Monday, April 27, 2009

Busy as a turnip...

It seems like it has been quite a while since I posted on here, but I don’t guess it has been that long. I guess it seems longer since I have been so busy, unfortunately not so much with studio time. Not to say that the time hasn’t been productive; just not as productive in the way I would like it to be. I have been doing an awful lot of teaching lately. I am booked almost solid for subbing between now and the end of the year. That’s right, I am…SUB-MAN! Wherever there are teachers (within 30 minutes of my house) that are sick, busy or just too damn tired of their students, I’ll be there! Good for the pocket book, not so much for the potter.

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

That's some mighy fine picking and a diggin!

So here I am, sitting at the computer keeping up with this whole blog thing and thinking about what I need to do today (wedge clay, get throwing/glazing/firing schedule figured out, make clay stamps, go to the library, etc) and it suddenly hit me; bluegrass music is freaking great! Now I like a wide vriety of music; everything from heavy metal (I'm going to see Slipknot & Devil Driver in a couple of weeks!) to world music to country/bluegrass and even some wierd electronic stuff. And then there is the really odd stuff like Tub Ring, Super 8 Bit Brothers, Bad Livers, etc. But I am sitting here listening to my country/bluegrass station (good, old country, none of that new pop country crap) on Pandora, drinking my coffee...there is really nothing like some good bluegrass music to start the day. A little bit of Flatt & Scruggs, some Dillards and Stanley Brothers, and throw in some Wayne Hancock and Hank Williams for good measure...good stuff. Ok, now I have work to do; off to the studio!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Barrel Firing

The first of April was a rather busy day. After setting up a new shed/studio I managed to squeeze in a barrel firing. It was full of Christmas ornaments that had been waiting to be finished for quite some time. I started firing about 5pm (after the shed was in place and the ruts left by the delivery truck had been flattened out and filled in) and let it burn till about 10. By that time the fire was pretty much out and I was ready to go to bed, so I slapped a lid on the barrel, weighted it down and let it smolder.

My extremely high-tech firing apparatus.

I expected to be able to unload it the next day, but with the lid on it continued to smolder for another day or so. When I finally opened it up, this is what came out.

One of the great things about barrel firing is that the results are somewhat unpredictable; you can never be quite sure how things are going to turn out. This is also one of the more difficult things about barrel firing. I got about a 50% success rate with this. That is not to say that half of them broke, but half of them were good enough to keep. The others wait to be fired again another day. And after being cleaned up and polished…

It's like a little ornament family portrait, awwww.

I love the colors on these ornaments, especially the rusty oranges. Unfortunately I am not sure what exactly caused them. I had a number of combustibles and such in the barrel (straw, salt, copper wire, baking soda, banana peels, coffee grounds) and I tried to keep track of what was where, but everything got pretty jumbled up. I can say for sure that the saggars didn't really work though. I guess it did not get hot enough that far down in the barrel (they were at the bottom). I will try stacking the barrel different next time to see if I can get a hotter, more consistent fire.

Some of these were finished with floor wax and some were finished with acrylic spray. The wax gives a nice satiny finish, but also leaves a rather unpleasant aroma (it actually made my wife sick). The spray is a bit more glossy, but more efficient and I think it will probably protect the ornaments better in the long run. All in all a pretty good firing.

A new home for Simple Circle Studios

Wow! Somehow I managed to let two weeks slip by without posting anything! I can’t say that I have been terribly busy, although I have had some things going on. Most notably of which, I got a new studio! That’s right, a new studio…well, sort of a new studio…ok so it is really more of a little shed, but a shed where I make pottery! Sure, it doesn’t have electricity so I have to run an extension cord 40 feet from my garage to be able to throw or listen to music or have light. And sure it might not have insulation and only one tiny window, so it is going to be terribly hot in the summer and unbearably cold in the winter. And perhaps it does not really have quite enough space for all my studio equipment (the kilns are still in the garage). No, it is not perfect, but definetely a good start for a studio. No grills, bikes, tools, lawnmowers, etc, just pottery. (Ok, maybe some chickens, but on the outside and probably not for a while.)

The new home of Simple Circle Studios! Sure, it may look like just a shed on cinder blocks, but...ok, it's pretty much just a shed on cinder blocks.

The inner sanctum; my escape from the hurly burly of life...I think it needs a fern.