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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Not Quite A Disaster

We won't even discuss one of the glaze-test bowls. It truly is a disaster. One positive note about it tho -- the "orange" i was trying for came out pumpkin. We now have a palette with 3 shades of yellow. The other test colors failed more or less miserably.

On to the second test bowl.

Ya gotta realize -- a red breaking yellow was expected from Clausen's "Temoku Gold". Red breaking yellow is entirely at the opposide end of the spectrum from black breaking gold.

It's a fact. Black is my least favorite color. ( Not only is the color hostile to the concept of optimism and positive attitudes but by common usage, as by the fundamentalists, the color has become censorious of other's values; not to mention that an abundance of the color black is downright depressing. )

So without too much stretch of the imagination, it can easily be determined that when the kiln was opened today and i found a primarily black bowl i felt that it was a complete disaster!

Oh no! Oh no! Doom and gloom are upon us. Ironically, it really was!

Scant seconds after opening the kiln, i discovered that the city plow had hidden my car behind a wall of snow. Again.

Well, i've already done the snow rant, so back to the black bowl.

Guess there are some positives about it, if you try hard to wrap your mind around 'positives'.

It really is a gold mist meandering through the black. Rather pretty actually.

x xxx

And while a lovely shimmering blue with turquoise crystals was expected on the outside, the rather u-glee moss-green-brownish breaking tan with metallized blackish markings (after a long period of mental "adjustment" ) is actually rather - well - interesting.
xx xx xxx
Made a discovery. This glaze (Clausen's Orange glaze with blue crystals) reacts to lead pencil markings! It can be seen in the photo below, that the metallic black globbed onto every pencil line. That's intriguing, for it's never happened with other glaze applications. Usually the pencil sketches disappear when fired in the kiln!

Hmmm ............. Back to the drawing board ...............
Tomorrow is a bisque-firing day. See if i can clear some more room on the holding-table for more pieces. Right now pieces are stacked 3 and 4 deep and there's not a spare inch of space left to stack more.
Happy glazing folks

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Along The Glazing Trail

My recent success with Daniel Rhodes' glaze #18 as a base with #15 as an overglaze has given me the courage to branch out and experiment. Am still trying to achieve red, orange and pink.

Also, i have a healthy respect for Alisa Clausen's work with glazes in Denmark. Her openness to share the results of her intensive research attests to her sterling character so much so that i would believe anything she says!

Thus recently (yesterday) spent the whole afternoon (6 hours) trying to combine some of the results of Alisa's research with the proven Rhodes' formula's to achieve different colors.

By 6:10pm, there were little dabs of glaze mixtures in marked containers all over the kitchen, with bags of oxides scattered on every counter surface and the inevitable dust and spills from mixing the stuff repositing on counters, floor, table tops and me!

And wouldn't you know, i was hungrier than sin! Cooking supper entailed quite a gymnastics feat, trying to move food directly from the fridge to the pan on the stove without allowing it to touch any surface. It was a first for me -- cutting meat -- literally 'in the air'!

All this to say: when working with copper greens, be aware that a "perfect" metallic celadon-type green will change color if it's refired !!!
Broke my heart.

Now many ceramic/potters test fire glaze colors on tiles. They run a line glaze to see what varying amounts of oxides will produce. Which is all fine and well if one has a use for tiles! However, at this point in time, i'd rather run a line test on bowls. Just think -- if i accidently obtain a spectacular color on a rather nice bowl -- i can sell the durn thing!

So far, that hasn't happened.

But it will !!! xxxx It will . . . . xxxx I'm just sure it will.

It nearly happened on the bowl below. The white and green contrasted nicely on the flute-rimmed bowl and were pleasing. xxxxxxxxxxxxx

The test colors on the flower and leaves lost color (and shading), becoming rather blah.
Decided to refire. (Cheated a bit here by using Duncan glazes on the flower.)

