Invite the birds… at your own risk!


Did I mention we have lots of birds visiting our patio?

Last year, I started making small bird houses in hopes to offer them housing. They tend to stuff themselves into the eaves, overhang near the doors, gutters…you know what I mean.

Dove nesting
Dove Nesting

This little Dove and her mate decided to nest in the overhang right outside our patio door. They hooted, brought twigs of all sizes and dropped them at our steps, not to mention the poop. Well, it didn’t last long, they must have decided that we disturb their peace by enjoying our patio.

Bird House-Portland
Bird House-Portland

This little birdhouse is hanging out in Portland, in the backyard of Uncle Jim. While it looks nice, I haven’t received any reports of birds moving in. Even the one at my patio is only home to occasional spiders who hope to trap bugs.

Moving on to bird feeders.

BirdFeeder_Green2  BirdFeeders_1

While the teapots dry, I move on to hand built forms…one of which becomes bird feeders. Above are a few finished ones using found textures in my treasure box: a woven placemat, leaves, pine needles, a meat tenderizer. Anything goes. Each feeder is made up of 3 slab pieces and a coil for the hanging loop. Using a round biscuit/cookie cutter cut a half circle for the feeding opening. I’ve been having fun using an oxide wash to add depth to the naked clay. It’s another option to surface texture and color without having to glaze every exposed surface.

OxideSample1 OxideSample2 OxideSample3

Simple to complex design, it all works. You can also over glaze like the last photo. So many possibilities, it’s almost too easy to go overboard.

So, bird feeders. It works really well. Too well. What I expected were song birds, that’s what the bird food package said. Variety of Song Birds. We definitely get a variety, small ones and sometimes even the doves try to land on the little ledge. I’ve even seen a squirrel and a crow try to assess an approach to the feeder. It’s small on purpose!

BirdFeeder_WhiteGreen2BirdFeeder_inUse1

Remember when I mentioned that the doves trying to nest made a mess with twigs? We now have bird seed on the patio floor…apparently the feed is a mix of seeds and some birds like some and not the other. So, what we are noticing is that they are digging and spilling out the ones they don’t want. So we have birds—up to 3 on the feeder, and then a few more on the floor.

We definitely have a flurry of excitement now.
Lots of busy birds, and yes, they make lots of noise.

Very early in the morning.

Advertisements

Glazes, Slabs & Textures


Wow, my last post was a long time ago.

I did take a break after the Art In Clay Sale in Palo Alto with the Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild. It was a great experience, 72 clay artist presented their work and every one as unique as they are. Everything from everyday coffee mugs to sculptural figures, mini tea pots to giant outdoor ceramic garden slug that was 10 feet long!

I showed my pottery brought over from Chicago as well as my new bird houses thrown on the wheel. And in to celebrate the winter holidays approaching, I also made little ceramic bird ornaments. Those were a HIT!

IMG_4102 IMG_4100

So Glazes.
I began mixing my glazes again in my studio and as you see above, it did not work very well. It was awful. Every batch of my trusted glazed were blistering. Same recipe, same clay, same temperature and still no. So I tested a few more glazes, and the test tiles came out fine, but when moved to the big final pieces, still blisters. So, many months of struggling, giving up and trying pre mixed glazes out of a bottle, I finally got the recipe right. Only 5 months of anguish!

It wasn’t my glaze recipe. It was the bisque temperature and load density. I played with too many variables…new clay bodies, temperature and time shifts, load variations. But the one I didn’t try was firing my bisque higher for my red clay body. Since it has more impure particles, it needed more heat to burn out so that in the glaze firing , it doesn’t try to escape into my glaze surface. So, solution: Bisque to Cone 02=beautiful glaze finish.

I did end up with new glaze formulas in the process. See below.

Feeder_Sm_WhtGrn1b Feeder_Sm_WhtGrn1c LgPitcher_GreenWhite1c Pitcher_LtGreenOxide1d

Maybe in following posts, I will share my recipe secrets, but it’s really not that secret, what I’ve modified in these are more the application process and allowing the clay body’s natural color to show through to enhance overall appearance and depth to texture.

So, Slabs & Textures!

I always thought that I didn’t have a talent for hand building clay pots. I looked at the slab of clay as a painter may look upon a white stretch of canvas. Some see possibilities and some see white canvas. I saw slab of clay.

Enter Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild… Mold making workshop with Jamie Meador, Art In Clay Artists, Jill Getzan‘s rain sticks, Lynn Wood‘s Slaberation workshop at Clay Carnival at Clay Planet.What do they all have in common? Texture. Everywhere!

Enter my patio garden…We don’t have a back yard yet, still renting in the bay area, so we have a stone slab patio garden with succulents in pots and a few indoor house plants. I needed a watering can and didn’t want to resort to a generic plastic watering can. “Well, I can make it myself with clay!” 2 months of experimenting….

LgPitcher_GreenOxide1a Pitcher_GreenOxide1b Pitcher_LtGreenOxide1a

Oh, and I forgot to mention the beauty of the oxide wash! These are the results of the Manganese Oxide wash in various solution ratio and wiping power. These photos aren’t very good, I need to find my sweep again but I am quite happy with how they turned out. These can be found on my etsy store.

Would love to hear your thoughts and encouragement.