Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Who says test tiles have to be flat?

I have come to a decision on my test tiles--shot glasses! Well, not exactly shot glasses. I'm not going to trim them like I would if I were selling them. I balled up around 50, 1/2 lb. balls to make these guys, and I got half of them done tonight. I didn't get started until 7:30 and only worked until about 9. Not too bad--I had fun seeing how fast I was going--a little less than 2 min. per.

I really suck at throwing off the hump. I tried throwing little cylinders without bottoms, but they were turning out really bad, so I made these guys. I'm going to carve in them like I do my bigger cups to get an idea of how glazes will break over the texture.

I've got to fire a bisque soon--the whole bottom shelf is greenware, and I've got a good amount more stashed around the studio. It's still super humid outside, so most of it is not bone dry yet.

My wheel is in terrible shape already--why do I even bother. I wish that I could just roll it outside and hose it off, but I'm pretty sure the motor wouldn't appreciate it. Same goes for the floor. I can't wait to build a real studio--one with a drain in the middle. I'm working in my seriously small one car garage, and part of it is dedicated to the water heater and a shelf unit filled with random crap. What would a garage be without some random crap?

Exciting news! Carolina has it's first game of the season tomorrow night, and for those in the Southeast, it will be televised at 8 on ESPN. We are playing NC State.

Hope everyone's week is going well! Post again soon!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

S'more new work

Here are a few more pics of some other new stuff, and even though I said I wouldn't post about it any more, these pieces are faceted--blame Deborah Woods. So anyway, this first picture is of the larger bud vase form that Judy Shreve said that I should make. I'm not as happy with the form, but I'm too lazy to make more tonight. I think it either needs to be taller and straiter, or shorter and squattier (I have now declared that a REAL word). I still need to make a tray and arrange them with the larger one in the middle with several of the smaller vases around it. I really think that it's going to be neat when it's all done, but hand building was always my least successful activity in clay class.

This second picture is a new bowl with the fancy, smancy rolled lip that is so much fun to do. Sorry the picture is a little blurry--it's so damn humid outside that the camera lens is continually fogging up.

This third one is just a bottle, but I kinda like it. I like the relatively straight walls, but I may try it bulged out a little on my next batch. I'm also going to try the spring faceting tomorrow for the first time. We'll see how that goes :)

Lindsay and I have been talking seriously about grad school--both for her and me. She is going to go back and get her masters in education, and then I really, really want to go back and get my MFA, obviously in ceramics. I think she is going to start next fall (hopefully), so that puts me going back in four years (possibly). The scariest thing is really money--we made it through undergrad without any student loans, and I would love it if we could avoid them, but I don't think it is going to be possible. We are still at the early stages of discussing it, but we both really want it to happen. I know she is going back one way or another, but whether or not I go is up in the air. We've still got to look into financial aid and such, but I really hope we can do it! Not to mention we are trying to expand our family, which will put a very welcomed strain on the funds as well. Wish us luck--I'm sure we will figure something out!

(By the way, the pitcher from the last post bit the dust last night. I've only tried a few times to pull handles off the pot, and I've tried on big forms every time--don't ask me why--I'm an idiot. Needless to say, it didn't go too well. It's ok, I'll make more some day)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A new pitcher and bud vase

To go along with my current faceting addiction, here is a couple new forms. I've got about 15 of these little bud vases made, and they are truly cute little guys! The only thing I worry about is if I will be able to sell them for enough. They are really quite small, about 2-1/2" to 3" high, and they are a fare amount of work. I could knock a regular bud vase out in no time, but the faceting adds a good amount of time to the making. It's kinda like fancy mugs--how do you charge enough for the amount of work? You can throw a mug body, trim it, embellish it, handle it and sell it for X amount, or you can throw a 5 pound bowl, take less time to complete and charge five times as much. Oh well, the bud vases are lots of fun to make and hopefully they will sell.

The second new form is a pitcher that is....can you guess? Faceted! I think that I am going to lay off the faceting for a while, mainly because I am getting sick of the word--writing it, saying it--it's just getting annoying. I'm sure reading it is as well :) So the next post will NOT have the word facet in it, I promise!

