Friday, July 31, 2009

More Fun In the Sun

Say Cheese!

Much more fun in the sun this week. Lots of swimming with my son and a few raku pieces to show off. I lost quite a few, but I'm chalkin' it up to experienced gained. The ones that did survive are beautiful! I'm armed with proper glaze too from Georgies and as I expected, those glazes out shine the other commercial glazes. You can feel the quality the moment you start brushing the stuff on. Quality really makes a difference in these matters.

My little "wild" clay vessel was also put to the test this week and survived! I was very shocked not to find a crack anywhere when I pulled it out of the reduction bin. It was beautiful and I just sat there holding my new gem reliving how it was found in the woods and came to be in the present. A wonderfully sentimental moment.

There were many other pieces and a few china painted pieces started this week too. I'll just pop their photos below for you to view and then I'm off. It's going to be a very busy social month for me. I hope I can keep up and not go insane being out of the studio so much.

"Wild" clay from home withstands
the raku process like a gem!

More rakuware

China painting projects underway

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Chaney "Dauntless" in bone china

We've had some beautiful thunderstorms lately. One is brewin' as I type so I'm going to share the latest equine piece and run. I hate lightening. This little boy is currently for sale and I'm offering him via lottery today. You can check out all the information on his sales page: Appaloosa Sale.

Talk tomorrow! Stay cool and dry!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ugly Weekend

"Wild" clay glazed and finished

The weekend was about the ugly.

The big business BBQ we had in the backyard went great. The day after was...UGLY. Clean up after such affairs is never fun, but doing it after partying too much is even less fun. I tried my best to hang in there, but just gave into the ugliness and rested for pretty much most of the day. Bed bound is never fun for me. It's actually torture.

Sunday was much more pleasant even though I wasn't fully recovered. Lounging on a raft in the pool with other members of my family who were also in recovery mode was nice. My mind was wandering on clay and raku, but without the full capabilities I decided to just fire up a test strip of the "wild" clay more fully in the new Paragon kiln while I lounged. In a half an hour I'd see if 2000 degrees would fully fire this found clay and it did. It fired it beautifully to a mocha and purplish clay. The ugliness of this adventure though came when I decided to slap on some glaze. I was just too impatient to see how it would look glazed and didn't even let the glaze dry fully. Just slapped it on and sorta popped it in the kiln.

Beautiful red like the red ash banks

Well, it is probably the ugliest vessel and yet, the most beautiful vessel I have ever made. Everything that is the woods from home....has been captured in this one little treasure. The outside covered with Georgies "Turquoise Lagoon" is reminiscent of the lichen covered rocks I climbed as a child. Never ending were my adventures in the woods. The inside also glazed with one of Georgie's glazes had captured the mud and ash rocks of my playground. The precarious cracks which look like trees were also a reminder of how fragile it all was with the entire area having been mined to the bone. As a child I just knew what areas were unsafe. The cracks in the ground and lean of the trees told a story of distress and I just knew to avoid those areas.

But the vessel is ugly. Truly ugly in ever sense of the word and I'm dying to replicate it so my father can have one too.

It has a sorta "raku" feel, no?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fun In The Sun

The Fun
(even though it cracked)

Raku while you swim in the pool with family. Life couldn't be more perfect. Oh...wait....

The Sun

Having a good laugh at the ratties trying to snuggle after tearing their hammock to shreds makes it truly perfect. Sun. Fun. Family and Laughs....Life is good this summer!

What the....?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Revisiting Wax

Ophelia revisited

It rained all day yesterday which made it impossible to do any raku firing. It was a soft, lovely rain; one which makes staying in the studio really pleasurable. So my son and I stayed in doors. He was intent on drawing and coloring and I found myself sorting through some in progress wax medallions for a RESS article. In the process I picked up my "Ophelia" sculpture. Ahh, my little chopped up pony with head lobbed off and legs all over the board said, "Fix me!" So, I did. A pinch here and a tuck there and before I knew it I was deep into the project and creating a base and adding more mane.

Although she is far from completion I have a definite vision now, more so than I did before and using the wax make changes so easy. It's much easier than that Apoxie stuff. I'm so sorry I didn't find wax sooner and start "Lil Pumpkin" with it because if I did she would probably be finished by now. Alas, she awaits major front leg changes that I am too frustrated to make. I will say, however that all that frustration is paying off because the changes on Ophelia have been easy and the mistakes popping right out at me. Actually, I see some more now!

A few more views of the progressing pony:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Swept Away

The reduction bin

My mind has been far away on raku firing. The whole concept just grabbed me and intoxicated me badly. I must admit that if I lived in the country this whole process would be much easier. Set up the raku kiln, have the propane either delivered to the house or pick it up yourself at Walmart and walla....pretty raku things to share in no time.

