Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You Tube Pottery Demonstrations

I'm planning on getting on the pottery wheel today and in order not to get stuck in a rut oftentimes I'll browse You Tube for pottery demonstrations and find techniques that I've never tried before. These are two techniques that I found fun and interesting. I don't know what the end result will be. Perhaps I will have a bit of something to show for it, or perhaps I'll just have a bunch of wet clay to reclaim. In the end it doesn't matter because it's all about learning something new. I actually do have a blow torch in order to do the pattern technique. I have one that I use when I do glass beads and I also have a wire to do the faceting.

Faceting pottery

Stretched Pattern

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Water Whistle and more ....

I have spent another morning on You Tube completely fascinated by other people's work in clay. I have seen a picture of a water whistle in a book (From Mud To Music) and I have tried to figure out how one would blow into it .... turns out all you have to do is move it side to side. Interesting.

I also found a few other very fun clay whistle videos and I'm amazed that there are so many talented people out there who make these 12 hole whistles in perfect scales. Me? I am lucky to get any noise out of mine at all. And are they in tune? No. They are just Clay Noise Makers.

Here's a young man playing "Blowing in the Wind" on his whistle

This lady has many beautiful pendant whistles that she's made

This is by far my favorite. It is WILD ... I can't tell how many holes there are, but I know I counted at least 20 and it is perfectly in tune and the boy knows how to play it! WOW!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Blowing In The Wind

Here are the enclosed round forms that I threw on the wheel a few days back. It amazes me that with a few additions a whistle can be made in which one can blow in the wind and noise comes out. I may not have been so fascinated with these when my children were small and just as noisy. They would have delighted in tooting on these all day until my ears felt as though they were being stabbed by small knives .... but my children are grown and I can send them home with one to toot if they are still inclined to make noise.

I admit that this is fairly simplistic with applications of swirled textured hearts, but I like it for just that reason. Who doesn't love something (or somebody) with lots of heart?

This was an attempt to carve the clay a bit. I'm thinking of a nice drippy glaze that will break nicely over the folds. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Noisy Clay

I've been obsessed lately stocking my NKP BEADS etsy store so I have all but neglected this blog for about a week now. However, all that changed as of yesterday when I got on the wheel and threw an enclosed form to attempt yet another clay whistle.

These are quickly becoming one of my favorite things to make but I'm so apprehensive because they are so easily broken in the creative process. But I must scale that wall and just decide to make another if something breaks. It's not good to get attached to one's pottery before it's even fired.

This morning I cut the enclosed form off the bat and formed a mouthpiece and attached it. Then became surprised when I was able to smooth it and make the form completely round. I suppose that makes sense because I did that on the wheel to the top to make it round. At first when I closed the top it was kinda pointy and then it was flat, but pressing gently on the sides with a rib helped to form it to a round shape.

After it was round, I went outside to play with the puppy and gather some courage to poke holes into it (the whistle, not the puppy!). The puppy is 12 weeks old and adorable. His name is Mister Cuddle Buttons because he's, well, adorable. He's a mutt, but I think he's gonna get really big. After a good time of playing "TUG", I went back into the studio and he laid down for a nap.

All the books and articles concentrate SO much on that 45 degree angle when making the whistle blow hole. However the reason I had so much trouble for so long getting it to work correctly was because the side of the hole nearest to the mouthpiece also needed to be a 90 degree angle which was completely even with the wall of the mouthpiece AND the wall of the whistle. When I figured that out, my whistles began to work consistently.

I use simple Popsicle sticks to make the holes. Notice that one has been sanded to a 45 degree angle . At first this had more of a baritone sound but I scraped a bit more away to make that 90 degree angle cleaner and I got a much better sound. Next step was to poke holes. I decided upon two holes (because I'm too chicken to make more). One I made bigger than the other. I laced the outsides of each hole with a rope of clay to make each hole easier to find with the fingers.

Decorating it is always a bit daunting. It functions. But it must be pretty, too. There is always the fear that I am going to break it. Those who know me well, know why. Inevitably I'll drop it. Or smash it. Or pop it. I'm a bit clumsy. I ride a bike for fun and it's a joke because of how often I fall off. After the vertigo a few years ago, surprisingly, my balance got better. But I'm still somewhat clumsy. That's just who I am.

I wanted to be able to set it down and have it stand up so I applied legs. This will force me to really be careful because these legs won't be sturdy until the last glaze fire. However, this will allow me to glaze the entire body and avoid stilt marks.

Now we wait to see if it makes it to completion.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I'm Just Saying ....

I'm thrilled that the small sale that I'm doing has started off so well. I don't hold sales often so that may be the main reason. I don't know. What I'm really thrilled about is my repeat customers have taken advantage of this sale and I hope they are completely wowed when their beads finally arrive.

These are some of the recent purchases. I have a short attention span which is probably why I don't have a lot of the same shape of beads or the same colors. I've shared before how I love color and firing color in a kiln is always risky ... I just never really know for certain how something will turn out. Sometimes it is the placement of the item -- the top of the kiln is a slightly different temperature than the bottom. The humidity is a factor. The barometic pressure could be a factor. The temperature outside may fluctuate or not. I have begun the kiln on a hot morning only to have the temperature drop 30 or more degrees by the evening. Or the kiln cools down quickly or it doesn't cool down for days. That is why sometimes that shade of blue absolutely cannot be duplicated.

