Semper Ad Meliora

Semper Ad Meliora – Always towards better things. This has been my modus operandi for my entire life.

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Lately, and I’m not embarrassed to say, that I’ve been going through one of the hardest times of my life. And it has also been one of the best. The two live hand in hand. I need to let go of the notion that life or situations should be some other way than the way that they are. What is, IS! Accepting that tricky little nugget has caused an upward wave and I have been riding it for a few days and using that momentum to get me out ofย  the hole that I’ve been in.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
– Kahil Gibran – The Prophet

Having pottery and being able to explore, problem solve, and create something from the base elements of the earth has really been an important part of recovering. Its symbolic. The more symbolism something has (that I can understand and that resonates with me) the more meaningful it becomes. It’s all very meaningful to me today.

I said this a few months back and it still rings true and can be said again –

“I’m just speechless. The amazing people that come into my life, at just the right times, helping me to go in the directions that I seek. It’s not even possible to repay the generosity of friendship, knowledge, time and guidance. It compels me to be the best that I can be in everything that I do. Everything that I am, so that I can become a vessel of their kindness and share it with everyone I meet. I become what I create: a bowl.”

Have a great one!

More Glaze Testing

On a beautiful rainy Saturday I find myself in a fantastic mood, accomplishing chores around the house and letting things flow as they want.

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Today I’m making test tiles and planning more experiments based on the cone 6 accident where the white glaze over iron oxide ended up clear and giving a slight sheen and some tooth to the clay. I have a lot of tiles already but most of the early tests are not to my liking. I’m honing in on my color palate and once I get that down I can better create what it is that is “previsualized” in my head.

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(On a side note I’ve been looking for some wooden stands for festival displays and found these for $5 at Family Dollar of all places. its meant as an over the sink shelf. Cant go wrong with that price)

Previsualization is the key to a lot of arts. Photography comes to mind and its where I learned to see the finished outcome before I made my adjustments and pressed the shutter. Ansel Adams was a master of that. What he had in his head he was able to bring out in the darkroom.

Here is how I make my test tiles.ย  I roll out the clay suppporting the rolling pin between two yardsticks to get a consistent thickness. I then use the same yardstick as a guide to cut the strips and make them 3 inches long.

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I line up the cut strips and mark them at 1 1/2″ at each end of the line. Then use the yardstick again to score a bit less than halfway through the group to give a place to bend it at around a 9o degree angle.

 

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Then from the kitchen or wherever I get something that can give some scoring to the top of the tiles so that I can see how the glaze performs when it pools.

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Also I am dipping a few of these into black slip as I am obsessed with the way some of the glazes turn out on a dark body. Yep I’m wearing gloves, this slip is messy!

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Finished product drying. The slip covered tiles are not pretty but they’ll get the job done.

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Next up I need to do a batch with my red clay. When they are dry I will bisque fire to cone 04. I will keep some of these without glaze and fire to cone 6 so that I can test a few glazes over the iron oxide and black slip. Cone 6 is vitrified so I expect that the tiles wont pick up much of the glaze at all but I might come into something interesting. If its interesting and repeatable I want to continue testing it ๐Ÿ™‚

This is the “boring” part of ceramics. The tedious testing and logging but with the occasional surprise that makes you go “Hmmmm… what if I ….”. And also the test tiles that you hate may end up growing on you after a while. Or if not they might spark an idea for another avenue of experimentation.

The move is going well

The move is going quite well over the past week and a half we got everything moved out of the old place. New place is set up at 80% maybe but thats to be expected. The old place has been painted and new carpet is going in today it looks like an entirely new house!

The water heater needs replacing and I need an electrician to come out and install the 240 volt outlet for the kiln before I can use that. No worries there though as there is plenty to do before a firing.

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The kickwheel in its new home. Yes we need to make a trip to the dump ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the setup with the bare lightbulb I think it helps to give very sharp contrast light to the pots and creates a different working experience during the night time hours. One other thing I want to set up is a mirror so I don’t have to constantly bend over to check the profile of the pot. I’ve heard it mentioned so many times by respected potters that it seems I shouldn’t NOT do it!

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Also I have some Amaco Potters Choice glazes to test out. And have narrowed my Stone Mountain Clay glazes down to the ones that I prefer most to work with. The Ginger Mist on their Grey Speckled Stoneware gives this honey color that is just absolutely fantastic.

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My absolute favorite cup that I’ve ever created though is using the Leopard Agate on Schoolhouse Red. Just fantastic.

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