Monday, December 27, 2010

Spiral cylinder vessel finished.


So here it is, the last piece of the spiral-step series.  I made 5 pieces in this series and it took like a year.  Like literally a year.  I made other pieces in between, but really these pieces were the only "works of art" I produced during this time.  And they're so consistent!  Each one has a pretty glaring flaw, except maybe the pointed oval one.   This one, the cylinder, is flawed mostly because someone who works at Greenwich House Pottery accidentally put it into the high-fire kiln, instead of the low-fire.  As a result, it came out mottled and gray and warped considerably more than it would have in low-fire.  I glazed it in Majollica, so it should have come out a beautiful, smooth, bright, shiny white.  Still, I basically feel fortunate that it survived at all - putting a low-fire glaze into high fire can result in a piece being completely destroyed.  If it weren't for the drab-looking finish, this piece would be pretty darn fine.  Here's a few more pix, followed by the stuff I wrote while I was building this piece:

 * * * * *

 Having survived bisquing, this piece is one I'm really keeping my fingers crossed for.  Everyone at the studio says it reminds them of the Guggenheim Museum, which I guess is obvious, except that its basic form is fundamentally different: the Guggenheim is a spiral with the expanding arc rotating around a single axis; this piece is a spiral of separate circles, each on its own layer and each with a different axis/center-point, although the spiral form itself (which is not physically there) of course has its own, single center point.  The pieces of this series are all obviously architecturally inspired, but their geometries go pretty far beyond any building that has actually been constructed or designed (that I know of).  It would be "nice" if any one of them ever inspired an actual building to be made.  Hint, hint to all you architects out there.   ;-)

It has a couple cracks in a couple spots that my instructor, Nick Schneider and the studio manager, Albert Pfarr (both incredible artists) advised me that it might be better to low-fire glaze the piece to minimize the danger of these cracks widening.   And I got some advice that using Majollica glaze would be the best option in order to hide the cracks most effectively.  Coincidentally I decided the piece would look best in white, so Majollica made the most sense.  I'm not thrilled about low-firing it because I can just picture the piece falling over at some point and shattering, whereas if I high-fired it, it might survive such a tumble intact.  Anyway, here are a few more photos of the piece just before low-firing it.  The piece next to it on the shelf is a sculpture by Albert Pfarr (incredible, right?).


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Work in Progress!

Ostensibly, this is the latest and final addition to my geometric-spiral-shapes vessels series.  I like this guy the best, but I felt that way about all of them at this stage - just before bisque-ing.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saggar "unveiled"!!

When last we visited, I was preparing a saggar container for a new piece to be fired therein. (see prior entry)

Well, here's the follow-up, post-firing (cone 2)

Container looks like a kind of sad, steroided roasted pork, upon emerging from the kiln:

Next, break on through the shell - feels like a dinosaur egg:

And the piece is revealed.  I didn't know what to expect, but let's just say I was underwhelmed:

Can you tell which is the saggar tray debris and which is my newest ceramic work of "art"?

Thus endeth my foray into Saggartown.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saggar !

In this week's class at Greenwich House Pottery, most of us were led by our incredible instructor, Lisa Chicoyne, in making saggar containers.  For the uninitiated, saggar is when you wrap a piece in a container in order to surround it with what you could call exotic firing elements during its sunbathing expedition to the kiln. These elements are anything that introduces carbon and other base chemicals into the atmosphere within the container during firing, which then color the surfaces in a completely unique, and apparently somewhat unpredictable way.   Here are several shots of the piece to be saggared being bound by copper strips, then surrounded by wood chips, mulched paper, dried grass, dog food (for real!), rock salt and carbon sulfate, aka "root kill", all in a paper bag, which is then wrapped in newspaper drenched in clay slip (liquid clay), papier-maché style.   And introducing my new firing tray in its debut performance, seen in the first couple shots, ready to live a selfless life in service to other, more glamorous, art objets.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Epic saga of spiral vessel continues...

