offcntr: (window bear)
I had a rough last firing--huge amounts of oxidation, like a third of the kiln was bleached and white. Depressing as hell, packing four big boxes of seconds to stash at the back of the shed until next winter. It wasn't crippling--I already had enough pots for my next big show, Ceramic Showcase, from my January and February firings--but it was a huge amount of wasted effort.

One good thing did come out of the firing, though: my sculpture was in an area that was pretty solidly reduced, and came out very well. Here's a look at the finished piece. What do you think?
bear right!
I'm thinking of naming it "When Calvin Met Pooh."

ETA: or maybe When Pooh Met Calvin?
offcntr: (maggie)
CR and Pooh, colorized and ready for firing.
offcntr: (bella)

Boy and bear survived bisque firing just fine. Still a little warm to handle, though.
offcntr: (Default)
I wasn't actually sure how to finish this sculpture. The original notion came from a Murray Leinster SF short story, Exploration Team, that I'd read back in junior high, about an illegal colony on a planet full of dangerous predators. The hero survived with the help of domestic Kodiak bears. I didn't want to follow the story literally, though, as a guy in a jumpsuit with pack and high-powered rifle would have required too much explanation.

I also thought about bear cubs, or nothing but the bear, and neither seemed complete. Ultimately, I settled on a sort of Christoper Robin meets Calvin and Hobbes solution, where the boy is as we remember him, but the bear is as he might have imagined Pooh if not limited by his father's writing.

Because I wanted more flexibility in coloring Chris, I used a lighter clay body, Georgies' G-Mix with grog, the same clay I used last year for Harriet and the year before for Baba Yaga's Apprentice. Since I knew it would shrink a little, I laid a sheet of bubble wrap across the bear's back to compensate. This also had the added benefit of keeping the brown clay from staining the white. As usual, I worked in stages. I also worked hollow, but with much thinner slabs.

The finished boy was allowed to slowly dry in place, though after about a day, I replaced the bubble wrap with paper towel. This allows him to shrink with his mount, wicks away some moisture from between them, and still keeps red stoneware smudges away from his shirt and shorts.

Okay, that's it. I really need to get back to throwing. I still have the rest of the kiln to fill up.

Face off

Mar. 17th, 2019 01:47 pm
offcntr: (rainyday)
Yesterday was a struggle. After building the head, one piece at a time, I couldn't get it right. Cut the front of the face off twice to rebuild, put on the muzzle, then cut the whole head off and shortened the neck an inch. And it still didn't look right.

I finally put on the ears, threw plastic on it, and called it good. But I also wedged up some more clay and rolled out an extra slab, just in case.

Today I came back rested, and with new eyes, and realized that, though the cranium was all right, the face was still too long, and the muzzle way oversized. I cut the whole face off, shortened it by half an inch, paddled new slab into place and sculpted a smaller, correctly tapered muzzle. The last thing I did was trim a half inch off the circumference of the ears, reshape and roll the edge. And I think I've got it right, finally.

Sorry for the dearth of process photos. As I got more and more stressed, I forgot to take pictures, and by the end of the day, I just wasn't happy with what I'd finished. (Hence the radical face-ectomy today.) I'm much happier with today's progress; think I'm gonna clean up the studio and do some simple, repetitive production throwing tomorrow.

The end?
offcntr: (live 2)
Made a lot of progress today, after a fairly rocky start yesterday. I wound up recycling the whole first batch of slabs, because they were too thin to hold their weight. Made legs from thicker slab, then left them and some slab to set up overnight. Today I face the prospect of figuring out how to put them together.

In the past, when I've made quadrupeds (both elephants, as I recall), I've build the torso, let it stiffen, then attached legs and flip it onto its feet. Couldn't do that here, since I'd built the legs first, so I connected the hind legs together with a belly slab, did something similar with the front legs, then linked them together. Afterwards, it was a matter of adding shaped pieces, one at a time, to define the fairly complex curve of back, hips and shoulders. I'm using another roulette for texture, this one a fairly coarse hair pattern that works very well at hiding seams and paddling.

A pretty good day two. Wrapped the neck in a produce bag and threw plastic over the whole thing for the night.

offcntr: (live 1)
Starting a new slab project in the studio this week, a sculpture for Ceramic Showcase next month.

What do you suppose it will be?

Oh, all right. It's another bear.
offcntr: (bella)
The Maude Kerns Art Center's annual members show, Art for All Seasons, is up! As usual, Club Mud has our own pottery-only display in a side gallery, but this year I managed to get my act together and enter a sculpture in the main show.

