This semester has started off with so much to do already, which I guess should be expected since it is my last semester. I have started experimenting with my body of work for my thesis show. My plan is to make functional items that all have an aspect of fidgeting to them. The series addresses the coping mechanisms I have created over the years to deal with my social anxiety. It is also going to address how a lot of my ways of fidgeting and coping are derived from my childhood. Most of the pieces will have kinetic aspects and also deal with texture. I am working on doing some tests with high temperature wire because I want to create items to fidget on that are connected by wire. if this does not work during the firings I plan to create the same look but do it after firing the pieces and use stainless steel wire. Most of my past pieces have all been in a grey and brown pallet. With these pieces I really want to explore colors that remind me of my childhood and the items that calm me down visually. My thesis show has to be up by the end of February so I have a lot to try and accomplish by then!
I feel like this semester went by so fast! Today in senior semester class we were talking about thesis show dates and I started to freak out because it felt like it was so far away but it is right around the corner. Which makes me realize for more of a piece of mind I need to start thinking about my thesis show so that I can work over break some. I have a bunch of tests that I am putting into a soda kiln this week to see if I want to use any for my show. My work is all over the place and I keep trying different styles to see what style best expresses me and the concept behind my work. Over break I think that it will give me a good time to talk through my work with people like Oliver, Brooklin, Lillian, Sydney and Sam. I’ll have more time to step back and think about my tests pieces and talk through things with others without the distraction of classes. I got a lot of work from the wood kiln that I enjoy parts of. I never enjoy my pieces as a while, I just like snippets and I take those snippets and apply that to whatever I am making next. While knowing I do not have much time between now and my thesis I am excited to begin working on my pieces for the show.
My work has been going through a transition that I personally am really enjoying. I struggle with starting a body of work and instantly getting bored. The work I started with at the beginning of this semester took me almost a week before I lost interest. I struggled with feeling like the work was cliché and tacky because of the leaf print. The print meant a lot to me but I feel like a person’s first reaction to my pieces were not ending up what I wanted and they also did not express my personality. I also get bored when throwing on the wheel and visually do not care about the surface throwing gives me. So I have been making this new body of work about how I eat and drink when I am anxious because I fidget really bad to self-calm. I am adding a bunch of items that the user could fiddle with and distract themselves. I am also thinking about adding small sketches that a little windows into what is happening inside my brain. I think that I am going to mess with cone 6 again to obtain colors that I want but I also want to continue soda firing over break!
This past week was crazy! It was filled with Sam Chumley coming down and doing a workshop and helping fire the wood kiln. I did not have a lot of time spent in my studio, yet was busy with prepping for the workshop and the wood kiln. I spent a lot of time splitting wood and glazing work. I really enjoyed firing the wood kiln because while at times it can be stressful it is an experience that teaches you how to be patient with others even when you want to scream. It also teaches you about team work and making the best of things. It also brings the weirdness out of people due to lack of sleep and long hours spent together.
Since I have not been able to make work I have spent a lot of time thinking about my work while doing other ceramic related tasks. I am at a loss of what I want to do but reverting back to hand building has been a great experience. I am making pots about fidgeting and how eating and fiddling with things have always been a method I use to calm my nerves and due to a lot of personal things this random exercise has been a very therapeutic experience.
Last week was my senior semester group show so a lot of my time was spent focused on preparing for that. With that over it feels like a lot of weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I can start focusing on just making and seeing where that takes me. I have also been making as much work as possible for the wood firing happening this weekend. I have made a bunch of random things that I am very unsure how they will turn out in an atmospheric firing but I am interested to find out. After the body of work I made for my Senior group show I wanted to explore making pots that were solely just pots with no deeper meaning. I just felt like a lot of times I focus on the conceptual side more that I focus on just going through the motions of making. It has honestly been a freeing exercise where I have had the ability to discover new ideas that I am really drawn too. I have been hand building instead of throwing on the wheel because I have realized that one issue I have with the wheel is that I feel like the wheel is a barrier between me and the piece and that if I wheel throw there is a certain type of perfection people are looking for that I have no interesting in obtaining. When I wheel throw I limit my imagination to what form I threw, but with hand building I continue to alter and change the piece. In summary like normal I don’t know what I am doing!
