This Week

I picked up my batch of pottery from K’s studio last week and, happy to say, they came out not too badly- for the novice I am at least. The mugs I was hoping would shine through did in fact. Finally the clear glaze over the under glazing worked! The Antique Blue and Pippen Green glazes I used on many pieces look all right. The Blue on some of them though took on an interesting bubbling kind of behaviour, which sort of looks intentional I suppose, ( but wasn’t). It works in its own particular way and I’ll leave it at that. Funny though, the Pippen Green, when I went to K’s to pick up she had met me in the yard. She said everything came out fine, but then she winced and said, the green came out an odd colour, maybe you’ll like it, but it looks like pea soup to me. When I saw the pieces I laughed and said, I do like it, in fact I love it ! We both shrugged. Beauty is absolutely in the eye of the beholder. I loaded up the bin with all my pieces and put it in the wheelbarrow, and headed the quarter mile home.

Common use of transport on Protection Island.

I lay everything out on my kitchen table for a good look and decide I’m getting a little closer to what I see in my mind translate into clay and glaze. A little closer, in that I don’t feel the discouragement I felt with previous firings. A friend/ neighbour asked if I will sell, she had bought two mugs from a previous firing, I tell her I don’t know yet, she says to keep her in the loop if I do. I’m tempted, because I feel a little pressure to refinance my material costs. And this batch of work looks all right. I give it some thought, but decide instead to work towards creating inventory, to stock pile. The bit of work I have now may be marketable to some but my work will progress over the following winter. There will be more choices, my studio will be full. This decision comes on the heels of our Island’s annual Art Walk the takes place at the end of November. The craft folks here open their doors to their Christmas shopping neighbours, and it’s always a great success. But. I’m not ready yet. Currently on my shelves are lots of less than mediocre pieces; trials and many errors, then I have this small batch of not too bad stuff. So, I’ll wait and work towards having more of the “pretty good” pieces to offer for sale.

Really happy with the mugs- my gosh I was working on those in the middle of summer- finally finished! And how about that little vase in Pippen Green? Pea soup, or do you see what I see, a lovely autumnal golden green? I have a chance to get one more firing in before K sells her house and moves her studio (and kiln!) to town, so I spent an afternoon in my studio throwing bowls with the intention of consistency. I chose out a couple of bowls from this recent firing that appealed to me size, shape wise and wanted to replicate them. To make a set of bowls. At my work table I weighed out a bunch of one pound balls of clay and began throwing. First one was pretty good, although not like the one I was wanting to replicate, but a better one, so I’d use that as my model for the rest of the set. I used my callipers and measured the width and depth of that “perfect” bowl, and, because the same amount of clay, should be easy to throw the rest the same. (insert maniacal laughter here).

So, I have nine distinct unto themselves bowls. Salving my thwarted intentions with the cry, I am not a machine! It IS hard to be consistent. (um, story of my life in fact) It was like, if I held my fingers differently while throwing one bowl to the next it mattered the outcome.

The other four bowls look nothing like these ~

Practice, practice, work, work.

*Apologies for the text on the photos not being aligned correctly when viewed on a phone device. Not sure how to correct that.

Cheers ~

This Week

I suppose the title should read The Last Two Weeks since I didn’t post last Thursday. As I had mentioned on my Sunday Songwriting post (that was posted a week late)- things got busy with putting the vegetable gardens in, errands into town to get stuff for the gardens etc. We also managed to get out for a sail one beautiful sunny day, our first of the season, and Squillie’s first sail ever. We picked a calm day with light winds so she wouldn’t feel threatened when the boat leaned when under sail. She did great! Nervous, but she held her composure like a champ for our four hour cruise in the Strait of Georgia

Sequoia’s first sail

I’ve been getting some writing done in the mornings. It’s funny that I am retired, my schedule is of my own making, and yet to lock myself down in the chair for three hours in the morning is harder than it sounds. Especially this time of year. I’d already been out for my two mile walk at six thirty, I make breakfast, wash up and now, I say to myself, sit down to work. But the sun is up and the day outside beckons me like a cheerleader with a bullhorn. So I think, maybe I should do the outside work first, then come in and write. And many times I do that, because I feel guilty for being in the house at my desk until noon when the day is gorgeous. That arrangement doesn’t help my writing, I know my best time for doing anything creative is at the start of the day, when my energy is winding up and I really need to honour that. By the afternoon I really lack any creative focus other than making dinner.

I spent three hours today putting the final clear glaze on my clay work- at last! That was a long wait for the first firing. I was excited to see my mugs, it’s been a couple of months, and I was concerned about how much they may have shrunk in the firing, as has been the case with my past pieces. When I saw them today I was really happy to see their size was just what I wanted, and really happy with my designs and underglaze colours. K usually has the clear glaze already mixed up, but not this time, so I made up a big bowl of clear glaze and set to work dipping the mugs. Now the wait for the final firing and keeping my fingers crossed the clear glaze doesn’t come out milky and too thick this time. This last firing phase has been the frustrating part for me, the time and effort spent in making the pieces, and then the end product is less than satisfactory. But here’s hoping for a stunning reveal this time!

This is how the pieces look before I coat them with clear glaze, which doesn’t look clear at all when its applied just white and chalky. Now they wait for the glaze firing – the final fire- and oh I hope they emerge like little jewels!

Cheers!

In the Studio

I’ve had a productive week. Sixteen mugs, three small bowls, and a vase thrown on the wheel. I ran the risk of not getting handles attached to five of the white mugs and getting their bottoms trimmed up; I had left them to stiffen a day too long on the shelf, so it was a scramble in getting them trimmed, pulling handles and getting them on. As I was working I knew there would be cracks at the joins, and I really thought I’d missed the window, but with a good roughing and lots of slip I hoped for the best. Then I went on to work with red clay.

Sure enough the next day when I checked the white mugs they had indeed formed cracks where the handles joined the mug. I set to work with a paint brush, vinegar and a flat, wood tool and mended the fissures. I had to do this every day until all the pieces were completely dry. Why Vinegar? It moistens the semi dry clay without adding extra water to the clay because it quickly evaporates. So it gives me enough time to manipulate the softened clay to make minor mends.

Luckily I managed to save all the white mugs. The red clay pieces were carefully monitored as they set up. Then I spent a day trimming the bottoms and pulling handles and attaching them. But checking them the next day I spotted a few of them had small cracks, so out with the brush and vinegar.

I have been making a lot of mugs, trying to get them right. When I first started making them they came out of the kiln so small, not taking into account how much shrinkage happens. Then, when I think I have a good size mug and glaze them, I’m unhappy with the end product after the final firing. In the last firing for example the clear glaze applied over top of the underglaze, was too thick and caused some lumpy and cloudy areas in the final fire. So, trial and error, and practice, practice, practice.

I think I’m getting closer to the size I’ve been after, and the thinness. Tomorrow I’ll be under glazing. I’ve stumbled upon some designs I was quite happy with on my last batch and I’m excited to get to work. Fingers crossed this batch is the charm!

Then I made a mini-Apple Pie and Orange-Fennel Ice Cream, because- balance.

Cheers!