Sunday, September 22, 2013

Inspiration is Where You Find It

When I drive down to Portland to teach my classes, I always bring a bin of tools and materials for my demos. At a minimum I bring my throwing tools, and my box of stamps. Students are free to borrow the stamps; I'm not one to worry that their pots will look like mine - I'd like to think it would take more than a stamp mark to duplicate me. Students who find they like the technique often make their own corral of stamps.

On Thursday, when I left class, I forgot my box of stamps.

This is sort of a big deal, as Portland is an hour away, and Friday, Saturday, Sunday are usually my most productive studio days. This happens to be a wetwork week - if I were glazing or firing, obviously less need for stamps in those cases. (And by "less" I mean "no".) I was thinking of driving down - maybe throw a bunch of ware, and make the drive while it's drying to a leatherhard, stampable state - and then my eye fell upon my new swimdress. (And by new I mean bought-used-on-Ebay-four-months-ago. What? That's why God made washing machines!) I'm not gonna go long about the swimsuit, but I am gonna say, if you're resisting buying a swimdress because it's what old ladies wear, give in and get one already! Much better for climbing in and out of canoes.

But I digress.

It occurred to me that the pattern on the swimdress would look very nice slip trailed. In the past I have just trailed simple lines or dots, but hey: no stamps? A great opportunity to expand my slip trailing skills. Here's what I came up with:

After that I started looking around the house for other fabric inspirations. And lo! the curtains right beside my desk had potential. Here's how that pattern played out:

Obviously I didn't try for a literal copying of either pattern, just let the fabric suggest botanical shapes to make. One thing I learned: I need some smaller needles if I want to do more detailed images.

Both still need handles. They are of B-Mix 5, and will be in the next ^6 firing, which should be soon, but my working time is so unpredictable lately that I am loathe to pick a date. In it will be the remaining ^6 conversion tests, which will allow me to publish the Glaze Notebook!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bigger Wads Make Better Bottoms

That sounds vaguely obscene, doesn't it? But no:

I've always been inclined to use small wads, because to conserve wadding, because mixing it up is sort of tedious. I see now that I have been cheating myself! When the wads are too tiny, the flame, with its load of soda vapor, can't get under the pot; so the bottoms are pale and pasty and dull. Okay, that's harsh; but using bigger wads does allow vapor glaze to be deposited on the bottom, resulting in this soft, peachy, flame pattern. It's the subtle things that make a piece sing, and a beautiful bottom is definitely a plus.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Trimming Bat

My student and friend Ginette came to class one day with a great tool: a foam-rubber trimming bat. The "grippiness" of the foam saves time wadding, and allows you to trim without risking deformed rims. I made myself one:

First I cut a piece of foam rubber into a circle the size of one of my bats. I got the foam rubber at Jo-ann Fabrics; it's the sort of thing you'd use to fill out a sofa cushion.I used Gorilla Glue but I think almost any kind would work.

The bat is the sort that has pinholes.

Using a Sharpie marker, I drew concentric circles onto the foam, to help me get pieces

And Bob's your uncle! It really was much faster than my usual method of centering and trimming.