Monday, March 24, 2014

a bit more snow

I just checked the weather forecast and it looks like one more week of cold with a bit more snow. We will finally be busting out of this cold and moving directly into warm weather. We don’t fool around with spring for too long, gotta get green quick. I see that it will be 10 degrees by the end of next week. This winter has been very, very long, with very little in the way of Chinooks. I can not wait. We will be able to put pots outside to dry soon. No more waiting forever for things to be stiff enough to trim, or even fire. Speaking of firing, I put a load in for bisque on Sunday. In that load is a whole bunch of little bowls that were thrown off the hump very quickly. I will be using them purely to calcine Alberta Slip for our new “purple rain” glaze. The recipe comes courtesy of Plainsman Clays, but we need cool studio names, not a boring number, so as I was the one to push for it to be included in the studio glaze repertoire, I got to name it. I have had a lot of water in my life, so purple rain came to mind. The purple is a bit transient, in that if you get it too thin, it will be more of a light amber brown, but when applied properly to a buff stoneware or white porcelain, it is a floating lavender blue on a brown background. When applied to a dark body, it is a beautifully intense and compellingly juicy (too many adjectives?), floating blue. It also works really well with all of our studio glazes. If you are curious, the recipe is this: 40% Raw Alberta Slip 40% Calcined Alberta Slip (fire the raw to ^022 and hold for about an hour to drive off excess moisture) 20% Ferro Frit 3134 4% Rutile I will hopefully be mixing up a slightly larger test batch for the studio this weekend. I am using my labor as the incentive to include this glaze in the studio glaze line up. If Dave doesn’t have to do it, then he gets more agreeable. We are quite limited in colour choices. We have dark brown, celadon green, turquoise, hares fur blue, pale stone blue, periwinkle blue, white & clear. You can see the trend. The addition of a purple(ish) glaze will hopefully get the creative juices flowing. We try to keep the costs down with each glaze, as well as ensuring that they are all as non toxic as possible. We don’t use barium or lithium or anything that could leach out or cause problem. Fairview Studios is a reational studio where there are times when nobody is there to ensure that students are not eating, drinking, breathing, or bathing in the glaze buckets, so we try to keep it simple, the result being quite a neutral pallet. The cost of frit is also quite a challenge to overcome. We try to make glazes that use very little, if any, to avoid not only the cost, but the inevitable hard panning that occurs with heavily fritted glazes. This new one should be quite acceptable. The cost is a bit more with the 20% frit, but there are only 2 other ingredients, 80% of which is clay (AB Slip). Even though it settles quickly, it does not hard pan, even after sitting undisturbed for 3 or more months. I guess glazing is the next thing on the agenda, I have a sale looming on the horizon (end of May), and I just don’t have the stock. I did however do a down and dirty studio sale this past week. Essentially, cleaned out all the pots that have been sitting on my shelves, that have travelled to one too many sales and never sold, or are just not quite good enough for the galleries and sell them off to the students. I put all the pots on a rarely used hand building table with a note saying to take these pots if you want them and if you feel the need to pay, to put what you feel is fair in a jug on my shelves. It worked great. I cleared a lot of space and made a few bucks in the process. So that has been my life lately: cold, waiting for summer, working, glazing, mixing etc.

Oh ya, this one is waiting for the snow to melt too, she doesn't know it though. She has only ever known snow.

Friday, March 14, 2014

It's a handle, but that is all I can say about it

Well, I thought I might try my hand at wrapping a reed handle instead of buying a bamboo handle to fit this teapot. I thought it would be simple I thought it would look really good In reality, it looks like someone with no thumbs did it...and to be honest, I did not enjoy doing it one bit. I am sure that with practice, I would get better, but the cost of the reed and cane is stupid, so I will stick with my regular clay handles. I like them just fine