Why is it so hard to add shading with glazes? Even known colors (like Duncan) don't seem to blend at all nor create the subtleness of nature's harmonious soup├žon of tonal variations. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

All this to say: a lovely green with even a hint of copper metallic will become mostly metallic-blackish when refired.

OK. So the two bowls glazed yesterday are in the kiln today. If they are not "too horrid", i'll post the results either tomorrow or the day after.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ancient Artist

Good Sunday Morning to you folks!
Have you caught the Sunday Salon over on Sue Smith's site yet? Have been following her blog, , for several months now and find it to be a collation of insightful, interesting and mentally stimulating ideas about the art world in general and modern artists specifically. (There's a lot of other information worth considering there also!)

Sue has extraordinary perception of and sensitivity towards ascending artists and presents them to us served up as a platter of exquisite vignettes. In her blog, she represents the intermediate between created art and the artist; and, she does this well.

But don't be fooled by the facade of what you are seeing initially !!! Sue Smith, herself, is an exceptionally talented artist.

She has that rare talent of creating not a "painting" but of creating an experience in which the viewer becomes emotionally involved and finds the landscape before him to be an intricate part of himself.

Follow her link: 'Sue Smith Fine Art: Paintings from the Oregon Outback' (found in the right hand column) and you will see what i mean.

Her 'Cattle Station Oregon Outback ' is to die for!

Her oils and brushwork bring style, line and balance to landscapes creating an atmosphere of inner harmony between man and his environment.
Her command of the tonal values of color is awesome.
She captures the spirit and the mood -- the very essence -- of the land.
And . . . .
Invites us all to walk into the silent poetry of the Oregon outback.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Turquoise Anyone?

Am just kind-a really pleased with this little creamer !!!
Notice around the top -- there's some pale turquoise. If anyone knows how that managed to occur, please clue me in ??? xxx Used 1% tin oxide with Rhodes #18 base glaze and #15 over all.
Applied 2 coats of the base with tin to the whole creamer before applying the coloring oxides for the flowers, etc.
Have tried to achieve turquoise intentionally, but haven't succeeded yet; so imagine my frustration to achieve it accidently without knowing how this happened !!!

Bragging here a little bit -- Day-before-yesterday, i threw a double-walled pot !!! Was so tickled, i tried for a second one. Should-a quit while i was ahead, eh?

Am dying of curiosity. Have 2 bowls in the kiln. Fired them yesterday but can't check them until 3pm today. (That's a whole hour and a half to wait !!!) Tried out a whole slew of new coloring oxides to see what effects they would have. Am basically still trying for a red and an orange. Seem to have yellow, blue, green, lavender and mustard pretty well down at this point in time, although still need to figure out various "shades & tones" of these colors.

Happy glazing day

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Labeling and New Stuff


Sometimes i get in a hurry. Or feel exhausted and think: ' i'll get around to this tomorrow '. Sometimes, with such an excellent mind, there's no doubt in it that i'll remember each and every detail forever!

When creating your own glazes from scratch, any one of these thinking processes is a losing proposition.

Have recently begun again to construct my own glazes. (With the help of Daniel Rhodes and his book: "Clay and Glazes for the Potter", Revised and Expanded by Robin Hopper). A book of inestimable value!

Now perhaps i should describe the process i use when constructing glazes. Because "waste" is the antithesis of everything i hold dear, making up large batches of a glaze that may or may not work goes directly against the grain of my nature. So generally a recipe is halved.

And too, rather than measure by weight, i measure by volume. Thus instead of measuring one gram of a chemical, i measure 1/8th of a teaspoon. (Just try measuring 45 parts by an 1/8th teaspoon at a time! Tedious. But it works.)

OK. So the stage is set. We've now measured out a whole recipe, an 1/8th of a teaspoon at a time for each part, added our colorants (chromium, cobalt, copper, tin oxide, etc.) and have applied to the bowl, plate, or whatever in the appropriate places.


