Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fancy Sunflowers 1

Ginormous Fancy Sunflower, Melon
Don was over on Thursday, March 31 (my birthday) to shoot my new Fancy Sunflowers.  After I got over my obsessive invention and production phase with the Deluxe Sunflowers (see the Teddy Bear Sunflower entry of November 30, 2010, the subject of which, by the way, was in the Green Show at the Grosse Pointe Art Center, which closed today), I started thinking of other ways to take the sunflowers to a new level.  I chose a number of the more highly relieved textures I have been using in my original sunflowers and decided to glaze the centers with the Amaco Potters Choice Temmoku glaze, as I had done with the Deluxe Sunflowers, and use really bright, jewel-tone glazes from that same series and from my own recipes for the petals.  The results are as you see here.

I only did these in the Medium, Large, Extra Large (a new size, with this series, based on the Vegetable Bowl from my stoneware dishes set, Sasaki's Colorstone, no longer in production but available through Table Tops, Etc. and other on-line replacement retailers) and Ginormous.  Although they're very distinctive, I felt that they could be "lost" in the landscape if they were too small - especially as I wanted the textured centers to be really distinctive.

Ginormous Fancy Sunflower, Turquoise
As with the original sunflowers, I find myself associating certain petal "colors" with certain center textures.  The center of the Large Frosted Melon sunflower above is achieved by dropping the clay slab on a bamboo placemat I purchased at Pier 1 (a great place to haunt for texture sources, as are the clearance areas at Joann's and Michael's - funny; maybe those two should meet...).  The flower pattern of the placemat "wants" yellow petals.  The Medium Lace Sunflower (left) is finished with Textured Turquoise.  Indigo Float (below, Extra Large Sunflower) is one of my students' favorite glazes, as well as one of mine.  It really sets off the bubble wrap texture, which looks completely different when glazed as opposed to the Burnt Umber stain I use on my original sunflowers.  The other colors I'm using include Chun Plum,  Lustrous Jade, Vert Lustre, Toasted Sage (like Frosted Melon, utterly anemic on white stoneware but quite interesting on the red), Deep Sienna Speckle (all Amaco Potters Choice) and my own Dark Slate.

Ginormous Fancy Sunflower, Indigo
The most important criteria I had for the glazes I selected was that they had to "break" over the edges of the petals.  This means that, where the glaze thins over edges as it become vitreous, takes on a different color, often influenced by the clay body underneath.  By working with a higher-iron-content body, more intense variations can be achieved.  I did two series of lace bowls - in red and white stoneware - comparing some of the glazes and found the white stoneware series, well, frankly insipid.  The red series was much more interesting and visually complex as the glazes broke over the relief created by the lace impressions.  That's carried over well into this series of sunflowers.

Don used the same set-up as we used back in January - we seem to have this down, and it really helps unify the presentation of my work.  We can slap it together pretty quickly now and just "shoot away" - I'll clear the work table and organize the pieces to be shot and assist him in moving them through the set.  The different sorts of lights he's using - one with a sparkly background the effect of which you can see on the right side of the flowers - really bring out the depth of the textures I'm using as well as the glossiness and colors of the glazes.  He'll hopefully be coming again sometime next week to shoot some of the Deluxe Sunflowers that are now coming out of the kilns - which are looking pretty damned fine, if I do say so myself - as well as the straggling Fancy Sunflowers.  I'm thinking all of these will do well in Chicago - they're certainly very rich from a design standpoint, the Deluxe Sunflowers reminding lots of folks of expensive chocolates, whereas the Fancy Sunflowers are more "flowery", which we really need with this Winter that just won't let go.

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