I know that I'm only 3 pitchers in, but I'm getting more and more excited about this project and stretching my skills this year. I like to try new things, yes, but I think that my real emphasis in this "stretching" will be refining the skills I already possess and tackling some of the issues that have plagued me for years (ahem, glazing and proper cleanup).
On Sunday I opened up a new issue of a magazine my mom had ordered for me. I love magazines- the colors, the shapes, the photography, the inspiration. In an article about spring bulbs, I spotted this hobnail glass vase and grabbed my scissors and sketchbook. I've always loved hobnail glass (and dotted swiss, for that matter- I was torn between linen and dotted swiss for my wedding dress) and have a very small collection of it. I've played with this look in the past but haven't done anything with it for several years.
I knew I'd need to make this pitcher in two pieces- the base and the neck (which was a cylinder with a flared out top) thrown separately and attached. I was happy with them when I threw them, but knew I wanted the neck to be more narrow. What I should have done was put the whole thing back on the wheel and collar the neck in more. I didn't because I was a) impatient and put the handle on and b) I was a little afraid that I'd collapse the pitcher. When I do this shape again, I will try to collar in the neck to make it more narrow- or I'll throw it more thickly so that I can trim it down. Not sure which will work best. Process is a huge component of this project. Pitcher #4 may crack in firing and not be usable. Pitcher #20 may cave in on itself when I'm trimming it. Last night I was talking to a friend who is a baker but used to be a potter. He said that really I should make a dozen pitchers, keep the one that works, and throw the rest in the reclaim bucket. That would certainly refine my skills, but it would also eat a large chunk of my time. There is a happy medium, I think.
After I attached the two pieces, I cut away the top to form the spout, then took the cut-away bit to make the handle. I am really really happy with the handle's curve and how it grows out of the top of the back of the pitcher. Yesterday I rolled up little balls of clay and attached them (score marks and slip) to the pitcher. Today I'll go back with a sponge and erase their seam so that they're more hobnail like and less polka-dotty. This pitcher will probably be glazed in gloss white.
All in all, I'm happy with this pitcher, but I will remake it at some point this year to make the neck more narrow.
Back to stretching skills- earlier this morning (after I slept through my yoga class) I sat down and reordered the glazes and underglazes I'm running out of. I also added an underglaze watercolor set to my cart. I am so inspired by friends who watercolor, and particularly by Julie Whitmore's work that I thought I'd try my hand at adding some of this loveliness to some of my pots. I don't have any definite plans yet, but I'm excited to play with them.
I wonder- what are you doing to refine or stretch your skills and talents?
Happy weekend friends.