Saturday, April 25, 2015

Clay TV?

Ugh, I don't know about this:
The Great British Pottery Throw Down is part of a new season of BBC Two season programmes announced on Tuesday.
Made by the team behind The Great British Bake Off, the six-part series aims to find pottery's hottest stars.....the channel hopes The Great British Pottery Throw Down will repeat the success of The Great British Bake Off, which migrated to BBC One.
Cox will be joined by Keith Brymer-Jones and Kate Malone - two of the UK's pottery scene's most renowned potters.
Each week, the 10 contestants will create a "Main Make", wherein the potters hope to translate a slab of clay into glazed glory, culminating in the reveal straight from the kiln.
Those whose clay creations fail to impress will leave the studio until the final, when one person proves themselves to be master of the wheel.
Cox said: "Clay, mess, passionate potters and the team behind Bake Off. What's not to love?
"There's something really raw and exciting about grabbing a lump of clay and creating something unique out of it."
"Pottery's hottest stars." LOL ALL DAY.
I'm not a big reality TV fan in any case. I think it's degrading, boring, and often fake. I hate that it turns everything into a competition, and am not excited to see my passion represented in it. I mean, think of ten fine potters you know. Could you possibly choose a best one? Based on one work, that was made under a time constraint?
Still, silver lining: at least people meeting us for the first time will have some reference other than "Ghost."

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pink & Grey, Follow Up

I made some plates back in February, using a mixture of red underglaze and porcelain slip. I promised to post the finished results, and lo, here they are:

The claybody was less grey than I expected, but that PINK! Can't complain about that bright cinnamon pink.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Run With It - My Attempts at Monoprinting

I tried out Chris Dufala's monoprint technique last night in class. (I have a long standing tradition of trying things for the first time in class. Hilarity ensues! Sometimes.) Chris has a detailed step-by-step at this link, which is way more helpful than my fumbles might be, so I'll just briefly describe what I did:
  1. Paint an image on plaster. You have to think backwards, because whatever you paint first will be the top layer. So, the black outline and shading on the rose was what I painted first, and then the red behind it. 
  2. Let it dry to not-shiny. Pour thin slip of the claybody you are using over the image - a thin layer! My first mistake was using too much slip.
  3. Slap an already-rolled slab quickly onto the slip layer. I found it helpful to compress the slab downward with a rib or fingertips. Maybe a roller. 
  4. Peel the slab up. God willing and the creek don't rise, your image will be on the other side!
My images only partially transferred, giving them a deteriorating, peeling-wallpaper kind of look.

You all know how I love the Law of Entropy! Deteriorating patterns & images are what makes my world go 'round.  So I loved the little slab images too much to throw them away but they weren't big enough to make something out of themselves, so....Throw a pot to use them on!

This is what I love about going to NCECA, and workshops generally: when you can take someone else's technique, and use it to make your own work stronger. It's nothing like copying - what I make couldn't be further from what Chris makes, and the uses I hope to put this to are completely different from what he is doing.

Though this was an off-the-cuff pot, I can see this in future "real" work (as opposed to demos.) Maybe not with the tear-throughs...maybe cut windows, looking through at a peeling floral pattern.

Whatever it ends up being, you'll see it here first!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Just Another Workday

Some people are eating ham today. Some people are dyeing eggs. Some went to church. Me, I made flyers and postcards.
That's right - pottery tour stuff again. There's an incredible amount of little fiddly work that needs to be done, to make it all come out right. But who am I kidding? I get a great deal of satisfaction in making it all come out right.
Check out the postcards!

There are three, one each for each leg of the tour. The backs will list the participating studios with their addresses. I ordered them from Next Day Flyer last year and that worked out pretty well, so will probably do that again.

Upcoming Entry Deadlines

This isn't usually my schtick; missing deadlines is more my thing - but I happen to be aware of a handful of shows you all might be interested in:

  • The 2016 NCECA Invitational: Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change. I guess the word "invitational" doesn't mean what I thought it means, because this one has a call for entries. The deadline is soon - April 16th. Apply here.
  • The 2016 NCECA Student Juried Exhibition: Entry deadline September 23rd, 2015. The call is not yet open on the website but when it is you will find it here.
  • In the Kitchen - an exhibition at Hood College in Frederick, MD. October 22 - December 4. Entry deadline, August 31. Apply here.
  • The Slip Cast Object Revisited. Plinth Gallery, Denver, CO Entry deadline, April 10th
  • Tabletop, An international juried exhibit of ceramic works designed for food, drink, and the table. At The Art League, Alexandria, VA. Entry deadline May 1. Apply here.
  • The Strictly Functional Pottery National. September 26 - October 31 at Kevin Lehman's pottery in Lancaster, PA. Entry deadline June 1. Apply here.
That's it, that's what I got. If you like being reminded f entry deadlines, you don't want to count on me - but check out Carole Epp' Musing About Mud - that's kind of the go-to for stuff like this. Ceramic Arts Daily also has a Call for Entries page, but it's fairs and festivals and gallery exhibitions and some rinky-dink stuff, all mashed together. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Yikes! Is it too late to do this? It's a week now since I returned from Providence, and I hit the ground running, getting ready for Mug Season, the Maine Pottery Tour, and of course firing and delivering work.

