September 29, 2008
Bisqueware everywhere ready to load, and more around the corner....I had plenty of leftovers as usual because I always make too much. But it's nice to have more than enough to load and choose between than not enough.
I spray each pot with a wood ash wash right before I load it into the kiln. I gingerly pick it up by the base, careful not to smudge any of the fine ash spray and walk it over to the kiln and load it in.
Loading the shelves...
Bricking up the door, I build in a lot of "peeps" or spyholes that I can later spray soda into and look into the kiln while it's firing.
Checking the cones early into the firing:
My garden sprayer that I use to spray all the soda in wasn't working. As a general rule of thumb, I test it with water early on in the firing when I'm waiting around for cones to fall, just to make sure it's still working. These things aren't made for such high temps, and lately it's not been holding pressure. So it was barely working and I decided to go with a different route to put the soda in and made a soda ash, baking soda and whiting mixture. I layered up some on this angle iron and dropped it into the firebox. Later on, my garden sprayer decided to start working, so then I sprayed some soda into the door peeps on the front and back of the kiln. I am worried about changing up my usual routine when I finally had determined the soda amount that I prefer in this kiln and have been since over analyzing my decision. We'll see. I keep on telling myself that it's good to try new things.
Here's the glowing hot kiln after I turned it off:
The next few days are the days in between when I rest, recover, and wonder. And what does a girl do on her day off? Catch up on sleep and get out for a walk with my camera. Oddly enough, I've noticed that sometimes my weekends fall on Mondays, which feels shamefully satisfying. I enjoyed perching on the rocks and watching the water carelessly flow by while early fall leaves fluttered to the ground.
This is the current view of Little Rock Creek, near Roan Mountain.
"Listen to the river sing sweet songs, to rock my soul."
September 26, 2008
September 24, 2008
My dry material storage is out in the barn where I mix my glazes. This keeps a lot of extra dust out of the studio and grants me more studio space. It just gets a little breezy in the winter.
Here I am weighing out my wood ash wash mix that I spray onto each pot before I load it into the soda kiln. I know wood firing purists would call this cheating and one day when I have my own wood kiln I won't have to do this. It's actually a lot of extra work, spraying each piece with the ash and then carefully placing it into the kiln without smudging the fine spray of ash that is on the pots. I really like the depth in tone that it creates in combination with the clay slips and soda. Without it the pieces seem so boring to me, so it is a step I will not skip until I forgo gas burners. (Rocks work wonders for weights if you don't have weights for your glaze scale.)
This is a huge bag of wood ash, mostly oak and pine, from Judith Duff's train kiln. Back when I used to be the kiln slave at Judith's studio and would clean out her wood kiln, I scrounged this bag of wood ash from her firebox. I've been using it directly with some nepheline syenite to create the wood ash wash. The nepheline syenite helps it melt.
After I mix up the dry ingredients I sieve it dry through several different mesh sieves, then add water, and then sieve it again.
Then I mixed up some wadding. The wadding is put onto the bottom of each pot to lift it off of the shelf to prevent it from sticking from the soda spray. I'm getting ahead of myself, I haven't finished glazing yet, but I thought I'd cross some of these things off the list, as well as making cone packs and draw rings for the firing.
It feels good to get the glaze mixing and all the other components ready. Tonight I have to head back to Linda's to unload the bisque. I bisque fired the work that I made while at her studio and I was going to glaze it all there and actually have it there already for the loading. But I'm going to get it and haul it back here to glaze. I know, this is extra work....I just love moving things! No, actually, Linda's back in full steam and is glazing this week and will be firing her salt kiln right after I fire the soda kiln. I'd be in her way to be glazing there, so it'll be better to bring it back here.
I finished glazing one bisque kiln load today, though, so only 2 loads left! That's it from my desk. It's so nice to have so much variety throughout the day and have different views from my different office desks!
September 23, 2008
Got a start on the glazing today, but first thing tomorrow I have to mix up some more of my shino glaze, some oribe and a couple more things. Later this week I'll have to mix up my ash wash that I spray on each pot as I load it.
Shane Mickey was doing some repair to the soda kiln went I went over there to scrape shelves. Knowing I was about to fire very soon, he told me not to look, but how could I resist? I quietly cringed as my eyes scoped out the scene. I noticed the floor was ripped up, the bag wall was torn down and the burners were about to be dismantled. There has been a problem with the pilot burner with the past few firings so Shane is going to work on that as well as change the size of the burner openings. The brick floor was starting to walk, so he took up some brick where there were big gaps in between and instead he will be putting larger brick tiles down.
All this will be finished before Saturday or Sunday whenever I hopefully will be ready to load.
Keeping my fingers crossed?
September 22, 2008
I've been trying to settle back in yet am trying to get rolling back again at full steam with a busy week of bisquing and glazing pots. Today I went out and scraped kiln shelves for the soda kiln and will go do some more kiln cleaning tomorrow and will load the last bisque tomorrow. All of the big shows coming up around here you can probably find every potter pretty busy these days.
