Friday, August 31, 2012

AFQotD, random notes and financial cuisine...

I was going to put a little review type thing on here about the show I did last weekend in Fairview Heights, IL, but it is getting kind of late.  Therefore, in the interest of brevity, I will simply transcribe the hand full of notes I scribbled down during the show.  These come to you more or less as I originally thought them.

  •  Art Fair Quote of the day #1: two 20-something women
               "Hey Lindsey, there's a butter dish!"
               (What in the world could have transpired that would make the sight of a butter dish so funny?)
  • All the tent poles, stakes and ropes make it feel like we are on display at some sort of circus or people zoo or something.
  • A little bit of wiggle room between tents would be nice.  They practically have us stacked on top of each other.  Twice already I have knocked paintings off the wall in the booth next to me by bumping into their display.
  • Have you ever seen someone so tall you thought to yourself, "What the hell happened to that guy?"
  • I have had a number of people give my work the stink eye already.
  • Art Fair Quote of the Day #2:  Mother & 4-5 year old daughter
               "No no, don't touch Gabby"
               "You touched!"
  •  Art Fair Quote of the Day #3:  3 year old boy
               "Follow Simon!  He knows where the didgeridoos are!"
  • I don't make pretty pots
  • I think I have the most expensive mugs at the show.  The average looks to be about $30.  My average is closer to $40.
  • It is slow like something that is really slow.
  • I think it is funny when parents dress their kids so the whole family matches.  I can understand if it is for family pictures, but I don't think these folks were having family pictures taken.  "I still think there's too much green..."  "I told you, it's a motif!"
  • I love it when people give me lengthy, unsolicited advice about what I need to change on my pots to make them better.  Excuse me sir, but...go away!
  • There are just shy of three hours left for this show and the crowds (and I use the word "crowds"
    in the very loosest sense of the word) are pretty much gone.
  • I love it (really) when people smile, or even better, when they laugh at my work.  Sometimes I laugh when I am making it.
Overall it was a very well organized show, just not very profitable.  Depending on how I decide to cook the books, I covered expenses.

And so this post is not completely devoid of pictures...
...a custom platter for my wife.  She has been wanting me to make a name, wedding, anniversary, whatever you want to call it platter for a while now.  Partly because she wants one to hang on the wall, but mostly because she wants me to hock them as a "custom order" item at shows and such.  Either way we were both pretty happy with how it turned out.

Up next...Timmy Tabasco! 
(I know I said that last time, but this time I mean it...but it will not be for another week and a half as I will be gone all next week.  I know you are all waiting on pins and needles to find out what "Timmy Tabasco" is, but keep your pants on.  You will find out soon enough...and you will undoubtedly be exceedingly disappointed when you do.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pickles, ruination and a dog...

According to this page, that may or may not be reputable,  the world record for the largest potato is 8 pounds, but an unconfirmed contender may have topped it with a 25 pound behemoth that looks like Slimer,

Now, pots and such.  Actually we are going to start off this week with a bit of putting by.
What are these?  Why pickles, of course.  I planted some cucumbers in the garden this year for the specific purpose of making pickles.  This is only the second batch as I only put in four plants and it has been pretty dry, so not many cucumbers.  These are freaking delicious though, and ridiculously easy to make.  I heard about it on the Survival Podcast, or you can check out the recipe here.

In studios news, I got a load of stuff glazed and fired.  Here are some before and after pictures of the top shelf.  I am really digging the tall oval vase forms.  They are fun to make and create a very nice "canvas" for decoration.  Now I just hope they sell so I can make more.
There were also a couple other new forms in this load...small planters, small lidded jars and garlic keepers.  The small jars are possibly one of my favorite forms thus far.

And the culmination of the red clay (again with these references to stuff I put on Facebook!)...

This teapot and all the other red ware got a nice coat of white slip before decoration.  It worked out much better for some pieces than it did for others.
Alas!  I shall be resting no spoons!
This spoon rest, for example, I tried to move too soon after dipping it in the slip.  Did you know that if you dip a leather hard pot in slip it will rehydrate and become soft again?  Good, because that is just plain common sense!  Only a foolish individual like myself would forget this and ruin a good pot because of it.

 But wait...there's more...
One of these things is not like the other one... some on, sing!
These mugs looked great after I dipped them, all slippy and just waiting for some sgraffito.  When I came back to check on them though, the handle had broken off every single one.  Not sure why. 

Not all of the red ware broke though; and I really dig how the survivors turned out...more folky than my usual stuff.  I definitely want to give this stuff another shot, but without all the ruination.  If anyone out there has any experience with this sort of work and knows what I may have done wrong, or even if you just have any tips in this area, please give me a shout.

As for the stuff that did make it...
The aforementioned small lidded jars and a couple of spoon rests immediately post dipping.

Jars and teapot after being decorated.

Large (16-17 inch) platter with a crane.

