Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Band

Wesley's band had two gigs yesterday. First a Bar Mitzvah for a friend and then they played last night at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro. This band just gets better and better. I'll try and put up a little video once I get it on my computer. My hard drive is pretty full right now. They had a sound guy named Kemp that made them look and sound amazing. What a great guy he is to work so hard for a starting high school group.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Raku Results

Here are some raku results from the weekend. Some keepers I think

I love, love , love these bowls. I think my palette is going to be the green and white. Quite nice together. The question is: what are they for? They aren't functional for food, what would you do with them?

This tile is from a lino cut rubber stamp Wesley made for her band's t-shirts. I like it!
Copper red doing what it should. Most of the other pieces got too much oxygen and went really blue.
Here is a test tile of some of the new glazes using the Amy Sanders tile demo. I think this will get more exploration, it has possibilities
and some pendants.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hanging Rock State Park

This is Moore's Wall at Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County. Before Wes was born we spent many days at these crags climbing and also across the way at Saurtown Mt. We took Wes up today to get a taste of climbing on real rock. She and Gerry have been going to the climbing gym here in Chapel Hill and it was time to get on the real thing.
This is the boulder garden you reach before you get to the main wall. We spent some time bouldering around here and eating. Most of the rock was super wet so there was no one there but us die hard fools.
Gerry is still climbing strong. If we didn't need food, shelter, and child's college funds, this is what he would be doing 24/7.
Wes bouldered for a bit and then we took her up to the main wall
Massive and scary. I spent many days here nearly throwing up before putting on my harness and tying in :)
Wes did good, Gerry set up a top rope and she got her first taste of climbing at Moore's. Then it started thundering so we had to head back to the trail head
The mt. laurel and rhododendron were blooming all over. Really beautiful! What a great Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Raku today

So I'm just going to say it, Susan Wells, Laura Farrow, and me are three fierce women!!!
We started firing my kiln at noon today after having brunch and tea and finished up around 6pm. We fired four cycles. tested a bunch of glazes and temperatures and had a great time. During our second firing, just as the kiln reached temperature, it poured rain and we were soaked. If you enlarge this photo you can see how hard it was raining. We pulled the cans up under my shed in about 2 feet of space and managed to get everything in reduction. It got a little crazy.Then the sun came out and we got three more firings in.
My glaze area, cozy in the pouring rain.
Laura got some really nice pendants today.
One of Susan's bowls
Raku firing is not for the faint of heart. It is dirty, smelly and unpredictable, but the results can be spectacular if you can stand throwing a bunch away and not have any expectations. I got some nice pieces that are not cleaned up yet. I'm going climbing up at Hanging Rock tomorrow so I'll post pics later in the week.......

Saturday, May 23, 2009

memorial to cone 6 failures

I fired a bisque load in my kiln yesterday for the first time. I've been firing community studio electric kilns with computers for so long, just punch in the program, hit start and off you go. My kiln is completely manual and gas, so I spent all day babysitting the kiln, keeping a log and checking the temp and flame every hour. I loved it. I do believe I am addicted to fire. Love Raku, love wood firing, and I am loving bisque firing with gas. We have these ugly concrete well things in our yard, so while I was babysitting kiln, I got out the bucket of pottery shards I have been collecting since we lived in Charlotte and a bag of cement and I stuck these shards on one of them. It was fun to go through the shards and revisit old glazes that I haven't thought of in years. There must have been a time when I was hooked on Randy's Red, there were lots of those shards. And oh man, how thick can a pot be anyway!
See these boards above my kiln? Ok, don't laugh at the construction, this shed was quick and dirty and cheap and built by people who don't build (me and Gerry). But, the wood was getting pretty hot and I am wondering if that is a problem and if so what can I do about it? I fired to 1800 and if I go to cone 10 it's going to be even hotter, am I going to start a fire up there?
RAKU tomorrow!!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ready to Raku

Here are some of the bowls I threw left handed. I like the way they look, but I cannot center this way. So, I may go back to throwing right handed and definitely trim left handed. I'm going to Raku all of this on Sunday. Should be fun, I have some new glazes to try out. The clay is white sculpture clay. I like throwing this better than raku clay but it is quite groggy. I can't get a very smooth surface but it gave some interesting surface texture in my last raku firing.

Testing out some of my sprigs for pendant possibilities. Great way to use up trimmings from slab work.
more left handed bowls

I know everyone makes these little trays, but I love using the last of my clay when it's getting too hard to throw for these. They are an easy thing to fill up the kiln with and use up some scraps. I think a raku glaze on them will be nice.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Left or right?

