Well, it’s April.
Which means it’s also the fourth month of our Holiday Ornament Challenge.
Metalsmith Sarah Chapman and I have been working to make a new ornament each month. She’s making her’s in metal, while I’m making mine in clay.
This month, Sarah made her ornaments by creating bell shapes with copper screen, brass hooks and a beautiful torch patina. While these are great holiday ornaments… I’m sure Sarah has some customers who would also consider wearing them as earrings!!!
My ornaments took a more contemporary approach. Sleek. Stylized. Porcelain.
I’m digging the stylized ornament shapes. The clean lines. The surprising lack of texture?!
I’m thinking they will stay clean & white with a simple metal hoop to hang them from.
Once again, my ornaments aren’t quite done yet. They’re drying and ready for bisque firing. Although I must admit that I am more than a little concerned about them. They’re pretty fragile. Too fragile maybe. In fact, I broke two of them while I was cleaning them up. So I may need to consider making another batch… slightly thicker, and slightly smaller… as these are pretty large. Too large?… I don;’t think so. Let’s just call them dramatic!
Don’t you always wish that your Easter Eggs were this cool?
I seem to have grand plans every year for making the coolest eggs ever. Then somehow when the day actually rolls around, I find myself without the time to color ANY eggs!!! So I need to enjoy someone else’s really cool eggs I found on the Internet. At least I did get to spend the day with my “favorite” little Easter Bunny… my niece Taylor!
We’re getting down to the last few days of March…
and you know that the plan for metalsmith Sarah Chapman & me is to create a new holiday ornament each month this year! And here they are for March… just under the wire.
Sarah as been working feverishly to get her ornaments done in time! She’s bee busy in her studio making other pieces, including a special commission piece for a commercial photo shoot! Yeah Sarah! So I was excited when she finally showed me her finished feather ornaments!… complete with textures & patinas. Two of my favorites!
From Sarah: “The theme for March’s ornament is a feather. These are copper with embossed and roller printed textures, hanging from loopy brass wires. I’ve been a little obsessed (researching, drawing, standing in front of people’s houses trying to figure out what kind of bird is making that sound) with birds for a while now and these are among the first pieces to emerge in this theme. I had to keep myself from referring to a particular bird’s feather and just go with featheriness.”
When I started my ornaments for March, I decided to go with a snowflake theme. So I build myself a couple snowflake stamps that I could use. Once they were bisqued, they were ready for pressing into the clay. I cut them out, puffed them up a bit and made them into ornaments.
Once I had several of them done in stoneware, I realized that maybe I should have done them in porcelain?! So I made another batch. I think it will be fun to have both versions to play with for different finishing effects.
Once they’re all bisqued, I will need to decide how I’m going to finish them. At first I was thinking of glazing them in clears, whites and blues. But now I’m considering rubbing some underglazes into the textures first… maybe leaving them unglazed?! Or underglazed to accent the textures, and then clear glazed over? Luckily, I have a lot of them now to play with!!!
So here we are… Month #2 in our Holiday Ornament Challenge!
Sarah Chapman and I have committed to creating a new ornament every month.
Mine will be clay, her’s will be metal. Who knows?… some day maybe a combo?
Sarah’s ornament this month is copper with brass chain connecting the pieces and has
a “torch” patina. She made the copper bells using a form folding technique called the
“Heisted Cup.” Here’s a link for all you metal’s people out there who would like to try it.
Click here… “Heisted Cup.” The process is magical. And I especially love the “torch”
patina effect on copper. So much fun… and maybe three angels will get their wings?!
My ornament started out as a star pillow, but then I got a little carried away. I decided that
the “pillows” don’t need to be closed. So I left the sides open, leaving a nice void inside.
My plan is to soda-fire these – and I hope that the inside gets some groovy flashing marks.
So far, the plan is that one side is painted with flashing slip, and the other side will have some
glaze inlaid into the impressions. Once they’re fired, they’ll also get a metal hoop going
through the middle of the star to hang from like my original ornaments.
Unfortunately, again this month, I don’t have any fired ornaments to show off yet.
I’m still building enough work to fill the kiln before I can fire it. So the pieces are piling up.
Once I have some pieces fired and ready to show… you’ll see these and all previous
ornaments again. Finished & fired… not just greenware… again!
Celebrating the birthday of one of the most celebrated Presidents of the United States.
The much acclaimed sixteenth President… Abraham Lincoln.
It was back in November 2012, when I found myself in Washington, DC on Election Day.
Ironic, as I am possibly the most non-political person ever! And yet there I was surrounded
by all of the election activities while I was taking in all of the historical monuments, landmarks
& sights of Washington, DC… including the always-impressive Lincoln Memorial.
When you’ve got twenty cylinders stamped, trimmed and at the perfect leather-hard state,
you’ve got to start attaching handles quick before the cylinders dry out. So I start by
wedging my clay, making sure it is the same clay as the cylinders themselves. Then I cut
the wedged clay up into smaller pieces and pound them against the table to create these
little “carrot” shapes.
