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.