Into the fire…on the beach!


I’m very excited to share my latest pit fire with the help of photos from a fellow pit fire participant’s photos–cuz I was too busy playing with fire.

Our scheduled OVCAG-Orchard Valley Ceramics Art Guild-September Pit Fire Workshop was managed by me and I must say it went very smooth…thank goodness!

Twin Lakes Beach, Santa Cruz, CA
Lovely beach with many fire rings that come in very handy. But the ashes need to be shoveled out first…at least about 2 feet. Lance dug out 3 feet and I believe it helped to give better reduction effects on my pot.

I arrived at the Santa Cruz Twin Lakes Beach with my very handsome muscle man, otherwise known as My Husband Lance in tow. And he did a magnificent job of digging out the fire pit!

Pitfire02_fillingup
Then the cowpies to cover all the pots.
Then newspaper and kindling and then tent the fire wood on top before lighting.

We piled on the wood collected from a local sawmill who generously donated their scraps.

Pitfire03_Lighting
Note how the fire wood is piled in a tent style. It’s to make sure that the pit is lit evenly. We piled as much wood as possible initially and filled in as it starts to die down.

And because I like to play with fire, I added a few more when I noticed some empty spots. Wanted to make sure that we didn’t have any exposed pots during the firing. Boy, it was HOT!

Pitfire04_adding
The flames were super high and really hot. I recommend using Kiln gloves or at least a very long tongs when working with the fire. As you see, I had neither! Notice also the mound of ashes and sand next to the pit?

Now the hard part…letting it burn.

Pitfire05_lit
We noticed that there were active flames only on one side, but it moved across the pit as it burned through. Giving the air to burn with the tented wood pile helps this greatly versus just throwing in the logs like a regular camp fire.

And wait…

Pitfire06_redhot
A bit over an hour has passed and the fire is dying down, but it’s still very hot and under the ashen wood, there were still active flames.

Trying to look like we are waiting patiently…

Pitfire08_waiting
pitfire07_peeking That’s my Muscle Man Otherwise Known As My Husband Lance. And fellow pit fire crew, Guo Feng and Joan Lin.

Lunch time! We came prepared with pot luck food…pastries, hot coffee, chips and dip, cold cuts, cold peanut sesame noodles and lots of fruit. We could have fed 10 more people!

Pitfire09_picnic
Can’t have a beach pit fire without the right provisions! Shade and food!

After about 2.5 hours, we started to get way too eager and decided to move the embers around to speed up the cooling process.

pitfire10_ashes
This is Guo’s pit. She used white stoneware and used clear and stained terra sigilata. While loading the pit, she also sprinkled Red Iron Oxide to the tops of the pieces. Great blacks on the bottom and spotted browns from the iron oxide showed well on the top.
Pitfire11_cooling
Yes, little miss impatient Miki took pots out of the pit while it was still very very hot…it was tinking loudly…not a good sign but all worked out.

And my pit. Great black and lots of color flashes from the Salt and Copper Carbonate. It was the deepest pit and burned longer than the others, and the results were beautiful!

IMG_4173
I wanted to take this driftwood home so I could take all my pit fire pots, but alas…

And back in my studio, the other pots.

Notice the difference between the smaller ones in the middle and the bigger ones. I started get bored with the pebble burnishing and so the bigger ones only got 2 phase burnishing while the little ones had 3 phase burnishing… 1. at leather hard, 2. at green and 3. at bone dry with canola oil. Once these are finished with floor wax polishing, I hope they even out, but in the future, I won’t be as lazy!

IMG_4178
I pebble finish all my pots. Take a very smooth river stone and softly rub the pots in small circles until they get super shiny. This photo is a reminder for me to not be lazy with my efforts because the results don’t lie.

We started at 7:00 am and left the beach at 1:45 pm which included cleaning up and packing up the car. Super efficient and got great results. A very happy crew!

PitFIre13_Group
Jim, Guo Feng, Megan George, Joan Lin, Miki Shim-Rutter, Irene Jenkins.

Photos by Lance and Jim! Thank you!

Advertisements

New Teapots…Finally!


DSC_0053 DSC_0066 DSC_0056

Finished teapots using the techniques acquired from the George Dymesich’s Teapot Workshop…was that in May or June?

Bulbous body, lugged-on handles and flat top lids that sit on top of the lip versus my usual with was a recessed top for the lit to sit within.

I have a couple of more colors and a total of 12 teapot currently but some didn’t photograph well and some don’t have handles yet…couldn’t decide whether to continue with the hand-made bamboo handles or the store bought ones.

