Friday, January 23, 2009

Weaving Clay, Missing Classmates

Last year one of the things I enjoyed was weaving clay. I thought I would continue weaving clay to make some different pieces this year. The trivet above was made from stoneware clay, brushed with two alternating glazes in a basket weave fashion and fired to Cone 10 reduction. The trivet was placed on the bottom shelf of the updraft kiln. The bottom shelf is always much hotter and probably reached Cone 11 or more. The vibrant color of the glazes I chose was mostly burnt away, but I like the subtle color which was left behind, just enough to see the contrast I was hoping for.

The last few days I've been using porcelain and weaving clay again. The tray above is 10 inches long and 8 inches wide. The porcelain trivet below I made with narrow strips of clay and some rolled feet to elevate it. I had a request from someone for another one of my woven cross. So I have made two porcelain crosses below, which are made from some very thin pieces of clay, I hope they hold up. I want to make a couple more porcelain crosses with thicker pieces of clay. The Rustic Cross photo at the end is one of the first woven crosses I made from stoneware clay. This cross was about 20 inches tall and 12 inches wide. I also made another woven cross with a beautiful blue and tan glaze, but unfortunately I neglected to take a photo before I sold it. So I'm trying to remind myself to take photos of every piece I make when it is green and after it comes out of the kiln, in case I want to refer to it again.

You're probably wondering if I'll ever get to the barrel firing. I'm wondering that too, but believe me when I say I am just as anxious as you to try my hand at this firing, which will be a totally new experience for me. The only holdup is having enough dry pieces to do a bisque load for the barrel firing. Everything is taking, what seems like, forever to dry in my little shop which I only heat if it is extremely cold.

In the meantime, I've gathered more supplies in preparation for the barrel firing. Gary cut some kindling from a dead popular tree and we bought a 1/4 cord of some very dry eucalyptus to supplement our avocado wood. I purchased some copper carbonate, copper oxide, and red iron oxide. I have a whole plate full of dry banana peels. Tomorrow morning Gary and I are going to the local cabinet shop to pick up two 55 gallon drums of hardwood sawdust they saved for me. That should be enough sawdust to last me for a while. When we're in town we'll also pick up a bale of straw. Now if my clay pieces would only cooperate, I could do a bisque and then I'd be ready to fire away. Hurry up clay.

My local community college cancelled the beginning and intermediate ceramics classes and the ceramics studio class for this semester. I don't know if these class cuts have anything to do with the budget shortfall in California, but I suspect they do. I've been feeling really bad this week because many of my classmates are unable to get into any art classes at all this semester. As luck would have it, I enrolled in Mixed Media Sculpture at the end of last semester, so I will be attending class this semester. The only courses offered in the evening are the class I am taking and a Jewelry class, and both classes are full with waiting lists. The ceramics classes offered at the college in the next town are also full with a waiting list. I know I am going to be missing my classmates this semester quite a bit. I've invited my classmates to my house for what I hope to be several barrel firings so we can all stay in touch.


  1. I go to a ceramics class as well and have become very attached to some of the other students. It is such a good mix and everyone has their own ideas.
    Love your weaving- beautiful.
    The cross is really something. It looks raku or pitfired to me.
    Nice blog.

  2. I love the weaving! It's amazing how much freedom there is in working in clay--I would have never thought of weaving, but it looks really cool!

    It sucks how many things are getting cut in education everywhere. Why are the arts always the first to go?

  3. Your weaving is fabulous. I love the cross. A couple of community art centers in the Atlanta area have also cut classes. Right now we are ok where I am an apprentice.

    Sure hoping this economy gets turned around soon.

  4. The weaving is very cool! Too bad about the community classes. The fellowship of other artists is really important and I'm glad to hear you're going to offer the barrel-firing gatherings. Wish I were closer!

