Monday, March 11, 2013

Bowls part 3

I have known Shawn Ireland for a long time and I love his concentration on Italian folk forms.  I had initially been drawn to him by his paintings, his skills are disciplined and it reflects in several media, but I want to share his love of clay.

These bowls are what I call kinfolk, they exhibit the qualities that I find rich in design, character and function.  The forms are balanced in weight and size, with the foot giving just the right amount of lift.  The walls taper outwardly, with just slight definition to the trim cut above the foot.  The lip is defined by the wall shape (the body) and is given a gentile presence by a triangular alteration.  The foot looks to have been cut using a rounded cutting tool, which indicates a thoughtfulness to every area of this bowl.

I got two of the bowls from Shawn, and we use them for my salsa and chips, perfect for olives, and oatmeal.  These bowls are not just bowls....they are part of my relation with the potter.

MARIA.......where's my socks?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bowls part Two

This is a Will Ruggles and Douglass Rankin bowl that I fell in love with the moment I came across it.  The areas of the bowl are well defined, the foot is cut with a slight bevel, giving the bowl lift with the trimmed area above the foot gently defined.  The wall tapers outwardly, but you can notice in the top photo there is a slight taper inward with the lip, giving a certain feel to its placement.  The inside exhibits a thoughtfully large finger marking that spirals upward towards the lip.  The weight to size ratio is balanced and gives it the warmth of something genuine and unique.

Will told me that he felt the feel of the bowl was due more to the equipment he used, a Japanese kick wheel and a fairly soft clay,  it made you throw a certain way, it slows the process down.  The rib he used is a very fat kidney shaped rib, so the shapes are consistently produced, so I started using the rib and I slowed down my throwing and I enjoy making a form that is satisfactory for me.

Maria.....where is my oatmeal?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


A few years into making pots I had been talking trash one day to a friend, I was concerned about the cost of something I wanted and how I could possibly afford it.  My friend stated that he looked at my problem in terms of bowls I could make to be able to have it (30 bowls @ $5.00 each equals the price of the object I desired).  The object I wanted became history, but my fascination with the bowl has consumed my pottery life.
Big, little, square, round, tall, flat, altered and just plan strange have all been drawn through my fingers.  I stay preoccupied with bowls, good ones (you might be thinking that "Here we go again with the judgemental crap"or "what the hell does he know" frame of mind ).  I am looking at the form follows function ideal, focusing on a shape that feels very comfortable in my hand, the curve of the wall, the weight in relation to the size, the lip, the foot and inside of the bowl.
Bowls were the first shapes that I worked on as a beginning potter, and many influences have directed the avenues I went down over the years and it occupies a place in my work day.  The bowl is my warm up piece I throw to get me into "a throwing frame of mind."  By lunch I have warmed a bowl of ramen noodles or heated up a  bowl of hot tea to get the chill out of my hands and a warmth in my belly and by supper or late night I will have had something in a comfortable bowl I enjoy.  A friends bowls, my own, or some one I knew back when.  A functioning creation made with love, skill, patience and thoughtfulness.

Like a Navajo rug, I have never reached for the "perfect" bowl.  There is always a small area that I never tidy up, maybe some of those bad spirits need to have a way out.  I have never collected bowls,  so my collection is small, but they are used daily and satisfy my soul.

This bowl is one that I had done a very early reduction on and I kept the piece more so for the glaze than any other reason.  These shapes I have made for years, the shape allow the soup to stay warmer a little longer and comfort my cold hands.  The bowl is as it came out of the kiln, the glaze was not inked, nor is this raku.  It is cone 12 reduction on a white shino glaze.

The rim is straight up with a slight bulge to the outside at the lip.  I feel the foot is a bit out of proportion but gives a nice lift to the form.  The weight is balanced and the insides are smooth with just a hint of finger marks

Now, where is that pack of Ramen noodles?  Maria........

