Thursday, October 29, 2009

Update on Treewoman and some kitties

Tonight, I spent some time doing some clean up on the Treewoman. I had to smooth some cracks and some little bumps as well as clean off some of the little dried clay pebbles that get left on a sculpture. But, before all this, I had to clean up the bottom a bit.

The Treewoman had been drying in the back for a few weeks now. I took it off the pegboard and took it to the main studio for a little extra bit of drying time. As I put the sculpture down, some of the roots broke off. I knew it was a possibility and I also saw that the counter was not the same level of flatness as the pegboard, so it broke. Not upset about it because 1) I broke it and 2) it was kind of expected.

So, tonight, I went in and cleaned up the bottom where the roots leave off from the main cylinder. I wanted to carve into the cylinder a bit so it didn't look like the base of a cylinder with stuff attached to it. I think I did a pretty decent job of it. I'll take better pictures when she's bisque fired and final fired.
There's a wood fire coming up and I wanted to throw a few kitty sculptures (it's so fun to say: I threw some cats!... not everyone gets that though and I know my fellow kitty bloggers might get upset by that statement ;) ). At any rate, I'm using a clay called Danish White with Sand. It's extremely wet! Even though I've had the 2 bags of clay in my patio for over 2 weeks, the clay is soooo wet and kind of hard to throw above one pound. The body of the cat in the above picture was made from 3lbs of clay and is sooo heavy! It's also a little lopsided because I put the cat together when the body was a little too wet... This whole piece was made in one night. Threw the body, dried it with a heat gun. Put that off to the side. Threw the head, dried it, trimmed it, and shaped the face. Next, I attached the head to the body and then added the ears and tail. It's small but cute.

Here's my Scottish Fold Kitty. The ears were a little too close together when the ears were fully upright and I had mentioned earlier that I wanted to make a Scottish Fold, so... to make myself feel better about the aesthetics, I folded the ears over.

The body of this cat was made with about 4lbs of clay. The first time I threw it, I hated the way the body turned out. So, I re-wedged the clay and threw the body a second time. Usually, I don't like to do this because when you throw, you add water to the clay. So, a second throwing in the same night means you have clay that is structurally weaker because there's so much water... it's way too wet for anything standing up, much better for plates. However, since I dried the body out with the heat gun and then placed it under a heat lamp while I made the head, the clay was finally of a dryness that was good for throwing.

I know I'll be making more cats with Danish White with Sand, but I'll also be sculpting a few more things and may be sticking with smaller amounts of clay to throw.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Phoenix pot and platter

Here's the phoenix pot underglazed. What you can't see in this photos is the orange. All the pinky parts have underglaze on it as well. When the pot is finally fired to cone 6, you'll be able to see the orange, though I might back and add more just in case. Since I will be firing this in an electric kiln, there is less chance of the yellows and oranges burning out. This is kind of a test piece. Keep your fingers crossed!
This is the platter and stage 3 (stage 1: throwing/trimming. stage 2: bisque fired) with the sketch. Will be adding underglaze to this in the next few days. Not sure if I will fire it to cone 6 or cone 10. It will be more likely to keep its colors at cone 6. Shall have to see.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Phoenix pot

Painted the Phoenix pot with various yellows, oranges and a red underglaze. I think I'm pretty happy with it so far. We'll see how it is after it's been completely glazed and fired.

I also underglazed a bowl with a bunch of different blues. I'm not too happy with how it's looking, but will paint a few more things on it that will hopefully make it better.

Underglaze is basically pigment and clay in a very liquidy form. It's meant to be applied "under the glaze", hence its name.

I will be re-bisque firing these before applying the clear glaze over them. This will hopefully prevent the underglaze from streaking or getting messy especially with the cone 10 clear glaze since it's so watery. It might not matter with the phoenix pot as I will be brushing the glaze on it and smudging the underglaze might make it took cool. I shall have to think about it. I plan to do a few more pieces that will require a cone 6 glaze so I might wait until I get all those pieces made before I fire up the Phoenix pot.

