Let the Beauty of what you Love be what you Do...

Monday, December 31, 2012

December in Santa Fe :)

Winter greetings to you on this last day of 2012! 
While it seems winter came a little late this year, we have been blessed with a fair amount of snow this December. I love the seasons here, and I find it particularly beautiful here in winter after a fresh dusting of snow... it sounds cliche, but it truly is like walking in a winter wonderland! I'm sharing a few photos I've taken out & about on my rare days off this month~ hope you enjoy them!

My Driveway~ early December.

~St Francis Cathedral~

~Holiday reflections~

~Christmas lights on the Plaza~

Below is the Christmas Eve walk on Canyon Rd. I hadn't done this in a couple of years, as I had simply been too tired after work... but I'm really glad I went this year. 

It had just started to snow as my friend & I arrived... making it all the more festive. They close down the streets to car traffic & farolitos line the path from the beginning to the end of Canyon Rd.

It was a really nice way to spend Christmas Eve. I woke the next morning to a white Christmas day of relaxation. I had the day off, but rather than join friends for Christmas festivities, I chose to stay home & relax, & talk to family back home. I had a fire going all day & into the evening... it was wonderfully cozy!

I'll miss my place when I move. While it is funky (which I love!) & expensive to heat in the winter (which I don't love...) it has also been my one of my favorite places that I have lived in Santa Fe. It's within walking distance to the Plaza... and as I woke to another dusting of snow this morning, I thought I'd get out & about on this beautiful New Year's Eve for a little photo walk around town.

Snowy New Year's Eve on the Plaza.

Window on Cienega St.

Graffiti on the railcars.

Snowy Railyard.

I am lucky to live in such a beautiful place!
Wishing you all a very safe & Happy New Year & the very best in 2013!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cracks Happen... # 3 in the Polar Series

#3 of the larger Polar Bear Series- Coiled Piece
Ann's Soda Clay Body~ Soda Fired to Cone 11
Dimensions~ H:16"  W: 10.5"   L: 22.5"

If you had read my last post, you know this was exactly what I was worried about. It seems the larger I go w/ the bears, the more apt they are to crack during the final firing in the Soda Kiln. I  thought about it a lot & spoke w/ my instructors about why this is happening. (oh, also note the back foot... one of my friends cups was stuck to it when it came out of the kiln.)

I believe several things are happening. 
One, the clay I am using is more of a throwing clay vs a sculptural clay. When I build small to medium, the clay body can handle it, but when I go bigger & add all the twists & turns that I do, I am not sure this clay body can take it. (Though I know people do large scale porcelain work- so that kind throws that theory out, but I plan on testing several grittier sculptural clays next semester.) Related to this also, I believe, is the fact that the Soda Kiln can heat unevenly- the bottom can be around cone 9, while the top (such as in our last firing) was around cone 13... perhaps the Ann's Soda Cone 10 clay body does not like that much heat!
Two, perhaps I am drying the clay too fast. Once a sculpture is finished, I have not been covering it & letting it dry slowly... I simply uncover it & let it dry. Though, on the smaller pieces, that was not an issue... I'd often let them sit outside in the dry NM fall weather where the humidity was quite low- which literally sucked the moisture out.
Three, (and I think this could be one of the main issues) because I only make 4 pencil sized holes on the bottom for venting, the outside of the sculpture is drying MUCH faster than the inside. 
My Resolutions & what I will be working on next semester~

1)Testing various sculptural Clay Bodies in this large format.
2.) Drying pieces very slowly!
3.) Placing larger & more vent holes on the bottom of the piece.
4.) Building slower than I already do... covering the outside of the piece & allowing more air to get to the inside before closing.
( I invite commentary or suggestion on these issues!)
Here are a few more views. This was the first bear done w/ a batch of freshly mixed glaze... so I was glad to know that I had the right recipe from glaze calc last semester & mixed it properly. Despite all the cracking on this piece, I am still totally in love w/ this glaze!

Close up of the glaze where it crystalized over the neck & nose of the piece.

Below is # 4 in the Polar Bear Series. (No, I don't count "The Beast," which was a bear -no pun intended- of a project... to me, it does not fit w/ this series, nor do the smaller versions.)

I finished him up about a month ago & he has been through the bisque kiln w/ only minimal cracking. He is larger than all the others- wet measurements were 23 inches tall, 20 inches long & 14 inches wide. I was afraid that if I glazed him up & put him in the Soda Kiln, he'd just crack up like # 3. Actually I am very certain of this. He'll be in storage over winter break until I decide whether to go for it & begin to learn about post- production crack repair, or maybe leave him in the bisqued state & do some sort of "cold surface" treatment like painting and/or staining.
In other clay news, our Community College Clay Club Sale was a success! We had some 39 clay students that participated & brought in just over $14,000 in combined sales! 40% goes to the clay club (for things like advertising, bringing in outside artists for demos, rebuilding of the beloved soda kiln & so forth,) 60% to individual artists. Below is my table of... you guessed it...  pots & bears.

