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.
Last week I went to NCECA in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. It was an interesting adventure and a good bonding experience. Abby and I drove down to Pittsburgh together and we stuck together throughout the week. Together we made one person and were able to navigate and plan our days out. While during the week I missed making things in my studio I also enjoyed getting a break and visiting galleries and getting inspiration for my work. My favorite gallery was located at Carrie Furnace which is a former blast furnace that is now a national historic monument. The work that was displayed there showed that the artists considered the environment. It really made me think about my ceramics and how I want to display my pieces in a more natural environment. Another one that I really enjoyed was a gallery created inside of an actual mattress store. The artists used the display beds as pedestals. I really enjoy seeing unique ways to display artwork while I am at NCECA. Fun fact while at Standards a woman backed her vehicle up into me while I was not paying attention. It did not hurt too bad, it was funnier that someone knowingly hit me and then drove off.
For the last week, I have drunk so much coffee and had zero time to stop and enjoy life that I neither know if I am alive or dead. Hopefully after my BFA critique and my art history paper is written I can stop and enjoy my trip to NCECA and Spring Break.
I have been working a lot in the studio lately and getting a lot done but I am stuck in a limbo because I don’t feel encouraged or enthused about anything. I am very jealous of students who are confident in themselves and it does not matter what others think. I feel like I make steps towards something I think will be a style I could grow on and then enough people tell me they don’t like it so I move onto something else. I am getting nervous that next semester starts my senior year and I still have not made anything I would make repeatedly because people “love” it.
The only rad thing about this week is that I almost fired lil eddie alone and I bought a sand blaster. I used it on a few pieces and enjoy how it mutes my glazes. I want to experiment more with sand blasting, but I learned that it can be expensive.
I have been working a lot on things for my BFA critique and trying to figure out what I want to make and show for it. I went to Mud Works for my birthday and got some new tools that have been very helpful for my new hand-building experimentation. I have a new banding wheel, shredder and carving tools. The banding wheel makes coil building a lot more smoothly. The shredder also makes smoothing out my hand built items a lot easier and helps take down the piece’s weight.
I was able to fire a sagger firing last week and I was able to pull my mushrooms, acorns and pinecones out of the sagger today. They turned out all pretty crusty and rusty looking. The experience is a lot more interesting to me that the outcome. Sagger and pit firing are methods I think that a person must tweak until something remotely interesting to come out of it. Thus, far soda firing has created my favorite atmospheric look. A lot of the others are really dry and dull. Though the most interesting thing about sagger firing is how garbage food and things like salt can create different atmospheres on each pot.
Last week was crammed packed with demos. All the advanced students were assigned to present a demo and mine was today. While I felt like my demo was really lame and something most people can grasp on their own it was still good to get up in front of people and demo. Even though I look around at my classmates and see faces who could care less and are bored I know that it is an exercise that will benefit me down the road.
Another demo that happened last week was Link (the owner of Mud Works) came to IUS to demonstrate how to replace the elements in an electric kiln. This demo was very helpful and interesting to me since I one day plan to own an electric kiln. The job was nothing how I pictured it but after watching most of the demo everything started making more sense on how kilns operate.
I have been really busy hand-building sets lately. I have an oil and bread set almost done. In the set, there will be four garlic grater and oil dishes, a pitcher for the oil and a dish for the bread. After this, I plan to make a lemonade set, a wine set and dip and chip set.
Today I worked on the sagger kiln a little and had my progress critique and received some helpful feedback. Somedays I really loath critiques and feel like they are wasteful, but then randomly I am reminded of why critiques are very important. Critiques help you step back from your work and see it from another set of eyes, it helps you work through internal thoughts about your work and it offers new ideas to apply to future projects. Critiques also help you consider if one persons dislikes is another person's favorite element. One conversation my class had about my work is that my work that is handbuilt and thrown feels unresolved but my newer hand built pieces seem to interact with one another more successfully. After the conversation, I was thinking about how I wanted to push my work and something I am interested in exploring is making sets. So for an example, if I made I made a juicing set I could handbuilt each piece and then embellish all with a rhino beetle. I want inconstancy to be a huge part of my work, but I want the pieces to flow. Like nature I want each individual piece to come together and create something beautiful.
Last week has been fun and filled with exploring new ideas. We worked as a class to build most of the pit firing kiln. It was oddly fun making all the bricks fit and filling the cracks with clay so that the bricks fit tighter. I have always enjoyed puzzles which is probably why I enjoyed this process. Even though out of all the kilns this one is the simplest to build it still has been interesting to learn how to build it. We have not finished building it yet but plan to finish up the kiln and fire it sometime in the next two weeks. I really can't wait to see how the firing looks.
I took a lot of work home last week to work through some new ideas. I am exploring more with sculpting onto the vessels. I am trying to see if I think that if the mugs are hand built if the sculpted items are delicate if it looks better than applying a chunkier sculpture. I also am playing around with insects on my pieces. I have begun also working on wall hangings for dried flowers. I am making the vessels in sets of three to be hung together on a wall.
I have been busy last work working on items for the sagger firing. I have been having issues with the clay not working well with hand building, especially the terracotta. During my meeting with Lindsey Dezman on Wednesday, she mentioned why not trying to make ceramic baskets. I really liked this idea and even thought about designing them in a fashion where I can weave with reed. Like I was thinking about weaving the basket handles with reed. I have also been thinking about pushing my sculpture elements on my pieces. And how to alter my pieces in the wheel to better benefit anything I sculpt onto the surface. I was thinking about how if I flattened a side of an object or dented it in it could give me an interesting surface to add to. I made a rough idea of what I am envisioning with one of the pictured mugs below. I was thinking about applying this idea to mixing bowls, fruit bowls, vases and much much more. I am in this weird area where I can't decide what I like working better with, sculpting onto functional items or applying natural textures in unique manners. I am leaning towards finding a way for this to successful be joined. I was thinking about how I could apply the texture to the mugs and then have these sculpted elements interacting.
This week I have been working on making items for the Sagger Firing. I have decided to make items found in nature and place them into thrown bowls. I have thus far made some pinecones, acorns, and mushrooms. I am trying to decide if I want to Sagger Fire the bowls these pieces will be placed in or if I want to wood fire or cone 6 fire them. I am trying to decide what esthetic I am going for. I think I am interested in exploring a rustic playful look for these centerpieces. I have been thinking more about ceramic centerpieces and I was thinking about making pots with ceramic succulents in them and vases with ceramic flowers in them. I think that this look could compliment my style and be a unique mixture of playful and natural.
This week I have realized how drawn I am to the texture a pinecone can create. I took one of the pinecone scales and used it to create the texture on top of one of my acorns. It gave it a very earthy look. I plan to start going on hikes and finding new items to help texture clay. I have been using shells that I have found on past vacations and it has been creating really interesting textures onto mugs.