Thursday, February 23, 2012

Some work in progress

            My current experiment is using rutile as an overglaze on tenmoku. I have read that this produces an orange or yellow color, which would stand out well on the dark brown of the tenmoku. I jumped right in and painted dragons over the tenmoku on a vase and on a cup. It may run a bit and make the image look smudged, or it may not.

            Anyway, I need to practice using a brush, so if the images get smudgy I won’t be that put out over it. I have always been a fan of markers, colored pencils, and charcoal, but never spent much time painting. So this is a new adventure in several ways! An added difficulty is that if I mess up, it’s hard to fix without rubbing off both the glaze and the overglaze. I expect that skill will come with practice, as with all things. 

            I've also made a mug with a dragon on wheels chasing a mouse on wheels. It is now glazed and waiting to be fired. It will be green.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Not a Friday Critique

            Today a kiln got unloaded, and I did some trimming of bowls and cups. I don’t feel up to a structured critique, but I won’t let that stop me from sharing what came out of the kiln. 

            Two more dragon egg vases! Both were a bit of an experiment. As I mentioned last week, I am trying out different colors to see if that makes the eggs seem more magical, and hence, more dragon-y. I don’t know if it succeeded. The whitish one is a glaze called Pharsalia; the green is CNB copper. Both were fired in oxidation to cone 6, like the brown egg from last week.

            This one is nice because it is actually egg-colored. The texture of this glaze is also pleasing to the touch. I don’t know whether I like it for a dragon egg, though. I put a chartreuse underglaze in the swirls and cracks, which did not show up green at all on most of it. So it’s not as interesting a color as I’d hoped. I kind of like it anyway. I think. It’s hard to tell if I like things when they are so new out of the kiln sometimes. 

            I do like the color of this one. It’s definitely a more magical color than either the brown or white-tan. There is red iron oxide wash in the cracks and the swirls, which appears black under the glaze. I’m not so fond of the shape; it’s kind of like an upside-down egg instead of a right-side-up egg (assuming eggs have some kind of orientation in the first place).
            There were other things of mine in the kiln, but I will post about them some other day. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday Traveling Dragons

            Today the dragons were feeling adventurous. They have been sitting on the coffee table for a while, but since it was cleaned off there isn't much for them to look at on it. Don't they look kind of bored?

            Sphinx dragon likes to survey her territory. So she climbed up into this pot.

            Peering dragon didn't want to be surveyed, however. He climbed up here so that he could peer at everyone else.

            Prancing dragon is a mighty hunter. He is searching for tasty things among the leaves of my pothos vine. I don't think he found anything, though. He got distracted by the fish tank.

            Sleeping dragon didn't do anything exciting. He was napping.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday Critique: Dragon Egg Vase

            This is a vase. It is about 6 inches tall and about 5 inches wide. It is white stoneware fired to cone 6 in oxidation at IS183. It was thrown and then carved and incised. I used a red iron oxide wash on the outside, and a glaze called New Tyler Amber. 
            Here I would usually talk about form; to talk about form in this case I must talk about concept. This vase is intended to be a dragon egg. Therefore I threw it in the shape of an egg, although the bottom is flat so that it sits on the table. The shape is easily identified as an egg, but it is not so clear that it is a dragon’s egg. I feel that there is little to be done about this in terms of form – if I want this object to be recognizable as an egg, it must be egg shaped. I imagine even dragons have round eggs. 

            In order to encourage the idea that this egg is a dragon egg, I incised swirls into the surface. I had hoped that the swirls would add a dimension of fantasy to an object that is otherwise easy to identify as something from our own world. I do like the swirls, but I’m not sure the effort worked. Shortly after carving the last swirl onto the vase, an onlooker commented, “So you’re making ostrich eggs?” I suppose it is about the size of an ostrich egg. I think that the swirls would work better if there were more of them, so that they became the texture of the egg’s surface rather than marks that were made on that surface. This egg appears to mostly have a smooth surface with occasional swirls.

            However, even if the entire surface were covered with swirls, I don’t think this object would necessarily be identifiable as a dragon egg. Swirls are fantastical and whimsical, but not particularly dragon-like. This vase is a dragon’s egg because I say so. I am aiming for a vase that is a dragon’s egg because it looks like one.

            The glaze makes the surface very smooth and shiny. I think this does help with the idea of a dragon’s egg. I imagine dragon eggs to be hard and shiny, unlike bird eggs, which are porous and not reflective. I also like this particular glaze because it has its own visual texture. Although the surface is smooth, there are darker specks throughout that provide variation to the surface. 

            I am also trying out dragon scales as a surface texture on one of these vases. I know eggs don’t usually have scales, but I think it would make the connection to dragons clearer. I am also trying other colors. This amber brown is a handsome color, but dragons tend to be red or blue or some other color. Perhaps a bolder color would make the association with dragons stronger.
            Here is one with scales, as greenware:

            I think I will try making this one green and blue, good dragon colors. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mushroom mugs

            You may remember the mushroom serving bowl from a few weeks ago. Mushroom mugs were the precursor to that piece. The first three mushroom mugs were an experiment, and I liked them so much I made the serving bowl as well. Now I am making more mugs!

            But there is a new aspect to this adventure now that I found out how to make this wonderful texture. The original mugs and serving dish were dipped in black slip, resulting in a smooth surface that needed little refining. At the studio I am currently using, the black slip is in a small container, so dipping is not an option. "No worries!" I thought, "I'll just brush it on and then smooth it with a rib to get rid of all the brush marks!" Well, that took a lot more fuss than I thought it would, and didn't look as good anyway. I find that it is usually better to touch the clay as little as possible when you want a smooth surface, and removing brush strokes with a rib is about the opposite of "touching as little as possible."
            So instead I decided to scrape the slip with the rib and see what kind of texture it made. It looks like the picture above, and I think that looks really cool! So now I have a new surface texture to use with the mushroom mugs.