Saturday, 27 June 2009

Productive Week

This has been a productive week for me, thanks to having no car! In my last post I showed what I had created on Monday and Tuesday of this week, and here is what I produced on Wednesday, again, coil built:

It was great having no transport for a few days! I managed to get a few jobs done around the house too. I've come to the conclusion that I like being stranded at home! I felt much more relaxed and productive when we had all that snow as well, and we were advised to stay at home. Hooray for snow and failed MoT's! :) Life was back to normal by Thursday though and I haven't found the time to get my clay out since then.

this weeks wares

I'm looking forward to getting a pretty glaze for these pieces, but there are so many to choose from! I'm not very good at making decisions, as you have no doubt noticed by the fact that I can never decide which animal I am going to make next! I'm thinking corn flower blue, or a pale pink, but there are also many glazes with crystals in that produce an amazing mixture of colour. Hmm... maybe I'll just have to make an endless amount of vases and try a new glaze every week! :)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

I'm Back!

Yes, I'm back! I'm not quite sure where I've been, but I'm back!

I've been showing off my glazed pieces in blog posts over the past few weeks, but it's been a long time since I actually created something new. (3 weeks since the bottomless bowl incident, and 6 weeks before that!) But I feel like I'm finally getting that spring back in my step, and I have been coiling 'til my heart's content the last couple of days.

I continued with my little set of bowls on Monday...

and then there were three

..and then I coiled this vase yesterday (Tuesday)

smooth as a Malteser!

Here's a question for you other potters:

Do you create pieces with glazes in mind, or do you create pieces and then try to decide which glaze would be best suited to the piece?

I really fancied making some bowls with that red glaze I used on the ivy vase, but now that I've made them I'm not so sure. Yesterday's vase was supposed to be a replacement for the ivy vase, but it sort of took on a life of it's own and wanted to be something different. Now I see it in a soft pastel shade.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Tree Fairy Vase, Glazed and Finished

Yes, as the title suggests, the Tree Fairy vase has been glazed, and I think I can now consider it "finished".

When it came out of the kiln after the first glaze firing, the face was so bright you needed sunglasses to look at it! I put a translucent white over the top to try to tone it down a bit, so it's not so bright now, but I was still unsure about the yellow face when I brought it home last week. I think I'm getting used to it now though.

The glaze on the inside is supposed to be clear! Which it clearly isn't - no pun intended! That's class glazes for you! You may notice the crazing on the inside as well (especially if you click to enlarge). I was a bit disappointed about that because it means that this piece won't be water tight enough to use as an actual vase.

In other news

My class was cancelled tonight (I have no idea why) but I was quite pleased as I couldn't make it anyway (car trouble, long story). So this means another class should be added on to the end of term, so I haven't missed out!

Tonight I kept myself busy coiling bowls. Here they are, one slightly larger than the other.

I should be quite pleased, but another three bowls ended up in the "recycling clay" bag! Even these don't look as "bowly" as the one that ended up with the bottom ripped off! Remember that one?




And before I go I must also say a big thank you to Debby from Mud, Pies, and Pots, for awarding me the One Lovely Blog Award! It was such a shock because I hadn't seen Debby's blog previously and I didn't know she had seen mine!

Like myself, Debby was also discouraged for a long time from pursuing art, as she explains: "I always knew that I was creative, but only as recently as 2 years ago really embraced that fact." Yay for embracement! And I can really relate to her feelings about clay: "I love the earthy, musty smell of clay - I love the feel of it too... I love clay. I love clay. I love clay."

Apparently I am supposed to link to 15 other blogs that I have newly discovered! But I haven't discovered any! (Apart from the blogs that Debby links to in her award post - and I strongly recommend that you look through them; she links to some fabulous potters)

Until the next time...

Monday, 15 June 2009

The Exhibition

Well, if you were expecting a full review with photo's this post is going to be a bit of a disappointment! I've just got myself a decent camera phone, and it didn't even occur to me to take any pictures! Oh, except this one, which is of one of the swans that was part of the fountain in our shopping centre for many years.

They removed the fountain and the swans about 20 or so years ago - before renaming the shopping centre "The Swansgate Centre"! This swan now hangs in the museum, where the exhibition was held.

There were actually three ceramic artists this time, including myself, whereas Stella is usually the only one. Her paper-mache sculptures were amazing as usual. Yeah, I should have taken photo's. The one's at the exhibition are not on her website, but I recommend that you take a look.

So, how did it go? Well, for me, the preview evening didn't seem to have the same atmosphere as the exhibition that was held there in November last year. There was live music, played by children, which I have to say was absolutely awful. I'm sure they tried their best but I was slowly losing the will to live (or at least the will to stay) and I have to wonder if this affected the mood of the viewers. One lady fell over, straight into the display board thingies, which thankfully was caught by other viewers, other wise quite a few paintings would probably have been damaged. No one managed to catch the falling lady though, and she smashed her wine glass and cut her hand. I probably should have got a photo of that too. :)

For me personally, the preview evening wasn't a great success. Firstly, a leaf broke on my vase. I would have preferred to just take it out of the show, but everyone insisted it was fine. Strangely, I wasn't so much upset that it was damaged, but upset that I had listened to others and displayed it in it's damaged state. I feel that as a "newbie" I want to set a certain standard for others to expect from me, and damaged goods isn't it.

Also, on the preview night, there was a table full of glasses of wine and nibbles set out in front of the table with my pieces on it, which wasn't ideal. Again, I should have taken a photo so that you could see the lay out. Later, when the lady fell into the display boards, one of them was taken down and leant against the table with my pieces on, obstructing the view. I tried to pretend I hadn't noticed, but the lady in charge quickly moved it when she noticed me glance across at it.

The final straw was just before I left. I noticed the dirty glasses had been collected and placed right beside my pieces! I went home very unhappy, and the next day I had virtually made up my mind to collect my pieces and bring them home. Things were better when I got there the next day though. The extra tables for food and wine and been removed, and being quite near the entrance, I thought maybe my pieces were in a reasonably good position after all.

One artist, who had just spent 3 months in the Arctic, told the man in the cafe downstairs that he liked my Polar bear. Another lady told me she liked the vase, and said what a shame it was that it was no longer for sale. She didn't realise that I was the person that had made it, but I explained to her that I didn't feel comfortable selling something that was damaged.

And that's about it. I was looking forward to a productive summer and then exhibiting with the FPAA again in November, but I was told that the November exhibition is only for paintings/hanging pieces. Given that my first experience of exhibiting with them wasn't that good, and that I won't be able to exhibit with them in November, I'm wondering if it's worth renewing my membership.

I plan to look around and see what other exhibitions there will be later in the year, that I can take part in. If nothing else, I am glad I have met Stella through the fellowship. She is an absolute joy to talk to about art.

(Apparently "leant" is British for "leaned". Of course, I didn't know this because I've always said leant. But the spell checker didn't recognise it, so I looked it up) :)

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Drum roll please...

Yes, it's the moment we have all been waiting for - the revealing of Swanee and Polo!

But first, here is the finished plant pot and dish, which I have decided to give to my Mum.

I used the same lino cut for this piece as I did for my Mum's mug, so apart from the colours they are quite similar. The glazing isn't perfect but it's not a complete disaster, so that side of things is improving.

And now, the revealing of Swanee and Polo!

I had to touch up the tiniest area of black with acrylic paint on both of their noses, but you can't even tell, and Swanee has a tiny pinhole in the glaze on one of her wings, but apart from that I am very happy with the results of these two pieces! Hooray!

I was so happy with the results, that although the closing date was a couple of weeks ago, I called the FPAA on the off chance that there might still be room left for these to be included in the local exhibition - and they said yes! So I shall drop them off tomorrow morning. The preview evening is tomorrow evening, and then the exhibition will run from Saturday to Saturday. I am so excited! Much more so than when I exhibited my paintings. I feel I have pieces to be proud of this time, so I am much more confident about it. This will be my first exhibition with the FPAA and there will be lots of viewers!

I'm not sure how I feel about them possibly selling. The money would be helpful as I have spent a small fortune on art supplies over the past 18 months or so, but I've grown very attached to them, and I know I will miss them. As silly as this sounds, if they sell I want them to go to a really good home - someone who will love them.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Clay Thing

I can't believe it has actually been a whopping 6 weeks since I last got a lump of clay out! I'd wrapped my second tree fairy vase in a damp paper towel a long time ago, but it has long since dried out, and the vase with it. Here it is, dried out and cracked, and decorated in mouldy shades of blue...

I know I'm not the sharpest knife in the draw, but I now realise why using a plastic container that isn't round to wrap my clay around probably isn't the best idea I've ever had. It's well and truly stuck. (In the photo you can only see the round opening - further down the jar is more oval)

So I will probably have to cut it out like I had to with the tube in the last one.

In the mean time, I have wrapped it in a wet towel and a plastic bag to grow more mould rehydrate the clay. It's working very well, so hopefully I will continue with this piece soon.

To ease me back into the clay thing gently I decided to work on something simple over the weekend. I started this piece which was originally going to be a vase...

...but then I decided it would make a rather nice bowl.

I smoothed the inside and let it firm up over night so that I could remove it from the plastic lid it was sitting on and smooth the outside the next day. Well... that was the plan anyway...

...umm... yeah. It was kind of stuck. Not like "Oh it's a little damp and sticky, maybe I'll give it a bit longer" kind of stuck, but more like "Flippin' 'eck! This thing is stuck down with turbo suction and super glue!" kind of stuck. It gripped that plastic lid like it's life depended on it... and it... died. So that was the end of my little coil built bowl. When I have a more suitable surface to work on I will make another one.

Next post: More glazing successes!!