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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pit Fire & Raku Results!

I love this part of the semester, when after 8 weeks of building, scraping, sanding & polishing... you finally get to see the final results of your efforts. Below, pictures from the pit firing~

Pots emerging from the fire~

Classmates looking at our freshly fired pots. There is generally a lot of pointing, ooohing & aaahing going on at this time.

I only had a few pots in this firing & here are my favorites~

We also did a couple of Raku firings at school~ below the kiln is being loaded.

Removing the hot pots from the kiln & placing them in metal cans with combustibles... generally newspaper and/or sawdust.

The pot is left inside for a period of time to reduce.

Testing pots over open flame.

Below, my faves from this firing~

Double click on any image for greater detail.

I have to admit,  I am partial to Raku firing & reduction of these pots. I think the surfaces achieved by this method are simply delicious!
While this class is over, I'll likely continue to build more pots over winter break, though most of my time the next 6 weeks will be spent focusing on creating more bears in my hand building class. I hope to have a series of pots & bear sculptures to present for the SFCC student ceramic sale coming up at the end of November! It will be my first time participating, so I'm anxious to see how it goes!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Evolution of a Pot

I am not generally one to add abstract designs to my pots, but for whatever reason, on this particular day, I decided to give it a go. I have to admit, I was not happy with it at first & I was sooooo tempted to recycle it when it was in it's wet state, but a few people in class said some things that made me decide to keep it.

I cut the lid just after the photo above, and the pot began it's drying process.

Unfortunately, this is what happened as it dried~ the lid & pot dried in different directions.

I don't know why this happens exactly, but I find when I make lidded pots w/ the Micaceous Clay, the lids tend to warp. It doesn't happen every time, but I'd say with me, it happens about 1/2 the time. I've tried drying the lid with the pot, drying the lid upside down with support, and then a combination of the two. I think it is just the unpredictability of working with real, honest to goodness natural, directly "of the earth" clay. Or maybe it's just me! But I digress. This presented a challenge, and it seems I am always up for one (ha ha) so I figured I'd give it a go at repairing it.

That is one thing I love about working with Micaceous Clay... you can do repairs when it is bone dry... something you cannot easily do with commercially processed "regular" clays. It is, however, a rather tedious process. I started with water scraping & sanding down the high points. Then I began the slow process of rebuilding the rim by wetting the pot & very gradually adding more clay. You can only add a teeny bit at a time, then you must let it dry, and repeat this step over & over until it comes close to fitting.

Then you must sand, adjust, add more clay if needed. I worked on this pot little by little over the course of several weeks.

Here it is after all that work~ all sanded & ready to polish. The lid fit was not quite perfect (I am a stickler for the perfect lid fit!) but pretty close. I figured it was as close as I was going to get.

Polished pot with a fine Micaceous Slip. At this point it went into the bisque & awaited the final firing. I knew with this pot, I would want to do Raku for the 2nd firing, and as luck would have it, we did 2 Raku firings on the last day of class! Yay!
Below are the results.

"Evolution Pot"
Hand dug Micaceous Clay
Hand Coiled, Sculpted, Scraped, Sanded, Polished.
Low Fire Bisque/Raku/Reduced

*Double Click on any Photo for greater detail :)

I've included many angles, as I do, to show the delicious effects of the Raku firing on Micaceous Clay. I'm in love with Raku & reducing pots... I find the effects to be simply wonderful! The lid did warp just the tiniest bit during the final firing... just enough so that again the lid does not fit just perfectly. But with clay, just as with life, things aren't alway perfect... & sometimes those little imperfections are what make life more interesting.

** We just finished firing the rest of our Micaceous Pots this weekend... I'll post the results just as soon as I have time to photograph them properly!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Out of the Kiln~ Soda Fired Polar Bear

I just got my first piece of the semester out of the Kiln this week & I'm pretty excited about it!
I used the same glaze that I made last semester in glaze calc class as I really loved the variation of color & texture that was achieved with that glaze in the Soda Kiln.(Click on the sidebar Polar Bear for details.) It was a difficult piece to photograph. I really need to take the "Photographing Your Artwork" class offered, but at this point, that would just take time away from clay... & I simply can't do that now! I took shots from a few different views to show the variation as best I could. 

Click on image twice to enlarge for greater detail.

Detail of Crystal Formation on the Neck

Soda Fired Polar Bear
Dimensions: Approx 12" H,  21" L, 9 " W
Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay Body
Satin Mint Green Modified Glaze

Despite using the same clay body & glaze as I used last semester, this piece, while retaining some of the variation as last semester's bear actually came out quite different, but I am totally happy with it.

In other clay news... my 2nd Bear made it through the bisque & is now in the Soda Kiln & will come out next week~ I'm really excited to see how this one turns out! This week is also the last week of my Micaceous Clay Class~ we'll have firings Friday & Saturday, so I should have some new pots to post in the not too distant future. I also finished working on what I have dubbed "The Beast..." a killer 3 week project involving 100 pounds of solid clay... details forthcoming.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bears & Pots~ Works in Progress...

Thought I'd squeeze out a quick update for friends who have been asking why I haven't been updating my blog. Well... you know... the usual~ I've been busy! In between clay classes & work, I really haven't had time for much else. Still working on that "balance" thing, & have to admit I'm not even close to mastering it. Lately it seems I am anything but balanced & my current obsession with clay is taking any spare time I might have. It's just that I feel this hunger to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can, and to do this, I feel I really need to put in hours. So, any time I am not at work, I am either in the clay studio, or working on clay at home. Things like blogging, grocery shopping, even my beloved hiking has been placed on the back burner. Anyhow, this is what I've been up to in my hand building class~

Project #1
22 inch coiled vase, using the template I made as guide. It was a fairly rough start...

but it shaped up nicely. It has since been bisqued & is waiting for me to glaze it.

Project #2~
Self-Directed Coil Project
(You knew I'd make a bear, didn't you?) There are things I liked & things I didn't like about this one, but overall I'm pretty happy with it. I haven't gone quite this large with a coiled piece before, so there is definitely a learning curve. This one has been bisqued & glazed & is now in the Soda Kiln... anxious to see how it turns out next week! 
(Fingers Crossed!)

Project #3~ 
Another Coiled Bear. (My plan is to keep working on these until I can reach some level of consistency & mastery on how I want them to look with different postures & poses.)

I really wanted the head to be turning to look behind him... and that proved to be quite a challenge on a larger piece!

While it turned out differently that what I had envisioned,
I am pretty much in love with the curves & lines on this piece. It just went in the bisque kiln today... again, fingers crossed!
(Project #4 is still in progress & will likely have a post all it's own. Challenge is an understatement: think 100 pounds of solid clay. I have already put in somewhere around 20+ hours & not even close to finished- Good grief!)

In addition to my hand building class, I have been hard at work in my latest Micaceous class as well.
Various Pots in Progress~

Water scraping~


Polished Pots~

And bisqued pots awaiting either Pit fire or Raku... I'm not sure yet how the firing schedule will go, but am hoping to get at least a few pots in the Raku Kiln.

I've only got about 9 pots finished this term... not a lot considering I started 3 of them before the semester started. This class is only once a week for 8 weeks & there are only 2 classes remaining, so I won't really have time to start any more this time around, so I've just got to be happy with what I've got.
Hoping to get some actual finished work posted in the next week or two.
Until next time...