Archive for February, 2010

Feb 20 Los Gatos workshop

workshop pots

bowls and mug made by a talented slab builder

Great pots and great workshop participants.   A grand time it was!

Margaret B.

talented slab builder Margaret

Shirley

Shirley appearing to have already filled her mug with wine

student

talented slab builder Katherine

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What is she doing with her face again?

goofy Elaine

Elaine impersonating a rat

she has a brain

Oh thank God, finally a decent picture

It is virtually impossible to capture the teacher looking intelligent.  Damn we have a good time and learn a lot though.

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press mold planters

These are examples of the many planters I’ve made by lining big plastic planters or large metal bowls with pieces of clay.  In both instances I lined the interior of the press mold with dry cleaning plastic before filling it with textured ripped up slabs.  The hanging ones were made by adding holes in the rim of pots I’d made in a restaurant size metal salad bowl.

porch planters

porch planters

hanging planters

hanging planters

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triangle planter

Here it is the finished version of the triangle planter.  Remember that template must be creased BEFORE you even lay the clay pieces on it or you will end up with a decidedly un-triangular planter, ie. pretty round.

triangle planter

triangular planter

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slab mugs, then and now

Wow, what an enthusiastic group of people I taught last Saturday at Blossom Hill Crafts in Los Gatos.  So much energy and so many questions to answer.  Remember I’m the visual person, a verbal wanna-bee, so I use that digital camera whenever I can.  I hope these help.

mugs

early mugs low fire and high fire

Yes, Amber, you can make these out of low fire clay or high fire clay… or mid-fire clay or raku clay.  The point is the technique works at all temperatures.  Low fire on the left was coated entirely in clear glaze the day after scubbing off green glaze on the outside.

This is how the mugs started in the late 80’s.   They were much more simple and I must have messed with them enough after taking the template off to make them sag a bit making them appear bag like.   And look at those rims!  No beer cans had been thrown into my driveway yet!  Once I started wrapping the mug around an object to seal the side seam, tah dah, no more warped rims.

mug progression

mug progression: late 80's mug to 2010 version

mug rims

early mug freehanded, current mug wrapped around a beer can

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Productive procrastination

Elaine's Vtine

Elaine's Vtine

OK OK, I still didn’t make it to the studio before turning on the computer.  Yes, it’s an addiction but can we just call it a good addiction for one more day?  At least I’ve found a way to eliminate one more pile on the desk because of this handy dandy blog.  These Valentines were made a full year ago using printmaking ink on styrofoam from used meat trays (after they’re washed of course!) .  Miles, Reid, and I whipped out about 90 Valentines in one evening.  Lots of whoops and laughter over what cool effects we could create by layering colors, adding in non-traditional paints, cutting them up afterward, you name it, we tried it.  ANYWAY…..then they sat on my desk FOR A WHOLE YEAR!  Couldn’t get to that last step of actually snail mailing them.  So they mellowed in their corner like fine wine and I actually mailed one this very morning after I brushed off it’s thick layer of dust.  But back to the Blog helping my tweaked little psyche feel productive today:  I can now scan my favorites and have them to look back on over and over for inspiration!  Now I get to let them go and move on and most importantly get them OFF my desk.  Phew.

I’ve done this project with both the kids’ classes many times now (first graders up through sixth graders) and the cue I use each time is for them to come up with a personal icon.  Something that they love that they can draw with very few lines, that they can reduce to it’s essence.  For my son Reid, it’s his rat, Maggie May.  For my son, Miles, it’s his favorite food in the world.  For me, it’s the reason I crawl out of bed each morning.  Addictions?  Oh there are oh so many to work on.

Miles' Vtine

Miles Vtine

Reid's Vtine

Reid's Vtine

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Valentine’s traditions

I come from a fairly non-traditional family so it’s not always automatic to come up with “on this day our family always did blah blah blah.”  Most of those memories are random times spent on the beach or camping or skiing with my family, but not necessarily ones linked to holidays.   But the “Valentine table” is one that’s become firmly entrenched with my sons and I.  About a week before the date I put out every collage material I can find out on a table and we do mini-collages for family members and friends at school.  This allows for the repeating of discoveries made by “drive by” creations, a random flick of the glue stick as we practice homework  and/or laundry folding avoidance.   There’s always some just OK ones and always a few can’t-wait-to-give- thems.  Invariably there’s squeals of, “Oooooh, look at this one!”  Definitely lasting memories.

the Valentine's table

the Valentine's table

brotherly love

brotherly love

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step away from the pot!

One of the hardest things to learn is when to stop.  I often go overboard missing that critical moment.  Then I remind myself that I wouldn’t know what was too much if I didn’t push too far now and again.  The key is to have the discipline to just sit right down and make another (valentine, pot, marble sculpture (ack!!) knowing what too much felt like and attempting to stop yourself a bit earlier.   And then doing it again, and again, and again.  Sometimes then I can go back to the first one and decide that it WASN’T too far, that I was just too close to it.  My husband calls this an ability to to talk myself into thinking that I’m always right.  Whatever works I say.  In any case here’s one that feels decidedly over worked with too too much stuff, but I had a most fabulous time riffing ideas back and forth with my 9 year old, Reid, who made the next one.  He was much wiser than I and remembered to “step away from the pot.”  I like his better.   It lets the purple and red have a chance to just say “purple” or “red” without something else on top of them.  The colors by themselves have a chance to breathe!  And he cuts better hearts than I do.  Then there’s Miles who is 11 and is, well, Miles!

Elaine's Vtine

Elaine's Vtine

Reid's Vtine

Reid's Vtine

Miles' Vtine

Miles' Vtine

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How to start

Sometimes it takes coffee.    Sometimes it takes such a big mess I hurt myself just trying to get across the room.   Sometimes it takes throwing my dog’s squeaky toy 52 times for her with the justification that I am being a good doggie parent.  Usually it takes quite a bit of chocolate and the chowing down on many things in the refrigerator that I would normally not even consider tempting.  But once I start I find that I want to return and continue, embellish, extrapolate.  This is my usual routine after I’ve been out of the studio for an extended period.  I’ve not been in the studio since the beginning of Dec. and I’m having a terrible time getting back in there after the break over the holidays.  Jan. is traditionally a down time for me spent in the house trying to purge, reorganize, learn something new before heading back to the studio with a new direction for the new year.   But it is soo soo hard to just get back in there after a long break.   Hmmm, it’s already half way through Feb. now and I’m beginning to psych myself out.   The same with this blog.  I’ts been a month that I’ve had this new fangled thingy attached to my new fangled web site and it’s remained BLANK!  A blank page is so gosh darn EMPTY and thus intimidating.  So I’ve started by ending the vast blank page that is this blog.  I don’t find writing comfortable as is making things with clay.  It’s why I collect friends who are amazing word smiths who can fill in the word that I just can’t think of at the time and finish my sentences for me.  Numbers and clay are friendly and comfy.  Words are not although they remain endlessly fascinating to me.  So stay tuned.  Because I finally started.  So maybe tomorrow I’ll walk out into the studio before turning on the computer.

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