Monday, August 1, 2011

Where I Am now

This post is for my mentor, David Beumee.

I went through many images of pots past in the last couple days, and it was pretty revealing.
I've decided to start about a year back and show you where I was then, where I am at this point, and what I have going into the kiln over the next 3 weeks or so.

A Year Ago...

A year ago, this was my best piece.
I was (and still am) enamored of tea bowls.
This one was accepted into the Kansas City Clay Guild  Tea Bowl National in 2010.

I was pretty emotionally attached to it for a while, but now its kind of hard to look at.

I was struggling a lot with form, proportion and glaze application then.

I was also beginning to explore some embellishments based on Dia de los Muertos figures (more on that in a bit...).

I knew my work was not strong, and I was struggling in several area, but I wasn't exactly sure where I was going wrong, and didn't really have anyone to bounce ideas or questions off of.

So I started looking online at various potters who's work I liked, occasionally purchasing a piece, and asking questions where I could.

The Day of the Dead stuff continues to develop, and I'm very enthusiastic about it now,  but I also like very simple pieces and the potters and works I gravitate towards are pretty simple I think - 
come to mind.

So, we move forward to the present.
Over the last year, I've spent quite a bit of time on glaze fit and form.
I see improvement!
I started by eliminating the bisque firing.
I don't exactly know why single-firing works better for me, but I do seem to get better fit and more consistent results by glazing greenware rather than bisqued ware.

I also started spraying most of my pieces rather than dipping, though I do pour most interiors of cups.

I've also stopped trying endlessly to add "wow" glazes to my palette.
A look at other posts in this blog will show that I spent quite a bit of time trying to find spectacular glazes. I think I'm more inclined to have a smaller, more consistent palette now.

To that end, in the last few months, I've started doing more ox firings, have worked with some porcelain, and have spent some time refining form a bit:

I'll say that right now, this mug is the best piece I've produced.
Its porcelain, with Hayne's White inside and out, and Tenmoku over that.
Its balanced, feels wonderful in the hand, shows, I think, some individuality and "signature", and I use it every single day.

It very much feels "right" to me, and like something I want to be associated with me as an artist.

And its a style I'm exploring more, as with this yunomi, and some other cups I have in my Etsy shop.

So, feeling pretty good about that little mug, and getting lots of positive feedback  and some commissions from the Day of the Dead exploration, about a month ago I decided I needed to set up an exercise for myself to hammer out the details of the figures and also compel me to make a lot of mugs in that same style.
So I decided to make Alphabet Mugs, with each mug having a skeletal animal representing a different letter of the alphabet. You can see them here: I just finished them this weekend.

These have generated a lot of interest for me, and its looking like I will be participating in an invitational mug show, similar to what AKAR does with their Yunomi Invitational, in the spring. Much of this commotion has happened since I submitted my mentee application. I'm enjoying doing them (I'm thinking about a "7 Deadly Sins" set next), and they are likely to pay for my propane and and materials, which is just wonderful (just ask my husband!),  but they are the polar opposite of the simple, clean, quiet works I find myself drawn to aesthetically.

So that's essentially where I am now. Lots of improvement, 3-4 loads of greenware to glaze and fire, some commissions and pre-sold items in there, but a sense that I'm sort of wallowing a bit and am more hit-and-miss than following a definite vision.

And I'm not sure if any of this helps you at all David.
I do know I'm very excited and determined to make the most of your time and knowledge and expect I'll come out the other side a much more focused artist.
And you'll probably come out of it with at least a skeleton mug ;)

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