half-past summer

Oh, hello.  I've been neglecting this space terribly.  This summer, one month in, has been full of playing catch-up, breaking weeks-worth of work at a time, twice, trying to finish a large order, dying bee hives (that really was heartbreaking), weedy gardens (just disheartening), and trying to sneak in some time to have fun and relax while my son's on summer vacation.  I haven't been nose-to-the-grindstone, but slow, unmotivated, somewhat over-taxed with my (self-imposed) to-do list.  BUT that list is almost complete and I'm looking forward to taking the rest of the summer (not much time, school begins the first full week of August in Memphis) to play, explore, swim, eat the juicy fruits of summer- as soon as I finish one last thing. Isn't that where we all find ourselves frequently?  With just one last thing?

But there have been some moments of pottery joy, and I've been sneaking time in to play with blue and white as a motivation/reward to help me slog through the making of pieces that I've made and broken at least 3 times (the last of which I just bisqued- keep your fingers crossed for me that it finishes as it should!!).  First- a purely experimental piece to play with different surface techniques:

I used mishima over wax resist here, a new process for me to prevent some of the clouding/cross-contamination of the cobalt, which likes to make its presence known all over the piece, some stamping with hand-carved rubber stamps new and old,  and also with metal tools (my favorite pieces are an icing bag tip and a small flower pin-frog, over which I apply a cobalt wash), plus sgraffito.  Some of the sgraffito worked better than others because the cobalt oxide wash I use runs and covers up what I've carved if I haven't carved it deep enough.  You can see that the carved wood grain is MUCH more pronounced than the carving I did with a small pin-tool. This platter warped a bit, but I think I'll work with this size/shape again.

This bowl is a large simple bowl, the same size as the bowl pictured below , the new ramen shape I began making early this spring.  After I got back from Maine I carved several (lots and lots) tiny stamps, including these little flower clusters which made me think about the spring forget-me-nots I saw everywhere.  The cascading design was inspired by Nani Iro floral double glaze cottons, by my favorite Japanese designer Naomi Ito.  I've played with these flowers, which I made in singles and clusters of two to three on several pieces, mostly slab plates, but I can't wait to try it on cups later this summer.  The bowl below was a porcelain bowl I mistakenly glazed in clear without any other surface decoration.  I was so disappointed when I pulled it from the kiln, and there it sat, plain, unadorned, and frankly without a shape refined enough to be left plain.  With little to lose, I grabbed a slender brush and painted circles with cobalt and refired it.  Now it's one of my favorites- I love how the thin lines I painted kept their shape even as they expanded in the re-melting glaze.

And finally, these are some of the small slab pieces I've kept in my damp box on reserve just to play with when I need a jolt of happy to see me through the slog-a-thon.

I really really like the roundish shapes on the butter pat plate at top left and the larger plate at bottom right.  I've used those stamps on blank cards, in my sketchbook, and am really just craving a tumbler with those circles cascading down from the rim.  The shapes at the bottom left were inspired by the 20 lb of striped rocks I shipped home from Maine, but they didn't translate well in cobalt. I'll keep playing with those until they do work, or use them in a different application. 

In other news, I've been working on a delicious set of plates that I'm almost finished with- some blue and white, some monochromatic, that I'll be showing off in another week or so, and I'm taking an online course in watercolor sketchbook journaling that's given me some new ideas for fresh work to keep my creativity flowing when I find myself in slog-a-thon situations.  Because we all have to slog and it is often slogging that pays the bills.  See you soon, friends.