Friday, December 18, 2009
And for those of you who like to look at pictures...Here are a couple gorgeous tea bowls I purchased recently from Southern Clay Works (the faculty and grad students at SIUC).
This picture doesn't really do them justice. The one of the left hold a tidy 6 oz and is perfect for that nightcap to wind things down at the end of a long day. Great hand feel, not too heavy but sturdy enough to be functional. The one on the right I have not used yet. Technically it is a Christmas present from the sweet wife and I am not allowed to use it until the 25th.
And what did I get the wife in return for such a great gift? Behold!
I guess it doesn't look like much now, but then again it isn't finished yet. I will post the progress on here as I get more of it done. She knows she is getting a painting (in fact, she demanded it), but I am still going to try to keep it somewhat secret. "But Rob, how will you keep it secret if you are posting pictures of the painting on your blog?!" Well, aside from when I first set it up and showed my wife, I don't think she has ever read my blog...so no worries!
Friday, November 20, 2009
So anyway, my chickens (all two of them I have left) have finally started laying eggs! Well, at least one of them is. I was getting pretty frustrated with their progress thus far, what with them being over six months old and not having laid a single egg yet. Last weekend, though, I was gone for a couple days and came home to two eggs; and right in the nest box where they belong! So what did I do with my new bountiful harvest? Why I dropped and broke both of them, of course. Not to worry, though. I got another (unbroken) egg on Wednesday and one more today. They are still rather small, but so are the chickens. The shells seem a little brittle too, but that can easily be fixed with a little extra calcium in their diet.
So yahoo for chickens...yahoo for eggs.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
What could possibly make this situation good?
How about the fact that my studio is in shambles so I can hook up my new kiln! That's right, I have a brand spanking new kiln with which to fire my wares. (On a side note, what does spanking have to do with being new? Isn't spanking generally considered a bad thing and new a good thing?) If you have read my blog before you know that my previous kiln decided to quit working at the most opportune time possible. While I probably could have fixed it (or, more likely, pay someone to fix it...I'm not extremely handy), it gave me a good excuse to get the new kiln I have been wanting for a while. So now I have a handsome L&L electric kiln with digital controls sitting in my garage. Now all I have to do is talk my wife's cousin (a licensed electrician) into rewiring for me. I will take a few shots after everything is hooked up and the studio is back in order. Until then I will do my best to bore you with inane chatter.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Now, I had always been taught that thinner is better, thus my stuff tends to be pretty thin and rather tightly controlled. But I have always admired work that, although a bit hefty, has a very fluid, natural feel; a loose, gestural quality. One of my favorite video clips (that's right, just a clip off of Ceramic Arts Daily. I am too cheap to buy the video) is of Matt Long throwing a mug and explaining his philosophy behind it.
So I set out to throw some more substantial mugs. I started with a full pound of clay instead of the 1/2 to 3/4 that I normally use. Here are the results, freshly trimmed and awaiting handles.
It was obviously not very comfortable for me throwing that much clay just to make a mug. And as I was getting ready to trim them, feeling the weight, I had my doubts. Afterwards, though, I must say that I am rather pleased. I have a couple new forms I will be playing around with, and while I am still not entirely comfortable with them, it is pushing me to move in a bit of a different direction. Now lets hope I don't screw everything up with the handles...
Oh, and as far as my previous work goes...I picked four mugs that looked like they represented a pretty good cross section of my work (I like to experiment with form & size)to measure and such. The weights ranged from 5.5 oz to 10 oz. The capacities ranged from 8 to 12+ oz. They all have pretty thin walls and smaller handles. I'm not saying you would burn yourself on them or anything, but they get pretty warm with fresh coffee in them.
I will measure and weigh this next batch when they are finished. That might not be for a few weeks, though, as I am preparing for a new addition to the studio. More on that later...now it is time for bed.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Granted it is no master work or anything. There is obviously still much to do. I need to add a door, shutters and some roofing material, but they should be much warmer and happier here than in their previous dwelling. At least I hope so.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Fall Festival at the Saxon Lutheran Memorial in Frohna, MO. A really nice day aside from the mud. Hectic what with nieces & nephews running around everywhere (my parents run the place the festival was held at, so lots of family there), but a pretty good time.
Friday, October 9, 2009
No such luck.
Floors are still not swept, counters are still cluttered...just not a very appealing place to show work. Or even to go look at art work for that matter. But enough of my belly aching. My sweet wife just got home and she is in a very good mood. Maybe she can lend me some of it for the night. Now it is off to get some grub and check out some art. I'll take the camera and try to get some pictures posted later this weekend.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Oh doesn't it look great! Full shelves; so much potential!
