Saturday, January 31, 2009

What's going on.....

Well, I have eaten all of the chocolate bananas. I think they would be better with chopped up peanuts on them, but they were good. Friday night I took Wesley and the guys in her band to see The Last Waltz Ensemble at the Cats Cradle. They played Bob Dylan and The Band covers and they were really good. Honestly, did any of your moms ever take you to a bar to see a really good band when you were fifteen? Mine sure didn't. I was sneaking into those bars, but my mom sure as heck wasn't there with me! And my dad was at some other bar, Ha! So last night I was dancing with my daughter and her drummer and thinking that life just couldn't possibly get any better. Gerry is working at the Super Bowl and being paid to be there- meanwhile a guy I know(Wesley's friend's dad) paid two thousand dollars a piece for two tickets and he is there also. That's $4000 for frigging football tickets!!!There is something so wrong about that. That's more than 3 of my house payments and it took me forever to save two thousand dollars to get my kiln........which by the way is BEING DELIVERED ON TUESDAY!!! I'm saying this with great joy while doing a happy dance! I have finally had some time on the wheel and let me just say it has been pitiful. Just when I was getting some bowls and cups that I would actually accept, I have decided to do Raku, so I am trying some vase shapes. I like making vases. They are useless and unnecessary, certainly so in a recession, but wouldn't you just know that's exactly what I want to make. It figures. When I got in line to be sent to Earth, I got in the line that said, "you will choose the most difficult path always"! Somebody should have said something. Moved me over into that other line. Oh well, my life is good. Smart, healthy, and beautiful child, my husband is pretty hot and he has a really fun job, and I have a new KILN COMING TUESDAY! Whooo Hoooo...... Ya'll have a great week! I'll show you delivery pics on Tuesday after I hyperventilate :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trader Joe's

Dessert tonight! I love Trader Joes!!
We are so lucky to have a Trader Joe's here in Chapel Hill. I went there today to get our weekly groceries and found a new Trader Joe's red curry sauce. I got this steamer for Christmas since my old one ended up being a clay tool of some sort and then got tossed in one of our moves. So anyway, back to the food.... I steamed some broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, carrots, pea pods, tofu, cilantro and pineapple then tossed it in the red curry sauce. This was sooooo good, served over basmati rice. Yum. It looked so pretty in the steamer, I thought I would show all of you. We have been eating so much better(except for the chocolate bananas) since I started shopping At TJ's and our grocery bill is less. What a concept, good healthy food and lower grocery prices.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lowfire Raku test tiles

We fired our test tiles at Claymakers today. There was a bit of a drizzle early in the day, but it got better by noon. Still chilly though. The tile above was the best of the three. It was fired to 1500 degrees.We fired first to 1450, second firing was 1500 and the third firing was 1550. At 1500 the underglazes held and the cobalt started to settle out. All three firings gave great copper(upper left hand squares) with really good crackle.
At 1450 the underglazes all flaked off though held some color but powdery and rubbed off easily. Might be good for naked raku.
At 1550 the underglazes flaked off and no color held.
Good crackle at all three temps for this copper carb
Cobalt didn't melt until the highest temp
All in all some great success with low fire possibilities. Next week we will meet and look at everyone's tiles and make some final conclusions. I'll get more photos of everyone else's tiles and post next week. I'm really excited about this. Each firing took less than one hour from start to finish. We started at 9am and I was leaving the studio at 2pm with everything cleaned up and put away. Pretty efficient! And a great group of potters to work with. I took lots of great photos but left the dang card for my camera at home and discovered this too late to do anything about it. I'll get some pictures of the firing we do when we apply glazes to actual pieces!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Field Trip

Today Barbara McKenzie and I went to Asheboro to pick up some ceramic molds for slip casting, stopped by the Pottery Center in Seagrove to drop off some vases and then went to Star to visit Starworks. They are making NC clay and it's a really interesting place. Takuro Sibata gave us a tour and some samples of the clay. Can't wait to try it out! They will be having an open house soon, well worth the trip to Star to meet the Shibata family, they are a wonderful couple! There is so much to do down that way, and we didn't even get to visit any potteries. If you haven't been to the pottery center it is a must visit. It was so fun to see pottery in there from many of you bloggers. Well done!
Here is the 3 chamber kiln at Starworks
a couple of Takuro's pieces fired in that kiln, they're really beautiful

Here is the Kaolin clay
the mixer
the sieve (it's a big sieve!)
slip is shot through this thing at a very high psi, can't remember the number
it comes out looking like this

and then goes through the biggest pug mill I have ever seen! I'm really excited to know that soon I could be throwing some N.C. clay without having to dig holes in my yard. I really admire you guys who are doing that, but I just don't have what it takes. This will be a good alternative for me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What a Great Day!

