Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You Can’t Talk the Work into the Kiln….

Wouldn’t you know it, as I move along this path that I’ve found myself on, I’m beginning to rethink how I look at this colloquial bit of wisdom. While it’s true, you’ve really gotta do the work to fill the kiln, I’ve been spending a bit of time learning about the flip side, that is, that there’s an awful lot of talking that needs to be done to empty the kiln out.... like it or leave it, it’ll be a constant vocation that comes with the job. (I don’t remember this on the job description!) So to the old saying, I’m chalking on one more line,

You can’t talk the work into the kiln….… but you sure better be ready to talk it all out.


P.S. Thanks for the support this week everyone! Your input and feedback really helped pull a few projects together.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dorer la Merde

Pardon my French, but I had to find a polite way of stating this project.

I had grabbed a double handful of yunomi and chawans that weren’t going to be heading to the studio door and set down at my bench for an experiment. I needed works to explore a gold luster… I read up on it and it seemed kind’a strait forward, but everything does until you discover the hidden nuances that trip you up… well, me anyway.

I haven’t taken the time to appreciate gold lusters. I know what I like, (I'm not always sure why), but I do know that if done wrong or for the wrong reasons it can muck-up a perfectly fine piece, and if done to merely spackle over shoddy workmanship it’s just “gilding a turd”.
This experiment falls across that range pretty well. I wanted to see how the gold luster would play on surface a few of the different textures in this group of test pieces. I liked a few of the results, now I just have to judiciously apply what I learned.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dia de los Muertos Fundraiser

This is pretty cool…
I’ve been spending a few months sitting in on our local community college’s Art Club meetings (they are smart enough to offer free pizza to everyone that attends and it’s good fun). Ceramic artist and sculpture professor Gary Carlos is the lead for the club and they are looking to raise a spot of cash to keep the pizzas flowing. They gave it some thought and launched into a group collaboration project making a collection of cups to sell on the main quad of the campus. The project was to create 40 cups using slabs and coils. The outer surface was brushed coated using a black slip that the students scratched designs
through to the white body. This was a thematic project, so on one side we carved, a death’s head (the more festive the better), and on the other, a saying of one sort or another.

The kiln was unloaded today and the students got the thrill of enjoying unloading the still warm kiln and pawing through the results. This was a first for most of the students, but as planned, I don’t think it’ll be the last… wink wink…

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And What If I Don't

What a title of a post...

It's actually the title of the background music by Herbie Hancock and I like how it pushes and groves this video along all the way to the end. The kids and I were all pumped-up from all of the great feed back the past 2 days... thanks everyone for chiming in, the feedback really helps. We ended up spending some more time figuring a bit more of this process out. Learning to divide up and compress time is a something new for us, but we are having fun trying out a few ideas. It's not hurting that I'm learning you can buy enthusiasm for a project with the prospect of an ice cream.

This is another wack at slip stencil demo.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

When I Fall in Love

Another beautiful fall day…
I was out playing in the studio this afternoon, (It can’t be counted as work because I’m enjoying myself way too much), the kids are playing in between the houses, the leave on the trees are rustling up in a lazy approaching storm, the smell of burning fireplaces... Ahhh, fall is really here and I am feeling mighty fine. Halfway through cutting feet on two ware boards of yunomi I remembered I still needed to collect more samples of video with these cameras just to work out the kinks of familiarizing myself the menu options without actually hunting down manuals, (tch! Who needs manuals…? Manuals are for people with attention spans of… well… well… not me apparently). It’s still a bit stop and go, but that’s part of the fun.

For better of worse, I’m getting a handle on working with the Windows Movie Maker program. I’ve got a ways to go still though but luckily it’s not too complex.

Here is today’s segment. I like the feel of this clip. It’s supposed to be part of a short personal essay on the virtues of a foot. Yeah I know... nerdy, but I feel a bit strongly about this. I like where it’s going though… it kind of has the feel of a love note… maybe that’s the direction it’ll go.

I guess Miles can make anything seem like a love note.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Throwing a Ribbed Yunomi

This is a test of the add-hock video equipment that I'm cobbling together for this fall's series of demos and interveiws. I've got to quickly figure out how to shoot, edit together, and upload several formates all at once. Not really a smart approach, but hey, we make do with what we have...
My motto is... "If you don't mind looking silly, you can have a whole bunch'a fun and you'll learn a whole lot more than the guy wanting to look really smart." Hopefully what the kids and I learn about shooting scripted demos over the next few weeks will translate into a decent strategy for capturing insights into the the studio life of a few of our local ceramic artists. I want to talk to a few of the artistic elders of our community and I would really like to get these interviews in while the oppertunity exists...

EtsyMudTeam Mug Swap Time

I love this event! This was the reason I initially joined the EtsyMudTeam last year and I've been bouncing in my seat just waiting for this year's event to roll around. This event is worth participating in… I threw 3 works into the ring last year and got some 3 neat pieces back, made by three of my fellow Etsywhoovians. These three mugs are now in constant rotation in our kitchen.

