Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's getting a little bit late for me right now (yes, it's only 11pm- I must be getting old) so I'm going to make this post very short. I just wanted to upload a few more images of some of the plates I've been working on.

These first three pictures are different views of the same plate. As you can see, on that one I'm really playing with the idea of putting design all over the plate rather than just the typical areas. I like the idea that someone has to actually pick up the piece to get the full effect of it. Each plate I'm making is completely different. I make up the flowers and patterns as I go along and I even use different colored inlay in each (currently I'm using blue, red and black with red being my fav). Yet they all have enough common elements that they still seem to belong together in a set-- the floral patterns while different have the same leaf element which ties them together and I'm trying to keep the shapes simular (which is a bit easier on these molded plates than it is when throwing!).

This is still that same plate in front (since it's my fav) with some of the others stacked behind.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wallpaper, self-portraits and William Morris

William Morris wallpaper designs have been an inspiration to me from the time I discovered them almost two years ago yet it didn't really start to appear very strongly in my work until this past year.
I really enjoy the curving lines of the vines and the vintage feel.
Also, even though this isn't something that's in my work, I like the childhood game of finding shapes in the paper (like you would in the clouds). I did a self-portrait in my 2D class last semester that was based on William Morris wallpaper designs but the vines and flowers became a repeating face motif if you looked at it long enough. Of course I could see my face in it right away, but for some it was a discovery after staring at the painting for a long time (and I really liked that about it as well!). That discovery that happened after spending more time with the piece. Who knows, maybe one day those ideas will find their way onto my pots. For now, I'm very content with the layering of patterns that's currently happening.

The wallpaper design on the right is entitled "Artichoke" and it was designed by John Henry Dearle for William Morris & Co. in 1897. I love the design of the artichoke, very stylized and (of course) vine-like. William Morris was one of the main contributers to the start of the Arts and Crafts movement in Brittan, a movement whose ideas myself and many others still look to for inspiration.

At the Essential Architecture website I was just looking at, it describes the Arts and Crafts movement in this way: "Originating from the teachings of William Morris, John Rushkin, and other late-19th century English Theorists, the Arts & Crafts movement's emphasis was on "humanizing" design through simple, crafted forms and honest expression of materials."

I love that second part, "simple, crafted forms and honest expression of materials." That's what I want to see in my work. But at the same time, I don't want to forms to look stereotypical or too "crafty". Right now, I feel like I'm just starting to touch on where my work could be headed and what direction my career as a ceramic artist is (stylistically) going.

To read a few thoughts by William Morris about his ideas of what is (should be) art and what is craft, read his book _Hopes and Fears for Art_ .
Here's a link to a free online copy at gutenberg.org-- Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2008

So I took a few pictures of my makeshift studio setup that in my kitchen right now. This first one is my little table covered in my latest project: plates. They are actually molds of paper plates that I made by laying a slab of clay in between two chinette brand paper plates (the paper part is the most important). I saw the idea in one of the millions of random printed materials I grabbed from NCECA this year.
These are the ones that still have the plates attached to the bases and are still drying. I think these look very "paper plate-ish". My hope is that my finished ones do not. These are my two finished ones. I really should have taken a picture of their feet as well because once those were added, I felt like they lost the paper plate feel. In these pictures, however, right next to the other ones, they still feel a bit that way. Um, other things I'm working on with this set will be using slip squares under the floral patterns as I did this semester in my sets. I don't have any slip on hand right now, but once I get some I think I will be more satisfied with them (my plan is to "borrow" some from the studio.....keep your fingers crossed for me!). To me, they just look strange without the slip. The lines seem awkward, stuck in the middle of the plate for no reason rather than looking like their sectioning off different areas of design. They are, in short, a work in progress.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I was just browsing the web today and I stumbled across some really beautiful henna designs and so I thought I would devote this post today to the traditional art of henna painting is known as Mehndi in India, where it has been practiced since the beginning of the 12th century. In Indian Mehndi, a person applies designs (traditionally) to a woman's hands and feet, on special occasions. After two to twelve hours, during which the Mehndi dries, the wearer scrapes the paste off to reveal the designs, which resemble tattoos and last one to three weeks on the skin.
It reminds me a lot of the sort of effect you get from a slip trailer. It makes me want to practice with my slip trailers. I'm only so-so with them, I have trouble getting the lines to change widths as beautifully as the artist above has done.
This last picture I had to throw in here because it looks like that would have been such fun!

