Saturday, April 28, 2012

"Mug Analysis"

-- being quite a blow by blow description of what went down on this first batch of mugs...

1.  my favorite at the moment, as you can tell from the coffee drip.  I like the color off this green, but there was some crawling.  I think because I used the black wash under the glaze, which could have acted like dust, and Lisa said that this is sort of a finicky glaze.

2.  Least favorite.  I don't like the great big leaf being so dark against the lightness of the flower.  Also, the flower could be outlined a bit more.  Also, the mugs look a lot better with a more pronounced foot "bump"

3. again, the carved drawing lines didn't pick up the black wash very well. 

4.  this looks a lot like a Mel Bolen mug to me.  On the positive side, the incised lines did pick up the black quite well, and there is also a nice halo of grey around the slip trailed dots!
same mug, shot of handle
5.  I like this mug, but the transparent glaze looks quite milky.  These were all on the bottom shelf of the kiln, so maybe it was cooler down there.  I wonder if I should re-fire them and see what happens
here you can see that the glaze is pretty stony down on the bottom edge.  Do you think that re-firing makes a piece warp more?
6.  The background of the main section on this one was rose underglaze.  Now it appears sort of grey,
7.  the turquoise blue seems pretty reliable.  Haven't got a clue what the color was on the top edge.
8.  light blue and grey , the decorative lines are pretty faint.
9.  This one is supposed to be orange.  again, the glaze is pretty milky,
where it was thinner on the top edge, you can see the color a bit better.  Re-fire? I sort of like this shape, and the bottom edge,
10.  Another one with this green glaze,  lots of crawling. These ones I brushed wax on the circles, and along the straight vertical edge, wiped away the dry clay to get the relief.  I really like this effect. 
11. Again, I really like the glaze trailed stuff.

and just for something different, a tile.  it had mishima where the black is.  I like the tree on the bottom right edge.  I think I might try it in slip trailing with charcoal grey slip.  
That's the initial round-up.  Feedback is welcomed.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The plan was good

I went to the studio today armed with my watercolor sketches. This was good and I got right down to painting some mugs and dishes that I made earlier this week
However I think there is a cut-off time when my brain starts to shut down on decorating
The kiln was still too hot to open so I will have to wait a bit longer to see some finished pots.
It was pretty warm out when I got in the car-- the thermostat read 36 degrees Celsius, or 96 farenheit. It probably was from standing in the sun but still!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Planning with Paint

It seems that when I approach an object with the aim of decorating it, I tend to feel a bit paralyzed. I do have my trusty stash of idea generators to help with getting a start, but still, I often have that feeling of , "what if I decorate all these things with mediocre designs, and then I figure out something really good and I have nothing left to put it onto."
so, I decided to spend a bit of time with paper and watercolor to try out a few patterns to try to get over this.
First, I got out the stack of test tiles with the colors of the underglazes that I have, (with the exception of the red, I still need to do a tile for it.  also, should I get a light purple?)
 I took photos of each pair outside, but the photos aren't too good, as there were a lot of shadows from the trees. 
 However, I did notice that the tiles with the black wash, where they are unglazed, do have a bit of a sheen that is lacking in the plain "non-washed " counterpart.  Presumably it must be that little bit of gerstley borate that it is mixed with.  (This bodes well for the birds)
Then, I put out watercolors on a palette that corresponded to the colors that I have in underglaze.
Most of these have a tinted element to them.
I started by  drawing a simple outline of the mug shape that I've been mainly using.  Then, decided to simplify by using a rectangle divided into the basic zones of the cup.

 top band,
dividing band,
 main area,
 bottom rounded edge

Of course, the main area gives the most opportunity for pattern, but I think it is important for all the areas to balance out.
As I painted, I tried to keep in mind how this would actually play out on a 3-d object, and how the brush would behave with underglaze as opposed to watercolor.
Sometimes I go over the underglaze more than once to make sure that it isn't too streaky.  This is particularly prone to happen with the pink.
 I jotted down some questions as I went along.  For instance on this one, if the grid behind the small dots is made in pencil, will it impress on the clay enough to trap the black wash enough to make a light outline of the grid?
 In the center sample below, I used pencil cross-hatching to simulate scratching texture into the clay with a jagged metal rib, again to hopefully catch the wash of black
 I'll need to see how much of the black wash is enough, or too much, or not enough for the effect that I'm looking for.
I like to use white slip in the slip trailer to make dots and lines, and tried to simulate that with thick paint.  I outlined it with pencil in some of the sketches, hoping to approach the effect that the black wash has on it.

