Category Archives: art

pottery update / antigravity bowl

All my pottery survived the first firing!! YEA!!

I put red glaze over the whole flower top and thought it could be fired with the stem in the base for the glaze. That’s clear glaze on top of my underglazes so it looks white now but after it gets fired it will be shiny and show the greens and blues I sponged on the base and stem.

The lady that loads the kiln was there and I asked her if it would slump if it was fired right side up and she said it might. I was surprised because I thought stoneware wouldn’t slump on the second firing. I looked it up and they seem to not fire stoneware to maturity most of the time because it doesn’t hold the glaze well. I thought about it for a while and decided to go back over to the pottery place and take the glaze off the edge of the flower so it can be fired upside down again and hopefully keep its shape so it doesn’t lose the antigravity look because if it shows gravity by slumping that would kill the illusion. You need to keep the glaze off the edges of the pot that touch the kiln or it might glue itself to the kiln or make some kind of mess.

It took and hour to scrub the glaze off the edges of the flower but if it works it will be worth it. I could put gold trim on it to cover the unglazed edge. That would be pretty. It might get fired on Sun. or maybe not. I’ll check back on it next week.

oyster shell flower in aluminum foil bowl

I glued them together with Gorilla Glue, so I hope it’ll be strong enough to turn over tomorrow and put more glue on the bottom.

This might be a bad sculpture, I’m not sure. I once saw a huge oyster shell sculpture at the VMFA. It was a really horrible thing. hahahaha And that artist was a real professional! This is one reason why I like my amateur status. If it looks like hell it doesn’t matter and I don’t care too much if it’s bad art. I have the time to waste experimenting.

Do you think I should dip it in gesso and put some color on it or leave it natural? I was planning on displaying it on top of my antigravity bowl. This needs a base. The antigravity bowl is in the kiln today and the suspense is killing me. It’s cooling. Maybe I can put the glazes on my pots tomorrow.

Good or bad, I don’t know. I guess it’s up to the art viewer’s taste. Either way, you see all the stuff I make on the blog. I’ll keep the things around for a while then when I’m in the mood I’ll throw away or give away art because I like to cull my collection.

wedging clay / how much is enough?

I guess they skip this step for mass production but if you’re making a sculptural piece that takes some time to build you need to wedge the clay to increase the chances it will survive the firing. Firing the pot is stressful on the clay. If there’s an air bubble trapped in the wall of your pot it will break or even explode in the kiln, ruining the pot and sometimes pots around it. Wedging is an exercise. I doubt others do it because it’s tiring and they want to just throw throw throw on the wheel. If you wedge the clay you align the microscopic clay plates into a spiral which should make it easier to throw or build with, and you get the air bubbles out.

You roll the clay and press down on it and give it a little turn and fold it over on itself a little and repeat until you don’t see any more air bubbles break. In the top pic you can see the print from my palms, the right hand on the side, which is where most air bubbles break and my left hand print on top of the ball pressing down.

It’s a sensuous process for your artists that like getting their hands muddy. When I was a little kid I made mud pies after it rained. I can’t remember who taught me to wedge clay, it was so long ago.

My Dad had a home made kiln in the cellar. I guess he built it, I forget. It was electric and needed a 250 outlet. He let me fire it once and I had to sit in the cellar all day with it because it was kind of dangerous and needed to be watched. He built a little window in the side and you could just barely see a cone through it. The new kilns cost over $3000 and you can program them to your phone so you don’t have to sit there with it.

The pic above shows an air bubble breaking . They break under my hand most of the time but often on the stretched edge of the roll.

When I’m wedging clay I often stop and look at a little break and ask myself is that an air bubble? Yeah, probably, because it doesn’t look like a fold over. Then I wedge it 100 more reps after I see the last air hole break. This time I counted to 80 then this came out. I’ll start again at 1.

A ball this size could take 15 min. or more. I need to rest my arms after a few minutes so it takes days. Every time I wedge for a few minutes I make the clay wet and wrap it up in a plastic bag. It’s way too stiff fresh off the block and I need to wedge water into it to make it softer.

End of the World pot / plan B

The End of the World pot I made last week was fun but I couldn’t get it fired because the way I dug my fingers into it to destroy it might have made trapped air pockets which would explode in the kiln so I smooshed it even more and I’ll wedge that clay again. The pottery class is ending and I still have some clay. I want to try to make the end of the world again but this time I’m planning on killing it a better way, more deliberately, instead of the sudden smooshing. The end of the world should be refined, right?

With pottery, you wind up smooshing a lot of attempts and you have to enjoy that part of it too. Either that or you give away a lot of pots or toss them eventually. I actually sold a couple long ago to a lady whose husband hit on me and I turned him down. hahahah, Should I tell the story of that good looking swinger? He’s dead.

The new plan is to have my planet, Saturn, go out of orbit and collide with the Earth. Saturn is my new plan for a base. I’ll paint continents and oceans and clouds on the globe first so it looks like the Earth then wait for it to partially dry and cut into it instead of smooshing when it’s wet, and try to peel it open so you can see the red inside.

I need a couple days to get another ball of clay wedged.

End of the World / before and after pix

This represents the Earth as round as I could make it and on a donut base. It reminds me of one of those pretty paper weights or a snow globe. I thought it might look more like Earth if I paint continents and clouds on it. Does it really need the base?

Now it’s modern art! hahahahaha. Smooshing it was fun! Good therapy too.

I wish I could write in art jargon. This needs a statement that makes no sense but sounds intellectual. Any of my writer friends out there have any ideas?

Does this look like something to you?

