A Hobby Potter 's Blog

Episode 4 – Kiln Opening Tests – Success in Failures

Episode 4 – Kiln Opening Tests – Success in Failures

This was a wonderful growth week! I spent this week in both brainstorming and testing!

First, this Weeks Video:
2016 Hobby Potter Weekly – Season 2 – Episode #3 (8-6-16):
( I ramble a little in the journal section so you may just want to read the blog LOL !)

– Kiln Testing: I always love the element of testing that happens in ceramics and combine with that the element of the unknown that comes with every kiln run! It’s exciting yet disappointing when things don’t work out. Thankfully there was nothing I was making “on purpose” in the kiln and just accept the failed tests as just that… growth for future successes!

Challenge #1: Glaze Application: The incense burners did not turn out as I was anticipating.  I believe the challenge occurred with the layers and application thicknesses. Under the wash under the flowers was too thin and the colored glaze applied to the top was too thick.

Challenge #2; White turned out beige: Wrong Clay! I also wanted to test what my clear glaze looked like on the earthenware clay. Since I was after pure white results for the future wedding cake and bridal shower favors. I call this a successful test, even though my clay did not turn out white! It would have been a disaster if I created 180 wedding favors and they turned out a yellowish beige!

-Planning The Ceramic Wedding Favor Cake : Since my daughter and soon to be son-in-law wanted something other than a traditional wedding cake, we thought it would be fun to combine the wedding favor as part of the cake! So I’m constructing 180 ceramic pieces to hold a “dessert” that will be displayed in the shape of a wedding cake that guests will be able to take home with them! This week was the beginning stages.

The challenge was determining how much space and what size I would need for the cake form to work out. A rough “guess-timate” I came up with was approximately 120 pieces sitting on a the round table and 60 pieces on the second tier and the third tier will be their personal sized wedding cake to cut (for traditions sake). In the coming weeks we’ll see how this all pans out in actual fact LOL!!!

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-New Clay! : After the clay party and seeing my above test results, I was able to talk to Sandra Veneman (Ceramic artist & Co-Owner of The Chartreuse Muse Art Gallery), about a finding a pure white clay. She recommend the clay and clear glaze they use. Amaco’s Versa Clay & Duncan’s Pure Brilliance. It is an earthenware clay, but can be fired up to Cone 5. I just now read the description and it says it’s made for children in the classroom…so their must be something very forgiving about it. Went out, bought the clay and started to throw with it to make the Bridal Shower favor cups….LOVE IT!!! Let’s see if it really comes out white!

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-Just for fun! : I took some time off camera and made a few pieces just for the fun of it! After all …I’m a “hobby potter” and as a hobbyist we are all free to do what we want with our hobby! A small sculpture pitcher and a sushi tray!

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And with this I’ll close! Hope you enjoyed the video and will see you next time!

Enjoy your clay play!!!

~ Tammy Jo

Episode 3 – It’s A Clay Party! – Back In the Studio…Trimming Bowls & Lots of Wash Glazing

Episode 3 – It’s A Clay Party! – Back In the Studio…Trimming Bowls & Lots of Wash Glazing

Back for another week inside & outside the pottery studio and I’m journaling my projects, progress and learning experiences (both the good & bad)!

This Weeks Video
2016 Hobby Potter Weekly – Season 2 – Episode #3 (8-6-16):

– A Clay Party! : The week started of great as I ventured outside my studio for a fun ceramic adventure at the “Chartreuse Muse Art Gallery” in Modesto, CA. I celebrated the birthday of my artist friend Nicole Slater, along with her girlfriends, by enjoying a class on building luminaries (wonderfully taught by Ceramic Artist & Co-Owner of the gallery Sandra Veneman)!  Being surrounded by other people all chatting and playing with clay together was definitely  a new exciting experience! I got so immersed in what other people were making I actually forgot to get a posterity photo of what I made(I’ll share it when it’s finished! 🙂  I learned a new perspective on hand-building cylinders and loved the fact I had to get creative without all my usual studio tools!  I’d recommend it for everyone!

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On the Wheel – Trimming & Marble Textures:  The bowls made in last week’s episode needed a trim, so I jumped on the pottery wheel to finish things up. They did get a little more dry than I like, but was still able to trim. This brown stoneware reclaimed clay is amazing for special effects! Because it was reclaimed using remnants of the previously pugged white stoneware and also had some sculpture clay thrown in, the trimming results are always unique. With the added chunks of white clay, it trims out to an interesting marbled texture. Sadly it’s 15 pound away from extinction as I’ve run out and there is no way to recreate this formula exactly. Thankful and excited about these bowls.

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–  Glazing & Testing: Opened the bisque load of projects worked on in past episodes. The pieces were low fired (bisque fired) to Cone 04 in my Skutt Kiln – KM1018.