I think that I'm gonna stick a fat handle right where the smooth rim meets the facet and have it meet the bulge just after it starts. On my next one, I am going to try to keep the neck thinner. While opening up the base, I stuck my big, fat hand in and widened the neck. On the next one, I'm going to use my trusty throwing stick to open up instead.

Well, that's all for tonight. Have a great week! Weekends are always too short aren't they?

Friday, August 22, 2008

A rare sight indeed!

Here is a rarity in my studio--a clean wheel! I knew it was time to clean when I couldn't find my tools in the clay buildup. I just moped like 3 days ago--can't tell, can you?

Maybe too much faceting?

Ok, so maybe I have a problem. I have been having too much fun with this whole faceting nonsense. I am still working on developing forms, so now I need something from you, wonderful reader. Here are a few tumblers that I threw this evening, and I need some input on which ones are successful and which ones aren't. I have my favorite, but it is always helpful to have another's eye.

Most of these I think need a little more shape to them--they are kinda boring. Number 4 (from the left) is the most successful to me. The two on the right are just plain terrible (they were the first attempts).

I think that this form works better in a smaller vessel--small cups that I like to think of as booze cups--who drinks juice anyways?? ;)

Pots are taking FOREVER to dry! Stupid Fay! Although I know I shouldn't complain; the rain that we have been getting is nothing compared to Florida.

Well, I better get back to work. The Lord of the Rings is on TV tonight, but pots must come first you know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Who knew faceting could be so much fun?

Tomorrow is Lindsay's first day back to school with students, so I have been helping her set up her classroom for the past few days. I must say, she puts together a fantastic room that really looks like a great place to learn! When I wasn't helping her, going to work, sleeping, or eating, I was in the studio messing around with faceting bowls. I must say that I wish I tried this sooner--it is a ton of fun! I have to credit Tim See for giving me a boost to try it, as well as the Etsy Mud Team (a lot of the members saw Tim's video a while back and tried it before me). I faceted a couple of tumblers at the leather hard stage a while back, but I just tried Tim's technique several days ago. All you have to do is throw a fat wet cylinder, cut some facets, and push from the inside into the shape that fits.

(I do plan on cleaning this up at the bone dry stage)

In other news, I finally made it to the ceramic supply to buy some chemicals, although I don't have an ETA. I really can't wait to get to testing. Hmmm...I should really get some test tiles ready. I've been thinking of making cylinders and tying them on ropes to hang on the wall--I've grown tired of standard L shaped tiles. What kind of test tiles do you use?? Any really great recommendations?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Too much Bisque!

I am accumulating too much bisque work! I really need to get to work mixing some glazes, and I now have to go to my supplier and put in an order for dry chemicals on Monday. I had planned on doing this Thursday, but found out from my neighbor that we both need to move our fences because they go too far back onto the property behind us!!! Needless to say, I was totally pissed and didn't make it to buy glaze stuff. The markers we used were put up by the builder, and one of them fell onto a metal drainage grate, so the builder put it BEHIND the grate instead. So, when I built the fence last summer, I used a marker that was in the WRONG place!!

Anyways, back to clay.

I've been working on having a cohesive line of work, and I threw a few vases the other night to keep along with this line. Here is the best of the four which I will try to duplicate. I need to focus a little more on the top half, which is a little wavy, but other than that, I think that it works fairly well. Wh
at do you think?

Here are a couple of pics of all the bisqued work that I have been accumulating. I have some pieces glazed, but as I've said, I need to get some new glazes.

Next week I'm going to go put in the order, and who knows when I'll see my precious chemicals. I wish I lived a little closer to somewhere like Highwater Clays, so I could just go and pick everything up. I don't want to order online b/c shipping is a bitch! So, that leaves me with putting in an order with my supplier and waiting for them to stick it on their next order. Ah well, make more bisque I guess :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How Mugs Turn Into Tumblers

So what happens when your mugs dry out too much to handle, but still able to be trimmed--just barely? They become tumblers! I through 15 mugs the night before last, trimmed and handled 10 last night, covered them with plastic, and sprayed them liberally with water. But they were still just barely soft enough to trim--not perfect for handling--at least not with this clay body which likes to crack.

