After the Deluge

Been busy in the studio the last while, the push is on to get one last batch of stuff made and into the kiln before K closes up her studio and moves it into town, which will be the 30th of November. I’m still a little distracted as to how I’ll manage with taking my green ware into Nanaimo for firing now; which translates to : loading delicate greenware (cushioned with copious amounts of bubble wrap) into bins, then into a wheel barrow, push it a quarter mile down the bumpy gravel- heaven forbid it’s raining– road to the dock, load into the boat, go carefully across the water, dock the boat, walk the quarter mile to parkade to get car and drive back down to the marina, park, walk back to the boat, carry bin up the dock to car, then to the ceramic studio and their kiln. It feels like a daunting process. But I have no alternative at the moment, I can’t afford a kiln at this time, and I don’t want this hiccup to dissuade me from continuing with this work. I’m fully enjoying working with clay and feel I’m improving as time goes on.

Squilly is good company

I picked up some alphabet stamps so I can incorporate words with the under glaze, and pretty happy with the outcome. They are all lower case letters and a little tricky to dip in underglaze just enough without blurring out the entire letter. Also the letter “r” can look like a “p”, and the “s” can look like an “f”; so for instance when I printed “sun and rain” around the rim of a cup a friend asked me what I meant exactly by “fun and pain.” I don’t want to have to explain. So I’ll keep my eye out for a capital letter set and also a larger lower case alphabet set.

“small cup big heart”
“sun rain”

I had a surprising request from a neighbour too. She had recently lost her mother and asked if I would make an urn for her. I told her I was honoured she’d ask, but that I’d have to give it some thought. In reality I had to jump on the wheel to see if I could even make one. It must have a lid that fits securely, it must big much bigger than what I’ve been throwing, and it must have a nice shape. I went on You tube and searched out some videos by potters as to the shape of the average vessel and amount of clay I’d need to work with. One potter used three and a half pounds, so I went with that for the first attempt. Looking at it when I finished I thought it seemed on the small size, but then that was likely my inability to utilize all the clay properly when doing my “pulls.” I scaled three more out at four pounds and jumped back on the wheel. When finished these looked more the right size- gosh I hope so – next I scaled out clay for lids. I threw them as I would a small bowl but with an inner rim that would sit down inside the vessel’s opening.

At this stage the deluge descended upon us, the Atmospheric River weather forecasters call it. British Columbia became awash in rain, as did our basement -my studio – 5 inches in fact, while in other parts of BC certainly had much worse. I wrapped the vessels and lids up in plastic to keep them from drying out before I would be able to get back to them to finish, and manned the pumps!

Here it comes! It will fill the entire floor in 5 inches of water

Took a couple of days for the water to go down with three pumps running full time, and luckily we had one day of sun to dry the ground out a bit. As soon as I could get to my wheel I finished off the vessels and lids, did some under glazing on two, let them dry then carted everything over to K’s. Now I wait.

Each lid has a different detail to it. I under glazed the leaves on this one, but I think I’ll leave the body of the vessel with only a clear finishing glaze because I like the grain in the clay that came out when I ran my metal rib around it. And as usual I have my fingers crossed everything comes out nicely in the final firing!

And guess what? There’s a forecast of another “Atmospheric River” headed our way again, but hopefully we’ll stay ahead of the river filling my studio again!

Cheers ~

This Week

I picked up my mugs from K’s yesterday and, sigh, the clear glaze, again, didn’t quite do what it was supposed to do. I have to admit though that most of the mugs, although they didn’t come out as I had expected, are still acceptable. One in particular though- the photo top left, came out particularly heinous, but K said I could re-fire it to correct the “holes”. As you can see, the clear glaze fired whiteish and a little thick in places and clouded the detail I had painted, but on some of the pieces it also kind of “works” as part of the overall glaze effect. So, feeling somewhat ok about this batch of ceramics, (looking for perfection in imperfection!) But, we do have another clear glaze we are going to try out. It comes already mixed in a four quart container, and if that doesn’t work I will put aside underglazes for the time being until we get it figured out- I mean how hard can it be?! ( well, apparently….)

In the meantime I will revert to the usual glazes we normally see on pottery.

Got out for a sail yesterday, and although the winds were iffy to none (still indoctrinating Squilly -aka Sequoia- to sailing, so picking gentle weather days) we were entertained by a small pod of five Orcas for two hours! They were too far off for my iPhone camera, but close enough to see their details with the binoculars. There was a lot of full body breaching and tail lobs (slapping) the entire time! That much action is a rare occurrence to witness so maybe there were two happy groups meeting up and communicating, or they might have been hunting salmon, and communicating about the school of fish they found, who knows, but it was spectacular. After the first hour people heard the news of the pod and three Whale Watching boats showed up and then a few private power boats arrived to have look. All keeping a respectable distance from the pod.

The garden is growing, I have three support structures I need to build for the pole beans that are now four inches high- better get on that, like Jack and the beanstalk they grow fast from this point on. The pollinators are out in full force. This one bush in particular in my backyard, a Grevillea type- Canberra Gem, really attracts the bees, hummingbirds and butterfly’s and I managed to sneak a photo of this Western Tiger Swallowtail beauty.

Cheers!