Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mugs, Jugs and Ornaments...I'm not going to say "Oh my."

This is really unprecedented; two blog posts in one day. Sure, one was really from yesterday, but still. See what being home and actually working in the studio leads to? I'm not going to say I have anything interesting to write about, but at least I have something to write about.

So today there was no shopping or anything to take care of, just studio time. I made myself a little list of things to get done and started hacking away.

My go to mug shape has a tendency to tip when it is near empty due to a combination of a narrow foot ring and a sizable handle. It is not a big problem, but I am working on correcting it. I am playing around with the foot ring mostly. I do not really want to make the handle too much smaller as it would affect how it is held and how comfortable it is.

Rob's go to mug shape. Note the large-ish handle, small foot and flaring rim.

I am also toying around with different mug shapes. I use the shape I use because I like it, but also because it is simple, uncomplicated. I'm not a big fan of complications. Thus this new mug shape is also simple. It is kind of the inverse of my standard, having a narrower rim and a wider base. I am hoping this will push the center of gravity low enough that I can use pretty much the same foot and handle as on the other mugs. I am pretty happy with how they look so far.
The new standard? Perhaps...perhaps...perhaps.

This is another mug shape I am playing around with; not to fix any problems, just to mix it up a bit. It is a fun shape that is simple, but also has a lot of potential for variation. If anyone is actually paying attention they may notice that this is the same type of mug I used for a commission a couple weeks back. Just a fun fact for ya.

Volcano mugs. I call them that because they kind of look like volcanoes!

And this is just another shot of the mugs that I thought was kind of neat. It looks like they are marching off to battle or something.

After the mugs I threw a set of bowls. Now these I am in a bit of a quandary over. I have finally found a bowl shape that I am happy with. The only problem is that they do not stack worth a crap. Ok, they do not stack bad, but because the bottom is wider than the rim they do not stack inside each other. Thus they are very tall when stacked and do not fit in a cabinet well. Hmmm... I suppose I will just have to get these trimmed up tomorrow and give it a good think.

A family of bowls drying on their heads.

Next came ornaments. I know it is a bit late for ornaments, but, well...I don't care. I made ornaments and there you go. I started out with eight but dropped a few when I was moving them...foolish, foolish Rob. These will probably be sgraffitoed (I'm not sure that is a word) and/or glazed as opposed to previous ornaments which were barrel fired.

And finally, I threw my first cider jug today. It is not exceptionally large (12 inches tall by 9 inches wide); nor is it especially well made. I threw it in two sections, using about 7 pounds of clay for each. I think I let the bottom section dry to much, though. When I put them together they did not really blend very well. You can still kind of see the seem where they are connected.

Shabby cider jug.

Construction aside, I am not really pleased with the overall shape either. It is too wide for its height. It needs to be either taller or skinnier. It actually was taller before I collared in the neck. I was contemplating throwing a third section with the neck on it but decided to go this way so I could get it finished. Now that I look at it, it probably would have been better to throw a third section. Oh well, maybe next time. I guess I will put a handle on this tomorrow and see if that helps any. If not it may end up going in the scrap heap.

That's all for now. I probably will not be back on here until next week, so merry Christmas & whatnot.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 21st: A Blog in Three Parts

Editor's note: I was actually going to post this last night, but technology is a harsh mistress. Here it is now, though, chocked full of bloggy goodness.

Part 1: Shopping

I hate shopping. I had to finish getting some Christmas presents this morning as well as do some grocery shopping. I was not amused. Oh, I don't mind browsing through a book store or checking out the new arrivals at the local record store. But a list of crap I have to go track down, usually at multiple locations? Not my cup of tea. Alas that is what was required of me; so I spent this morning getting groceries, not finding what I need at one store, waiting for the other store to open, driving across town to find the other store is still closed 15 minutes after it is supposed to be open, driving back across town to the grocery store again, etc, etc. Once again, I hate shopping.