 While I myself did not get rich, (ha ha) I did bring in about $680 which would translate to about $400 after 40% to the clay club... which, considering it was my first sale~  was not at all bad. Although the hours were long (about 11 hours each day for 2 days,) & I was quite exhausted by the end... I think overall it was a good experience- it provided some exposure for my art, and it was fun to be a part of this larger clay community event. (It also generated some post sale sales from co- workers, which is awesome!) Special thanks to my instructors & the Clay Clubbers for putting on this event... there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make it all happen, and thanks to all who stopped by to say hello & purchase a pot & a bear or two!
I've just finished for the semester & am back to working full time through the holidays AND I'll be moving yet again... so I don't know if I'll be blogging much for a while... though I'll try to get out w/ my camera for an evening walk or two... I love all the lights & farolitos up around town this time of year. I promise to share if I do. 
Happy December! May it be a peaceful one.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Beast!!!

While certainly not my best work, "The Beast" has made it out of the kiln intact, and since I put so much time into it I thought I'd go ahead & post the process. While the other bears in the Polar Series had been large hollow coiled pieces... our assignment for class was to build a solid project & then hollow it out. I had done that before with smaller pieces... say with maybe 3 pounds of clay... so I thought "No Problema!" And, since I'm  always up for a challenge, (ha!) when our instructor gave us guidelines of 25-100 pounds of clay... I chose 100. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Let me begin by saying that simply trying to mash together 100 pounds of clay (four 25# bags) proved to be quite a challenge, let alone trying to manipulate that much weight into anything resembling a Polar Bear. Above is my rough start, which took most of the day to achieve.

Then came the hollowing process. I took a wire & cut it in half... I suppose I was a little impatient... I really needed to let it set up a bit more first.

The hollowing process was a royal pain in the butt & I just could not figure out why anyone would want to work this way! (To illustrate this point- everyone else in class did the project with 25# of clay... only one other woman chose to go for 100# as I did... and she got so frustrated that she abandoned the project!) As you can see above, the head fell off because the clay was still a bit too soft to be hollowed at that stage. Ooops~ learning curve strikes again!

At any rate, I slipped & scored, put it back together & began building the head.

After many hours, I got to the stage you see above. Only problem was that it felt as if it still weighed a ton, thus would take forever to dry, so I set about trying to thin down the walls a bit from the inside.

Thinking I had done a pretty decent job, I made some slabs & sealed off the feet & flipped it upside right again. But it was still too heavy!!! Aarrrrgh!!
At that point, I decided to carve into it to take off some weight. I carved & carved, trying to be careful not to carve so much that I broke through... which I did. I was far too frustrated to take pictures at that stage, but basically, I then needed to cut a fist sized hole in the abdomen so I could fit my hand in, so as to do the repairs from the inside out. After what seemed like a gazillion hours later, I got to the stage you see below & called it good enough!

It took a couple of weeks to dry... made it through the bisque just fine & I glazed it up with the same glaze formula from the polar series. This time the glaze came out way different than the others... I think in part due to uneven glazing & not enough glaze. I could try reglazing & re-firing, but I am just not crazy enough about him to put forth any more effort!

Poor little guy... he looks a little sad in this pic, no?
Here are a few more views~

Soda Fired Polar Bear Sculpture
Dimensions: H: 12" W: 11"  L: 20"

Looking at the dimensions, this one is a fair amount smaller than the others in the series~ even though I started with so much more clay!

*In other clay news- I'm totally looking forward to tomorrow... I've got another big bear coming out of the kiln (I hope it didn't crack!!) & will post if it comes out o.k. I am also excited to announce that I'll be participating in my first ever ceramics sale at the community college here in Santa Fe next week!

I'd love to see you, so be sure to stop by & say hi if you're in town... and wish me luck!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Love This Glaze!!!!! And other Clay Updates :)

 Polar Bear Sculpture
Ann's Soda Clay Body~ Cone 11 Soda Fired~ Satin Mint Modified Glaze
Dimensions: H: 7.25" W: 9.25" L: 7.5"

Just got this little guy out of the kiln on monday, and boy am I pleased. I am so completely in love with this glaze, I can't even tell you! 
Below are a couple of different views... click twice on image to see detail in the glaze!

After finishing "The Beast" just over a month ago (he is still in queue for the soda kiln... but I promise I'll post just as soon as he gets fired!) I needed to take a break from larger works & play around w/ some smaller forms. While I was quite happy with the form on the one above, the one below fell short. So much so, that he almost ended up in the dumpster... but I figured what the heck... glaze it, fire him up & see what happens. While I am still not crazy about the form (part polar bear, part seal, part poodle???) I do enjoy the way the glaze melted & reacted with the texture in this piece.

Dimensions: H: 13" W: 7.5" L:13"

Once I finished relaxing over a couple of small pieces, I went back to the larger series.

I finished this one about 3 weeks ago & it just came out of the bisque kiln on monday. It had developed some hairline cracks during the drying phase, & I was worried about them cracking open during the bisque- it did just fine, though I do worry about it cracking in the high heat of the Soda Kiln. (fingers & toes crossed!!) I just mixed a new batch of my favorite glaze on monday, so I'll glaze him up today & anxiously await the final firing!