Ceramic wheel throwing is going well. My husband is relaxing and enjoying it now, and we’re both getting the hang of keeping clay centered. I went in one afternoon this week to throw some more bowls, and trim feet on last time’s bowls. Above shows one old bowl, upper left, that I think is Brian’s, but often we can’t tell so we just scratch our last nams on the bottoms before they get fired, which is enough lettering to fit on a small space. The very wet new bowls are moved from the wheel to a plywood board and labeled, because, well, pretty much all the beginning bowls probably look similar. If we were going to make plates, the teacher showed us how to throw on a bat, so we could leave the piece on it, as it’d be really hard if not impossible to detach something with such a wide base from the wheel, and move it, without totally distorting it. The softer (wetter) the clay, the more it can distort. To remove the piece, you put water behind it on the wheel and drag your wire cutting tool thru the base, as close to the wheel as possible. You do this until the piece loosens and slides toward you. Then you carefully move it by grasping it at the base and transferring it to a board, where it is left to get leather hard for the next step, turning it over and trimming a nice foot on the bottom, below.
Above, the two darker looking bowls are dark because they’re still wetter, leather hard and just got trimmed. The four lighter ones are dry, trimmed a few days ago. I rather like trimming feet. Not being there daily, sometimes you have to trim things that are a little drier than you’d like, or if they’re too wet, put them outside by a fan, where they become leather hard pretty quickly. This is where the imperfections can often just be trimmed off, not unlike turning wood on a lathe. When I was in college, I was so bad at centering, that most of my wheel pieces were more lathe carved than wheel thrown, LOL! But surprisingly, I’m getting it this time, and most of my bowls are very centered. After the foot is trimmed on the wheel, we carve our names in the bottom. Otherwise we’d never know what was what after it was fired. Even though we think we’d recognize our work, most of the time we don’t. I think that will change once we start adding things to pieces!
Next class I think we’re going to to cups, according to what the teacher had planned. We will need to attach handles to them at the leather hard stage, which is a bit more fussy I think, than trimming feet, so I will need to go in as often as possible to ensure they get dealt with at the correct wetness to dryness. Or, cover them with plastic, and use the fan, when we ARE able to be there outside of class.
Cleaning up can take awhile! We don’t start anything new if there’s 30 minutes or less left. It gets turned off, unplugged, and sponged down, then the sink and tools also get cleaned, clay sealed up and put away. The plastic pan under the wheel comes apart and I’ve learned to sop the worst of the slurry and clay lumps out before disassembling it. I also put the clay chunks and trimmings into a bag, and use them later to roll coils to hold bowls in place for trimming feet. Eventually the wetter stuff will be saved for slip, the ‘glue’ that holds handles onto cups and so on. After the parts of the trays are cleaned, the whole wheel and everything gets a sponge bath. Then the foot pedal and cord are put up, because mop fairies come in the night and clean the floors. The Microsoft bag back there is how I carried my apron and tools to the studio on the bus.
One of the reasons I started at the beginning was of course I needed to learn wheel throwing for what I want to do. Another reason is there are things I’ve forgotten about handbuilding that are important, like scoring and slip, to attach parts. I am not sure I remember it all. A mistake could result in a ruined piece, or worse…having it blow up in the kiln and ruin other people’s work, too.
My table is full of more than a dozen small pieces, mostly bottle cap birds, but also a few miniature paintings on cut out wooden shapes, that are only awaiting edge finishing, before I photograph them. Above, this small acrylic painting on canvas panel, titled “Baby,” is done. Baby represents baby broiler chicks, (which regardless if they are so-called ‘free range’ or whatever), lead short and horrific lives. It bothered me that I was eating chickens when I clearly thought of them as pets, so I stopped a couple of years ago. Then gradually, other meat, dairy, eggs, went too. Many animal rescues have a few rescued chickens, and the baby broiler chicks had blue eyes which surprised me, as none of my chicks ever had blue eyes. But then I never had a white chicken, and the broiler breed they showed was white. Baby looks a bit devious, and I have a feeling she’ll become a recurring character.
I’ll probably be doing a post on my Found A Chicken blog before long, on one or more of the animal rescues who have provided exposure of this industry, and who have a few of the lucky ones that were rescued. Found A Chicken: http://foundachicken.wordpress.com/
Besides the many small bird paintings I’ve been working on, I’m working on material for a show in 2015, work that will be held back from public display until the gallery starts promoting the event. It is keeping me busy, even though I’m not posting a lot of new pieces.
SWEATSHIRT AND HOODIE SALE AT REDBUBBLE WITH COUPON CODE HOODIE15, Limited time
In the meantime, if you’re in the market for a sweatshirt or hoodie, the POD site I’m on, redbubble, is having a 15% off sale on those until Monday, if you use the coupon code HOODIE15 at checkout. I don’t offer a lot of that product but do have some. Take a look at this one and also look in my portfolio there for more, in the “Products” Collection. http://www.redbubble.com/people/cschnack/works/9210971-giant-coffee-drinking-chicken-shirt?p=t-shirt&ref=shop_grid