I have a beautiful copper teapot and a cobalt one that I’m eager to put the finishing touches.

These are definitely going to be available for sale on Etsy and the others will be on display at the next sale with Blossom Hill Craft’s Fall Sale on September 14th in Los Gatos.

Teapots are thrown on the wheel with Navaho Wheel mid-range red clay fired to cone 5, using food safe liner glaze and exterior glaze. Hand-washing teapots are recommended for use with tea. Maximum capacity of around 24-30 liquid oz. Keeps warm and holds plenty to share a cup or four!

Something New, Something Timeless

2Frogs Ceramic Arts announces new show and sale dates for Fall/Winter 2013. Featured items are Teapots, Bird Feeder, Water Pitchers and Holiday Accessories and Ornaments.


A quick update on my show/sale schedule for Fall 2013.

I am filling the end of this year with shows and sales, 3 so far. Which means:

  • I am excited to show new work
  • My glazes are working again
  • My shelves are overflowing
  • Can use the extra cash to buy more clay!

SampleSet

Teapots
I’m excited to show my new teapots with techniques learned from the teapot workshop with George Dymesich and new glazes I’ve been perfecting. Look for new posts soon to see my progress with theses.

Bird FeedersYou have seen a few glimpses of these in previous posts and a few on my Etsy shop. I will have a few more in different designs and colors. I’m sure there will be ones you will have to have in your own bird sanctuary.

Water PitchersThese high-capacity vessels are slab formed and as functional as beautiful. Inspired by my need to water my indoor plants, they easily go from holding a bouquet of your favorite flowers to pouring a refreshing drink at your table.

Mugs, Tumblers and Stuff
I have been experimenting with textures, textures and textures. These will be featured on slab built mugs, cups and other versatile small dishes.

Holiday Ornaments
Last year, I featured little red birds to play around your holiday tree. This year…It’s a surprise. You will have to come to one of my sales to find out. Visit me in person and mention my website, one will be a gift from me to you.

Few of these items will be featured on Etsy as inventory become available so keep checking my 2Frogs/Etsy shop for new pieces if you can’t make one of my shows.

Thanks!

Blossom Hill Crafts Pottery: Fall Sale
September 21-22, 2013
Blossom Hill Crafts Pottery
15900 Blossom Hill Rd. Los Gatos, CA 95032.

OVCAG Art In Clay Show and Sale 2013

Nove
mber 16-17, 2013
Lucy Stern Community Center
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Blossom Hill Crafts Pottery: Holiday Sale
December 13-15, 2013
Blossom Hill Crafts Pottery
15900 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos, CA 95032.

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.

Getting ready…2012 Art in Clay, Palo Alto, CA


ImageImageImage

It has been a long month full of activity at the 2Frogs Ceramic Arts Studio…aka. Rutter Garage.

I finally made the jump and hooked up the kiln ($300), bought the glaze chemicals & supplies ($200+), and spent the gazillions of hours mixing and glazing and testing tiles. I’m on my 4th glaze test, each taking 15-18 hours of firing and another 10 hours of cooling to find out that I’ve failed…again. But bright side…I think I know what happened…maybe. The crazy thing is that the test tiles looked great, but the pots didn’t. So what gives? Another glaze test firing in the works.

ImageImage

If you are in the neighborhood of Palo Alto, CA in the second week in November, I’ll be showing my work with other members of the Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild…details below.

12th Annual Art in Clay Ceramic Art Show & Sale
Sat & Sun, November 17-18, 10am-5pm
Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Rd. Palo Alto , CA

Image

 

In Search of Zenscape – Part 2


I started my google search and a visit to SF ClayWorks near Silver Terrace.

Image

It was about 22 miles from home but in the middle of the day, a 20 minute ride on HWY 101. Located within an industrial office park, it was hard to imagine that there were artists working within its walls. A relatively new space and very organized still…noted the new gas kiln with only 4 firings. While the class times were flexible enough, they put restrictions on what you are allowed to do with your work once its finished…limited glaze colors and can’t sell any of the pieces I make. That put a damper on my needs. Studio spaces were another option but there were none open…plus it was out of my price range.

Another 20 minute drive through local streets of Mission is Ruby’s Clay Studio.

Image

Very “colorful” and hilly. In fact I parked perpendicularly on the hill that seemed like it was about a 30° incline. First steps into the studio included a light an airy gallery space. Further exploration into the space was quite an adventure. A general work space with about 10 wheels and a small hand building station was probably for people who are taking classes. The rest of the 2.5 floors was divided into what looked like a 8′ x 8′ personal studio spaces for artists. I lost count after 20 artist spaces that had the feeling of walking through the catacombs. It should have a sign that said “only serious artist work here”. I didn’t get to meet any instructors or office managers, but a few flyers were available for me to browse the fees and hours. Based on the location and fees, this wasn’t for me either, it would be a 45 min drive in good traffic and very little space for non-studio artists.

