Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Where Does the Form Come From?

Where in the potter- in the artist- is the source for what forms on the wheel?
I am not sure.

In the last 5 days of potting, I have been throwing 1-lb. balls of a clay that is new to me.
kitchen scale- indispensible
(As always, click on any picture for a bigger view.)

The clay is Standard 213, a cone-6 porcelain. I have only tried porcelain a couple of times. Yes, porcelain is clay like stoneware and earthenware are clay, but it is made up of finer particles, and it will fire white. I'm surprised to find that it works great on the wheel. It stands up to throwing and behaves as asked. It doesn't live up to its reputation for throwing like soft cream cheese.

I am going to experiment with porcelain for weeks. I think the source of the forms is going to have to be play!

Before I started with 213, the wheel and tools and boards had to be washed in preparation. to prevent the porcelain being contaminated with chips and bits of darker clay.
cleanest my kickwheel has been in ages
At first the forms were focused on an idea I had sketched a couple of months ago. The pieces would have a raised foot and an irregular edge. I started with crazy little cut-edged saucers that each stand up on a 2" foot.  (Will  make cups to go on these.)
top view of tall saucers
I wanted to run with this general idea. So I made some bowls with funky feet, with the feet cut as the rims on the tall saucers were cut.
I had an idea- but the result isn't graceful
The feet were funky, but the bowls were clunky.

So I went to 1-lb. 2-oz. balls of clay. I threw a more flaring sort of bowl, indented the sides, and funked up the feet. This clay dries FAST and can be altered and worked very soon after throwing.
So far, lots of fun.
But the next vases were a bit formal, because I didn't know what to make next and they are a sort of fall-back form.
They do actually stand upright. The camera distorts the angle.
I envisioned a row of these with daisies in them all down the center of a long table. I had more balls of clay to throw and I did plan to make more of these. (I still will.) But the clay was being so responsive that I let the forms loosen themselves up, and made mugs instead. (Handles, tomorrow.)
The first one is on the right. After that I decided to just loosen up.
Then I thought, I will just "feel" the clay, and make my favorite and most natural form, bowls. Though the balls of clay to start with are small and won't lend the forms much size, if I stretch the clay to its maximum...let's see what happens.

I closed my eyes and threw these blind. I knew I wanted lightness and roundness, and the rest was open. I sensed them. I just wanted to listen to Tedeschi and Trucks on the CD player and feel the clay move itself in my hands. When I opened my eyes, I gave each one just one more spiral in my hands, letting it find its own path. I didn't care at all about symmetry. These are the freest bowls I've thrown since maybe ever. I may or may not keep the one on the right- but it doesn't matter! They are more than bowls, they are experience combined with intuition and experimentation.
The source of these is certainly inside somewhere. I'm not going to analyze it, though. Not till I've made a lot of pots from this beautiful clay.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Momentum. Is. Hard. To. Get.

In the past week, I glazed pots that were made a couple of months ago and bisqued* three weeks ago.

This lapse in time between each phase of 1) Making the pots, 2) Letting them dry, 3) Bisque-firing them, before finally 4) Glazing them...

Disconnects me from them. It is ceramicus interruptus.

What we need here is momentum!

Here are unfired "oatmeal bowls"- remember these from a recent post?- as they were drying.
Before the bisque fire.

Below are those bowls, as well as some creamers (negative space experiments you also may recall), plus a few pots made by a visiting family (who had a Sunday activity in my studio). These pots have been bisque fired, heated to about 1830 F.
Bisqueware: dry, rough-textured and plain ol' nekkit.

Here are some of the pots, glazed and ready to load in the kiln for the glaze fire.
Bisqued pottery with raw glaze on it.
Lady Dragon, my kiln, heated up to around 2230 F over the course of 10.5 hours, and the dull raw glazes melted, fused and changed almost magically into colorful finishes. The glaze-fired pottery- now that I like.
Some glaze-fired pots, (Cone 6 stoneware)
 The visiting family made some nice things (below)!
Nice job, J family!

* (FAQ: Bisquing is where the pots are heated in the kiln, reaching a point of hardness where the pottery is still absorbent, but will no longer dissolve in liquid.)