Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Day in the Studio

I returned to the studio today.

Julie kept wetting my pieces down all week. She also ran across two partially completed rockets, a larger version of Stephanie's rocket with the flowerpot in the window, and a small rocket, and wetted them down seven or eight times, wrapped them in wet sheets of newspaper and plastic. There were no engine bells or throwing chucks for the older rockets.

I worked on the tall vase first. I trimmed it upright first, to get some clay off the base, and then flipped it over. Instead of trimming a step inward from the side of the vase to the foot, I created a rounded rim that projected from the side of the foot, to match the rounded rim on the top of the vase. I then dug out my pottery notebook, and found the sketch of a vase that Stephanie had decorated for me. There were three six petalled flowers, with a couple of leaves, wandering up the side of the little sketch. I used a black felt pen to hand sketch the design on each side of the vase, and then used a pick tool to carve out the lines. I plan to use white crackle on the piece, with pink flowers with yellow centers, and the leaves and stems green.

I next worked on the large rocket that I threw earlier in the week. I had forgotten to roll out a slab for the fins, so I went out to the garage, cleared off the slab roller, and rolled out a small slab. Returning to the studio, I placed the rocket in its throwing chuck on the wheel, and trimmed the base. I carved out the base of the rocket, similar to the foot of the vase, and left a rounded rim. I then sketched out and carved the windows for the cockpit. The center window is a rectangle, with a right triangle on either side. I placed the spots for the fins, then carved a set of vents on either side of the top fin behind the cockpit window. I carved whale belly lines onto the ventral surface. There were four engine bells, so I picked the three best matches, setting the last one aside for another rocket, trimmed the other three, then attached them to the body by slipping and scoring. I went and found a piece of light cardboard in our junk mail pile, and used it to make a fin template. The sketch that I had made for this rocket had the fins staying tight to the rocket body, the curve of the fin not going much beyond the widest part of the rocket, and were attached from just before the where the engines were mounted almost to the widest diameter of the body. The inner edge of the fins sink between the rise of the engine bells, with the bells and fins sixty degrees out of phase. I cut the fins, bevelled the leading edge of the fins, and attached them.

The rocket was placed in its chuck, wrapped in plastic, and placed into the damp box.

The two older rockets needed chucks to dry and be fired in. We have some bisqued chucks in the garage from older rockets, so I grabbed a pair and brought them into the studio.

I attached the fourth engine bell to Stephanie's flowerpot rocket. I then cut and placed the fins, then wrapped the finished piece and placed it into the damp box. I used a fired chuck from the garage to hold it

The two smaller rockets did not have engine bells. The idea of these pieces is that they were to be simpler, quicker to make, and less expensive to sell. When trimming the foot of the pieces, I trimmed some rings and circular slots into the base, sort of like an aerospike engine. I added three fins to each, then placed them in their chucks in the damp box.

I threw two more large rockets, with three engine bells, and rolled out a small slab. Everything is wrapped and in the damp box for later in the week.

The first rocket has a body shaped like a large tear drop. I don't know what I'm going to do with the fins, but I may just do an aerospike engine on the end of the teardrop, trim the other end to a point, invert the piece, and add fins.

The second rocket is taller and thinner than any of my other rockets, and may have one or more of the engine bells attached. I threw the piece more like a tall vase, doing lots of collaring, before closeing the piece. The volume of air trapped inside seemed perfect for creating a tall, slender piece. I have a lot of sketches in my pottery book of taller, skinnier rocket designs, so I am going to finally get to implement one of them.

Rocket Count: Four Green, Two Thrown


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