I heard about San Mateo’s Parks and Recreations Ceramics Studio from Nina at SFClayWorks, so I paid a visit on Saturday morning. (No picture to included…website is generic info about class information). This one is like “the little studio that could”. The park included the San Mateo Japanese Tea Garden and this morning, there was a group practicing Tai Chi in the lawn…it was a good sign. The studio was nestled between the community center, tennis courts and the baseball fields. (I had to call into the main Parks and Rec office to help me find it.) The lone instructor teaches at least 5 classes that were listed for adults (possibly more if you included kids summer camps), 4 electric kilns, 10 electric wheels and about 5 kick wheels. The space seemed incredibly small for the 12-15 people who were there, but the energy was good, cheerful and respectful. Parking might be an issue, street parking is limited with meters but a strip mall across the street might be a good option. After a brief discussion with the instructor, we agreed on Wednesday evenings and to help develop a few new glaze options.

I decided that I will start a new series of work inspired by my need for new set of dishes for my house. My hope that the recent adventures in the SF Bay area will inspire new forms, colors and designs in my pottery.

Not sure if this will be the Zenscape I hoped to find, but it’s a start. It is what I make of it…right?

Inspired Pots:
Check out these potters on Etsy
Ray Morales, John Spiteri, Jeff Campana

 

Happy New Year!


Wow! Good bye 2010 and HELLO 2011!

New year and a new resolution. Will this count since I didn’t really follow through with last year’s resolution? Does that count since I don’t remember last year’s resolution?

At least I’m off to a good start. I am posting 3 new teapots with new glaze effects, couple of new nodding vases too. These have been added to 2Frogs Studio @Etsy with multiple views. So check them out.

There is a certain expectation of what I might see when I open a glaze firing. This time, the wait was just too much. I had 4 teapots loaded with new glaze combination that I haven’t tried before. I was anxious and eager at the same time. Out of the 4 that went in, one didn’t survive. It was a beautiful form, but 75% success rate can still be celebrated.

Brown Potbelly Teapot

This Brown Potbelly Teapot has to be my favorite so far.  This glaze color was a complete surprise when I pulled the teapot out of the kiln. First of all, it was way too hot to handle but that’s just a testiment to how excited I was to see it. Oil Spot over Red Glaze with White Grotelle. The combination of Red Glaze and the Oil Spot created this deep brown with beautiful texture to create depth. The white over lid area and handle created the glazes to run creating the movement and intrigue. I tried an extra long single pulled handle and the contrast between the bulbous body with a slender handle is refreshing. Now, I’ll have to try to duplicate this again and again.

Blue Fire Teapot

When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This worked for the Blue Fire Teapot. First pass glazing was not very interesting and consider calling it a failure. So reglazing was more of an experiment than anything. Still, the outcome was a bit of a surprize too. It began its life as a dark blue on the bottom half of its body with a light blue top . In the second firing I experimented with layering a green glaze over blue to see what would happen. The result was a fiery dance of the colors.

Brown Potbelly Teapot 2

Here’s a dilemma, what to name my teapots. While Potbelly is more of a descriptive name for the form, might not be as fun to call them. At least, that’s what my husband pointed out. So readers, help me out. This teapot and the first teapot have the same colors but one has a handle that is long and loops towards the spout, and this one is curled over towards the lid. Wider at the base and slightly bigger than the first one, this teapot has a much smaller lid opening requiring a ball tea strainer. You might ask “how do you wash the teapot with such small opening?”. Well, you don’t wash a clay teapot with detergents because teh teapot  will be “coated” and the aromatic peaks of the particular tea will be emphasized, giving it a more satisfying taste. Therefore, you should try to use one tea families for the tea pot to keep the flavors more pure. Ha! Tea enjoyment 101. Oh, to finish the though… just rinse with hot water when you are finished. That’s it.

I’ve finished a couple of tea cups or Yunomi’s too. These will soon be uploaded to Etsy too.

Blue Yunomi
Red Yunomi with Lid
Spotted Yunomi

Thanks for visiting. I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave me a note and subscribe to get all of my (occasional) posts.

This year’s resolution? To feed my teapot passion. To balance work, family and passion. To update my blog more regularly. To travel. Ask me next year.

Cheers!