This week

My regular postings have lagged, yes I know, busy days are whizzing by and the hours within them seem like mere minutes. I tell myself I will write and post in the evening, but by then I’m done and in bed by nine. Currently I’m nursing a knee injury that I hope won’t incapacitate me for too long, but it slowed me down enough to allow me to get my WP post done because I have to sit! Previous to injury I have been getting some work done on the wheel, but I’ve done no writing on any of my stories. Finding that quiet, reflective time has been elusive to me lately but I am consciously moving to reinstate a set block of time each morning for planting myself at my desk and committing three hours to the page as I was doing not so long ago. Songwriting I suppose has been filling the “writing” quotient the last three months, taking the place of my other writing, but even songwriting has dropped out over the last three weeks; again it’s finding that reflective stretch of time. I do however have a song I’ve started working on, began writing two days ago and expect to post on Sunday. (Hmmm, maybe knee nursing is just the thing, I can’t do anything else right now but sit and write, play guitar!)

Last week in the studio I decided to make some large bowls. I had previously made some small bowls; I hadn’t gotten my new wheel or throwing bats yet, and I had some challenges removing my little bowls from the wheel head, but still managed to without causing much damage. Now that I have my new wheel, and removable bats, I knew the first thing I wanted to try out was to see if I could make a larger bowl since I now wouldn’t have to sweat over trying to slide the finished piece off the wheel head, or have to leave the bowl on the wheel to set up until the following day before removing it, tying up my wheel for hours.

So I weighed out and wedged nine balls of clay ( I have 9 Bats) at three pounds each. I would test myself to see if I could actually make something larger than a mug or cereal bowl. I had never thrown anything on the wheel over one pound, and if I may indulge for a brief second, I am happy to say each large bowl came out rather good- well, a true professional potter could likely squeeze out even bigger bowls with three pounds of clay, but mine came out well proportioned, not too thick, not too thin. Usually in a throwing session I’ll have a couple of pieces that go awry and need to be tossed back out on the board. This session however, all nine bowls were brought straight to satisfying completion. I popped out the bat and bowl off the wheel head, set them aside on the table overnight and the following afternoon removed them from their bats easily without warping the bowls. So, I was kinda thrilled. And I am loving my new wheel.

Fresh big bowls still attached to their bats, soon they’ll be removed and bottoms trimmed. I placed my little one pound bowls beside my three pound bowls for comparison.

Next I thought I’d try marbling my red, and buff white clay after watching a youtube video on it. I combined the two clay bodies and wedged out six, one pound balls, and started throwing. Very soon I was having difficulties. I had been careful when wedging the clay because I was attempting to not over blend the clay too much and lose the distinct white/red marble, but it meant I still had air bubbles in my clay, so after I scraped the two failed pieces off the wheel (see, I told you!) and tossed them back on the table I re-wedged the remaining four balls, hoping there will still be enough marbling running through. Not the case. The clay did become more on the homogeneous end of the marbling spectrum after more wedging, and the ones that I scraped off the wheel, after re wedging them they was no marbling at all in them, just a pale shade of red by the time they became mugs. But there was some marbling clearly coming through on two of the mugs which made me happy.

Some marbling came through

The shape and size of the mugs came out nicely I think; I just finished putting the handles on a couple of days ago. I have been pulling handles for all the mugs I’ve been making, but this time I rolled out a slab of buff clay and cut strips for handles. Next step is bisque fire and glaze and I’m debating if I should use underglaze again because I’m concerned as to how they may turn out due to the issues I’ve been having with the final clear glaze with my previous pieces. I do have a new clear glaze to try out that comes premixed, which should eliminate any clouding, or opaqueness problems I’ve been having; but, I’m still hesitant to commit this last body of work to a possibility of it failing again, so maybe I’ll just do some test tiles instead! I do have “regular” glazes I could use too, which are predictable in their outcome, more or less.

Handles on

So, with a hobble and a hitch I’ll see about finishing that song next. Cheers to all ~

Hiatus

I followed my advice from my last Monday Motivation post on the 14th and took some time. Not to say I didn’t have a lot going on these last two weeks. I also took a break from my weekly songwriting challenge, I saw I was leaving the writing till the very last day before getting something down; although I have been happy with what I’ve been writing. When I am working on a song I tend to put everything (and everyone) else aside and want to immerse myself in the task, but I have been too preoccupied with other things of late, like selling my kayak and my old second hand pottery wheel, family visits, and garden work.

When I listed my kayak, I had several buyers contact me, so it went fast to say the least. Initially I hesitated in listing it, I had an image of me paddling through Dodd’s Narrows and following the chain of gulf islands down through the inside passage, camping along the way, until I reached SaltSpring Island. But I had to face the fact that I hadn’t used the kayak much in the few years I had it; my left hand had a tendency to go numb after a short time of constant paddling, and Bob was nervous about my safety and wanted to “escort me” in our powerboat whenever I went out. Sweet man. I had wanted him to get a kayak too, in fact the neighbour I had bought my kayak from had two to sell, his and his wife’s, but I couldn’t convince Bob to buy the other one- his reasoning was; why would I choose to confine myself into a short tube and strain my arms and shoulders paddling when we have a 30 foot sailboat with bunks, and a head (toilet), and an ice box (beer), and wind power (relax with beer while effortlessly slipping through the water) ? He has a point.

I reallocated my Kayak money to buy something to which I have a greater need; a new Shimpo VL Whisper electric wheel. It’s small and compact and entirely quiet when running- unlike my old wheel which was very noisy. I couldn’t listen to music or podcasts while working, and after working a short while my ears would have enough ! I listed my old wheel on our island community email, and Protection Island face book page and right away had several responses; I have someone coming to pick it up tomorrow morning. I paid $75.00 for it from a neighbour three years ago and selling it for the same price.

My old electric kick wheel

When I finally got my new wheel home I spent an entire day rearranging my studio space. The new wheel is so beautifully compact I actually have more workable space now. I also bought a universal Batt set up that comes with five removable Batt inserts. Game changer.

My new Shimpo VL whisper wheel
The Batt system with insert.

This is the Batt system in place; you can see that the centre square piece easily lifts out. Now I won’t have to worry about denting my freshly thrown pieces when I remove them from the wheel head; not so bad when removing mugs, but I’ve had real challenges removing bowls from the wheel without altering their shape, even after several passes with the wire. Now it’s time to get busy !

I will also resume my weekly song challenge. I have been getting a lot of personal satisfaction from this project and wish to continue it as a creative practice.

Cheers!