Monday, September 29, 2008

18 Inch Coiled Form -- Ancient Vessel

The "big" assignment in Ceramics is to make a coiled form that is at least 18 inches high. Another assignment was to find an ancient form and 'copy' it. Enterprising students could combine these two assignments. That's what I have done. I figured there would be quite a bit of shrinkage, at least 10 percent, so I decided to make mine 23 inches and remove all doubt.

However, this is so big that I'm putting it together in two pieces. The top photo is the bottom, and you have to imagine it upside down. I'm coiling smaller and smaller until it is almost to a point.

This photo is the top piece, and it is right side up. After it is the right size, I will have to add a neck and attach the entire thing to the bottom piece. This is a very fun project and the best part is that the school kiln will be big enough to fire it!

Bisque Pinchpots

Here are two pinch pots that the ceramics class I belong to pulled out of the kiln this morning. This one was pinched, and then I coiled on top of the pinch pot. Next I put in some scraffito and applied sprigs. It is about 8 inches tall.

This is also a pinch pot bowl. This one I stamped with a homemade stamp (not commercial). The other pinch pot I made is in the pit firing. It will be ready on Wednesday morning. I have made three more pinch pots but so far do not have photos. The assignment was to make 6 pinch pots, three alike (with the same types of bottoms).

These both look crooked, but they aren't. I just didn't take time in Picasa to straighten them out. It's my photo taking that is crooked! lol!

Pit Firing

Today in Ceramics, we got to do a pit firing. First we wrapped our pieces in toilet paper. Apparently the paper will help to protect the pot during the firing as well as provide firing materal.

The next step was to load the can with some bricks in the bottom. I'm not sure why these are here other than to help hold the can down as well as perhaps retain heat. I had run inside to grab my camera so I missed this part.

If I had been thinking harder, I would have asked if these wood chips are the same woodchips I used to buy for my (now deceased) guinea pig Miss "B". However, I was busy snapping photos and thinking, "A PIT FIRING, SO COOL! A PIT FIRING!"

After all the pots were loaded into the trash can, it was lit. Then after the fire was going good, a lid was placed on it, but not all the way. It needs to have some air in order to continue to burn. The lid will help to circulate the air and keep things hot. This will get up to about 1300 degrees, about the lowest clay can be fired and form some sort of crystals. In other words, if it gets wet it won't fall apart, but these pots certainly will not be food safe.

However, they should be jet black when they come out. Yay!

Leah Leitson Workshop

I had the pleasure of attending a Leah Leitson workshop at the Dallas Craft Guilt this last weekend. I love her work. On a website promoting her workshop it says,
"Leah works exclusively in porcelain. Her work is predominantly inspired by the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century decorative arts, particularly utilitarian table wares and Sevres porcelain, as well as being inspired by plant forms in nature."

(mudfire.com ). If you'd like to look at her work, they have quite a few photos on that website link, also. What I appreciated most about this workshop was learning how to touch and manipulate a freshly thrown wheel form and transform it into a very different sort of pot.

The picture above has been transformed into a teapot and now sports a handle and a lid. It is a closed form that I put lobes into with a wooden rib, and then after it was leatherhard, paddled into a somewhat square shape.

These are some forms I threw. The one in the foreground is a bowl that I put lobes into and then closed up. Since this photo was taken I've added some legs. My daughter wants me to just leave it like this (with legs), but I want to continue working with it.

My goal is that by the time I've integrated these new techniques, that nothing I produce will look like Leah, but like me. I do NOT want to be a copycat, though I realize that being a copycat is how we initially learn. So if anything I produce looks like Leah, I will be labeling it, "Made after a workshop with Leah Leitson".

Leah is a wonderful teacher. This was a hands on workshop and I have never thrown so much pottery in three days, ever. I also have never thrown Porcelain clay before last weekend. I threw a clay by Laguna named "Miller 550" and I have fallen in love love love with it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ancient Seal

This is interesting. My assignment in Ceramics I was to find ancient pottery and write a small paper. My paper is actually on a vessel, but I found this beauty in an auction from 3500-3000 BC and it was going for a mere $450.

