going gang busters

I have been going gangbusters since November 9th, and have been in the studio every day, and will be until Friday -- when I'll have my first day off. (!) I'm usually working a 10-12 hour day - to fill an order for a holiday pop-up shop this coming weekend - and getting work together for the PNW Resident Artists Holiday Show and Sale.  It's hard going, but I'm really enjoying the single minded focus of it too.

The King Street Makers Market --  pop-up shop is curated to two sharp eyed ladies with exceptional taste. (well they picked my work ;-) )  Their collection is all Northwest made, and ranges from fancy sugars & salts, to fabrics, ink drawings, jewelry, leather goods - and my ceramics.
We got a write up in the Seattle Met.  I have to say -- they've been doing a fine job with their social media campaign too see here on Instagram and here on Facebook for more. Maybe its silly - but I was flattered when they told me that their studio visit with me, (when they snapped this photo) is when they had the idea to profile their makers as well as their work -- as part of the social media campaign.

The pop-up is THIS weekend,  starting Friday the 5th, through Sunday the 7th of December in the International District 666 S King Street.
(did you go?  is that how you got to my website? say hi! tell me what you got!!)

I've also been charging towards my deadline for the Pottery Northwest's Resident Artist Holiday Show & Sale who's deadline is a week later than the KSMM -- thank goodness!  PNW's show and sale is up till December 20th but the opening THIS Saturday promises to be a good time.  Revealing my new grey spectrum work for the first, new vases, and a new serving form!  (photos soon to follow)  Come by and say hello!

teaching

I'm getting ready to start teaching again in January - and realise that I've never mentioned it here and yet it makes up a big piece of my clay life!

I’ve been teaching plaster mold making & slip-casting one semester on, and one semester off since I’ve been in the studio. I’ve really enjoyed it – though I am always surprised how much time it takes in a week. The class itself runs from 6-9pm one day a week – that’s only a struggle for me when I forget to eat before class!

But prep for the classes, planning demos, staying ahead for the next session – and answering students questions – ends up taking up a lot more of the week that I’d ever expected.  Having said that – it is so much more rewarding than I expected too!  Seeing the 'ah ha' when they pull their first piece from a mold –and the pride when they share their finished work makes me feel great. I'm also lucky enough to have talented students - and I'm proud of their work - which is a really nice feeling.

 I’ve made some good friends teaching too and the thing about learning from your students is so true – there are many ways to make a mold, and alter clay. 

Bellow are a few shots from my last class's final crit too - snapped quickly on my phone, so I apologize for the quality.


grey or gray?

So I’ve been thinking of branching out into colour... 

In many undergraduate art programs – your first 6 months in school you get two colours to work with: – pencil, (or ink) – and the white of a page to work with.  It teaches you shade and light and helps develop the finesse of your line stroke.  I remember thinking it ridiculous to take away our colours.  Then in the final semester you are given sepia to work with, and then a few classes later, a blue to act as a low to the sepia high – and I so clearly remember feeling overwhelmed in drawing class with the extra spectrum.  (that or sepia and blue don’t go well together...)    

For the past year, I think I subconsciously kept myself on a similar path with the blue & white.  Learning my material and it's quirks – developing my application (/ like my line stroke at Parson's.)  So now I’m looking to add one more colour – a grey black.

(Okay, 4 years at Parson’s and a healthy exposure to pedants – black is the absence of colour… but let's not go there.)

I was happy with my initial slip colour blot tests and they were nice tones – but then I tested them with my go-to Chun glaze…  the troubles started.  The cobalt based glazes were coming up blue where the glaze was, and then when that didn’t happen the iron in my glaze would pull out a lovely, if undesired coffee toffee brown.

So I’m testing a few commercial glazes & a lot of recipes I’ve found in PNW's extensive library and around the internet too.  I’ve not quite nailed it... with work as thin as mine, and only glazing one side requires a lot of elasticity in the glaze – and so far I’ve been met with a lot of crazing.  But I’m sure to get there soon enough…

Meanwhile I’m playing with the back / grey spectrum – and I’m really happy with the early results I’m getting.

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RAP grant

 

The RAP grant is only open to resident artist at Pottery Northwest – and funded from part of the takings of the Salad Bowl fundraiser.  RAP stands for Resident Artist Program…  and as of such – is only open to current residents that have not received it before.  (Which makes it very favorable odds - there are only 8 residents in the program at one time...)

