Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Can't be bothered

Bah, I haven't felt the same since Saturday when I got the letter about my classes being cancelled. I've had positive moments when I realise I must carry on "undaunted", and accept that this is just another challenge to overcome, but the motivation has just... gone. And I'm sooo tired. I'm always sooo tired. I just want to sleeeeeeeeeep.

I take my hat off to Kathy, who has continued with the 28 day challenge, despite her many... challenges. (Yeah, I guess that's why it's called a challenge!) Well done Kathy!

I, on the other hand, have failed miserably. I could start again, but I'm not confident that I will see it through to the end.

The fact that my various messages of enquiry have gone unanswered doesn't help. I've heard nothing from my tutor, who quite frankly seems more concerned about his garden at the moment, and I've emailed two places about kiln and studio hire and had no replies.

I don't care. I don't need them. I have you, my blogging friends :) And I would like to thank you all for your messages of support, advice, and encouragement. I will find a way, but at the moment I just need to... sleep. Sorry about that. I'm not ignoring you, and I haven't given up. I'm just sooo tired!!

Coming up (when I can be bothered): Scott made me a dowel for Freda the head-a.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Day six - excuse my drunken rant

Well, I'm not drunk really, I've just had a drink or two. Home measures, which means no measuring hee hee hee!! It's hard work getting drunk though. I'd be a rubbish alcoholic :)

So, the news I bring you today is that my clay class has been cancelled. Yes, it's true. We had this "thing" called a budget, although I don't take any notice of politics, it's all a load of old tennis balls to me. Anyway, apparently they cut back loads of spending on adult education, and the result is that my class has been cancelled. I don't even know if it's forever or not. I won't know if the class is running in September or not until September, which is like 6 months away.

In the mean time I can't fire or glaze anything, which has kind of left me wondering what's the point in making anything in the first place? But then on the other hand, despite suffering from depression, I can't help being optimistic and thinking that maybe the class will run in September and I can fire everything then. That's all well and good, but it means I can't get anything glazed and fired in time for the exhibition in June, or the open art competition in July.

So what are my options? I'm not sure. I can't afford a kiln of my own, or even the electric to run it. It's very expensive to hire the use of kilns. I doubt if there will be any other clay classes in nearby towns since the budget would have affected all adult learning. I can't join a full time course because I don't have the health, and you also need all sorts of qualifications to be accepted. So basically I'm up the swannee.

As for the 28 day challenge, I want to continue, if for no other reason than to support Kathy. I will try to motivate myself later to get my clay out, and I will post a photo of whatever I make tomorrow with day seven's post.

That wasn't much of a rant was it? OK, here's a little rant - don't move to England because they don't support the arts or sport, which is why we're rubbish at everything, and the roads are full of pot holes.

Edit: Obviously pottery isn't relevant.

This broadcast has been brought to you by Linda, in connection with blogger. Thank you for watching.

Ok, I've been through the shock, the anger, and the upset, and I hope that now my head is clearing a little. I got Freda out and we just sat and looked at each other for a while. She's got a pretty little face, and I'm happy with how she's turned out so far. I wondered to myself how many challenges she faced during her artistic career. Because, let's face it, that's all this is, isn't it? Another challenge. I didn't ask her because... well, she's clay and she wouldn't be able to tell me (and I hadn't drunk that much!) But I did feel a strange attachment. The sort of attachment that compels me to give Polo a little pat on the head every time I pass him, I suppose. I felt sad to wrap her up and put her away again, like saying goodbye to a friend, but I felt no inclination to work on her tonight. I made some mental notes of what needs changing though, and I feel more confident about this piece now. She spoke to me without saying a word. And now I know what I must do. I must carry on, Undaunted.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Day five

I had another go at my Mum's mug tonight. Here it is compared to a normal sized mug. Oh, my Mum does like a nice big cuppa!

I know it will shrink, but now I remember where I got the idea from for this plant pot!

And my Mum's plant seems very happy in it!

I'm just letting the plant pot mug set up a bit now before I add the handle. Oh, and I must remember to add those flowers too! Thankfully things ran smoothly this evening. I let the clay dry out a bit before using it, which prevented it from just collapsing all over the place when I was trying to put it together. The lino cut seemed to make a clearer impression tonight as well.