One thing I'm not is a scientist though there is a fair amount of chemistry involved, so because I'm not well versed in chemistry it is very much hit or miss for me when it comes to attempting to duplicate an effect. Some might say, "Hey, just keep a notebook." I have started doing that and I have noticed that if I want a certain color I know it will not happen unless the day is cold, under 40 degrees and stays that way for a few days ...same thing goes for summertime ... I have this one bowl design that I only glaze on the inside and I think because I throw the bowls so thin, that unless the kiln has a day or two to cool down, they just snap in half. It is devastating to open the kiln and find 12 beautiful 'cracked-in-half' bowls. Luckily that never happens to beads.

Who Doesn't Love Apple Pie?

The way I created this pie baker was I got a huge plastic plate/bowl and lined it with paper towels. Then I rolled stoneware clay balls and pressed them tightly together. Next, I smoothed the inside, but left the outside so the circles could show. I set it aside, very slowly allowing it to dry under plastic.

I had to figure out how to bisque it enough to where it would be nice and strong but not so that the clay completely matured. I wanted it porous. After checking out the ceramic store I decided to take this cone 6 stoneware clay and slowly fire it to cone 02.

My next step was to sand and sand it, and by sanding it, I could tell that indeed, it was much more sturdy than a cone 06 bisque-fire. I soaked it in water, washed it again (no soap) with baking soda, then allowed it to dry. The next day I baked this wonderful pie. Oh, the crust has never been so flaky and perfect. Mmmmm .... The pie plate is 12 inches wide and 3 inches deep.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Joy of Being A Potter

.... is that I get to keep anything that I really really love .... like this that I'm drinking from right now.

Esty Supply Team Sale

When? Thursday April 17th - Sunday April 20th.

Search ESST on Etsy for other participating shops. Each shop will offer special deals. I'm offering free shipping off any order totaling $25 or more. Those who have ordered from me in the past know that I always include a nice thank you gift of an extra bead or two (or three depending upon how large the order is, so it goes without saying that a free 'thank you ' gift will also be included. PLUS I will be uploading many beads during the entire four day sale at TEMPORARILY DISCOUNTED prices. Snag them up quickly because as soon as the sale is over, those prices will go back to normal. ♥ I promise ♥ my shop will be worth checking back time and time again.

Make sure to look for the ESST in the listing title as well as the ESST SALE section on the right hand side of the page.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Photogenic Beads

Some beads are more photogenic than others. Usually the photographer's problem is getting the bead to look as good as it does in the photo as it does in real life.

But what does one do when the bead looks better in the photo than it does in real life? THAT is my dilemma today! Actually, I began to have a dilemma trying to figure out how to spell dilemma. I'm so incredibly grateful for Firefox for showing each and every spelling error, but I'm also grateful for Google, who is the best spelling dictionary in the world. ....'did you mean ________" and then, Google ALWAYS spells it correctly!

In any event, so I will simply rephotograph this one!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Successes and Failures Out of the Kiln

All of the ones that came out great need new photos, and the ones that didn't are going to have to go back into the kiln for another burn.

This is one of my favorites out of this batch. It is simple, but the shape is lovely and the red daisies are cheerful. Who doesn't need a bit of cheer with their coffee some mornings?

This mug about drove me nuts! I had this idea of buttons and I can't number how many times I had to repair the buttons on this mug. Every time I moved it, a button fell off. It got to be almost comical. The colors on this turned out great but I'm not happy with the shine factor. I like more of a glossy coating, especially on the handle. So back into the kiln it will go!

This color is one I haven't used before. It was supposed to be more green than yellow. I suppose it came out more like a yellow Jade.

I had this idea to stick on leafy type things. I can only hope they don't remind people of slugs.

The cat proof sugar bowl I was so excited about in an earlier post did not turn out well. The fit was too fabulous! It is now human proof! I put the lid on, and it slipped on ... and now it won't slip off. I am going to try again!

This was a lot of fun to do. The glazing took hours though. I used a red that was watered down a bit so it would flow easier and be less gloppy, but therefore it needed many more coats. I thought I would NEVER finish. I was reading a book about yarn and felting the day before I made this cup. I think I was definitely influenced.

New Beads

These nuggets are a lot of fun to form with the fingers. Each one I take special care to shape like a rock.

These are textured rounds. These muted neutrals will go great on just about anything, casual or dressy. A jewelry designer will have fun with these I'm certain.

These nuggets are a natural color. Some who have seen them in person were surprised they were not real rocks, but handmade.

New Beads

These nuggets are a lot of fun to form with the fingers. Each one I take special care to shape like a rock. I love the dark cobalt blue. I was experimenting with underglazes. Underneath this cobalt blue is a white underglaze. Next I used a cobalt blue underglaze on top of the white, and I finished it off with a clear gloss glaze. I used a red stoneware clay for the nugget.

These are textured rounds. These muted neutrals will go great on just about anything, casual or dressy. A jewelry designer will have fun with these I'm certain.

These nuggets are a natural color. Some who have seen them in person were surprised they were not real rocks, but handmade.