Let the Beauty of what you Love be what you Do...
~Rumi

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Bears, Kiln Magic & The Best News Ever!!!


Though I meant to get these posted in December- time seriously got away from me! It was crazy busy at the end of the semester... getting things fired, photographing work, critiques, moving out of the studio & then driving home to spend time w/ family for the holidays & then right back to work & starting up new classes... whew! A whirlwind of activity, but finally here they are- the 8 salt fired bears from last semester's continuing Polar Series.
(posted from lighter to darker rather than in numerical order of how I built them)

#1 below is one of my faves.

 Polar Bear # 1
H: 14"  W: 11"  D: 21.5"
Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay Body- Salt Fired to Cone 11

Alternate View

 Polar Bear # 2
H: 15"  W: 17.5" D: 16"
Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay Body- Salt Fired to Cone 11

Alternate View- my fave angle :)

Polar Bear # 3
H: 15"  W: 13"  D 18 "
Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay Body- Salt Fired to Cone 11

Alternate View 1

Alternate View 2

Polar Bear # 5
H: 16.5"  W:16" D 15"
Laguna Sculpture Cone 10 Clay Body- Salt Fired to Cone 9 Oxidation


Alternate View 1

Alternate View 2
Alternate View 3

# 6 below quickly outranked #1 as my all time fave when it came out of the kiln. This glaze + this clay body + salt firing, in my humble opinion, produces the most amazing results! Click twice on any image to enlarge to see the effects of this Kiln Magic in greater detail.
:)
Polar Bear # 6
H: 14.5"  W: 16"  D: 21.5"
Death Valley Red Cone 10 Clay Body- Salt Fired to Cone 11

Detail~head/neck

Detail~foot

Polar Bear # 4
H: 16.5"  W: 16"  D: 19"
Laguna Dark Brown Cone 10 Clay Body- Salt Fired to Cone 11

Alternate View

Polar Bear # 7
H: 15"  W: 13.5"  D: 23.5"
Laguna Dark Brown Cone 10 Clay Body- Salt Fired Cone 10

Alternate View
Polar Bear # 8
H: 15.5"  W:13" D: 26"
Death Valley Red Cone 10 Clay Body- Salt fired to Cone 11

glaze detail 1

glaze detail 2
The glaze detail on # 6 above only goes to show you... if you love a glaze enough, it truly will love you back!! 
:)
Below is my studio at the end of the semester... all cleaned up & turned into an impromptu photo studio using natural light, as my apartment is far too dark to photograph in.


And below, the bears out of the studio & in the classroom during critiques.

"The Last Great Migration" (Prototype)

My reflections on this past semester are mostly positive. While I am not crazy about every single piece, I am crazy about at least half of them, which is good!
 (I used the same glaze & firing methods on each piece above, changing only the clay bodies to move in gradation from variations of white/gray to black to symbolize the Polar Bear as a messenger for the environmental challenges we face.)
 I love this glaze, I love hand building these forms & I love salt/soda firing!!! Though I did get a little clay obsessed between the bears & the micaceous pottery... quite frankly, I would have done much, much more if I didn't have to do things like sleep & work! I think the obsession comes in part from not having my own studio... I feel like when I am taking classes, I need to squeeze in as much studio time as I possibly can, in order to maximize my learning & growth in the wild world of ceramics!
:)
On that note, I am super excited about sharing
THE Best News Ever!!!
One of my pieces has been accepted into
The 6th Annual Juried Exhibition
"Beyond the Brickyard"
at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana!
I am totally honored to have my work included in such an amazing exhibit, at such an amazing place, with such an amazing group of ceramic artists.
The show opens next weekend, so if you're in the area... go!
If you cannot make it, the exhibit will also be online Feb 3rd, so be sure to check it out!
:)


















Sunday, December 8, 2013

Micaceous Pots/ Ceramics Sale & Wrapping up the end of the Semester

Just a quick post! These are some of the Micaceous Pots that I completed this semester in round 2 of my Studio Practice Class. While my emphasis this semester was obviously on completing the bear series, I also really wanted to finish these pots so that I could participate in our annual student ceramics sale. Most of these I had started earlier this year but they were placed on the back burner so to speak. Each pot is oven & stovetop safe and built using clay that is hand dug clay from the mountains of northern NM and is not commercially processed. They're built coil by coil, and once bone dry, are meticulously water scraped, hand sanded (earlier this semester when it was much warmer- you could find me outside of the studio sanding for hours!) & polished/stone burnished after application of a fine micaceous slip. While it is a very laborious process, I have to admit, once they are fired, it makes the entire process  quite worthwhile.
:)

Bean Pot 1: Collaboration
Bean Pot 2
Wavy Rim Casserole: 3.5 Quart & Small Wavy Rim Dish 3/4 Quart
Closer view of Small Dish

3.5 Quart Casserole/Serving Dish

3/4 Quart Bowl

Small Bowl

Raku/Reduction Fired Bean Pot: 2.5 Quart
Raku/ Reduction Fired 1.5 Quart Fluted Bowl
2 Quart Lidded pot

View from the Top
Raku Fired 3/4 Quart Wavy Rim Bowl
In addition to the Micaceous Pots, I had a series of the little bears ("the smalls") out on the table.The first day of our sale on wednesday was quite successful and it was fun to be out there with all my fellow students/clay people. 


