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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fresh out of the Kiln~ 5 & 6 of the Polar Series

Things are moving along nicely & pieces have been getting fired on a regular basis this past month. This is super exciting for me to be able to see the results of work done over the course of a semester especially given all the different clay bodies I'm testing~ it gives me so much information as to what works & what doesn't! These two were actually built in February and given about 3 weeks to dry, then bisqued, glazed & fired in the soda kiln- I just got them out of the kiln last week. The entire process takes roughly 6-7 weeks start to finish. I was very happy with the way the glaze worked on this clay body! 

#6 Death Valley Red Cone 10 Clay Body; Salt Fired to Cone 11
Satin Mint Modified Glaze
Dimensions: H: 12.5"  W: 10"  L 18.5"

Aerial View :)

I love how this piece received just a kiss of crystallization on the nose & cheek.

Closer detail of glaze on piece~ 
(click on any photo to enlarge to see greater detail.)

Below is number 5 in the series. And yes, it's the same glaze! While I am not as crazy about the colors in this finished piece, I do like all the tonal variation achieved, and I find it so interesting how using different clay bodies can dramatically change the effect of the same glaze.

#5 WH8 Rough Cone 6-10 Clay Body; Salt Fired to Cone 11
Satin Mint Modified Glaze
Dimensions: H: 15"  W: 15"  L 14.5"
Another angle & detail~

Now, let me tell you, I did have some lofty goals for this semester in terms of how many bears I wanted to create, but with the upcoming move I originally decided to stop at 10. That would give me time to pack up, look for a new place & such. But noooooo, being the clay obsessed student that I am, I decided to go for one more. For number eleven, I went back to the NM Clay Super Sculpt (the first clay body of this semester) as I really enjoyed the glaze effects on that one, and I also enjoyed building with that clay body. All went really well, and I was building at a pretty good pace... until I got to the neck & head.

I had gotten to the point where I was thinking all I needed to do was spend maybe four hours to put the neck & head on... though I wanted to try something a little different... maybe a little abstract-y.

*Note to self: when time is limited... do not try a new direction in clay!!

Over the course of 2 days... I probably built up & cut down the head & neck 6-7 times. Except for here (below) when I was getting frustrated... I just ripped it off!

And built it up again...

only to cut it down again...

and again!

After countless hours, I finally settled on this~

Though the back right shoulder is a little large (by the time I got the head right, I had let the lower portion of clay dry a bit too much to paddle in) I like the form alright.

This piece is drying away in the studio & will bisque soon. I also got 2 more finished pieces out of the soda kiln on monday, but I'm still working on editing the photos I took yesterday... will post soon! I'm currently in the midst of packing up in order to be out of my place by the 1st... but hope to catch up with you all soon!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Obsessed with Clay, my Crazy-busy Life & other Updates... :)

Oh where to start? Well, with clay of course! I've been spending 30-40 hours a week in the studio trying to get things accomplished as the end of the semester is quickly approaching. In addition, I'm working just enough to almost make ends meet, which takes up any "spare time" I might have... and does not leave any financial room for things like computer hard drives crashing (yes it did!) and various other unexpected expenses... but I digress! I just got a couple of new pieces out of the kiln last week, & you know I'm pretty excited about that!!!
 If you recall, I'm testing several clay bodies this semester to see how they hold up in the soda kiln with the larger bear sculptures.

#4 Soldate 60 Cone 10 Clay Body- Salt Fired to Cone 11
Satin Mint Modified Glaze
H: 15"   W: 10"   L :19"

The good news is no cracking so far~ yahoo!!! Above is number 4 in this semester's series. I was happy to see the break in glaze across the nose that I had missed in the first 2 pieces fired. Below are few other angles.

I am pleased not only with the fact that (knock on wood!)  none of the new clay bodies I've tried thus far have cracked with the larger sculptures, but given the unpredictability of firing in the soda kiln & the effects of this glaze on various clay bodies, I am actually also quite pleased with effects of each one. In hindsight I realize what a rather gutsy move it was to apply glaze to larger forms without first making an actual small test tile for each clay body. My theory really, was that there are so many different colors & textures in this one particular glaze, that had I done test tiles, and maybe only seen one funky brown color, I may have disregarded that clay body totally, without having been able to see the glaze effects & the fluidity on a larger piece.
So, you see, there is a method to my madness!

 #3 Big White Cone 5-10 Clay Body~ Salt Fired to Cone 11
Satin Mint Modified Glaze
H: 16"  W:17"  L 14.5"

Above is number 3 in this semester's series. It's funny... now that I've been making these forms for awhile, you'd think I'd have it down pat... but no! I still struggle with which way I want the head to go, and how to make it work as I move along. Sometimes it looks good to me from one angle, but not as much from another. The neck may seem to thin, or  maybe pointed at an odd angle, but I don't often see this as I am moving along... so it's a continual conversation between what's going on in my head, how that translates to my hands, and quite frankly at times I think the clay has a mind of it's own! I like this piece alright, but it is not my favorite. Below are few different angles.

It got just a touch of crystallization on the nose & on shoulder... I love that effect!

Which brings us to where I am now. Below is number 9 in the drying state. After I had built several bears with different clay bodies, I went back to the Ann's Soda... the clay body that I had originally started with & had problems with cracking. This one looked fine until a few days into the drying process...

then this happened!

A closer view~ YIKES!!!

I am trying to fix this with a product called "magic mender" for greenware... I just loaded him into the bisque today & will find out monday how it works. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, because typically if it has a crack before it is even fired... that spells trouble when it goes into the abusive soda kiln environment which generally fires to cone 11!
Number 7 & 8 (both of which were also Ann's Soda) have been bisqued, & unfortunately one of them developed a small crack as well. Bummer! I just have not had luck with that clay body on larger works, despite my increase in drying time this semester, as well as larger vent holes & slow bisque fire. I am kind of kicking myself in the butt for going back to this clay, but I needed to keep building to keep on schedule, and not knowing how the others would turn out, it was my fall back of sorts. I'm trying another Magic Mender product for high fire... I just glazed both 7 & 8 today & hopefully they'll be fired in the next couple of weeks. 

I had used 6 different clays for 6 different bears, 3 with Ann's & then decided to add one more clay body test! Above is number 10 just after I finished him. 

I used Laguna Dark Brown cone 10 for this one... the clay was an absolute joy to work with, and breaking the potter's rule, I have once again fallen in love with greenware- I love this guy! So far he's drying just fine.
In the meantime, I've been mixing glaze... loading & unloading kilns... sanding glaze drips off the bottom of finished pieces, you know, the usual. In addition, I am looking for a new place yet again. I had planned on moving at the end of December, as the place I was in sold... but they let me stay on month to month until now. I knew they were planning on remodeling sometime this spring... but was hoping it'd be after the semester ended! I have 2 more weeks left until I have to move & have not yet found an affordable place that fits my needs. So, needless to say, with clay, work, & moving, it will be a busy couple of weeks to say the least! 
Wish Me Luck!