There's a dab left over. Say it's a dab of 4 (1/8th's tsp) Titanium measured into 1 (1/2 tbsp) of the Rhodes' formula #18, which we already know will make a lovely yellow breaking orange.

You think i'm going to throw it away?!!! xx Not on your life. Even though it's a mere dab, i'm going to set it aside to use day-after-tomorrow when i glaze again. Should-a labeled it, though. But . . .

I was exhausted, in a hurry, and truly thought i'd remember which little container contained what. There were only 16 little containers . . . .

Which is all to say, that the plate above was spozed to be a sunrise melding through a misty fog into the horizon. But i grabbed the wrong, unmarked container and instead of a haze achieved stark blue horizon lines.

Bummer. Even so, it turned out rather pretty, don't you think?
The area that appears blue on the bottom of the plate is actually a celadon green as in the photos below.

Am tickled with this little gem. A sugar bowl. When held in the hand, it has a smooth, satiny feel and as per usual the colors are much more saturated than the photos indicate. Each of the teardrop shapes have a subtly different hue with the lavender breaking red and the yellow breaking orangey in different combinations.
Tried for a close-up to show the richness of the celadon below. While the photo doesn't do that, it does show the intricacies of the color combinations.
Am discovering that creating my own glazes ( and having good results!) is extremely soul satisfying! Oh sure, have used the Coyote glazes and am pleased with most of the ones used. However, there's a certain feeling of elation from creating one's own glazes that can't be matched by using the commercial types created by someone else!
Happy Glazing folks

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Types of Inspiration

Cynthia Guajardo's post on her blog yesterday posed the question: How do you start a new project?

This morning woke up thinking about that.
What motivates me? Or "inspires" new pieces? New work?
There are four methods i currently use. At least, consciously.

(Early Morning. Room is lighter than it appears in the photo. Sitting in front of the window sketching)

(1) Generally bring my coffee and cigs into the pottery room, put my feet up on the worktable and start sketching. Just letting the pencil doodle along as it pleases. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Suddenly, a thought occurs (this morning's was: clouds. I'd like to creat pottery clouds!) and i jump up, zip out to the kitchen to pummel some clay, back to the pottery room, sit down at the wheel and create.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Not exactly a cloud, you say!

(2) If Winter blues hold me in their thrall, i sit down at the computer first thing. Touch base with others, (however nebulously one can "touch base" on a computer!), then zip over to youtube and watch pottery videos (usually Simon Leach's). Find a new technique not tried before, get inspired and zip into the pottery room to try it out. (I'm still a novice at the wheel . . . .)

(3) Instead of either of the above - i just start throwing. This generally leads to a lot of "failed" bowls. However, i've come to realize in these past months - a "failed" bowl is a great opportunity for creativity. Hmmm now, let's see what we can turn this into . . . .

(4) I start with a plan. "Today i'll throw 10 large juice pitchers." (It never turns out that way tho. The clay becomes too wet and collapses. Figuring i can still rescue the throw, turn these into bowls which if they collapse become plates. Or - just before the clay collapses, realize it's going to at any second and decide the shape and size are actually - a cup!
So goes the day when i start with "a plan". Have learned to avoid plans at all costs.

So that's it. Currently.
Repeating Cynthia's question: What motivates You? Where do you find inspiration?

Happy inspiration to you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Short Note

Spent most all day glazing pots.

Had such great success with Friday's glostfire, that it seemed imperative to use the same glaze again right away to see if the first success was repeatable OR if it was a fluke. Sincerely hope that it's repeatable for instead of doing just one (which is how i usually test for results) did up several items which are ready to go into the kiln tomorrow morning at 6am.

Have been having the dickens of a time with plates. Pesky plates. Either the bottom is too thin when i throw them and they crack while a-dryin' or they go into the bisque fire perfectly fine but crack before done.

As was the case today. Had loaded the kiln nearly as full as space would permit. Fired the kiln yesterday and when i opened it today, the bowls were all fine. The plate cracked. I've avoided attempting plates until recently because i thought they would have a challenge factor of zero. Just whup it out and fire.