No pictures tonight, maybe tomorrow or Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sculpture part 2

So, this is what my TreeWoman looks like now. She's got her limbs and some support for her waist area. The waist was a bit weak, so when it was too wet and I had all the limbs in place, she started to lean back and crack right about there. I had to straighten her up and then added more clay snakes to the waist. Hopefully, it won't crack anymore. This is what happens when you add too much to the top (top heaviness) and have weak, too wet waist. Fortunately, with a heat gun and some patience, she might be ok.

I'll be drying her slowly which will be pretty easy considering the wet weather.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sculpture time

The last few weeks I've been working on the sculpture above. Week 1 was throwing and slightly shaping the body, as well as adding the bark... no, they are not tentacles though they look like it.

Week 2 was adding the head and shoulders. The nose was a bit big, but I was happy with it and the lips. The eyes gave me a lot of trouble. Originally, I was going to just have big ole clay balls as her eyes, spheres instead of button eyes, but last night, I decided to try to add lids. I was pretty happy with it until this morning when I realized I should have created deeper eye sockets so she wouldn't look so bug eyed.

And so we come to week 3 where I've added eye lids, hair and started adding her "arms". Right now, she seems like she's some sort of tentacled claw woman. My vision is to make her a tree woman/dryad. Let's try to make no judgments until she's completely finished.

And as for the phoenix pot, I've decided to underglaze paint it and then electric fire it with clear to cone 6. This way, the colors won't burn out as much and yet the body will be stronger. I decided against raku because of the fragility of the body after it's fired and because in time, the bright shiny colors of raku do change and fade.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Alas, poor teapot, you died too soon

No pictures in this post, sorry.

The poor teapot. I went to check on it today and see if it was dry enough. Goodness knows it should have been. Pieces must be bone dry before you bisque fire them. If not, the moisture in the pots will heat up, turn to steam and blow up. This is the same thing that happens with air bubbles in pieces. The moisture in the air bubble is the problem, not the air. If a piece is dry enough, it can handle an air bubble. Not that I recommend testing this out, mind you. Air bubbles = bad. How do I know if a piece is bone dry? Well, a quick check is to lick it. You stick your tongue on the pot, and if the moisture quickly disappears, then it's ready. If it takes a few, then it's not. Yes, this is gross, but it's one way to tell.

Anyhow, the teapot was dry enough (I could tell without doing the lick test). I was cleaning it up a bit with a green scrub and then turned it over. Sigh... cracking. There might have been an air bubble there or something else to cause cracking (my bad trimming? I don't know... I've decided to blame goblins). I tried to clean it up knowing full well that the best path would be to just start again and make a new teapot. Ah well... I get stubborn sometimes.

At any rate, I managed to poke a hole in the bottom of the teapot and the crack just looked horrible. Even if I managed to patch it, the bottom would have always looked bad.

And so, I shall have to do what I said in an earlier post, make a bottom to fit the lid. Oh, I should have mentioned, as clay dries, it shrinks. So, I have to take that into consideration while comparing sizes of wet pots to dry.

Well, I was looking for a challenge and something to keep me out of trouble :P

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Emma's Tagine part 2

Today, I trimmed the bottom of Emma's Tagine and threw the "bottom" of the lid to form the top, if that makes sense. Basically, I threw the lid upside down. Finished the rim, flipped it over when the rim was dry enough and threw the top bit into the proper shape.

The lid

I did run into one problem. When the lid dried, it shrank so that it was a little too small for the bottom. I had to spend a little time trying to gently stretch out mostly dry clay to the proper width. It's closer now, but with more shrinkage, there could be a problem. This is the hard part about making anything with a lid. It may seem like the top and bottom fit perfectly, but then they shrink. Still, I prefer to make something slightly smaller because then there's more of a chance of a decent fit (not a perfect one) than one that is just too big. And trying to make something to fit a piece that is already bisqued or dry is a pain.

Here is the bottom, untrimmed.

Here it is trimmed.

I should have waited a little bit longer to trim it as it was a bit too wet. The center did dip down a bit and there are visible trim markings on it too. I don't like that! Fortunately, when a piece is a little too wet and dips, you can flip it over and push the dip back out without cracking and such. You still have to be careful, but it's salvageable.