Insect Invasion

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A variety of fantastical bugs have invaded the Legalize Pottery Ceramics Studio — here they are on one of the shelves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And they’ve invaded the kiln.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These insects still need to develop deep shiny coloring.  Then they’ll each grow some antennae and multiple legs.  And, I’d like to see them perched on pieces of driftwood.  Stay tuned for more about these bugs.

Glaze Craziness

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Glazing is my least-favorite part of the ceramics process.  I know I’m not alone in this.  Classmates of mine are always griping about not knowing what glazes/glazing techniques to use and being disappointed with the end results.  Also, googling “Hate Glazing” reveals a bonanza of complaints.

Of course, every step prior to glazing has ‘failure’ possibilities.  But, as a piece survives the gauntlet, your attachment grows. With glazing being the final creative step, and fraught with problems, there’s a good chance that all that hard work will be for naught, destined to be smashed to pieces and tossed in the garbage.

Some recent glazing disappointments include this set of plates to which jade green was applied — came out murky blue:

 

Blue 6" Plates w/ Sgraffito

 

This set of plates was underglazed with black — came out dark silvery blue:

Silvery Dark Blue 6" Plates w/ Sgraffito

This casserole was intended to have stripes of my favorite glazes — but, the colors ran together:striped_container_detail

This urchin bowl & spoon had a wash of green copper carbonate under a coat of clear — came out ochre (more aptly termed baby-poop brown):

Ochre Urchin Compote Bowl

Nevertheless, despite the prospect of more unpleasant surprises, I look forward to opening the kiln after my next glaze firing just as a child looks forward to opening Christmas gifts!

Vessel Vase with Sgraffito

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To make a large classically-shaped vase, an ancient technique is to use fat extruded coils, and flatten them out — making “slab coils”.  Two large bowl shapes were made from the slab coils being wound and stacked and smeared together.  After resting a bit, the two bowls were joined rim-to-rim into a roundish vessel.   A foot and neck/rim were added from more slab coils. A band of underglaze was applied to the belly of the vase, and I used “sgraffito” tools and a linoleum cutter to carve an abstract design into the underglaze. After bisque firing, an ivory underglaze was applied above and below the sgraffito area, and inside the vase. VA Clear glaze was used inside and outside, with a thick coat on the rim. The overall effect is pleasantly rustic.

scraffito_vase_topscraffito_vase_detail

(Measurements 9-1/2″ tall, approx. 6-1/2″ diameter)

Tall Vase with Leaf Motif

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This recently-completed vase (measurements 9-1/2″ tall, 3-3/4″ diameter) was made from slabs, using a cylindrical form.  A half-dozen interesting autumn leaves were pressed into the damp clay, and 3 coats of black slip were applied.  After the bisque firing, the inside was coated with John’s Black glaze, and the outside was dipped in VA Clear glaze.  The imprinted leaves turned out speckled, and their stems and ‘veins’ show up nicely.  The overall effect on the outside is streaky and bark-like, enhancing the appearance of the leaves.

leaf_vase2
leaf_vase_detail

 

 

 

 

Vases Made with Slabs and Coils

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Making bigger pieces by hand is made easier by the use of slabs (made with the slab roller) or building with coils.

Image 1Vase #1 is made from one large slab wrapped around a cylindrical form.  I plucked some interesting leaves from a tree in the courtyard just outside the Studio, and pressed them into the damp clay, and coated the outside with black slip.  The video clip below was made after bisque firing at Cone 08.

ImageVase #2 is made from fat (3/4″) extruded coils made with an extruder which I flattened slightly with a roller, making “slab coils.” Using slab coils sped up the process of building the sides of the forms, and also resulted in thinner (less clunky) walls of the vase.  I built two 7″ diameter bowl-like shapes and pressed them together to make a round shape, and added a neck and base using more slab coils.  I painted 3 coats of black underglaze around the belly of the vase, and let it dry to leather hard.  Then, I used the sgraffito technique to decorate the vase, scratching off the underglaze with a linoleum cutter, creating a contrasting pattern and texture, revealing the clay underneath.  The video clip below was made at the greenware stage.

 

Fish in 3D

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I’ve made loads of Fish Dishes in the past, 22 at last count, and the Legalize Pottery site has a whole page devoted to Fishes.  But so far the fish have been two-dimensional.

large_green_fish_goldlips_platter_side

 

While functional, my Fish Dishes aren’t what fish are all about, so to speak.  Now I’ve started to make some three-dimensional fish — sculptural, decorative, more fish-like, with a whimsical flair.