I might do another one.

antigravity bowl built but not fired and plan for the end of the world

The top part is whiter because it’s almost dry and I sanded it. I was able to take the bottom part off the batt but it’s still too soft to turn over and finish the bottom. Can you see an antigravity illusion in this?

I bought a bottle of candy apple red glaze for the top flower part and my pottery teacher said she likes that glaze so it will probably come out bright and I was planning on using green and blue underglazes on the stem and base then when it gets fired the second time a layer of clear on top of the underglazes.

I took this to the class and showed the teacher so she can vouch for me that I made it during the class time because I didn’t get anything fired yet. They might want to charge me extra for making larger pots and because I want mine fired all at once. It seems practical to me because when they come out of the kiln I can use their bucket of clear glaze and do them all at once but I’m probably not following procedure. I don’t know. It seems like a laid back place and I don’t mind paying if they charge me but I took the class and made these things at home. Sometimes I’ll take a class just to get me started on something and so I’ll have an expert to ask if I need info or advice then the teacher might get mad because I want to do my own thing and they let me do that but that’s not the way to make friends in the art world. So, I rarely take a class but this teacher seems very nice and she is a real good potter and teacher. After I make a little pot or two more I’m calling it quits with the pottery and going back to drawing and painting. It’s nice for an artist to switch up and use different media sometimes.

I can’t tell if my antigravity bowl is just plain weird or if it’s good modern art. It felt weird showing it to the teacher. I haven’t shown my work for a long time since I gave up on juried shows. (because I can’t pay those idiots to reject my art anymore) Anyway, an artist is revealed through their work and a savvy art viewer might assess my brain. So there’s another reason to do what I like and not show it.

Years ago I took a pottery class at VCU and I wasn’t doing it for credit so there was no reason to try to please the teacher. All I wanted to make was half round pinch pots and join them together into a sphere and then smoosh them. I called them the End of the World Series. The teacher said she wouldn’t like a pot if she bumped into the table and it rolled. I didn’t tell her she has too much furniture if she bumps into it. hahaha Eventually I threw out all my end of the world pots and now I only want to make one more with a bumper for a base and I’m going to smoosh it. I drew a little hole in the top of this sketch so you can see the Earth is made of clay and it’s hollow! It won’t roll, oh teacher of yore, because it’ll be on a base. The pot will illustrate the end of the world.

the base for my antigravity bowl

This part needs some work on the bottom but it should dry a little before I try to turn it over or maybe I can slide it off the edge of the batt when it dries because it’s stuck now. I can’t call it finished yet but I’m pretty sure it will work now after all the struggles I went through with the flower part. The stem of the flower fits in the hole with room to spare but as the clay dries it shrinks so I’ll check it again when both pieces are dry and if it’s too tight I can make the hole wider without too much trouble.

This close up shows an idea to add to the antigravity illusion by making the tire, bumper, fat lip, whatever it is, up off the batt a little. I made coils of clay and wrapped them with plastic wrap and put them around the dome shape on the batt. Then when I put the bumper on the dome it’s lifted up a half inch. When it dries a little I can take the plastic wrapped coil out of there and smooth the bottom of the bumper and Voila! Antigravity because the bumper’s not sitting on the table. I hope the illusion works. I’ll let the art viewers decide when it’s assembled with the flower part.

plan B for a stem on my antigravity bowl

Do you ever think, ” I could be so good if I only knew what I was doing?” That’s how I felt after my first try on making the stem for my pot, it was a total waste of time. I originally planned a long thin stem and tried to mold one around a dowel rod but it didn’t work at all. I smushed it. Then I started thinking, maybe a short thick stem would work and if I don’t use a dowel rod and mold it by hand that might work. Will the stem add to the antigravity look? If I put it on my coffee table how much stem do I want to see? I had to sleep on it and try again today.

I put the pot on the batt and even though I had it slowly drying under plastic for a couple days it looks like my waves might be going flat again. Darn it. I made the executive decision to forget about the flat spots. Maybe I can sand a little later. If not, it’s one of those times where you have to accept it and move on.

Those arrowhead shapes are leaves. I planned to add 6 leaves to make it stronger, now I don’t know. Does it really need the leaves? Will they be noticed or hidden under the flower. Should I quit working on the flower now and start on the base for this sculpture?

This is the kind of project that would be impossible to do if I had distractions in my life.

antigravity bowl / not off to a rip roaring start

This could be a waste of time. I don’t know if I can make it work.

I put my circle and half circle together to try to make the look of a 4 gore skirt when you spin around and the skirt flares out like a flower and was thinking, oh no. This isn’t fabric.

At first I tried molding it over a bowl and worked on making the waves evenly spaced but I need to flip it over to even it up top and bottom and when I flipped it (using 2 batts) it had flat places where it was resting on the bowl and then I tried to even it up without the bowl. Now it has flat places where it’s resting on this batt and I need to flip it again. Also it was too wet when I flipped it and broke in a few places but I fixed it with slip. I cut the hole in the center because the bowl didn’t work the way I wanted it too and it was flat in the center. Now I need to make a little bowl and put it under this hole because I want a rounded bottom and no flat places. I need to try to flip it into a box of styrofoam peanuts and try to even it up again from the bottom and get rid of the flat spots and fill in the hole with a half round. I should let it firm up a little first.

This is only the first part of a complicated plan and it might not work at all. It’s too soon to tell.

This is where being a failure in life is good for an artist, because when you’re used to failure it’s not as bad to try something that doesn’t work as when everything in life works out for you. Know what I mean? I got nothing to lose. And if I can make it work out, it’ll be Daring! Innovative! hahaha, I just need to warn you. This could get scrapped.