While it makes for an interesting piece of sculpture, it's not really something I can sell at a craft fair.
The problem? I relied on the kiln sitter to do its job. Much like tigers and tuna fish sandwiches, I am kind of stupid that way.
Friday, July 10, 2009
These are some vases that I threw a while back but just now got around to firing. They also have slips and glazes sprayed on with some abstract sgraffito work. Like the plates, these will get a coat of clear glaze before heading back to the kiln. And yes, the one on the right is broken. Apparently it did not clear the kiln lid like I thought it had.
And this is one of my favorites out of the batch.
My wife thought the the skunk was kind of foolish, but I liked the idea of pairing somethig that smells bad with something that smells good. I think there will be more skunk vases in the future.
Friday, June 26, 2009
And the group for this post is the ever impressive Clutch. Good old fashioned rock n' roll/heavy metal. And they have some of the best, funniest, wittiest lyrics this side of the chicken shack! "Condoleeza Rice is nice, but I prefer A-Roni"...freaking great.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I have managed to get a bit of work done in there since moving everything back. Aside from glazing a bunch of stuff with my fancy pants spray booth (more on that later), I have started a dinnerware set for my wife.
Light brown slip with clear glaze, cone 6
KPI celadon, cone 6 (slightly over fired)
KPI Speckled Tan, cone 6 (slightly over fired)
Friday, June 12, 2009
Here is a quick peek at one of the pieces out of the kiln on Monday. It looked so tasty I had to make some tea and try it out.
Cone 6 porcelain with commercial glaze, slightly overfired
Friday, June 5, 2009
The past few weeks have been busy, but not. That is, if feels like I have been very busy, but it doesn’t look like I have accomplished a whole lot. That is very frustrating. So in an attempt to get back in the swing of things I think I am going to have to set a specific time each day to get in the studio…and stick to it! Sounds simple, right? My wife says I have a knack for doing things the most difficult way possible, so I’ll probably figure out a way to complicate it. First order of business, finish glazing so I can finally fire the kiln.
And so this post is not without any pictures...
Teapot #7553, 4" x 4.5" x 6.75", cone 6 porcelain with colored slip
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Lidded jar, 4.5 or so tall & wide, cone 10 reduction stoneware
This is a jar I made a number of years ago when I was still in school. One of my absolute favorites. It just recently found a new home after a sale over mother's day weekend.
Monday, April 27, 2009
I have also been busy with other endeavors more closely related to pottery. Last Thursday I did a pottery demonstration for the grade school in my home town. It is a pretty small school (34 students K-8th), but that made it easier for everyone to see. The students appeared to enjoy the demo. They had never really worked with clay before, so it was something new for them. While prepping for the demo I also got a little time in the studio to work on some stuff for an upcoming mother’s day sale.
These are some 2 pound vases. The tallest one is about 8 inches. They will get some sgraffito decoration later this week.And this stuff will (hopefully) get glazed so I can get a glaze fire done this Friday.
Speaking of surface decoration, here is my newly painted studio. It used to be a rather unsavory dark green color which didn’t exactly match the house. It still needs another coat of paint along with some other things, but it is on its way. Between this, the yard, the garden and a grass fire I had a pretty interesting weekend. Maybe things will slow down some this week...but what fun would that be?
And here is a little segment I'm going to call "This week on Rob's playlist," where I will feature a different musician/group from the depths of my cd collection. This week it is going to be Hank Williams III. Hank III is the son of Hank Jr., grandson of Hank Sr. and one of the finest country music singers out there right now. He sings good old fashion country; more like his grand daddy than his dad. And don't overlook his hellbilly fare; country music with more than a dash of thrashy punk. AND (that's right, there's more) for you truely hardcore folks there is always AssJack, his thrash metal side project. Good stuff. He is probably my favorite musician as of right now.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
The inner sanctum; my escape from the hurly burly of life...I think it needs a fern.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I never really realized how small my kiln is. I got done unloading and thought, “Wow, there was hardly anything in there!” I knew my kiln wasn’t huge, but man, it is small! Now I’m always going to be self conscious about my kiln size. Actually, between the realization about my limited kiln space and its recent chicanery with glaze firings, this would be a good time to look into hooking up my “new” kiln. (My wife’s cousin recently moved and gave me all of his old pottery equipment, including a kiln and wheel!)
So here are the results. There were a couple of grow pots (planters), some tea bowls, a few mugs and a number of glaze tests. I was fairly pleased with how everything turned out, especially the toasty color of the clear glaze over the tea bowls. The color doesn’t come through too well in this picture, but it is nice…or at least I think so. I still have to go through all the glaze tests, but I think they will yield some good information.