We had such a beautiful snow today, soft, big flakes and lots of it. Being a girl from the South Carolina coast, I love to see it snow. Wes and I were out walking around in it by 7:30 this morning. We had a fire in the fireplace, baked oatmeal raisin cookies, then made corn and black bean soup with cornbread and watched the Presidential festivities. How emotional was that?! I was teary eyed for most of the day. I am just SO PROUD of that man and this country for electing him! No school tomorrow so it feels like we are just extending our Christmas holidays.Gerry has to shoot the Duke basketball game tonight, but I'm settling in to watch the inaugural balls. The Obamas sure have some stamina. I'm tired from just watching all they did today!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Test Tiles

Saturday was Raku glaze chemistry day at Claymakers. I like this class. It's very organized and going smoothly, which I like. Last week three of us mixed up the test glazes while the others made 8X8 test tiles. Yesterday we made our test tiles, using auto detail tape to create boxes for each of the glazes. We had a paper template to write in the name of the glaze and any other info we wanted to include. I like this way of making test tiles. And they have holes at the top for hanging. The glazes include a line blend from a base glaze, one with copper carb and one with cobalt carb. We also mixed some mason stains into the base glaze and used some amaco underglazes. We will raku fire these tiles next Saturday. We have three tiles and will fire at three different temps, all lower than the usual temps for Raku. Should be interesting, I'l post results next week.

This is the upstairs studio at Claymakers. No wheels up here, just a slab roller and work tables. Behind the shelves are studio spaces for renters. It's a nice space.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What I did last summer

Cynthia Guajardo has some great blogs about her kids classes, so I thought I would put up some shots of some of my favorite class projects from 2007/2008 at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro. Usually my classes have a theme like a children's book, a particular culture, a holiday or working in the style of an artist that we study. I try to incorporate some learning with the clay projects instead of just mindlessly working away (like I do!) My two upcoming camps are going to be fun, not a lot of clay involved. Next week is Peace Arts and we will design peace sign posters and mandalas (thanks to Michael Kline's wife Stacey for the mandala lesson). Then we will go outside and create peace signs from found objects a la Andy Goldsworthy. I found a cool meditation for mandala work that we may do at the end of class. In February the camp will be about where artists find their inspiration and we will explore different ways of coming up with ideas, by looking at books about famous artists, looking at nature and our environment. Then we create using paint, clay and found objects. Should be fun!
I got tired of doing these big masks, uses a lot of clay and takes up lots of room in the kiln, so I switched to making the tiny ones below. They were so much fun to make. One week camps have firing constraints so I have started using acrylic paints and spray the pieces with a high gloss sealer. Much easier and just one bisque fire. Saves wear and tear on our poor old kilns.

These shots are from the Art Around the World camp. These lovely African ladies were just oval slabs of clay wrapped around with arms and a head added. We used metalic paints and spray sealer.
These huts were built to honor the people of Sierra Leone that lost their homes during the war. My partner at camp, Braima Mowai did the African drum/storytelling portion of camp and told stories of his village in Sierra Leone. The kids were very touched by this project. We put sand out on a long table and built a little village for family sharing day. Really fun!
The African village went so well, during the next camp I decided to construct a pueblo village. Not again! I can't even remember how many square slabs we cut for this construction. This was a HARD project to get through with thirty plus kids. And firing all of those little houses. What was I thinking!
It turned out pretty cool though. The kids took over, I lost complete control of the design. They built churches, schools, restaurants, a jail, little animals, etc. It took on a life of it's own. I brought in votive candles and put them inside all of the buildings for family sharing day. It was magical!

Art Around the World, Japanese Kimonos. Just an oval slab, stamped and then folded over. This was a big success, the kids liked this project a lot.
Halloween tombstones
Imaginary environments
For my toddler class we read The Sleepy Owl and then made our own owls. Oval slab folded and then we used the end of a trimming tool to make the little feather scores. These were hung in the gallery on a long stick during the ArtsCenter's student show. The little toddlers were so cute coming to see their work in a gallery!