So that's day five. I must admit that I am itching to get my black/brown clay out, as messy as it is. I think its because I'm looking forward to just playing! Me! The one who finds it impossible to just play! But it's soooo messy. I need to get Freda and some other pieces out of the way first, but hopefully that won't take too long, now that I am having clay time every day! :)


Is this handle too big?

Friday, 26 March 2010

Day four

Well, today nearly didn't happen! I went shopping with my Mum this afternoon, and I came home so exhausted that I just went to bed! She bought me a lovely little gift set of of Baileys with a mug, whisk, and chocolate! I can't wait to indulge... :)

But have no fear, I did get up again in the middle of the night to have some clay time! Remember this mug that I made for my Mum?

Well, apart from the fact that the glaze was hideous, it got broken anyway, so I was working on a replacement. I tried experimenting with a square bottom, but it wasn't working, so I took that off and put a round bottom on it, but the whole thing just wasn't working really, so unfortunately I have nothing to show you. I don't feel that the time was wasted though because a) it was MY time, my clay time, and b) I was spending time getting to know my new clay.

I shall see how the mood takes me tomorrow and either try again or work on something else. Freda keeps calling me, but I'm resisting for some reason. I think it's because she kept me up all night last time and I'm worried she'll do the same again.

It was so funny when Mum's mug broke. She rang me and said "Linda I have some bad news". Of course I was really worried. "What's happened?" I said. "My mug got broken". Well, I just laughed my head off! I never liked the finished thing anyway and I couldn't think of a better ending for it! But for some strange reason my Mum loved it. Mum's are cute like that aren't they?

Anyway, remember folks, it's not too late to join the challenge! It's one hour a day of ME TIME!! Go on! You know you want to! :)

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Day three - phew!

Well, I still haven't recovered from Monday yet! And I had a busy day today, with a trip out of town this morning (yeah, I got up before lunchtime!) and my niece and brother round for dinner this evening. Somehow I still managed to make some clay time, spurred on by my 28 day challenge buddy, Kathy! Thank you Kathy!

Ok, I didn't do much, but I did some! Today I decorated the goblets I made last night.

I'd like to work on Freda some more, but I know I'll get engrossed and be up 'til 6am!!

I'm taking my Mum shopping tomorrow, and I'm supposed to be out in the evening, so it will be another busy day! I'm looking forward to a day at home on Friday to enjoy more clay time and relax!

More on the white earthenware clay I've been using - it seems grainier than the stoneware (if that's even a word) and it's darker in colour than I expected. I hope there wasn't a mix up at the suppliers and I've got the wrong clay! Unusually there is no label on the bag. Hmm... I expect I'll know when I order another bag!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Day two

It's day two of the 28 day challenge, and I still haven't recovered from day one! My thighs ache so much from sitting at that wheel, I feel like I've been horse riding! Still, I pressed on, and made a few goblets tonight (slab built - I have no wheel at home), to replace the 3 that stuck to the kiln shelf.

I shall let these set up over night and then paint them with coloured slip tomorrow and carve them.

I used my new earthenware clay tonight. To be honest I'm not sure if I really like it. Maybe it will just take a little while to get used to it? We'll see. I'll let you know by the end of the bag!

I have my bag of black/brown clay now too. I'm looking forward to using it, but I have some other pieces that I need to get done first. I'd rather make my white clay pieces first because this black clay is sooo messy! It will just contaminate everything!

Well, that's about it for tonight. I'm going to keep it short and sweet because I'm just so worn out! (incidentally, I've had my thyroid tested again and it is under active again. I have another test in a couple of months)

But, before I go, I'd just like to welcome Kathy to the challenge! Yippee!! We have a participant!! Remember, it's not too late to join in!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Day one - left handed potter

Yes, it's day one of the 28 day challenge - for me at least. Remember you can join the challenge any time between now and 2nd April. The aim is to have all challenges completed by the end of April. For more details click here.

So what did I do today? I went to class of course! (Is that cheating?) I was planning on doing an hour at home as well, but by the time I got home I was exhausted!

