Tuesday, March 16, 2010

La-bor-atory Artmaking

Last week I was interviewed for an upcoming article/project on artists. The questions were e-mailed to me ahead of the interview, which gave me added time for hopefully, more thoughtful answers. The additional time had allowed me to better consider some of the questions such as “my first memory of making art” and “was art a part of

my childhood?” Lately, I’ve been working hard to “stay in the moment” after all of the grant writing proposal stuff and being forced to project what my artmaking could become should I be a grant recipient. Another self-analysis personality quirk that came up during the interview is that I’m a rule maker, an observation that Daddy-O keenly diagnosed years ago. Which by the way came in handy yesterday because one of my new rules is “don’t open the kiln until it has cooled to 150 degrees.” Having a rule is THE ONLY thing that keeps me from popping the top at 500 degrees to peek inside after the firing cycle is complete! The load of ^6 came out mostly OK –with the exception of my “Sedna Masks” which portions exploded due to air bubbles in my slabs. The good news

is my Pods all turned out wonderful and the test trays using the Duncan HF 583, Black Gloss High Fire Glaze onto the green ware came out great. Actually, better than I expected. This was the first time I applied a gloss glaze to the greenware without it being an underglaze. This Duncan glaze was part of the large lot of misc. glazes I bought second hand last year. I thought the gloss black really lent itself to doing some more Ravens. The extra large Pod that is over 18" even fired beautifully.

During the interview I was also asked about working and combining the two different mediums of steel and clay and their different processes. I made a comment about how steep the learning curve has been with clay and I thought I’d be farther along by now with the medium. The interviewer asked if I kept those detailed journals potters do on firing schedules, kiln temperatures etc.

“Ha!” I replied. Good intentions went by the weigh side on my second firing last year! I scribbled my outcomes on various box flaps, scraps of paper and whatever else I found lying around that are now, nowhere to be found. I dreamed early on that I would have a thick, leather-bound journal STUFFED with glaze recipes and secret firing schedules by now... Then the writer pointed out a very important observation and she said “well, isn’t clay more SCIENTIFIC?” Exactly, I thought. Good science practices are necessary for good outcomes and every phase of working in clay takes more measured practices than I’m used to. I love science, but I'm learning I'm not a very good clay scientist!

**So Many Trips That I Want To Take and Speaking of Ceramic Science, Look What I Just Read on Slipcast -The Ceramics Blog "It's Educational" by Matthew Katz


cookingwithgas said...

we are still trying to figure it all out.
If anyone really has this all down and feels the least bit smug about it that big finger in the sky will come down and poke you right in the eye!
I have notes- but if I could figure out what they mean I might be rich!
Love what you are mking!

Tracey Broome said...

I agree with Meredith. I have a bunch of journals and kiln logs and lots of very helpful information in all of them, if I just knew what I was thinking when I wrote half of it. Also, yes on the big smack down, every time I think I know something and feel smug about it, I get the big "oh no, you don't!" Some note taking might be helpful though :)
Also, I have had several teachers that swear you can't get explosions from air bubbles, I wish someone would clarify this......

Judy Shreve said...

Sorry you had those explosions -- but I think the masks look kinda neat that way -- maybe you could glaze them in such a way that it looks intentional.

The kiln is such a beast sometimes. For the longest time I glazed by the seat of my pants without a clue - hoping for good results & only getting them every now & then.
- And as most everyone knows I spent the last few months with my nose to the grindstone -- organized glaze tests - kiln notes & test tiles.

I now approach glazing entirely differently with at least an idea of what I want & what's achievable. I never knew how to do that before.

I still have disasters - but I can think through them now & adjust. It's a miracle to me that I can do that ! lol

Anonymous said...

hi cindy, i'm with the other commentors... i take notes sometimes and when i look back, i can't remember what i meant. i'm wondering if you have a computer controller on the kiln or not. if you do, you can set up a drying profile. e.g. go to 190 degrees and hold for an hour or two. i do it when i'm not sure if things are bone dry and haven't had any problems

cindy shake said...

Hi all- you mean I can't take a peek at your secret, well written clay journals -ha! I thought all of you would have these luscious books of generations of clay secrets that I could find the answers to ALL of my questions! ;o)

Yes Jim, I have a new electronic kiln controller that I should know more about... I have been using the preprogrammed schedules. I've heard before that holding at a temp would never hurt and is a good idea. Though I think those masks were so bone dry (they were weeks old -and it's soooo dry up here in AK) you don't think small air pockets in my clay that I didn't get wedged out could have caused it?? Hmmm -sounds like more testing is needed -arrrggh!

Kristen :) said...

That raven is wicked cool! I am really feeling the need for a raven tatoo....lol. Don't worry- i won't pull a willy-boy! You'll know about it because you're going to draw it! lol

Anyway, great pottery!

ang said...

well i think you have it figured out take copious amounts of notes and try to figure them out later but i think the best learning is all experience and discussion...i think mostly things exploding is about foreign matter in the clay like plaster... accidentally in there or moisture escaping too quickly..

Linda Starr said...

Sorry about the explosions, nothing like an interview to make you think (and me too I found myself trying to answer some of the questions you posted here). Notes are good, but sometimes seat of the pants gets some amazing results too. the ravens are so wonderful; I thought of you today when I saw one hopping on a tree branch nearby.

cindy shake said...

You better not get a tattoo daughter-o-mine! Your brother's have caused me enough angst!! He tried the same ploy on me -that is was my artwork that "inspired" hi Koi sleeves... xox

Ang -I could have easily had dried bits of clay in those masks -or some plaster. hmmm.

Thank you Linda :o) It was fun to reflect on the questions the writer asked. Had me daydreaming a bit.

ang said...

hi cindy just to clarify bits of dried clay wouldn't be a problem but plaster would..

Patricia Griffin said...

So... You don't want your daughter to have a big raven tattoo on her back? What kind of mother are you???!!!

Just yesterday, my husband and I were looking at an ad for a tattoo artist and there was a picture of a woman's back with a tree and ravens. It looked incredible... of course, the woman was probably 20 and her back was beautiful just because 20-year-old backs are beautiful... I commented to him, "yea, it's beautiful now... but wait til she's 70 with old crows on her back!"

Loved this post and could so relate to the rule-setting. I have rules for everything... and I delight in breaking them!