Oh my oh my

clay balls

This has been a crazy busy week! D. got his installation up and it looks fabulous…he’s already getting some accolades for it and I’m very proud of him! There should be pictures coming very soon.

I’ve been up over my head trying to complete two websites at once – one designed in HTML, and one in Flash. In retrospect, I probably should have taken these two classes seperately. I had no idea that both would be so much work! I got stuck on a (seemingly) really simple issue on Flash tonight and nearly ended up crying.

D. even snuck out and got me an ice cream because I was having such a hard time – whataguy!

Post-ice cream I had a breakthrough and was able to get a bit more done. Now I’m stuck again, but I think I’ll at least have something to show for myself in class this week. I can’t really show you exactly what I’m working on (because I haven’t figured out how to upload it), but you can see from the pictures above how I am creating the intro with a ball of clay rolling into a slab. It looks pretty fun, in a Gumbi kinda way. Can’t wait to show off the finished product!

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Published in: on August 30, 2009 at 11:01 pm  Comments (5)  

Exciting Build-up

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Thanks for all the great comments on my glaze tests! I’m glad everyone likes the 3% rutile glaze. Now it’s time to whip up a big batch, plus test a couple other glazes that will complement it on the insides of bowls and cups.

In the meantime, I’m watching with excitement as D. prepares for his first big exhibition. He is just in the process of installing a major ceramic installation in a small city park. Hundreds of white porcelain birds will be spiraling down out of the sky, suspended from trees, into the center of the space, where earthy ceramic blooms will be growing out of the ground. The title of the exhibit is “Emergence,” and the official opening will be Friday, Sept. 4 (although he is racing to get most of it up and ready this week). You can see a couple of the birds he made in these pictures my photographer friend took.

I hope to have lots more photos as it is going up and the finished show! If anyone is in Philly that weekend, please let me know, we’re going to be having a party to celebrate, for sure!

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Published in: on August 26, 2009 at 7:46 am  Comments (4)  

Opinions needed!

porcelain test

Okay folks, here are the results of my glaze testing! Now, you may be interested to know that all of these samples are the exact same glaze recipe. Yes, it’s gram for gram the same, except for tiny adjustments to the amounts of two colorants – Rutile and Iron. Some of these have a little more of one, or a little more of the other, or a balance between the two.

Above, you can see the results on test tiles made of porcelain clay (most of my current work is in porcelain). Below, you can see the dramatically different results these glazes give you on dark stoneware clay:

stoneware test

Personally, I’m leaning towards the recipe with 3% rutile and no iron at all. It looks good on porcelain AND stoneware, and I think the soft porcelain look would contrast nicely in a bowl or cup containing a bright glassy blue on the inside. It also has a beautiful almost “snowflake” crystallization going on:

duo2

It would look equally good on stoneware, albeit a much earthier, natural effect:

duo1

Some other close contenders include this iron heavy, reddish/black version:

iron test

And a matte, earthy green with a lovely texture:

green test

What I pick may wind up being my dominate glaze for a new holiday line of work. What do you think? Which are your favorites? Can’t stand one? Inquiring minds want to know!!

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 10:00 pm  Comments (9)  

Something new afoot

Remember this bowl? You may not, because I made it all the way back in June 2008. But it’s a favorite of mine, and when I was pondering some new design ideas, it immediately popped into my head. I love the way the soft, earthy brown texture contrasts against the tropical glossy center.

The problem is, these glazes were fired in a special kiln, where compounds of salt and soda are sprayed inside during the hottest point in the process. I did it at a special workshop, but our normal kiln is not equipped for it (or rather, if we did it once, the chemicals would permenantly contaminate every future firing. So you need a kiln dedicated entirely to salt or soda).

So what to do? I consulted my studio’s glazing guru, an old hand with years of pottery experience. With her help, I came up with half a dozen possible glaze recipes. She also suggested spraying the pieces with a water/table salt solution to mimic the type of firing I like.