Firstly, there was a coiled pot/vase that I was working on, but after being in the cupboard for about 5 or 6 weeks it had become too dry to add to. I decided to break bits off to make it look old and broken, but I forgot to take a photo!! Now we have no classes for 4 weeks, so I'll have to wait 'til then.

Then I decided to have another go on the wheel. Long time readers will remember that the first (and last) time I tried the wheel was probably around Oct/Nov time, 2008! And I wasn't very successful! I managed to centre the clay and that was all. I was quite happy with that at the time though.

This evening I had another go. I must say, this wheel was much more comfortable to use than the one at the last class. Here's the funny thing though - although I am right handed everything that the tutor showed me felt backwards and awkward. I naturally wanted to use my left hand to steady the clay and not my right, and I had to consciously think to do it the other way. Maybe I am a left handed potter? The wheel only spins anti-clockwise though - for right handed people.

Scott is confident that I can learn to throw right handed, but how do I know if I would be better left or right handed? This turned into a bit of a discussion at home. He knows many left handed people who have learnt, for example, to play the guitar right handed because it's so much easier to come by guitars for right handed people. He thinks maybe I will just have to do the same thing. I suppose I will, if I want to use the wheels at class. How about you other potters though? Are any of you left handed? Can you throw both ways? Does it make a difference?

Oh, I suppose you want to see what I made, right? Ok, but don't laugh...

HAHAHAHAHA!!! Ok, you can if you want to!!

I know what you're thinking - "that took you an hour??" Well... yes. You didn't see how many attempts it took! I was doing really well with one pot, and then I must have squeezed too hard and I cut it in half! This is the first one that I didn't kill! Thinking about it now, I think I was supposed to cut around the bottom before I took the pot off the wheel, but no one told me that! Oh well. I'm learning.

So, that's day one. See you tomorrow with the photos from day two!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The 28 Day Challenge - rules and logo

So here it is folks, The 28 Day Challenge, rules and logo! One stop is all you need to find out everything you need to know!

What is it?
The 28 Day Challenge is an excuse to do the things we really love, but somehow never seem to have time for, or don't make time for. Creativity is essential to our well being, and yet all too often it comes last on our list of priorities. The 28 Day Challenge is a way of reminding ourselves to put our well being first! This is a celebration of spring! It's time to blow away those cobwebs and be the creative person that you want to be! My hope is that in 28 days time there will be lots of happy and relaxed people!

What is the activity?
Anything you want! Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. It could be clay, drawing, painting, sewing, knitting, writing, gardening, playing an instrument, singing or dancing! Whatever activity you most love to do which enables you to express yourself and forget about the world around us. Or something else that you enjoy, which helps you to relax, like meeting with friends!

What are the rules?
The rules are short and sweet - you just have to pick an activity that you love and do it for at least one hour a day for 28 days. Personally, I can't wait to start, but if this is a bit short notice for you, then you have until the 2nd of April to begin, so that all 28 day challenges will be completed by the end of April.

Copy and paste the logo into your side bar, and link back to this page, so that others can take part too if they wish. And leave a comment on this post to say what your activity will be.

Take a photo every day of what you have achieved, and then you can either share it on your blog at the end of each day, or post all 7 photos at the end of each week, whichever suits you better, but you have to share! Why? Because you may just inspire others to be creative every day and to look after their well being, and at the very least you will have a visible record of your achievements for you to look back on.

My activity will be clay. What about you?

The 28 day "challenge" and other news

Well, hello campers! Hi-de-hi!

What have you all been up to this week? C'mon, don't be shy! I want to hear all about it!

Me? Well, I worked on Freda the head a little more. Those eyes were killing me! And I'm still not completely sure about them. I can't tell you how many times I re-did those eyes! But the good news is that I think they looked slightly better each time. Here they are so far... with the rest of the head... obviously!

I expect it's still too early to recognise who she might be, but guesses are more than welcome!

My clay recycling is going well, I think. I'm just waiting for the clay to firm up enough for me to wedge it now.

Mmmm, looks like yummy cake mixture!

Mississippi mud pie!

I have no idea why blogger keeps turning my pictures round! Anyone wanna lick the spoon?

And that's pretty much it for this week. Hopefully I'll have more to post in the future though, and this leads me nicely onto my 28 day challenge...

