Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending October 5

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art every day and all week.

Saturday, September 29 – This afternoon we took a trip to the Ceramic Shop in Norristown, PA. I needed some underglazes. This store is always a treasure trove. I worked my way past the shelves of glazes:

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…stopping to look some over, for future projects, before I came to the Velvet underglaze display and chose my items.

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After that I wandered around the store a little. As always, I am fascinated by the huge array of tools that can be used in clay work.

Here is a sample board showing various clay bodies sold here. Different clays fire in different temperature ranges and are additionally of different consistencies – some very smooth, some gritty. It all depends on your purpose as to what clay you chose to work with. Additionally, each clay can be fired within a range of temperatures – the different samples show the same clay fired at various levels. As you can see, this display is very useful in choosing clay.

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Here you see a selection of kiln shelves. Since each firing requires the shelves to be configured to fit the clay work being fired, there are a lot of choices.

Here is a display of pyrometric cones. You may remember me as describing a clay item as being fired at “Cone 06” or that kind of thing. Before computerized controls, each firing required the use of a pyrometric cone, created to be specific to a firing temperature, which was designed to bend or slump when the correct temperature was reached (you needed to view the cone through the peephole in the kiln wall).

These cones are still used today, even in computerized firings, for a variety of reasons – to make sure a certain item gets to the correct temperature, as kilns can have hot or cold spots; or to check that the kiln’s controls are accurate, for instance. I don’t use them, as my work is not that temperature-specific and my kiln has computerized controls – but obviously lots of people do. There is a large display of them here.

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Sunday, September 30 – My husband and I went to a play this afternoon at Allen’s Lane Art Center. You may remember other productions we’ve seen here – it’s a small theater and the seating is cafe style. This show was lightly attended, being a Sunday matinee, and we got a place right up on the edge of the stage.

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I got out my trusty sketchbook:

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but I didn’t have much time for drawing the audience as I usually do here, because I was downstairs for some time chatting with my friend Lisa, who runs the box office. Just saying. Anyway, here are a few quick things:

Monday, October 1 – I fired up the kiln. It may look like it’s just sitting and doing nothing, but that number on the front means it’s 1200+ degrees F inside. And that’s not the whole story – it will go up to about 1830 degrees…

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Let me back up a little. I forgot about these. Remember when I went through that box of little scraps last week? I pulled out some that I wanted to color. I’ve spent some of the last few evenings doing just that with my markers. I’ll figure out what happens next soon.

Back to today. I felt like slapping a little paint on a surface. I got out one of the 18″ x 24″ 1/8″ thick masonite boards I recently bought, as well as two of the 11″ x 14″. They have already been gessoed in black. I started working away. We’ll see what happens. I remind myself that the large board cost $3.50. I have nothing to lose.

Tuesday, October 2 – I opened the kiln.

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I was happy to see everything sitting in its place, nothing blown up, nothing fallen over. There is a variety of objects and tiles in this load. Tiles -(commercially made terracotta base):

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Sgraffito tiles – made from terracotta that I rolled out myself. I realized after I’d done them that they are only 1/4″ thick, and these days I like 3/8″ – but I was using up already-rolled clay, that’s why. Anyway, all good.

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Various figurines:

and remember this vessel? It came through the firing well – no seams opened up. I think I will do a little work on sanding some rough areas, and I’ll clean up the rim with a better black coat around it. Then I need to decide – will I glaze just the inside or the whole thing? Because for it to be functional the interior (at a minimum) must be glazed or it will not hold water.

Then there was this little stray tile…

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After congratulating myself and the clay items for completing a safe trip through the firing, I decided to go upstairs and work on that painting thing I’ve got going on. Today, I decided, would be ink day. I pretty much stuck to adding only India and acrylic inks to the picture, though I did put some more paint on, too.

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Where is this thing going?

Thursday, October 4 – First, a few more of those ink drawings turned colorful.

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I worked on the large painting. It continues to progress. Then I brought it upstairs to sit in front of me and let itself rest for a while.

I worked a little on the small painting, too. Really, all I did was to decide to turn it the other way around and to outline the person in ink, but…it’s still something…

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Friday, October 5 – I brought the recently fired clay into the laundry room/face painting venue to start the coloring process.

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Using Jet Black Velvet underglaze, I did my usual routine: paint the faces and other relief details in black and then wash off, leaving the color in the crevices.

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I got the whole gang done and set them on my work table. Next step: giving them a black coating all over their bodies to form the base for the bright colors I plan for them.

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I may do that this afternoon. Or I might work on that painting. Or I might sit on the sofa, watch TV, and finish up odds and ends of art tasks and paperwork. I don’t know. So I’ve decided to cut off this week’s Diary entry here. I’ll post this afternoon’s work (if I do any, as there is always option #4: I might just lie on the sofa and read) tomorrow. Happy end of the week!

OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.

15 thoughts on “Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending October 5

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    That clay shop always looks amazing. It must be a wonderful resource for you as a ceramic artist not just in terms of the materials but also the knowledge and information. As always, I’m in awe of how much you achieve.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I feel so lucky to have this shop in our city and that it has now moved to be so close to me – that is a real advantage, because places to buy clay in person are few and far between, and shipping is costly. And you are right about the information resources as well – you can just go in and ask your questions, not buy anything, if you need to, and they are really helpful. I could spend a lot of time in this shop and I don’t even use most of the things in it – it’s just fun to be there and see all the little items and gadgets and imagine…what you could make…

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I got into clay a long time ago at a local art center, but then I dropped it for a long time and started back up when I took a night class at my local high school. Met these other women, we started meeting in my basement after the class was done (I had a friend with a kiln who would fire our work). Long story short, eventually the others lost interest but I didn’t, I bought a kiln, and the rest is history, as they say! It’s lots of fun and I’m thinking of trying some new things, like learning to use the wheel. 2019!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Gosh, I don’t know, the chicken? Tell me where, I hope I didn’t miss it! Or make one, and never knew it, now that happens a lot, not necessarily chickens but creatures, faces, etc. A nice feature of my crazy style of work.

  2. tierneycreates

    Ceramic shop looks like a fun place for a ceramist to spend an afternoon! You are such a prolific artist I am surprised you do not have your own shop and gallery!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I can wander around this shop for a long time and much of the tools and glazes and so on is not applicable to what I do, but intrigues me (and maybe someday I will be using it, if I keep learning). As for selling, well, art fairs have always been enough for me, I’d never want the responsibility of a shop or gallery.

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