She's called The Bookseller's Apprentice, and, like The Cape at Clay Fest, she's an older piece that I think deserves more exposure. If only for the excellent, faux-oriental carpeting fabric I found at Econo-Sales... And the cat.
offcntr: (Default)
Former potter and ongoing photographer Don Prey stopped by Clay Fest on Saturday, and sent me this pic.

He got a running start and bless his heart, he's headed for the ground.
offcntr: (Default)
Clay Fest is usually a lovely low-ish impact show for us. To begin with, it's right here in Eugene: no overnights, cat-sitters, long drives. In addition, they provide pipe-and-drape, and the set-up period runs from noon on Thursday 'til the doors open at 5 pm Friday. We generally unload the van, lay out the carpet and set up the shelves Thursday, take time to vacuum the rug, repaint the dings on the shelves, then go home again, come back Friday to actually unpack the pots and put the extra boxes in the back.

Friday's also the day to check in an entry for the gallery. I usually try to have a new (or newish) sculpture, but as I've sold the last three I've made, went into deep storage to retrieve this one. It's called The Cape, based on a Guy Clark (and Susanna Clark and Jim Janosky) song that I've loved for years, and shows the protagonist in the first verse: Eight years old with a flour sack cape tied all around his neck...

Did a demo for my Saturday work shift, making paintbrushes and decorating bowls for a small but appreciative (and constantly shifting) audience, followed by lunch and some time in the booth talking with folks and restocking. Clay Fest is never a great show for us, sales-wise, too many folks just looking who'll eventually get back to us at Holiday Market (or not), but it's nice to catch up with potter friends, see all the new artists and new work.

 Unfortunately, around mid-afternoon, my back began spasming, so I left Denise in charge of the booth while I went home and crashed on the bed with a heating pad. (Clay Fest has centralized check-out, so she didn't have to actually sell pots, just talk to customers and restock the booth. Still a lot of work.)

Sunday morning I felt a bit better, so did my sales shift at the credit line. Three hours on a stool crashed my back again, so it was home for Tylenol and more heating pad, to get me recovered enough to help pack up. Fortunately for both of us, my very helpful choir director from church lives nearby, and was willing to come over at 5:30 and help haul boxes and shelves out to the van and especially hoist them in. I managed to help until about the last fifteen minutes, at which point my back froze up again and I ended up standing by the van and pointing for the last few bits.

So all told, less low-impact than usual. But still successful: my not-at-all-new sculpture still earned me second prize in the gallery competition, making it two years in a row.

offcntr: (bunbear)
You remember Harriet? Hamster heroine, riding into adventure on her bold battle quail, Mumfrey? The sculpture I exploded, rebuilt, and completed just in time for Ceramic Showcase?

Here she is on her way to her new home. That's Dan Chen, by the way. Multi-talented painter, sculptor, pastel and printmaker. He's kinda famous around here, and I've admired his work for years.

In fact, when we bought our house back in 2000, one of the first things we got for ourselves, a housewarming present if you will, was an enormous pastel of a ringneck pheasant, to hang above the fireplace. It's still there, one of our prize possessions.

So selling him one of my pieces feels a little like selling a rough sketch to, oh, Picasso.

But I guess it's a fair trade. I got the pheasant; he gets the quail.
offcntr: (Default)
Had a great time at the OPA meeting Friday night, demonstrating my slab sculpting techniques to about three dozen potters. Talked about texturing tools, rather than construction techniques, as this seemed to have most interest to the crowd. Rambled a little, answered a lot of questions, made a bamboo pattern roller right there in front of everyone. (It's in the bisque right now; we'll see how it works later.)

I wish I'd been better organized. I brought a laptop slide show, but forgot to ask whether they had a projector. (Answer: yes, but not right there at the meeting.) And although Denise and I were both there, neither of us thought to take pictures. Have to do that better this coming Friday.

In the meantime, here's a photo of my construction debris. I really need to do something with that fieldstone-texture roller.
offcntr: (window bear)
When I first started in ceramics, in grad school and afterwards, at the Craft Center, I shot my own pictures. On film, no less, color slides, using photo floods and fabric back drops and having to clean the studio to make space for my jury-rigged set up. Fairly early in the process, somewhere between when I stopped looking for teaching jobs and started jurying for art fairs, I decided I needed to hire a professional. My home-brew slides weren't cutting it, and if I was planning to take myself seriously as an artist, I needed to be willing to invest in my career.

