Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fox mug

I think foxes are pretty darn adorable. From Fennec foxes to Arctic foxes, these creatures are just so much fun to draw and paint, not to mention look at, admire and just squee out loud over their cuteness.

At any rate, one of my favorite comic book artists loves foxes. She has a stuffie named Mycroft that she shows off on her Facebook page. And me, being the generous soul that I am, well, I've been wanting to send her a piece of pottery. Colleen Doran (http://www.adistantsoil.com/) is an amazing artist who has inspired me since I was around 12 years old if not younger. At first, I was going to send her one of my wall hanging vases. I mean, who am I to send her something drawn? But, I never got around to it. And then I decided that a wall hanger would mean nothing to her as most of my wall hanging customers do ikebana. I don't think Ms. Doran does ikebana.

Next, I decided to make her a fox bead. Carved it, painted it, glazed it. Unfortunately, the glaze was too thick and I lost too much detail for my liking.

And so, it finally came to me to do a mug and to paint a fox. Because, gosh darn it, I can paint and draw too!

Plus, she might get a kick out of it and be able to use it.

Still, if this fox mug turns out, I might have a hard time letting it go. Oh dear, this does not bode well.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dragon Vase - finished

Earlier this month, I posted some photos of a dragon vase. And now, I can show you the completed version. I am very, very happy with how he turned out!


Now, in my last posting, you could see how I had a lot more detail and some color from the underglaze. However, one of the risks you take in wood/salt firing is that the colors will burn out (very hot temperatures here) and the salt would degrade any textures you put on it. One friend preferred the back side because you could still see the texture. I, however, am just fine with how it turned out. I got an ash drip on his chin (green glassy beard!) and some drips on his back scales.

And, even though his tail separated from the pot during the drying process, the tail flattened and relaxed against the vase. I'll have to take better photos of the vase soon. He'll be posted on Etsy soon enough.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

More wood fire results from the May 2014 firing

Here is what the kiln looked like after I helped break down the door. Oooh, so much shiny! I was a very happy potter. And you can see my dragon vase up in the corner. Perfect spot for him! I'll post about him later.

Here's my baby dragon. He was sitting by some lovely cups and just looks so sweet. He's going to be a part of my personal collection.

A better picture of the baby dragon.

Here's my fish. You might recall (or not) that I broke his fin off. Well, the magic of E6000 glue helped me reattach the fin. I think I'll add some gold leaf in the broken area. He'll also be a gift to a girl who gave me one of her pieces. Not sure how to display this guy. His hole for a stand got covered up too.

And a frog. I really like how both the fish and the frog look like they just came out of the water.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Wood fire results part 1

So, while I was in DC, there was a wood/salt firing. Fortunately, I have good friends who took my pieces and loaded them into the kiln. I owe them a big favor as my pieces turned out great. Above is a dragon sculpt that was originally going to hold glass beads. But, the hole got closed over in the firing. Also, I wasn't too happy with the eyes... too bulging. And so, I decided to give it away.

 Still, he got some lovely ash coloring (the green glassy parts)

And even an ash drip/tear on one of his wings.

And here is the happy owner. I gave the dragon to Miss A. because she will be helping me out when I'm ready to post more of my pieces on Etsy. Just need to make more. Always happy to see happy owners of my work.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Some inspiration and a memory

Today, I went to the Smithsonian Zoo (or the National Zoo) in Washington DC. Amongst all the gorgeous animals I saw today, I also saw this plate in a gift shop.

And it reminded me of this plate I painted back in 2012

Now, all the work I have been painting has been fairly cartoony. This doesn't mean I can't draw realistically. In fact, I remember painting sea turtle platters that were fairly designed/cartoony before discovering that a more realistic turtle was more interesting and more popular.

And now, I think you all know where I'm going with this. Expect to see some fairly realistic paintings of animals coming up on plates. Can't wait to get back to clay when I get home!

I also have to make a couple of bowl for some ladies I met as a thank you for them a)hosting a lovely dinner party and b) bringing me my camera when I had forgotten it in a taxi on the way to the party and the driver returned my camera to the house.

So, lots to do when I get home.

And here's a tiger picture that will be my reference...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fish Plate 2 and the Art of Letting Go

 A few months ago, a fellow potter who is much more experienced than I am and also much bigger in size, showed me how to throw large platters. He demonstrated with one whole bag of clay, 25 lbs. As for me, I decided to go with half a bag. I threw two platters and took about 3-4 days to recover physically haha. The platter above is about 11lbs of clay. Now, I did try to wire off the platter, but the wire rose up as I was trying to slide it along the bottom and I managed to slice up a bit of the bottom. I cursed aloud, slipped the wire along and then did my best to smooth out the damage. I thought I was successful... we shall see.