For more info about the Mehndi process or design pictures and such go to this website:

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm starting to get the itch to throw again even though the semester only ended last week. With all the glazing and firing I've been doing and after getting such promising results from the kiln, I'm really aching to get back into things.

Since I can't throw today, I thought I would find some exciting images to add to my personal collection of inspirations.

Beautiful machine-knit scarf/runner made by Christel Seyfarth, an artist who lives in Denmark.

Another piece by Christel Seyfarth. More of her work can be viewed on her website at: www.christel-seyfarth.dk/englishsite/indexen.htm

Both of these pieces I think relate to what I'm doing right now with my work because of their floral and yet geometric patterning. I really enjoy how the top scarf is interesting from both the green side and the red side and I like how she's paring the more organic floral designs with the geometric squares (something I'm also interested in doing in my work).

I think it's very important as an artist for me to look at other artists work. For me personally, I especially like to look at non-ceramic work because I feel like these inspirations translate themselves more personally into my work than just taking a specific technique or something from another ceramic artist who has already translated it from some other place into clay.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Here's a few pots from that last firing that turned out pretty well. The surface isn't exactly what I wanted, the copper wash ran quite a bit more than I had anticipated (and more than on my tests) and the copper slip squares didn't quite show up on most of them, but in general I'm very happy with them. Of course, as always the next ones will look much better!

I was very happy with this bowl shape that I came up with, I think it will be my regular shape for awhile. I love the feet especially and the opportunity for hidden decoration on the bottom.

This one is my favorite cup-- I love the way the soda traveled around the pot in that one spot!

So.....all in all, I think it was a pretty good firing! Next I need to work on getting my slip to show up so I may try a recipe with more copper or add another colorant to it as well. What I really need to do at this point is to make some test tiles with the slips and carved florals and inlayed slip just to test a few surfaces.
Also, I'm somewhat debating with changing the clay body a bit to something that might flash a bit more in the soda (something with more iron).

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Just woke up after our long night of firing. For some reason it took much longer to fire off the soda kiln than we had initially thought it would. We were anticipating sodaing around 5-6 but that got pushed back to 9-10 and then we lost so much temperature (100 degrees or so) that it took until 2:45am before the kiln was ready to be turned off. So the firing went a long 35 hours and I was at the studio for 23 hours yesterday.

Me and the ring of fire (that doesn't look nearly as burning as it was!)

Note: Laura's shirt lies-- we are from Illinois State University not Central College

Our homemade damper

All in all I think the firing went pretty well but I guess I won't really know until Tuesday afternoon when we're unloading. Mostly I'm just proud that I fired the kiln without Joe or Tyler. For being my first firing, I would say it went pretty well and I can't wait to see my pots!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Spring has Sprung!

This afternoon turned out quite beautiful after the rain this morning. It was a big work day for me and Laura-- loading the soda kiln, cleaning up the kiln yard, washing shelves, making our dry soda to set us up for tomorrow.
Walking to the studio this morning, I picked a lilac and now the smell of that one little blossom has permeated the entire glaze room! Here it is in a little bowl of water.

We're testing a new way to fire the soda kiln tonight. Nothing too crazy but last time we had issues getting to temp on the top (mostly due to the way this kiln is designed!). Our test is going to be to try a bit of a longer firing.....although really the basic idea is to get to cone 012 for body reduction right when we come in tomorrow around 4am instead of the usual noon. That equates to a bit of a long night and early morning for me but I don't mind that. I'm just nervous my lids are going to crack. I'm trying a new design that is thrown hollow and the only one I fired so far (my test piece) cracked right down the middle of the knob. I won't dwell on that however.......without further ado, here is our lovely 3rd soda kiln load:

Goodbye intact knobs, I hope to see you again!