These are really fun to make, just a ball of clay and the use of little thumbs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

opinions please

I saw Kyle Carpenter's post about the 500 vase submission. I have no vase photos except this one and don't have time really to get anything made and photographed. But I do like this photo. Should I submit this?Let me know what you think. You won't hurt my feelings if you are negative, honest! It's a coil built vase, stands 18" with pipenburg glaze sprayed on and Raku fired.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Art and Tamales

If I can combine good food, art, laughter and good friends all in one day, it's a good day. Today was one of those days. Trust me if there is fun to be had, I am going to have it! Susan Wells and I took our kids to the art museum in Raleigh today, which by the way, is a bit depleted right now due to their huge expansion project. Still some great art to see and going at 10:30 on a Sunday morning is like being in the church of art. Very peaceful and serene. We stopped at a local taqueria on the way home and had what I think are the best tamales I have every eaten in my life. Maybe one of the best meals I have ever had! The tamales were so fresh and wrapped in banana leaves with a hint of a smoky flavor. Unreal!
For some odd reason it had a cow on the top of the building and also for some odd reason the kids wanted to pop the top on the van. So we looked like we were camping out at the taco stand. Looked like a bunch of fools I'm sure to the local Hispanic residents!
So this little guy is stirring some big inspiration somewhere in my soul. Read below about him. The rest of the photos also give me some great inspiration and I think the fog may be lifting!

Cool patterns for stamps. These were coins, how come our coins are so plain? I want some of these in my pockets!
Serving bowl?
Kid's camp totem making pinch pots and animal sculptures. I can't wait to do this!
Raku boxes, maybe......
time to rock and roll.......

Saturday, January 10, 2009


One of the perks of working as a studio assistant at Claymakers is that I can take any of the classes that they offer and there is usually a good assortment because they hire great instructors/artists to teach there. Today I started a Raku glaze chemistry class for lower temperature firings. Barbara McKenzie is teaching the class and she is a fountain of information. Today we mixed up a lower firing temp base glaze and did line blends 2% 4% 6% 8% with some mason stains, copper carb and cobalt carb. Next week we will make test tiles and fire them the following week. I'll post some results when we get there. Now I have to come up with something to put these glazes on. I went into my studio yesterday and walked right back out. I am uninspired, lazy and zapped of energy and I can get motivated. After reading Hannah's blog I see that I am not alone. I really feel like I am wandering around in a fog. What is up with this? I usually don't have enough time in the day to try all of the ideas I have. Wesley and I are going to the NC art museum in Raleigh tomorrow, they have some great Pre-Columbian, Egyptian, African and Greek pottery so maybe I'll find a muse there. Sure hope so, I have a kiln coming in about two weeks and would love to have something to fire in it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

This wood stamp is definitely going to work for Raku and wood firing. I like it a lot. I pressed the bark slab all around the edges, a la Joy Tanner (hope that's ok, Joy!).As you can see the sun is blazing in my studio window and I don't have any shades up. Since I haven't really worked in there in awhile, I didn't realize how hot is was getting in the middle of the day. It's also way too cramped with junk right now to work in easily. I HAVE to get cleaning and purging in there. How many plastic tubs can you pile up in one room anyway?! I ordered my kiln yesterday. Sort of bittersweet, since I had high hopes of building one. The obstacles just got to be more trouble than it was worth, mostly with our septic system taking up the only flat ground we have. I think this kiln I ordered will serve my purposes fine for now, and when we move again I will look for a place where a big ass kiln can be built!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New tools New view

My mom gave me some tools that had belonged to my grandmother over the holidays. The rolling pin was used to make biscuits, left to right on the bottom are a darning tool for sock repair, shoe hooks to lace boots, and a couple of awls. Of course I seem them all as possibilities for pottery tools. Gerry and Wesley gave me the butterfly wood cut that is for fabric stamping, but I see tile making in it's future. Up at the top is a slab of bark that was milled from a tree that I picked up out of the wood pile when we fired the wood kiln. Lots of plans for that one. The bark pattern is fantastic!
I really love this wood cut. Below is the new view from our kitchen table. Gerry and Wes also gave me this bird feeder and there have been up to twelve birds at a time on it. Two wood peckers are hanging out quite a bit and are so beautiful to see up close. Finally this week the squirrels figured out how to get to it, so I gotta figure out how to stop that. I came home yesterday and saw three of them sitting there munching all of the bird seed. My cat is loving to sit on the table and watch. Sort of like kitty torture for her I guess.
I haven't cleaned up my studio yet. I can't seem to get back in a mind set to work. I have been doing yoga, cleaning up files on my computer, getting house repairs done, and still putting away things and purging cabinets of unused stuff. I let so much go in the last six months just focusing on pottery and kilns, I'm really paying for it now. So much piled up. So, today is the day. It's rainy and muddy outside, good day for organizing inside.