 I decided to sculpt a fish on it. A few weeks earlier, I sculpted a fish and used underglaze on it. It was successful and turned out quite nicely. So, I was eager to replicate the success and do another fish. This time, I decided to make the fins out of Pier porcelain (the platter is made of Smooth Sculpture clay). I know that Pier porcelain and Smooth Sculpture have different  shrink rates, but I figured,  "What the heck? Let's see what happens."

 Here's the completed sculpt. Body and face made of Smooth Sculpture.

 Detail... I loved how this turned out.

And then, I took the plate upstairs into my condo to let it dry there. I thought that it had dried enough that it wouldn't matter what I set it upon to dry... Since my cats like to walk on my dining room/work table, I decided to put it on my kitchen countertop. Wrong move... My countertop is made of Corian. I don't think it allows for 'movement'... So, the below happened.

A small crack that went right through the fish and the platter.

Which then became a large crack that went all the way through.

To the end result... cracked in half.

Now, I posted these photos on Facebook, and a number of well meaning friends gave me suggestions on how to fix it or how to finish it. And I did consider it for a while, but did not want to spend the time to finish it. I just wanted to toss it. I talked to the friend who originally taught me how to throw the platter and another potter friend what they thought I should do. Both agreed with my idea to just toss it and yes, they did tell me what I wanted to hear. Honestly, as a potter of many years, sometimes, it's just easier and faster to let go of your mistakes and start again. And that is what I did.

After a few days of mourning, I eventually tossed the plate into my recycled clay bucket. Bashed it to pieces and felt much much better.

Sometimes, it's just better to let it go.

No, I will not sing the song from the movie to anyone. Although, I might consider singing it in Japanese.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dragon Vase

So, I have a commission to do a 37 cm tall vase (a little over 14 inches tall) and I decided that I should do some practice stacker pots to make sure that I can still throw tall (I've been throwing so many mugs lately!). And the vase you see is the result.

Also, there is a wood salt firing coming up next weekend. I wasn't sure I would complete much of anything in time, but I sure was going to try. A friend had given me 3 bags of Danish White with sand clay, and since that clay takes color very well in wood firings, I knew what clay to use. Just needed to make something.

Made the vase. I really liked how it turned out. The main body is made up of two cylinders that were merged and blended and shaped together. The neck and top part of the vase is a separate cylinder that I attached after trimming. I was very pleased with it. Now, my original idea was to sculpt a dragon on the vase.  But, since I liked the shape of the vase so much, I posted a photo and asked my friends whether or not I should add a dragon. Although a few people said "no", a great majority said "DRAGON!"

And so... here you go... a dragon vase:


Now, the dragon is made of the same clay as the vase. I decided to add some underglaze to the dragon so that it will look different from the rest of the vase when it is fired. Remember, wood fired pieces usually get color from the type of wood you use in the firing. And although you may not get uniform colors, the results can be unexpected. By underglazing the dragon, I will add a bit of control on the end result. I will definitely post photos when it is completed.

And finally, here is a photo of me underglazing my dragon. Photo taken by a friend.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I am back! - Fish Plate #1

Well, actually, I never left. I just neglected to post on this blog since last June. So, let's catch everyone up.

The kiln I posted about in June was returned. It just wouldn't get to cone 6 as was advertised. So, I returned it.

In the fall, I started to make Minion mugs from Despicable Me and was busy making a ton of those for Christmas. Let's just say that I did not charge enough at the start. However, I was able to pay some bills and make over $300 on those mugs. I also made a number of Totoro mugs.

Thankfully, the number of Minion mugs has decreased. Also, thankfully, I received a number of commissions that kept me busy til about now. I still have a few left to fulfill, but they are not as numerous as before.

So, what have I been up to? There was a bout of naked raku pots with water color. I'll do a post about that later this week - and those were done last year. I do plan to make more and might have a new one by the end of this week. I've also been throwing platters... some have been really big. Unfortunately, my first big platter cracked in half. More about that later too.

Here's the one I'm proud of right now:

This platter was made from some left over clay. It was a bit wobbly, but around 12 inches wide at the time of throwing... I had been looking at some really pretty photos of colorful betta fish shot with black backgrounds. The photos were absolutely stunning and I decided to do a sculpt.

After I finished sculpting it, I really had no idea how to finish it. On the one hand, it is pretty much a decorative plate. I poked holes behind the tail of the fish to insert a wire for hanging the plate on the wall. I also wanted to make sure that the colors were really bright and contrasting with the black background. In the end, I decided to try underglazing the fish and see what would happen.

Here's the result. I hand painted the clear glaze on the fish and the glossy black glaze on the plate (over the black underglaze). I do need to practice the application of glazes to make it a bit more even. However, I do like how it turned out. The current price for this plate is $225. I do plan on raising the price if I put it on ETSY or take it to a show. But, for anyone reading this blog, if you want this plate, drop me a line. I'm happy to ship it anywhere (for the price of the plate and shipping/handling, of course).

Lots more to share in the upcoming weeks. To see work in progress, it's best to follow my facebook page : Spinning the Clay Fantastic.

See you soon!