Oh, That Drip

Glazing … it tends to be the bane of most ceramic artist’s existence.

Why? Well, where to start?

I suppose I could begin with sharing that the glazing process is a chemical reaction activated by the heat of the kiln. Before firing glazes all tend to look kind of pinkish, brownish, white-ish, red-ish or sometimes grey-ish, but certainly never the color they will be after firing. Its enough to drive a person batty imagining the “correct” color.

Catch those quotes in my last statement? Chemical reactions also mean that glazes don’t necessarily combine based on the color wheel or logic. My favorite example of this is a beautiful turquoise matte glaze that turns maroon when a clear is applied over it instead of a shiny turquoise color.

I could go on about glaze application thickness and application methods, but I fear I’m digressing from that drip I mentioned. All of that activating heat also means that glaze doesn’t like to stay where you put it. Instead glaze tends to run and pool. This can be extremely helpful as well as frustrating.

You see, glaze that runs can run right off of the pot onto the kiln shelf fusing your pot to the shelf. So, that intriguing little drip when it happens is something that gets ceramic artists very excited. This is especially true when that lovely drip stops just before disaster and instead leaves behind a focal point on your piece.

You can find this bottle and more of my work at Artisans Etc. in Big Bear. See more of my glaze experiments – and seem to be always experiments! – online in my shop!

Masking Tape Madness

Every once in awhile new inspiration comes along and you have no choice, not really anyways, to follow it. That is exactly the case for me recently. I ran across an article in Ceramics Art Daily by Lindsay Rogers about creating your own glaze resist “stickers” out of masking tape and parchment paper a few months back.

I search for tips and tricks like this all the time to incorporate into projects for my students and that’s how I viewed this idea originally.

I purchased the supplies, taught the class and it was so much fun! I started putting custom cut stickers on all of my demo pots as well as another teacher’s demo pots. I just might have been a little teensy bit obsessed!

Fast forward to the next time I sit down to make some mugs. I was feeling rather lazy that day and didn’t want to pull out all of my texture makers, so I made a bunch of texture-free mugs thinking I’ll use some masking tape stickers on them.

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It was even better that I could have thought! When I glaze work that I created as a demo for my class I tend to get really wild with the combinations. It’s usually a good break from my super detailed brushed glazing method I use for my personal work. Creating custom stickers for my own mugs was like a little bit of both – exact and thoughtful as well as wild since I wasn’t sure if my patterns would turn out.

I really, really love the finished look. Its almost reminiscent of my planters and vases I’ve created that have both glazed and unglazed sections. I can’t wait to try other patterns as well as a two-toned glazed effect using the stickers.

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Look for more of these mugs to come as well as new planters in this glazing style as well!! The first batch of mugs is currently available in my Etsy shop here.

Toast

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Some people aren’t sure what to make of my plates when they first see them. Are they food safe? Would you even want to put food on them? Can they be cleaned? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding “yes!” My goal in creating my plates is to design and send out into the world functional art. Who says that plates have to be boring? \

All of that being said, I do tend to see my smaller plates as more dessert or appetizer plates and my larger ones as serving platters. One day I’ll get around to making an honest to goodness dinner plate sized ones … maybe a whole dinnerware set since that’s my long term goal, but I digress.

My view of my smaller plates changed forever this week when a friend of mine who recently acquired one of my smaller plates told me that it had become her “go-to” toast plate. Apparently, not only is it the perfect size for a small meal, the plate is rectangular so both pieces of toast fit fully on the plate without overlapping. As those of you who are toast lovers have probably experienced, once you put the toppings, be it avocado or jelly, on your toast you can’t overlap them without creating a bit of a mess. The rectangular shape solves that problem for you.

So there you have it – the perfect use for my plates: breakfast! It’s only fitting since that is my favorite meal of the day!

Check out the plate pictured and other perfect toast plates on my Etsy shop!

 

Figurative Work

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If you had asked me a year ago if I would be creating figurative sculptures I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. Yet here I am with several garden art sculptures slash planters created in a female form. Even more amazing is that I love creating them. I enjoy the attitude and personality each one takes on as the piece takes shape over the sculpting process. I especially love the chance to be really crazy and free with my glazing. Something about these forms seems to call for a no-holds barred approach to adding color that is far removed from my normally rather detailed and precise method.

This particular figure is my tallest yet – standing fourteen inches high – and has a lovely red midriff that I love. I hope you’ll take a little time to check her out in my online shop along with a couple others I have available.

There Is No Cheating in Art

Merriam-Webster defines cheating as breaking a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something. I love this definition – free, as it is, from the negative connotation often associated with cheating. Is all rule breakage really wrong? Is gaining an advantage unfair, as the connotation implies?

Now, I’m not talking here about the rest of Merriam-Webster’s definition of cheating that involves taking something from someone by lying or preventing someone from having something they expected to get. Those definitions of cheating are where the negative connotation originates.

How often have you discovered a rule or step in a process that was unnecessary to complete it?

I remember a time when I was working in the studio, making mugs, and a field trip visiting the museum walked through. They were all students in a ceramics class and as they watched me attach a bottom to the mug I was working on, one of them spoke up.

“Don’t you have to cut the bottom bigger than the opening to ensure it stays attached?”

“Nope,” I replied.

I think I blew his mind. It can be unfathomable sometimes to even imagine questioning or changing a process once we’ve been taught it a certain way. Yet this mindset can be an enemy of art, or any creative endeavor.

So much of my work is this kind of “cheat.” Its not unusual for me to break the rules on the tried and true. No where is this more evident than in my approach to glazing.

It all started a couple of years ago when I was trying to re-create the look of stained glass on the surface of my work. It seemed only natural to use a process called cuerda seca that uses a colored wax (typically black) to separate the glaze colors. Since the drawn line is a wax, it is possible to use small squeeze bottles to apply the glaze as the wax resists the glaze from going where you don’t want it.

The wax, however, is a pain in the you-know-what to use and I hated having all of those little squeeze bottles to clean. So, I taught myself how to successfully brush on glaze that isn’t meant to be brushed and re-create the cuerda seca look without all of wax and multitudes of tiny bottles.

That learning process serves me well today. All of my trial and error allows me to apply glaze easily in the manner that best suits the work. My current highly textured work is only enhanced by the ability to brush on different glaze colors where I want them to be.

Many studio folks are amazed when they see my glazed work for the first time. They never quite believe me when I tell them I don’t mix up my own glazes and that all of the ones I use are available for general studio use.

It just goes to show that sometimes it pays to cheat.

 

Mountain Vista

Recently, I had the privilege to be invited to show my work in the windows at Mountain Vista Optical for the Downtown Redlands Artwalk in March.  I snapped a few photos of my display and thought I’d share them here for those who didn’t get to see it live.