There has already been a chill in the air up here in the mornings and evenings and I was even thinking some heat would be nice to take the chill off in the house. Won't be long before I get the woodstove going. It was a nice way to start the first day of autumn.
September 18, 2008
These ewers are some of the first ones I made this spring. A couple of them have clay stoppers on them instead of the slab flap opening that I put on the new ones in the studio.
I've been itching to post some of my new pictures I took recently:
September 17, 2008
I finished the ewers, pitchers and vases. I love these ewers. I had so much fun making them all different and playing around with different placements of the handles and different textures. They are ovaled and are great for olive oil, soy sauce, hot syrup, homemade vineagrettes, and another good use for them is liquid soap. I made one specifically for myself a few firings ago to put on my kitchen sink instead of the plastic "Joy" container of dish soap, despite it's appealing name. Such a common everyday use for something that I lavished hours over every detail. I think special things should be used for every day occasions. This is a scaled down version of some watering cans I used to make a while back with the same opening flap on the top of the piece.
September 15, 2008
Since then I threw some pitchers and vases. I also was able to get a start on some ewers. I made some as tests a couple of firings ago and was pleased with them. I was hoping I'd have time to make some more this firing. They, like teapots, take a lot of finishing. I always wish I had more time to explore more complex forms. I'm finishing everything up by the middle of this week and then I've got the Bakersville Creek Walk craft show this weekend here. Then I get to move back to my long missed home and studio!! Yeah! I'll jump right into bisquing and glazing next week and am getting very close to firing right near the end of the month. I didn't get as much completed as I had planned, or at least, as good as I had planned, from being in this different studio, but I'm trying to tell myself it's okay. At the end of the day, I need to feel happy with whatever I have accomplished, despite it not always being the gigantic, unrealistic amount I might have set out to do. It's a new motto I'm trying to steer towards in my head these days. And this afternoon I had a nice reminder of this thought from a quote that was on my teabag:
"We do not remember days, we remember moments." Cesare Pavese
September 12, 2008
Next weekend: September 20-21, 2008, for details: Bakersville Creek Walk Arts Festival, Bakersville, NC
September 27- November 22, 2008, Hambidge Center Invitational Exhibit, Rabun Gap, GA, for details, 2008 Celebrate Clay, Western North Carolina Pottery Show and Sale, Hambidge Center
October 10-Nov. 30, 2008, for details: Hand In Hand Gallery, Flat Rock, NC, Fire and Light, Wood Fired Clay from North Carolina Invitational
October 10-11, 2008, for details check out the website: Spruce Pine Potters Market, Spruce Pine, North Carolina , also the news at the potters market blog
October 16-19, 2008, for details: Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, Asheville, North Carolina
November 15-16, 2008, for details, Piedmont Craftsmen Fair, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
December 6-7, I'll be participating in the studio tour at Terry Gess Pottery, for details Toe River Studio Tour, self guided tour of studios and galleries in western North Carolina
September 11, 2008
Here's a slew of teapot spouts I threw that are drying and getting ready to attach. I throw them on the wheel and before cutting them off, I dry them a little bit with a heat gun and then slightly bend them into a curve. Later when I attach them I cut away some of the base so it fits to the form nicely and sometimes shape the curve some more to get a nice flowing line.
I always have been one to make sculptural knobs, rather than the wheel thrown round knobs. They are like mini sculptures sitting on top of your pot and the sky is the limit with ideas for relating to my textures. This particular one is tried and true, I have been using it for a few years and am still pleased with the activeness of it and the direction it makes your eye move around the form. The small keys on the lid and the pot are there for the user to line up so they know which way I intend the lid to fit.
September 10, 2008
So I've been making a lot of tumblers and some new oval serving dishes. I'm going to be sure to make some of those porcelain tumblers that I coined "brave soldiers" in my last firing. The ones that were on the bagwall and got blasted with soda? Given time to marinate in my mind, I now like them and have been looking around and noticed they are almost all gone. (I'm keeping my favorite one!) I really love the new tones of smoky grays I can get on the porcelain with the heavy soda and carbon. ooh... yum...
Now I'm working on the stages of finishing up 6 teapots. I trimmed them today and added all the detail parts, such as the knobs, lid keys, tabs and lugs. In case you're wondering what all this potter jargon is...I'll show you with a picture soon. Tomorrow I'll throw some spouts and add them and finish them up with a handle. I just absolutely love making teapots, it is all in the details.