It does not seem like it should be this late in the semester. I have mixed feelings between feeling like I have done a lot and I have gotten no where. I spent a lot of the weekend and monday working on items for the wood kiln. I am really excited to try the clay body I am using in the wood kiln and to see how the leaf prints hold up. I think I am also going to start exploring other surface treatments. I want to use this experience as a way to decide for my final semester if I want to focus on soda or wood fire. I know that I want to do an atmospheric firing because 1.) I enjoy this process and 2.) I think that the surface it provides allows me to make everyday items that have a earthy feeling.
I have also spent a lot of my weekend planning and setting up my work at a tattoo parlor for a senior semester group show. The main issue I have with setting up at this venue is the lighting options are terrible and I think that without having good lighting it makes my pieces seem hidden. It also is a very busy building which I think takes away from the artwork that is being displayed. But I am really happy for this opportunity and think over all it is coming together very nicely.
Last week was insane and spent driving a lot. I spent most of the week in muncie firing a soda kiln, then going back and cleaning the soda kiln, and then I stay for Jason Burnett workshop. I am glad I took the time to attend this workshop. I came back with many new ideas and ways to approach my own work. One idea Jason gave me is to write down a 100 words that describe my work and then use those words to write an artist statement. Another cool tip is the Jason put Tea Tree oil into his spray bottle because it smells good and has anti-fungal properties. The last tip I will mention is that Jason saves clippings from magazines, books, newspapers, ads etc and uses them to inspire his work. He said that looking other artists is helpful but also can also cause issue with people copying other artists. But with an inspirational board you will fully be inspired by your own thoughts. On my drive home I thought a lot about the workshop, what I had learned, what I am currently experiencing in my life and my work that came out of the kiln and realized my work was actually about a different topic than I had thought. It is interesting how much being alone forces to really think about everything going on and really sort through things you are not fully facing due to daily distractions.
Last week was crazy and stressful. The beginning of the week started out with a whole shelf of work falling and realizing that the natural gas panel had issues which meant I would not be able to fire the soda kiln. I became nervous that I would not have work for my senior Semester group show and my dude Sam invited me to come and fire as his school. I hurried up and made a bunch of work in two days and quickly bisqued all my work and then drove to Sam’s college on Sunday and fired the kiln on Monday. It was a really good experience firing a different kiln and learning firing techniques. I will be driving back down Wednesday night to unload and see if anything turned out good. We did a salt/soda firing with logs and spray and I am ready to see how this looks compared to just soda and spraying. There are a lot of variables with this firing that I have no idea how anything is going to look. I am using a new clay body, trying a different way of printing onto the mugs and used glazes that are not ones I am familiar with. So if my work comes out looking horrible it is Sam’s fault.
Last week I fired the soda kiln. I have not fired it alone before and it felt good to make choices on my own and learn how changing the damper, gas and air affects the kiln. I liked parts of the firing and learned a lot of adjustments I plan to make. I learned I do not like how the color blocking looks once soda fired, but I enjoy the natural prints. So my new attempt is to paint white behind the print. I know that white underglaze does not burn out like most underglazes and mason slips. I want to try other underglazes and see which ones burn out in a soda firing. I plan to run a test soda with glazes and knew print ideas this weekend and then use that information to tweak my work and soda fire again the last week of October. Fingers crossed that something good comes out of this next firing. The next week I also need to start really thinking about how I want to display my work for the senior Semester show at Prophecy Ink. My idea is to create a section of a kitchen and display my work within the shelves and counter space. I have some counters I plan to experiment this week to see if it will display my work in the manner I envision it.
I have had a really productive week. While I did have cone packs explode in a soda firing and had to unload and reload the kiln with Brooklin, I am currently firing the soda and thus far everything has been great. From this mistake I have learned to play it safe and make cone packs with wadding and not clay. This week has for sure been a learning experience that has caused me a lot of stress but I feel like the stress has caused me to learn more in this week than I have all semester about firing kilns and prepping for firing. Along with firing I made a new clay body that I have really enjoyed throwing with. The clay body is really smooth and is also nice to hand build with. So making handles has been more enjoyable. I have been thinking a lot of about my forms and thinking about forms people would respond to as an everyday object. I am really striving to find forms humans want to take off the shelf everyday and interact with. For me foot rims have a fancy feel to them and most everyday user items so not have foot rings. I am exploring ways to allow the bottom to not look flat on a table, but have a simple feel.