This is one of the mugs that I have been working on. It has a light underglaze wash and clear glaze on it. I have a few more that are textured like this, but I am not sure about finishing them the same way. Would a colored glaze be better? Do I need to do something with the handle? I don’t know. Any comments or suggestions would be more than welcome on this.
And finally, the over firing issue. This load was over fired, but only slightly this time. I set up a witness cone so as I could keep an eye on it throughout the firing, but apparently I didn't watch it quite close enough. After running through the firing schedule for about seven hours the automatic shut off had not dropped on the kiln sitter, but the witness cone was bent so I turned it off. When I unloaded this morning some of the work was slightly warped, but not terribly so. And then there was this…
You can see that the cone is bent slightly more than it should be (at least I think it is), but the bar for the kiln sitter is hardly bent at all! What?! So the question; is there a problem with the kiln sitter or did I somehow get a bad batch of bars? Both puzzling and frustrating.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Anyway, another fairly productive week this week. Aside from teaching a couple times and helping my neighbor tear of his roof, I was in the studio most of the time. I was able to run a couple bisque loads through this week, which was cool, but I still do not know what is going on with my kiln. The firings went off without a hitch, which is a good thing; but I don’t know what will happen when I try another glaze firing. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
...and bisque load #2, featuring the beginning of the 100 mug challenge, more Christmas ornaments and low fire glaze tests. I don't usually do low fire work, but I had some glazes laying around from a few years ago and I was just given a box of 50 or so more, so I figured I'd test some and maybe use them on ornaments or sculptures or something. The vases in the back are not mine. They were made by my wife's cousin about ten years ago and have been sitting around unfired ever since. Now they are fired and ready to be glazed!
The mugs are rolling pretty good. I have 30 in either green or bisque ware. Now I have to start worrying about glazing…Ugh. It would be easier if I had some test tiles to go by, but if you read my last post you know how that went. Well, I have lids to work on, mugs to glaze and I guess more coffee to make, so I probably ought to get to it.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
So this past week has been a good week, with the exception of Wednesday which was a little demoralizing. It’s never fun having someone tell you that what you are doing is little more than a glorified hobby, especially when it is what you are trying to turn into a career.
But anyway…it was spring break this week so I didn’t have to worry about being interrupted by teaching. The only thing that took me away from the studio was applying for a job at the SIU library. Sure, it is not exactly what I would like to be doing, but it would be nice to have a steady income for a change, and I would still have plenty of time to get in the studio. Here’s hoping that goes well. In the mean time I got a decent amount of work done. Not as much as I would have liked, but decent.
In order to keep myself motivated I have decided to take the 100 MUG CHALLENGE! (doesn't that sound like something you would hear on Oprah? "Next time on Oprah, the 100 Mug Challenge and how it can change your life...") You can check out the inspiration for this at the Fine Mess Pottery blog. I do not have a deadline or show set up for my 100; I am doing it more for the practice and to build inventory. I started this week and have 13 green mugs thus far.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
What is wrong with this picture? Nothing much on first inspection; maybe these are some pendants or earrings or something. But then there is that "Oh shit" moment when you realize you just opened the kiln and these are supposed to be the witness cones and kiln sitter bar. I'm not entirely sure what happened, other than the kiln over fired, which made the glaze tests that were in there completely useless. Most everything was scrap except for a few things that didn't have hellacious bloating in the clay or weren't slumped beyond salvaging.
The few things that did come out were actually kind of interesting. These are a few keepers. The three cups in the front and the two blue cups had slip sprayed on them and should have turned out matte, but with the over firing the slips appear to have melted into a satiny glaze. Of course this isn't exactly what they were supposed to look like, but hey, you take what you can get out of something like that. The really ironic part is that I put the witness cones in this time because I was afraid the kiln might have been under firing. I can definitively say that is not a problem. Now if I can just figure what went wrong...
And now for the really great post. Ms. Smith talks about the trials of being a professional artist in her blog, and in this post in particular she talks about the crap we often get from other folks about not having a "real" job. It seems to me that most of the people who look down on being an artist as a profession are people who have a JOB. And by JOB I mean they do not get any sort of satisfaction out of work other than the paycheck at the end of the week. It seems some people think that if you enjoy what you are doing it doesn’t really count as work. Thus artist, who enjoy what they do for a living, don’t really work and do not deserve the same level of respect as people with jobs that do work. Why can’t people understand that being an artist is just as valid an occupation as anything else? Some people choose to be lawyers; some people choose to be plumbers; and some people choose to be artists.