I finally had a chance to mix up all the glaze tests I need, and I should be able to see the finished products Friday afternoon. I’m super excited, because if I like the results I may be able to serve up a whole new line of work just in time for the holidays…

Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 11:35 pm  Comments (3)  

Sweet

whiteflower

It’s been busy, it’s been hot, and it’s been a little rough trying to get our lives in order before D. starts school in two weeks.

But that didn’t stop us from ducking out of the house for a nice walk through the neighborhood this evening, trying to catch every hint of breeze drafting through the sticky, humid air.

While we were out, we walked past a farmer’s market, just packing up shop. The only people left were a Menonite family, selling flowers. D. bought me a bouquet from a sweet little boy in suspenders. I wish I could have gotten a better picture before my camera battery died, it’s just beautiful!

bunchofflowers

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 8:55 pm  Comments (4)  

New Digs

bestpotato

D. and I were talking food and recipes (like we usually do) and I was playing with my new camera on a delicious meal he had whipped up for dinner. Two and two makes four, and before you knew it, we had launched a separate WordPress blog devoted to food! It’s still getting developed, but please do stop over to This Little Kitchen and check out what we’re cooking up!

My plan is to keep this blog for crafty and ceramics related posts, and try to alternate updates. We’ll see how it goes!

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 10:40 pm  Comments (4)  

Summertime, and the living is easy…

berrybest

While I was in New York last weekend, I had the opportunity to go blueberry picking at this gorgeous vineyard and blueberry farm. My friend and I were probably there less than an hour, but we picked about 8 lbs!

I froze most of the blueberries for the winter, when fresh fruit is hard to come by. But some went straight into a pie with a few delicious red raspberries for flavor. The colors were just too pretty when I combined them – just had to snap a few shots with the new camera!

berryclose

I rarely bake blueberry pie, so I had to look at quite a few recipes to decide how to do the filling. I fell back on an old standard cookbook for me – Moosewood’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest. It called for 3 tbls of flour for four cups of berries, 2 tbls of lemon and 1/4 cup of honey, plus a dash of cinnamon. The pie is still cooling on the stovetop, so I’m not sure how it tastes yet. But it sure looks delicious!

prettypie

Published in: on August 14, 2009 at 6:04 am  Comments (2)  

Aha!

stein_canonshot

I got the new Canon Rebel working tonight and even had a friend come over to help show me how all the buttons work! I’m still a little confused, I admit. But the good news is that, without a single adjustment needed, it already takes some beautiful shots!

I was fooling around with the flash setting and this is one random snap I took (auto mode, no flash). I love how crisp it is and how true to life the colors are! I feel like I will finally be able to give my Etsy customers a really good view of this glaze’s depth – the dark valleys as well as the honey-colored highlights.

This camera is literally going to save me hours of repeat shots and post-processing (this photo has none). Sooooo excited!

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 12:11 am  Comments (4)  

Ideas in Progress

flashmockup

Okay, I’m going to need y’all to use your imaginations here.

Above is a quick (very rough) sketch of opening to the Flash website I’m building. But you need to imagine that it is really a photograph of a rolled out slab of clay, decorated with my stamps and with clickable navigation tools in the center.

Is that a stretch? It gets better.

My idea is that the site will open with a ball of raw clay, quickly rolled out into a slab and then decorated with the designs and what will become clickable links. The whole Flash movie will take maybe 3 seconds, so visitors don’t get bored, but I want the whole effect to feel playful, fun and earthy. Of course, each of the nav buttons will link to other pages with browsable images, news updates and links here and to Etsy.

It’s definitely, definitely a big challange. Especially since I have just under five weeks to finish it before the end of class! A lot of the work from here on out is taking photos, actually designing the site in Flash and learning how to program in actionScript and XTML. The process might not make for blog-friendly visuals, but I’ll try to post some updates as I go!

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 11:29 pm  Comments (5)  

Duck!

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Yikes, I thought I could get my camera up and running tonight so I could snap some pictures of the new work and get postin’ away on Etsy. But, no surprise, it’s not that easy. I don’t have the right memory drive, so I’ll have to pick one up this week.

In the meantime, here’s some ducks from the lake (taken shortly before my other camera took the plunge). Cute!

Published in: on August 10, 2009 at 10:50 pm  Comments (2)