work.  Why choose one technique when you can choose them all right?

I feel like I’m back on track making colorful, quirky, yet functional pieces.

It feels good :)

Putting off the Inevitable

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Are there any other potters out there that truly despise glazing?

I let the rack pile up with bisque-fired pots, until I can no longer ignore them (like there might be an avalanche!).

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I usually wheel throw 6 pots at a time and then hand-build them into something more interesting. Next I take them home from the pottery studio and I under-glaze them. Under-glazes are very much like acrylic paints.  you can mix the pigments up and get pretty much what you were expecting.   Red + yellow= orange underglaze.  They go on while your pottery is still wet or the term greenware which means it has not been fired at all.

Glazes go on after the pieces have been fired once, which is called a bisque-firing.   Glazes are nothing like paints.  They’re more like chemistry experiments.  You cannot take a red glaze and a yellow glaze and expect them to make orange.  Each glaze is made from natural mineral compounds that do their own thing in a fire and each have different chemical reactions when combined.  A red glaze plus a yellow glaze could wind up creating a white/purple/brown reaction which is nothing close to a color wheel orange.  What I’m getting at is that all my knowledge as a painter is completely useless as a potter.  There are all different rules to the game and so much to experiment with and then hope to memorize for future use.

In a nut-shell, pottery glazes are highly unpredictable.  You either go with the flow and accept the good experiments with the happy little accidents or you fight to the death for control over the wild beast that usually winds up biting you in the rear and dragging you out into the forest (or the dumpster!).  I would be the latter.  I’m a fighter.  I’m always trying to figure out how to ignore all the knowledge that has come before me and try to do it differently  .I use under-glazes because I can control the colors I want to see, I use regular glazes like grout – filling in all the crevices with glaze and then wiping the rest off.    The inside of my pots is where I take the most risk.  I will mix 2-3 glazes and let them run and drip however they want.  This way each pot has highly controlled areas and an area or two left for some magic.

I’ve tamed the beast enough to occasionally get bitten, but mostly, I stay out of the forest of no return.  Crazy-fighter actually works for me.  For the most part I don’t have to dump too many utter-fails and I have created a unique style.  My own method-to my-madness you might say.

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Either way, glazing day still makes me flinch.  It’s do or die time.  For all my hard work, it is the one step which will make or break the pottery piece.  That can feel like a lot of pressure.

But, in order to succeed, you have to play the game.  So, I play.  I take the gamble and hope for some cool finished products. Plus, who doesn’t want to slay fantastical beasts?

 

Soup’s On 2018

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This is the super-fun event my pottery studio puts on every year.

For $20 you have a lovely tasting of over 12 home-made soups, choose a hand-crafted bowl to take home and you get to support a great cause.  Our studio raises money to support The Beautiful Day Project.  This project helps refugees new to Rhode Island receive job training and employment.  They produce their own organic high-quality granola and then sell it.  It is delicious as well as making a big difference in many peoples lives.

Here are some photos of bowls that have been turning up this week which willbe part of the event:

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Join us this Friday 6-8 pm. You won’t want to miss this!

Flying High

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I’m continuing to work on my own stamps to create texture on my pottery.

This is a bird series. What is fun, is that every piece has a different pattern on its opposite side. I made a bunch of bird bodies, but I made the wings separate stamps. This way I can change the trajectory of the wings to simulate different flight poses.  Instead of only having three bird stamps, I will have six bird bodies and 12 different patterned wings to choose from.

I also made stamp pieces of a tree.  Each piece of the tree can be flipped to create more irregularity in my tree pattern.  I can stamp in many different variations of a tree depending on how many times I stamp them.  Little tree or big tree.

I am making some large bowls right now.  I’ll try using them and send some updates of how they work.

Have a great weekend everybody.  I hope you all get to do something creative :)

Reneged on My Pottery Goal

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This September I set a goal to only wheel throw pots as opposed to hand/slab-building them.

I lasted about 4 months. However, I am giving myself permission to ditch this crazy committment!

My thought was, if I only wheel-threw pots, my skills would get stronger on the wheel (which is true ;) But here’s the catch, I might get stronger on the wheel but I simply do not like the finished product.

I LOVE texture and color.

Wheel thrown pots, to me, are just missing that – what’s the word –spunk.  Don’t get me wrong, I tried.  I invested in sgraffito (carving tools), I tried wax resist to get some cool glaze techniques. I swear I tried to go the traditional route.

I’m kind of excited that I felt so strongly about this.  It means I actually know what I want.  I tend to float like a snowflake in and out of everything. Not liking something is great.  It gets me just a little bit closer to being a bit more focused.   Maybe by the time I’m 80 years old I’ll lock into mastering one thing… HA! right ;) 

With my new permission to renege on my goal, I did exactly what I wanted to do which felt great.  This brought passion and excitement back into creating.  I think that’s my intuition saying I’m on the right track. Now don’t get me wrong, I AM NOT A QUITTER.  I am the crazy that created a work of art every single day for 365 days.  I didn’t quit on that and there were so many days I wanted to.  That goal felt extremely right.  This one – not so much.  I can tell the difference.

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So, back to the best of both worlds.  Which is very much like me.  Why choose wheel-throwing over hand-building?  Why not do – BOTH?  That makes perfect sense – FOR ME.  Here, I threw the bottom part of the vessel on the wheel and then rolled a slab to attach to the top.  The texture came from my hand-crafted stamps which really makes the vessel feel unique and personal.

That’s it.  Unique and personal.  Maybe add in some happy and fun.  This is what I am committing to and I’m finally feeling like I’m back on the right track :)

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