So, now I've got some nice juice cups out of this batch, and who needs handles anyway?? I've seen some tumblers actually called 'handle-less mugs!' Maybe you can charge more for those....hmmm...great marketing!

Me and Lindsay went over to my sister's new house tonight for a big family dinner, and we had a great time. Got to see the newest nephew, and man he is just too funny! He is only a few weeks old and makes some interesting noises, but he is really very cute! Hopefully some time very soon, we will be on our way with our own little baby! Good night all--off to catch up on all of the many blogs I keep up with! I really need to insert all of the ones I've been reading into my blog roll. There's always tomorrow :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Still Working Hard

I have been having the best time with this new line of work. My wife came out earlier tonight and said, 'your work finally has a common look.' It is what I have been trying to do for so long--have a cohesive lie of work that is easily distinguishable (I spelled that right on the first try :) I still need to find a good bowl form that works well with the cups and such. I have a teapot form that I want to try and a couple of pitchers and some other things to try. I still want to work with faceting some more work--it's funny that I have been trained to throw thin for so long,
I am having trouble throwing thick enough to facet.

In other news--it is freakin' HOT!!! Heat index was 107 today, and it's supposed to hit 112 tomorrow! I was dying out in the studio tonight, but it was a blast anyways. The other problem with the heat is that my pots are drying super fast, and its hard to keep them at the right firmness. I had 15 cups to turn into mugs that I threw last night and covered tightly. I took them out tonight and left them covered loosely. Well, by the time I got 10 trimmed, the last 5 were too hard to trim and attach handles. I gave them a good spritz with the spray bottle and covered them really tight to absorb some more water. Hopefully they will at least be soft enough to trim tomorrow, and if handles don't work, they'll just become tumblers :)

I have been enjoying my carving experiments, and you really have to be really deliberate about the strokes and not hesitate at all or else the lines just look bad. My carvings aren't particularly impressive, but they are getting better. I am going to brush on decoration on the last 5 mugs instead of carving.

I can't wait to get back to throwing. The only bad part is that I am accumulating a ton of pots and still have no glaze for them. I also want to make a shopping list for glaze chemicals tomorrow and decide on some glazes to start mixing for testing.

Well, thats enough for tonight. I am really enjoying blogging again, and I'm going to really try to keep up better. So, night all!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Couple of New Pots

I am still really enjoying making some new work, and I am still making some of the pieces that I sketched last week. I really like this new jar--the pitcher is nice, but not my favorite. I don't think that the foot works well. It seems a little too wide--or something. Anyways, something to keep working on I guess.

I have a predicament. I still really want to build my little kiln and start my attempt at soda firing with it, but I have lots of cone six pots in the works. I had debated a while back about mixing my own cone six glazes and seeing if I can get some better results in oxidation. But then I had the idea to build a converted electric and switch to cone ten soda--something that I am used to and already have recipes for. I would have to build the kiln at my work which isn't really a problem other than I would have to transport buisqued work about 35 min. away. I can fire while I work--working with my father does have its perks :)

The other problem with cone ten is that the kiln I was planning on using for the conversion is only a cone 8 electric. I don't know if it is even made with bricks that can go to cone ten. All I know so far is that it is a Paragon, about 7 cu. ft. and rated for cone 8. Anyone know if it will melt at cone 10?

So what I am now thinking is that I may start to mix my own glazes, but for cone six instead of ten and fire in ox. until I finish the soda kiln, then see how cone six soda works. If it doesn't do well, then I can go to cone ten if the kiln can handle it.

If anyone has any insight or recommendations to what I should do, or any experience with cone six in soda, I would love the input. Keith Phillips gave me some recommendations on cone six soda, but his experience was a little limited. Have a great weekend all!