Sunday, November 27, 2016

Glaze Firing with Oddballs

Last weekend I had a chance to do some glazing and firing at my home studio for the first time since summer.

newly glazed lidded forms

I had a couple pieces that I had glazed this summer but never got a chance to fire. Actually, I forgot them when I was loading the last glaze firing. I also had a few pieces I had made late in the summer and hadn't glazed until last weekend.

glazed oddballs before firing

All seven pieces were fired to cone 6 in a small kiln load. I glazed them with the same glazes and approach as much of the functional work I did this summer. The forgotten mug was a "storytelling" mug from the series I did earlier this year.

storyteller mug

For the newly glazed pieces, I didn't go to all the trouble of doing storytellers. I just did some simple slip trailed decorations so that I could finish them before December. I added some color on the handles for a little change. Both the simple slip trailed pieces and storytellers are at Oak Hollow gallery for the Holiday show. 

a couple of mugs

Among the oddballs was a funny little teapot I think I made in the summer of 2015. I hardly ever make teapots (a fact made fairly clear by looking at the teapot). I was describing to my daughter what it was I liked about this teapot and she pointed out that what I like is the mug. The lid is an odd shape, too wide and quite possibly made for something else. The opening of the spout is too wide and the spout itself is a little low. The teapot is quite small, and a funny shape for a mug, but also a funny shape for a teapot.

oddball teapot

I like the glazing of the body, specifically what I did with the spout. Usually I make teapot pieces during class but get too distracted helping students to actually finish my own teapots. I could certainly use some practice, but I don't get very excited about the form, so it's tough to make myself practice making them when I am home. It is tough to find time to finish such a complex form at work (Seriously, I can finish bowls and the occasional mug, but something that takes more than two steps usually takes more time than I can manage at school--without shirking my teaching or grading duties.)

pitcher plants with underglaze, in progress

Though I haven't gotten them to a kiln yet, I also continued under glazing some sculpture from this summer. These pieces still need a second and third coat of the red and something in the interior, plus a few touch ups on the blue. Estimated time for completing these pieces is probably well into 2017.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Award and Ongoing Exhibitions at Larson Gallery and Oak Hollow Gallery

Larson Gallery's Central Washington Artists' Exhibition opened November 5. I won an award, the YVC President's award, for my Pedal/Petal sculpture.

The exhibition is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm and Saturday 1-5pm through December 3, 2016. The show has quite a bit of variety and is worth seeing for work from the usual suspects and some newer artists in the area. Larson Gallery is located on the YVC campus at the northeast corner of Nob Hill Ave and 16th Ave.

I also have work at Oak Hollow Gallery for the Holiday show. I have lots of functional work at the Oak Hollow Show and other artists have ornaments, functional work and other small pieces. Oak Hollow Gallery is located at 5631 Summitview Ave near Wray's and Starbucks. The Oak Hollow Show is up through December 30, unless all the work sells sooner.

I finally got over to Oak Hollow on Friday to see the show. I especially liked the wood ornaments by Pat and Karen Miller, Eunsil Kim's yarn bowls, and Bernadette Crider's new ash glazed work. My daughter especially liked the crushed glass ornaments and the ornaments in the form of little girls made out of beads and wire.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Art Exhibition Receptions TODAY & next week


The Central Washington Artists' Exhibition opens at Larson Gallery from 3-5pm today. I have four works in the exhibition and according to the call I received yesterday, I will win an award for one of them.

functional work at Larson Gallery's CWAE

The Central Washington Artists' Exhibition runs today through December 3. The reception usually has good food, so I hope to see you there. Larson Gallery is on the YVC campus on the corner of Nob Hill Boulevard and 16th Avenue.

sculpture at Larson Gallery's CWAE

Oak Hollow's holiday show opens next week with a reception Saturday, November 12 from noon until 4pm today. Oak Hollow Gallery is in the Chalet Place Mall at 5631 Summitview Ave. The gallery is up the little hill from Starbucks, a couple of doors over from Wray's.

I have functional work in the Oak Hollow Gallery for the holidays. I just brought new work in last week, so if you've been to the gallery in the last year, this is new stuff. Prices are low, lots of artists, stock up for holiday gifts or those November/December birthdays.

Bowls from this summer, at Oak Hollow's Art for the Holidays show.

And if you meant to buy or see the work at the Boxx Gallery last month, you're in luck because I brought the pieces that didn't sell in Tieton to Oak Hollow. (Also opening today, John Barany's show at Boxx Gallery in Tieton.)

More functional work from this summer, at Oak Hollow.

And if you were hoping to buy work that has been at Oak Hollow for a few months, call or e-mail and you can buy direct from the artist.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

I Broke A Pot

During a glazing demonstration this week I broke a pot. It simply slipped out of my hands and smashed on the floor.

