Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fall Concentration, Week 1

Well, back on the mountain for the Fall again, again, again…  It’s great as always to be back, in part because it means I’m done packing and getting ready to come here!  (At least that’s my excuse for not having put up a post since July…)  The last month or two back home were a mess of packing, working and lots of cleaning- studio and house- I did get some pots made though.  They were something of a test of forms and decoration that I want to explore over the next while, however long that may be.  The root of all these pots are in an experimental vase I did back in Fall 2010- very bulbous with some carved grasses, into the texture of which I rubbed some temmoku, followed by glazing the whole thing in an amber celadon.  This casserole from this August is the same glaze combo and carving pattern as that first vase (different clay!)- but with more polish…and lugs!

During this session I’m particularly interested in carving through slip into the dark earthenware clay that we’re using- I’ve been throwing in porcelain and porcelaneous stoneware for so long now, seduced by the carving smoothness and lack of snaggy grog, that I’ve kind of lost contact with the beautiful color contrasts that can be achieved with a dark clay body and lighter now I can have my cake and eat it too!  This first week we’ve been focusing exclusively on drinking vessels- mugs, tumblers, cups, chalices (which we, after intense discussion as a class, decided sounds far more refined than “goblet”).  

So far I’m really happy with the mugs I’ve come up with- what’s interesting, but not entirely unexpected, is that some of the patterns that I’ve come to rely on with porcelain and glaze look just plain clunky when done through slip.  The culprits (my rose bramble pattern, especially) are ones that rely on change in contour as opposed to silhouette.  The fern pattern still looks just plain exquisite no matter what I do to it!

These were from a bit of bowl therapy…nice how the pattern continues from bowl to bowl!

Besides lots of cups leading up to our first firing early next week, we (or more accurately, our assistants Nick and Joe, with a teeny tiny bit of help from the rest of us) have been making lots of glaze tests, trying to come up with a palette of glazes for us to use.  We got the first batch out last night- very candy store, 95 percent of them are way too bright/opaque/showy for the pots I’m making!  There is one very slightly opaque warm cream/clear that shows a lot of promise for me, and also several transparent copper blue/greens and some ambers and slate blues that show promise as well.

Also this week we went on our first field trip of the session just down the road to Cynthia Bringle’s studio for a mug demo.  I always find it amazing to watch Cynthia work- she’s been making pots for probably over 50 years, and she has the most incredible economy of motion I have ever seen.

This class is much smaller than any clay class that I‘ve ever taken here –only 11 students- and I know almost everyone from previous sessions here.  Perhaps because we have so many old-timers here, we’ve gelled really well as a class in just the first week.  What is also really nice is that we have a number of musicians in our class -and on campus- this session, so we’ve been having jam sessions on the porch nearly every night (including some rather entertaining “bass” played on cello!)

 Cute of the week

Edwina Bringle(Cynthia’s twin sister) has been bringing her five month old corgi puppy up to the school the last few days. Cricket is an adorable fuzzy little fireball…who at the moment regards the world as her own personal chew toy.