I was thrilled to be awarded a portion of it!  I put in two applications, with different approaches and one of them was approved.  The first was a rap I wrote – "mix a-lotta slip” – asking for a slip mixer, detailing the size, manufacturer and benefits to my work that would come from having one.  It was silly and fun, but also good to get out of my head – the words kept coming to me when I was trying to go to sleep, so had to go somewhere.

The second one was a more weighty request for support in bringing digital into my practice.  The application was called “let's get digital” (sticking with music as a guiding theme.)  And I asked for a membership to MakerHaus – a 3D printing, laser cutting, AutoCAD dabbling creative space. 

I am thrilled to have been awarded the grant – and have a chance to explore this cross over of design and clay… and see what further control* I can offer to the process.  (* yes, I can hear the clay gods laughing as I write that.)

So the good thing is I was awarded the grant. The bad thing is MakerHus announced 4 days after I was awarded the funds – that they were closing in October.

Doh!  So I am in the process of looking for somewhere new – there are a few shops in Seattle & I’ve heard of a few that might grow soon.  And I'm also exploring the possibilities online, looking at Sketch-Up Software - and using a print & ship service like Shapeways.

Watch this space...

salad bowl

 

Our annual fundraiser at PNW – was a huge success this year!  I won't be as indiscreet as to disclose what we raised, but I will say we smashed our fundraising goal.  (also, I don't do numbers... so would be making them up anyway.)

The residents throw bowls for months leading up to the event – and then we all paint each-others work --  resulting in 350-400 hand painted salad bowls.  Patrons pay $85 a ticket, and this includes a bowl of their choice, a spork ("light my fire" sporks... which for anyone who camps knows are the dog's toys) and a commemorative bag featuring our newly designed logo. 

I made a donation of a set of blue & white striped cups and pitcher, to the silent auction - and had several items for sale in the gallery. 

It was an great event – fun to catch up with students, clients, & board members – and the buzz of the residents and the board pulling together to make something momentous happen is so gratifying.  We convert the studio into theevent venue and then back to a working studio in the period of 48 hours.

The night itself would never happen without our volunteer army - look at Michelle's grinning face in the bottom photo - there is just wonderful community in this studio.  Check out the special edition t-shirt, and new logo on the shopping bag she's holding up. 

Oh!  and on the night they announced our RAP Grant recipients –and yours truly was one of the recipients … more in a post coming soon.

More about salad bowl can be seen here on the PNW website, and here on facebook.

(oh and I have to give credit to the night's official photographer Sudhi Tirnahlli - one of our student, a great photographer, and a kind soul.)


my christmas present to me

so I still need to get some photos of my work up here
but in the mean time, I'm very very excited to introduce you to my casting table
it cost me $100 in materials, & a few private lessons in mold making
(with a clever, talented & passionate "student")
and I couldn't be more excited.

the table is hip height, and the draining V is on an decline
so slip in the trough just runs out into the bucket.
the ladder is removable for easy cleaning
& using it is the stuff of my dreams.

this is me emptying a 4.5 gallon mold
with no effort at all.  Yay!!
and much thanks to my carpenter & new friend.

 



show time

an intense stretch of work on all this
and Saturday 6pm we opened our doors to the public.
I'm embarrassed to say I put the last few things in the gallery that evening
and was still sticking my price labels at 5:50 pm
when my first client
(with an inside track for early access)
purchased a few items.

My last minute pricing doesn't effect the quality of the work
but the professional in me flinches...
a lesson for next time.

Proper portfolio photos to follow, but here are two from on the night.

earrings too

after my love of the testing pancake
I decided to make it part of my work
and see if other people feel the same way.

I've been wearing these earrings for a few weeks with a great response
so I'm making a selection for the show on Saturday.

It seemed like a great idea, until I realized that was 50 x 2 pieces to sand, and attach the earring parts to.  
 

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about time

December 6th will be my first show at Pottery Northwest.
Just in time my clay formula's resolved themselves
and I was able to start producing for the show.

here's a sampling of the bisque-ware for my blue and white collection.

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drawn to plaster

While I'm working on my clay formulas
and stains, and glazes...
I found myself taking a break back in the plaster room
making another large puppy with my latex technique.