I really wanted to "quote" an image from Ai Wei Wei here, but I felt too conflicted about copyright and ownership to pull an image from another source, so I quoted a video.You all know these photos are by Ai Wei Wei anyway, right?

The pot I was demonstrating with was an old friend, one I have used as an example at least twice per quarter every quarter I've taught at YVC since 2006. I figure I've shown students this pitcher and told them about its features 60 times at least.

the pot is broken

This pitcher was so perfect. It was so bad, and in so many ways. It was heavy and large and awkward, and best of all not made by anyone I knew, so whenever I talked about its shortcomings, I wasn't criticizing a real person. Not only was it perfectly bad, it was a pretty good bad pot. It was large and its walls were even, and its handle was strongly attached. It survived more than 10 years without any cracks or chips. Until this week.

I have no picture. You'll have to imagine it.

I am so sad that I broke this pot and I won't be able to pick on it in class ever again. I don't even have a photo of this piece. But, I do have video! I recorded a whole bunch of demonstrations this summer for my clay classes. The video in which I discuss handles includes this amazing pitcher to illustrate how not to fit your handle size to your pitcher.

You can see the pot in question starting at 3:32.

This pitcher's handle was too large, forcing the hand far away from the weight of the pot and it had a skinny part that make the handle look weaker than it was. But, unusually for a bad pot, the handle was well attached to the body of the pitcher. After I smashed it into roughly 20 pieces, I noticed that the handle had broken in the middle, and the pot had broken, but the handle had not broken away from the the pot.

this artist's rendering of the most important qualities of this ex-pot

Besides having this ridiculous handle that strained the wrist and caused the heavy pot to tip forward, this pot also had a badly made spout and it was glazed badly. I was using it in the glaze demonstration because of the latter issue. Much of the glaze was applied too thin, leaving the interior and bottom half of the pitcher rough and brown. The glaze that was applied more thickly was dribbled down and across the side of the pitcher. I always use this pot as an example of what happens if you tip the pot up before the glaze is dry. The glaze will not just run down the pot, it will run sideways while the pot is being tipped through 180 degrees.

Why aren't there gifs of pottery breaking and pottery falling on the wheel? I'm going to have to learn how to make gifs.

The fascinating thing is, though I've made fun of this pot for years, it isn't a pot I can easily replicate. For those of us who have been throwing pots for some time, it is difficult to throw badly. But it is also  tough for a beginner to throw this large. Someone who knows how to pull handles, will naturally pull a more even handle, but someone who doesn't know how to pull handles will have trouble pulling such a large handle. This pitcher was a fascinating intersection between developed throwing skills and underdeveloped knowledge of form. I will miss this pot. I'm thinking of offering extra credit to anyone who can make me a replica that recreates the size, quality, and lack of quality of this amazing ex-pitcher.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Little Time To Glaze

Today I had a little time to apply underglaze.

I did the first layer of underglaze on these 7 pitcher plant forms.

I am teaching online this quarter, for the first time since 2008, and the online format just sucks up all available time, making it tough to get into the studio.

They were a little dusty, so I washed them first so the underglaze would stick.

Earlier this month, I used my tiny bit of weekend time to clean the studio, something it needs badly once the summer ends and the academic year begins.

This is how clean is defined in my studio (the carpets are clean) and there's room on some tables.

This Saturday I used an hour and a half to start some underglazing. It felt good, though I don't have a great deal to show for it.

I will need to wash the extra underglaze off the gear sprigs before I apply a contrasting color.
A reasonable goal might be to underglaze enough stuff for a kiln load this fall. Maybe I could even finish a piece this winter.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Central Washington Artists' Exhibition 2016

I just found out that I had four separate entries accepted into the Central Washington Artists' Exhibition opening in November at Larson Gallery.

Storyteller Jars & Spoons

I entered two sets of mugs and lidded jars, which means, I guess, that I actually got eight pieces in the  exhibition.

Storyteller Cups

This is the first time I've entered wheel thrown functional work in a juried exhibition. It feels a little strange, since I've thought of myself as a sculptor for so many years and not a potter.


I also got two pieces of sculpture into the exhibition, so I suppose I can't entirely overturn my definition of my role as an artist.

