pitcher 3

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.