Monday, March 11, 2013

Brake Disk Charger Part II: Large Cottonwood Leaf-Form Bowl with....

Large Cottonwood Leaf-Form Bowl with Brake Disk Charger
Once I had finally realized that the rusted brake disks could make an interesting contrast with some of my pottery designs, I set to work.

It would have been nice if i had been able to take an existing piece and use it and I did try to do that. But these were pretty big disks - my handyman, Keith, informed me they had probably come off a pick up or mid-sized SUV, something along the lines of a Ford 150. My medium Applied Leaf Bowls (the largest I was making at the time) all but swam in them - the relative proportions were just not right. So I made a mold for a large Applied Leaf Bowl to see how that would work.

I also knew that it was going to be a good idea to have a back-up plan. For past shows, having an alternative concept or project going often helped - just in case Plan A was unworkable or something fatal happened in the kiln. So, although I only had two brake disks, I decided to make four pieces. I figured I had at least a 50% chance of half of the work surviving and, if all four made it to completion, I could cherry-pick the two I preferred.

Then I had to figure out the particular designs I wanted to use. For sanity's sake, I've developed a comprehensive matrix for my leaf pieces, including the stain used for the leaves as well as the texture of the branches and the glaze. Years ago I developed a (almost literally) mind-bending matrix for my Hanging Bird Bowls, in which each piece (of over 100 pieces) was a unique combination of leaf stain and bowl glaze - but not only did it hurt my brain to figure the thing out, I often was unhappy with the results. So I have embraced my synchronistic associations of stain and glaze with given leaves and, coincidentally, vastly simplified my life. (I, of course, am more than happy to fulfill a client's differing requirements in the event of a commission.)

One of our favorite glazes is Vert Lustre, from the Amaco Potter's Choice series. This glaze is a rich, lustrous green that breaks a medium reddish brown - a perfect contrast and complement to the rust on the disks. I use this glaze, along with Sea Green Mason Stain, for all of my Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) pieces, from Hanging Bird Bowls and Leaf Pockets to Pillow Vases and Large Basins. Plus I had a slew of Eastern Cottonwood leaves I had collected from a friend's shop up in Dewitt, Michigan.

All the stars seemed aligned.

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