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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Well, Hello There!

It's been a long time & I've been busy as heck, but I finally had a day with no work or clay class/studio obligations, so I thought I'd head on down to Starbucks to treat myself to an overpriced seasonal Salted Caramel Mocha (and an internet connections as slow as molasses in winter) & update the ol' blog.
It's a long (but fascinating!) post, ha ha ha!
So what have I been up to this semester? Why continuing with the Polar Series of course! As you may recall, last semester in Studio Practice Class, I was essentially building 50 # test tiles in the form of Polar Bears... testing various different clay bodies & seeing how they react with the same glaze in the Soda Kiln and working out the issues in terms of drying/cracking, and finding out which clay bodies yielded results that were pleasing to me.  Some worked well, and some not so much, but it gave me a great idea of where I wanted to go this semester. 
My goal for this semester was to continue with the series, creating a total of 8 bears, ranging in Color from Whitish/off White & changing in gradation to Reddish/Brown/Black to symbolize on a conceptual level the degradation of the environment & habitat for all things wild, and emphasize the Polar Bear as messenger of these changes. The working title for this series is 
"The Last Great Migration."
In reality, I'd like to create 25- 30 of them.... enough to fill a large room or Gallery Space... I can visualize the whole thing in my head, but alas, due to work obligations (gotta pay the bills & keep that roof over my head) and the simple fact that our Soda Kiln is small & there are many production pottery students vying for space... 8 was about all I could manage. Not to mention I wanted to finish some of the Micaceous Pots I had started last semester so I could participate in the Clay Club Sale (which, incidentally is next week!)
So, without further ado, here's what I've been up to! 

Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay

Above is  # 1 in the green state (unfired.) And Below, # 2.

Below, # 2 from different angles.

Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay

Below, # 3. This one is a little more abstract...

Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay

especially from this angle, which is my favorite angle by the way.

Below- 1, 2, 3, & a headless # 4 on the right.

Bird's eye view on # 4. I love that it forms a heart.

# 4- finished/drying.

Laguna Dark Brown Cone 10 Clay

# 5  In progress...

and # 5 finished/drying... various angles.

Laguna Sculpture Cone 10 Clay

# 6... Now this part would always drive me crazy..... when I'd get up to the head, the clay was too wet to continue, the studio would close & I'd have to go to work the next day!

Arrgh! So I'd have to wrap it really well, prop up the neck so it wouldn't drop & wait impatiently until I could get back to it!

I started this project at the end of August, and below is where I was at mid October.
6 bears in various stages: greenware, bisqued, glazed, but none had gone through the final firing. People would come by my studio at this point & comment on how I was "cranking them out..." these glib comments would drive me a bit crazy as I was spending 40+ hours a week in the studio (and 25-30 hours a week at my 'real job') to get to this point!! 

Anyhow! Below, 2 angles of # 6 finished & drying.

Death Valley Red

# 7, below, gave me some issues. I still have not figured out why some come easy & some give me such a hard time... but so it goes.

I wasn't happy with the neck angle on this one, so I had to cut it open & do a surgery of sorts.

And, of course I ran out of time, had to put it under wraps & go to work!
(It is times like these when I wish, wish, wish I had my own studio and didn't have to worry about things like actually supporting myself!)

But, eventually, things get finished! Below is # 7, finished & drying.

Laguna Dark Brown Cone 10

On my last one, # 8,  I didn't want to limit myself to 50 #, so I bought 3 bags, so I could go a little larger. I ended up using about 60 # or so. 
Here's a little of the process~

Death Valley Red Cone 10 Clay

My friend took this pic of me w/ the last one... it gives a good sense of scale. Not thinking about length limitations, I almost made it too big to fit in the bisque kiln! But thankfully it fit, with about a 1/2" on either side to spare. 

7 out of 8 bears have made it out of the Soda Kiln intact & with quite nice results! (Number 8 is bisqued, glazed, and with any luck will go in the next firing.) I'm in the process of photographing them & editing the photographs.... but in the meantime, I thought I'd show you a little of the process & what it takes in order to get them loaded. As you know, our soda kiln is fairly small, my pieces fairly large, and it takes a fair amount of effort, strength & a little assistance to get them in!

Also, while we started the semester loading & unloading the kiln in shorts & T-shirts, we are now loading & unloading in freezing temps! These are pics taken during the last unloading.

"The Keeper of the Kilnyard"
Brrrrr! Even one of the bears, fresh out of the Kiln needed a little something to keep warm!
So that brings us up to date on the Polar Project! 
So, you can see I've been busy... below are also the Micaceous Pots (various stages- sanded, polished/ready to fire) I was working on earlier this semester... all but 2 that I started are now finished & I'll try to get the final pics posted early next week before the sale.

And of course, the little bears- "the smalls" as my brother calls them. I made somewhere around 50 of these... some I lost in the firing, some I gave away, and some will be Christmas gifts, which will leave me with around 30 of them for the Clay Club Sale.

It was fun experimenting not only with different clay bodies on these, but also with placing them in different areas in the Soda Kiln to see which yielded the coolest results.
As soon as I get all the large bears photo'd & edited, I promise to post 'em, too!
Until then~
 Wishing you all a warm, happy & peaceful winter season!!


Mark said...

Hi Becky,
Nice bears, they are fantastic.

clairz said...

It's so good to see you here, Becky, and to catch up with what you've been creating. While I loved seeing the bears in all their variations; I especially loved that last photo of "the smalls" all together in all their colors. You probably know (but I didn't) that a gathering of polar bears is called "an aurora of polar bears!"

I was wondering--are you saying that the clay that goes into the big bears weighs 50 to 60 pounds? What do they weigh after they are fired?

Kate said...

Becky, good to hear from you again! Yes, you have been busy. I am sorry that I will miss the clay sale. Save one of the smallsl for me, which I'll buy from you after we arrive in SF in Feb. I'm also interested in a piece of your micacaeus work, too. Love the photos with you in them!! I've been making notecards for family and friends and am having loads of fun with them. I'd like to photograph some of your work for may cards. How can I contact you when we arrive since you don't have internet now? Send me your address and phone number? I think that my email is still on my profile. Good luck this semester!! Hope you reach all your goals.

Barb said...

Hi Becky! So good to see your smiling face and catch up on your clay work. I wonder if I could buy one of the smalls and if it would survive the shipping? I also love the big scalloped bowl. If you think they'd ship well, I'll send you a check - they'll be my Christmas present to myself! You'd have to pick the small for me - I do love that little mottled one. I met a bear on the back trail this fall (not a polar, of course!). It was an exhilarating encounter though. Your large bears are gimongous - I wish I could visit them in person. Hugs to you from CO. I love the snowy header - we're under a winter storm warning, with a possibility of 20". Yippee - let it snow!

John Brisson said...

Welcome back!