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

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Results of the Spring Semester!

Just got my first results of the semester out of the kiln~ YAY! Though I've been working obsessively in the studio for the past 2 months, it takes awhile to see the results. While I am fine with that, & have developed some level of patience with the process, it has been a struggle to explain this process to my Studio Practice instructor. You see, in order to have the studio space, I must take the "Studio Practice" Class, which is a combo of all artistic disciplines, including drawing, painting, printmaking & sculpture. While some students in my class can work for a few hours & have a "finished piece of artwork," my pieces take 15- 25 hours to build. Then, assuming there is no cracking in the initial drying phase (which, if you recall, I am drying very slowly over 2-3 weeks, in hopes of alleviating the cracking issues I had when going larger last semester) the pieces must be bisqued, which, depending on how full the kilns are, can take another week. My glaze must be mixed, sprayed on meticulously in the spray booth, wadding applied so the piece won't adhere to the shelf... then comes the wait in line to fire the pieces.

Our soda kiln is small, and there are somewhere around 7 or so classes that are putting work in it. I took the photo above to show my Studio Practice instructor the size of the kiln in relation to my work. Due to the size of my pieces in relation to others, and the space they take up in the kiln, my work was bumped back several firings. While I understand this, despite my best efforts to explain the ceramic process to my non-ceramic instructor, it was indicated that excuses were being made as to why the ceramics students did not have finished work to show. Now, knowing me & my ceramic obsession... don't you think I want to see finished work as well?? Of course! But I can appreciate the process, and all the factors involved in ceramics, (especially the firing) that as a student, are beyond my control.

Glazed work, in cue for loading.

Fully loaded kiln. I was lucky enough to get 3 pieces in this firing. You can see how much space they take up! In addition to all the time- consuming factors listed above, it must be noted that in our student clay community, we all pitch in & help out.  That means that  loading & unloading kilns is part of the process... which I think is great, but this takes time as well. There are so many considerations to take into account when working in clay... and I feel that to compare the processes in clay to other artistic processes in the student setting is like comparing apples to oranges. But, if any of us are to have our own studio one day, learning the in's & out's of the entire process is  both beneficial & essential. 
Anyhow, drum roll please... 
my long awaited Finished Work!!

#1 New Mexico Super Sculpt Cone 10 Clay Body; Soda Fired to Cone 11
Satin Mint Modified Glaze
Dimensions~ H: 16.5"  W:16"  L 16"

As you may recall, my goals for this semester were to complete a series of 10 or so bears, testing a variety of different sculptural clay bodies, to see which I liked working with, which held up to the firing in the Soda Kiln without cracking issues, and how my particular glaze worked with these bodies. (Essentially, these are large scale test tiles!) I was thrilled with the results!! Firstly, no cracking!! Yay! Secondly, while the glaze turned out quite a bit differently on these clay bodies as I was sure they would, I was quite excited about the effects on each. 

While no crystallization occurred on this piece, I am still quite in love with this glaze I find the variation of color nothing short of astounding!
(Click to enlarge on any photo to see glaze detail.)

While the goal of some ceramicists is to attain fairly predictable results, I am loving the uncertainty and different effects attained by testing different clay bodies with the same glaze to see how they react to the atmosphere in the soda kiln. I love the light rose colored tones in this one, which occurred on the back & neck of this piece.

Below is piece # 2. Just a touch of crystallization on the nose & different reactions with the clay body create a totally different effect. I like the inquisitive posture on this one.

# 2 Laguna Sculpture Cone 10 Clay Body; Soda Fired to Cone 11
Satin Mint Modified Glaze
Dimensions~ H: 16"  W: 17" L: 17.5"

Another view~

The piece below was actually built last semester. It was the largest one I had done with the Ann's Soda clay body... I was afraid to fire it as my larger pieces w/ that particular clay body had been cracking in the kiln, but I decided to go for it.  While some cracking did occur on this piece, it was fairly minimal. It was too tall to fit on my photo background paper, so please excuse the amateur photography on the finished piece.

Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay Body; Soda Fired to Cone 11
Satin Mint Modified Glaze
Dimensions~ H: 21" W: 15" L: 17.5 "

Again, I am in glaze-amazement. The effects turned out much more subtle in this piece. the surface is very stone-like, in person it has the feel of smooth walls of granite.

 Above & below~ a few more views. 

I've dubbed this one "The Guardian." He's much taller than the others (close to 2 feet) & has a presence/feel as if he is watching over them.

Above is our glaze room & spray booth. Just before spring break, I got 2 more pieces glazed, so that hopefully I be able to load them up as soon as classes start up again.

I also finished # 7 above, and # 8 below. Having built 6 bears w/ a variety of different clay bodies, I returned to the Ann's Soda on these two.

And lastly, my messy studio just before campus closed for the week~ I'm running out of space!

My reflections on my coursework thus far this semester are positive, despite the ongoing struggles with the Studio Practice class. While I don't feel I am learning much from the actual class, I am learning a lot by working independently in the studio, testing clay bodies & by creating a cohesive body of work.
Hopefully I'll have more work to post in the upcoming weeks, but in the meantime...
Wishing you all a very Happy Spring Season!!


Pat said...

You should be very proud of yourself! Wonderful job and beautiful work! Each bear is different and a work of art! I, too, love the fact that each bear, even if they WERE in the same pose, would turn out different due to the glazing and/or kiln process. I'm glad they all turned out and didn't crack; although you said one did...I didn't see any evidence of it!

Sailor said...

Hi Becky, I have been following your blog since your 1st bear. Glad to see you're focus on bears. They're great. I love how your spray glazes turned out. But, I noticed something interesting about your Satin Mint Green modified Glaze, it seems to have different "Base" as the common SMG which Sam Chung use a lot in his works in Oxidation. Do you really use Bone Ash instead of Barium as your 21 point triaxial blend chart indicated? I have try SMG in reduction many time and it mostly came out muddy. Just want to understand your trick. Thanks.

becky said...

I do use Bone Ash. In Britt's Book (high fire glazes) there were 2 recipes... Sam Chung's Satin Mint, and Satin Mint Green. The only difference in the two recipes that I can recall is the use of Bone Ash vs Barium.

Sailor said...

Thanks Becky. I saw it now. Have a wonderful spring break, and keep up the good work.

John Brisson said...

Make room for the bear! How cool!!


clairz said...

It was so exciting to scroll down slowly through this post, while your amazing bears revealed themselves. This was such a joyful experience for me, Becky. I can barely imagine your excitement over such a long time, with such marvelous results. Thank you, as always, for sharing your clay experiences.

Really, though, too bad you have to take that class...

Tammie Lee said...

i love your bears ~

Barb said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! I feel so excited seeing them. What a variety of "personalities" and glazes you've achieved. How in the world do you lift them around? I can barely lift baby Sam and he's only 23 pounds! You're doing exciting work Becky. Will you show them at semester'827odictlys end?

Barb said...

Darn, Becky - the word id went into my comment. Sorry!

Kate said...

Becky, We who have been following your progress are delighted with each piece of news you share. Thanks again for educating us in so many ways!