Monday, March 21, 2011

Leaves - Lots of 'em

I know, I know - Where the heck has she been?  Do you really want to know?  OK, well, then, everywhere from Midland to East Lansing to Kalamazoo to Taylor.  That's where.  And this week it's Ubly (that's south of Bad Axe - oh, never mind!)  Yep, I've been on the road a whole lot and will be for a lot of the growing season.

So I'm behind.  Let's see if I can start getting caught up.

Going back to the shoot Don and I did at the end of January, we shot a couple images of some redbud (Cercis canadensis) leaves with which I was working.

Although I'm inclined to look for perfect leaves, I also realize recognize that a leaf with some insect damage tells a story.  Leaf cutter bees seem to really like my redbud, so I do sometimes include leaves that have distinctive insect damage (leaf gall on oaks is pretty cool to work with).  What I wanted to do was create an image of an individual leaf that was absolutely resolved.  I used the same technique I used for the leaf wall pockets, rolling out a relatively thinner slab of clay, using a metal kidney and then rolling with the rolling pin to remove the canvas texture.  Then I would roll in the leaves - either fresh or moistened fallen leaves (with these last, make sure you've blotted them pretty dry or they stick to stuff in the ugliest way).  Using my very sharp (and I mean it's sharp!) cutting tool, I cut the leaves out.  Using some shallow bowl-shaped molds, I push the clay in to create some shape - so it isn't just flat.  Let the piece dry, peel off the leaf and use a piece of synthetic steel wool too "soften" the edge.  The pieces are then bisque fired (they can be stacked).

Glazing is pretty simple.  I stain the top surface to bring out the pattern of the leaf's veins, apply wax resist, then allow it to dry completely.  Then I glaze the bottom and the edge, preferably by dipping or pouring the glaze.  I fire the pieces upside down on a post so there are no stilt marks - making for a piece that folks cannot help but pick up, turn over and over and touch.

We started the bird bowl workshop at Firebrick Gallery in Rochester last week - the fabrication session went really well and we're thinking about doing another workshop on wall pockets, if there's enough interest.

The gardening season is starting - had two garden evaluations today.  Can't wait to get out in my own yard!

More on upcoming events in future posts!

Keep well and enjoy the warmer weather.

When Don and I were shooting the pieces we had a lot of help - especially from Rameses, as you can see if you look closely at one of the photos.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Staff: Cheryl M. English

Don was over again this weekend, doing some head shots of the single staff person with Black Cat Pottery (that's me, by the way).  We had a pretty good time but I have a new appreciation for how boring it must be work in films - lots of sitting around, waiting for the lighting to work, for the extras (in this case, members of the Management Team) to settle down, get the camera positioned correctly and only then realizing we need a different lens.  Rameses and Princess Nur were not really interested in the entire process; Dora and Alex really conveyed different personalities; especially Dora - she looks positively FIERCE!

But here we are - I'm only putting in a three because I see more than enough of myself in the mirror in the morning.

Heading out to Midland this afternoon for Dow Gardens Know & Grow after I finish my speaking engagement with Grosse Pointe Shores Garden Club (always a delightful group of ladies); then down to East Lansing for Wildflower Association of Michigan.  A quick stop home to make sure the place hasn't burned down and back up to EL for Michigan Herb Associates.  Good thing my friend Jeanne (known as "Auntie Jeanne" to the Management Team) can hang with them while I go make a living.

Don't forget about the upcoming Hanging Birdbath Workshop at Firebrick Gallery in Rochester, MI.  Check out their link at the bottom left of this page.

Hope to see you soon!