Me and 2:30 AM are getting to know each other a little too well

I’ve spent the last few days glazing a jeezely big pile of stuff. Rowhouse mugs for the shop, Robot mugs for Molly White and Model Citizens, the half of the Viking order that I didn’t smash, a few oddments for my own amusement, and about a third of That Commission (the one that dogberry bowl a while back was a test for).

That last one took a while.

I’ve been investigating screenprinting underglazes for a while, and was hoping to transfer the designs that way, but I don’t have things quite nailed down yet and I dearly need the shelf space those pieces are taking up. So. They’re getting glazed the way I saw Deb Kuzyk of Lucky Rabbit do a tile, many moons ago. With some extra finagling with wax resist and the matte cephaloglaze.

1. Make stuff.
2. Draw on stuff with a pencil (it’ll burn off in firing, so you can scribble pretty much all you want and not worry about the arghnothat’sshite lines).
3. Paint underglazes in.
4. Do outline with squeeze bottle of black underglaze.
5. Sponge a few layers of clear glaze onto design areas. (Sponge! Don’t brush; that’ll smudge the underglazes.)
6. Paint wax resist on top of all that. Let dry.
7. Dip in matte cephaloglaze. Wipe bottoms, load kiln. Go away in the euphoric triumph of getting to go to bed before dawn.

So far I’ve got a whale, a squid, some kelp, and some birches done. Still to do: dogberries, fox, bear (?), chickadee, probably some mussels or other shelly things, a flock of seagulls, and.. well, I haven’t decided. We’ll see.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how the birches turn out.

Commissions

This has been the month of commissions. A shaving bowl, a casserole, a butter dish. A possible new line of mugs. A mug for my brother’s birthday and a big serving bowl for my mom’s birthday.

Today I got to settle back into production mode. The old familiar boards full of mugs. Crowds of them, but each one just a little bit different. Thinner or thicker bottoms, taller or shorter rims, curves in different places. I think the day they all look the same is the day I give up making them.

Drop-in Class

One family (two siblings and their mom) tried the wheel. Just as they were finishing up, another group (two friends) came in, also for the wheel.

I think this was the least hectic class I’ve taught since… oh, whenever the first one was, months back. Wow.

After class, I hung around the studio to glaze a few pate dishes and teacups, and to throw a few things. More pate dishes, since they seem to be going faster than the mugs, and I’d like to re-stock the shop soon. Also, two shaving bowls, commissioned for a guy and his brother. He wanted them straight up and down on the inside, so the soap didn’t move around too much, but curved on the outside, so they’re easy to hold in wet soapy hands.

Tea bowls for Paul

A friend of mine from elementary school, Paul, bought a house recently. When I saw him at Fresh Fish, I handed him a tea bowl[1] for a house-warming gift, and he ordered three more to make a set.

They’re sitting in the studio now, waiting for a bisque firing. I made two dragonflies, two spiders, and two snails. Once they’ve been glazed, I’ll drop off three for him, and put three up on etsy.

[1] It would have been a teacup, but I absent-mindedly picked it up by the handle when it was still green. The cup part didn’t fall very far, though, so it survived fine. I just smoothed off the side and declared it a bowl. Turns out it’s just the size tea bowl Paul likes, so *that* all worked out beautifully.

Phew.

The last Christmas commission was handed over and paid for today. They were essentially extra-deep chip and dip dishes… The customer has a relative who was given one by a friend. He’s a painter, so he’d been using it to hold water–clean water in the inner bowl, and dirty water in the outer. It had been broken over a year ago, and his daughter wanted to get him two replacements (one for the cabin, and one for home) for Christmas.

The pieces of the original were brought down to the CCNL Clay Studio, which is more of a teaching studio and not really set up to do random commissions for people, but I overheard some people talking about it. Since I was done with craft fairs until summer, I figured I’d take on the project. (The chance for an extra customer and some money for Christmas sounded pretty appealing, too…)

It. Was. Hard. To make those. The most clay I’ve thrown at once was five pounds, and these needed six. The design was pretty challenging, and the clay went off-center halfway through each one, so there were some fiddly moments with pin tools to get the rims even. And the bottom on the original was quite thin, which meant the replicas had to be thin, which meant I was on tenterhooks during drying, waiting for something to crack. And trimming the bottoms was tricky, because the inner bowl is taller than the outer one; I wound up carving out some foam and resting the pieces on that, on top of a bat, on top of a wheel, and trimming veeeery slowly. In the end, I made five… one collapsed on the wheel, two cracked during drying, but two survived. They came out of the kiln this morning.

The customer came to pick them up… She actually arrived about twenty minutes early; I was sitting outside sanding a piece of kiln shelf off one of them when she pulled up. But she loved them both, and even paid me extra for them. So I am now both very relieved and very happy.

And between this and the cereal bowl order (delivered and paid for last week), I can totally afford a Giffin Grip. With accessories. And shipping, even.

Squee!