Monday, June 20, 2011

Moving Forward...Slowly

Slow forward motion this last week; all geared up to throw like crazy, but pretty much zippo inspiration on what to do, thus instead I puttered around doing a back burner idea, trimming, and finally getting to a major project that I’d been putting off.  The clay classes are winding down for this two month session, this last week it was getting all the students to finish trimming everything in time for the last bisque, classes this coming week will be a glazing extravaganza.  The most interesting item of the week happened Thursday evening.  One of my co-workers from the Conservation Lab, who just graduated with an MFA and is heading off to be a K-8 art teacher for the summer, came over to the pottery for a two hour crash course in beginner ceramics and how to fire an electric kiln.  Doing handbuilding was rather fun, my friend did very well, especially on slab work and pinch pots, though the coil pots were a little sad (mine included- that was always a weak spot) if acceptable- the technique was good...the aesthetics, not so much.  As for Electric Kilns 101, I think she was rather intimidated- from the ‘it’s big/hot/expensive and I don’t want to break it/melt it/burn the school down’ view point.  Somehow I have the feeling that she’ll be calling for help if or when she has to fire one!

Major Project du Jour

A few (okay, I’ll be honest, over 6) months ago I inherited this very lightly used raku kiln from one of my studiomates who, after a string of disasters, decided that 20” raku platters were no longer in his future. Not that I have a desire to take up raku again in any serious way, but there’s no way that I’m passing up some free kaowool.  Well, after several months of cold, ice, wind and snow, it warmed up, and Michael started making noises about wanting the kiln out front to disappear.  This last Saturday I finally got around to deconstructing it for transport. (This photo is from halfway through deconstruction, after snipping out all the support wires, and just before flipping it and peeling out the kaowool.)  Despite knowing better, I still stupidly wore short sleeves while doing this job, and afterward had a rather prickly afternoon.  Should have worn long sleeves and brought a change of clothes.  Idiot.

While I was having lunch on Friday I was trying to think and sketch through my case of potter’s block, when I started thinking about alternative solutions to a design problem that I’ve had floating around in my head since December or so; namely, how could I transpose the soft, figurative, Venus-like cup form that I’ve been working with lately into a teapot.  Well, I finally came up with the sketch on the right.  The body, lid and spout were the easy parts- the handle, however was far more tricky. For weight and balance considerations I knew that it had to be hollow-built, but slab building in this wonderfully crack-prone and troublesome porcelain is something to be avoided if at all possible.  Nevertheless, I wanted sharp edges, so that’s what I did.  (Spray, wrap up for a week, and sloooow dry, knock on wood.)  After finishing the handle, I realized that the totally rounded spout made the pot look un-balanced, resulting in that getting some tweaking.  So, maybe not totally zippo inspiration, but maybe more helpful if it had occurred a tetch earlier... Oh well, this teapot design will give me something to work on next Fri./Sat..  ...Besides washing the floor, that is!

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