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

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tales from an Apartment Dwelling Potter

While my clay classes at the College are finished for the Semester, I am not certainly not finished with clay!  I am now back to hand building Micaceous Clay Pots... which is why on any given day off from work, my apartment may look like this~

or this~

Mixing & Wedging Clay
 or this!

That is the nice thing about hand coiling pots, or doing clay sculpture work. While it would be great to have a real studio, if you are determined enough & are willing to deal with the mess & clean up involved, you can make it work in a fairly small space... in my case, it's my kitchen.

But luckily, I have another place to learn & work, because as it turns out, just as my classes were finishing up at the Community College, my  Micaceous Clay instructor was offering a clay class at his studio in Tijeras, NM. I've been spending my Saturdays there, and then trying to put into practice what I'm learning in my little "Kitchen Studio" back at home.

Above, my first pot from class. (In the drying stage. Keep in mind, all these pots are all Raw, needing several stages of scraping, sanding, burnishing/polishing & firing before they are finished!)

For my second pot, I chose to make a casserole. They are pretty challenging for me, so I  was pretty excited about this one!

Until I flipped it over for drying & this happened~ Arrrrggh! I've never had a pot crack this humongously before!
But! A perfect opportunity to test out what I like to call "The Apartment Dwellers Clay Recycle System." 

I had another pot to recycle as well. (During the drying stage, it had developed a very small but critical crack near the bottom of the pot.)

After a bit, it looked like this.

In goes the cracked casserole.

I smashed it into pieces & let it soak in water.

Over the next several days, I stirred it & let it soak... pouring off the excess water at the top.

I then transferred it to an old pillow case, and lined a clay box with a trash bag, so that the excess moisture wouldn't make a huge mess all over the floor. After several days of flipping it, it still was not getting dry enough, so I transferred it to another pillow case- this one split open to increase the surface area to air ratio. 

I put it outside in the dry summer air... keeping an eye on it & turning/mixing it as needed. Is this exciting stuff, or what?!

 Soon enough it was back to the right consistency & I wedged it back up as you see above...

Recycled Clay Pot

and gave it new life in the form of a bean pot.
I also made another casserole to replace the one that didn't make it.

Pics before & after the handle is added.

This time it dried fine except for a crack in the lid where the handle was added, but that can be repaired, which I am working on now.

Another bean pot...
(I cut the rim down significantly from what is shown here.)

and another.

This pot I made w/ the help of my instructor last saturday. It's a fluted casserole dish, and I find the form to be quite lovely. I found it so lovely in fact, that I made another one today! Getting over my attachment to every piece, I also recycled another pot today. It was a little on the thick side, & I decided I wasn't really crazy about the shape, sooooo...

After a few hard thunks on concrete, and a little hammering action... back into the bucket it goes.

It'll be interesting to see what this one turns into after the recycle process!


marianne said...

they are lovely- all of them! you really create beautifully formed pieces. brave of you to toss the "too thick" one too- i like the recycling. can't wait to see what else comes of the class-

Barb said...

Hi Becky, Your industriousness is putting my lethargy to shame! I'm writing this in bed just after 9 AM! I have nothing scheduled for today - I guess my body needs a rest! Glad you're still busy creating. If you can get past attachment, the smashing might be kinda therapeutic. Maybe you could plan that for after a hard day at work. I think of you every time I hear news of the Gila fires. Hope the smoke there isn't too bad. Ir's been beautiful here but dry - there is a constant worry about fire. Keep potting!

Anonymous said...

I like the idea that the clay can be recycled. The made up even prettier in the second life.

Pat said...

What an interesting post! I didn't even think about the pots being recycled. Have you tried making a pot that is tilted a little on it's side? It's used as a planter. I saw them a lot at the flea market and shops in Mesa.

Annie said...

Becky, As you know I work in my kitchen too, so I relate.
These pots are wonderful and you are getting so fast! Time to open up an ETSY shop! Glad you are having fun.xoxo

Tammie Lee said...

I love your passion for your art! you do it where ever you can, you really get to know your clay and you create beautiful and wonderful things!

Randy said...

The finished ones as always are wonderful. Looks like you've been a busy potter. Wishing you a wonderful weekend. We're off to looking at more houses this weekend. Maybe this summer will be a lucky one for buying a house.

John Brisson said...

Wow...you'll never be lonesome. What a houseful of treasures! I loved the 'Mr Rogers' clip.


Rick said...

Hey - nice recycling work, Becky ! Took a lot of determination to see that through. And your favorite piece ever (till the next one, of course ... ;>) looks fantastic ! The effects you got from the soda firing were great - amazing colors. Enjoy your 'time off' - to experiment some more.

Kate said...

There is something about that casserole that I really, really like. You are both creative and industrious.

clairz said...

I am glad that, in addition to being so creative, you are always willing to share the process. I really love your blog, Becky.