Friday, November 18, 2011
If you ever see a ceramic form and think it looks easy to make, think again. Sometimes that's true but other times it's far from the truth. Gazing at this bucket serenely sitting in the drying cabinet you'd never guess a near catastrophe was narrowly avoided today. It was touch and go for what seemed like hours. So much concentrated energy and adrenaline was released into the atmosphere the studio shall remain vacated until tomorrow.
It all began with my desire to make another bucket form much wider than yesterday's piece. I had saved one of those big generic oatmeal containers which I thought would be a perfect form to use for my design. I've used various cardboard forms in the past with great success. I just spray a little WD40 on the surface and place the clay up against the form. When I have the form constructed I just slide the cardboard out and my piece is ready to dry. I usually slide the form out before I put the bottom on but for some reason I didn't do that this time. Woe is me, as you'll see.
All was going so well, I had each piece constructed so well. They were measured and cut, dried to slightly firm, textured and scored, slipped and attached beautifully. Then came time to pull out the cardboard form before the clay had a chance to dry and shrink. I pulled and pulled and pulled and the form wouldn't budge.
I thought the bottom was creating a suction so I tried to pull the bottom off and it wouldn't budge. A tribute to my improved attaching skill (I thought, Ha). I was so frustrated. All that work for hours would quickly be for naught if I couldn't get the form out. The clay was shrinking and the piece would soon burst at the seams or scored sections.
I started cutting the cardboard form with my scissors and then the scissors broke. I ran and got flower clippers and cut and cut at the cardboard form inside the bucket. It wasn't easy. My hands barely fit inside and I was trying to work quickly without making a total mess of the piece. Add to that the side attachments were sticking up in the air without any support. Those will hold the future driftwood or bamboo handle illustrated by the dowel.
Clip, clip, clip, then rip, rip, rip I went, removing the cardboard a small piece at a time. I felt like giving up and just crushing the form but I kept persisting, fighting against time and the terrific suction the cardboard had formed with the clay. Finally as I got near the bottom I felt the cardboard form give a little and then I inched what remained of it up and out a little at a time.
I looked inside and saw there was an indentation where the bottom of the form had been. A ridge in the bottom of the form had embedded itself into the bottom of the clay. Just as I suspected the form had created a suction with the bottom of the piece. When I turned the form over I saw there wasn't any plastic coating like the rest of the form and that's what had created such a terrific suction to prevent the form from releasing. I made this same style of form years ago which is shown in the photo below. (Sorry about the quality of the photo, it's the only one I have of this piece long since gone to a new home).
I have no idea if this new pieces will make it through the firing. The scored sections did almost split. As you can see in the first photo I added slip in those sections. The piece is well worn even before it's bisque firing due to the gyrations of the past hour or so. Hopefully it will turn out at least palatable. All in a day's work I guess. Easy for me to say now that the piece is happily sitting in the drying cabinet. I'll have to post photos of the fish market tomorrow, I've done enough damage for today. This post is part of show and tell Saturday for Artists in Blogland. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.