Thursday, January 29, 2015

Latest Gear Stack Piece

Next week my show, Mechanical Botanicals, opens at CORE Gallery in Seattle. Since this week is the last chance I have to finish work before installing this weekend, I am trying to finish a few pieces.

the new gear stack piece after bisque firing, unstacked (left) and a gear stack piece from my sabbatical

This past summer I started a new gear piece similar to some I had done during my sabbatical. I wanted to create as similar form but with a more complex base. My sculptures are inspired by plants and flowers, so I wanted to reference a stem branching or splitting from the central form.

a gear stack piece from my sabbatical

Like the earlier gear pieces, I built this form in sections, planning for gears to nestle and attach between the different ceramic segments of the sculpture.

part of the new gear stack piece after glaze firing
During the summer I built and fired the work. I started applying underglaze in the summer but wasn't ready to put the forms together until this month. Last week I started epoxying together the gears and ceramic parts.

tape holding the top on the split bulb

I used tape and armatures to help support the forms while the epoxy was setting.

a towel and box acting as an armature to support the end bulb and gear while the epoxy sets

Unfortunately, it wasn't until the entire piece was put together that I realized the unfortunately angle, placement and proportion of the smaller branching form. I am also disappointed in how straight the top section is. I may have put together the top form or forms incorrectly, but it's hard to recall what the entire form looked like, since it was hard to take pictures while also holding up the wet pieces.

The new sculpture, mostly complete

One innovation in this piece was splitting one of my bulb forms near the base so that the gear could fit inside it. The plan was good but the smaller segment warped during drying or firing and now the curve is a little more narrow and taller than the area where it needs to attach.

two sections of the split bulb, with epoxy

I used epoxy putty to fill in the seam of the two bulb pieces and painted over it. The paint color is a close match, but there are some visible brush strokes because the paint was a little thick when I applied it.

epoxy putty roughed into place

This sculpture is close to "finished," needing only another coat of paint and some gloss varnish to complete the bulb patching. However, I haven't decided if I want to include the piece in next week's show, since it didn't work out quite how I planned.

the bulb with the patched seam

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Epoxy Time

I have a show in Seattle next month, Mechanical Botanicals at CORE Gallery. I had originally planned for this show to feature sabbatical work from last fall, but I was also hoping I might finish some new work this summer. The short work time of the summer months doesn't leave me quite enough time to build, glaze, and put together the complex mixed media work, so I have tried to get it glazed and fired during the academic year.

A clean table surface makes it much easier to clean and organize the parts.

During January I finally got a chance to start putting together the bike parts and the ceramic parts. It had been months since I was planning the pieces, so I had to remember which pieces went with which gear or bike part. I also had to clean the metal parts because several had clay finger smudges on them from when I was building.

Ceramic pieces laid out to measure attachments with bike parts.

None of the pieces are completely finished yet, since all have several levels of attachments. I put one level together and let the epoxy set before it is strong and stable enough to attach the next level.

Two levels of one sculpture taped or braced against the windowsill for stability.

A big change I made this summer was on my attachments for my bike wheel piece. I build the bulbs to be slotted in place, so I had to unscrew the spokes and feed them into the holes of the bulbs. I added a bit of epoxy so that they wouldn't slide around.

Bike wheel with spokes passing through the bulbs.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mechanical Botanicals

My first show at CORE Gallery in Seattle opens next month on February 4, 2015. The show runs through February 28 with a reception for the Pioneer Square First Thursday Art Walk on Thursday, February 5.

My show will feature work from my sabbatical, and, if I get things done in the next two weeks, new work from this past summer.

I will be in Seattle for the first Thursday Art Walk from 6-9pm. The gallery is open Wednesday-Saturday 12:00-6:00pm. If you would like a postcard (and I haven't already gotten you one, send me an e-mail with your address. I will also plan to get some to Larson Gallery on Tuesday.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tape Resist Plate

Over the holiday break I glazed some plates I had thrown the week before. I used my tape resist method. I sprayed on mostly one glaze, camel, I think with the tape resist lines in place. 

glaze sprayed on tape resist

 Then I peeled off the tape and sprayed on clear glaze to coat the white spaces.

clear glaze sprayed after tape was removed

On one plate I dripped another color of glaze while the tape was in place. I use a dripping method a lot in the studio at YVCC to mix colors.

drips of a second color of glaze

I gave a couple of the plates as gifts and, like with the small pots, didn't take good pictures because I was sick. I also have one left to fire, since I ran out of room in my small kiln. 

glazed work after firing (gifts)

The rest turned out fairly well. The one with the drip has a tiny bit of kiln wash or something on the top. I'll have to try to load next time when I'm feeling better so I can be more careful.

the dripped plate with the kiln wash mistake

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tiny Pots

I visited Oak Hollow Gallery before Christmas and saw some tiny turned wood vases. My daughter really liked them and, when we got home, asked me to throw some on the potter's wheel. I was already planning to thrown some plates and lidded pieces, so I thought I'd give it a try.

One tiny vase after trimming.

Throwing small pieces like this looks like maybe it should be easy, but it's difficult to get the clay so thin and small while still holding a steady shape. It's easier to throw a piece about 3 or 4 inches tall than to throw a piece just an inch high.

Tiny vases after trimming (with a penny for size comparison).

Still, I was able to get a handful of pieces thrown, maybe 15 or 20 pieces total. A few of the vases I threw ripped through the bottom and, of the three or four bowls I threw at this size, I was only able to trim a foot on one or two.

Taking tiny pieces out of the bisque kiln.

The pieces dried pretty fast and I bisque fired them before Christmas. I ran out of detail tape before I could get any of the little pieces taped. (I was taping them on Christmas so I couldn't replace the tape that day.) I ended up using masking tape which didn't stick as nicely as the other tape.

Tiny pieces taped, ready for glazing.

I fired the pieces after Christmas and pulled them out of the kiln right before we left to see family. By then I was already a significant way into what turned out to be almost two weeks of pretty awful suffering from tonsillitis and pharyngitis. I was in so much pain and so exhausted that I didn't feel well enough to both unload the kiln and take pictures of the work. (I'm still pretty amazed how awful I felt and for how long.) I suppose it was lucky that I felt so bad while I wasn't required to be at work.

Tiny pieces out of the glaze kiln.

I can't take many more pictures of the work now because I gave several away as gifts (and my daughter claimed the rest). I don't even know who I gave which piece to, as my daughter did the actual selection and distribution (while I moaned in pain), and I was perhaps even less aware of my surroundings when people opened their stockings and pulled out the pieces.

Tiny glazed pieces.
Maybe my relatives will post pictures of the ones I gave them. Or maybe I'll eventually throw a few more. I know that several of my students are also working on tiny mugs or tiny vases. It must be a trend.

More tiny glazed pieces (claimed by my daughter).

Monday, January 5, 2015

Top Pottery Blogs of 2014

This year again I made the top pottery blogs list on Pottery Making Info. My blog is listed at #12 of 14 blogs honored. Actually, they list a bunch of honorable mentions, too. If you visit my blog because you're interested in pottery, you might check out their whole list for a bunch more blogs about pottery.

Regardless of whether you read my blog because you love pottery or for some other reason. Thanks for reading!

Also, coming up soon: a post about tiny pots, a post about plates and my show in Seattle in February: