My New Art Medium – from Novice to Advanced Student!

For the past year, I ‘ve been pottering around – literally.  I started with an Intro Ceramics class at DeAnza College in Cupertino last year.  Under the tutelage of Rocky Lewycky from Santa Cruz, I learned about pinch pots, coil building, slab constructing, wheel throwing, stains, slips, glazes, bisque-firing, and glaze firing.  In subsequent classes, I was tickled to be considered an “Advance Student!”  I learned even more techniques for throwing pottery on the wheel, where the most difficult and yet most important aspect is centering the blob of clay.

Whole grain fortune cookies - burnout technique in Recycled clay

Whole grain fortune cookies – burnout technique in Recycled clay

We used clays of Bravo Buff, Smooth Sculpture, Recycled (from the mishmash leftovers of ceramics classes!), 8-11, B Mix, and later, Black Mountain, and Cinnamon.  I even now have a bag / brick of some type of porcelain – which I’m a bit intimidated to open and throw with just yet!  Just this quarter, I’ve wedged in feldspar and molochite (bisqued, ground up clay) to make a “groggier” mix with much texture and expression, and used this rough clay in a “dry throwing” technique – no water!

Rocky has challenged me to increase my clay I throw from the usual 3 pounds to 6 pounds, and now 12-15 pounds!  3 pounds of clay is about a small softball, and is held easily in one hand.  6 pounds requires 2 hands to hold, and 12+ pounds require ab workouts to wedge and carry as a ball to the wheel!  Must do sit-ups more often …

My favorite firing technique is Raku – IMG_5064being so unpredictable, depending on the amount of raku glaze, wax, and regular glaze!  I guess from the glass blowing days, I’m used to working with the intense heat, and I don’t panic.  I’m just a closet pyromaniac?!?!?

Cuerda Seca fish plate

Small Fish Platter, Cuerda Seca method of resist btwn the glazes

The Low-Fire clays and glazes with the intense colors have been fun to work with, and I do love how they’ve come out, but it’s better for more detailed and smaller work.  I like to challenge myself, too, with how I can make something 3D in an unusual form, like making the base with 3 shaped feet, or wrapping a textured slab around a cup for a raised effect.

The wonder of clay is how it allows and takes on so many textures.  Each clay body allows a different effect, too, and the finishing with stains or glazes changes the total outcome of the piece!  So much to work, experiment and have fun with!

At the Blind Center.  Meredith is in the red apron.  Her grandson is in black.

At the Blind Center. Meredith is in the red apron. Her grandson is in black.

Selfie with Meredith Odom, Nov 2014

Selfie with Meredith Odom, Nov 2014

During the Spring onward, I’ve had some Pot-throwing Parties, which culminated in late October with a Gumbo Gathering (ala Stone Soup method of potluck)!  Meredith Odom came with her guide dog, Mars, and taught her grandson to throw a simple cup.

Meredith is legally blind.  She was in my Intro ceramics class, and had invited me to do a demo with her blind center students a couple of weeks ago.  Being blind has not held her back from throwing, and in fact, probably makes her more aware of what’s going on with the clay than those of us with sight!  In fact, Meredith suggested to Rocky to have us tie blindfolds, de-focusing us (so to speak) on visualizing the centering.  It worked pretty well!

Here are a few of my humble beginnings in ceramics.  I’ve a lot still to learn about glazes – which I thought were just colors to slap on the surfaces and fire up.  Ha!

"Whole Grain" fortune cookies

Ceramics - Burn out projects

First “Burnout” thrown vessel – glaze test

Ceramics - Burn out projects

Burnout slab of burlap weave and leaves, drying

Ceramics - Burn out projects

A living slab!

