Because I hate to stay inside during our beautiful Maine summer, Doug and I set up a glazing area in the kiln yard this morning. This has the added advantage of efficiency; this way I don't have to carry all the pots upstairs, glaze them, then bring them all back down to load. I do have the summer studio that I could use for this purpose but quarters are a bit cramped, and it serves as staging area for the firings.
Of course, the disadvantage of outdoor glazing just made itself apparent: An enormous thunderstorm just blew itself up out of nowhere, ending my glazing for the day. But no worries! I had a tarpaulin right handy that I tugged over the pots, and I am now snugly indoors with a cat on my lap. I did have to take a moment to fish Red out of his pond, as it was looking like hail, and I didn't want him to get bonked on the head.
This is actually a pretty convenient storm, as I was getting a little tired of glazing, anyway; I have berry bowls I could trim but they are too wet. So now it the perfect time to set up my new computer!! As always, "new" is a relative term. No restrictions apply. This is a used eMas that I got online from a place called Megamacs, which I can't recommend highly enough. It'll be a huge upgrade from my current machine, which is bare step above a slate tablet and a chunk of calcium carbonate. So. Hopefully the next time you hear from me, I'll be typing from a sleeker, newer machine; one with a processor which will allow, among other things, video! I have big plans for video demos in future. I'll have to get a lipstick.
I have an order due July 1st; today is the last day I can throw for the bisque that will contain that order. I should be making items that I can create in volume, in order to fill the kiln: bowls, mugs, tumblers. But did I? Nooooo. No, today nothing would do but I make fussy, detailed dessert pieces: banana boats, parfait cups, mudslide plates, cake stands. What's with the dessert focus lately? Maybe because I am nominally dieting.
Anyway, I got this idea that I ought to work up a themed show: Sweet Life. I can think of three galleries who might bite (heh). Maybe partner with a painter who uses food imagery. So, I take it back. The muse isn't so bad. Her timing sucks, but what would we do without her?
Am I cheap, or resourceful? Both, but whatever works, right? And there really isn't anything better than a roll of TP to support a teapot handle until it is dry enough to hold itself up. It has 3 major advantages:
It's customizable. You can remove paper to make the interior curve of the handle smaller. You can squish the roll a little to get a more parabolic shape, in either direction.
It's cheap and readily available. If there's no TP in your home, better stop reading and go get some.
It compressed as the handle dries and shrinks. So, you won't crack your handle if you fail to remove the support at the exact moment the piece is firm enough.
Oh, and: 4. If you forget it and the handle gets too tight around the TP to remove it, you can just bisque it away. No harm, no foul.
While noodling around online, searching for images to inspire my students for our upcoming raku firing, I've made a disturbing discovery: I don't really like raku.
Wow, that's harsh! That can't be right. I can't dismiss an entire firing method! I'd never say "I don't like electric firing" or "I don't like wood firing," even though I have seen a great lot of ugly pots come out of both sorts of kilns. Hell, I've made a lot of ugly pots in both electric and wood kilns. So why so down on raku, all of a sudden?
I guess because, as I search the vast image library of the internet, I see a sameness in the work; it's much of a muchness, and images that make me shout "Wow!"....well, I just didn't find any this morning. Copper lustre is so aggressive, it seems to kill subtlety of form...I don't know. Also, it's hard to appreciate pots in bad photos, of which there are many, many ("Delah" as Roland of Gilead would say); far more than if you do a google image search for, say, anagama-fired pots.
I do think raku is an important experience for students to have, as, at Portland Pottery, it is the only direct access they have to the firing process at all. Oh, they can see the kilns and peek in the spy holes; but mostly they put pots on a rack, and the kiln fairy comes and takes them away; and they come back changed. Raku subverts all that "...then a miracle happens" mystery by showing people, in fast forward, exactly what transpirees when their work is fired. And it's fun and dramatic-- oooooo! fire! -- and captures the imagination wonderfully. So I'm not giving up, Here I go winding up my google-fu again, to come up with raku pieces that make me drool. Here are a few:
2 from Joanne Bedient:
Actually, go see Joanne Bedient. She deserves more than 2 images here.
Okay, now I'm feeling more excited about this firing!
Just another drive-by post: Here's a really useful trick for fitting the tops of butter dishes. Since they need to be shaped and fitted while still quite wet, the lid can sometimes stick to the plate, or cause marring. I lay toilet paper between the two pieces to prevent this. It also useful for storing lidded pots before they are fully dry.
Lori Keenan Watts (aka me) is a potter, gardener, and avid reader from Augusta, Maine. Though I started my university education in surface design for fabric, clay quickly grabbed me by the heart and redirected my creative impulses. I have been a potter for over 25 years -- hard to believe. The most valuable years of my ceramic education were spent in graduate study at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, under the tutalage of Dan Anderson and Paul Dresang.
My aesthetic is guided by my love of the material itself. What fascinates me and makes a pot compelling for me is the clay-ness of clay: the squooshiness that becomes the adamantine solidity. I also like patterns, unexpected proportions, and when the flame comes along and dissolves part of my careful decorating efforts! I am obstinate about this aesthetic, to a point which might be called pig-headed, but hey, if you don't like what you make, why bother?
My happy little family also includes my husband, musician and photographer (and author of the book Alewife) Doug Watts; five cats; and a turtle, all foundlings and rescues of one stripe or another.