My "challenge" is to have some clay time every day for 28 days. It sounds like 4 weeks of bliss to me, but I always seem to have a problem with making time for it. I've seen my counsellor again recently, and she's always trying to encourage me to make more time for clay. I saw the sense in this when my mood picked up quite suddenly this week after spending some time on Freda. I suspect the weather has helped too. Spring seems to have suddenly arrived this week and my counsellor said that many of her clients have reported a change in mood this week. But anyway, clay always seems to help.

So that is the challenge! At least one hour a day, preferably two. Who's with me? It doesn't have to be clay, it could be drawing, painting, sewing, gardening... whatever floats your boat. I might not post about it every day though, I might just save up a weeks worth of photos to share all at once. I suppose it depends on time. But I want you lovely people to join in with me! Hmmm.... I could really do with a logo or something... "Scott!! I need some help with something!" :) See you tomorrow - with a logo!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

More glazed pieces

"I've never seen you looking so serious" That's what Fiona said to me at class on Monday as I looked at my pieces from the kiln. Was I disappointed? A little, at first, maybe. But mostly I was deep in thought, analysing what I saw before me and deciding what I liked, what I didn't like, and what I would do differently next time. It seems every firing is a learning experience.

I was mostly happy with the jug, there are just a couple of things I need to remember for next time. I'm learning that as a learner I can't expect everything to come out perfect first time (and it's taken me this long to learn it) so I am viewing this piece as a kind of prototype, a test run. (I realise now that I was very lucky with Swannee and Polo)

One thing I found on most of the pieces is that the coloured slip was very patchy in places. I don't mind it too much on this piece, because I think it looks like clouds and mist, but in future I will have to remember to give the pieces several coats of slip.

Whilst decorating it, I had carved more writing on the jug and then changed my mind and tried to cover it, which looked fine at the green and bisque stage, but didn't work too well once it was glazed and fired. Obviously next time I will be sure of what I want to write first.

Also, the crack that I had tried to mend has become visible, but after the time I had with this jug, I'm lucky it came out in one piece at all!

There were mixed results with the tiles. The blue ones warped upwards at the edges, especially the darker one, and the brown ones... well, see for yourself... although they come out flat at least!

I have no idea what's wrong with that brown slip. It's not even the colour it's supposed to be. I'm thinking maybe it was the temperature? Although I don't see why that would make it streaky. The slip is quite thick and I thought I had covered the tile well. I shall try again and see what happens next time.

Obviously the goblets in brown came out the same way.

I was disappointed at first, but to be honest this "distressed" look is growing on me.

Some other goblets just didn't make it. The glaze had run just a little on three of them, causing them to stick to the kiln shelf and become damaged on removal. Out of all the goblets in the kiln (of which I have lost count) I thought three was pretty good. I know other, more experienced potters, still have some losses in each firing.

And finally, there were the two goblets that were commissioned for Christmas (ahem), yes Christmas 2009.

I suppose there's always this year :)

Asriel's big mug came out of the kiln too. I have to say, that for a first attempt, and considering he's just a kid, I am very impressed with his sgrafitto.

Well done Azza!

Well, that's pretty much all my stoneware clay used up, except for what I am using on Freda the head. I was too impatient to wait for my earthenware clay to come, so I just went ahead (no pun intended) and started with my stoneware. It looks like I'm going to run out of stoneware before I'm finished though, so I'm having to recycle some dry pieces.

(Yes, blogger wanted this photo to be upside down, I don't know why)

I went ahead and ordered some of that yummy black/brown clay too, and I have lots of ideas for it. I haven't even really started on my "Jane Austen Collection" and already my brain is moving on to something else! Oh well. Why tie myself down? I'm learning!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Fred the head

So, I pulled my finger out and look what happened! Fred the head had a gender re-assignment! It's true. Fred just wasn't working for me for so many reasons, so he has now become Freida! Doesn't really rhyme though does it? Freida the head.... no.... Jane the... brain... no... I'll have to think about this one.

