Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ambition: Throwing Log #2

I got ambitious tonight.

I've been drawing pictures in the margins of my notebooks at work of pottery. Whenever I am in a meeting, and there is a little downtime, I'll start doodling.

There was a pot that I made back in Atlanta, called "Love Potion #9". Every quarter, Vicki would assign a project, and her students would work during the sessions on their pieces. We would bring them to an end-of-quarter pot luck dinner, and talk about them. One quarter, we were given the assignment to choose a song, and make a pot to go with it.

The piece was a lidded jar. It ballooned out from a narrow base, curved back in, and then I had thrown an inverted lid with a knob on it. The whole piece was carved in a quilted pattern, along with parts of the lid. Since the piece was thrown out of Standard Clay Company's 266, the unglazed parts were a dark, chocolate brown, and the only two glazes that I liked on the piece were Floating Blue and a lead based transparent (I think Chun transparent, but I'd have to check my notes). Floating blue won out.

The piece sold in a gallery, but I still have pictures of it.

My doodle at work is a pot much like "Love Potion #9", but a raku piece. I want to glaze it with Seth's Luster ("the raku glaze of ill repute"), but only glaze alternate diamonds of the quilting in a harlequin effect. The rim of the pot I want to carve into a rope pattern, and the lid will have, along with the same quilting, three tapered spindles of clay, drooping like a jester's hat, with jaunty bells hanging from them.

Anyways, after I finished baking a blueberry tart after dinner, and changed into some work clothes, I pulled my photo album out of the library, and took my finished picture of "Love Potion #9" out. It was the first jar that I threw in that shape, and was the only one that had dimensions that "worked" in my mind. I went to the studio (leaving my sandles outside, so I don't leave muddy footprints all over the house when I finish), broke out my tools, set up the wheel, and started to throw.

I don't use a lot of tools to throw with. I have four wooden ribs (one small kidney which is my favorite, one large kidney for big bowls, one concave rib for controlling outside curves {with a rim notch}, and one pointed rib with a right angle on it), a needle tool, a flat natural sponge, and two fat chunks of natural sponge. I have a bucket that is about six inches tall by fifteen wide full of water. There is also a cutting wire for the clay, and to cut finished pieces off of the wheel.

I have to focus on centering. I can get away with a lumpy polygon of clay to start with, and I forget whether to lock thumbs of my two hands or not (I think I'm favoring no thumb lock at this time). Opening the piece is not a problem, I had to develop a technique to allow my a sloppy initial opening when I worked on large bowls, so I tend to run a wet thumb along the inside wall from top to bottom after I open to make the opening perfectly circular and centered.
Raising the walls is the skill that I need to practice. The inside hand needs to be slightly above the outside hand, everything needs to be properly wet, and both hands have to work together. I'm just a little out of practice on the long pulls to raise the walls, and throwing two mugs wasn't enough to regain my technique.


The harlequin piece is a little bit beyond my current skill level. The walls were too thin at the top when I had finished raising them, so they would not support the kind of lip that I wanted for the lid. There just wasn't enough clay to even make a lid lip with, unless I lopped off a few inches.

I moved the piece to the damp box, cleaned up, and then worked at wetting down the dried out clays again. I'll trim the piece tomorrow, to get back into practice, then go back to my plan of throwing some tall vases to carve. I'll come back to the lidded jars in a few weeks when my skills come back.

I need to find my purple ceramics sketchbook, and start bringing it to work with me, so I can transcribe my pictures at lunch or after work.


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