Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ready or not there they go!

Receding Crosses (still rearranging the trees or in this case transplanting)

The kiln is going with bits and pieces, clay bees, tiny houses, trees, one final terra cotta head.  This is it! Wednesday all of these pieces go ( a head count of 22.) Spent most of Sunday packing pieces and figuring out how to get them to the gallery in one trip, in a small pickup truck, all in one piece. 

Now one would think I had enough work for a while.  Except now I have this idea for a new piece whispering in my ear---ready or not here we go again!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Getting the bark on

As the poet said, 'Only God can make a tree,' 
probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.

~Woody Allen

Tuolumne Meadows Yosemite (inspiration for Between Tree lines series)

Lana's Chartreuse Moss Glaze

Between Tree Lines (not finished,yet)

Very often I am asked about my finishes.  Most people think that it is paint.  So they are surprised to hear that it is nearly all underglazes, oxide washes and some texture glazes.  I occasionally add some encaustic, but the piece always has layers of terra sigillata or engobes or slips or underglazes.  I have these beautiful pigments from Sinopia.  With the pigments,unlike clay materials, the colors are rich and saturated.  It is what it is visually.  Instant gratification!

Mixing up glazes, the color is normally tan, beige, ecru, green or pink unless using Mason stains. Very dull and very chalky.  The magic comes later so there's a lot of future tenses going on with slips and glazes.  Although there are misses---I love the thought that the colors become so totally integrated with the piece. It always surprises me when I open the kiln.

Getting lost in the process, layering slips and terra sigillata, mapping out how to get depth and to use this process to inform the work...fills my day. One of my favorite fussy glazes for texture is Lana Wilson's Chartreuse Moss from her book, Ceramics: Shape and Surface. It looks as if it consisted of  dark green chalk grounded up.  It comes out anywhere from a brown, mustard crust with bits of lime green shiny chips to a full on curling, bumpy, in your face, here I am chartreuse!  It always amazes me and delights me to no end. After years of messing with this glaze I have a better understanding as to how to get more green and less brown.  (Or the other way around!) 

I used it only on the bottom areas near the sides of  Between Tree Lines.  The rest of the piece I wanted to maintain some control of the outcome so I washed some areas with copper carbonate/frit 3134 and over that used a porcelain slip with Mason stains in greens and yellows (rutile thrown in,too.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Onions and zinnias


Went to the Half Moon Bay Farmer's Market and got these beautiful zinnias.  The onions are coming in and I love how they look neat and bundled.  Visual candy.  I didn't have my camera with me.  Some of the stands had leafy greens (purples/reds) arranged in baskets and wood crates that nearly sent me over the edge.  It was a feast for my eyes.

the Audience with Dumpling  (ranging from 3"-5" high)

Saturday, August 13, 2011


"A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, "Simba!"

~Annie Dillard from The Writing Life

Eleven days---I am afraid to look in my studio---my part time on call job called me in earlier than I expected---I had to wrapped several pieces in layers of plastic and hope for the best.  I find it difficult to work on pieces when there is a space of days since the last time I touched it.  It's as though I have to reintroduce myself to the piece and reestablish an understanding.  There are four pieces in various stages of completion for a show in September.  One piece looks very forlorn.  It is begging for a voice.  Another is not quite there yet.  Best way to avoid all this self-afflicted anxiety is to write about it.  I am feeling less tense now.  It really isn't all that bad. In fact, it sounds a little silly.  It is just clay after all.........

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