The larger pieces (platter and teapot) were sprayed with slip as they would not fit in the bucket, and that seemed to help the breakage problem, but the handle of the teapot still cracked at the bottom.  Knackers.  
These are all in a bisque firing right now.  I am quite anxious to get them glazed and see what they will look like all finished up.  
Actually I would really like to go to it on these things with an underglaze pencil since the experiments and the stuff in the last kiln load came out so well.  Unfortunately my underglaze pencil is almost used up.  And even if it wasn't, my electric pencils sharpener (which is apparently the only way this pencil likes to be sharpened) is jammed, so I cannot even sharpen what is left of it sufficiently.  Oh well, next time.

Speaking of platters, (We weren't really speaking of platters.  That was just a nice way to switch to a different subject.  It's called a transition; I learned about those in English class.  And even though that was a pretty poor transition, we are going to roll with it.) the platters I have been working on are all scratched up (decorated, that is) and in the kiln.  No pictures yet, other than this one.
The platters were too large to fit in the make-shift spray booth that I normally use, so I had to move operations outside.  Luckily it was not windy at all, so the spraying of slips went off without a hitch...the dog helped.  I enjoyed it so much in fact that I may (weather permitting) continue spraying work out of doors.

And last but not least...Saint Vitus!
Old school doom metal band ala Black Sabbath. 

Up next...Timmy Tabasco!

Post Script:  I have a show coming up this weekend in Belleville, IL.  Midwest salute to the Arts.  It kind of sneaked up on me, so I have been rushing to get some stuff done this week.  If you happen to be in the area feel free to stop by and say hi!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Platters, trailer trash and how not to take pictures...

...not this.
Despite what Napoleon Dynamite may have inadvertently led you to believe, ligers are indeed real creatures.  They are feline hybrids and they are freaking monsters.

I am right now, at this very moment, coming to you from Hangar 9, where I am enjoying a very tasty brew.  That's right, I am working from a bar.  Let's hear it for free wireless internet!  I may have to make a habit of this.
And as nice as that may be for me, it will not necessarily make for a better blog post, at least not this time.  As much as I may try, I am not very good with taking pictures of stuff as I am working on things.  Thus a lot of this may be written as opposed to pictorial.  Or it may just be a shorter post; in which case it may indeed be a good post depending on your reading habits.

Enough muckity-muck; on to the goods.
If you follow me on Facebook (side note: my marketing consultant wife would probably say I should encourage you to go to my face book and "like" me and such, but I honestly do not care.  That stuff is not terribly enjoyable to me.)...if you follow me on Facebook you may have seen that I have been coming around on the platter making.  In the last post I said that my platter endeavors were less than satisfactory, only getting a 15 inch platter out of 18 pounds of clay.  After that though I was able to stretch a 17 - 18 inch platter out of 15 pounds of clay.

The platters 6 before being trimmed.  Even with three less pounds of clay, though, there is still a lot of extra clay to be gotten rid of.
This is the scrappy mess of a wheel after the cutting.  And this is after cleaning up most of the trimmings 4/5ths of the way through.  Oh well; so it goes.

On a completely unrelated note, I got a trailer!
A very short time after I got my truck all set up with a camper (for hauling art fair stuffs and camping at those art fairs), my truck decided to give up the ghost.  Although I never put any pictures or anything up here, I got a new truck, but no camper.  Instead of going the camper route the wife and I decided to get an enclosed trailer to haul stuff around.  And it has tons more room and lights for camping at shows.  Good deal.  Now all I have to do is learn how to back it up without running over anything.

Ok, it is getting late (ish) and I am out of pictures, so I am going to officially throw this out into the ether and head home.  But first...Artificial Lover.  Not real sure how to describe this other than oddly good.

Up next...what is the biggest potato ever grown?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Squirrels, platters and how to store your butter...


I was actually going to write this up last night, but firefighter duties put a stop to that.  Which brings us to the PSA portion of the blog post.

Fire Prevention Tip #089:  Do not allow squirrels to store their acorns and such in your electrical fuse box.

Oh well; so it goes.
I am firing a bisque today, so I don't really want to be out in the studio anyway.  Air conditioned blogging sounds like a much better option.  I did get a large platter trimmed before the studio got too hot, though.
Here is the platter in question right after being thrown.  I say it is large, but when it is all said and done it will only be around 14 inches or so across.  That is pretty weak considering I used about 18 pounds of clay to make it.  I have not made very many large platters, so it still a bit difficult to stretch the clay to where I really want it. 
Here is the platter in question after a lot of trimming.  I may not be great at throwing platters yet, but I think I got it trimmed up pretty nice. 
I did not take a picture of it, but the foot is undercut on the inside to allow for easy hanging on the wall.  I have tried making holes for a wire, but that just seems like and extra, unnecessary step when this works just as well.  And this way I do not have to worry about orienting my decoration to the wire.  I'm not saying I have failed to do that in the past...I meant for those pieces to look crooked. 
I am going to be making quite a few more of these, both because I need the practice and because that large surface area presents some very enticing decoration opportunities.

Speaking of decoration...
I am totally digging how this one turned out.  This fancy little french butter keeper thing is in the kiln right now.  I have made regular butter dishes in the past and liked the end result, but they are pretty laborious to make.  These are not as complicated (less components to put together) and are probably more practical.

And finally, Mitchmatic: Why Don't You Know?
Hip-hop-ish music, but not really.  Fun stuff.

Up next...ligers!