Saturday, January 5, 2013

Clay Critter Frenzy

Will someone please tell me why I keep coming out to the studio (where I work in WHITE CLAY exclusively) wearing BLACK clothing?!

Oh nevermind.  That's a rhetorical question...

(although my new black fleece sweatpants are a virtual magnet for white clay-dust!)

Anyhoooo...  It's kind of a Slow-Mo Day for me.  Cold, damp and dreary.  And I've been getting Cabin Fever bigtime - being trapped in the house all week long.  So I was happy to take a mini-getaway out to The Shack this afternoon.

Priscilla has been trying, o' so valiantly, to inspire me to break-out of my "I think I'll make a tray" mindset and get a little more creative.

I also have a nearly full bag of scrap clay that I am too lazy to recycle, so sometimes I break-away from tray-making and let the scrap-clay-blobs "tell me" what they want to be...

Here is what I've got in the works right now:

First - inspired by another blogger - I made a Lucy (or she might be a Pigeon - I can never tell them apart!). Scratch and Peck is a super-cute blog, written by Lauren Scheuer (who will soon have a buk-buk-BOOK!).  She tells of her Chicken-Raising Adventures and also offered-up some adorable "cut-out" Christmas Ornaments this year.  Her holiday post is here.

And this is the last creation for 2012:

She could be ANYBODY right now!

I plan to glaze her dark-gray with white - like a Barred Rock.  Originally, I thought I would make her into a Christmas Ornament, but recycling clay blobs makes for a pretty "blobby" (and heavy) piece.  If you tried to hang this on a tree, it would probably take a branch off!  So - paperweights are good, right?!

If this piece survives drying and firing, and comes out okay, I'll probablygive it to Lauren - since her blog posts always brighten my day!

Next up:  Today's Creations.

This li'l guy has a couple of potential homes.  In fact, I may have to make two of them because I have lots of hedgehog fans!

And lastly, a little "Wisdom" (or SOMETHING!)

I think this guy needs a little more texture, but I'll let him set-up a bit before I start messing with him.

Oh, I couldn't help myself!  He desperately needed more texture and - so far, so good!

Yes.  Much better!

So that's the latest from the Tiki Shack o' Perpetual Summer (with a little help from a space-heater).  I'll post more, as things progress...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

African Hut Peanut Jar

Evidently, some things CAN happen quickly in my studio. This is, quite possibly, the FASTEST piece I ever created!  Less than 2 weeks from concept to completion - Amazing!

Earlier this year, Priscilla and I went to a "Build a Birdhouse" Workshop at one of the local ceramic studios.  We went, primarily, to scope-out the studio - and also to steal borrow some ideas!  Well, Priscilla (never shy!) asked if she could copy their birdhouse templates, and she gave me a set cut-out of roofing tar-paper.

Tar-paper is really handy for stuff like this

It helps maintain consistency from piece-to-piece.  It also adds a little support to the clay while drying and tar-paper is practically indestructible!

One of the templates was for a round birdhouse.  Naturally, I had to turn it into a Tiki Shack Birdhouse!

We each made 3 birdhouses that day.
Naturally, the Tiki Hut is my favorite (although I'm quite fond of the outhouse as well!)
My life-long BFF (since elementary school) really liked the Tiki Hut and mentioned that she'd really like something similar - only not a bird-house, but a jar which she could use for storing peanuts to feed to the bluejays and squirrels.  She is also very fascinated with African Culture and sent me this picture to illustrate what she wanted:

At first, I thought it might be a fun project for her to create, but we were never able to coordinate it.

So, what with it being Christmas and all, I figured I could throw one together fairly quickly.  Now mind you, I came up with this brilliant idea on December 16 (and most of my pieces take 2-3 MONTHS to get done - Oops!).

On the plus side:  She actually spent Christmas in Africa so I got a little bit of an extension!

Here are some shots of construction:

December 16.  Cut out the pieces and form the cylindrical base

 December 24.  Greenware is nearly dry.
I ran the kiln on a Cone 05 Fast-Bisque on 12/26
(I also managed to include the kids' ornaments with low-fire clear glaze)

December 27 - Bisqued and glazed, ready for final firing.

