Thursday, July 28, 2011

So one day I swear I'll have better pics.

I just finished my second week of teaching for the new session at Beech Grove Clay Works. Woohoo, I'm the official artist in residence now!  I went to the library and Half Price Books and got a ton of ceramics books, including a huge glaze recipe book, and a book on handmade tiles. I've got plans to do a ton of glaze testing! I am determined to get the perfect pink glaze, as well as some nice copper blue glazes. I will be sure to share my results as I go!

My first week, I taught some basic slab building projects - footed and paddled cups with and without a handle, with white slip and sgraffito surface decoration (totally Ayumi Horie inspired - but I talk about her to the students so much, it was inevitable that I'd demo her technique. I ♥ her work!) This week, I did basic wheel throwing, focusing on wedging and centering techniques, and throwing a simple bowl. It's going pretty well so far, and the students all seem to be enjoying themselves. Also, my mother-in-law signed up for the class, and while she had absolutely no patience for the wheel, we are working on doing a tile project together for the kitchen. I'm pretty excited about it! It's also nice getting to make work for myself that I can also use as a demo. A friend of mine wants a large cookie jar, so that was my demo for the more advanced wheel throwing students. It feels so good to get so much work done!

I know you're probably tired of seeing crappy cell phone pics of everything. I know I am, especially since I have a fairly decent digital camera that I just never remember to bring to the studio. I fully intend to take some real slides of my work this week, because I am inspired by my twitter friend's blog post about photographing her ceramics. Check it out, her pics look great!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Kitchen stuff, and lookit this BABY!

Since I've had cooking on the brain lately, I've been making more and more functional items for use in the kitchen. Last week I decided to try my hand at making spoons, and a couple months ago I made some mortar and pestles, so I'm thinking of making more. I've also been invited to participate in a teapot show, so I've been trying my hand at teapots, with varying success. I tried to make two teapots, but the second one dried before I could attach a spout and handle. I decided it would make a nice garlic keeper instead, and since it was still leatherhard, it was perfect for doing some incised line drawing.

I really enjoyed making the spoons! I'm still deciding whether I want to try Jeanette Zeis's method of making bisque molds, or whether it's easier to just form them all by hand. They were fun to make, and I used various techniques to make them, finally settling on pinching a tiny bowl on one end of a fat carrot-shaped piece of clay, and then pulling a handle on the other end. I like the variety of spoon shapes I got out of trying different things. They also make great little surfaces for doodling! I don't know why, but drawing on tiny things is so much easier than on a larger piece. I guess there's less blank space to stress over, and you can work quickly while your ideas are still fresh. You also haven't invested a ton of time in making them, so if you don't like what you've done, you can quickly make new ones.

I think I'd like to do something different with the surfaces in the future, but these were fun to play around with. I'll definitely be making more of them. These are probably going in the kiln tonight, so I'll let you know how they turn out.

Btw, the baby girl is 4 months old now! Here is her impersonation of a nerd.
Nerd baby!

And here's her impersonation of a starfish.

Pretty dang cute, huh?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ceramic Spooooooons

So cute!

I just had to share this awesome tutorial from Jeanette Zeis's blog on how to make ceramic spoons. These spoons are fantastic! I will definitely be trying this in the next week or two, and I'll share my results. If anyone else makes ceramic spoons, I'd love to see yours too. Thanks, Jeanette!

Friday, July 8, 2011

New things, and glaze issues

Here's some crappy cell phone pics. Real, honest to god pics to come. Honest.

I'm pretty pleased with my test tile birds. I may continue to use bird forms for testing glazes. They're quick and easy to make, have nice texture from the serrated rib, and now I have extra quick sell things for upcoming art fairs.

(Ceramic tech geek stuff to follow. If you're not a ceramicist, this is the boring part. You can skip it.)

All the pink glazed stuff got messed up. The glaze crawled like crazy on the inside. I wonder why that keeps happening? I applied the glazes all the same way, pouring them on the inside of the cup, and brushing the outside. The blue and aqua glazes are fine, but the pink keeps crawling. I'm thinking I either need to thin the glaze, or just brush on the interior from now on. I also read that tin and zinc oxide in a glaze can make it more likely to crawl. I wonder whether the Amaco Pink has either in it? Don't both act as opacifiers and whiteners? I'm guessing they needed some sort of white to make that particular pink shade. (Just looked up glaze colorants, and tin oxide is used in chrome tin pink stains. Aha!)

Does anyone know whether there's anyway to fix a glaze that's crawled? I'm debating whether to sell them as seconds, or to put a layer of clear on and refire them, in the hopes that the glaze with settle down. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pie/50's housewife fail

We had a 4th of July weekend BBQ to attend Saturday evening, so I decided to bake a pie. Although both Nich and I love cooking, baking is something I have decidedly less experience with. In the past, I'd always look at a recipe for a pie or cake and think "That's too much work, and I don't have any of the ingredients on hand. I don't even own a pie pan/springform pan/bundt pan/other kitchen accessory." However, for the last two years, I suddenly got it into my head that it would be great to make pies from scratch for the holidays. Last Thanksgiving, I finally tackled making pie for the very first time. I made so many pies, I felt like a master at it. I even altered a magazine recipe, changing it so many times, it thoroughly became my own recipe. I had people at work begging me to make more. Success! I am a pie making goddess!

Now I'm a little obsessed with pies and cakes. Somehow I've convinced myself that I'm going to concoct the perfect recipe, with the perfect crust, if I just make enough pies and keep tweaking them. (My waistline is contending this idea.) I've literally daydreamed about submitting one to the State Fair and winning first prize. How 50's housewife is that?

My dreams were dashed this time around, however. What was supposed to be a lovely fresh peach and strawberry cream pie turned into a weird, salty, gingery thing with too much flour in the filling. Sad face:(

However, it was my first successful lattice top pie! So it might not have tasted so great, but it was at least pretty.

To go on a tiny bit of a tangent, I've been thinking about the whole domesticity thing, being a wife and mother and being in the kitchen cooking and baking all the time. I bristle a little at the idea that this is strictly "women's work". Hell, I bristle a lot. Sometimes I feel a little guilty donning an apron and baking pies, or sitting down at the sewing machine, rather than working on my actual profession. I'm always a little wary in my head of anything that is stereo-typically "for girls", though I definitely like classically girly things more than I used to. But I don't want to be pigeonholed or live up to society's expectations about what a woman is "supposed" to be doing. I want to do what I want!

Then I remind myself that women's lib wasn't just for the right to work outside of the home, it was (and is) for the right to choose what you'll do with your life, to be treated as equals with men whether you're taking care of the household, or holding down a 9 to 5. Anyway, I like baking! (Also, pie crust dough is very clay-like...) If I enjoy it, that should be all the matters. I also remind myself that my husband is just as apt to don an apron as I am, and all the cooking skills I have, I pretty much learned from my Dad. I'm glad that our child will be as likely to see her Dad in the kitchen as she will to see me changing a tire.

Anyway, I'd make a lousy full time housewife. I just like the food end of things. Don't ask me to fold the laundry on a regular basis or anything.