Saturday, August 15, 2009
Catching Up After A Little Gap!
I haven't posted for a while. It has been a slightly strange time following the big changes to the studio, lots of small fiddly jobs to finish, and straightening up to do before really getting back into the swing of producing more things. We had a successful open studio weekend at the beginning of the month, and just managed to get the place ship shape and pleasant looking about a minute before we opened on the Saturday.
I have been battling a little with health matters (nothing really serious I must add). I have been having difficulty shaking off an infection and tend to run out of steam by about lunchtime, and really struggle in the afternoon. By evening I'm mostly too out of sorts to do more than post a few comments and have had to neglect blogging to some degree. However..., the good news is that, from last Wednesday afternoon I have actually started using my new studio space, and have begun throwing some earthenware jugs on the wheel.
Most of the jugs are approximately 3 pounds in weight and about 9 inches in height (although this varies depending on how big a handful of clay I have plonked down on the wheel head). I am making most of the jugs with big round bellies, mostly to improve my rusty throwing skills. Fat jugs are a good challenge as I take the clay out nearly as far as I can to form the belly without the pot collapsing, then collar the clay in again to form the neck of the jug. The jugs aren't very pretty, but the the taller ones mostly feel respectably light for their size.
As an experiment, I cut one of the jugs in half to see what the wall thickness was like. This is a good thing to do from time to time when trying to improve throwing skills. The pot in question had not come up quite to the height that some of the other ones had, and slicing it in half shows too much clay down below, and a wee bit of surplus around the shoulder area that should have been converted into more height. The wall thickness is just under quarter of an inch thick where it is thin, and gets a little bit over that around the shoulders and down near the base. I throw thinner than that, and more evenly when I am in practice, but this is day two after a few weeks diverted into other things.
I don't really like turning pots after I have thrown them, unless the form really demands it, so I try to throw the walls to their final thickness (or thinness??). One problem with achieving nice thin walls on a jug, is keeping them strong enough to take the stress of fitting a handle, especially if the handle is one that is "pulled" off the jug, as mine usually are. I had some trouble with a couple of jugs with their rounded tummies squishing out of shape as I held the jug to attach the handle. It is a juggling act really, and a judgement call about adding the handle when the jug is damp enough to join clay firmly to, yet not too damp so the jug goes like something that Salvador Dali thought up. Remember Dali's soft watches??
Laura is beginning to settle into her new studio area too, and is enjoying the better light and space.
Things are coming up in the garden at last with some days feeling like spring might almost be here. Laura has planted quite a number of Hellebores, which look really good under the trees in the half acre "forest" that we planted, there are also other treasures as well, such as snow drops and a miniature Iris.
Ginger also looks good under the trees, and made sure that he had his photo included in my record of woodland beauties.
Ginger has some colleagues, namely Big Puss and Little Puss. Big Puss occupies our back door mat for hours on end and doesn't do much. We do wonder sometimes if he has legs, or if he moves on hidden wheels, as we can only guess at what goes on under his long, tangled Persian hair.
Little Puss moves like lightning, and is very affectionate towards Ginger, who actually "mothered" him when he was a kitten. We have discovered them all curled up together on a chair and very content.
Believe it or not, Big Puss and Little Puss don't live here..., Ginger does now.
My little class of teenagers have had most of their first term's work glaze fired, and I had some pleasure, and relief, unpacking the firing from the electric kiln. I have a photo here of the bottom layer of pots in the kiln. I especially liked the cheerful larger bowl, which was made by coiling clay, the green rim and the spots and spiral decoration are cheerful and fun, and might inspire me to loosen up a bit myself.