Very excited to cast this one and see what he looks like in clay.

 

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staining my clay

for me, one of the biggest draws of this material  
is how it feels to touch
the soft surface & the hard shape
the way it takes the warmth from your hand.

and I often think glaze takes some of that away.

Artists often talk about the integrity of material
and that matters to me too,
though 'integrity' can have various interpretations
(and I won't get started on that rant today!).
It can be about not altering the material (a purist view)
but for me integrity is about not covering it up,
not glazing surfaces that don't need to be glazed,  
leaving the surface open to touch.


Therefore, I'm staining my clay body before I cast it
(this means it is coloured porcelain,
not porcelain covered in coloured glaze)
& for some reason it's misbehaving in the firing tests.

I've been toying with this for about two weeks now
and its frustrating, also beautiful. 
I'm surprised & pleased at how patient I'm being...
maybe tomorrow my tests will work out:

but for now can you see the tiny bumps in the photo below?

 

testing testing (and some more forms)

Clay formula

Sadly both of the clay companies I was using at Parson's have gone out of business... 
Selly's Nordic White "doll porcelain" 
(as far as I can tell, 'doll porcelain'  means
high cost for a small supply
since you are only making tiny faces and hands with them) 
and Burn's Stoneware  

So with the very friendly help of Kim from Tacoma Clay Arts and Dale at Laguna Clay (they went to college together) and I think we've got some stuff to work with.

So I've been playing with a lovely, white porcelain and a sturdy lower temperature stoneware-esque clay used for sanitary ware production - so it vitrifies at that lower temperature and is super sturdy.

I've been mixing them at 1/4 ratios and casting them to see how they behave,
how high I can fire them (from cone 6-10)
and the final step with the 'house clay' (like house wine!) is to look at how it takes stains.

Oh!  also when I was at Clay Arts Center (@Tacoma)  they were trying to give me a free gallon of English Grolig cone 6 and cone 10 as Joe there was pretty sure that would fit the bill, so I've been playing with that. 

I have to say, I spent $150 or so on material, and their thoughtful advice and careful consideration was really lovely. I'm glad my $ is going to support such nice peoples.

Also, The rest of the family
(sets...) 

I'm building a family set, riffing off of the Slow Down Breakfast Cups there's:
- a cup
- milk jug, (soy or almond jug) 
- sugar bowl (or espresso cup!) 

- and coffee carafe (water pitcher, OJ, or cocktail jug).

 

plaster workings

As a slip-caster, before I can get to making things with clay
I need to make my molds...

First over to the supply shopping places.
Being in Boeing Town, a lot of the fun industrial supply places
are used to a slightly different clientele than artists.
This book was in the waiting room lobby,
and I got huh-hum, I mean "had" to wear safety goggles while testing the samples.

In the end the best stuff I found for my purposes was from MJ Fabrics,
they "specialize in fetish fabrics" and as a bonus, I'm now on their mailing list...
better than what the Gap emails every week for sure!

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Then, into the plaster room with its super bright green wall,
that feels like riff  of a room on The Real World, MTV
(for those of you who are old enough)  

Properly kitted out, we even have weighing scales, and timers!
I've never weighed my plaster out before, 
& just used the island method.  
Turns out, it is very accurate...
but I've gone back to the island anyway
(too much faf)

Anyway, so large and ambitions:.
A huge stretched-laytex, suspended form shenanigan....
and then realized, I need slip to cast it with.

So I left the mammoth aside to dry
and made some smaller molds to test the clay with.
Testing clay with such a big form would make for some expensive lessons.
These smaller forms will give lots of starting info
& then I'll take it on from there.
(also, I wanted to make these shapes too)

 latex set-up before the plaster was cast. (next image is a different latex) 

latex set-up before the plaster was cast.
(next image is a different latex) 

 view of plaster bulge, stretching the latex,  (resting on the upside down legs of a chair) 

view of plaster bulge, stretching the latex,
(resting on the upside down legs of a chair) 

 mammoth plaster positive...

mammoth plaster positive...

starting with the Salad Bowl fundraiser

I'm sorry about the quiet...
I can't promise it won't happen again
but let me try and get you up to speed:

I got here 2 weeks before our annual fundraiser
the "Salad Bowl"...
the residents collaborate on pieces
with each resident making 25 bowls and then glazing 25 bowls
but ensuring not to paint their own.
I came in late in the game, but below is a quick snap of a few of mine.