The students finished up the heads today and they have been left to dry this week. I'm hoping to get them in the kiln on Friday to fire over the weekend. I had some time to throw some pots yesterday, finally, and some time to trim today. For years, I have thrown right handed. It was just easier than fighting for the few wheels in the community studios that would switch to left hand. I adjusted to fit, but threw very awkwardly and trimming was a mess. Now I have my own wheel and I made sure I got one that would go both ways, but still throwing right handed because that's what I have gotten used to. Today, I decided to switch and trim left handed. OMG! It was like someone took the pencil out of my right hand and said "here, you are left handed, write with your left hand, fool!" So, the trimming went so well, I gave throwing left handed a go. Centering is hard to get the hang of, I have developed some bad habits with my contortion throwing, but I have so much more control pulling with my left hand. I feel like I'm learning to throw all over again, but I think this might be better on my body in the long run. My pots have a lot more life to them as well. Interesting....At least my posture was better today. Has anyone else put themselves through this?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Final Touches

The students at Woods are close to finishing up the sculptures. Monday should be final touches and then some drying before we load them in the kiln. Here is a coyote pretty much finished up

An ostritch
Amanda's Panda
and a soon to be finished beaver from Owen. I'll be sad to see this class finishing up. I have had so much fun, this is one of the best projects I've worked on. I wish there were more clay opportunities available in our community for high school kids but I'm afraid they are so busy with school and sports and jobs, they probably don't have time for things like sculpting animals, too bad. I think that is why this residency is so great. I can bring the clay to a captive audience. We should always be trying to cultivate art appreciation in our young people, even it they don't become artists, they will be the ones buying our art one day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Walrus

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
(and perhaps staying away from LSD?)
Things are coming along with the animals, we are very close to finishing up. I am liking teaching High School kids more and more. Mr. Durham, you need an assistant don't you!?
Woods is having their silent auction and Art in the Woods art show tomorrow night. Here is a mirror the elementary art class did with the elementary art teacher,Deb Kozloski. I may have to be bidding on this, very nice isn't it?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Could I have any more fun?

I am having so much fun with these kids at Woods Charter School! This is this first group of High School kids I have ever done clay with and it's great. They aren't helpless! They can do things by themselves, they can wash their hands, they have intelligent(well, mostly) conversations,and their work, oh man, these kids have some talent!!!
The projects are coming along nicely and starting to take the shape of the animal they chose, for the most part. For some of the students the clay knew what it wanted to be and we have had to tweak some of the animal choices, but that's ok. It's fun to see the clay evolve into it's own thing.
Coyote soon to be finished
Another well dressed potter. Is it a bunny, is it an otter, no it's a bunny, no an otter, no bunny, definitely an otter. This went on for an hour, I should be the one holding that knife!
Here is my happy studio this week!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The kids made great progress today, the coils are forming into something that is beginning to look like an animal. This is Siobhan's rhino, looks like a rhino to me! The clay is so wet though and nothing is drying so we may be reaching a place where construction will be difficult due to slumping clay. I may have to bring in my heat gun.
Mr. Durham has been Wesley's art teacher since eighth grade and her art has grown so much since having him. I tell him this all the time, but it's true. Can you believe he managed to bring out the bags of clay, help students and put things away without a speck on that nicely pressed shirt and tie? On the other hand, I walked into the classroom with clay on me. How do I manage that!? how many of you potters out there can stay clean for a whole day?
Wesley's band mate, Gabe came for a visit today. It was nice having him in class. Did I mention Wesley is in this class? Much fun to have her around. She is sculpting a wolf, but she hates the feel of clay on her hands, so she is traumatized a bit by it all! Although, she has done some great pieces in the past while helping me with my kid's classes. I am hoping to get the head shapes complete tomorrow so we can move on to the facial features.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Artist in Residence

I'm working at Woods Charter School all this week as an artist in residence with Brett Durham's 10th grade art class. This grant was made possible through the Briar Chapel Community and Chatham County Arts Council. I will be working with the class to construct animal heads that will become several totems to be installed on the Woods campus. The inspiration for the totem project came from a recent visit to the NC Pottery Center where I saw the great animal totems they have there. I have always wanted to do a totem installation and it was exciting to see that the students I am working with were equally excited and could actually roll a pretty good coil. We started today forming the base of the neck and chin and we will continue building all this week. Can't wait to see what they do. I am leaving it almost all up to them and trying to keep my hands off of their work. That's always the hardest thing for me to do, but they should have ownership of this project, so I'm leaving them be.