Friday, December 19, 2008

Year of the Rat

More underglaze work.

In particular I made this as a "Secret Santa" gift for a friend who was born in the "Year of the Rat" as determined by Chinese Astrology. So was her infant son. Probably it isn't surprising that it's not all that easy to find rat themed ceramics.

I was quite happy with the way it turned out. Click on the picture for detail.

And here is some ratty detail.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Working With Color

I love modern pottery styles as well as Medieval. The earthyness and simple function of the Medieval ware is so satisfying, but I can't ignore my love of color and the more unusual shapes of contemporary ceramic ideas. This means they often are merged in my work such as with this platter:

The design is a Turkish Phoenix from the Middle Ages. But this Phoenix is done with modern underglazes on a white stoneware platter and fired to cone 6.

In another application, this is the same design I painted on my Medieval Pavilion. It reminds me of the beautiful July day when this photo was taken. A comforting thought on this below zero December evening.
But I was talking about color in pottery not the weather, so here is some of the greens on which I have been concentrating recently:

If you click on the photo to make this big the surface design is also apparent. It's subtle from a distance, but a closer look shows the amount of work that goes into each piece.

And the huckleberry purples! Now these are bright glazes, and so lovely. Yes, these bright colors can be achieved using stoneware glazes and temperatures. This photo was taken at the "Mud and Spirits" show in Coeur d'Alene, ID, sponsored by C.A.G.N.I. the weekend before this one. We were lucky, the bad weather didn't start until this Saturday and the road to and from Coeur d'Alene was great.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A visitor in my studio

He didn't enjoy his time in the studio, rather he flung himself at the window repeatedly. After trying to help herd him to the open doors, I finally just left the studio and came back sometime later to find that he had left. He is obviously frightened in this picture, but what a pretty bird!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ceramic Cookware

Although Pipkins are a favorite, they aren't the only Medieval cooking pot. I make a variety of other Medieval cooking pots for the firepit or brazier too.

A very basic cooking pot is a round bottom piece. Simple ceramic cooking pots are literally found all over the world and all through time for cooking. A few show surface decoration, although it was probably to help the cook get a good grip on a slick piece of pottery. The Ashmolean Museum has some good examples of round-based cooking pots:

This little brown bowl on tripod feet is about 2 cups in capacity and can be used for various culinary work. I especially picture it for sauces or warming up a small amount of water.

The green pouring bowl is 2 qt. size and is also on three feet to fit on the coals. Of course, these bowls have many, many uses on the kitchen counter as well as on a firepit.
"Pre-industrial Utensils; 1150-1800" published by the Museum Baymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam is an excellent reference and the one I like for these bowls.

This is a good example of a skillet. With an interior of about 5" in diameter, this becomes an excellent size for a pancake or frying a couple of eggs. The handle is hollow for insulation like I make many of my pipkin handles. Although this fry pan is on tripod feet too, I also make them with a flat base. My favorite example of this in history is used in a painting by Pieter Aertsen titled "The Pancake Bakers".

The cauldron can be used for anything a pipkin can be used for. I particularly like them for baking, I just scoot mine to what looks like the optimum coals and keep an eye on the heat to insure the coals don't get too hot or cool down too much. There are many examples of medieval cauldrons, the Museum of London has some of my favorites, for example this "London Ware":

You can see a bit of the tripod feet of this Norman spouted jug in this picture. A jug like this can heat water or warm up beverages in the coals. The Ashmolean has a couple of great examples in their "Pot Web"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Doing work for June Fair

Next week I'm traveling to Port Gamble to be with friends and participate in June Fair. June Fair is put on by the Barony of Dragon's Laire and is a large event. I've only been to it once before several years before, it comes at a busy time for me. This year with Crown Tourney so far distance for travel I thought it would be a great time to go back to June Fair. It sounds as if many of my friends will be there too.

I'm doing a lot of cooking ware for the event. I've been very enthused about cook ware, particularly the pots that go directly on the coals. I've enjoyed cooking in them myself, which makes it natural to spread that enthusiasm. Tripod pipkins, such as those in the picture above, seem the most fun, they are such appealing shapes.
I have also been working on the simpler cooking pots without handles, cauldrons, Anglo-Norman jugs, braisers, pipkins, frying pans, and pouring bowls with feet. The last group of cooking pots I included stamped and carved surface design. Some of the design I covered with glaze, other design I let the warm red clay show off.

