Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Color excites me. I wrote in my last post that I was considering leaving many of those bowls white. Well, that didn't happen. I just love color too much. I pulled out my clear glaze and started off with three bowls, still leaning towards an all white firing. Then I saw my gray glaze just sitting these so I did a few gray. Then aqua, purple, navy, pink and chartreuse. Before I realized what I had done my entire kitchen/glaze studio was filled with colorfully glazed pots. The three white bowls didn't even make it in the kiln. They are still sitting waiting to be fired. I love white, but maybe I love color just a little more!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I love making bowls. Truly more than any other form. I enjoy centering the clay and stretching it from a narrow base out to a wide rim. I love altering the rims into softer organic shapes, still stretching and stretching as I work. I allow the bowls to sit on the bats until they are only slightly firm. At this point I am able to pick up the piece without it completely collapsing, but it is still soft enough that my hands leave a noticeable imprint.
I just love the look of stacked bowls! Especially bowls with uneven rims. I enjoy the gentle pull of expectations created by the varied space between the bowls, in the bowls and around the bowls. Unglazed I feel these bowls exhibit a beautiful warmth and quietness. I am even a little hesitant to glaze these pieces. I have been longing for white lately. Who knows, maybe I will just leave these bowls white. Sealed with a simple clear glaze. Perhaps its the 100 degree weather we've been having. Summer always brings white to mind. White cotton sundresses, fluffy white clouds and now lots and lots of white bowls.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
My mind is always going, conjuring up future projects, addressing present concerns, thinking, thinking, thinking. This can get a bit overwhelming. The far away stuff I jot down in my notebook. The right now stuff I break up into smaller units. Because the process from start to finish with a piece of pottery is so layered and time consuming I needed to find a way to stay busy without losing focus on the earlier work that was now sitting just slowly drying. When I used to work outside of the house I would throw a few pots and then go about my busy work and school life until I remembered those poor neglected pots. I'd fire them sometimes months after they were made. I'd eventually glaze them and maybe wait several more months before firing them again. This method used to work perfectly for me. It fit my lifestyle. At that time my goal to do pottery whenever I could, whenever I had the spare time was a no-pressure, attainable goal approach even though I never fully acknowledged that method to be a goal. It simply worked. And that is the important thing; to find a goal that simply works for you.
Now that I am making a go of my pottery full-time I obviously needed to reevaluate my working method. This is admittedly still a learning process for me, but I have found something that works for me right now. Every day I make at least six pots. May sound like a lot to some people. May sound like absolutely nothing to others. But for me, this is just the right amount. Some days I double or triple my goal, but I always make at least six. Size and form do not matter. It is just a number that I am working towards. Depending on the forms this goal may take several hours or less then ten minutes. And that is the perfect thing about it for me. Some days I don't have more than ten minutes to sit down and throw, but I can always find at least ten minutes. Other days I work for hours and hours quite happily, not another thought on my mind.
Setting attainable goals is an important part of disciplined creative work, and self employment. While the details will certainly vary for each individual, I cannot imagine a single person who would not benefit from a set of reasonable goals customized to their own lifestyle. Don't hold yourself to someone else's standards. Set your own attainable goals and give yourself the reward of successful accomplishment each and every day. So, what are you working towards?
Monday, June 6, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
While I've mixed up quite a few lavenders, violets and lilacs I haven't found a shade I am completely drawn to. Until I unloaded the kiln this morning. Hello plum perfection! This color has some serious potential! Keeping with my laid back purple approach I (of course) did not take notes on this glaze. Thankfully, (and hopefully) I think I basically remember how I acheived this rich, juicy hue. Now it's time to get serious about purple and get out my notebook... and even make test tiles.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Yes, I wore a dress, despite the potential catching on fire thing. Only got a sunburn! Here's a step by step of this past weekend's Raku firing:
Once they're hot enough they are removed from the kiln and exposed to the air. The drop in temperature shocks the glaze. Getting the glaze hot enough is crucial. We don't use any sort of pyrometer. Instead we usually watch for a few tell tale signs from the glaze:
-Red orange heat
-Little sweat beads forming on the pot's surface
-The sweat beads begin to flatten out on the pots making them very shiny and "wet".
**This is the heat point we always wait for.
Removed with tongs the pots are placed on bricks for a few seconds. In this brief time the glaze begins to crack and separate, creating a web-like system of intricate crackles. While they can't be seen yet, the cracks are now established.
The pots were then placed in a nearby barrel which was packed with combustibles such as newspaper and pine needles. The heat from the pots quickly catches this material on fire. The lid is then closed.
Once the pots are removed from the barrel they are dull and brown. The pots are then dipped in water to cool the glaze completely.
Washed and polished the pots shine with beautiful black crackles!
This is how we Raku, how about you?