Young Artists

I’ve always loved children’s art.  I still have some ceramic pieces from a stint as a camp counselor more than forty years ago.  One of my Stepson’s pieces is on proud display on a bookshelf in the living room and drawings by the Step Potato and Step Banana hang in the kitchen.  So I always look forward to the Annual Young Artists Exhibition at Fleisher Art Memorial.  This years’ show, on view until  June 16, showcases the work of 500 kids from ages 5 to 18,  who participate in art programs at Fleisher.  I naturally gravitate toward the pottery but I enjoy it all.

 

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Another great Fleisher-sponsored art program for kids and one for which I volunteer  is Color Wheels.  Read more about Color Wheels here.

There’s Many a Slip ‘Twixt the Mug and the Lip

 

Isn’t that the old artistic dilemma?  You have a vision and you can’t quite realize it.  But for me, the fun is in the exploration.   I experimented with handle shapes and tried mixing Mason Stains into  Amaco Velvet Underglazes to enhance the colors of the surface decoration.

The mugs are glazed with a clear satin glaze on the outside and a white glaze on the inside.  I like the way the colors turned out.  The handles are another matter. Some of them look great but are not comfortable to use.   Other handles look awkward but are extremely comfortable in the hand.  Unless your handle is tried and true, there’s no way of knowing how the mug will feel until it’s fired and filled with its first serving of Java or tea.   But experimenting is all part of the fun.

 

The Wopperjawed Pot

Woppy Jawed,  Wapper Jawed,  Whopperjawed,  Whomperjawed.  What do these words mean?    Something that’s askew.  Crooked.  Not straight.  Uneven, even.  And they all apply to my work.  I come from the measure three times and cut for the rest of the day school of crafting.  I wonder how I ever managed to make two quilts.  I used to fret about my crooked lines and uneven seams.  But as I got older, I got smarter.  Or maybe wiser (in the Equus africanus asinus sense, of course).  I embraced my flaws, including my wopperjawdiddidity. (I made up that word in case you’re wondering.)    Hence the Wopperjawed Pot.    The  Wopperjawed Pot is about 12 inches tall and is hand-built of white earthenware using the tarpaper technique.  I used colored underglazes,  stains, and chalks for the surface decoration.  Everything is covered with a clear matte glaze.  It took third place in ceramics in the Fleisher Art Memorial Student Show (the 120th annual!) and was the inspiration for the menorah.  Which is also wopperjawed.   Here are some pictures.

 

 

 

 

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The Shark Pot

It has been snowing all day.  I didn’t feel like trudging to Herman’s Coffee Shop so I missed my Wednesday afternoon coffee group.  I wasted most of the afternoon struggling with an extremely buggy upgrade to iWatermark Pro.    But I digress.

The Shark Pot got its name from my studio mates who thought it resembled a shark.  Indeed.  Is it the mouth of the pot?  Is it the flipper-like attachments?   The Shark Pot brings other disturbing images to my mind which I will not share here.  Suffice it to say that a visiting neighbor was so taken with its novelty and potential for horror (as a vessel for a Venus Fly Trap or maybe even sinister flora à la  Little Shop of Horrors), that I felt compelled to send it home with him before Boris could break it.

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Embrace the Handle

Many people, including yours truly, are daunted by the thought of pulling a handle for a mug. So rather than face the task with fear, I decided to pay special attention to my mug handles to see whether I could come up with handles that are fun to make. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1.IMG_20180209_113045But I will not be making mugs this week because Clayathon starts today!  And I’ve been looking forward to it for some time.  To read about past Clayathons, press here.

Pottery, Cats, and Clayathon

I’ll start with the bad news.  Boris broke the Picasso Vase!  He was flinging himself to the top of his cat tree to claim a treat and everything between him and the treat was, shall we say, fodder for collateral damage.  He got the treat and the vase hit the floor.   I repaired the vase today with some 23k gold leaf and epoxy (Kintsugi) and might still put it in the Fleisher Art Memorial’s 2018 Student Show.  We shall see.

In the meantime, I have been working on soliciting auction and goody bag donations for Clayathon 2018. There are going to be some wonderful items this year and one-third of the auction proceeds go to  The Center for Pediatric Therapies and Ron Lehockey’s heart pin project.

I donated some pottery last year and it was pretty popular so I decided to contribute two lidded vessels to this years’ auction.

 

The vessel on top is screen printed with underglazes and the lower one is painted with underglazes.    The vessels are hand built using the tarpaper technique.

Here’s a  picture of the vessels before they were painted and a picture of the finished vessel I showed you in the tarpaper technique post.    I call it the Sassy Box and plan to make some mug handles with the same design as the handle on the Sassy Box lid.

The Picasso Vase

I made a Picasso vase.  Or rather, the other people in the studio started calling the vase The Picasso Vase before I ever thought of it.  Probably because of the shape which would have been impossible to achieve without the tar paper technique (which I also used to make the menorah.)
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You can from the picture above see how difficult it would have been to support the vase in its wet state without the tar paper to support it.  It was three wet slabs with beveled edges, scored and pinched together.

 

    Paper covered vase on left (upside down).  Bone dry vase before bisque firing on the right.

If the vase was to be an homage to Picasso, I needed to decorate it with Picasso-style images.  I decided on a cat, a mouse, and a fish.   Here are some preliminary sketches I made for the mouse.  I started with realistic drawings and got more abstract as I went.

 

I had no problem deciding on the cat portion and the fish came to me all at once.

 

Here are the designs for the mouse and fish,  drawn on the bisque-fired vase with an underglaze pencil.

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The cat in progress.  I used underglaze chalks and liquid underglazes for color.

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        Right out of the kiln.

 

 

The finished vase.

 

The Menorah . . . and Boris

I made a menorah for my stepson and his family to welcome them into their new home.  The shape of the menorah was inspired by a vase I was working on (still unfinished) and I used the tar paper technique of hand building ceramic shapes that I described earlier in the year.  

Here are some construction pictures.  The menorah is hollow.

And here is a picture of the final product after bisque firing and glazing.

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Ever wonder what happens if you give a cat a dreidel?  If he’s Boris he’ll play for treats and clean you out.

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Happy Holidays!

Tarpaper Technique

 

I am having a good time in the pottery studio experimenting with the tar paper technique.   The items below are white earthenware in different stages of finishing.  The tar paper supports the soft clay slabs and allows you to make all kinds of crazy shapes. Of course I have to see how far I can push it.  Stay tuned.

 

 

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Beware of sharks in the slip bucket!

 

Pottery Experiments

And that is what they are:  experiments.  I spent the summer trying different hand building techniques and seeing what I could do with white porcelain.  I threw a lot of what I made away mostly because of mishaps during the glaze firing.  And I made a few pounds of unglazed beads, pendants and trinkets that are colored with Mason stains. Those will get a ride in the rock tumbler which should give them a smooth, shiny satin finish.  I also made a few  bead trees so I can make glazed beads.  So, here is what I ended up with:

 

Some bangles (I wish I had made more of these) some nerikomi dishes, one mug, a platter with a feathered slip design, and two mid-century modern-looking vases that I will find good homes for.