Sunday, October 28, 2012


So, it's been since MARCH since I've posted here.  Why it's been so long is probably as interesting to you as why I've re-started, so I'll spare you, for now.  Maybe I'll wax on about my torrid life later in the post, or maybe, as I already said, I'll spare you.

Anyhoo, here's a few pieces I've made in the intervening months.  I've posted about a couple of these already, while they were under construction, so if you're dying to know more about their origins, click back a few clicks to earlier posts on this blog.

This first one I think I was working on, in dribs and drabs, for maybe 5 months.  I'm guessing it looks very pretentious to the trained eye, but I don't care - I enjoy its swirling-ness which keeps the eye moving.  To paraphrase Diana Vreeland: the eye has to move!  What could be more pretentious than paraphrasing Diana Vreeland?

The second one is STILL unfinished - it's going to be my first lamp.  Since this video, I've installed a metal rod down the center to hold the electrical cord and lightbulb, but I still have to re-paint the whole thing (spray-paint! sacrilege!) and I'm struggling to figure out the best place to do that while living in a co-op high rise apt. bldg. with cameras in every common area.

As a point of interest (if you will), here's how it looked (overhead shot) when I put it into final firing.  It had disintegrated after/during the first firing, but was salvageable through the sacrilegious travesty of epoxy!

Here's a trifle I threw together with scraps from another piece which I think ultimately did not survive past "bone-dry" (pre-firing) phase.  Cute, but a trifle.   Notable perhaps only because I used only "underglaze" (clay pigment) with clear glaze over it - my first time trying that.  Nice, rich colors, for sure.   I had it lying around for like a year before I shored up the base with miliput & epoxy so it would stand up straight.  Justa sculptcha.

Lastly, here's another piece I made on a lark, although it ended up being a fairly involved process to attach the candle-holder discs - after firing, with epoxy (sacrilege again!).  The lark aspect was that these extruded strips were just leftovers - scraps, really - from extruding strips for that orb piece at the top of this posting.  I literally just slapped them on top of each other, glued together with slip, made a rough-hewn elliptical base and tossed it into the kiln.  In like 5 minutes.  The discs were a challenge because I had to fire them separately and match their support to the top of each stick - they were all just craggy shards of fired clay at that point.

Zebra-clay experiment in rough shape forms

[see also update, April 28, 2013]  
I'm in the middle of making a piece (or two) made of two different clay types ("bodies") used alternatingly in flat, slab-like formation.  Lately in constructing my pieces I've been using mostly "throwing clay", which for reasons I don't fully understand, is used at our studio primarily on the throwing wheel.  Its texture is somewhere between White Stoneware and "T-1" sculpture clay, but I think it's just as strong while wet as T-1 but has less "grog" (particles of rock) and is very flexible like stoneware.   It seems to have a fair amount of iron in it, so it looks red while wet (green) and pink-ish after bisquing, and reacts a lot to glazes.  So I built this tower, meant to be a lamp-base, and matching orb (seen below), just building the forms as if I were using coils, but instead using strips of the two different clays, in irregular shapes, alternating.  Originally these two were one piece and then I didn't like how it looked - the orb is too big for this base, I think - so I severed them apart.  Due to the mysteries of how the kiln-gnomes manage their work-flow, he tower got high-fired literally 3 weeks before the orb, even though I  had them ready at the same time, so here's the finished tower next to the orb before it was fired.  I used Nelson's Celedon glaze, anticipating that it would react with the most contrast between the two clays.

The results, in terms of that effect of contrast between the two clays, was far stronger and more pleasing than I had even hoped for.   I'm thinking of making a smaller orb to pop on top of this tower and having it be a lit-from-within lamp.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tri-leg totem tremble.

It's a couple days before Halloween, and a day before Hurricane Sandy is about to hit the Eastern seaboard.  That has no correlation to this post whatsoever, I just thought I'd set the mood, as it were.  Today I just finished construction of a sculpture everyone at the ceramics studio is calling the best one I've made yet.  I appreciate their support a lot, but I've definitely learned the hard way not to consider anything I make worthy of my own pride until it's safely out of the kiln.  I'm a little worried about the legs, which have become quite spindly as they've dried, and one of them - you'll see in this video - is warping itself off to the right.  It's too dry to reinforce the legs at this point, but the base and the next level are almost autonomous, structurally, so it's conceivable that I could replace all the legs at once, as a module.  Maybe I'll make that module anyway, just in case, and just use it for my next piece if I don't need it for this one.  Sorry, just thinking out loud...

I'm taking suggestions for what to call this.  Maybe "caped three-legged whatsit" or "coy matador" or "ocular figure donning a shield".  Please weigh in with your thoughts...

Gallery-worthy, if I do say so myself.

Here's a piece I ended up calling "Single-eared, multi-tiered whatsit" for the Greenwich House Pottery student show last Spring.  It's the first piece I think was really polished enough (in the sense of being "finished") to look like it really belonged in a real gallery show.  And that's given me some ideas about making that happen through my own devices - since the professional art scene in NYC is maybe a little out of my reach.

Here it was months earlier, right before it went into the kiln: