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.

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