Back Yard Barrel

I've been working on setting up a studio out of my home in East Dallas, and am experimenting with techniques I can do easily at home.  One of those techniques is barrel firing  I got this food grade barrel that still had vegetable oil in it, cleaned it out, and started playing with fire! Shhh....don't tell the neighbors.


First we prepped the pieces in foil containers with materials like copper, miracle grow , and sawdust.  Then a fire was built on top of the pieces and left to burn.  I generally cover the barrel with a lid after the biggest fire has died down.

Here is the work after it has cooled.  You can then take tung oil and polish the work to deepen the colors.  I'll post some pics of finished work soon.


Madrid Anagama

So after canceling the firing twice last year due to our concern over how dry it was....we are finally firing the kiln!  Or I should say we fired it last week.  This is a picture of us loading pieces.  After loading we took six hour shifts of chucking wood in the kiln for 4 days.  Next weekend we will open it up and take a look at what we made.  You can visit the kilns blog for more info if you'd like to come out for the unloading party.  www.madridanagama.blogspot.com


Wedding Pottery

Here are pictures of the pottery I worked on for my wedding.  In addition to the flower pots I used as favors I made vases to hold arrangements around the venue.  


First Fridays Albuquerque

In Albuquerque the galleries do an event every month called First Fridays.  All the galleries are encouraged to have openings on the first Friday of the month so people can gallery hop around town.  This month one of my sculpture installations is going to be up at  Matrix Fine Art for their opening!  The reception will be from 5:00-8:00 pm, so stop by and say hello!


How to make a Simple Flower Pot

Here are some instructions on how to make a simple flower pot like the ones that I am making for favors at my wedding.  I needed a design that was simple and easy to mass produce.  I just changed the textures on them to keep it interesting.  I am using a low fire talc body. At your clay store ask for a white earthenware or sometimes people call it a modeling clay.  The clay is very easy to model but it also dries out very quickly and becomes hard to work with.  So work quickly!

I use a wood modeling tool, kitchen paring knife, needle tool, metal rib, slip, and a template made of old linoleum for this project.

 Pound out about a handful of clay and then roll it out on your slab roller.  If you don't have a slab roller use a rolling pin and two even thickness flat sticks.  By placing the clay between the sticks and rolling on top of the sticks you will ensure that you get a slab with even thickness.  I roll the slab out until it is a little wider than 1/4 inch.  Make sure to rotate the slab between each roll to ensure it gets wider in every direction.

 To create some texture I lay a piece of burlap fabric over the slab and ran it through the roller again.  You could also use corrugated cardboard, leaves, lace, or whatever else you have on hand.
 Here is the slab rolled out to 1/4 inch with the texture.  I now take my linoleum template and use it to cut the clay.  The shape is slightly curved so that when the piece is made into a circle it will sit flat.  Save the extra clay for the bottom of the pot.
Make sure when you are cutting the edges that will be joined to cut them at an angle.  This will give you more surface area for attaching. The angles should both be cut in the same direction so that one angle faces out to you and the other faces the board you are working on.

Shape the slab.  Use your needle tool to score (make deep scratches) the angled edges.  Again you are creating more surface area for attachment.  I use a needle tool instead of a serrated rib because I think it works better to make deeper marks in the clay.

Put slip on both edges and press the edges together.  Use the modeling tool to compress the attached edge on the outside and inside of the pot.  You can use the sharp end to clean up any extra slip.

 Use the extra part of the slab to cut out a bottom piece. Leave a little extra room when cutting the bottom piece.  Score and slip both sides before attaching.
 Use the smooth rib to compress the attachment.  I also use the rib to make the bottom concave.  This will help it to sit flat.  Plus it looks nice.
 I then take the rib and smooth the extra clay up around the bottom edge.
 Make three little balls to create buttons.  Score and slip,  then press into the pot.  I like to press them in to where it leaves indentions in the pot.
 I use the edge of the modeling tool to press into the center of the buttons, just cause I like the way it looks.  You can leave them be if you like.
 Here is one when it is just finished next to one that is bone dry.

Here is one that is finished!


Springtime Goals

For the springtime I have two main ceramic goals.  Hopefully this will keep me busy and in the studio!  One is to make a bunch of things for the wood firing in which I will participate in April.  I'm very excited about this event.  It will be a great opportunity for me to meet other clay obsessed people in New Mexico, and to learn how to fire a new kind of kiln.  We will be firing an anagama which is a very long tunnel shaped kiln.   Here is an example.

File:Anagama Being Built.jpg

 My other long term project is to make 200, thats right 200, hand built flower pots for my wedding at the end of May.  These will double as center pieces and favors for our guests.  Luckily, I have recruited my mother's help, and she is allowing me to be a control freak potter who is making her stick the use of a template to make the pots.  I know.  I'm putting a damper on her creativity, but come on we have to streamline production of these things.



So I've been trying to make cups.  The first thing you learn when attempting to throw is how to make a cylinder shape.  Most anything you make on the wheel starts with a cylinder and is then shaped into another form.  Considering that a cylinder is a basic thing you learn and cups are basically cylinders you would think that they would be easy to create.  I find this not to be true.  Its hard to make something simple, interesting, and usable all at the same time.  The solution I have come to with these cups is to leave a larger concave space at the bottom to fit your hand and then add some interest up top by adding ridges.  



So just in case you haven't noticed...I have a thing for green.  Any green really.  Blue-green, yellow-green, even putrid olive green.  I think green just makes me feel calm and it feels like home.  My parents house is and almost always has been an homage to the color.  Kermit would most certainly feel at home amongst the green walls, carpet, linoleum flooring, cabinets, counter tops, and various rugs.