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Glaze testing

The availability of hundreds of glaze recipes and information is readily at your fingertips with computers and the many publications available today.  Over the years my file folders have grown to several full folders of recipes and with the onset of glaze programs, that folder has burst into a well organized unit that helps eliminate duplicates and understand glazes.  But with this great technology, all this does not tell you which glazes will work best in your kiln and its atmosphere, and with your firing methods.
Many of the books available have examples of line blending and triaxial blending which work well when you have found that one glaze that has possibilities.  I wanted to size down the vast amount of formulas and yet cover several varieties of glazes.
I started my search for glazes in the periodical section of the school library and found most of the glazes I have used over the years.   To help find those glazes that would work for me I just took a piece of paper and drew rows and columns of lines, using the rows across the top of the sheet for the code of a particular glaze (ie: Temple white becomes TW01, TW02, etc., or if you have Tashiko White, it becomes TaW01/TaW02).   The columns along the left side becomes the ingredients used by each glaze in the row at the top.  The problem is that I kept lossing the booklets or having to look through ten or twenty different books to find my test.
Note:  I now label each glaze in my data base (I use Hyperglaze) with its code directly after the name of the glaze.  Keeping all this in one place is very important and saves repeating steps.
I like to work with about 10 glazes on each testing.  I set a template up in a database and save it for use later to use on a new set of test.
Each series of test lets me take certain types of glazes, feldsparic, barium, or other base types and keep the amount of ingredients to ten or less.  I set up 10 cups marked with the code of the glazes and enter the formula in the column under each glaze.  (I like to use a 300 gram sample for all the test). 
I find it much easier to take down the feldspar jar one time, which usually would be the first ingredient in that column and measure out each amount of feldspar for each glaze and place it in the cup.  I then can go on to the next row in the ingredient column.

                            TW01     TW02   TaW01  MR01    RY01


I hope this simple arrangement will work for you and if you got a good ideal pass it on, I'm always open to making this easier.
Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Some notes and photos

I love the qualities that I'm discovering with soda firings.   My initial response is that this looks so much like a wood firing, the colors of the raw clay flash with the patterns of the flame and the way it flows through the kiln.  I just started using a helmar slip on the work and it receives the vapor with a flashing of the surface that is colorful and interesting.  I have included a few shots of this weekends firing.  I had a couple of losses and a few refires, but overall I am delighted with the work. 

The top photo is a six inch bowl with a helmar slip.  The image is made using Hill's fake ash directly on top of the slip and outlined with a black slip and the amber color at the center of the flower is amber celadon.  The liner glaze is temple white.  The middle photo is a four inch bowl with an Oribe green glaze petals and amber celadon used once again for the center of the petals.  The last "tonome" cup has #6 tile slip with a simple iron dot and black slip I've used for years. 

Note:   I have mentioned a slip I have started using,  Linda McFarland introduced me to this slip (actually, it is Amaco's Velvet (V) Underglazes -- LEAD FREE, Jet black  ) in the top two photos.  A problem I have always had is that with delicate haired brushes the solution I dipped into would start to "drag"causing the brush to jump or skip along.  The velvet solution ball milling must allow the solution to flow smoother and develop a better line.  If you've had this same problem check out a small jar of this "ink".  Many thanks to Linda.

So far I have not had much time to do any sculpture, but I do have some work on the bench that is needing attention with a spray bottle of water.  I've gone back to looking at my older drawings of pieces that I want to construct and finding some interesting imagery that I can bring forward in the coming months. 

This coming weekend in Spruce Pine, NC:   
Would love to see you there.  Please stop by the booth and say Hi.

Monday, September 24, 2012

First Soda Firing

These threee plates are from my first Soda firing.  What ease and fun,   I got a few thing to work on , but I'm pretty satisfied with the results.  We are going to fire again within the next 2 weeks and most of this work will be my sculpture work.  Thanks to Linda McFarland for all the information and support that she has given me , so that I can do this firing.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New work

These little (10-12inches) bust studies are perfect for playing with facial expressions and character development.  They are a delight and fun to put together.  I finish with a black wash and fire to the cone 10-12 Temperature.  The gentle gestures and soft textures are my visits with the pass.  My foundation in work that is low tech, but yet has a contemporary qualities and strengths.

I like to look back and gather the feel, something religious, made of superstitions or from the primitive hand that can reflect the makers thinking and way of life.  My question now becomes, "will someone look at the work I have done and ask about the primitive hand that made a certain piece?"  Only time will have to get back with me on that. 
The fertility images, based on Peruvian art, has given me a great deal of pleasure to develop and play. 

On a personal note; I have had a long absence from these pages and I have missed them and hope I will be able to add some pictures and hopefully gather impressions from others.  I mostly wish to have fun.  Thank you for stopping by and I hope I have left you with a smile.