Well. The world traveling is over for this year (as far as I can foresee) and we’re back to the daily grind here, at Blue Hen Pottery.
Kids started at new schools, and so far it seems to be going well. I hope they make new friends, and are challenged and encouraged by their new teachers.
I have been back to studio, trying to finish up my first big commission! Talk about being challenged and encouraged. Just getting this order is encouraging… Challenges are mostly self-created.
So, the order was for a wedding gift registry, and consists of 8 of each – dinner pates, saucers, bowls and tumblers.
My biggest challenge right now is keeping to the size. I have thrown about 30 saucers for instance, out of which I should be able to get 8 that I’m happy with (where size, design and final coloring all work well together). All the rest will be fine too, I’m sure, just won’t make the “set”. I’ve never been interested in even attempting to throw exact matches – I think it defeats the purpose of hand-making. If you can’t stand for 2 cups to be a bit different in size, or the exact bulge of the belly – you can get factory made clones from Wal-Mart any day. However, I love making small sets of “similars”. I set parameters and allow for a bit of flexibility in size for instance.
The process is quite tedious. I’m using a dark clay body (Orangestone) and light slip (Loafer’s Glory) for this particular set of dishes. So, the process in this case is as follows: Throw,dry, trim,dry, slip the top, dry, slip the bottom, dry, carve the initial drawing into the slipped surface, dry some more, go over the drawing to accentuate or clean up the lines, dry, brush over the drawing to get buggers off, dry, bisque fire, Salt fire. (in case of cups there is also the lining with glaze).
I eliminate the step of pre-drawing, before carving the images – mostly because I like to draw into a slip that is still somewhat soft – the softer stage of leather hard – and I don’t want to see any random scratches on the surface. I think that drawing into soft slip gives a crisper edge to the line, and more sensitivity, than drawing into dry slip. But that’s of course a tiny nuance, that may go unnoticed… It also lessens the amount of clay dust I have to breathe in…
Anyway. I’m done with the throwing, trimming and slipping for this time, and started the drawing process today. It’s better to do all the drawing at the same day, if possible, since somehow my drawing abilities tend to vary from day to day… I’m sure that more drawing practice would help with that.
So here is some proof (so you know I’m not bluffing. Seeing is believing. And a friend once said :”No picture – didn’t happen!”)
The drawing is the fun part:) Lots more fun to be had. I need to hurry up and get it all done this week – Salt firing is scheduled for the 10/11th… Looks like 2 kiln loads.