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Actually, If I look at the pieces and glaze work….everything is TESTING. The incense burners and small bowls were a test, the glaze work (combinations of colors and the different wash effects)…were also all tests! I can’t wait to see what new things I’ll learn from the next kiln opening!  Note to self: “Tammy Jo, you need to grind and reapply kiln wash to your shelves…they need some T.L.C (Tender Loving Care)!”

Thanks for watching and please feel free to comment, I’d be happy to hear from you!

Enjoy the clay!

Tammy Jo

 

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Bowls – Burners & Tools …Contemplating “Tiny” – Hobby Potter Weekly – S2 Episode 2

Bowls – Burners & Tools …Contemplating “Tiny” – Hobby Potter Weekly – S2 Episode 2

It’s summer in my town…and boy has it been hot! Here is the second installment in the Hobby Potter Weekly video series for 2016! Catch you at the end for some additional thoughts!

Hobby Potter Weekly Season 2 Episode 2:

In This Episode:
– Changing My Throwing Technique to Ease Pain

I’m making adjustments as I throw on the wheel to help ease some arthritic finger pain.  It may not be the ideal way to throw *so find a pro potter if you want proper technique instructions* , but if I can make these little changes work for my new situation…I’m going to happily continue on with them! There were a couple things I first tried this week that really helped…

  • Soft Clay / Wet Clay – I initially started trying out my wheel again with earthenware, but realized it was not in the softest state so switched to the  brown stoneware. Huge difference! The goal now is to keep all my clay this soft!. Since this overly wet clay is unfamiliar, it may be a little more challenging to throw. so I’ll need to adjust my pressure to avoid it imploding while throwing!
  •  Sponge it! I learned to use my knuckle for pulling up walls on the wheel, which for now is a big ouch! So for some added cushion and support I’m using the sponge. Snapshot - 1What I found out was the sponge will also absorb some of the water from the super wet clay firming it up and making it more stable…what a perk! Of course, I’ll be re-learning my hand pressure because for some reason less pressure is needed when using the sponge. I’ll keep trying until I get the feel of a smooth throw. I LOVE the pottery wheel!
Tool of the Week:

I thought it would be fun to share a tool that has drawn the most interest and attention over the last 5 years of publishing videos. It’s extremely expensive and can only be purchased through high quality stores….NOT!

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The Tool…A 20 “something” year old Fun Factory Playdough Extruder Toy!
The coils are great for cup handles, feet or anything you would use a small coil for, but don’t want to go through the hassle of whipping out a large extruder! It’s very convenient and the clean up is easy. It’s a keeper!

– Handbuilding – Working Small & Making Table Time More Efficient:

Snapshot - 3I’m trying to think of ways to streamline processes. To keep the clay off rollers and minimize unwanted textures, I decided to invest in some smooth textured fabric for a more clean clay surface.

Working Small – This week I started to create “tiny” items for the Modesto Modshop event in November! Something reproduce-able, functional and small that will fit within a 4′ table. Nick Prouse (a Facebook potter friend…thanks buddy) recommended pendants since it’s an Indy market situation. Perfect Idea!!!

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Something I realized about myself, Working larger is more my thing. Maybe because I don’t naturally have a place in my heart for “bling” or jewelry, I was having a challenge “finding the love” and inspiration while making them. Now making the incense burners was a different story! Since this is something I use A LOT of in my country studio it had more meaning (because when they spread that cow manure, I tell ya some intense smells are needed to counteract it !!!). I really felt more inspired to make something both lovely and functional!  They will stay on the Do It Again list because my mind was full of possibilities!

Well that’s it for this week! Please feel free to comment, I’d be happy to hear from you!

Enjoy the clay!
Tammy Jo

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2016 Hobby Potter Weekly – Ep. 1 – Hump Molds – Soul Bowls & Gallery “Attempts”

2016 Hobby Potter Weekly – Ep. 1 – Hump Molds – Soul Bowls & Gallery “Attempts”

Hobby Potter Weekly is back! For the remainder of this year (until December 3rd) I’ll be sharing my weekly thoughts, activities and learning experiences in the studio! Blog posts will include a little more insight to my studio meanderings and also serve as a nice printed retrospect.

This weeks video:

….an over view and extra thoughts…

Making a bisque hump mold from a Ceramic Arts Daily video by Kari Radasch

An exciting side view of making a hump mold from a slab of clay!

 I have been avoiding making these hump molds from plaster for a couple years now. Once I saw the video on Youtube I HAD to give it a try and make my own.