We are putting in 2 pieces this year, my 6 year old daughter and studio partner, Nico, made the choices… the ribbed yunomi "because it's fall", (go figure… I'm still working that one out), and a time files "because it's cool". Gotta listen to the mini-boss… when she speaks we all dance. I can't wait to see what this year brings.

San Joaquin Potters Guild's Fall Sale

It's that time of year again, the leaves are turning colors overnight, the fog is starting to roll in before everyone wakes up. I'm already boiling up water to set next to the throwing wheel. Seems a bit early this year. but, shruggs.A quick look over the fence and I see the local San Joaquin Potters Guild getting ready to host their 2 day sale at St Basil's November the 20th & 21st. The guild has a few new members that are definitely worth the trip out of the house to meet. Head on over Friday night 5:00 to 7:00 for the artist reception and meet everyone.

For more information you can head on over to http://www.sanjoaquinpottersguild.org/

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cone 6 NutMeg

Dolomite 23.3%
Spodumene 23.3%
Ferro Frit 3134 6.8%
OM4 (Kentucky ball clay) 23.3%
Silica (325 mesh) 23.3%

Red Iron Oxide 1.07%
Yellow Ocher 3.24%
Tin Oxide 4.85%
Bentonite 1.94%

I've been mixing this recipe up since the fall 2005. It's a nifty little recipe I pulled from a February 2003 Ceramics monthly article. I was in the midst of a traumatic shift from firing large reduction cone 10 kilns to firing a small cone six electric. I liked warm and toasty asymmetrical surfaces and I knew that cone 10 reduction was my friend. For all the hype, I wasn't pleased with the glaze results coming out of my old electric and I needed a glaze that I could depend on and more importantly, live with… (cuz if it don't sell ya gotta live with it!)

This was the glaze I needed to get me going. It looks good. It's stable. It's dependable. I've never had to scrape a kiln shelf because of it, and its fun!

Yep… it's fun.

Used alone it's ok, but when you start mixing it in different ratios with the Satin White glaze, it deepens the pallet. You can click over to the Satin White glaze recipe for more information. It seems to mature fairly early giving a dry surface at cone 5 and a glassy surface at cone 7. I've done quite a bit of playing with the mixes and temps and I've settled into a 95%nutmeg / 5%satin white mix applied really thin. This creates a nice warm toasty flashing at the edges of application and works well with slips. I'm firing in a cone 5 to cone 7 range so I'll stick this glaze in where ever I need to fill space in the kiln. Like I said… dependable.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Standing on the Roof

I spent Monday holed up sorting and shooting pieces from the kiln loads of work that didn’t head out with us for last weekend’s event. This is all done in “the dungeon”. I must have had a moment of unknown foresight when I dubbed it, because it’s a musty dirty cramped space with no light or electricity except for my 220 line. I have to run a cord from the studio to bring in my light for shooting. Originally, the thought was that the dark would be the best controlled situation for shooting work in. Now, I’m not so sure, but I’m lazy and having a photo set-up always set up helps make a chore a bit less of a bitch. On that note, the powers that be must have been listening in… after hours of sitting hunched over and grumbling in the dungeon the day before… the rain came. Not good. We live in an old house with what they apparently call “French Gutters”. If this is how the French make their gutters, I’m amazed their civilization hasn’t caved in by now along with all of their roofs. It’s literally a tarpapered ditch running the perimeter of the house with tiny little drain holes feeding crazy bendy downspouts. I’m assuming that it was Friday when they put in the downspouts because there are 2 spouts that are strait forward. They are strait as possible and they work. Boring yes, but they work. Now the other 5 were obviously after lunch affairs and the pint or 3 or whatever they were smoking really shine through, they obviously felt much more pulled to make things interesting. There are bends everywhere. They are works of art… but they don’t work. They plug up. In a down pour, the tarpapered ditch overflows and begins to run under the shingles and into the house… that’s bad. My job in a big storm, with gusts ripping limbs off of trees, is to man the ditch and keep the pipes clean. You do get very very wet and it is pretty darn cold, but it is a great view of a storm!

Serves me right for grumbling about sitting in my musty basement.

Here’s a few of the shots with dots...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Paper Stencils Replay

Here's two quick blips the kids and I put together this spring showing how I create and use paper stencils. It's not a tutorial, but it gives a good idea of the processes that are involved in creating a piece.

Decal Ketchup

Time to get caught-up with what’s been happening around the studio now that the flurry and excitement of this weekends show is past….pant pant pant. So many kiln loads went through over the past 2 weeks, I’m still overwhelmed by the pile of photos to sort through and work to be cataloged.

I was surprised by the results of the load of work with decals. I’ve gotten so used to seeing a kiln load of experiments head off in a direction other than what I had in mind, but this time things generally worked out how I had envisioned. My transparent green and transparent blue glazes milked up a lot with crystals, (bummer), but I didn’t put a whole lot of work in with those glazes so no big loss, (yea!).

It was really fun to revisit some of the older pieces and attack them with the decals. The results made for some particularly nice left field work.
I was trilled that the Witch/Bitch pieces were really well received. I thought they were a hoot!

