Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Finally... (and Pottery Classes)!

If you take a look at my calendar, you'll see I've finally started updating it with upcoming events. Amazing how quickly my calendar really filled up, once I sat down and went through everything!

I've gotten new handrails going downstairs and fixed the steps up a bit - thanks to my very handy-man, Keith, who also helped fabricate and install the board to display the glaze test tiles, which are almost all done (didn't realize how many glazes I actually had - 48 and counting!) The door between the stairs and the kitchen has been fixed so it now latches, so I have more control over the kitties (that's you, Meli!) when I'm bringing in big stuff. The storm doors should be in soon and then installed, completing the "facility upgrades" recommended after the Open House (not even four weeks ago).

The teaching schedule is finally up as well. I'll be teaching in the studio Tuesdays (10:00am-1:00pm) and Thursdays (6:00-9:00pm) starting January 6, with the occasional "day off" to attend to other obligations. I'm going to be running it in a very informal fashion - if you can't make a session, it's not a problem - just come to the next one; and if you want to glaze or fabricate, that's fine. (Between my production commitments and the new, smaller kiln, turnaround won't be a problem.) Contact me via e-mail if you're interested in taking classes focusing on hand-building techniques.

I'm going to see if I can make a weekly commitment to post and, as a part of that, post a photo of one of my pieces. (Not sure I have 52 sufficiently unique "things", but maybe that will motivate me!) The photos may not be great - Don's coming to shoot some work on the 15th and I'm not sure how much we'll get done - so you'll just have to bear with my amateurish attempts!

This week's photos are of a wall pocket I did late last year. My "traditional" wall pockets have featured a leaf or leaves on a "back drop". My technique was to tear a clay slab into a form which roughly tapered toward the base, punch a hole in the back for a nail (I really prefer simple solutions to such concerns), then forming another, somewhat larger, clay slab over some wadded newspapers. (The myriad uses of newspaper never fails to amaze me.) The two slabs are fixed together with scoring and slip. I'd then roll two tapering coils of clay, textured if I wished, and applied them (again, scoring and slipping as I go) to the outer perimeter of the top "V", overlapping and pressing them at the base, to look like two small branches. Rolling out another slap, I smooth the texture from the slab-roller canvas using a metal kidney and roll a leaf into the slab, which I then cut out using a very sharp cutting tool. I "artfully" apply the leaf to the top of the pocket, add a lady bug, and let it dry.

I had the idea of doing more "charismatic" wall pockets, and started working with larger leaves or combinations of leaves. The pictures here are of a Redbud (Cercis canadensis) wall pocket using three large leaves. I placed the leaves - in this case, three large Redbud leaves - in a "trefoil" arrangement on the smoothed slab, roll them in with a clean rolling pin, cut them out with a sharp tool, then place them on another piece of the slab and cut out a larger slab that roughly follows the same form. The lay the second piece on a shelf, punch a centered hole based on the basic form, score and slip the edges of the first slab where I want it to adhere, and place it over some more of that newspaper onto the base slab. I carefully cut and smooth the edges around the piece. I let it dry (always, always, always - have the base of the pocket facing the fan if you're using one - otherwise the piece will not dry evenly and will crack) and then do final clean-up with some synthetic steel wool and a sharp tool, as necessary. For glazing, I stain the top surface, apply wax resist, and then glaze the rest of the piece - interior, back and edge. The glazed edge makes for a "clean" piece, somewhat like a french seam on a fine pair of trousers. I've done a few of these, including a "trefoil" of Cottonwood (Populis deltoides) leaves and one beauty with one large Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) leaf which Don purchased for his Mom's Christmas gift. I've been very happy with these pieces - they are amongst the most resolved and elegant pieces I've done. Especially in the case of the Paw Paw wall pocket (which you will hopefully see sometime this year, once we shoot it!), there isn't one thing I'd do differently.

Keep warm out there and enjoy your day!

1 comment:

DS said...

I have had the great fortune to see Black Cat Pottery's new works in person, and can truly say they are not only unique, but artfully done in a way that looks effortless - and we all know how hard that is to accomplish! Keep on posting the new work Cheryl!