This is a new texture on a couple of the teapots that I decided to try. I really like it. (sorry about the fuzzy picture)
September 8, 2008
Now that I'm sort of rolling again with lots of pots in progress and a big studio week planned, I'm back to my usual reflective state of mind. I've been pondering my dreamland. The kind of dreamland where I'm thinking of what kind of studio I want....where I want it, how I want it, how close to the house I want it, how I want my routine to be as a potter. One day I won't be renting anymore and I will own my own studio. One day I won't have to walk through my kitchen carrying my greenware on the way out to the bisque kiln. One day I will own my own wood soda kiln. One day I will be able to spread my elbows out in the studio and jump around with glee. One day...
It doesn't hurt to dream from the top, does it?
September 7, 2008
In the world of blogging and blogdom, it seems as if I have been "tagged", actually up to two times now, which I failed to get around to responding the first time. This game is somewhat of a new thing to me in the blog world, and is being spread from fellow artist bloggers around. So now I feel I must take part and play along since I have now officially been tagged twice. Other potters Gay Judson and Judy Shreve have both now tagged me!
Here are the rules of the dreaded "tagging" thing:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog. (this is what you're now reading.)
3. Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them. (This is only a game.)
5. Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Six random things about me:
1. Although a nature girl at heart, I am absolutely terrified of snakes, venomous or nonvenomous.
2. I did not take any art classes until late college, when for some crazy reason before I even touched clay, I immediately knew I wanted to be a potter. Instead, from childhood I took private piano lessons and flute lessons and even was in the marching band and concert band. I was even first chair flute! These days my flute is collecting clay dust, yet I still crave to play the piano.
3. I can raise my left eyebrow independently from the other and frequently use this habit to my advantage when I'm feeling goofy.
4. I am a night owl and would happily sleep until noon if I wouldn't feel guilty for doing so.
5. When I have a really good laugh going, I can't help but cry.
6. Although initially shy to people I don't know, I will talk your ear off once I feel I know you.
Now I'm supposed to "tag" six more people! Sorry everyone if you don't want to play or have been tagged already! Now you're it! 1. Kyle Carpenter, 2. Will Baker, 3. Clay Club, 4. Michael Kline, 5. Alex Solla 6. Heather Knight
September 5, 2008
I have decided I'm going to use this time for sketching some of these great pots that are all around me, studying whatever elements are about them that keep capturing my eye. I'm also going to use this time to make a new form...don't know what yet, but being in someone else's studio is surrounding myself with a whole different perspective, so I might as well see what can come out of it. I get used to my own pots and inspirations in my studio, so working somewhere else for right now could be a refreshing thing.
(On another note, remember I'm dogsitting plus taking care of my own dog? I've declared a rule for myself. Never, never never will I own two dogs at once! I'm about to pull out all of my hair.)
No pictures from this side of the county, but I'll keep you posted as soon as I feel like I'm rolling again.
September 2, 2008
My electric kiln that I use to bisque fire in is out in an old spring house that is now just used for storage. Under those bins is an old water trough where water from the nearby spring runs through and out the trough at the front of the building. To be safe I temporarily rerouted the water when I installed the kiln. Something about standing water and 240 volts of electricity just doesn't mix. It's not a computer kiln, so I've been going out every few hours today and turning it up. I am so sensitive to electric kiln fumes, I have to wear my respirator or I'll get a headache and feel very dizzy. Somewhere back in college after doing sculpture projects using polyester resin, I have become extremely sensitive to exhaust fumes, spray paint, the smell of a bisque firing, etc. I don't really need a kiln vent on this since it's outside in another building that I'm rarely in. I just know that sometimes people don't always take this very seriously if they can't smell anything, but just because you're not sensitive doesn't mean it isn't affecting you.
I feel like I've been running around doing odds and ends today, not sitting in one place for long. I've been finishing up a few pots that are drying out in the sun, catching up on emails, show applications and images of my work.
There are grapes ready for eating in my yard, and below are some pineapple tomatoes that I grew myself. Toss them with some fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, sea salt and parmesean cheese and you have a real treat! Yum!
September 1, 2008
Hopefully I'll finish all the pots I need in the next three weeks and then I'll fire the soda kiln right after that. This will give me plenty of time on the other side of the firing to do the finishing to the pots. I'll have a lot of reed handles to weave on the jars this time. Today I loaded up a bisque kiln that I'll fire tomorrow and have quite a bit more greenware that didn't make it in the kiln, which means I'm doing good as far as numbers of pots. I have a larger electric kiln and usually fire 3 bisque kiln loads to feel like I have enough pots for the firing, 200 pots is the goal. Anyway, I'm off to the "new" studio on Wednesday with all my clay and tools to crank out pots. Linda's studio is bursting full of creative energy right when you walk in the door, so maybe it'll ooze over to me!
This is my golden lab, Amber, a furry bundle of happiness and joy. Have you ever heard of a dog who barks at her foot and her tail? Well, this one right here does, quite frequently, for no apparent reason. She's a rescue dog, who came to spend her life with me, toting along some issues that we are still sorting out, ahem...5 years later and counting...those of you out there who know her know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. It's going to be interesting battling the energies of two very hyper dogs for the next few weeks.