Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Finally! New work!

All of this change has really put a damper on our creative output.We waited more than a month for our new kiln, the studio has been being rebuilt, and glazes have been mixed. On top of that, we have had illness and Alex hurt his back and can barely walk.

So, finally, we unloaded an actual load of glazed ware. There were a number of pieces that were disappointing but what did turn out was spectacular. The good new is that the glazes I mixed were fabulous and it was the commercial glazes I was disappointed in. We had lovely crystallization in our new glazes and I am excited to see what the next load of ware does.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Twice the Work

So I got my studio space painted in a nice yellow, but once I stepped back to admire the wall, I decided it was hideous. So I broke out the paint chips and started digging. I wanted something bright and clean, but I didn't want anything too pastel. I chose the two colors pictured here. I am a long way from finished - the space is about 800 square feet. The green is painted on a huge column that comes down in the center of the space and divides it in two. I think my hot water heater ties in nicely with the decorating scheme - don't you? My first classes here begin in two weeks, so I have to get tables set up, painting to a stopping point, and everything in its place... and quickly!

We haven't had loads of time for new work, but we've been turning out a bunch of prototypes for stemless wine goblets. I'm hoping to settle on a design I just love. Also in the works are some espresso cups and saucer sets, a whole slew of mugs, and a lot of small bowls with a few big ones thrown in. I have returned for the first time in ages to making pitchers and have been surprised at how easy they are. I did an entire semester of pitchers in school once, and my hands seem to remember the dance well.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I love mixing my own glazes. I like the freedom it gives me to experiment. The knowledge of ingredients lets me know what know what to expect as I make changes or layer glazes. Truthfully, I love donning my nerdy mask and eying my scales critically. It fulfills the mad scientist in me.

I also like knowing I can mix glazes and get unique look. However, this glaze, Xavier's Warm Green Jade, is mixed by a huge number of potters. It is a favorite because it is gorgeous and it performs every time! I love the crystallization that occurs on the bottoms of pots with Xavier's. The multiple glassy layers that form in the cooling are always exquisite. And the color! Who can resist jade green and cobalt blue?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Rolled Foot

Here is some video of the creation of a rolled foot. We did not invent this technique, but cannot remember where we came across it. We typically use a pony roller or brayer but in later clips, Alex shows several other methods using tools commonly in a potter's possession.

This is a better shot of the finished foot.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Rolled Foot

Here is some video of the creation of a rolled foot. We did not invent this technique, but cannot remember where we came across it. We typically use a pony roller or brayer but in later clips, Alex shows several other methods using tools commonly in a potter's possession.

This is a better shot of the finished foot.

A New Baby

We have welcomed a new baby into the family. She is big, weighing in at 500 pounds! Meet Bertha, our new Shimpo Cone Art 2827 kiln. She is 10 cubic feet with double wall insulation and a Bartlett controller. She has the amazing quality of heating up fast and cooling down slowly - we love her!

I felt so bad about her space being incomplete that as soon as we reassembled her and took this photo, I decided to finish painting the wall behind her. Now I hate the color and I'm going to get something else. I want something that will look clean and crisp. Maybe a blue or celadon color.

Yesterday we did our first test firing of Bertha. Today, I'll check the cone packs and decide whether or not she needs calibration. I am hoping we will be on steady ground. I will probably run her empty one more time before I put her to work.

I love this groovy unintentional self portrait by Alex.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Little Clay, Much Philosophy

I have been carrying Life of Pi by Yann Martel around for over a year now, hoping to read while in waiting rooms and sitting in car line to pick the kids up from school. Instead I always end up chatting with someone or spotting a magazine that begs reading. I finally got a chance to start it and Life of Pi has my wheels turning. This quote about a developing friendship with an atheist professor made me stop and reread it several times:
I felt a kinship with him. It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - and then they leap.

I'll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We all must pass through the garden at Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" then surely we are also permitted with doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
My mind has hardly stopped chewing on this for two days. I have always felt there has to be room for the doubter - that true faith has to ask to hard, niggling questions and find a satisfactory answer. I believe that we learn and grow by questioning, but you have to seek and find the answers to those questions. In choosing doubt as a philosophy of life, you essentially choose to not seek answers.

Religion and faith of all kinds intrigue me, but also what really struck me was the idea of the artist choosing doubt. This is the artist who links the value of their art with the number of sales. This is the artist who spends their days at the easel yet turns their paintings to the wall when company arrives.

Is my art valuable because someone wants to buy it? Or, is it valuable because I feel compelled to create it? If no one else loves what I make, should that cause me to stop creating? I believe the satisfaction to my spiritual need to create is in seeing my vision fulfilled, not in seeing cash exchanged for that small reflection of my soul.

We are driven to create. Whether we show in upscale galleries or hide our work in closets, the need to see our visions come to life is ingrained. The desire to create is instilled in us at our creation, when we are made in the image of the Creator - the greatest of all artists. My work... your work.... it is valuable because it is love. It is a sharing of the secret places in our souls and that is more valuable than money, prestige, or fame.