Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ah! What a beautiful morning! The sun is shining, it's a little chilly outside (for Florida) but I have my cup of tea so all is well with the world. My baby brother is flying in from Illinois today to stay with us for 5 days and I'm really looking forward to seeing him again!

As far as studio news, I've been working really hard the last couple days to get my etsy site up and running but it officially went live Monday night. Yay! Also in preparation for my brother's visit, I've been working really hard in the studio to get to a stopping point so I can take all those days off and not have work drying out on me.

Yesterday I trimmed and handled 10 cups which is a lot for me. Because my work requires doing so much leatherhard work, I try to throw in multiples of 5 and 5. So if that was a usual day, I would have done 5 bowls and 5 mugs. That way I could decorate the bowls right after trimming while I was waiting for the handles to set up and all that. So in any case, doing that many handles at the same time seemed a little like a marathon to me! While they were drying I started decorating two pitchers, one vase, one mixing bowl and three salt and pepper shakers. So as you can tell, I got a lot done yesterday which I'm pretty excited about. Also, my two teapots survived the bisque with no cracking which is always a good sign!

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's late but I had to work late tonight ("day" job not ceramics) so I'm still pretty wound up. Hope I can get up in the morning...I wanted to get into the studio by 9am...but that's not what I got on here to talk about. Really, I wanted to post a few more pics of my pots before they end up on Etsy tomorrow. Just to forewarn you, the pictures are far from professional quality. What you are about to see is total improvisation (aka a piece of blue pastel paper thumb tacked to the wall that I took pictures in front of and then edited in a pseudo-shadow on top to give them the illusion of a bit more depth).

The last two pictures are the same mug, I just took a picture with each cup and my hand to try and show some scale. Otherwise, it's just too hard to visualize the actual size of an object in a picture. They really are dainty for mugs, especially compared to how large I usually make my mugs.

All things considered, I'm actually happy with how my pictures turned out. They make it clear how bad my camera is though. The backdrop was actually a bright light blue rather than a gray and the "white" areas of the pots really have a slight blueish ting to them. One of these days I will get the camera of my dreams and then just try to imagine the pictures I will take!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Horray! I have work out of the kiln and they turned out fantasic! The slip color couldn't have been more perfect if I would have been able to mix it up with paint (which we all know is not how glazing works!).
Of course these snapshots are not the best, they don't show the subtle blue tone on the insides of the mugs but that's okay. Once I get my etsy site up and running, the pictures will be professional quality but these are good for now!

Here's a few more pics of what I'm working on in the studio at the moment. I have going a pitcher and batte bowl, a few cups and some knobby salt and pepper shakers.

Oh yes, and I cannot forget my little bottle that I'm making for one of my good friends. This is a photo taken after I incised the lines, before I scraped away the excess underglaze. Once it's finished the lines will look as sharp as the fired ones above.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Woot! I am excited! I FINALLY have things in the kiln....not too many but a few. I'm pretty anxious to see how they look since I haven't gotten any pieces out of the kiln since last May. Way, way too long. Of course it's hard to fire things with no studio over the summer and making a 18 hour cross country move but I am finally starting to get something like a schedule mapped out for my studio time.

Oh I can't wait to get the kiln unloaded on Saturday! Maybe then I will finally post some pictures of my current work. I think that day I will actually have pictures of things in most stages of being worked on. I threw a beautiful batter bowl today which I'm hoping will have a better fate than the last two (one got bumped on the shelf and the other cracked when I was decorating it). Sad story really but I can always make another!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Today was a good day at the studio. I got a lot done even if I was only able to go for 4 hours. I started by throwing the batter/mixing bowl that I designed this weekend and the first one turned out so well that I didn't throw another. Then I threw two teapots and lids and a small pitcher. I wish I could have thrown all day but I had to come home and get ready for work. I also finally finished decorating that batch of cups and bowls from last week. I keep saying I will post some pics from the studio but everytime I go I seem to get in a time crunch and don't have time to snap a few photos. One of these days I will post a few!