The basic technique is to start with a pinch pot, close up the top, and use a paddle to beat it into shape (no fish were hurt or injured during this process).  With the time-consuming addition of eyes, lips, tail, fins, scales, the fish is complete.  As a bonus, some evolutionary feet were added so the fish can properly stand for viewing.

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Top fish – before bisque firing

 

 

Bottom fish – after bisque firing

 

 

 

 

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Detail – after bisque firing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, the glazes were applied – underglaze for the eyes (covered with clear glaze and a coat of wax), followed by Raku glazes —  Matte Blue (body) and Shiny Abalone (accents). Raku fired in a gas kiln to 1800+ degrees, and cooled in a bucket with sawdust & crumpled newsprint.  The first completed sculptured fish ended up with unique coloring which varies on either side.

raku_fish_side2 raku_fish_side

Review of 2015 Thus Far

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In the 1st part of 2015, while my house was being remodeled, I virtually lived in my ceramics studio. That is, I moved my kitchen table & chairs, refrigerator, microwave, computer, etc. into the Studio, and the Studio is where I did all my cooking, ablutions/make-up, paperwork, etc.  At the end of each day, I went back into my torn-up house to watch TV and sleep. This routine was not very conducive to making ceramics.

However, I did manage to create a Legalize Pottery Shop on Etsy. To visit, please click on the link!
Etsy Shop

I also started a Legalize Pottery Shop page on Facebook. To visit, please click on the link!
Screenshot 2015-08-31 09.28.34

By April, some pieces made it into the kiln and came out fairly decent.

ceramics2015

For a Pop-Up Sale in early June, I got the idea to make a batch of Plant Stakes for Weeds — how appropriate for Legalize Pottery.

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Then, I took a detour into Sculpture — and made a rudimentary human figure.
Image Image 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, it’s back to the classroom — I’m enrolled at Palo Alto Art Center for the rest of the year, with an awesome instructor/ceramicist named Malia Landis.  In the next few months, I’ll be posting the results of that adventure.

Foray into Sculpture

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Last month, to jump-start my creativity, I decided I should pursue ceramic sculpting (which I’ve been meaning to do for years now), and signed up for a class in San Francisco (http://dikarevart.com).

After looking through art books for inspiration, I opted to go for a prone skinny figure.  The teacher made the great suggestion of first making a tile for the sculpture to be lying on.

After the first week, it looked like this — ready to dry out and fired at Cone 04.Image

 

Returned after 2 weeks, and spent the next few hours sanding it down, applying copper oxide and turquoise underglaze, and finally coating the tile with watered-down glossy white glaze. Here’s what it looked like, ready for firing.  Image 1

 

 

It looks like, in spite of a sluggish start, this Summer may yet turn out to be full of creative accomplishments.

Pop-Up Ceramics Sale

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I’ve been preparing for a Pop-Up Ceramics Sale in San Mateo Central Park on Saturday, June 6, 10 AM to 4 PM.  The show features various potters who attend classes at the Central Park Ceramics Studio, along with our wonderfully talented instructor Debbie Debra Gardner Abarca.

I’ve just finished some cute mugs and whimsical plant stakes especially for the Sale!

black_white_goth_mug_back mug_mauve_dots_side2 wild_weeds_stakes_front wild_weeds_stakes_back

3D Ceramics Transformed into 2D Artwork

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A Favorite Blue Fish PlatterQuite some time ago, I made a whimsical Fish Dish with multiple fins, elaborate tail, gills, scales, big lips and eye.   Multiple carving tools were used to create texturing and crevices.  Cobalt Blue Oxide was applied for highlighting the various features, red iron oxide was used on the lips.  Celedon glaze was brushed on.  (Hand-built from High-Fire Porcelain, dimensions are 7″ x 4″)

 

 

 

IMG_1824A few months later, this same Fish Dish was cloned, and became something entirely unexpected.  That is, my niece created a beautiful 2-D image of this Fish Dish, somehow transforming it into a piece of framed artwork.  My niece is not divulging the techniques for making this beautiful image, although there appear to be some watercolor elements.   All I know is — somehow my work was transformed into something else which can be considered to be true art.  I love this piece times two!

 

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