The glazes I used were:  Undercoat of Coyote Sky Blue LUG (Liquid Underglaze), then 2.5 coats of Coyote Oasis Glaze on the inside and outside of the cylinder base (I left the top lip unglazed so I could fire the lid and jar together without them getting glued together).  Then I 'swirled' a top coat of Coyote Archie's Base glaze on top of the Oasis in semi-circular brush-strokes.  The lid has a combination of LUGs underneath (Brown, White + Yellow), and the topside is glazed with 2 coats of Western Chocolate Chip glaze, and a few dry-brush swishes of Amaco Temmoku.

Then a quick (solo!) trip into the kiln for a Fast Glaze firing @ Cone 5.

December 29 - All done!

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to come up with a good match for the Aqua color of the original hut - but I am pleased with how the "swirly" glaze treatment gives it a nice mottled look.  The blues really are quite pretty.

And my BFF really seemed to like it a lot.  So yay for that!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Christmas Ornaments

Nothing ever happens *quickly* in my studio!  

Case in point: I started this year's colleague-ornaments much later than usual and, on September 15, I decided to dig through my (vast) cookie cutter collection.

This was my inspiration:

This, combined with an article I'd read on Lakeside Pottery's page - about fusing glass with ceramics.  The article is here.

I went with their recommendation and purchased my glass from American Specialty Glass.  I purchased one pound each of Turquoise, Yellow Chunky, Light Green and Chunky Red Terrazzos.  All were Size 2 - except for the yellow which only came in size 3 (larger chunks).

I figured, since this was an experiment, I'd better allow for a high mortality rate, so I made a BUNCH of ornaments!
Yeah, that oughtta work!
Smooth stoneware, greenware stage

I bisqued them at cone 05 - nothing earth shattering there - then I applied Coyote liquid underglazes: Really Red, Yellow, Light Blue, and Western Irish Green (ran out of green Coyote LUG).  I left the raised oval and the inside of the ovals colorless (on most of them).  Then I went and coated the topsides with clear glaze - again, leaving the inside of the oval (where the glass will go) completely bare - but I did clear-glaze the "raised" ovals...

Here they are, in the kiln, with the glass shards placed inside the ovals.  The trick was finding the "optimal" number of shards to place in each oval.  I wanted the glass to melt and pool inside of the ovals.  Not enough glass, and the colors tend to break-up.  Too much glass, and it kind of oozes over the oval and totally screws up the LUG coloring on the outside...  I lost appx 1/4 of my ornaments due to "too much glass oozing" - Oops!

Anyway, I did a Fast-Glaze firing profile - no hold, no preheat - at Cone 6 in my electric kiln.  And I am pretty pleased with the results!

I really like how the glass crackled and looks all shimmery!  But - like I say - I had a lot of losses as well (not gonna post my "failures!").  The Turquoise, Yellow and Light Green were the nicest.  Red had a tendency to "break-up" in color.

Still not bad - but the other colors came out nicer.

I think I'd made about 28 ornaments total (for 18 co-workers).  I ended up with just a couple extras - when it was all said and done.  

Project started on September 15, and I just BARELY finished them in time for our office Holiday Party on December 11!

Anyway, my colleagues seemed to appreciate them, so I think this was a successful experiment!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Testing 1-2-3

Testing "alternate author" functionality...  Wonder how this will appear?

There's one way to find out, I guess!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Welcome to my shiny new blog!

Yeah, I think this'll be MUCH better but - DANG!!! - I wished I'd thought of this sooner!  Turns out that my first choice for the blog name was already taken.  Just one month ago!

Oh well, what are ya gonna do, right?!

Anyway, I like Blogger far better than the "blog" functionality over at Freeservers.  So here it is!

Don't have much to say, tonight, but I hope to cobble-together a post about Christmas Ornaments:  My experimentation with art glass on this year's batch of stoneware, and tales of my (mis)-adventures with the neighbor's kids!

Stay tuned and we'll see where this goes!