But its not like that here and carting propane around in a car on a busy city street (with road rage lurking at every street light) just isn't my kind of fun thing to take my chances on. So...I decided to further pursue this "raku with an electric kiln" thing cause I can't make the urge stop and I'm determined to make it work. I don't care if my elements burn out, I must continue on this adventure. It's pulling me strongly for whatever reason. I have been swept away.

My favorite vessel today

Today was probably the most exciting day I've ever had glaze wise. I pulled this blue beauty of a vessel from the reduction bin and nearly fainted!! I've never had such pretty results, even when I plotted and planned carefully. Something always went haywire in the glaze stage.

As one vessel was coming out, another one was being prepped in my bigger kiln in the studio. Heating them slowly on low with the Caldera S eliminated the explosions. I figured out a cool and seamless system for myself and I can honestly say I am in love with my new Paragon Quickfire. It cools down fast and heats up even faster! Prop it open and let it cool. It's like it was made for this kind of work. No pings or pops or anything of the sort as I opened the "hut lid". It's happy to work and I raku fired all day long without any issues. Of course, "Spanky" as he has been named, is small, but I don't care! I'll take it!!

This blue is so metallic

An afternoon of raku firin
and swimming

So out came all the stoneware vessels I never got the urge to glaze. They, along with every badly glazed piece is waiting for a swashing of raku glaze. I was able to save two really crummy vessels today with this raku process and I'm excited! It's as if the fire is magic and everything just turns out cool in the end.

I could go on and on talking but I'll end with the sweetest photo of the day. My son and my dog Kiko relaxing in the dog days of summer. My dog is finally coming around and accepting my son. Up until about a month ago she just didn't want any part of him. I'm happy to see them playing now. So happy!

The dog days of summer

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Finished Kiln

Finished view of the kiln

Saturday already? I tell ya, these weeks of summer are just flying by!

I finally snapped a shot of the kiln finished and looking pretty. Everyone has been in or around the garden and no one has said anything. Hubby didn't even notice the change and neither did my nieces. I have to assume that no one else noticed either. I had to physically take my one niece in and open the kiln before she realized what she was looking at. I guess I was successful in making it look "garden pretty". I planted some ivy around and in a year or two the area surrounding the slate stones will look lush and green. Id like to get some little white ground flowers or those things I used to see in the woods and called "Jumping Jacks". Small blue flowers that grow in clumps. I have no idea what their real names are but I loved seeing them just jutting out here and there in the woods.

Hay you...outta my kiln!

Of course our Brooklyn waterbugs totally found and took residence in my new kiln. I nearly had a heart attack when I pried open the lid yesterday and found a buddy waitin' for me. It's just par for the course living in the city. Thankfully they stay out of the house. I guess I'll let this intruder slide. I'd rather have him creepin' near my kiln than creepin' in the house.

So, off we ride upstate today to help a friend's son celebrate his engagement. I pulled out pen and watercolor brush and had a bit of fun illustrating a card. I haven't made a card like this in years. It felt good to stretch those wings again. Of course, my head is spinning in illustrative ways now.

Engagement card

Enjoy your Saturday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Letters About Set Up

Creating the fantasy

Thank you all for such a warm reception to this little unicorn! Such lovely letters coming in about him. Thank you! I really appreciate all the kind words.

In a few of the letters many people have asked how I created such a pretty set up. It's really rather easy. I took a quick snapshot of the photo shoot. Just a photo cube with lights and some other things mixed in like footing on a simple wooden base, a tree I made with stuff found in my garden and rocks, lots of rocks. I also added some modeling turf and grasses and layered it all nicely and walla....pretty photo shoot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On The Horse Side

Breyer sm to unicorn

On the horse side of things here in the studio....there are a few that were finished this past weekend. A pretty little Mindy resin in chestnut tobiano (who may need a bit more mapping now that I look at her shots) and a unicorn from a SM Breyer. I had fun with both but it was nice to just play and do anything to the unicorn. You'll probably see the unicorn in the next issue of JAH.

Well, off again to maybe get this house in order....hopefully.

Mindy resin strikin a pose

Monday, July 13, 2009

Like That The Week Was Gone....

Weighed, wedged and waiting

That was one quick week! Wow! It flew.

All I can say is we celebrated a birthday (hubby) had some good times around a pit fire with friends, finished a few horses, finished making the outdoor kiln and completed some new vessels which will be fired soon in the new kiln.

During the day the new kiln is all I can seem to think about. Firing it up for the first time is going to be so exciting. For now though, I'm making pieces so I can fill the kiln and trying to think of a good name for the new addition. I think I've found one. I'm letting it sit a bit in my head a bit before I say anything.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Birth of a kiln:

...shovel by shovel...