(from the website)
"The linear design represents two human figures crossed. The design can also be read as a double lined cross under a single line cross of "X" shape. D: 41 mm. Not published in Sarianidi, Die Kunst Des Alten Afghanistan. This remarkable seal has the density of limestone. A choice and very rare seal.">

Looks like it would make a pretty bead.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Pinch Pots

I got this picture off the google images search "Pinch Pots" ... it's from Pottery.About.Com. I might start bringing in my small camera to class. Hopeflly people won't think I'm too odd wanting to document things.

As some may have guessed, by now, today in Ceramics I, we tackled the Pinch Pots. I've made two sad little pinch pots in the five years I've been playing with clay, and I have to say that it was a repeat performance today. The main idea was to get it symmetrical and the thickness of the walls even.

I mostly did that, but the last ball of clay I did was the best. We were to save our three best. Mine were all awfully awful so I saved them all. Maybe I'll have a better perspective on Monday. However, tonight I'm going to get some cone 6 clay and do the same thing here, at home. Fun fun!

Here are some pinch pot links I found online:

And then I found this link! And it is beautiful!!!
Pinch Pot Whistle!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Anchors Away! A P100 mask

This is what I bought today. It is an AOSafety QuickLatch® Facepiece with Voice Transmission System Assembly QuickLatch. Apparently it comes in three sizes. I don't know which size I bought, though it does seem to fit just fine. The Latch allows for quick donning & doffing. Facilitates quick communication. NIOSH Approved. $43. Bonus: I won't ever need to buy a new set of lungs.

This was on my supply list for the Ceramics I class I am taking. Okay, so it wasn't actually on the list, what the professor actually said was, "Buy a double-banded mask and make certain it is a #8210, don't go overboard and buy that big two cylinder mask."

So what did I do? I bought the biggie mask. In school, on my report cards, it commonly had the phrase, "Natalie would do SO much better in class if she would just follow directions."

Actually, I am going to go and get a more disposable type P100 mask for class. It is about $7 and just as good. Bonus: I won't look like an alien in class. At home, in my studio, or outside (holding lumber while hubby saws through a board), I will use the biggie mask and I will use the snot out of that thing!

I like my biggie mask though, because I am chemically sensitive and paranoid as well. I'm one of those persons that when I can't sleep I imagine every horrible possible most painful and scary detail as to ways I could damage/poison myself if I'm not careful enough.

Bead Jar Winner!

The actual number of beads in the jar was 734. Fellow Etsian Theresa from Theresa Rose Designs came closest without going over with her guess of 720! She wins over $50 worth of NKP Beads!

These are Theresa's 7 favorites! Visit Theresa Rose's Etsy store today for some gorgeous jewelry designs!

Congratulations, Theresa! I hope you will love these handpainted unique one of a kind beads!

Monday, September 01, 2008

School Daze

I've definitely decided to go ahead and get a Bachelors of Fine Arts so I am back at college (again). I love school. I've gone to college off and on since my children were babies. The joke is that I've been 20 years at a Junior College with only 2 more years to go. I actually have three classes left to finish up the Associates Degree, but I've procrastinated about taking them (Speech, PE, and one more class in humanities). I can't figure out if I'm going to go ahead and take those and get the associates or just go onto the University of Texas in Arlington. Decisions! Decisions!

However, until at least one of my children graduates, we can't afford big college costs. My oldest should graduate at the end of May. That means I could start in the fall. However, I still have about 20 credits that I could take at the community college that will transfer and they are only about $150 for three hours (and the price goes DOWN with each course, not UP like at big cost college). I do believe I will continue there for financial reasons and then make the big switch.

I'm about to start the second week of a Ceramics I class and so far we have discovered the joys of wedging reclaim clay. This is something I'm familiar with as I have been doing this in my own studio for a few years. Actually, I have about 300 pounds of reclaim clay in various stages of drying that needs reclaiming but I just keep buying new clay. I never throw the rest out. However, I am seriously in need of a used pugmill!!! Anybody want to get rid of one, really cheap? Until then, it looks I am going to continue to be a human pugmill machine.

The best thing about this class is I will get to experiment with equipment and clay and firings that are not possible in my home studio. SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!