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

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!


Randy said...

Sorry to hear you have to move again but it's wonderful to see you online for a quick post. You efforts are truly rewarding even for us. You my friend are truly amazing.

Kathleen said...

My STARS, Jill! It's been a while since I visited, but I am completely gobsmacked by what you've accomplished! Your bears are sublime! I'd really like to purchase one, though I'm not sure I can afford this level of artistry. Are you selling? This gallery, which features some gorgeous Inuit sculpture, might be a good fit for your work:
Your composition is just breathtaking! Thank you for sharing the beauty you are creating!

Ms. Becky said...

Hi Becky, just stopping in to say hello. I agree with all Randy wrote. Thanks for writing thoroughly about the process of creating these wonderful bears. I've had curiosities regarding them and why you've chosen bears to create? I do love each one and enjoy seeing your creativity unfold. Best of luck finding that perfect place to live - where you can fuel your creative juices and also rest your head. Happy week to you Becky. take care now.

John Brisson said...

Good to see a post from you again. Can see you have been very busy!


Pat said...

You sure do like to fly by the seat of your pants! You have to be out of your place in two weeks and yet have no idea where you are moving to? I would be a nervous wreck! The bears are coming along fine. sorry to see the crack in that one but this is a learning experience I guess.

Barb said...

Just reading your schedule makes me tired! But looking at the bears perks me up again. Moving - and at just the time in your schedule when you must complete your course work - oh my goodness. Good Luck! You've worked so hard but learned so much, Becky. I can tell you love it! I'll be thinking of you.

Annie said...

Becky, So nice to catch up! We won't talk until after your move, I know you are busy! I love these bears! I would leave that cracking clay in the dust, and stick with the clay that is a joy to use! Congrats on your sell, that will help with the move. I wish you the perfect place!