Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fancy Sunflowers 2

Ginormous Fancy Sunflower, Sienna
Finally getting around to posting some more of my newest Fancy Sunflowers, from an earlier shoot with Don and than this latest on July 17.

I tend to get on these creative "tears" when an idea strikes me and then just run with it, especially trying to come up with combinations of textures and glazes, within a given piece, and then creating "suites" of pieces that will go well together.  (Because, let's be honest: one sunflower looks lonely; two looks kinda odd; whereas three together really starts looking like something.)

It was also critical to make sure I used textures that really worked with a glaze over them; anything really delicate or subtle would be lost once the glazes was applied and fired.

The piece to the left was made using a metal grid I was given by my first pottery teacher, Gene Pluhar.  The openings are oblong/ovoid, so when I drop the clay on it to get the impression, it really looks like an array of sunflower seeds, which is just perfect for the theme.  The texture is distinctive enough to take the glaze really well.  Again, I'm using Amaco's Potter's Choice Series on most of these pieces (I tend to be very systematic as well as thematic in my approach, which seems kind of weird for an artist, but I've got a lot of left brain activity going on).  In this case, in addition to the Temmoku I use for all the centers, I used Deep Sienna Speckle for the petals, as I wanted to evoke a particular variety of Helianthus annuus known as 'Velvet Queen'.

Ginormous Fancy Sunflower, Sage
I needed ten different flowers for an event earlier this summer and had only come up with eight.  Plus, I also needed another design that could complement the Sienna and Melon flowers.  So, I tried out the chair caning I received from my old friend Franklin Reed.  He was going to recover some kitchen chairs and decided, in the long run, to have it done rather than do it himself.  In the interim, however, he had purchased a piece of chair caning, which he generously gifted to me.  (Folks who know me know I'm always on the look-out for cool textures.)  Although this texture is a little "machined" for my purposes (I like more "organic" stuff, oftentimes), it was certainly distinctive enough to take the glaze for the center.  I also like the idea of using something rather commonplace (when was the last time you actually thought about chair caning, how it looks, how it's made?) in a new context.  I glazed it using Toasted Sage from the Potter's Choice series of glazes and it turned out quite nicely but I don't think it quite works with the Sienna and Melon.  So, I still needed at least one more design for the event, as well as something that would work with those two other colors.

Medium Fancy Sunflower, Jasper
One of the textures I had used for my Original Sunflowers was a paper-wrapped wire basket I found in the clearance section at my local Joann's etc.  (You can find some very interesting things in the clearance sections of your favorite stores!)  It's a little difficult to work with because the depth of the texture is not consistent, so I need to work with a slightly thicker slab (when I got around to doing the ginormous version of this piece, the center kept cracking along some of the deeper fissures) but it does make for a rather interesting, idiosyncratic, organic form and because of its irregularity, every piece really is unique; plus, there were no concerns as to whether the texture would hold up under the glaze.  I used a new (for 2011) Potter's Choice glaze for this one, Ancient Jasper, which is quite similar to Ironstone but is a bit more orangey and not quite so red.  That orange-ness plays nicely off the Deep Sienna Speckle used in the first piece discussed in this post.

So, I finally had my ten pieces, although at this point in time, you've only seen six of them.  So you know, there's more to come!

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