Friday, July 13, 2012

Works in Progress

 It's been a busy week in the studio and out of it, too! I've been working on several projects at one time, because sometimes I'm able to complete more things that way; when one piece is drying, I can be glazing something else. When the glaze firing is going (making the studio unbearably hot in already overly-hot weather) I can be inside, working on a sculpture. It's a bit crazy-making, but it seems to work for me.

I decided to throw in a couple of bigger-ticket Hallowe'en items this year, the first being the above-pictured porcelain punch bowl and ten cups. Porcelain is an interesting clay. Aside from being exceedingly fussy and hard to throw because it has no grog in it, everything contaminates it and shows, even after firing. That includes oils from handling and all other residue from other clays. 

Which brings me to how I nearly murdered my older, idiot dog.

Because porcelain has no grog, it can actually be carved when it's bone-dry if you throw it thickly enough. (If you try to carve other, grogged clays, the grog actually shows up and can scratch the surface of the piece.) I threw the bowl above with the idea of carving a haunted house on it, and carving various appropriate themes on the coordinating cups.

So, a couple of days ago, I'm out in my garage, wearing my respirator (hot) and wearing my latex surgical gloves (really freaking hot) so I don't contaminate the clay with the oils from my hands, and I have the bowl lying on a towel on my lap. I am sweating buckets, but I Am An Artist, and I am willing to Suffer For My Art. It is 108° in the studio. I am carving over a bucket of water to keep the dust to a minimum. I carve a little, then take a soft brush and brush away the powdered clay so I can see to carve more.

Idiot dog walks in. He normally doesn't want to be in the studio much, but that day, he made an exception. He lays down for a little bit, then notices the neighbors across the street messing with their car in their driveway.

Ooo! Something interesting is happening! The ears perk.

He gets up, somehow dipping his tail in the bucket I use for reclaiming my red clay.

He walks forward to the baby gate I keep across the door to keep the dogs from dashing outside, recognizes the people across the street, and begins to wag. His. Tail!

I have been completely, utterly focused on carving my bowl. I have not noticed that idiot dog has dipped his tail in the Red Death of Porcelain Clay (a bucket of water and red clay that I will reclaim later). 

I hear splattering noises as his tail wags oh-so-slightly faster. Small red splatters appear inside my porcelain bowl. Screaming and ranting ensues, and idiot dog is banished from the studio, looking baffled.

I set the bowl down and take a deep breath, muttering threats about dogs becoming rugs so they would actually be useful, for once. I take another breath and examine the bowl. I realize that there are, by some miracle, no huge chunks of Red Death of Porcelain clay in the bowl. The splatters are little more than red colored water. If I let it dry, I can gently sand it off. I won't actually have to throw the entire bowl away.

The idiot dog has no idea how lucky he is. He has, however, rubbed his tail in numerous places all over the house, to the dismay of our housekeeper, who had just cleaned all of those places. I dragged him outside and hosed off the offending tail while seriously considering bobbing it myself and saving myself a vet bill...
Meanwhile, work continues. I am glazing the chandelier and the matching globes, and if I get it finished this weekend, I may be able to open the kiln on Sunday morning. The pumpkins in the above shot (with the exception of the top middle one, which has already been fired) are drying and awaiting final touch-ups before their first firing. I have a small witch sculpture I'm working on, and work on Raven continues. (We can rebuild him! We have the technology!)

So, happy Friday the 13th, boils and ghouls. I'm off to glaze some jacks! I leave you with this track from Sinister 6, which will be on the upcoming Halloween at High Noon album coming out in October. I can hardly wait!


  1. So far you are outdoing yourself with jack o faces this year! I saw something at a local market that you may be interested in making. The artist had made several pottery witch cauldrons and had carved jack o faces into the cauldron. They had one of those little misters in it so the fog exited the face. I thought about your work when I saw it and how much you could perfect it over the work I saw.

    1. If there's a link to that, Ed, please email it to me when you get the chance. I'd love to see it!

  2. The punch bowl is going to be awesome! Love the toothy grin pumpkin in the center. So happy to hear Raven is getting the six million dollar man treatment. :o )

  3. But we love our puppy dogs o so much. Keep up the good work.


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