The canisters were fun. Even the sides of smaller canisters provides a lot of real estate to play with. Now that a bit of time is opening up, I'm curios to explore a few the possibilities that are springing to mind.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Good Fair Neighbors

What a great weekend!
My wife, the kids, and I had a fantastic time at the Witchapalooza event in Sacramento. While I don’t think it fulfilled many venders’ wet dreams of manna raining down from the sky, it more than met our studio’s expectations for success. We had lots of small delicious victories, a few unexpected extra cherries, and one big banana of a happy dance that I’m still savoring…. but that’s another story… Thanks everyone!

Nico was the photographer in charge of collecting the documentation this weekend. I’ve been thoroughly convinced that there are many shots that only a six year old can get. Here are just a few shots of the people in our neighborhood this weekend. They were all our Good Fair Neighbors.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another Midnight Post

I'm baby sitting that last leg of the final kiln load needed for this weekend’s Witchapalooza event. Spent the day playing with my wife in the kitchen. We were putting designs on the “Nilla Ware” (as in plain vanilla ware) that went though the kiln the day before. The kitchen usually isn’t a sanctioned studio space for obvious reasons (the main reason is that I’m a habitually clay covered pig), but this time

I was allowed in the back door under the condition that I hadn’t wallowed in anything yet. We were working with decals that we had just printed up. This was the maiden voyage for the printer that we brought into the studio to help with a few side projects as we move further into fall. We ended up pushing through about 30 pieces before deciding that was a big enough first time commitment to this project and loaded up the kiln happy with a handful of the designs.


That’s what’s burning in the kiln now, so we have to wait until 5pm tonight before we get to see if they actually survive.

Are we pushing it to close to the deadline?

Harvest Canister

I was happy to pull this out of the kiln yesterday. A nice 15" Harvest Canister in GhostBlue. A quick inspection of it's body and surface left me smiling.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


A few days ago I had quickly posted a shot of a freshly dipped glazed canister that had a waxed panel masked out. It was getting ready for a 2nd trip through the bisque. I mentioned that I wanted to sinter on a Blue Hare’s Fur glaze to use as a base glaze for the crawl glaze that I’ve been using. The difference between the sintered and unsintered base glaze is noticeable, but the main reason that I was waxing, sintering and rebisquing was so I would have a strait and easy shot at getting a nice application of the white crawl over the entire canister with good differentiation between the carved area with the Blue Hares Fur and the paper stenciled slipped panel. This combo is much easier to handle without all of the flaking and it seems a bit more predictable.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sushi & Bisque

Now that the evenings are getting chilly again, the family seems to gather in the kitchen while dinner is cooking. It smells so good and it’s currently the warmest place in the house at night aside from the kiln room. Andor (aka Zombie Boy) whipped up another batch of his incredible lentil stew, Yum! While the Mrs. and me rolled up sushi logs, Double Yum!
Got another load of bisque in kiln with one more to go. I was up at 5 this morning waiting for it to hit temp. So while that cools, I’ll be spending the day glazing the next load and applying decals for refiring. Lots of spooky stuff. BoooooOOOOooooooo!

These 3 have been bisqued but are going back through the bisque again to sinter on a blue hares fur glaze so I can redip using the white crawling glaze. The effect it produces, opposed to simply overlapping the glazes and just firing once, are pretty dramatic.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Darn Zombies

What can I say... my son is an over achiever.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Anticipation Part 1

Here are the contact sheets from this kiln load of yunomi and chawans that I made for next weekend’s Witchapalooza event in Sacramento.

I’ll be busting a hump this weekend to post these in my Etsy shop tomorrow, and Sunday while I get everything else done.

I’m going to have to take everything off line next weekend during the big event, so if you like what you see… stop on by the FetishGhost Etsy shop before next Friday. There are a lot of racers in this batch, so be sure to pop in and pick and choose… I’m hoping a lot of this load will be gone in a week and a half.

There is still one load of bisque and 2 glaze loads of canisters to go…and I still need to create a few new bits of new support media, costumes, and get a fair handle on the last minute details for the event. The kids and I are determined to make a good sport of this event and have a lot of fun with it, so we’ll see where this goes.

Operation C.U.P. (Citizens Using Pottery)

I ran across a reference to this great twist on an old idea while reading over a post at ronphilbeckpottery’s blog the other night. It’s a call to action for potters, ceramics collectors, and clay enthusiasts put out by artist Arthur Halvorsen in Boston. It’s called Operation C.U.P. (Citizens Using Pottery). The main thrust of the project… (and the beauty of it as well,) is to put a handmade cup in the hands of someone who wouldn’t otherwise buy a handmade cup.
I do personally believe you can change the world with a few cups. Maybe not the world with a Big W, but the small neighborhood world that you live in. My kids and I have made a practice of handing out cups to people that we meet on our walks through the city, and the amount of goodwill it’s stirred up is heartwarming. It can be a fine way to pass on studio seconds or maybe it’s just some works that need to find a home to make room for new work. It’s a great way to make special friends this season. They’ll tell you about how much they enjoy the thought as time goes by.

To find out more about the project, check out posted links, and see some great cups, swing by Arthur ‘s Fan Page on Facebook.

Support the Arts! Buy handmade!