Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More cups?!?

Ah, but these are special: I'm trying out a porcelain clay body that may fire much whiter than the buff-color stoneware I've been using. However, the porcelain handles liked mashed potatoes, whereas the stoneware is more like butter.

I decided I'd better make some tiny cups to use as glaze test pieces. Porcelain can be semi-translucent when it's thin, but I think that's only when fired to cone 9 (high fire, approx 2300 degrees Fahrenheit). This porcelain is a mid fire clay body (cone 6, approx 2200 degrees Fahrenheit). I don't think it will look much different than stoneware. I'll be happy if it's white!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New plates: all the gory glazing details!

Or: Everything you wanted to know about glazing plates but were afraid to ask.

First, I painted iron oxide on the rims and backs...

Then, I painted dots with white and jade glaze and then waxed over them. (Uh oh, the sun's going down...)

I also painted wax dots on the back (you'll see why very soon!) I thought the waxing and dot-painting would take about an hour... It was more like four.

I dipped the entire plate in green glaze. The glaze doesn't adhere to the areas I'd waxed (the rim and the bottom).

Finished! All four dinner plates turned out well: no cracking or other problems.

Pretty nifty! They're about 10 inches in diameter.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Spring is finally here! Its been wonderful to watch the flowers grow a little bit every day. I have been so busy lately that I am afraid I will miss the whole event, so I have been making sure to pay extra attention.

Lately I've started teaching and am also scrambling to get pottery work finished for BayArt's annual pottery show (in which Sue is also a participant). I often get to paint while I teach, which is good practice. Here is today's figure study:

Still unfinished, but we are going to resume the same pose next month.

But don't worry! I am sketching and brainstorming like crazy for the Small Good Things show. I will start as soon as the pottery show is finished (May 13th). Can't wait!!

In honor of poetry month, here is one from my favorite, e. e. Cummings.
I don't think that anyone can do justice to spring like he does.

Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully 
out of Nowhere)arranging 
a window,into which people look(while 
people stare
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps 
Hand in a window 
(carefully to 
and fro moving New and 
Old things,while 
people stare carefully 
moving a perhaps 
fraction of flower here placing 
an inch of air there)and
without breaking anything.
e. e. cummings
This next poem contains one of my favorite lines ever. It's also by e. e. cummings. The part I love is in bold.

voices to voices,lip to lip
i swear(to noone everyone)constitutes
undying;or whatever this and that petal confutes...
to exist being a peculiar form of sleep

what's beyond logic happens beneath will;
nor can these moments be translated:i say
that even after April
by God there is no excuse for May

-bring forth your flowers and machinery:sculpture and prose
flowers guess and miss
machinery is the more accurate, yes
it delivers the goods,Heaven knows

(yet are we mindful,though not as yet awake,
of ourselves which shout and cling,being
for a little while and which easily break
in spite of the best overseeing)

i mean that the blond abscence of any program
except last and always and first to live
makes unimportant what i and you believe;
not for philosophy does this rose give a damn...

bring on your fireworks,which are a mixed
splendor of piston and of pistil;very well
provided an instant may be fixed
so that it will not rub,like any other pastel.

(While you and i have lips and voices which
are for kissing and to sing with
who cares if some oneyed son for a bitch
invents an instrument to measure Spring with?

each dream nascitur,is not made...)
why then to Hell with that:the other;this,
since the thing perhaps is
to eat flower and not to be afraid.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sparrow Plate

I made a group of dessert plates last October, and I'm finally ready to paint on them! I decided that small birds would be a good subject.

I enjoy watching and painting birds. These guys are the extremely bold house sparrows that hang around my workplace. They'll hop right onto your table as you're eating lunch on the patio! Last summer, I spent several lunch hours sketching them and later made this small painting in oils (18 x 24 inches). Incidentally, the lawn is well-maintained and does NOT have this many dandelions.

I used the oil painting as a reference for the preliminary plate painting.

Better add some purple clover and a stink bug!

The bird is a chipping sparrow: not as common as house sparrows, but still abundant. They eat seeds and the occasional invertebrate (run for your life, stinkbug!)

My favorite paintbrushes... They make lovely, flowing lines.

And my models... (Coming next: goldfinch plate)

And my bird collection at work. Dodo is my favorite.

Friday, April 15, 2011

April is National Poetry Month

Here's a haiku for you:

Don't kill that fly!
Look–it's wringing its hands,
Wringing its feet.
~Kobayashi Issa

And here's another insect-related poem:

Bee! I'm expecting you!
Was saying Yesterday
To Somebody you know
That you were due–

The Frogs got Home last Week–
Are settled, and at work–
Birds, mostly back–
The Clover warm and thick–

You'll get my Letter by
The seventeenth: Reply
Or better, be with me–
Yours, Fly.
~Emily Dickinson

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another tea set

This weekend, I was in the mood to make another teapot... The photo angle make it look monumental, but it's actually rather small: 9 or 10 inches tall with the lid. The spout is slightly crooked, all ready to twist clockwise into place. I hope. Eventually it will have polka-dots.

Pieces-parts for a creamer and sugar bowl... That's the creamer's spout in the front.

And here's the assembled creamer and sugar bowl. Cream pitchers are fiddly little things to make. But are they ever cute!

Butter dish

Here's a nice, unassuming gray-green butter dish and...


Monday, April 4, 2011

New work in progress

If you haven't noticed, I've been cranking out new wet-work these past couple of weeks. I've pretty much run out of pieces to glaze and paint. Above are some brown dotted plates in the larval stage, and below are more soon-to-be-dotted mugs (almost as fun as cups and saucers).

I like beginning new pieces the best, when I haven't made any mistakes (yet)!