Friday, August 22, 2008

at last!

I have finally completed a whole load of pots! Oh, there was gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands as all of the most horrible kiln opening moments of my life flashed before my eyes. There was panic when I dipped the mugs an glaze and tiny cracks appeared in the wax, making me think that they would have a background of spidery crazed lines. There was the agony of worry when I dipped the last things to go in the kiln, the saucers, and realized that the glaze may have been mixed too thin when it was breaking over the lip. Visions of thinly glazed mugs danced through my head as I tried to decide whether or not to unload the whole shebang and dip again. But, upon peeking at 500 degrees (I couldn't wait!), a whole top row of beautifully shiny saucers and magnets greeted me! Of course, I was sure at that same moment I heard the faint yet unmistakable sound of a bowl splitting in half and resting on the mugs surrounding it. Did I mention I have been traumatized by a bad batch of clay? Yet, when the batch finally cooled enough for me to dig down to the next layer, I found the first big bowl fully intact and had heart. Well, at least enough courage to leave the rest in until we got back from my mom's birthday celebration where we enjoyed the cake that Wren and I made, a dark chocolate raspberry that was almost not right it was so good.

We got home relatively late, as far as babies are concerned, and Wren was floppy asleep. I hurried her into the house, wrestled her into her pajamas, and tucked her into bed where she promptly said, "oh, kitties" and fell back asleep. Then I got back to the kiln as fast as I could. I've always said that kiln unloading can either be Christmas or Halloween. It can be like getting the best presents ever one after another, or it can be aaaack-oh-no-aaack shelf after shelf. This batch was Christmas. I only had two magnets get inexplicably stuck to the kiln shelves in spots (they weren't even glazed!) to mar the delight of things turning out well! The graduating class:

Now, to figure out etsy and give that a whirl. Oh! I have my first student starting the first of September! I was so excited, I got out in the studio and gave it a good cleaning and a good cleaning out, removing the last of the garage items that were still lingering about. Now, if I can only get someone to buy the walk-in jacuzzi bathtub so we can get that out!

Friday, August 8, 2008

I may finish something soon... and I give a fig.

The past week or so has been a lot of drawing, painting, and getting ready to start glaze firing. Ahh.. glazing... how I never loved you. I promise as a budding young potter and apprentice, I was fascinated by glazing. I read everything I could on formulas. I mixed until I could mix no longer. I mixed Kim's tried and true recipes for his studio use, and tried to strike out on my own with often disastrous results. Finally, I settled upon the whole let's-just-leave-the-clay-bare-and-paint-it method and used a trusty black to make it food safe. And glossy. I think clay by itself is often amazing in it's fired beauty, and the speckly kind I use is particularly satisfying. And trustworthy. Most of the time. I'm onto you, Standard Clay.

Today, I actually mixed up a bucket of (non-frothing) glaze and pitched in on a few pieces. I started off with the big platters to get them safely out of the way and fired. I also started with them because they've always been a little difficult for me and I wanted to start with the hardest first. It was surprisingly not difficult, not the mixing and straining, not the actual glazing, nor the wiping down. Maybe it's being a mom that makes everything not as difficult as I remember. Anyway, I managed to get all of them finished and in the kiln, ready for me to finish with some mugs and big bowls on another day. I tucked a few of my new magnets around one plate and found the whole effect kind of pleasant.

My latest joy has been pillaging the fig trees that are right outside the studio. There are two of them planted side-by-side, and they have grown to a nice respectable size over the years. They are also two totally different varieties. One has dainty leaves and giant whopping figs that the birds take care of before they're even ripe. The other has giant fuzzy leaves and little dark reddish-purple figs that everything pretty much leaves alone. Except me. They've just now come into ripeness, and Wren and I have had a ball trying to find as many as we can hiding in the leaves. The best way is to just jump right in the middle of the tree after you've circled the perimeter. There are tons! One problem... I'm not sure I can get over the texture issue enough to really like figs. Much less, two hundred pounds of them. So today Wren and I started the fig relocation program. We picked a whole big bowl of them, gave a huge bag to my mom, then started bagging the rest for the neighbors. Luckily, most of the neighbors were really glad to have them. I refused to foist any off on anyone who didn't like them (you're welcome Norbert), and managed to dispense of them really quickly. It was a great way to meet more of my new neighbors as well! Hopefully some of them will want to take lessons...