Part 2: Lost Time...or Perhaps Gremlins

Have you ever had one of those days where you work and work and work, but when you look at the output for the day it looks like you got nothing done? That was my day today. I worked; I know I worked. But all I have to show for it is a few cups and a few ornaments trimmed. Sure, I spent the morning shopping (see above if you forgot), but what the hell happened to the afternoon? It's like gremlins came along and destroyed any evidence of my work. My day was quite unproductive pottery wise, leaving me unsatisfied and a bit confused. Consarnit gremlins! Leave my work alone!
(Editor's note again: Thus far today has been much more productive. Perhaps more on that later.)

Part 3: The Holidays

Don't get me wrong, Christmas is great, but it is really quite over done. What started out as a religious celebration of Jesus' coming has been superseded by a celebration of Santa and consumerism. Not officially of course, but for all practical purposes. I suppose that is somewhat appropriate, though, as Christmas was used to replace the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, among others. What goes around and all that.

Personally I do not mind the celebration of the winter solstice. Not because I am a sun worshiper; I just really hate winter. It's cold, it's wet, and the days are so blasted short! If I didn't have family here I would probably up and move to someplace warmer. Hawaii sounds nice, or maybe somewhere along the gulf... But as that is never going to happen I will look kindly on the winter solstice as a turning point in this dreary time. Sure, around here (southern IL) we still have at least two and a half months left of cold, wet weather, but at least the days will start to get longer again, and that is a step in the right direction.

So tonight I am going to eat a few tacos, drink a couple beers and maybe some wine and celebrate the beginning of the end of winter. Here's to longer days, warmer weather and being more productive tomorrow.

(Editor's note yet again: I did indeed eat tacos and drink beer. They were both tasty. Then I lit into some Mark Twain goodness. All in all a good night.)


Friday, December 17, 2010

Beware the school kiln...and school in general for that matter.

A while back I was asked to make a couple mugs and a canister for someone who was retiring. Good deal; I can do it. Only problem is I don't have time to get a full load put together by the time they need to be done. Solution? Find another firing to jump in on before the deadline. As luck would have it the ceramics teacher at school was generous enough to let me put a few pieces in with her classes stuff. Good deal; I can still get it done. Throw throw throw, decorate decorate, and here we go.

Two mugs ("Retirement coffee is the best kind of coffee."), one and one extra, just in case. The designs are pretty similar, but not exactly the same. I like the movement in the first one better (I don't know that it comes through in the picture too well). The second one just has straight sides; too static. I do like the design on the second one better, though.

The client (my mother in law) took the second one. I hope the recipient was happy with it.

She also requested a canister to store well wishes & such in. I was not very happy with the results, but she thought it looked good. Unfortunately, due to the condition of the shelves in the school's kiln (unwashed, glaze puddles all over), this piece was glazed to the shelf and took some pretty good sized chunks out of the bottom edge when it came off. Thus it was unfit for sale. My mother in law still liked it though, and after I ground the bottom pretty good she decided to keep it for herself.

And for the random child update, we started Noah on cereal the other day. He wasn't too sure what to make of it at first, but after a few minutes he got the hang of things. I guess I have a new commission for some baby dishes coming up.

I should have plenty of time to get that done, though. School just went on semester break for two full weeks. That gives me quite a bit of time to get the banks, ornaments, bowls, serving dishes, oil lamps, etc done that I need to finish. And now I guess baby dishes too.

On a completely different note, someone stole my sketch book the other day! (My wife is laughing about me writing this because she has already been hearing about it since it happened.) It was in my desk at school when I left on a Friday; there was some sort of school function over the weekend, and when I came back Monday my sketchbook was gone. Who the f--- steals a sketchbook?! I can understand why people steal cars or jewelry or whatever; they have something to gain from it. What does someone gain from stealing a sketchbook? It is not like there is some big black market for sketchbooks, is there? GARGH!

Ok, I am done ranting...for now. Until later.