Ceramics - slab works

Eucalyptus leaves and pods – curved slab project

Burnout vessel

Burnout of buckwheat grains on a thrown oval vessel, bisque-fired only

Triptych

Back of Triptych – cleats for hanging on wall

Triptych

Triptych – front view – “Fish Pond” bisque-fired only

Burnout test tiles

Burnout test tiles

Ceramics - slab works (4)

Detail of Eucalyptus burnout leaves and pods

Carving

Carving of a large bowl, smooth sculpture clay

Carved bowl

Back of carved bowl

Carved bowl

Detail of carved bowl

Poppy Bowl

Carved slab built California Poppy Bowl

Poppy Bowl

Carved slab built California Poppy Bowl

Poppy Bowl

Bottom View of Carved slab built California Poppy Bowl

Poppy Bowl

Detail of Poppy Bowl

Platter

Greenware – Galaxy Platter – Bottom

Platter

Galaxy Platter – edge detail

Fortune cookies

Fortune Cookies – decal-ed with butterflies – BEFORE

Fortune cookies

Fortune Cookies – decal-ed with butterflies – AFTER

Fortune cookies

Fortune Cookies – decal-ed with butterflies – AFTER

Ceramics & Glass - Iridescence (2)

Raku glazed and fired trivet – with reduce heated glass cup

Ceramics - Soda firing kiln (2)

Soda Firing in kiln

Ceramics - Nerikomi attempts - black mountain & recycled (4)

Nerikomi flower

Ceramics - Nerikomi attempts - black mountain & recycled (5)

Nerikomi saucer

Ceramics - Nerikomi attempts - black mountain & recycled (7)

Nerikomi – detail of the gradation of clay colors

Ceramics - Cutting sides of thick cylinder (2)

Facet cutting thrown bowl – BEFORE

Ceramics - Cutting sides of thick cylinder (1)

Facet cutting thrown bowl – AFTER

Ceramics - cuerda seca glazed piece

Cuerda Seca glazing – fish plate – BEFORE

IMG_9116

Cuerda Seca glazing – fish plate – AFTER firing

IMG_5064

Raku tests

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (8)

Low-fire testing – BEFORE

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (9)

Low-fire testing – BEFORE

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (10)

Low-fire testing – BEFORE

Ceramics - Burnout project - next class (2)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout projects (2)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout project - next class (3)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout projects (4)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout projects (3)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth – Detail

Ceramics - Burnout projects (22)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout projects (42)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout projects (27)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout triptych (3)

Triptych – “Fish Pond” before Bisque-firing. Lovely mold growth from gains wedged into clay

Ceramics - Burnout Triptych - Part 2 (3)

Triptych – 1 panel

Ceramics - Burnout Triptych - Part 2 (6)

Triptych – detail of a panel – note growing sprout

Ceramics - Burnout triptych (15)

Triptych with back detail of cleats and spacer

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay – Top View

Ceramics - Decorations class (3)

Sgraffito and carved tile – BEFORE

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (13)

Sgraffito and carved tile – AFTER – BACK side

Amy's brain

Amy’s brain

IMG_9124

“Peek-A-Boo” Cup – wheel thrown, sculpted

IMG_9118

Sgraffito and carved tile – AFTER 1st color firing

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (3)

Glaze firing setup in my kiln – AFTER firing

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (12)

Pieces from firing at home

IMG_9122

Tile painting – maiorica (Spanish)

Penguins - North and South Pole Varieties

Penguins – North and South Pole Varieties

Burnout - AFTER bisque firing, after throwing and mold growth

Burnout – AFTER bisque firing, after throwing and mold growth

Burnout - AFTER bisque firing, after throwing and mold growth (detail)

Burnout – AFTER bisque firing, after throwing and mold growth (detail)

IMG_9267

Burnout – AFTER bisque firing, after throwing and mold growth

Tornado Cup and Triangular Cup

Tornado Cup and Triangular Cup – B Mix Red Clay, bisqued

IMG_5785 IMG_5794 IMG_5797 IMG_8598 IMG_8897 IMG_8898 IMG_9212 IMG_9213

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