Open Studio Report, 3/15

Oh, it was a gray and rainy old day today! It’s always a treat to arrive at the studio to spend time with my companions, though, no matter what it’s like outside. It was warm and bright indoors around the big table, although I felt less industrious today than last time. I continued to work on my conical bird house, trimming it a bit to make it perfectly upright. I also cut out a round of clay that I will insert next week after it dries a little. It will become a platform for nesting. Next week, after I place it, I will make horizontal scratches up to the hole I’ll cut and this will be the ‘ladder’ the fledglings will climb when they’re ready to leave the nest. Now, I have to research how big I want the hole to be, then factor in shrinkage rates and cut it. I also want to consider a squirrel-proofing addition. The photo above doesn’t show much yet, as the cone is covered with damp paper and plastic, but it is slowly taking shape. I also made a pattern and cut out the lid, but it will have to dry for a week before I create the low, squat conical shape and stuff it with newspapers to dry. A tile had come out of the kiln and while it has its charms, I am not perfectly satisfied with it. Because the white clay I use turns light gray when fired, I covered the whole thing with bright white underglaze, then Shino. I adore Shino and it was the perfect way to allow the glaze to show its stuff. The tile has a lot of texture, so there’s nice variation. I had some underglaze problems, so will be doing another. Pauline gave me some good ideas about how to prevent them the next time. Then, I checked on some things I have in the damp room. I mentioned I’ve made a mold of an escutcheon tile. Well, it’s drying nicely and soon I’m going to be able to start experimenting with small tiles made from it. You can see the vine and berries clearly through the cornstarch used to prevent the clay from sticking to the tile I molded it from. I want to hang things from the keyhole, as a decorative effect and have one skeleton key so far. Not much, as I don’t want to overdo it. The piece must stand on its own. Next, I checked on my little olive oil lamps, the design of which was inspired by Roman and Parthian lamps. I can’t wait to fire these little guys up to see how they work. I’ll probably make others that will be replicas of actual lamps, but I want to test them first. I already have my wicking at hand. The lamps are leather hard now, so I uncovered them in the damp room and will be able to fire them soon as they’re quite small. I will only glaze the bottom portion…clear glaze over the burgundy and turquoise glaze. These colors should look nice against the dark terra cotta. I made some house numbers with the turquoise and red clay and it’s quite nice together. And, lastly, my sheaf of wheat tile… It has been drying, uncovered, but I want to hurry the process a little because it’s starting to drive me a little nuts. (Patience!) After this tile is fired, I will mold it, too. I have some plans… One thing I’d like to do with one tile is to write around the edge, line-for-line, in cursive style with my new Kemper pen, which I have yet to use. Better start practicing… I won’t be able to do it till I’ve bisqued a tile from the mold I’m to make. So, to hasten things, I set it on a plaster mold and will let the remaining moisture wick from it till I can get to it again. Over the week, till I head back to the studio, I have some ideas I want to start working on at home with the red and white clay I have here. The tile looks a little ratty in this photo, what with mold and paper towelling stuck to it, but the mold is actually a sign that I’m using good clay and it and the paper will burn off just fine. I let it dry very slowly because I didn’t want the small bits to crack and it worked out well; everything’s intact. Phew. All’s well that end’s well.

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About Jan

I have a background in ceramics, graphic design and journalism.
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4 Responses to Open Studio Report, 3/15

  1. gary says:

    Your daily comments are addictive!……. we enjoy your travels with our minds, and we follow you expecting something new each day – bravo ! I enjoy a good book , but am expecting your comments daily and note your list of accomplishments in clay weekly . I however seem to be just stuck on horses, which seem to require REPAIRS WEEKLY ! SOOO… FRUSTRATING….. BUT ADDICTIVE ALSO! Thank you for the horse pics of my latest, i will have to get back to taking shots weekly as my book of my horse pics has not been updated in at least 6 months!…… Thanks for the reminder!….. gary

    • Jan says:

      You’re welcome about the pics, Gary. It’s good to have a record. You know, I think we all get sick and tired of what we’re working on at times but, then, after our little fizz passes, we’re happy with our work and continue to enjoy it. You make a damned good horse! And I still want one…snicker! Glad you’re enjoying the blog. 🙂

  2. Pauline Doyle says:

    Enjoyed all the pictures of your work Jan. Things are progressing nicely.

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