Friday, September 23, 2011

my Icon class--St. Max

I've been taking an icon class with Carol Lehmann, taught by Juliana Clendenin, out in Metamora (Juliana studied under Philip Davydov, in Jordanville, NY this summer.)  We worked with ground earth colors (not unlike those I work with in maiolica) and mixed them with egg yolk for an egg tempera.  I decided to do Max, the studio kitty, making my icon slightly irreverent.  Here are some of the stages of the process.  It's very time-consuming!  I worked with small brushes, and layered on various 'glazes' made with the egg yolk and the ground earth colors.The gold aura was put on very early in the design process/layering, and will brighten once the whole piece is lacquered (which can't be done until the piece has dried). More of the stages of painting will follow in the next post.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cleaning out the pug mill

cleaning out the pug mill
The summer was hot, and I seemed to be busier than usual---firing kilns and decorating bisque, and firing more kilns---so I wasn't recycling the clay scraps from throwing and handbuilding, as I would do at other times of the year.  The combination of the hot and dry weather, and my work schedule, meant that the clay that was still in the pug mill from the last pugging dried up!  In order to use the mill this fall, Sheri and I had to take it apart, and clean out all of the dried and semi-dried clay, making sure that all the little dried bits were remixed, before we could pug another batch of clay.  
The pug mill has saved me a lot of wedging hours.  It mixes up all the stiff, but still pliable leather hard clay pieces left over from handbuilding with the softer clay scraps from throwing--producing a smooth extrusion of clay that is about 3" in diameter.  You can see the auger (just below the metal housing which Sheri is cleaning out) which mixes the various types of clay.  When I bought the mill, I installed a vacuum pump, and this does a pretty good job of taking out the air bubbles that might get mixed in.