Big news of the last several days: was trying to throw a double-walled pot and came up with a new invention !!! A chip and dip bowl, right? Was in a hurry when i snapped the pixs so unfortunately it doesn't show to its best advantage. (Has really graceful lines when seen from the front.
xx xxx
Well folks. I'm off to bed.
Pleasant dreams everyone . . . .

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Straw Bowl

OK folks. Listen up. And Look See. This is serious!
(ok - so Dick and Jane were prominent in my kindergarten experience!)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Normally, i wouldn't bore you with 4 pictures of the same bowl on a Sunday morning. There's a possibility y'all haven't even gotten back from church services yet. But Sunday is a day of rejoicing . . . .

And Boy! xxxxxAm i Rejoicing!

The bowl in these photos is colored with a homegrown glaze !!!

Not only is it smooth to the touch with no scarped areas, but the colors please me mightily. A vivid blueberry blue, and a peacock olive green. The "red" did fade, giving the barest hint of rose-colored clouds in a white sky.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

And the straw yellow is flecked with minute shades of brown. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

But what pleases me most is . . . . the chemicals combined to give the intended color.

Took it out of the kiln late last night and could hardly wait til today to share it with you!
Happy Sunday

Friday, February 8, 2008

Time Lapse

Hi Folks
Sorry about the time lapse between this and the last posting.
And More Snow

Has anyone calculated how much "time" is lost or wasted when excessive snow impacts a body's life? Snow is a real loess-leader item.

Consider xx-- xxthe shoveling.

Depending on how much snow has fallen overnight, how long the walk is and how well one can breathe, the initial shoveling attempt isn't too bad. Only takes an hour or so. Gasping for air in high altitudes is time consuming.

But then, you are back in the house, standing in front of the wood stove and basking in a sense of accomplishment.

Approximately, 20 minutes have gone by, when you notice that the wind has undone your efforts. The walk is completely covered with tall snow drifts; some of which are 2-3 feet high, and a UPS delivery is expected. It's that second shoveling that will get you every time.

With one eye on the newly re-shoveled front walk, (as if guarding it with your attention will stop the wind and prevent further drifts!) you glance down and there, the little dog Pasha, wags its tail and jumps around with urgency. Pasha, who would fit into a small shoebox, has to go out. Now!

Most folks don't make a practise of shoveling out their back yards. It just doesn't make a lot of sense. Unless one has a dog like Pasha who places one paw gingerly on the newly fallen snow and realizes it is over her head. As she fixes you with a disgusted frown, she turns, trots smartly back inside, finds her favorite "spot", and proceeds to complete her business. Sometimes, shoveling out the back yard can be the line of least resistance when dealing with a smelly situation.

Whew! All that is done!

But then you discover wood on the porch is scarce and a tromp to the woodshed is absolutely necessary. (Have been putting it off for days.) This, normally, would be a time consuming task but not an onerous chore. Yet overnight a mountain of snow has fallen off the roof. Darn! If i'd known that was going to happen, i wouldn't have shoveled the pathway yesterday twixt the house and the shed. Now, there's a ten foot barricade from here to there. So ok, maybe it's only 4-and-a-half-feet. I know this because, as my feet sink into a soft spot, my chin strikes the snow cap and still, if barely, is above its peak. With churning arms and trampolining legs, the battle ensues to fight one's way to the top of the pile rather than trying to tunnel through it. You know . . . it's going to be a real challenge to carry enough wood to last through the night. The only course of action is . . . . Yep! You guessed it. More shoveling. (I have a hunch this can cause a heart attack but there's no time for one now. I'm too busy gasping for breath.)

Then, as with every blizzardly storm, there are the phone calls. Friends and relatives calling. "Hey. My car is stuck in a snow drift. Whiteout conditions. Couldn't see the road and drove into the ditch. Can you come pull me out?"