...brick by brick...

...with sweat and excitement mixed in.

...more to come!

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Raku Adventure

Getting a little fresh air

We've had gloriously sunny weather. It's been a rejuvenating change from a month's worth of rain. Sun as far as the eye can see on the weather report meant I was trying out this "raku" stuff at some point. That point was this weekend. I lugged my little kiln out (can you see how very little it is now?) and proceeded to fire up a small porcelain tea light (which wasn't very well made anyway, but he made the perfect test vessel) in the raku method.

Brave little vessel

Fire on high for an hour or so. Check! Then rip the piece out and submerge in paper. Check! But, not letting it stay in the reduction chamber long enough was a mistake. I believe I would have gotten better results if I left this vessel in longer. I will say though that I love the whole smokey look and the burning that appeared near the bottom. That captivated me. It is haphazard and beautiful at the same time. Of course, I had to try it again:


...and had little success AND a huge mess to clean up in my kiln. I'm rather glad this vessel shattered though. It didn't just "pop" it exploded everywhere and in bits so small it made for a lengthy clean up job and it prompted more research.

I had been searching and buying books for a while on raku and had always hoped to use my little kiln to do it in and not one article or book had mentioned any ill about using the electric kiln. Of course, last night I did finally find some ill reports and the main issue is that my elements could go bad and go downhill rather quickly if I keep this raku stuff up. I certainly don't want that because "Starbuck" here, although small, still needs to work for me on bisques and glazing and work for a long time doing this, even if a new kiln arrives one day.

So, I cleaned her up and had faith that this one shot raku try didn't harm her, after all, the only way I can even look at a witness cone is to open the lid and expose the elements to a few seconds of air. The use of the electric kiln was easy. Cart it out, pop it on high for an hour and you are doing raku! So, I looked online for more info and maybe a kiln that could handle such an operation and I happened upon this:

I am SO into this!

SOOOO, into this and the darned thing even LOOKS amazing in their garden!!! HOT DOG! So up my alley and DOUBLE DOG....I have a garden! :) It looks like they are putting glaze on the greenware. I know some methods out there require such techniques. My head is whirling. What fun! What an adventure! What a huge amount of wares they got into that kiln! So, I'm off on another adventure for certain!!! And TRIPLE DOG.... I am so glad I have been doing this work out since the middle of April: Chalean Extreme, cause I am truly now ready to dig a hole. (BTW, this circuit training workout is amazing! I can't sing it's praises enough and I have lost a ton of inches and am building muscle. Strong get strong with this one.)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Alone Time- 4:30 AM

Small decorative bowl

Opps. Been a while since I updated here.

For two weeks I have been struggling to get work done both around the house and in the studio. My son is home now from school and is enjoying his summer break and although I do love lounging by the pool and playing in the yard, work does need to get done, and after two weeks of the loungin' life, I started to get itchy, uncomfy and overall annoyed that I wasn't working and couldn't during my normal hours so I just started getting up before everyone else and getting in three solid hours of quiet, uninterrupted studio time. This new time frame offers very little internet time though and although I've missed blogging this week I have tons of photos to share.

Look at that ooze. So reminds me of raku

Commissions have been first and foremost in my mind during the morning hours. The work has been soothing and relaxing and totally what I needed. Without this work I literally go insane. No one wants to be around me when I haven't been in my studio. Although rising at 4:30 AM sounds nutty it is really a beautiful time of the day to be up. The birds sound so loud here in NYC during that time. It's so pleasant and full of good energy.

The second issue on my mind has been pottery making; raku in general. With this little tiny weeny regularly glazed stoneware vessel came the thought that I might like to really give this raku thing a go, but I don't have a raku kiln and firin up some propane isn't really legal here within city limits, at least not in the capacity I want to use it for my pottery. So, who wrote electric kilns can be used to do small raku pieces? I don't remember, but when I read that on another potter's site and found a link to his book online I bought it. Know what it said? It said that an electric kiln can be used to do raku.


So today I will try to pull my little kiln outside next to hubby BBQing and see if I can fire it up on high and get my new raku glazed vessels to fire up and we will see what happens. This is the time for all those bum pieces of pottery to shine! If anything it will be fun to share my love of the kiln and pottery with my husband as he teaches me more about BBQing today. The two of us playing with fire.

NEW: Porcelain horse hair tea light

NEW: Porcelain horse hair vase

Well, the holiday festivities and other preparation await. To all of you out there I wish you a very safe and happy Fourth of July and to all those serving to protect this great country's freedoms who can't be home with their loved ones...thank you for your service.