I have spent a lot of week 6 preparing for a soda firing such as making wadding and glazing my work. I ran out of clay last week and have not been able to work on new pieces. I plan to make clay this week but am trying to find a clay body I enjoy working with. I am also wanting to see what my work looks like in the soda firing before continuing. I did have left over clay that I mixed that I hated throwing with and I am hand building a bonsai tray for my brother. It looks more like I am building my personally coffin.
I do not have much to blog about this week because it has been filled more with busy work than making work. But fun fact I mixed kiln wash incorrectly and painted the wrong mixture onto a bunch of kiln shelfs. I am currently working on removing the kiln wash and painting on the proper mixture. #killingit
This week I came across an idea that I am really enjoying and am excited to see how the pieces respond to an atmospheric firing. I have tried many things over the years and I never really responded to any of my own work. I always liked elements of the pieces I have made but i never made a piece and saw the potential of it and the ability to push the idea. This new body of work I see endless ideas of ways to apply slip, opportunity to add dashes of color and the ability to add a natural element that is settle compared to my past attempts at combing ceramics and nature. By using the natural items to print on my work it allows me to combine my two “homes” to represent a simple lifestyle of an everyday person. I am really interested in exploring color blocking and how to use painters tape to create crisp lines. I am also exploring different slips and making a more muted palette of slips with mason stains that compliment the mood I am trying to set with my functional items. I have mostly focused on using leaves, but with this next batch I am going to try other plants like golden rod, cattails and pine needles. Below are some detail shots of the prints and some shots of what I have been applying the color blocking to and the prints.
This semester has been slow going for me. I have a lot of ideas but I am struggling finding resolutions for my ideas. I know that I want to add texture/patterns to my work but I am struggling deciding how I want to approach this. I have ideas to create stamps, but something about this idea bothers me. I think it is because it is to manufactured feeling. Once things become predictable and repetitive the pieces become boring to me and I lose interest in making more pieces. I have learned this semester that my work is constantly changing because I get bored very quickly. I am trying to work on acknowledging this issue so I can work on focusing more on one style versus dabbling in multiple styles. I have been doing a lot of fun hand building exercises while I am working through ideas. I have been using my hand built items to explore how different textures respond to the surface. I have also been trying to find a clay body I like throwing with. I tried a recipe recently and it is horrible to throw with but very nice to hand build with. I don’t want to waste the clay body so I have been experimenting with slump molds and pinch pots. This week I am going to make another clay body that I feel will better work for wheel throwing.
Last week I spent a lot of time troubleshooting ideas and talking with Brooklin and Sam about my plans. They both have been helpful with giving me suggestions. One big thing I finished this week was using up all of my cone 6 clay body and firing the work. Doing this will help me push past old techniques and address my new ideas with no attachments. I did fire the corn I sculpted for Kacey and I enjoyed the outcome. I have been messing around with ways to create textures and patterns on my work and after multiple experimentations, I discovered that I am going to create stamps that I dip into a slip or underglaze and use the stamp to create a pattern on the piece. The patterns will be inspired by nature. Like the veins of a leaf, etc. Sam gave me the idea to pour a plaster slab and carve the patterns I am interested in into the plaster and then press clay into the plaster to create stamps. I am going to do this, this week and see if the idea is going to give me the results I want.
Last week has been focused on problem solving. I thought a lot about want I wanted to focus my semester on and after talking with Brian Harper and friends I figured out how I want to spend my semester. I also was faced with issues with my first assignment, which is the project where I needed to find found objects and create work with it. I chose plastic river trash. I wanted to melt if together with a torch but had issues with the plastics melting a different temperature. So, my idea was trashed because I could not find a way to attach the plastic with found objects. I really wanted to find a way to talk about how trash is killing aquatic life, so after staring at Styrofoam for a while I decided to create creatures out of the foam. I wanted to turn the assignment into more of an installation that I would present via photos than a project I brought to the classroom to be critiqued. I installed the critters by the Ohio River and it was fun watching people’s expression as I made them and while I was documenting them. On the side last week, I was working on little pinch pot vessels just to get back into making things. It has been fun just letting myself explore with no restrictions.