This picture shows some of the footed pouring bowls and the porringers. There are also some Anglo-Norman footed jugs in the back of the picture. The jugs also can go on the coals for cooking or for heating water. I like using them too they have multiple uses.

In the foreground are some non-cook pots too, bowls, Medieval goblets, and small jugs with piecrust feet. Actually, I because I use the same clay formulation for these pots as I do the cooking pots they to could be used for cooking in firepits if just that exact shape was needed.

Most of the Medieval cooking pots I have loaded in the kiln waiting to be fired tomorrow I made cooking pots without handles, feet, or lids, and green glazed them. That is I didn't do a bisque firing, but put the glaze on the dried pot. That increases the possibility that some may break, or that the uneveness from throwing or trimming..... if there is any, will cause them to crack in the kiln. I also spent most of the day force-drying the green glazed pots. We will see how successful this was when I unload on Monday.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Some pottery from the Renaissance Fair

The weekend's sunshine helped everything, even when it came to photography of the pottery. The weather was an additional joy to the weekend.

The green ware was popular with people this year. It's the first time in Moscow I've had this glaze style combined with this particular surface decoration on display. I will be making more soon, particularly the decorated mugs on tripod feet which sold out and had people inquiring about more.

Some of the Celtic knotwork I had available. These are time-consuming to create, but of course I love to do them. I go through phases when I become obsessed with a particular Celtic or Viking animal to engrave. This depends on what animal I am thinking of or noticing during my non-pottery hours.

Huckleberry glaze series. I like the glaze with the small coil on the rim, such as the bowl on the top left. It gives the pot a subtle elegance that just seems to work with the purples. Huckleberries are precious things for me and I intend to go hunting for the real things this summer after a long hiatus.

And, of course, my dragon ware, nestled amongst the Celtic knotwork.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rennaisance Fair is coming!

and it will be here this up-coming weekend. I have attended this fair since it's beginning year, which was (gasp) 35 years ago. I am the only artist who has had a booth there every year.

These are some of the green pots I will be glazing for the fair. I am exploring some different surface designs and trying an approach that is much more "loose". The two teapots on the upper left are great examples of the differences between a loose and a more refined teapot shapes.

These will be glazed mostly in the huckleberry glazes, but I want some in greens and others in the raw-sienna glaze I'm working with as well.

It's very exciting antcipating how they will turn out after glaze firing.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Empty Bowls recap

Empty Bowls, 2008, was a success for the Palouse Studio Potters Guild. We made over $1500.00 for Hunger organizations and had a great time doing it, although it did take quite a bit of work. I was proud of the Potters Guild members for their dedication and good energy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Intended for Empty Bowl Donations

This Phoenix bowl was painted with underglazes and fired to cone 6.
This paticular influence was from a Medieval Persian fabric design.

Another Bird Bowl, also Ancient Persian in design for both interior and exterior

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bowls, bowls, and more bowls

These freshly thrown bowls are destined to be decorated by friends.

The Palouse Studio Potters Guild is holding an "Empty Bowls" chairty April 19th. For this we gather handmade bowls. The website says: "The basic idea for Empty Bowls is simple. Participants create ceramic bowls, then serve a simple meal of soup and bread. Guests choose a bowl to use that day and to keep as a reminder that there are always Empty Bowls in the world. In exchange for a meal and the bowl, the guest gives a suggested minimum donation of ten dollars. The meal sponsors and /or guests choose a hunger-fighting organization to receive the money collected".

We are actually asking $15.00 for a bowl, still a great bargain. The funds we generate will be given to Oxfam and a local small town food bank that is in dire need of food.

This is the most wonderful activity. The Moscow Food Co-op provides 2 homemade soups and bread. We have offers of about 200 bowls from potters. The unfired bowls in the picture above will be decorated by non-potters (but artistic people) in two small workshops. I am also donating quite a few bowls.

This is another example of my Celtic Knotwork pottery. Bowls are such wonderful designs to decorate.

