Thursday, May 28, 2009

Learning to throw platters

I seem to have been taught the secret sauce of platters. Platters are something that have confounded me until this past month. My platters were always small in diameter but thick. Way too thick. I just sucked at throwing these.

Well, one of my studio mates, Evelia the studio owner, went to a class taught by some Italian potter (who is super hot according to Evelia) and he taught her all sorts of things including how to make better platters. I asked her to show me, she did. I immediately threw the three best platters I have ever thrown. I was in the studio last night and the platters are dry now and I was moving them to the shelf for items ready to fire and found myself amazed at how light they are. And that’s the holy grail for me – a piece should be lighter in your hand than you expect. And these are not just a little lighter these are like feathers but large platters, larger than normal dinner plates and still MUCH lighter than a normal dinner plate.

The little tweak to my throwing that Evelia showed me? Don’t open a platter like you would a normal pot. Use the heel of your hand and push the clay down and out. Compress the clay with the heel of your palm at the same time your pushing it out. It works. At least for me.

That’s one less form I have to obsess about. Now back to teapots… and mugs… and bottles… and….

Oh and I still trying to figure out how to glaze these bad boys. I am thinking of using an accent glaze, like 90 Neph Syn, 10 F3134 +10 stain, dripped in lines then covered with my normal clear. Maybe some black and yellow drips. Maybe red. The new season of “Dexter” starts soon =)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Getting ready for a sale

Well, I lost the race with the ugly teapot. I will speak of it no more.

Now I am getting ready for a sale on June 6th. Trying to get everything I have ready glazed. 

I have a couple platters I need to glaze but realized that all the glazes I have been working with only get interesting when they are on vertical surfaces. Ash glazes, runny glazes. If they aren't designed for vertical surfaces, they aren't food safe. So these platters are kind of a puzzle for me. I Have no idea how to glaze them. Clear with some colored drips? Find a good food safe color? I want them to be cool, not boring. And I have very little time to solve this little puzzle. Oi.

And just a tiny follow up on something I posted waaaay back in the dead of Winter. I had some greenware that froze. I got a ton of strange cracks in those pots. At the time I was pretty sure that the cracks were related to the freezing. Well, I promptly forgot about those cracks until a discussion I had with one of the other potters at the studio this past week. Neither of us have had the tell tale "S" cracks in a pot (from bad compression) for literally years. After the freezing I haven't had a single pot crack. Not one. So, yeah the cracks I can safely say were due to the freezing. Seems funny talking about freezing clay when I got a nasty sun burn yesterday.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Racing the ugly teapot

I was wondering what comes next, well I think I have my answer. At first I thought it might be decals because they seem cool, and challenging. But no, that’s not it. 

Teapots.

As I have semi-ranted about in the last few posts I made a teapot that I really REALLY didn’t like. And before I could really do anything to stop it my SO snapped some photos and emailed them out. Then proceeded to literally – and I swear I am not making this part up – snuck the damn thing out of the house so I would destroy it.

Now I am on a mission to as quickly as possible make several much better teapots and ship them to the relatives that asked for the ugly teapot. Ship them something that’s not embarrassingly bad. My edge here is while my SO has hidden the ugly teapot from me she is also infamously slow about doing things like shipping stuff cross country. I figure I have a couple weeks to a couple months to finish.

So I threw 2 teapots; one very tall, semi- narrow, one very short, very wide. I am experimenting a little with shapes for the body of the teapot, looking for one that really grabs me. I put on some handles (the new style I have been using) and didn’t really care for either. So, I am starting to obsess about teapots. Shapes, glazes, handles, spouts.

Teapots are what’s next for me. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Back at it

Well, I mentioned in my earlier post that I made a tea pot that I hated but nearly everyone else liked. I really do think this pot is ugly. I am embarrassed by it. My SO decided to send pictures of it to her family, and they all want it. 

So I am back to the studio to make tea pots. That don't embarrass me, that I can send out to family. I have all day and about 200 lbs of clay. I will probably do 3 or 4 teapots then get antsy to do something else.

I am pretty excited because I have gotten some glazes stable and the throwing has been going well. Plus I finally figured out a technique to do the handles I like. So I *hope* these tea pots come out nicely. Otherwise I take a hammer to them before anyone else sees them.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A good kiln load

Ah, so last time I was at the studio I glazed a bunch of pots, like 12. Which I realize is not a lot for a normal potter but for me it was a record. Well during the week one of the folks at the studio loaded my pots up and fired 'em. I got a text tonight on my way home about how nicely they turned out and what a stud I am... really.

So I dropped by to see what came out of the kiln. 

I had 4 bowls. Nice sized, light, mostly the same size and shape. Mostly. Glazed inside and out with a tin chrome red. Outside had stripes of a blue glaze. The blue stripes turned purple white-ish. I really like them.

I had 2 matching vases. Bottles, straight sides, small mouths. They're about 14 inches tall. Same red with blue accents. I like these two because they're nearly identical. I have been working to be able to replicate items and these two are pretty darn close but they are not simple shapes to throw (for me) and the glazes are predictable.

I had three plates. Decent plates. Glazed in floating blue. Meh. These were an exercise in repetition. The plates came out nearly identical so success. 

I had one large bowl. Again red and blue. I got carried away.

I had one pot that was a nice sphere bottle. The glaze came out great. Iron red for a based. Lithium saturated glaze over that. Then the top third was a fake ash. Came out great. Unfortunately the pot cracked ... in like three places... I cried a little. 

Lastly the dreaded gnome tea pot. I hate this pot. But everyone else seems to love the freaking thing. I can not describe how ugly this little thing is. A tea pot. Iron red with the lithium saturate over it. Glaze is Ok... the pot itself is Ok but the lid... oh so horrible. I need eye bleach after looking at it. I am going to put it away until the studio sale then dump it. I guess what I don't get is really, I swear other folks really seem to like this pot and I absolutely loathe it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What next?

One ... I dunno... issue I have is as soon as I am satisfied I have figured out how to do something I tend to move on. So now I am looking for what to do next. I had been working on making these weird handles, I finally figured out how to do and have lost interest. 

Now I am thinking about image transfer. A lot of ceramic artists do it and I have no idea how. What's worse is I don't really have any thought to what images to transfer. I just have this itch to investigate the process and train myself to understand it. 

Our studio has purchased a booth in a local arts and crafts show in June. I am working to have 25 pieces ready for that show. As a weekend potter this is harder than it sounds. I only complete on average 2 or 3 pieces per week.

I am working on v2 of my glaze database. Rewriting it as OO. I am old school and wrote it in a procedural style. I will be adding extensive logging. I used javascript for most functions so the page tracking doesn't tell the true story of the actual traffic. Also adding the tagging functionality. Some folks have been using it.