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

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!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Soda Fired Polar Bear # 2

I got the 2nd larger Polar Bear of the semester out of the kiln a couple of weeks ago, but am just getting around to posting! I have been busy as usual, trying to get as much work done as possible... beyond the lengthy building time for each piece, they must dry enough to safely bisque (generally a couple of weeks) then glaze, then await the Soda Kiln... so it is beginning to be crunch time even though classes run for the next month or so.

  Polar Bear Sculpture
Dimensions~ H: 14" L: 14" x W: 14"
Satin Mint Green Modified Cone 10 Glaze
Soda Fired to approx Cone 11

I was pretty happy with the form of this bear, although I did have some minor cracking on this piece. It had 3 little cracks.. 2 at a coil line, which tells me I likely did not blend the coils enough, though one small crack was vertical. Hmmmm... perhaps an issue with the clay body in a hotter than cone 10 firing? I'm not exactly sure, but am anxious to see how the next ones come out. I am in love with this glaze & the fact that while it retains the same characteristics each time, there is no way of knowing exactly where it will break with the crystal formation in the Soda Kiln, which gives each bear it's own unique appearance.

*** On a sidenote, "The Beast," (who is not looking so beastly now that he's bisqued & glazed) is awaiting his final firing, so I'm hoping he'll get in the Kiln this week or next, along with a couple of smaller pieces... hope to have updates soon!