Friday, May 13, 2011

Glazing some pots!

This week has not been terribly productive, but I did go up to Southwestern on Wednesday to take some photographs of my pots (I will post some pics this weekend), and to catch up with my professor, Patrick Veerkamp.  Patrick is nice enough to let me photograph stuff using the ceramic studio's set up, which is very handy.  I love taking my sort of artsy Etsy photos, but it's also good to have some more professional looking photos around. It was great to catch up with Patrick, as I had missed him during Art of the Pot. One of the things we discussed was his retirement, and the subsequent open position at Southwestern. it was really interesting talking with him, as it had never really occurred to me that at a university as small as SU, that whoever fills his place is going to have to be able to teach more than just ceramics.  Patrick actually teaches design and drawing in addition to ceramics, and the next teacher will have to be as broadly educated as him in order to fill the position. I will file that away for the future!

Today I got back into the studio for the first time since last weekend.  It is still not very functional
yet, but all I needed to do today was wash some cups and get started on glazing them.  I'm mostly concerned with getting some vases done for a friends wedding mid-June, but I also have a number of teabowls I am excited about seeing finished up, plus two fountains! I'm really excited about getting the fountains up and running, especially since I didn't get a very good photo of the first one I made before I sold it.

Fun tip: the way that Ryan waxes most of his pots is with a small sponge he leaves in the wax.  This method is super easy and gives you really nice clean lines.  We both wax the rims in addition to the bottoms, since we clear glaze most of the insides, and waxing the top ensures a nice clean line on the outer glaze.  So you just place the pot on the wheel, and spin it with one hand, while applying the wax with sponge.  The key is to squeeze a little bit of the wax out of the sponge before starting so it doesn't drip!  To completely fill in the foot, I usually do apply extra wax with a paintbrush.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Art of the Pot 2011

AOTP this weekend was a blast!  Before I get into that, I just had to post a picture of this mug! The latest firing was not the best, the blue glaze in particular was a bit lack luster, but this guy turned out awesome!  I really am liking the flashing slip against bare clay, and I plan on glazing some more pieces like this.  I love the way the blue and green glazes look on my carved pots (when they fire well at least), but I would like a little bit more of a variety of surfaces, and in addition the flashing slip is a bit more subtle than the others.

Art of the Pot!  I had a great time this weekend, I helped out at Ryan McKerley's studio both days, mostly by taking payments and wrapping pots, and I also went around the tour each day, saturday with my dad and sunday with my mom (great mothers day activity!!).   The tour was great this year, though it was a tad bit hot in some of the un-air conditioned spaces.  For the first time this year Keith Kreeger had several guest artists in his house, which was very nice. I love having the studio's on the tours, so that people can really connect with the artists, but it is also really neat to see work in someone's house. I think it really lets people visualize having these ceramics in their houses.  So I was excited about that change.

In this post I'm not going to to over all the guest artists, just highlight some of them.  There were two artists at Ryan's studio in addition to him and Chris Campbell, including Chris Gray (I could not find a website for him, but he works at the community college in Plano, Tx).  Chris G. has some really beautiful surfaces and decorations, and some really neat forms.  He makes these great morter and pestles that I definitely would have bought if I could afford it :).  However he did give me a great teabowl in exchange for helping out at the studio.  I haven't gotten a picture of it yet, but it is a beautiful celedon piece with a silhouette of a raven on it, similar to the piece pictured, but imagine a large teabowl instead of a mug :) 

The other guest at the studio was Maria Dondero, who makes some really amazingly decorated ceramics.  I just love these pieces; the attention to detail, the quality of the surface created with all the different glazes decorations, and the whimsical nature of the images.  Maria also gave me a piece (all these artists are so generous!), and I chose a small mug like the ones pictured, with a wonderful little bicycle on one side, and a deer on the other. What I love about these pieces is how Maria puts little snippets of her life onto her pots' surfaces. She draws things she sees around the studio and her house, she makes little notes on them about things happening in her day, or comments on the drawings themselves; they are basically her sketch journal fractured into many little pieces.  This quality makes it really fun to see a bunch of her pots all together.

The only pots I actually bought for myself this year were two lovely miniature mugs from Margaret Bohls.  I really love her black and white pieces, the simplicity of their surface goes well with the little details of their construction.  I really love how you can see exactly how she built the mugs; they would not be nearly so compelling if she had smoothed out the seams of the slabs. 
My only regret for the weekend is that I did not by this amazing vase by Diana Fayt!  It was pretty far out of my price range, and so I convinced myself to not buy it :(  But I will for sure buy something from her in the future.  I love the way Diana combines the organic images of flowers and plants, and in this case a lovely little bee, with geometric elements.  Some day...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Featured Artist: Jake Johnson

My featured artist #2 is Jake Johnson, another one of my favorite Etsy artists.  Jake is a potter working in Bellefonte, PA, and according to his Etsy profile, "My work is mostly functional. I love making pieces that are unique and also affordable for lots of people. I try to give my work a sense of character and personality."
I loved Jake's work as soon as I saw it.  The pieces are beautifully crafted, with a strong attention to detail in the forms and their surface treatment.  Though all of his pieces are wonderful, my favorite thing about his store is the number of sets.  I really enjoy well crafted sets, they have a different feel and function than individual pieces, and it is an extra challenge to get all of the part to work together as a whole piece.
I think one of the most important factors that adds to the visual and tactile appeal of these pieces is the sense of life and movement they have (though in a very different manner than our last featured artist, Natalya Sots).  The slight variations between items in a set, or subtle tilts and irregularities of pieces, and in particular the way many of the trays are swept up to cradle the pieces they hold, all of these factors add to their organic quality.

 To see more items for sale, visit Jakes Etsy page, and for more information about the artist and images ofhis work, please visit his website!