Thursday, March 13, 2014

New style of mug and other finished pots

Tuesday evening was my regular night to teach and in that class I have a student that brought a mug for me to look at last week. She had picked it up somewhere in the SW US and thought I could tell her how they made it. I was not 100% sure, but thought I would noodle over it on the weekend and see if I couldn't come up with a way. So I did. The idea of the mug is that it does not have a traditional handle. Instead, it has a pocket that pokes into the cup and you can wrap your hand around the mug with your fingers inside the pocket. This is my version. It needs some refinement, and perhaps a template to make the pocket. I just made a pinch pot to avoid seams. So far I have only made 2, but if people like them, I might make more (maybe). They are a bit of a pain, and I could have attached 3 or 4 handles in the time it took me to fiddle with one of these pockets.
In non mug news, here are some pots I have been working on. This one is one of the hightly textured pots I was talking about earlier
This is a shot of a chicken teapot I am working on for an order
Here is a vase with a lot of scratching going on...

and finally a wee little puppy to love in the you can see, she is not so wee anymore)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I need a personal shopper

Now that I know that work is progressing in my condo, I have begun the shopping process. New everything….never had that before. When I moved out of my parent’s house (the first time), it was to go to University and I had second hand everything. There were several false starts moving out when I came back to town after graduation. I lived with a few friends here and there and I did not spend much on furnishings. In fact, everything I owned were other people’s cast offs from the 70’s and 80’s. I tried to refinish a lot of it, but very few items would be considered “nice”. They were “timeless” only in that it will probably take a lot of time for the materials to degrade in the landfill, where I am assuming most of them are now. The same went for most of my other stuff like pots, pans, dishes etc. I did make a lot of the ceramic items in my house, like plates and bowls etc, and I did receive a few gifts like crystal wine glasses, cutlery etc, but for the most part, I lived in a thrift shop, except nobody shopped there.
Now I get to pick out new pots and pans, new furniture, new everything. I was out shopping with my mum last night, as she really likes spending other people’s money and I came home with a new toaster, towels, pillows, sheets, pots and pans (gift from Mum) and the collection of new stuff is growing. Hopefully I will have the final dimensions of my kitchen layout and will have a better idea of the timeline so that I can go appliance and furniture shopping. It is getting close, but still not close enough. I want to go HOME.
I should also get a blender….I foresee a party once this is all done and over with and I think there will be a need for blender drinks...little umbrellas for everyone!

Monday, March 3, 2014

There be drywall!

WOO HOO!!! Apparently they are hanging drywall and working on the radiant heating in my condo and the other 3 units that were damaged/gutted during the flood last year. All inspections have passed and now they can go full steam ahead with drywall, cabinets, fittings and fixtures etc. It also looks like I will be able to review and sign off on the kitchen cabinet layout, counter colour choice, paint, etc by the end of the week or the beginning of next week. The cabinets will take 3 weeks once they begin the construction, the patio doors and windows are on order and are 4 weeks out. Once I get the layout for the kitchen, I will be out buying appliances.
In non condo repair news, I managed to take a couple of bins of pots down to Galleria on Saturday. It has been a while since I was last able to get down there to re stock, so hopefully these new pieces are well received, as they are a bit different than my usual work. Now I need to glaze the backlog of bisque that is staring me in the face every time I go to the studio (maybe this week?). I have many large bowls and platters to glaze, but the kiln will only accommodate a few at a time, so I will have to fire a few loads to get it all done.
The weather in Calgary has been brutally cold for a very, very long time (-35 and lower with the wind chill). We are normally blessed with the warm Chinook winds during the winter, but not this year. We had a few early on, but they have been nearly absent since December, and those that we have had were too short and did not have much of a warming effect. That being said, it is now March and the fortune tellers meteorologists say that it will be +9 on Saturday (I’m not holding my breath). It has been so cold lately that it is even making the glazing more painful for the students at the studio than normal. Glazing can be hard at the best of times, what with the unknown end results, but when it is this cold, it becomes physically painful. We mix our glazes by hand and those buckets are sitting on the cold concrete. It is like bathing in ice water.