Friday, January 16, 2009

Studio thoughts in mid January

The kiln produced some lovely dinnerware sets this week, and I've been working on photographing them and putting them up on my Etsy page. It's rather boring work - shooting pictures, cropping them to size, and then trying to get everything listed. There's text to write, shipping to estimate, boxes to acquire... stuff that no one thinks about when they just "click and buy" something online.

So my mind was wandering around while I was taking care of all this busywork. A friend of mine called the other day, and as we were talking, she asked how work was going in the studio. "Slow" was my answer, as I've been working on some new dinnerware designs and glaze tests, and my progress just seems sluggish. It's not as if I've been sitting around, eating bon-bons, with my feet up, doing my nails.

Do I look like that sort of person?

But the fact is - switching mediums and working in clay forces me to take a deep breath and slow things down a bit. Everything about clay is different - the various steps one has to take, the drying schedule, but (to me) the biggest adjustment is the planning and scheduling of clay.

Once you've made a pot or a dish, the clay has to dry before you can do anything to it. Rushing it at this stage is pot suicide, as pieces like to explode in the kiln when moisture is present. It's a completely different thing in the summer, where a pot can dry in just a day, with the heat and low humidity we experience her in Las Vegas. But the colder winter temps add a new twist to the situation.

Granted, we're having a very nice winter here, it's been in the mid 60's for the last couple of weeks, nothing like people in the right half of the country, but still, that is cold for here. I know, you want to slap me.

The other day, I was just getting ready to glaze some dinnerware sets and realized I was nearly out of the glaze I had planned on using. It's called Floating Blue, and it's sort of become my "go-to" glaze of choice. It's very stable for my clay, looks great, and is quite forgiving. Unfortunately, mixing up a large batch of it takes a little time, and that's the exact thing that tends to put me behind schedule.

See, I plan out most days in the studio. I know pretty much what I'm going to be doing any given day, and usually try to do things in a sequence that makes sense. If I know I'm going to be cutting and sanding a lot of wood, I'll try to do that at the end of the day, so that I can escape the sawdust.

I tend to try and do my glaze making at the end of a day. Plus - someone told me once that you should always let your glaze sit for 24 hours before using it. I'm not sure why, I should write to the ClayArt board and ask about that. So running out of the Floating Blue glaze puts me behind schedule at least a day, if not longer.

Still - life is good. I'm working on a few nice pieces right now, sales are consistent, and my glaze testing is headed in the right direction. And I'm working in a tee shirt in the studio. What else could someone want in mid-January?

To my friends and family back east - please stay safe and warm!


Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

Absolutely gorgeous work! Love the colors!

Allyson's Art said...

Can you kindly share your firing schedule for the waterfall glazes? I am getting some good results, but not nearly as lovely as yours! Thanks!

Wood It Is! said...

I use the exact firing schedule that "Mastering Cone Six Glazes" recommends. Luckily, I have a programable kiln that allows me to control the temps at every stage of the firing schedule. I think the most important part is the cool-down, which is quite slow. I forget what it is - but ti's something like 200 degrees per hour. Again - the book tells you all you need to know. I highly recommend it! Hope this helps!