The second day we got snowed out! Yup, you heard right... by Thursday morning we had 4-6 inches of snow... that, along with weather advisories was enough to shut the school down for the day. Bummer! But so it goes. Unfortunately it also delayed the last firing of the Soda Kiln, but with any luck, it'll fire during finals in the upcoming week. I've now photographed 6 out 8 of the bears from this Semester &  I'll photograph # 7 this week if the lighting is good. Number 8 has been in the kiln almost a week in freezing temps awaiting firing, so if it makes it out o.k. I'll try to get it photo'd as well so I can post them all at once. So that's it for now- a very busy and productive semester!
:)














Saturday, November 30, 2013

Well, Hello There!

It's been a long time & I've been busy as heck, but I finally had a day with no work or clay class/studio obligations, so I thought I'd head on down to Starbucks to treat myself to an overpriced seasonal Salted Caramel Mocha (and an internet connections as slow as molasses in winter) & update the ol' blog.
It's a long (but fascinating!) post, ha ha ha!
:)
So what have I been up to this semester? Why continuing with the Polar Series of course! As you may recall, last semester in Studio Practice Class, I was essentially building 50 # test tiles in the form of Polar Bears... testing various different clay bodies & seeing how they react with the same glaze in the Soda Kiln and working out the issues in terms of drying/cracking, and finding out which clay bodies yielded results that were pleasing to me.  Some worked well, and some not so much, but it gave me a great idea of where I wanted to go this semester. 
My goal for this semester was to continue with the series, creating a total of 8 bears, ranging in Color from Whitish/off White & changing in gradation to Reddish/Brown/Black to symbolize on a conceptual level the degradation of the environment & habitat for all things wild, and emphasize the Polar Bear as messenger of these changes. The working title for this series is 
"The Last Great Migration."
In reality, I'd like to create 25- 30 of them.... enough to fill a large room or Gallery Space... I can visualize the whole thing in my head, but alas, due to work obligations (gotta pay the bills & keep that roof over my head) and the simple fact that our Soda Kiln is small & there are many production pottery students vying for space... 8 was about all I could manage. Not to mention I wanted to finish some of the Micaceous Pots I had started last semester so I could participate in the Clay Club Sale (which, incidentally is next week!)
So, without further ado, here's what I've been up to! 

Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay


Above is  # 1 in the green state (unfired.) And Below, # 2.


Below, # 2 from different angles.

Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay


Below, # 3. This one is a little more abstract...

Ann's Soda Cone 10 Clay

especially from this angle, which is my favorite angle by the way.
:)


Below- 1, 2, 3, & a headless # 4 on the right.


Bird's eye view on # 4. I love that it forms a heart.
:)


# 4- finished/drying.

Laguna Dark Brown Cone 10 Clay

# 5  In progress...



and # 5 finished/drying... various angles.


Laguna Sculpture Cone 10 Clay

# 6... Now this part would always drive me crazy..... when I'd get up to the head, the clay was too wet to continue, the studio would close & I'd have to go to work the next day!


Arrgh! So I'd have to wrap it really well, prop up the neck so it wouldn't drop & wait impatiently until I could get back to it!


I started this project at the end of August, and below is where I was at mid October.
6 bears in various stages: greenware, bisqued, glazed, but none had gone through the final firing. People would come by my studio at this point & comment on how I was "cranking them out..." these glib comments would drive me a bit crazy as I was spending 40+ hours a week in the studio (and 25-30 hours a week at my 'real job') to get to this point!! 


Anyhow! Below, 2 angles of # 6 finished & drying.

Death Valley Red


# 7, below, gave me some issues. I still have not figured out why some come easy & some give me such a hard time... but so it goes.


I wasn't happy with the neck angle on this one, so I had to cut it open & do a surgery of sorts.




And, of course I ran out of time, had to put it under wraps & go to work!
(It is times like these when I wish, wish, wish I had my own studio and didn't have to worry about things like actually supporting myself!)


But, eventually, things get finished! Below is # 7, finished & drying.

Laguna Dark Brown Cone 10


On my last one, # 8,  I didn't want to limit myself to 50 #, so I bought 3 bags, so I could go a little larger. I ended up using about 60 # or so. 
Here's a little of the process~






Death Valley Red Cone 10 Clay

My friend took this pic of me w/ the last one... it gives a good sense of scale. Not thinking about length limitations, I almost made it too big to fit in the bisque kiln! But thankfully it fit, with about a 1/2" on either side to spare. 


7 out of 8 bears have made it out of the Soda Kiln intact & with quite nice results! (Number 8 is bisqued, glazed, and with any luck will go in the next firing.) I'm in the process of photographing them & editing the photographs.... but in the meantime, I thought I'd show you a little of the process & what it takes in order to get them loaded. As you know, our soda kiln is fairly small, my pieces fairly large, and it takes a fair amount of effort, strength & a little assistance to get them in!





Also, while we started the semester loading & unloading the kiln in shorts & T-shirts, we are now loading & unloading in freezing temps! These are pics taken during the last unloading.



"The Keeper of the Kilnyard"
Brrrrr! Even one of the bears, fresh out of the Kiln needed a little something to keep warm!
:)
So that brings us up to date on the Polar Project! 
So, you can see I've been busy... below are also the Micaceous Pots (various stages- sanded, polished/ready to fire) I was working on earlier this semester... all but 2 that I started are now finished & I'll try to get the final pics posted early next week before the sale.







And of course, the little bears- "the smalls" as my brother calls them. I made somewhere around 50 of these... some I lost in the firing, some I gave away, and some will be Christmas gifts, which will leave me with around 30 of them for the Clay Club Sale.





It was fun experimenting not only with different clay bodies on these, but also with placing them in different areas in the Soda Kiln to see which yielded the coolest results.
As soon as I get all the large bears photo'd & edited, I promise to post 'em, too!
Until then~
 Wishing you all a warm, happy & peaceful winter season!!
:)