playing in the studio

The school year has begun, and with this beginning, I'm getting back into my regular work routine.  The studio is getting a big clean out/clear out/rearrange.  I'm discovering stashes of unfinished work, hidden bags of clay, sketches that were abandoned in the flurry that is summer. I'm looking back at old work, flipping through sketchbooks, tweaking glazes and shapes I've loved (or not).

Last year, before my sweet assistant had her baby, several bags of dark, speckled clay arrived in my studio and have been sitting, waiting.  In all my years of throwing, I've never used a dark clay body.  I started out with a white stoneware and quickly moved to porcelain-like bodies, then quickly onto porcelain itself.  My early clumsy pots, thrown and fired in a community center,  were thick, uneven, and white, covered in bright primary glazes.  I didn't like the idea of staining my clothes with darker clays, and once I brought my pottery practice into my home studio, I REALLY didn't like the idea of having to completely clean up or switch out my tools when I changed clay bodies.  I craved the pop of color against the white clay (and still do).  A few weeks ago, while cleaning up the studio, I spied those two lonely bags of clay and grabbed them, wondering about another iteration of my speckled egg work.

One thing I'll say about this stoneware is that it's FAST.  Work flies off the wheel. No coaxing, no slumped walls from using too much water or throwing too thin, no finicky gauging if the clay is right for trimming.  I'm not entirely won over, but there may be some potential. Here are the first four pieces I tested, coated in white and aqua porcelain slip:

None of these pieces feel like me yet, but I do like how the magnesium speckles show through the slip and glazes.  Here's a contrast between the porcelain speckled egg slip, made with granular rutile (on the bottom) and the slip-coated speckled stoneware.  It's worth exploring a bit longer, I think.

In other news, I'm closing my fall CSA tomorrow.  There are a few bowl subscriptions left, and several cup subscriptions. 10% of all sales go to support Louisiana flood relief and recovery. 

In September I'm participating in the Cooper Young festival for the first time in over ten years.  I'll debut a new line of small giftware then- more about in the next week or so. I'll be on the east leg of Young Ave, across from the yoga studio and right in front of Java Cabana.  Come start your holiday shopping early!  I'm also planning my pre-holiday open studio sale- Nov 11-13.

Finally, I'm leading a workshop on Oct 4 at Memphis Theological Seminary as part of their Theology and the Arts Institute.  We'll be celebrating St. Francis' feast day, making a bas-relief tile icon.  It's a one-afternoon workshop, and I'll have templates available so everyone will be able to participate regardless of their experience with clay, sculpture, or art-making.

Have a good rest of your week, friends!