Monday, December 25, 2017

Making Gifts

odd ball dishes that I threw before coming up with the plan to include textures for underglaze inlay

Once the quarter ends, I always think I will have time to spend reading and chilling. Instead, I usually fill up all the available time with new projects, like recording 50 videos and making sculpture examples for class, or like building a set of stacking cats and throwing dishes for gifts.

plates in progress

This December my over-ambitious time suck was making plates and bowls for my brother. Possibly this idea started out as a birthday gift but I quickly passed the time that would be appropriate for birthday. I have now passed the time that will actually get these to him by Christmas.

re-enactment of what my brother does with the dishes I made for him

My brother informs me that, like our family, they have been breaking the dishes I made them years ago. Apparently there's some sort of family competition for breaking pottery. My daughter is all-in on the competition, but she keeps breaking the pyrex bowls instead of the ceramic dishes. I'm ok with her approach, as more of our dishes are made by people besides myself and therefore harder to replace.

big plates with blue, purple and blue underglaze decoration

Anyway, I decided to replace some of my brother's dishes for Christmas. I took a day to throw, half a day to trim and then I figured the glazing would be pretty fast. I'm not sure why I thought this. Apparently because my time estimates are just way off when it comes to what I can make and how fast. This is a chronic problem that is most noticeable in December.

trimming plates = more fun than glazing plates

On Monday, a week before Christmas (because that's how I roll) I spent over 6 hours under-glazing the dishes. I know how long it took because I listened to almost an entire audiobook start to finish while glazing today and the Audible app tracked my work time. 

three different size/shape of plates, notice that the set has only 3 of the smaller sizes because I already broke the others

I was trying to get the dishes glazed in order to fire them before traveling for the holidays. This is a bit silly, as I am unlikely to want to carry a bunch of dishes on the plane, and neither is my brother, but I did want to get the cats done in time for the trip and the plates and cats were going in the same kiln.

the bottoms don't match = fun!

I painted underglaze on the tops and bottoms of all the plates and the interiors and exteriors of all the bowls before bisque firing (because occasionally I do plan ahead). I then intended to apply a contrasting color to the indents and lower sections of all the plates and bowls followed by a coat of clear glaze.

the smallest plates

While I was throwing this seemed like a good idea. Several hours into underglazing the bisqueware I was convinced this was a terrible, horrible idea and the results would make me want to move to Australia.

the wacky not-matching dishes

When I unloaded the kiln, I was really happy with the results and stayed that way until halfway through taking pictures. I wanted to get pictures taken before leaving to see my brother so I could show him what he'd be getting (he doesn't need it all, so he can choose favorites). 

I enjoy throwing bowls, bowls, bowls

I decided to go to the trouble of getting out my photo backdrop and table and stand and taking semi-careful pictures. I'm glad I did, though I drew the line at getting out my tripod and camera and just took cell phone pictures because I know for a fact that I should not be allowed to try to upload pictures on the same day as I plan to travel. I am already on technology time-out after an incident involving iTunes and a significant amount of foul language yesterday.

these bottoms don't match either

Joking and travel/holiday related anxiety aside, I actually am pretty happy with the results. Ironically, they look very different from what I planned. The colors faded and darkened in ways I didn't anticipate. My fears about how they would look around hour 4 of glazing were proven incorrect--to my relief.

the inside is only one underglaze for these little bowls---and my favorite

I am still not getting them to my brother by Christmas and I may even take some better pictures when I get home (yeah, that's not going to happen--Winter quarter starts January 2, so my brother will be lucky to get the dishes in January). I plan to grind down a few stilt marks, do a quality check, and then send on his favorites via UPS or something. Unlike the stacking cats (see this space later this week for an update on the nesting cats), these dishes I might actually make again.

my favorite to throw and to glaze
And now, with the dishes staying home, and me leaving the state, I should be able to avoid starting any ridiculous projects this week. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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