 If the bands of underglaze overlap, will that provide enough of a line to capture the black wash as an outline?
the background on these two on the left is an ombre effect, I need to see if that can be done with the UG's,
The test tile with the white underglaze picked up the wash in a particularly effective way.  Unglazed, it looked almost like birch bark.  Under the clear glaze the effect was a bit more diffused, or blurred.  However, the unglazed effect might be nice on scuptural things, but not on functional ware,
 Also at some point, I realized that I had enough room on my page to do an extended upper band painting.

These ones sort of remind me of beach umbrellas, or awnings.  I tried to add a slip trailed diagonal line over the strip on the left design

 I think that it is good to try these patterns out a bit like this,..  It was very similar to painting the actual ware, in that the background is painted, then set aside to dry before additional pattern is added.  So, sometimes i might have an idea when I put the base coat on, but can't remember what it was when I come back to it later on to add the pattern. 
I think this idea is sort of fun,
 I know that over time I'll evolve into a set of more easily recalled patterns and combinations, but for now, it is good to try to come up with some new ideas. 
At the end of this exercise I have 2 main avenues to pursue:
1.  explore more the ways that black can be used as an outline:
             through impressing the clay when damp to catch the wash later
             mishima when leather hard, areas filled in later with color
             outlining with brush-strokes of underglaze
             adding black on the rim or base edge with wash over the raw glaze
              (the underglaze pencil-- I like the effect of it, but don't like the process of using it on bisque)

2. thinking more about forms with which this type of pattern would be compatible.  Right now I think that clean, flat areas might show off this type of decoration well, but are those the kind of forms that I am wanting to pursue?  How do these patterns lend them selves to more rounded forms? and what about texture on the pots such as throwing rings-- how would that affect the patterns?

3. And don't forget that it is fun to carve designs into leather hard clay as well as painting stuff.

Tomorrow I hope to go to the studio again, and a glaze load should be ready to unload! Yay!  It has in some mugs using the Loafer's Glory clay, which is great, because I don't like the Moon White clay body at all.  It doesn't seem to vitrify and all the foot rings and bottoms are going weirdly grey.... :(

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Out of the kiln

After missing my class last Monday it was especially nice to go last night. It was also exciting because some things had been fired.
The test tiles with the underglazes were especially interesting to me. Some of them were really altered by the addition of a black stain wash.

I noticed on the two small mugs that the glaze was a bit thin in spots. I could either hold it in longer or try to let it dry out between the time when I apply the wash and when it gets glazed.

A bisque fire had also completed and so I have some things to glaze. I put a black was on most of the stuff and will go back and glaze it this afternoon. The birds I decided to just stop at the wash and get them fired to cone six because I still am a bit puzzled on how to keep them from sticking to the kiln shelf. Later I may need to devise some sort of apparatus to prop them on to similar to stilts.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What to do with the Birds..

 I made some birds without a clear plan of what to do with them.  So I have been thinking about it.   I did put two little holes in each to put wire legs in later, so that I can perch them somehow. 
I have these two wooden birds by Jim Mullen (Mullenium) that he puts on vintage objects. Which is a thought. Or a person could make some sort of object out of clay.
 I also have this little vintage bird ornament where the birds perch on a branch,
 I think this has a lot of potential, and maybe I could do one where there are places to put more birds,
I think it would be best to make the pedestal and the birds separately and then combine them later. 
I love these ones, they are so pink.