September 26, 2010: update - it's now official, this piece is taking longer to complete than any since the invention of the wheel.    Thanks to some over-zealous glazing with iron wash, on my part, and possibly some disregard for instructions I left for the kiln-loader, the glaze (iron wash over spotted chino) ran off the piece and fused with the kiln shelf (my instructions were to put the piece on a shelf-fragment coated with slip, which would have enabled any running glaze to have been peeled off, rather than chopped off, as this obviously was):   

That's a detail of the base, a big chunk of which was just discarded by the kiln operating staff because it stuck to the kiln shelf.   Here's the entire piece as it looks now:

I'm now making a "shoe" in which to insert the base, then glue to it, to salvage this guy.  Here's what the "shoe" looks like right now (just prior to bisquing - it has to be 13 percent larger than the base, due to shrinkage in drying and firing: 

Here's a little video of the the piece while it was under construction: 


Aug. 11:  Below, here's a few photos of it (bad ones, sorry) after it was bisqued and then after I glazed it and put it on the shelf yesterday to be high-fired.  Fingers crossed, I hope it doesn't 1) warp or droop and 2) get stuck to the kiln shelf.  I put it on its own kiln plate in hopes that if the glaze runs and sticks, it will come off the plate more easily than it would an actual kiln shelf.  The glaze is a thin layer of spotted shino sprayed on, then covered with two thin coats of iron wash.  I can't believe I've been doing this for nearly 3 years and I still don't know/can't get a straight answer from the instructors there about when something will run badly and when it won't, and when it will warp badly.  Sorry to gripe...  Anyway, the goal is to get some kind of shiny, reddish gun-metal finish.  We'll see!  Sorry again about the bad photoshopping...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I know what you did last... Spring

Here are two vessels I made much earlier in the year, but they got messed up in firing - the glaze sticking to the kiln shelf, so they had to be hacked out of the kiln, ruining their bases.  I've just discovered Milliput - ceramic-repair putty - and I'm working on reconstructing those bases, and they're finally at a stage that is somewhat presentable.  I was annoyed they were not perfect, emerging from the kiln, but this restoring/repairing is just another learning experience in the long road of becoming a better potter.

Here's a link >  rolf's ceramics on Flickr   < to all the pictures I took of this group (plus the "lozenge"-step vessel which I'll write about in a few days.

Hope you like!  Leave a little comment if you do!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Triangle step vessel finished

The triangle-shape step vessel is finished, and here are some nice photos of it I took.  You'll recall, the first piece in this series was the square/box step vessel, and this is the second piece.  The next piece is about to be bisqued - the pointed oval shape step vessel - and there are some construction photos of that one below this post.
This guy is about 18 inches tall and just as wide, made of white stoneware spray-glazed with Nelson's Celedon, with a little "clear" Celedon sprayed over that.
It's the first piece I'm ever showing in an exhibit, of student works at Greenwich House Pottery - opening May 20.  It's for sale, but I priced it not to sell unless someone thinks I'll ever become well known as a ceramicist (or, as I said to my friend Jason, "ceramicister").

Monday, May 3, 2010

Building "pointed oval" step-vessel

Here's me (the unfortunately jowly guy on the right) working on the next piece in the basic-shapes step vessel series.  This is the "pointed oval" entry.  REmember, the first one, the box-shaped step vessel, had 4 sides and 4 points; triangle had 3 sides and 3 points (duh!); with this oval-esque shape (really a lozenge shape I guess) it will be 2 sides and 2 points.   So the question you may well ask - what is a 1-point, 1-sided shape?  Stay tuned...

The guy on the left is an amazing artist at Greenwich House whom I try to sit next to when I can, because he offers up incredibly useful advice, particularly on construction technique, whenever I need it (whether I know I need it or not) and helps move & lift things when two hands aren't enough.  His name is Yair (pronounced yah-EAR) and I'm very grateful for his continued help!  I'll post some images of his incredible sculpture sometime soon.

Here's a couple more shots later on, after the last (top) layer was placed:

Here is the piece turned upside down, trying to be a war-ship; and (spoiler alert!!) the final product...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Robert's latest

Here's a few shots of Robert Fontanelli's latest conceptual ceramics piece.  I don't remember what he titled it, but I would call it frackin' AWESOME!
There's some debate about whether the tray holding all the various homages to great ceramics, ready to be inserted into the table-top, is part of the piece, or not.  I say yes!  Quite an assemblage!