Trying to think about writing my semester plan has been really daunting to me because I do not see a clear path to where I plan to take my work. To avoid losing the beginning of the semester momentum I am creating mini assignments for myself to help myself think about future work. For an example I really want to work on thrown forms, so I have been using up the rest of my cone 6 clay body and throwing bowls. I have also sculpted corn on the cob for an art project I am doing with my friend Kacey Slone. Slone is currently going to grad school in Texas and when she went to IUS we always helped inspire each other’s artwork. Since we are so far apart we decided to create mini exercises for each other. Our first theme was “positive vibes”. This symbolizes that for us because we both grew up next to corn fields.
I am also working on a project where everything used to create the piece must be found. I am focusing on the effects of trash in our rivers. The trash blocks the sun from shining onto water plants and algae. This creates a block for photosynthesis to occur. I have collected most of the items I need to create my idea.
This is the last blog post of the semester. I am looking forward to my summer break because I have a lot of new ideas I am interested in exploring. I am going to spend my summer writing down goals for myself and sketching more than I have in my past. I am also going to mess around with throwing and then hand building on top to push my forms. I want to create a tension between production and hand built- nature and manmade. I also am interested in exploring adding a narrative to my pieces. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback with where my work is headed and it has been encouraging and helped me think more broadly about my processes. I have for sure decided I am switching back to cone 10. Not only do I miss the colors you can get from it I also miss the process. Cone 6 will always be a tool I am glad I learned and will probably one day use again, but soda firing makes me feel young and adventurous and I need that fun back into my ceramic experiences. I am really excited for what my last to semesters bring!
The photos attached are a few of my favorite things I have done this past week. I made a puddle mug, I put together my digital art installation and I bought ipeces of artwork from two of my favorite IUS artists.
My past few weeks have been really busy at school. We recently fired the wood kiln as well as the soda kiln, Both firings I helped out with. I've enjoyed taking on more responsibilities with kilns and trying to understand the process better. I can tell I have a better understanding of kilns thanks to my classmate Abby. Abby is graduating this semester and I helped her with her thesis show a long with a few of my other friends. While I am very happy with where my friends are headed in life I am going to miss them my last year at IUS.
I have been fooling around with a lot of new ideas. I am trying out a combo of sculpting and drawing. I have always enjoyed quick sketches and I really like how stain and the soda kiln react. The drippiness adds to my narrative of each piece. This semester has made me ponder if I really want to continue cone 6 or if I want to do a combination of both atmospheric and oxidation firings. I have so many ideas with no near sign of coming up with a conclusion.
This past week has been fun for me because I have made everything I need for my ceramic class so now I am just working on new ideas. I am starting to fool around with this idea that I sketch people’s personalities on a set of dinnerware that is specific to one person. Everything in that set would correlate with the user and once each set was compiled onto a table it would demonstrate the unity of meals. Right now, I have a set about my dad and I am working on one that relates to my youngest brothers. The ones I am creating are mockup ideas.
This weekend is going to be crazy because I am helping fire the wood kiln as well as firing the soda with Abby. I want to learn how to fire the soda kiln before she leaves because I can see my work benefiting from an atmospheric firing down the road. I also really enjoy the process of soda firing.
Documenting my work has always been something that I have battled. I know that as an artist I need to document my work but studio photography has never interested me. I also think that my pieces look drabby when photographed in a studio. So, last week I experimented with taking photos of my family interacting with my work and I am really enjoying the outcome.
My spring break was interesting. Normally I try and take some time to relax but I spent my break making new things for my SpaceLab show and firing a saggar with Brooklin as well as a soda and cone 6. Out of each of these firings a got multiple new items to put into my show. I mixed my new items with a few of my old items to create a domestic room. The idea of this piece is to address my childhood table conversations and the combination of two environments that comfort me (nature and home.) From experimenting with this concept, I have created some new ways I want to approach my work. I am fascinated with the idea of drawing on ceramics and I either one to start doing a Mishima method or using underglaze pencils. Another project I want to do over the summer is make a pit firing. I think it would be something I could see myself using down the road to create center pieces like the one I have in my show. I also think it would be up my alley to explore naturally ways to color my pots. I know that certain weeds make different unique colors. I am excited for my new ideas.