Outside and preparing to race to the rescue. However, the city plow, its blade aimed with precision, has decorated the car with a towering column of alabaster powder. The Mazda proudly displays its snowy mantle. And sure enough, it too, is stuck. Not in a ditch but in a snowdrift of a different nature.

Awe heck. I should shovel that out.
But it's dark and past my bedtime.

Wonder why these dark months are called Winter. These days of falling pewter skies when even a shotgun fired across the broadside of our nation wouldn't be heard over the howling wind shouting its discontent across a snow-sculpted land. Survival determined by the shovel full. A more fitting name for the season would be Lacuna. The blank space or missing part of time.

Monday, February 4, 2008

This N' That

Had a rather fine day today. Was tickled with all that got accomplished. One of those rare Mondays when everything went well.
Started the morning throwing long-necked pots, a plate and an ugly jug which will have to be redone. Perhaps, it can still become something other than more clay added to the reclaim scraps heap.
Ought-a mention that last week in the snow storm (when all the roads were closed) the UPS driver delivered my order of tools. Ribs and such. Naturally, shortly after they arrived, i saw a photo of a handy-dandy rib which, needless to say, hadn't been ordered and wasn't in the delivery. The more i thought about that rib, the more i just had to have it . . . .
This afternoon, located my jigsaw, sander, drill and wood carving tools; selected one of the smaller logs from the woodstove pile; and began making a rib !!!
It only took me 3 hours to creat this neat little puppy. xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Best of all worlds - it works just as i imagined it would.
There's a bowl a-glazin' in the kiln. Am trying a Bailey formula with Chae additions. It's going to be extremely difficult to wait til 2-3pm tomorrow to see how the glaze calculations translate to color.
Yesterday evening opened the bisque fired load. Generally, wait 20 hours after turning the kiln off to check the pots. Saturday, i'd put several in and (a first for me with this kiln) finagled a kiln shelf with even more items. Now i've read, several times, that when the kiln is filled more than usual, it takes longer to cool. And in truth, i did wait for 21 hours before checking it. But i'd forgotten the rule and all the pots were still really warm. Ooopps!
Am happy to report, this one turned out great.
Late afternoon. The day had gone so well, i decided to experiment and try to throw lids off the hump. Haven't attempted this before. Threw about 6 of them from approximately 1 pound of clay (at least i'd guess it was a pound). And was so excited about the outcome that i immediately took photos of them to post here. Maybe a description of the lids will give you a clue why none of the lids photographed are posted. Threw a mushroom-shaped hollow ball on top of a long tapered stem. Set them upright on the stem to dry. In the photos, they look like . . . . ahem! . . . . well, they look like . . . .
You'll just have to take my word for it - throwing lids is a brand new passion of mine!
Well folks, it's off to the pottery room to trim out today's pots.
Happy Mudding

Sunday, February 3, 2008


I may have mentioned that when i first started firing pottery, my kiln was very small. Anything taller than 4 inches was too large to fit in the kiln! And, too, only one pot could be fired at a time.

This past Fall, bought 2 new kilns. The big gas one is out in the "kiln room", which is approximately 30 feet from the house. Currently, there is four-feet of snow between it and the house with drifts well-nigh chest-level high. (Out on the street, snow drifts are perhaps 8-10 feet tall.) Firing the gas kiln will have to wait for Spring.

The other kiln, a Paragon electric, has an 11-inch interior depth, and is located in the enclosed back porch utility room. This is the one i've been using for the past several months.

My plans (in the Fall) were that with the increased kiln space, i could fire many pieces at the same time. (And, going from 4 inches to 11 inches seemed like a huge increase in space at the time!)
Some subconscious psychological nemesis took hold and gleefully guided my hands at the wheel when i threw the new pots. The vessels increased in size. Got bigger and bigger. Now, i can barely fit them into the kiln. And, can only fire one at a time.

Which leads me to believe: Creativity increases in direct proportion to available space!