Monday, October 25, 2010

Carved Vases, Stage II

The four carved vases were bone dry and it was time to bisque fire them, then glaze them. But I don't think these pots lend themselves to regular glazing. Colored glazes might war with the complicated, busy carving, or mute it. I know from experience that clear glaze alone would be too dull on the buff colored stoneware clay body.

I had a couple of jars of underglazes, though, which are formulated to go on raw pots. There were only light blue and black underglazes, so that is what I used. The photos show the four vases with these underglazes, which I put on fairly dry with a small foam roller and a flat sponge brush. The surfaces of the vases have almost an ink-printed effect. They will be bisque-fired in the old reliable electric kiln later in the week. Afterward, I will clear-glaze over the fired underglazes and fire the pots again.

This is Stage II of the vase story. Tune back to see how the finished, clear-glazed vases come out. I can't wait to see, myself.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In the Carving Zone

The weeks have passed into a couple of months, and what busy months they've been! My studio stood almost abandoned in favor of major family events, religious observances and celebrations, and travel. I have been contemplating web marketing and show possibilities. I applied to a co op gallery. In general, I've been considering what is the real potential for profit. But my hands have touched very little clay and no glaze at all.

I decided to revisit an old favorite pastime. As you saw in the photo from August of the bowl with the bridal bouquet in it, I used to carve pots. The bowl in the photo is over a decade old, from a time I tried carving into bowls some semblance of those leaves and vines I love to draw so much. You need to work out before you can lift one of those carved bowls. Since they were made very thick (too thick, maybe 3/4") to accommodate deep carving, they are extremely heavy, maybe 10 lbs each. No one bought them, either because I had too high a price on them to reflect all that work, or because they are so heavy. I keep them stowed away gathering dust in the kiln room now, their fate undecided.

Finally returning to the studio last week, in a contemplative mode, I threw a group of new vases on my trusty Lockerbie kickwheel. The belly portions of these vases were thrown thick, perhaps 1/2" instead of the usual 1/8" or so. Next day, I trimmed foot rings on the bottoms of these, got out my carving tools with their variously shaped cutting surfaces, and set up a comfortable padded stool beside my wheel. Hands, head and carving tools entered the spontaneous zone, and the vases pictured are the result.

I kept carving till they felt light enough in weight and seemed "done." You probably know that "done" is an unquantifiable state if you start getting abstract in your design. There were no guidelines but my gut feeling. These individuals were so much fun that I lost track of time. A blank canvas can be a joyful thing.