Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday Traveling Dragons

            I think the dragons must be getting used to Maine. Sleeping dragon seems to have decided that my dog is a cozy companion to nap next to. I'm glad they get along; the last thing you want in a 100 year old house is for your dragon to set your dog on fire!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Traveling Dragons

            What would you do if you saw a "Dragon X-ing" sign? If you were a dragon, maybe you would consider it an invitation to come in and investigate!

            You might think to yourself, "Maybe there are some nice tasty things in this barn here, since it has a picture of a dragon headed inside! Maybe it has a nice place to make a nest!"

            If you were a dragon, and you saw this sign on my barn door, and you decided to investigate, you might be disappointed. You would find, like this dragon did, that there isn't much to eat, and that there are just a bunch of strange contraptions in there.
            Those silly humans really ought to learn to label things better.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Results of rutile over tenmoku experiment

            You may remember this post in which I showed some pictures of a vase and a cup after I glazed them and before they were fired. Well, those pieces were fired, and I am just now getting around to posting the results. I was using rutile as an overglaze on tenmoku at cone 6 in reduction. My hope was for a nice golden color where the rutile was. The first picture below is before firing, and the second picture is after firing.

            I did get my nice golden color - but only where the rutile was most concentrated, on the heaviest brushstrokes. So all the little swirls and scales are not really visible on the finished pot. But that color is so nice! Here is a closer picture:

            I don't have a picture of the cup yet (it is still packed away in some box from the move), but it has a similar effect. The difference is that on the cup I mostly used small brushes, so unless you know there is supposed to be a dragon there, it just looks like I spilled something on one side of it while glazing.
            You might be thinking that I am disappointed that all my little details didn't show up. Actually I'm not disappointed at all - I got some good information out of this test. I know now how much rutile I need to use, and what kinds of brushes work better to apply it thickly enough. And I know that the color I get is definitely nice like I hoped. I'm thinking now in terms of larger, less delicate designs, like making a serving bowl or plate and putting a big swirl of rutile over tenmoku inside, so that there is a golden swirl on the black/brown background. I think that would look pretty awesome.
            As for these two pieces that I experimented on, I wasn't super happy with the vase to start with. I think the form I was aiming for would work better (or perhaps just more like I intended) on a taller vase than this one. Thus I didn't mind just practicing my painting technique on it as an experiment. The cup, on the other hand, is a nice cup. I think the cup looks all right if you aren't busy trying to figure out how it's supposed to have a dragon on it. So, all in all conclusion? Good experiment. Now I can think of other things to try!

Monday, May 21, 2012

An update on the barn-studio situation

            I thought I'd do some cleaning of my barn-studio today, since the tables were still too yucky to put my nice mud (clay) on. It turns out that when you want to clean a table that has been in a barn for maybe fifteen years, you really have to clean it. Because it will be very dirty. See this gross bucket of water?

            That is the second bucket of water used to clean this table. When I showed the first bucket to Mr. Riverdragon, he indicated that if I wanted you guys to keep reading my blog, I had better not show you a picture of the first bucket of cleaning water, and that he wished he hadn't seen it either. It was pretty icky I guess. I was more focused on how nice and clean my table was getting. See? Isn't it nice now?

            I also did some very important labeling today.

            For those of you who aren't aware, cone 6 and cone 10 correspond approximately to temperatures that clay is fired to. If you fire cone 6 clay to cone 10, you can really get into trouble, because cone 10 is a lot hotter and may melt your clay into a puddle. (Firing cone 10 clay to cone 6 isn't as big a disaster. It just doesn't vitrify.) So I feel better now that I have these labels up. Now if I make something I have a safe place to put it where it will be labeled!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Some thoughts about fountains

            I am still interested in making ceramic fountains. My thesis became a larger project with a different focus, but I have more fountain ideas that I have not explored yet.
            What interests me about fountains is that the water brings life to the clay, which is otherwise static. Moving water reacts to the surface it is running over, and makes that surface look different. It also brings a natural sound to an otherwise silent object.
            Where there is water, there is also the possibility of plant and animal life. I really enjoyed creating a living environment with my thesis. I am thinking about ways to experiment with bringing living things and water into my work. I could use the clay as the vessel to hold not just the water, but also living things. 

            When I say I am thinking of adding living things, I am not only thinking of plants.The large pool in my thesis had five zebra fish. The fish were shy during the exhibition, and I was able to determine that they did not like the lights, which were very bright, and that they would have been happier with a current in the water. Zebra fish are stream-dwellers, and still water seems to make them a bit lethargic.  (Those five fish had babies after the exhibition when I put them in a more traditional fish tank with lots of current, so now I have 12 zebra fish.)
            I am thinking of a ceramic fountain that would be large enough to house a betta fish, but small enough to put in a house on a counter or table. I would build in places for plants that would have their roots in the water - this would act as a filter in addition to being beautiful - and the fish would live in the pool at the bottom. I am thinking specifically of a betta because they are comfortable living alone and in a smaller tank than most fish.
            This project is still in the sketches on paper stage, so don't expect to see a finished product next week or anything. But it is exciting to me to think about. I think this is the direction my sculpture is heading in currently. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

So what have I been doing, anyway?

            Since I haven't been very active on the blog since my road trip, I guess an update is in order. I finished college at Simon's Rock in December with a Bachelor of Arts, which was when I started this blog. Then I was living in the Berkshires for February, and making a bunch of pots at IS183. In March I moved with Mr. Riverdragon down to Virginia, where we ditched our stuff at his mom's place and we three hopped in my car and drove to Seattle. There I attended NCECA, which was awesome. And then we drove back to Virginia.
            But we didn't want to stay in Virginia for the summer. It is hot and sticky there in the summer. Instead we moved to Maine after collecting my fifteen-and-a-half year old dog from my parents, to a house with an attached barn. Perfect for a summer ceramics studio... all to myself.
            This is my pooch, in case you were wondering:

            And this is the barn:

            It's a bit messy in there, huh? But I just set up my new (used) kick wheel and I'm clearing off the tables. You can see the tree pieces from my thesis  in the second picture, and I'm thinking of setting it up there for a while, because it is more enjoyable when it's set up. Right now the moss is pretty crispy and sad.
            I'm still looking for an electric kiln, 240 volts, single phase, and cheap. The last criterion is about as important as the other two. (If anybody has an electric kiln they want to sell in Downeast Maine, let me know...)
            But I'm off to a good start. Life is pretty exciting. My dog is very old and she doesn't walk in a straight line anymore, but she has enough energy to run all the way down the hill to the shore of the Benjamin River with me and plod all the way back up every day. This morning we found an awesome piece of birch bark on the rocks:

            I'm thinking it will make a great "Open" sign for the barn door!

Press release!

            The Deer Isle Artists Association in Deer Isle, Maine, is opening the summer season with the show DISHeS - and some of my pots are in that show! So if you live in Downeast Maine, come on over to Deer Isle on Friday, May 18th at 5:00 pm for the opening reception. The show is open from May 18th to May 31st, so if you skip the reception, you still have two weeks to go check it out. There are 17 artists with work in several media in the show, so there will be a variety of things to see.
            As for which pots of mine are in the exhibition, you'll have to go and see! This is my second exhibition ever, so I am very excited!