  5. Hi Teri, nice to see you here. Ceramics classes are so fun because students really support and encourage one another. thanks about the cross. At first I didn't like the cross you see posted and one of my classmates said he did - that I would be surprised who would like what pieces of my ceramics - he was correct. This cross was fired Cone 10 reduction in a gas kiln in on the bottom shelf - it got so hot it warped a bit, and the glaze came out more mottled and matt than I expected, making it look almost like wood which ended up being nice after I got used to it.

    Hi Ben, thanks I have several more ideas about assembling some strips of clay too. I am amazed at what can be done with clay - it is never ending and so much fun. I don't know why they always cut art classes too, but at my college I think they cut a computer class too - it had 20 people signed up - so I think there is more than meets the eye. Several folks are going to meet with the dean to see whay they can do.

    Hi Judy, thanks about the cross. I sure hope things start changing soon for so many reasons. Glad your apprenticeship isn't affected.

    Hi Patricia, thanks so much. There are other students in the class with me now - what we ceramics artists call the "newbies", but not some of the "regulars" who have come year after year. Some are trying to see if they can get ceramics reinstated, not sure they'll be successful though.

  6. I find the weaving of the crosses particularly interesting. I'm usually not into ecclesiastical art work but these have a real power.

  7. Hi Linda!
    I totally agree with Michael!! wow, there is real energy that emits from the weaved cross.

    so sad about the community college :o( my first thought is the loss of studio/creative space that many people no longer will have to work in...sorry.

  8. Yikes, well hummm I like the idea of keeping in contact through another way to fire. We did some PIT FIRINGS that way to stay in touch and they were a Blast. I am not sure about the weaving...I like that it looks like baskets out of clay and that is very cool!

  9. Thanks Michael, I'm not usually in to ecclesiastical art either, but for some reason I just started to make the woven crosses and since then I've made others, some woven, some not. Having been raised a Catholic, (but since I was 18 never returned) there are probably lots of forces hidden in the recesses of my mind struggling to come out - I could go on but that would take a dissertation.

    Hi Cindy, thanks so much. To me crosses are a symbol of something more than religion. Haven't quite organized my thoughts or put words to it all.

    I feel as you do, Cindy, about the loss of the creative space for so many especially since - now I think creative space is needed more than ever. I told my teacher I was willing to drop the class to make room for someone who needed a credit class if I could substitute into the no credit jewelry class, but he said I was fine where I was.

  10. Hi Mary, I might try a pit firing too. From what I've been reading barrel firing is supposed to go hotter than the pit. I was planning on making a potluck party of it. I really love the process of weaving the clay, there is something so satisfying about manipulating the clay with my hands over and under, I liken it to when I used to crochet and do needlepoint, kind of a mesmerizing repetition with the hands.

  11. Wow - the weaving is really cool!

    I like the platters and the crosses and concur with Michael in regards to ecclesiastical art work. These have a very contemporary vibe to them.

    Bummer about the class cuts... I hope you can keep in touch with your classmates and fellow clay enthusiasts.

  12. Looking forward to seeing more ..and where this takes you :) I've seen people weave clay plates and baskets before, but I like your woven crosses. Timeless. Michael Kline is right.. "these have real power".

  13. Hi Cynthia, thank you. I have more ideas for using clay in different ways including weaving. I'm gathering together a list of classmates to be sure we all stay in touch.

    Hi Anne, thanks for your kind words. I have so many ideas and am hoping I can put the ideas into reality over the next few months.

  14. Hi Linda! Your weaving technique is amazing and I am in awe of the beauty of your pieces. I am doing research on a handbuilding technique for a ceramics class I am taking in high school, is there any way you could post some sort of quick tutorial/instructions about how you create such great woven clay art? Thank you for sharing your art.

  15. Hi Linda! Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful art! I am doing a research project for my high school ceramics class on how to weave clay and I happened to stop by your website! I am intrigued as to how you can get your woven clay to be so neat and precise, is there any way you could post instructions or tips to successfully weaving clay? Thank you so much, and I am very impressed with your artwork, it takes an immense amount of skill and time to create such wonderful pieces.


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