Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 21st-27th

Of course Thanksgiving took a big chunk of time out of the week, but it was easier this year since we went to my Brother's for dinner instead of hosing it here. It was a small, but relaxed group. We visited, ate, played games, and walked. We had our grandkids for the day too because their parents were sick. What fun!

I didn't teach my classes this week. On Tuesday I did a bisque firing and unloaded on Wednesday before we left home. Friday I spent the whole day mixing glaze. It's kind of like following an extra large recipe for cookies, except that I use a gram scale instead of measuring cups. My ingredients have to be carefully measured, then water added and put through a fine-grain screen so the glaze is smooth. It's a tedious process. And I wear a mask when I do it because the fine particles are not good to breathe and can actually cause "Potters Lung" (Silicosis) or Miner's Lung. After mixing the glaze I hand decorate my ware before dipping them in and/or pouring glaze. I had the kiln loaded for a glaze fire by 4:00.  Then I came up to the house and we had another Thanksgiving dinner with our children and grandkids.

My kiln took an extra long time to reach temperature. I think I need to replace some elements. I fire to cone 7 which is about 2300 degrees. I use an electric kiln which has more control than natural fuel, but not as many options. I have to look through an eye hole into the hot kiln to see the cones. When the kiln reaches temperature they drop. Typically potters use at least three cones, the guide cone drops first, letting you know that soon the firing cone will drop. Lastly there is usually a cone to show you if the kiln is getting too hot.

bottom of kiln

      I had forgotten to take a picture until I had already unloaded the top shelf. You can see some of the designs on my pottery. The dragon flies are made with two glazes. First I dipped the green and then did a simple wax-resist design, then poured the second color. I also do leaves like that. The other more complicated pattern is done with wax and under-stains before the bisque fire. I love to design my pottery. 

Table of pottery after I unloaded the kiln. The jars in front are the new French butter dishes I've been making. I'll be taking my pottery down to SLC in the morning to be part of the Finch Lane Gallery for the next few weeks. I hope it's worthwhile. It's always a fun show. 

Finally, here's a picture of Big Kitty. I love to let him in the house after a days work and let him sit on my lap and purr while I watch TV or read. Last time we weighed him he weighed 25 pounds. About 8 years ago, I was at a Christmas party and the hosts had a half-grown kitten. He was so sweet that I carried him around all night. I love cats. A few days later the girls who owned the kitten brought him over and gave him to me as a Christmas present. I think it was sympathy as both of our children were grown and out of the house. I consider that small gesture one of the blessings in my life.
Big Big Kitty (Mouse)  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nov. 13th-20th in the Pottery Studio

I wasn't able to get much of my own work done this week. Instead I worked on some writing. Currently I'm rewriting a mystery set in Yellowstone. I met with my writer's group and they gave me some good ideas and caught some problems. I also attended the funeral of my husband's 90-year-old Uncle Dean. He was a really good man and it was nice to celebrate his long life with his family and friends. I also attended the wedding of our nephew. We added our well wishes to the beautiful couple who started a new journey in life. Wonderful to be a part of these family events. Beginnings and endings. As sometimes happens, I had to put my working schedule aside for much of the week. And the only work I did of my own was four little frogs. This is what they look like before they're fired.

This darling girl is scoring the legs of her reindeer. She is very creative and only six years old.

I use to teach her in a church class. Now she is all grown-up. It's fun to have her in my class. She also made a really great reindeer.

Happily working on a moose. You can see that he's going to be great. She added a head and formed the antlers.

Can you tell this is a potato, with melting cheese and butter? I think it's the first of its kind.

The workings of an airplane. He's applying a propeller.

He really found his niche is creating this dragon. Soon it will have scales and feet.

The whole class busy creating. It's fun to see that everyone makes something unique. Some turned their animals into banks, others cut holes in the top so they can put stuff in them. And some just left them as sculptures. If you do leave them as sculptures, make sure you put a whole in them to let air escape or they blow up in the firing process.

Really incredible bear. She made a baby one to go with it.

I had two classes in my studio this week. With the home-school group we made animal sculptures. We roll out slabs of clay and wrap balloons for the form, then add whatever additions needed to make the animals. The students were very successful. I'll be excited to see the final products.

In my Monday evening class, we worked on slab pottery also, but played around with textures. These dishes were rolled out about 1/4 " think stamped and pressed designs and then loosely placed in disposable bowls. After they are bisqued we'll glaze them so the designs really show up well.

Next week I hope to fire and continue getting ready for the Christmas events. And of course have Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This week in the Studio Nov. 7th-12th

Currently I have two ongoing pottery classes that I teach in my studio. On Monday evening, I have six students: a mother and her two sons, around 8 and 10 years old. The other students in this class consist of a grandmother and her six year old twin grandkids. We met for the first time for a five week course. This is a really fun group, just the right size and ages. I'm good friends with the mother whom I met at the Winter Gift Markett a few years ago. We were crammed in so close that we had to sit nearly touching each other. I was selling my pottery and she was selling fiber arts and handiwork. We talked and talked and became instant friends. She's been a great support to my art ever since.

 For class I demonstrated the coil technique. One of the six-year-olds made a coil cup that I found delightfully creative. The other nice vase is from another class. To make these I stress the importance of scoring (scratching the clay), using just a small amount of water to moisten the pieces when attaching and also to knit the inside just to make sure the coils stay together. I had them roll coils about the diameter of a pencil. The base for both of these is bounded out from a golf-ball size piece of clay and cut with a canning jar lid.

On Tuesday I did a bisque-fire. The firing consisted of a lot of kids pottery and some things I'm working on. Here's a couple of mugs from that firing. Next I'll dip these in glaze and the design will show through and be shiny once they are glaze fired.

On Wednesday mornings I'm teaching a home-school group consisting of a family of six, plus another girl. This is another great group of kids ranging from six to twenty years old. I taught how to make pinch pots and turn them into animals. I love doing animals creatures with kids, because no matter what I teach, the kids will show me up. These two pieces were made by sisters, about 10 and 12 yrs. old.

Thursday afternoon I had a group of students come to glaze pottery they'd made a month before. This is a large--somewhat chaotic group for my small studio space, especially since the glaze buckets don't have a lot of room around them. But hey, it worked and I'll get their mugs fired and they'll have something fun. I have students roll slabs of clay using a rolling pin, decorate with stamps, and wrap around juice cans. If you do this, make sure there is paper around the cans or the clay sticks. Take the can out before it starts to dry or the mugs with crack. The base is made from golf-ball size pieces pounded down like a pancake and cut with a canning lid ring. I also have cardstock templates cut ahead that they can use as a pattern for the size. Once these mugs are glaze-fired they will be beautiful. Now the colors are dull, but not for long.

During the week I was able to work on some of my own things for Christmas sales. I made vases, bowls, frogs, honey pots, and french butter dishes. Here's some of what I made.

Hike of the Week: My cousin Megan and I hiked to the Wind Caves. This is a moderate 3.4 mile hike in Logan Canyon. Very popular. I prefer it in the fall and early summer as it can be pretty hot otherwise. Megan and I found the cool weather perfect and needed our jackets about half the time.

Besides the Winter Gift Market, I'll be focusing on work for the Paradise Holiday Art Sale on December 10th at the Paradise Town Hall from 10-4:30. More on this soon.