White Pod

The CWAE opens November 5 with a reception from 3-5pm. The exhibition continues through December 3, 2016.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Stephen Robison & Kathleen Guss, Rachel Hall Kirk, and Meghan Flynn

Work by Stephen Robison and Kathleen Guss

If you are on the Yakima Valley College campus during Fall 2106, stop by Palmer Martin to see our newest display, featuring work by Central Washington University art professors, Rachel Hall Kirk and Stephen Robison, who collaborates with his wife, Kathleen Guss, and work by our new art instructor, Meghan Flynn.

drawings by Rachel Hall Kirk and ceramics by Stephen Robison and Kathleen Guss

Wood fired ceramic sculpture and functional forms from Stephen Robison and Kathleen Guss fill the center vitrines and one of the wall display cabinets in the downstairs hall of the new art building.

work by Stephen Robison and Kathleen Guss in the display cases

Rachel Hall Kirk's drawings features patterns found in nature.

work by Rachel Hall Kirk

Also featured in this space is work by the newest member of the YVC faculty, drawing and design instructor, Meghan Flynn.

work by Meghan Flynn.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Professional Images of Functional Work, Finally

This week I took professional images of the functional work I made this summer. I didn't get images of absolutely everything, since I delivered my Rotary commission work and the pieces for the Storyteller exhibition earlier this summer. I did get images of mugs, lidded containers, storyteller pieces, bowls, and one pitcher.

Storyteller lidded jars with spoons

It's been about two years since I last took professional images of my work, as in, images not taken with the background of my messy studio or while the work was being made. Mostly the lapsed year was due to the fact that I shifted my time to the new building at YVC, rather than spending summer time finishing and photographing new work.

storyteller bowls (from the very last firing of the summer)

This summer I had some more time in the studio, but a significant focus this summer was making work for several commissions I had agreed to during the academic year. Since three of these commissions were for functional work and the fourth was for work that is pretty different from my usual sculpture, I spend the bulk of my summer throwing and glazing small functional work, rather than building sculpture.

bowls with simple decoration from earlier in the summer

I am surprisingly happy with the functional work I did make this summer. I say "surprisingly" because last summer I was pretty annoyed with throwing functional work--I took a throwing workshop and ended up just wanting to sculpt. In part, last summer's work didn't have any coherence as a body of work. I was trying out different glazing approaches and different glazes--even different glaze temperatures

bowl with a spoon

This year the work was much more of a kind. Early in the summer, I threw. trimmed, and glazed 50 pieces of the same style for the Rotary Commission, and, as you can see in a video like this, the process was repetitive. That repetition seeped into the other work I threw this summer and even into my glazing approach. 
leftovers from the Rotary commission

A sculptor works differently than a production potter. I felt that the entire mindset was different when I was approaching sets and matching forms, than when I approach individual sculptures. Though I was a little annoyed at myself for agreeing to so much functional work this summer, in a way I'm glad I did it because I practiced and experienced a different way of being a ceramic artist--a potter, in this case.

my backdrop, tripod and stands for the backdrop

Anyway, back to the images I took this week. Two years ago my mom gifted me a backdrop set up from B&H Photo. The backdrop is vinyl and fades from black to white. She also got me the nifty setup that holds up the background. Oddly, the appropriate way to secure the background to the frame appears to be duct tape. 

an accident in slip trailing turned this into one of my favorite bowls

The new backdrop is a serious improvement over my 10 year old roll of grey paper. The vinyl is easy to wipe dust off of, doesn't spot with water, and, most of all, has that lovely gradation in the background.
a set of storytellers with bugs

I usually take my slides outside with natural light at dawn when there aren't strong shadows falling on the work. This group of work is significantly shinier than other work I have previously made, so I noticed reflections as an issue for the first time. I may need to actually invest in some lighting with softeners or dimmers, or whatever they're called to reduce reflections.

storyteller jar with lid and spoon

I will also clearly need to get a larger backdrop for sculpture images, but this sized worked well for the small stuff I was doing in this round.

lidded "knob 'n alls" from early summer

It took me two mornings, about 3 hours and some more time to crop and edit the images on the computer. I haven't gotten around to actually labeling and sorting the image yet, but that's on my to-do list.

I think the work looks much better with the backdrop, though some of the slides had a color distortion because I kept taking slides past the best morning light time. 

sugar dish and creamer set

Some of the reflections show the archway over the gate in our yard, if you look close enough. The recognizable reflection is funny, but probably not ideal.

storyteller mugs (backups for the Storyteller show in Tieton)

This may be the last batch of work I finish in 2016 or even until summer 2017. I have several sculptures partially glazed and I still have a handful of functional pieces awaiting glaze, but I find it significantly more difficult to get into the studio during the academic year. 

pinch/coil built mugs with pulled handles

However, classes start Monday and I am planning to have my first class make hand-built mugs (like those above) and go wild decorating them. It's a new project for this class and I think it should be fun.

mug from very early in the summer

If you like any of the functional work you see here, some of it will be on display and for sale at Oak Hollow Gallery for the Holiday show starting in November. Storyteller Mugs are still on display (and for sale) at Boxx Gallery in Tieton (open Saturdays). Of course, you can always contact me directly if you like, too.

handle-less mug with indents