Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Silk screening and stress tests

I'm going to try to squeeze in a quick blog before bed.  I just finished silk screening over 30 bags for a few holidays sales that I'm doing.  I am trying to get the hang of silk screening on 3-D forms, and it's been a little frustrating because I really don't know what I'm doing.  Honestly, it seems pretty simple in theory, but I decided to try printing on a flatter surface to get the hang of the technique.  It was wonderful.  I did all of these tonight.  (I will post images of the process later.)

 In other exciting news, I found a recipe for a cone 6 casting slip.  And so far, so good.  I'm going to have to experiment with glazes soon, but I did an absorption test and it weighed 200 grams before and after a night of soaking in water. That means the clay is vitreous, which in the world of all things functional, is a very good thing.

Another test I did was a stress (thermal shock) test.  I took the finished piece from extreme temperatures in a short amount of time.  First from boiling water in the microwave to freezing in my fridge.  This also was a success!  

I ordered some cone 6 glazes a few weeks ago, but my supplier experienced a fire.  I put another order in today, and hopefully it will make it here before too much of my vacation is over.  Now all I have to do is figure out how I'm going to get some glaze tests done, considering I have no slip cast work bisqued. :/

Friday, November 11, 2011

Visiting Artist: Jim Dugan

We had a visiting artist this week (of course it's right before finals) and that means there are 2-3 days of indulging in fantastic food, staying out late having great conversation, and watching lots of great ceramic work being made.  All of these things are really awesome, but it tends to get a little stressful I have obligations like work at SCAD, work in the studio, and work at home.

Jim Dugan was our visiting artist.  He is the wood kiln manager, resident artist director, and instructor from the Baltimore Clayworks.  Watching him work and listening to him speak about his pottery was immensely inspiring.  I want to say that he was one of my favorite visiting artists that we have had here at SCAD.  Just to see an actual potter be so prolific and just make really great pots was so energizing that I went home last night with every intention of just relaxing and taking a breather, but instead I worked in my studio.

It's been really busy week, and I don't feel as if I've spent time at home.  I'm a real home body and I need time to mellow out, or else I get cranky.  I've managed to keep the crank to a minimum, but barely. :)  We also just had a raku firing today with the Ceramics Club.  Open studio at Alexander Hall is tonight.  Final glaze kilns will be firing off tonight.  The Ceramics Club is giving a demonstration tomorrow at the Student Expo (I have to make sure the wheels go there and make it back in one piece). SECAC is in town and the final lecture is in Alexander Hall tomorrow night (so I have to make sure the facilities look top notch). And then finals are next week.  I will definitely be taking some time off during Thanksgiving to work on some projects that I have yet to complete.  ::sighs::

Saturday, November 5, 2011

From the first date to the marriage

I'm not sure if I have detailed how I got started on this road being a ceramic artist, but I should have, so I will be nostalgic for this entry...

Setting: 2001-2003, Hannah Pamplico High School Art Class, Pamplico, SC
This is where I began to dabble in ceramics.  My mom still has the first heavy, lumpy pot I ever made in her living room (see image below). I thought it was pretty good for someone who knew nothing about ceramics.

Setting: 2003, North Greenville University Clay Studio (aka the dank, dark spot underneath the Caf), Tigerville, SC
This is where it happened.  It was when the magic and tears began.  I didn't originally go to college for Art, so I took my first Sculpture class Fall of Freshman year just for the heck of it.  I worked with clay (see Greek Vase below, if you notice the cracks, it's from where the walls kinda exploded off), but the actual world altering stuff began in 2004 when I enrolled in my first Wheel Throwing class.  I learned how the center, pull, and trim, and I made some of the nicest 6" tall cylinders in my class.  Oh, did I mention the tears?  Yeah, I ended up storming out the the studio one night because I couldn't get the damn clay centered.  I cried because I was so intrigued at the process and I wanted to be great at it, but I sucked.  NGU didn't have an Art major, but I knew I couldn't do any thing else.  I ended up transferring to my clay teacher's alma mater.

Setting: 2006, Shorter University Art House, Rome, GA
I arrived at yet another small Art Program (in my graduating class there were 4 other Art students), but it ended up being a great school to study ceramics.  I had free reign with the salt, raku, and gas kilns.  The anagama involved a bit more work and I never have seemed to like the aesthetic for my pieces, but I loved the process. I learned how to do things on my own, and take risks.

Setting: 2008-Present, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA
I feel like these past three years at SCAD has been my grad school in a way.  I've learned more technical skills and more about the business of art.  I can't wait until the actual grad school.  I plan to start applying next year.  I'm glad that this career found me, because I still love ceramics just as much as when I pulled my first successful cylinder on the wheel. I really can't imagine doing anything else.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Off to North Carolina

It's always hard to sum up a weekend into one word.  People always ask "How was your weekend?" and I always say something that is easy like "good," "okay," or "fine." I'm not implying that my weekend was "bad" or "good," but I may need to think about how this past weekend was for a moment to come up with an accurate term.

Since the "Nellie Allen Smith Juried Pottery Competition" (which will be known from now on as NASC) was in Fayetteville, NC, and I have extended family there, I decided to grab my mom and sister and take a road trip.  Let me interject this here, and I won't really rant or describe why this is, but my family is crazy.  If you combine my immediate family with my extended family, the madness is slightly overwhelming.  With that said, I went to NC to see the show and to see family that I haven't visited in almost 5 years.  For some reason, I also had the anticipation of winning a prize at the NASC.  What really built the excitement was before I left, I checked the Cape Fear website to see if there were any new announcements about the show, and saw that they used the image of my teapot for the NASC.  I interpreted that as someone thinks your teapot is great and you are going to win something!!!  But I didn't.  It was a disappointment, but (here is where the family comes into play) when there is so much craziness around you, it provides enough of distraction for a few days, that you really don't remember the feeling of disappointment after everything settles down.

The show looked really great, and the functional pieces that won awards were truly deserving of them.  There were works from all over the US in the NASC.  I had some qualms about how my dinnerware set was displayed, but I'm sure that happens to everyone.  I was snapping some images of everything when I was instructed that I couldn't, so I only got images of my works to show off.  Another thing, the Cape Fear Gallery is in a really good location in downtown Fayetteville, but there was no one there at 12pm on a Saturday.  I guess it is one of those downtown areas that doesn't see much action.  It was really a foreign concept, considering downtown Savannah is ALWAYS bustling.

So to sum up, I didn't win a prize, but the show looked great.  When you have a crazy family that gets into Facebook photo wars and introduces you to interesting Indian food, there isn't much time for contemplating disappointment.  Also, I was reminded of how good my Aunt's chicken and dumplins are and they pretty much put us all in a sleepy state of comfort.

In essence, I think that this weekend was very "reminding." I was reminded not to count my chickens before they hatch.  I was reminded that not all crazy is bad. I was also reminded that I still have a lot more exploring to do on my body of work.