Friday, February 25, 2011

One foot in front of the other.

There has been a bit of preparation for a wood firing in April at Juniata. Jared, Kurt, Nick, and I have been given the opportunity to give it another go after the last firing in November. I have been blessed by the addition of an electric wheel in my space, and after today I now have my electric kiln in place. I hope to do a bisque firing tomorrow and if that goes well a mid range (cone 6 or 2262 degrees F) firing soon after that so I may have bisque fired examples of the Dundee Red clay from Georgies as soon as this coming Monday.
I also ordered a box of MC 214 clay from Alligator Clay Supply down in Louisiana that I hope will be here as soon as tomorrow. My plan after that is to get some Cone 4-6 clay from Standard Ceramic Supply right here in Pennsylvania and see which clay meets my approval. I also am collecting some midrange recipes for clay bodies that I want to try. To hand mix my clay bodies would be the best case scenario because I would know exactly what is in them and I wouldn't have to pay so much in shipping. But if I find a better commercial body then that's what I'll stick with. For instance, Standard 257 is a fantastic porcelain that I just absolutely fell in love with in college. I mixed all my own clays in school but I had problems getting porcelain to that perfect state of plasticity while staying away from Titania, more on that later. What I found was this boxed clay that works like a charm; for me of course, I recommend mixing your own porcelain first and trying other varieties before settling on anything. The point of all of this is that I have been making pots for the next anagama firing in April. Here is an image of some jars that I put together Wednesday. I have a long way to go before I have enough wares to feel comfortable and prepared for the upcoming firing but I am on my way.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Muddy Hands. Muddy Thoughts.

The cold here in Pennsylvania seems to be lifting. Thankfully. I should start off by saying that after the last post about making work I had some new and exciting issues...

While I was in the space I had been running a small electric heater and a kerosene heater in the large space in the front of the building, this kept the chill off just slightly the temperature still hovered around 40 degrees on a good day. When we (my dad and I) left we turned the stove and the heater off, not a big deal. However, I missed a day of going to the building/studio due to work at Boxer's Cafe and teaching an adult ceramics class at Juniata College. The next day I went in to find my pots frozen! Not good. We installed an industrial heater that now keeps the, little space that is my new studio, above freezing when I'm not there and warm enough to work with water and clay when I am.

That being said I have been messing around with some new clays for electric firing... now I know I myself have staved off finishing work in an electric kiln for a long while. But its come down to it. I need to make work and I have a kiln in storage that I picked up a while ago. It is probably going to go in next week. Should be interesting, I'll do my best to document that nonsense.

What clay? You ask. Well I started off with this idea about being as simple and elegant as possible with out being quite so boring as white on white or clear on white (though I may eventually get down to some of that too). I went with the thought of red clay, white glaze. Dundee Red from Georgie's Clay in Portland, Oregon to be exact. I'm crazy, I know. I got a call from them the day after I ordered basically questioning my sanity for shipping clay across the country. "Have you ever heard of Standard Ceramics?" (a supply company n Pittsburgh, PA) was the question I was asked... of course I have but I did my research and for my red clay, white glaze business I was looking for a specific color of clay and their swatch online looked the best.
I have since started to look for another company because unless they have another outlet closer their site (haven't called yet) refuses to let me buy more than 150 pounds at once. This is a problem. If you have any suggestions for a red clay that is a midrange, cone 4-7ish, body and fires warm red (not brown or bright red) let me know. So that's last week in a nutshell. Here are some photos from two days ago that can kind of give you an idea of where I'm going with the red clay. Oh and that red thing in the upper right corner is the heating unit. Pretty nifty.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Things.

So I updated my website a bit. Those photos of anagama fired work can be found there, go now. Check it out I am pretty happy with the results. It was a good firing.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Images of progress and woodfired pots...

I set up a photo area in the building that I've been working on turning into a studio space. Over the last couple of days I shot some of the work that came out of the winter 2010 firing of the anagama at Juniata college. Normally I'd post all the pictures here but in lieu of having to share info and such with my .com I am going to tell you that they live there. I shot some 9 pieces so far and did multiple views of each. There are some really quality works that came from the firing. The pots are made from stoneware and porcelain, some were coil built and some thrown. I really enjoy making larger pots with coils. It allows for a different feel; more architectural in nature I guess.

I picked up a new camera as well. A Nikon S8100 coolpix (I think that is what is called). Seems to be a pretty good little number. Takes some high quality images. I want you all to see what I've been up to so I started taking images of the space that is to be the studio, gallery, and whatnot. The photos are of the last day or two as well and, to be honest, don't give a great indication as to where we started about 8 years ago. To a new viewer the spaces and places seem quite messy when in actuality they are quite empty. Still to cluttered to get down to the utmost serious business they are beginning to take shape. I came across an AMACO No. 4 treadle wheel over the new year and have just begun to throw on it. (*Remind me to write all about my thoughts on that later... So you will see a few pics of me throwing and that is the unit I am using.) I will continue to document the clearing and retrofitting of the space as we (my dad, a few friends here and there, and I) keep moving along. I hope you joy the photos as it has also taken much to become comfortable enough to want to share photos with you. I was going to omit all of the process here but it seems a shame to let it go as it has been quite an endeavor and a true labour of love.