This week we had our first crit of the semester. I really enjoyed seeing the progress everyone has made, and enjoyed seeing the pieces of the Ceramics 1 students as well. I like that this class is so mixed with different levels of experience; especially during our crit, I think the fact that many of us are on different levels of experience with ceramics made for a good discussion for each person’s piece. It also allowed for our pieces to be seen through a kind of fresh pair of eyes in the sense that the beginner students didn’t know what our project entailed, and some of the upper level students had never done the project that the beginner students did. I look forward to our next crit as a class for these same reasons, and to also continue seeing everyone’s progress as the semester is coming to an end.
With Apologia finally completed and out of the way, it allowed me to start on the Fantasy Function piece, which I’m making a new bathtub caddy for. I constructed it out three slabs, and put them together so that it will fit perfectly on the arm of my bathtub. The top slab extends a little further out from the arm of the bathtub, and on it I cut out a slit that rounds out into a circle so that I can slide a stemmed wine glass into. I slip painted it today and it is ready to be bisqued.
This week we finalized our Apologia project in preparation for our crit on it this next upcoming week. I glazed the three pieces I made for it, and overall I really like how they came out. I spray glazed each piece with Rutile Green and Jeff’s Long Beach Blue; the color didn’t come out exactly as I anticipated, instead they have a kind of dark bluish hue that still works with the underwater ocean theme of my piece. The glaze on the middle, round piece especially came out great with the glaze running between the strokes I made in the clay. I am looking forward to our crit for this project and seeing how everyone else’s pieces came out because I did enjoy this assignment and the short story we based our pieces off of.
We also began brainstorming for our next project, Fantasy Function. This project entails that we come up with a functional piece that serves a single, specific purpose. I came up with two possibilities, one being a strainer that fits across the top of my sink and only goes across half the width of my sink so that I can use it to wash and store veggies in preparation to cooking or chopping them, without taking up more counter space in my tiny kitchen. My other idea is making a different take on a bathtub caddy, making it fit on the edge of the tub instead of going across the top of it. It would have a table top that would extend off the edge of the tub with a slit in it to serve as a slot to hold a stemmed wine glass in. It would also possibly have a crevice on the table top cut out to perfectly hold my cell phone in it so that when placed in it, it would amplify the sound coming from my phone. I am leaning more towards this second option, but might also try and make both if I have the additional time to.
This week was comprised of many firsts for me as a ceramics student. Some were cool and interesting, and some left me feeling completely defeated and disappointed. I”m trying to look back on this busy week as a major lesson to learn and grow from, and not one in which I feel bitter about. We started off the week getting our line blends out of the kiln, and completed our triaxial blends. I used the same base glaze for both, but just changed the colorants. For my basic line blend I tested red iron oxide in 3 gram increments, and for my triaxial blend I tested mason stains peacock blue, violet, and canary yellow in 2 gram increments. The triaxial blend, although more detailed and complex, came to be quicker because I already understood the process after finishing our line blends; it no longer seemed as intimidating, but don’t take that as a sign for me wanting to do it again. The part of my week that left me feeling so sad and disappointed was getting back 3 of the 6 pieces I had in a cone 10 kiln and finding the glaze on them had run all the way down to the patty they were sitting on. These were some of the best pieces I’ve thrown, and the colors of the glazes I chose came out beautiful! They just ran so much and are stuck to the patty. I have never had a single piece run at all in the kiln, and this week I had 3 that did way too much. I haven’t tried to get the patty’s off yet, but I am hoping I can salvage them, even if they’re a little rough around the edges. I still am pretty disappointed about it, but at least I now know how thick I was layering on the glaze and will definitely be more wary of how I am glazing my pieces from here on out.
This was an eventful week for many reasons. We started our glaze testing by first doing our fusion test. We tested four samples, each fired to three different temperatures: one fired to cone 04, the second fired to cone 06, and third fired to cone 10. The four samples I tested were volcanic ash, veegum CER, vanadium stain k-20, and vermiculit. We also made a line test with glazes that we picked out ourselves. I chose a glaze I found off of glazy.com called John’s Metallic Spotted Glaze. It’s a cone 5-6 oxidation glaze and is supposed to look spotted in a runny looking way. We made our glazes from scratch, weighing out all the ingredients on a scale you get level with nuts and bolts (thanks Brian). We then gradually added a colorant to it, and used a test tile to document the progression of color, with 11 test tiles total. i chose red iron oxide as my colorant, which is supposed to turn out black after being fired. I’m very interested in seeing these two tests once they come out of the kiln.
Another eventful detail of this week is having several of my pieces come out of the kiln on Valentine’s Day! My two mugs came out, the bowl I threw a few weeks ago, and a catch-all dish I made with our black clay body. The glaze on the catch-all and on one of my mugs crawled a little, but it doesn’t bother me at all. And the glaze on my other mug came out beautifully, dripping all the way down to the bottom but not far enough to be a problem. I plan on using that glaze combo again because I love the color and how it’s slightly spotted with white throughout.
I spent the majority of class time, and outside of class time, this week working on pieces for myself. These include two more mugs that I successfully made slightly bigger than my last one (so normal mug sizes) and I made a two sets of small porcelain clay earrings. I’m very excited to see how the earrings come out, and anticipate making many more pairs if they come out well! I finished all my moon tiles for Apologia and they have already been bisque fired. I’m waiting to glaze them because I am still deciding on exactly what colors and how I’d like to glaze them. We also began our glaze calc assignments, which included making 40 line test tiles, 12 fusion blend tiles, and 10 rectangular tiles. We haven’t began mixing or testing glazes yet, but I am a little nervous about this upcoming project; the whole thought of it has been giving me headaches because I don’t quite fully understand the process or all the terms and instructions. This feeling will hopefully subside as we learn more about it, and will hopefully be very interesting and exciting.
This was a quiet week, largely in part because of the under 10 degree days and having school cancelled. I didn’t make it into the studio until the weekend, and I spent all of my time finishing up my Apologia pieces and creating one last piece that is in the shape of a full moon with lots of texture on it to replicate more coral. My pieces are being bisqued this upcoming week and I can’t wait to see how they hold up. I haven’t added any color to them, and intend on using earth toned and underwater color glazes.
I also got a few pieces out of the kiln when I came in this weekend, and I am so absolutely happy with how my mug came out. It was my first time using the Alumina Pink slip and it came out so soft and subtle, I love it. The planter I made is also finished. It’s the perfect size for a small or medium plant; I made a hole through the bottom and left the inside unglazed to better water the plant. I can’t wait to see it in use!
This week I have mainly been working on my Apologia pieces. I am making a set of wall pieces in the shapes of crescent moons that each have different ocean organisms on them. So far I have made several different types of coral, which tediously includes many small pieces of clay.
This past week I got back into the swing of throwing after a few weeks off the wheel. My long term goal for this semester is to get more comfortable on the wheel and begin to throw bigger vessels. I’m happy with the few things I threw this week, which include two small cups, a planter, and a bowl.
The first week of my last semester has come and gone. With it came excitement, anxiety, hopefulness, and a burst of new ideas that I cannot wait to create. Our first assignment for Ceramics II is to create a piece based off our responses to reading the short story “Apologia” by Barry Lopez. As an English Literature major, I am incredibly excited about creating a piece of artwork that evokes my interpretation from a specific work of literature. Images that this short story brought about in my mind are ones of darkness and vastness, while simultaneously illustrating moments of beauty. With this project I hope to display these ideas through the use of clay and create something I will be proud of.