Right now, I'm trying to get on Ayumi Horie's site to check out the obamaware but I can't get the page to load. See if you can have any better luck. Maybe I will try later tonight when everyone is (hopefully) asleep!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

So this week (starting tomorrow since I have to work today), I'm going to be throwing my first batter bowls.
First step for me is to look at other batter bowls, think about the shape and function of them and find something from all that which I like and which fits with my work. Since I'm making something handmade, some people may look just to handmade sources but I find that sometimes leads to either copying something someone has already done or making something in a way that may not function as well as something else. My solution is to go straight to the source, I usually start with a Google of the piece I'm going for. Here's a few of my favorites that resulted from that search:

Okay, so as I was looking through the different bowls and thinking about what would be the most comfortable position to pour from I got to thinking that if I use a full handle, the sides of the bowl have to be a bit straighter just to keep the center of gravity correct for pouring. Also, you don't want the top to get too wide because it makes it harder to channel the liquid down the spout. Of course these are things we all know but I want to try and keep them on the forefront of my mind while I am drawing designs so I don't find something that looks really nice as a design but becomes something that doesn't function as well as I would like it to.
So for alternative handle options I will look to potters:Lorna MeadenAmy HalkoDeborah Schwartzkoph

These three artists are a few of my favorites partly I think because I have seen two out of three of them work and so I feel a bit more of a connection to their work.
Deborah came to Illinois State when I was a student there and actually made one of these batter bowls. Although it's not a very good angle to see her handle, it's actually a cut out space on the outside of the bowl which is very comfortable to grip with your hand while letting your thumb rest either right on that red dot or laying comfortably above it.
Lorna was a demonstrator at NCECA this year and I really love her funky oversized handle which works well for the smaller size of this bowl but may not be comfortable for something larger that could hold more batter.
Last we have Amy Halko whose work I have never touched in person but I really love it all the same. Her bowl must be a smaller one as well since it doesn't have any handle on it. Of course this isn't central to the function of the design, but I love her bright patterns and bold color combination of greens/blues with a bright popping red. I use it often on my work as well!

Well, I guess those are my thoughts as of now about batter bowls. This way I will have time at work to mull over which ideas I like and what I would like to use when I start the sketching phase of my bowl design.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

While at ISU, I developed a love of floral design books and really based my first drawings and carvings on my pot from those. I never actually got the pleasure of looking through this one but I stumbled on this artists work while blogging one day and fell in love. His name is Frederick Edward Hulme and he was a graphic designer/illustrator/writer in the late 1800s from around 1870-1890. These are a few pages from his book Suggestions in Floral Design:

I love not only the drawings in this and other design books from this era but also how they talk about pattern and using it as a design element. It's interesting for me to read about these ideas-- repeat patterns, drop repeats, reverse repeats, etc.
Below are a few of his drawings (giclee prints) from another book he wrote and illustrated called Familiar Wildflowers that are remarkable as well!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm excited! The studio opens up again today after it was closed for a week for cleaning. I was naturally there helping to clean things up but now I'm getting antsy to get my fingers into wet clay again. Tonight, after work, I'm heading to the studio. Maybe I will actually get some pictures taken of the pieces I've been working on. I brought my camera all week the last week the studio was open but I never remembered to use it until after I left.

I've been in a flurry of making, even this week I haven't thought about much else. This week was spent researching galleries and residencies (a little prematurely but good things to do). I don't know if I've talked about my plan but I'm starting an etsy site and a separate bank account for my ceramic "business" and then once I get a few sales I will use that money to buy postcards and whatnot to put in gallery packs and try to get some of my work out there. But all this is waiting for another kiln load of pots. I'm getting really antsy to see some thing fired and coming out of a kiln. I haven't had new fired work since my final project at ISU last May! I think it's about time. Also, since I don't have acess to a soda kiln right now I think this next firing will go much better than the last few. I guess we should keep our fingers crossed!