I was having a complete confidence crisis with Fred, and I wasn't sure why. I couldn't understand it because (although it was a long time ago) I've made a head before, and I like to think I have progressed since then. Looking back I think it was a combination of things. For a start I was worrying too much about doing it the "right way". When I was a kid in school the teacher basically wrapped some clay around some news paper and said "there you go, now shape it into a head" and I just sort of... did it. There wasn't a right and wrong way, it just had to look right once it was finished. But this time I had watched some clay tutorials of Philippe Faraut and although the training was excellent, it threw me into a state of panic! He made it look so easy, but it just... wasn't. I suppose I'm not used to doing things like this in a set way.

It was this post by Jafabrit that helped me realise that I just have to do things my own way. Jafabrit was given some advice about technique for a particular stitch - I mean, hello? Have you seen Jafabrit's embroidery? As if she needs advice! Jafabrit admitted that the advice was very good, but for her, embroidery is another medium for her to express herself, and rules are irrelevant.

The other problem I was having was my subject. The person I chose to make had very... unique and interesting features. But, maybe a little too unique for a first attempt after over 20 years! The subject was Michael Jackson. As much as I love his music, and as interesting as his features are, I just didn't feel inspired.

So tonight, the big square chin had to go, and I started on my female head. If you are a sculptor and technique is important to you then look away now! I have no idea what I am doing and I don't care! That's just how I roll.

It obviously still needs a lot of work! Those eyes will be the death of me! There is still a prize up for grabs for the first person to guess who she is!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Linda, pull your finger out!

We do use some strange expressions don't we? Well, my laziness has continued, and I really do need to pull my finger out - although I'm not quite sure where from! I seem to be lacking. Lacking energy, motivation, inspiration. Lacking confidence mainly, when it comes to clay. In between feeling anxious and depressed I've just been sleeping, although I actually did some house work on Saturday and I have no idea where the desire to do that came from - or where it went afterwards!

I am no further along with Fred the head, but I did actually go to class this week. (Yay!) Yes, I dragged myself out of the house and finished off glazing all the pieces that have been waiting to be high fired. Hopefully I will have some good results to show you next week when they come out of the kiln.

In the mean time those stupid blue bowls are determined to be ugly. I've glazed them at least 3 times now (I've lost count) and they still look ugly. I want to just smash them and start again. Surely, you can only glaze something so many times until you have more glaze than clay?! I tried to photograph their ugliness, but even the camera couldn't bear it, and kept making them look better than they do!

Another piece that I reglazed was the white vase. I was hoping that the design I painted on the vase with iron oxide before glazing (and then changed my mind about) would be covered by the glaze, but unfortunately even after a second glazing it is still visable.

This is actually the same photo as before, because... well, it looks the same so I couldn't see the point in photographing it again!

As for the jug... oh the jug! Well, as you may already have read, first the handle cracked and fell off... then the jug cracked when I was adding a new handle... then I fell over when I was carrying the jug... hahaha, yes it's true! I could have put my arm out to break my fall, but I didn't want to drop the jug! So instead I just sort of... landed in a heap, holding the precious jug up in the air! Oh my! I just couldn't stop laughing at myself for ages! Well anyway, then when I was touching up some of the coloured slip before firing, a big chip fell off! Then I had to scrape back the clay to try to make that part look even, and touch it up with the coloured slip again, and finally it was fired! And it came out in one piece! But then a smaller chip fell off while I was glazing it. The jug is doomed I tell ya! Doomed!

One item that I am very happy with is the piece which I cared least about! Quite a while ago I received some clay samples and I just quickly made a piece (which I didn't even bother photographing at the time) to try out one of the clays. It's described as a black clay (although red before firing), but the firing range is really wide and at high temperatures it goes black and at lower temperatures it goes brown. I wanted to see what shade/tone(?) of brown it would be. It has come out a beautiful chocolate brown colour. The inside, which looks darker, has been glazed with clear glaze.

This particular clay was extremely coarse - more so than the crank I had used previously - but the colour is available in two other textures, so if I was to buy it I would definitely go for a finer one. Of course, I wasn't given any sort of price guide with the sample, so it's probably really expensive!

So, that's what I've been up to lately, which isn't much. I mentioned previously that I have been to a couple of exhibitions, so I will have to upload my photos to share with you. In the mean time I must pull my finger out and try out those new tools!