My first photographer was a friend from the music world, a part-time professional in the process of going full-time. He took some nice pictures for me, but, as neither of us had a really good idea how we wanted them lit or composed, it took forever. Fortunately, he was also giving me a friendly rate, so it worked out.

My second photographer was another potter, who'd spent some time and money on a much more professional set-up, and was amortizing the cost by shooting slides for the rest of us. Because he was used to lighting and shooting pottery, he did a much faster job of it. However, because he shot a lot of pots, he obsessed about things like highlights and reflections, to the point where I'd have to wash off three layers of spray dulling media when I got the pottery home again.

I started working with my current photographer, Jon Meyers, on a personal recommendation. His mother and I sang in the church choir together--still do--and she told me he was just out of college and starting a photography business. We hit it off right away. He was efficient, professional, and did consistent work. I've been using his services ever since; I think we transitioned from film to digital together. He's not cheap, but for an hour's paid time I generally get about a dozen high quality images. To me, it's worth the investment.

Took Harriet and a couple of new pots down to my Jon this morning. Here's a couple of samples.

offcntr: (rocket)
Princess Harriet Hamsterbone and her valiant battle quail, Mumfrey?
beware, ogrecats!
Omigosh, guys, isn't she beautiful?
offcntr: (rocket)
Mumfrey gets color. These are all oxides and stains, so will fire dry and flat. The unglazed areas, i.e. most of him, will be grayish brown.
every now and then I get a little bit... total eclipse of the art
I'm really liking this project.

Good news

Apr. 2nd, 2018 08:02 am
offcntr: (live 2)
one, glorious piece
When I opened the kiln this morning, this is what I saw.

Mumfrey, all in one piece.  
offcntr: (maggie)
Sculpture status report: after an afternoon in the sunshine, three days in front of a fan on low, and an overnight sitting on top of a very hot kiln, I'm judging Mumfrey dry enough to risk loading into a slow-firing bisque kiln. We'll see how things turn out around Tuesday morning. Say your prayers, everyone. If this version breaks, so may I.

Meanwhile, I brought brushes and stains home from Club Mud, and spent a quiet Easter afternoon decorating the legs and base section of the piece (easy) and Harriet herself (rather more complicated). Here's our hamster heroine...
offcntr: (chinatown bear)
Working on the saddle today; made it a little bigger, in hopes that with shrinkage it'll still accommodate my hamster heroine. Since I had to built up the back (cantle? Is that right?) to keep the rider level, I had a big boring surface to deal with, so I added a saddle bag. Which then led to a canteen, which meant I needed something on the other side for balance. Finally decided on a loop of climbing rope, though I briefly considered a rock-climber's axe. Cliff diving, y'know.

And here's our Harriet mounted and ready for battle.

offcntr: (rainyday)

My favorite angle on Mumfrey the second.
offcntr: (live 2)
So, I rolled out two big slabs of clay Saturday morning and left them on drywall to firm up. Jury-rigged a thin cardboard cap to the bisque leg assembly, wrapped strips of clay around it, trimmed to size with a cheese cutter.

...and left everything for two days. I'd planned on starting in earnest Saturday night, but then discovered that my favorite bookstore and music venue was hosting TREK Theatre's live performance of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Working from the original radio scripts. They were marvelous, by the way; did episodes 1, 2 and 5, and totally nailed it.

Then on Sunday we priced, inventoried and packed up ten boxes of pottery and brought them home from the studio. Which left me barely enough energy to go get groceries and trim soup and serving bowls before falling exhausted into bed.

I had Showcase emails waiting for me Monday morning, so I finally got back into the studio around 9:30 am. Pulled the plastic off the slabs, discovered they were the perfect consistency, and started work.

It was actually kind of fun, redoing the piece. I'd made some bad decisions the first time, had some weird proportional issues (head too small, for instance) that I really should have fixed. Starting again from scratch gave me the opportunity to address this.

This is what the piece looked like around 11 am.
cruising right along
The tail and wings were built hollow from the start, and better integrated. I'm just starting to slab up the transition from breast to neck. By lunch-time I'd enclosed the whole body, and roughed out a cylinder for the next and lower half of the head. The only problem is, I was having so much fun--and had built up so much momentum--that I forgot to take pictures. The next time I remembered, it was 2 pm, and it looked like this.
ah, yeah, that's pretty much done
Yeah, that's pretty much done. I still need to scrape and smooth a few spots, once the clay is firm enough to take that treatment, and I'll have to fabricate and attach the saddle, but I've basically finished Mumfrey II in one working day.

Now I just have to get him dry enough to fire in two weeks.

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