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?

 

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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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This week, I got to play with my new hand-made pottery stamps.  Way too fun.  Way too addicting.  Can’t wait to see how they come out.  Working with the stamps is firing off all sorts of ideas in my head!

Here’s a bunch of other things that have come out of the kiln:

I’m still painting too… will have some paintings to show hopefully next week.

As I like to think and say…

Keep on keepin’ on and bein’ creative!

Pottery Stamps

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While watching TV one night, I grabbed a hunk of clay and decided to make a bunch of my own stamps.  I pretty much used the ends of pencils, pens and the ends of all my clay tools.  Points, squares and round circles. They were then bisque fired.

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I didn’t put too much thought or planning into them. They are pretty much doodles -in clay form.  Mainly nature motifs, patterns and textures.  I guess that’s what comes out when I’m not “thinking”.

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I can’t wait to use them.  So far I only got to use them yesterday when making this lid for a cream and sugar set.  I am already in love with their imperfect organic look.

Below are some more cream and sugar sets getting ready to head to the kiln. The patterns on the ones below are from wooden textile stamps.  See how they are a little more structured.

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Well, I love new inspiration.  I like that the patterns come straight from ME.  I think you’ll see these stamps creeping into my future work.

I already want to make more!

 

 

Wax Resist

_2017-08-14 21.31.46_2017-08-14 21.30.11For the distant future, I am challenging myself to only wheel-throw as opposed to my chronic  obsession with hand -building pottery.

Here are a bunch of mugs I left very simple and un-altered. Of course I am not one to keep things completely simple (aka. PLAIN), so this will be a challenge to decorate wheel-thrown pieces without adding extra clay.

For these mugs I stamped in some sayings and images. The fun part was painting on wax . Any place there is wax, the glazes will not adhere. Later, the wax burns off in the kiln. As a design element, I created arches with the wax, glazed them and it produced a nice effect. The bare clay shows through  in the arches and yet I still have areas of beautiful glazes.

I am currently painting and sgraffitto-carving a bunch of vessels. I will add photos  of these pieces in the current days. I’ve also tripled the amount of clay I would typically throw on the wheel.

I love giving myself challenges. It makes me grow as an artisan and keeps things fun and interesting. I think they call that ” a perpetual learner” :)

Pockets from Pottery Camp

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Each kid at camp made a wall pocket using the slab roller, templates and tons of stamps for decoration.

Traditionally wall pockets are used for mail, keys, pens and pencils, maybe even a plant. However, I mentioned I use my pottery pockets at home as charging stations.  I can’t stand all the wires! It keeps all the devices off my counters.

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The kids thought that was an awesome idea.  Every household has a device or two.  They were so clever, they actually put small holes at the bottom so the wires could go into the pockets and hide even more mess.camp9camp10_2017-09-05 12.45.38

Sometimes I forget who’s the teacher and who’s the student!

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Remember when I figured out I could use craft foam to create my own pottery stamps?

Each camper made one too. I just love how the glaze breaks on their pieces.

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They also had the opportunity to throw some bowls and mugs using the pottery wheel.

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I just adore watching what kids come up with :)

Souvenir RI Ring Dishes

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These little ring dishes were experiments in creating my own stamps for pottery.  Each has a sea theme and something about Rhode Island.  We are such a small state, I think it’s safe to say when you come to visit, it’s very easy to see it all. That’s why I find it so hard to write very specific towns on everything. From Providence, to Newport, Watch Hill and Narragansett.  It’s all beautiful and an awesome place to play.  So I will stick with my favorite saying  -I love RI!