Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New ideas and revisiting old techniques

Several things happened in the past few months that have led me revisit handbuilding and heavily textured pieces. First, the Etsy Mud Team had a clay stamp swap and I found myself pressing scraps of clay into everything in my studio to see what textures I could pick up. Then, I attended a presentation by Novie Trump (at a meeting of the Kiln Club), who showed us how she makes her textured niche sculptures. At about the same time I went through all the stuff from my in-law's house and found a treasure trove of doilies and lace. And finally, I attended a presentation by Pam Eisenmann (organized by the Clay Connection), who showed us her post-fired finishes techniques.

So I ran some clay through the slab roller and went to town using all the clay stamps, textured mats, doilies and lace that I had in the studio. The result was these boxes and I can't get enough of them! A couple of them moved in the direction of vases and I was thinking today that I could easily transform them into birdhouses.

Once they are completely dry, I will put them through the first firing. The bisque firing drives off all the water in the clay structure and burns off much of the organic material, hardening it sufficiently so that it is easier to handle during glazing. I don't know how I'm going to glaze them yet, but I will certainly try Pam's technique using acrylics and patinas. The main goal of the process will be to enhance the texture as much as possible.

This is a sort of return to the beginning for me. I used to do a lot of handbuilding when I first started on this clay journey and I also used a lot of texture on my pieces, usually marks made with found objects: shells, pine cones, twigs, buttons, etc. As I became more proficient at the wheel I stopped handbuilding. But, here I am again, revisiting textures and handbuilding.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Couple of Platters

A while back I mentioned attending a workshop by Kevin Crowe and learning a new technique for making plates and platters. Well... I made 9 plates and only 4 made it through the bisque firing. I have since figured out that the problem lies with my trimming process: I am putting too much pressure on the rims when I trim, weakening them enough that they crack during the first firing. Of the 4 that made through the bisque firing, I have 2 glazed and I must say that I'm very happy with the results.

The 10-inch plate was fired to ^6 in my electric kiln. It is glazed in a matte green glaze with a design in shiny yellow running through the middle. The design was made with a piece of lace taken from a linen napkin that belonged to my mother-in-law. I dipped the lace in the yellow glaze and placed it over the top of the green glaze on the plate. Then I saturated the lace by applying more yellow glaze with a brush. There are some blue shades where the two glazes mix.

The 12-inch platter was fired to ^10 in a propane gas kiln. It was glazed in an iron-rich tomate red glaze. The subtle pattern showing some black speckling that you see in the middle is where I poured more glaze after having dipped the platter once so that the glaze is thicker there than in the rest of the piece.

These pieces are currently for sale at Manassas Clay.

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 5 is my First Etsy Anniversary!

It's been a very rewarding year on Etsy! To celebrate I'm offering my blog followers a 15% discount on all purchases at my Etsy store made during the week of May 4th. Please send me a convo through Etsy and I'll adjust the price for you. Or, you can mention that you are a blog follower in the "message from buyer" as you check out and I will refund the difference.

I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has been a part of this year's adventures: all my friends, customers and, especially, all the members of the following wonderful teams: the Etsy Mud Team, the Wise, Witty and Wild Grandmothers Team, the Design Style Guide Team (and the Virginia DSG Team), and Etsy for Autism! Many, many thanks for your support and encouragement!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Show Schedule is Starting to Shape Up!

I got my first show acceptance and I'm really happy about it because it's a two-day, city-wide holiday craft show! So, it's time to start marking your calendars! I'm going to be at the City of Fairfax 2009 Holiday Craft Show on November 21 and 22. The event is held at Fairfax High School and I will be in the Gymnasium, booth #199.

I'll be updating as the event dates near, but wanted to share this one now!