Then I pick one up from the fat end at pull handles the traditional way. Basically by dragging
a wet hand down the “carrot” tube from top to bottom. The slippery friction makes the clay
stretch. By switching around your hand positions, you can create handles of different shapes
and widths. When I get mine to the right size & shape, I quickly give ‘em a flip and loop ‘em
over. They sit this way for a few minutes so that the clay can stiffen up a bit. If you try to attach
them when they are too wet, the handles don’t hold their shape… they get all mushy looking.
When they are ready, I cut off the portion for the handle that I need to attach to the mug
cylinder. Each one is then scored & slipped, and carefully attached to the cylinders.
Paying close attention to the placement & size of each handle and how they “fit” to the
cylinder itself. As I finish each handle, I put the mugs back on my plastic ware boards,
give them a quick spray of water and then wrap them up again overnight. I like to keep
them wrapped in the hopes that the moisture levels between the cylinder and the handle
might even out a bit so they can dry & shrink more evenly later.
Today, while I was attaching my handles, I was also watching this informative DVD of
Tara Wilson as she was demonstrating at the 2009 NCECA Conference. She makes these
wonderful forms, very clean, very smooth, very voluptuous. She does a lot of darting &
altering of her thrown forms, and then fires them in a wood fired kiln to create wonderful
flashing surfaces & finishes. Always fun to watch someone else show how they do
their work… as I continue to add my handles… again… and again… and again…
Today’s his day… A day to remember… Martin Luther King Jr.
It was a beautiful day back in November 2012 when I had the chance to see the inspiring
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial for the first time in Washington, DC.
So thoughtful as he looks out over the Potomac River towards the Jefferson Memorial.
You enter through the large boulder rocks to see that one “slice” as been taken out and
“slid” forward. It isn’t until you walk around that slid rock slice that you see Martin Luther
King Jr. and many of his inspiring quotes chiseled permanently into the stonework.
During this past holiday season, my metalsmith friend Sarah Chapman and I were already
planning the “next” holiday season. You know how we’re never satisfied… that’s us, always
moving forward… always working on the next project. So there we were working in Sarah’s
booth at the “One Of A Kind Show.” We both decided that she needs to try making Christmas
ornaments. And you know I’m always up for a challenge… always willing to “gently push”
my friends to play along with me. Thus the “2013 Ornament Challenge” was born.
So here’s the deal…
We’ve both committed to making a new & different holiday ornament every month in 2013.
I will post all of our ornaments here on my blog and we’ll both link to it on Facebook so
everyone can keep up with us. As we get closer to Christmas, there’s a really good chance
we may be asking for your input as to which of the monthly designs were your favorites
to help us decide which ones to make more of to sell for the holidays. Some ornaments may
be one-of-a-kind… some may be production… some may be a disappointment…
some may even be a Gary & Sarah collaboration of clay & metal.
Who knows where the ornament challenge may take us?… dare to dream, huh?!
Here’s Sarah’s entry for January. With a wonderful message to kick-off the New Year.
And according to Sarah… “It’s what everyone could use more of !”
And here’s my entry for January. Mine’s not quite a “done” as Sarah’s is. That’s me… slacker.
But working in clay is a little different than metal. It’s really tough to fire just one piece.
Or even five pieces. The problem is, you need to fill an entire kiln before you can fire them.
So I hate to say that the majority of mine will be somewhere in the leatherhard or greenware
state. I’ll try to re-post them again whenever they’re glazed and finished. So my ornament
this month is a wreath… trying to stay in my own style, use my own stamps, but still making
something new! I made five wreath ornaments so that I have a couple to play with when I get
to glazing & finishing. Hoping at least one of them turns out great…
Well, there it is… the kick-off of our “2013 Ornament Challenge.”
Our plan is to keep this up every month. To push each of us out of our comfort zone…
and force each of us to work on something new & different throughout the year.
And a great chance for Sarah & I to play with each other even though she’s
up & moved to Minneapolis. With this, we get to play long-distance every month!!!
For more about my metalsmith friend Sarah Chapman…
WEBSITE: Click here to see more incredible work by Sarah Chapman.
FACEBOOK: You can also follow Sarah on Facebook by clicking here!
Click here to follow me and Fire When Ready Pottery on Facebook.
Just be sure to click the “LIKE” button… and to “SHARE” with your friends!
Thankful for the year gone by…
the fun, friends, adventures & encouraging support from my pottery fans.
All the while looking forward to the New Year to come…
filled with possibilities, opportunities, resolutions and a lot more pots to be made!!!
Wishing everyone a great New Years! Have fun… and be safe!
I know I can’t wait to get back into the studio after all of the holiday festivities subside.
It’s been far too long. I need to play in the mud… soon!!!