Here's a quick highlight reel:
Wednesday was the gallery day. The bus tour was...spotty. The shows (the ones I saw!) were great, but there was one that the bus couldn't get to (WAT??) one where nobody was home, one that had an additional cost to get into (yes, I am the world's cheapest human. But after paying for the conference, and then paying additionally for the bus tour - didn't that used to be included?? - I was cranky about being asked to pay an entrance fee for a show. So I didn't.)
I took a boatload of photos on the gallery day, with my little iThing; you can see them here. (I was going to post them all here but time just does not allow.) My most favoritest piece that I saw all week was the giant wall of porcelain panties at Brown University.

Misty Gamble is the artist. The panties are cast porcelain with added beads and rhinestones. Hilarious and masterfully done. The subject matter of her work - not just panties, but femininity - mirrors some of my interests back when I was sculpting, and maybe even now.

Frederick Douglas Opie gave a non-traditional keynote, about the role of ceramics in Incan, Mayan, and Columbian cultures. Opie, a professor at Babson College, is more a food guy than a clay guy, and the address was like a college lecture. Some people didn't enjoy the departure, but me, I'm always up to learn something new. I think, too, the point about ceramics being a marker of status made people uncomfortable. We want to think we like what we like because that's what we like, but in fact the possession of handmade claywork - the more esoteric the better - marks us as people who have the education and sophistication to appreciate it, and the disposable income to purchase it. Yeah. Uncomfortable. Sounds like snobbery, among people who think of themselves as the very earth of the earth. But status is what makes us humans go 'round, and every human culture has had status markers. Doesn't mean your preferences are fake - quite the opposite, your preferences (and mine) and the status they denote are very real, and you will have markers of some status - high, low, or in-between -  no matter what.

It's an interesting thing to think about, but a discussion for another day.

Though I spent most of my time watching demos - they are why I go to NCECA - there were some good discussions as well. Here are the ones I would have gone to, if I weren't busy ogling pots in the gallery expo, where the largest collection of inspiring functional pots could be found.
  • Heidi McKenzie, The Basics of Business in the Arts
  • Dustin Miyakawa, Become Your Own Photographer
  • Paul Lewing, Teaching and Selling as Performance
  • Panel discussion: The Social (Media) Experiment 
My fellow travellers attended discussions of injury treatment & prevention in the ceramists' hands; ceramics in psychiatric healing, and clay and community in the St. Croix valley.

I was in New Bedford, at an opening featuring former staff, residents, and Salad Days artists from Watershed on Thursday evening, but had I not been, would surely have attended the Pottery Slam: Claystories - and maybe even told a story myself. I am shy in crowds but put me at the front of the room, and I can fly with it. Strange but true.

And now: the demos. SO AMAZING, so inspiring.
  • Martha Grover was the first one I saw. You can see a similar demo here; and I'm told that all of the NCECA demos will eventually be on youtube. I was delighted to learn that Martha, a Maine native, will be returning here soon. I managed to elbow my way through the throngs to give her a business card and invite her to do the Pottery Tour, when she completes her move. Martha was part of a series on quick-hit, 30 minute demos in the Process Room, about which more later.
  • Linda Christenson! Watching Linda work was just..soothing. She has a lovely personality, and makes very serene pots. I used to live in Minnesota, even met Linda on the St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour a couple of times, and her accent really brought me back there. She threw, and talked about clay and life as a potter.
  • Gustavo Perez - in the same ballroom with Linda. I didn't respond to his work at all, but learned a lot from watching him. My favorite quote of the conference came from him: "It can feel like there is no energy to work, and it is then, exactly then, that you must go work." And also, related: "It is a matter of discipline to work when you feel it, and then, when you don't." These are nudges that I needed!
  • THE PROCESS ROOM! was where I spent the majority of my time. I don't know if this is a new thing, but it is the best. ever. I watched Martha Grover, Jason Barnett (? Not sure. Margaret Bohls was scheduled, and Jason substituted, so his name is not in the program), Jennifer Allen - though I was in the hall, peering in for much of that one - Shawn Spangler, Amy Santoferraro, Winnie Owens-Hart, and
  • Chris Dufala. Chris demostrated  method of image transfer using undergalzes painted on plaster that I had never seen before. I was amazed and determined to learn it, if not for my own work, for my students. There is a link to instructions of Chris' monoprint process on his website.
  • Like everyone else, I was disappointed that the process room was too small to accommodate the interest.  The overflow room set up the next day even overflowed! My suggestion: next yer put it in one of the ballrooms: three tables, one active, one being cleaned up, one set up for the next artist. It'll be full every hour of the day. 
  • This is an out-of-the-box item on my wish list, inspired by the morning yoga: Let's have a fitness room, with exercise bikes & ellipticals, and a loop of past NCECA demos playing on a video screen.
There was much more, but I am realizing it's just too much to type up this morning, so going to wrap up the wrap up. It is extremely unlikely that I will be in Kansas City next year - unless a money-anvil drops out of the sky - but if you are there, enjoy!