This is a simply designed soup bowl, simple for me and the way I work anyway.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bird designs after high firing

These plates & bowls from the previous post were fired to cone 6. I found I liked the underglaze applications best. I still have quite a bit of experimentation to do until I am satisfied with the cone 6 faux maiolica. The application of white glaze base upon which the maiolica is painted needs improvement I think. The glaze texture was lovely, satiny-smooth, after having been fired though, there was some glaze peeling before firing.

This Pelican plate is now in the collection of Brighid, Baroness

Dragon's Laire. Given to her by an anonymous friend. I've been asked

who, but my lips are sealed.

Mistress Sine has spoken for this raven bowl. I am happy with
the glazes, but would like to fire it one more time to
smooth the texture more.
All in all, I was excited by the outcomes of this firing and plan to do more without waiting to get snowed in this time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

In My Snow Island

This pelican design was done in underglazes and will be

fired with a transparent glaze over all.

During my enforced vacation/marooned status, I did get some ceramics done. I brought some bisqueware, cone 6 maiolica base, and underglazes into the house and painted birds on the bisqueware. It was so much fun.

I've noticed Canadian Geese in the air and on the ground

even during this bad weather. They are inspiring to see.

This one is painted in the style of maiolica and will be

high fired.

The Raven is a bird I am always in awe of. Wonderful
birds and the symbol of the trickster.
I used underglazes to paint the bird on the bowl, it will
be covered with a transparent glaze and high fired.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Late Winter

The end of January '08 was a time of difficult weather. In two weeks over 3 feet of snow was dumped on us and the wind blew it into impassable drifts. At one time I was stranded in my house for five days as my car was stuck and I couldn't physically walk through the drifting snow to get it anyway. It could have been a pleasant time to relax and enjoy the forced vacation, but I spent most of my time trying to find a way out.

This is a view of my pottery studio from my front porch.

The roughness in the snow was where I walked the day

previous through 3 ft. of snow, the drifting filled my path

in again overnight.

I had sufficient supplies and heat, but I didn't enjoy the confiement.

When I did find a snow plow willing to plow my driveway, the snow berms were pushed up so high I still have to back the 1/8th of a mile back to the house because of lack of turn-around space from the snow. Then shoveling the sidewalk and a path to the studio commenced.

But all is well, now I can come and go as desired.

This is Amby on the sidewalk I dug out. I was worried

about letting him off leash because I couldn't go through

the snow to get him if he decided to bolt.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pipkin goodness

This is the pipkin and pouring bowl set I made for my son and daughter in law. They aren't interested in Medieval recreation, but love camping. This set will work well for their camp cookery.

This is what the pipkin looks like.

The side handle is hollow to help with insulation and makes it more comfortable to pick up unless it gets very hot, then a pot holder is advised. The lid has a loop handle, the cook can pick it up with a stick or end of a wooden spoon to check on the cooking contents. Finally the tripod legs are so it can fit reasonably securely over the coals.

These pots are so much fun to use.

See my October '07 post showing pipkins in use

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Another travel mug

Here is another travel mug from pre-made bisqueware. This one was for my handsome middle son who likes the Goth lifestyle. I've made him several mugs with skulls so I thought I would "branch out". The leafless trees are suitably spooky. He was born in the year of the boar, thus the boar under the tree.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Some of the Christmas pottery

The mug on the left is for my dancing daughter. The Center mug was for my oldest son, and the hare was given to my daughter in law. Both the designs of the 'ram' mug and the hare cup were inspired by the special display of Medieval Islamic Art I was able to see at the Chicago Art Institute this summer. The glaze colors are modern though.

Two dimensional?
Yeah, on my part at least. I bought the bisqueware because I wanted to make the kids travel mugs for Christmas as a request, and these came with well-fitting lids. So I painted them with low-fire underglazes that I did not formulate myself with the exception of my exterior glaze, with which I am not yet satisfied. If ceramics are done right IMHO, the surface design is there to enhance the shape. With this style, my attention to the shape was secondary.

But dayum this was fun. Way, way fun. I could have yet another obsession to deal with.

This is the backsides of the travel mugs from above. All three are from Medieval Islamic ceramic designs, with a little tweaking.