 Salad Bowl was a huge success, and we raised $30K
which is to support the residents & our firing fees over the next two years.
We had a few larger items for auction, and some special offerings too,
but the baseline was that for the price of entry,
our patrons were invited to select a "salad bowl" to eat off & take home.

It was really fun watching the process of selection,
and also identifying what draws the eye and for whom. 

Oh, hello. You scrolled this far down?? 
Ok then,  here's a picture of the transfer tattoo's I made for all the residents
so there'd be a way we'd stand out in the crowd to answer questions etc.
(you can take the girl out of marketing...)

 

 

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now in a store near you**

a handful of the Yeti are now for sale,
in a shop, under the careful care Kristen Rask
the curator of the wonderfully quirky shop

Schmancy 

if you haven't been in, you live in Seattle,
and you have a healthy sense of fantasy -
go!  Its like a furry, fuzzy fantasy headquarters.

I've just finished the Yeti's hang tags
which I have to admit, I'm rather chuffed with. 

**near you, if you live near: 932 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98101  

 

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day two was good too

I do love my life at the studio already...

supply shopping at an aerospace support business
that makes custom parts for Boeing
where they required safety-glasses for my visit
and I had to sign that I was either a US citizen or a Green Card holder

working with silky smooth plaster again
(which they don't eyeball here, but actually weigh - what a concept!)

I am thinking of building a plaster wheel - which is the ONLY thing lacking
spraybooth - check!
sandblaster, check
soda kiln, electric kiln, etc
wheels a plenty,
but a plaster wheel would help...

I even threw on the wheel for the first time since Ii was seven.
not a master at it just yet,
but my new friend Jana Evans said she was proper impressed
with what I'd thrown given how long it had been. 
and that really, is all the encouragement it takes.  

Oh - and final thing, on Friday Lindsay Pichaske gave a talk.
If you like my Yeti - you'll LOVE her work
its like a grown-up version of the playful space between humans and animals.
She works with painstaking delicacy (her works take 3-4 months to complete)
I was enamored with her work -
and need to get down to the Foster White gallery to check her current show out.

 

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sewardpark spring show - yeti display

thank you for coming by the show this week,
and even more for picking up a card & checking my website out.
do drop me a line over in the heading "contact"
I'd love to hear from you.

(from the show display) 

These are Yetis.  Or that’s what I’ve been calling them.
Though technically Yetis live in the Himalayas,
so this would be a long way for them to travel.

There are however Sasquatch about
the Sasquatch Research Team is quite active here in Washington.
I kid you not.  www.wasrt.net write it down.
check out the fuzzy pictures.

These are not fuzzy pictures, or short folks in yeti costumes
but real, living, Art.  I made them.
So let me tell you a little more:
The three white fellas are Elder Yeti’s
and the brown boys and girls are younger.

As you can see, like humans
yeti’s come in all shapes and sizes,
with a tendency to be short and squat.
Contrary to popular belief
it has nothing to do with a poor diet, or smoking at a young age
this body shape is optimal for staying warm at high altitudes.
(think about it, your tall skinny friends are always cold…)

Yeti’s are romantic creatures. 
They love flowers, and holding hands, and sing-alongs.
They also appreciate good sunsets, and practical jokes.
I’ve heard they are keen on coffee too…
maybe that’s why they are in Seattle?

meet the gang:

Belly             has an outie belly button.  don’t tease him about it.
Duck Feet     has great balance and loves swimming.
Baller           is often cold.


Stan             he’s just your average yeti.
Fred             is from Australia, is he a Kageretti or Yeteroo?
Kylie             is pregnant!
George        had probably done something wrong, again.

Please note:  These yetis are made of clay.  They do not know
their own names, in the same way dogs don’t actually know what
bacon is.  So if you like a yeti, but want to change their name
that’s okay.  I might sulk, but they don’t know the difference.

 

yeti background.jpg

This was the image I used in my background display
it was taken in New Zealand's south Island
and is of these phenomenal reeds that stood 8 ft tall.
Traditionally used for their strength woven into clothing, bags and even housing
I though they made the perfect hiding spot for my imagination's wild animals.

Also, did you know Wildebeest are actually real? 
what a waste of a good name.