Saturday, March 5, 2011

getting started (& if I were out there, working, I wouldn't be in here blogging.)

Juliana and Denise check out the clay

Juliana's clay and slip tests

Denise cuts one of her stencils

Denise at work


I'm pretty sure I've talked about this aspect of working before, but, for me, it is a reoccurring phase of working:  how to get started on a big project, or simply how to go from one area of work  (like glazing) to another (like throwing).  There seem to be different mind-sets for different areas of work; maybe I feel it more in the maiolica work since there seems to be a jump from the forming, three-dimensional creating, to the somewhat two-dimensional work of decorating--even though I am decorating 'in the round', as it were.  Now and then I have friends who go through the same difficulty as I do, and this fall, my friend, Denise Fleming, who writes and illustrates children's books, said she just needed to get out of her studio and force-start (my words) a stencil-cutting job.  I was in the same place, needing to do tests of clay bodies, and slips, so I invited her over to my studio, and then talked Julianna Clendenin, potter, jeweler, seamstress, into coming over, too, to help me with the slip and clay testing--here are some photos of us working, and of actually getting those hard-to-finish jobs done......
So, thanks, Denise and Juliana, for getting me started!  I'm in that same place, now, I guess, and reading other people's blogs:  for example:    has a good effect, as well.  (plus, as you can see, I've discovered captions for the photos!.....)  Technical details:  we're testing three red clay bodies from Standard Ceramics in Pittsburg, PA, which I got from Mike Taylor over in western MI--and, actually, the woman who works for him brought them over when she and her husband were visiting her parents!   Two of the bodies worked for me with my glaze at cone 2: (wait, I have to run out to the studio and look them up......!!)   OK, here are the ones that worked:    #104, and #417. The third, #103,  is a beautiful, smooth, red body used by Paul Linhares, an Ohio potter whose work I admire, and whose mugs I have--he says it is like working with red porcelain--so I had to try it.  Unfortunately, under my maiolica glaze, the tensions were dramatically uncooperative, and the little bowl test that I did cracked open in a spiral from the top edge down.  too bad!    ( I am currently using Rovin's RO82M which has a 40 mesh grog, and find it works very well, and is close by --- I can drive up to get it, in Taylor, MI---coincidental Taylors, here?) but always feel I need to test, since I am not currently making my own clay body.