Just when I was beginning to doubt purchasing these large plastic tubes at a yard sale, it really came in handy for this project. Kari uses buckets to make her molds (which I will probably do in the future for larger molds). This hollow tube allowed me to open up the bottom of the tube to allow air from both the top and the bottom. This helped with even drying. Super excited this worked out so well!

Creating “Soul Bowls” – A Texture from Israel! 

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 Words can build, encourage, uplift, inspire or remind us…I wanted to make pretty bowls with inspiring reminders with words that are good for the “soul”!

My beautiful friend Anya and her husband made the trip of a lifetime to Israel! As they traveled to significant landmarks,  she would pick up a piece or wood or rock or seed pod if they had amazing textures. When she returned, she unfolded wonderful stories as she presented me with each special treasure. The texture I chose for these “Soul Bowls” was a conifer seed pod, found in the Garden Tomb area of Jerusalem. These are still in the trial stages as far as finished forms, but are simple and pleasing. I want to fine tune these a little more to see if I can make them a part of my new Amazon Handmade shopping area… (excited to have just received the approval notification a couple days)!

Soul Bowls

Carnegie Art Center – Donation & Art Gallery Submission
(Somethings just do go as planned!)

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Trying something new is one of my favorite things to do in the studio. So when I request that the Carnegie Art Center was have a Children’s Literature event to celebrate their 100 Year Anniversary, I was thrilled to donate a piece! They were also having a call to artists for submission for the gallery itself so I thought I’d give it a go! So I picked a couple of books I liked when I was little … “A Fish Out of Water” was a favorite I can still hear my father reading to me and Dr. Seuss and I are like kindred spirits!!  “Rainbow Fish”, which is a more recent favorite, is an inspiring story or sharing and beautiful imagery.

So I set out to create wall pieces representative of these books in such a way that others would “know the book by the look”. Long story short I found I’m not a duplicator! It was more tedious than enjoyable to try and duplicate an already established image. Lesson learned …spontaneous inspirations from ideas is more my speed. So these little fishy’s are not on going to be submitted to the gallery, but I will be donating my piece, “In Dr. Seuss’s Kitchen” which was something I made last month (before I knew about this event). They will auction it off at the event and hopefully raise some money for the gallery 😀

Dr. Seuss Ceramic Art
“In Dr. Seuss’s Kitchen”

Well that is it for this weeks Hobby Potter Weekly! Come back to see me next week!

Enjoy the Clay!

Tammy Jo




Artists – Music – Wine – Food – Lucca Winery Summer Concert Series Event

Artists – Music – Wine – Food – Lucca Winery Summer Concert Series Event

I recently had the privilege of being apart of a 6 artist team pulled together by Nicole Slater, (a fine artist friend). We were asked to show our work at a winery concert held in Ripon, CA. Lucca Winery hosts a Summer Concert Series featuring music, food and wine tasting once a month and we were to bring our art!

Throughout the month of May, I really enjoyed working in a strictly “artistic” sense, where my mind wasn’t bouncing back and forth (as it usually does) from “functional to artistic”.  I took video snippets along the way and was surprised by how much footage I accumulated. Here is the edited down version of my adventure preparing for this event!

Needless to say that from start to finish it was an enjoyable experience, even with the two pieces cracking! I learned valuable lessons from it so here is what I got!

The Cracked “Wine Glass Wall Hanging” : 
20160611_023229.pngThis was my first real attempt working with a flat slab of this size and hoping it would remain FLAT! It’s a little more tricky than it seemed. It started warping during the initial drying phase, so I’m researching the different ways to adjust drying so I can achieve this in the future. It somewhat fixed itself during the bisque and the clay sagged, but I made a huge error during the final cone 6 firing stage! My goal was to prop it from underneath in three places where it might try to sag (top, middle and bottom.) This should have compensated for the other parts that NEEDED to sag so it would again look flat. The challenge? I got busy and accidentally left out a prop! So in the firing is sagged so much in that unsupported spot it cracked.

The Big Red Bowl!
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This bowl was made by using a form and then pounded pounding random thicknesses of coils to create the shape and interior texture. The outside texture was made from a rock my husband brought back from one of his business trips to Jordan (so I call this big boy the “Red Jordan”!)  The crack, I feel, may have happened due to uneven drying. The weather here in Modesto, CA went from cool to 100 degrees in the matter of two days, I left it uncovered on the day and think it just dried too quickly.

Chalkboard Wine Charms

Ceramic Wine Glass Charms

You know when you have a great idea it just triggers another and then another? Here’s how it went as I talked to myself:
“I sure love my chalkboard walls, it would be great to make something in ceramic with that kind of surface.”
“I know…black underglaze and a liquid chalk pen”
“Hmm, complimentary wine glasses, lots of wine, losing glasses…let’s put their name on them!”

These “Chalkboard Wine Glass Charms” were really a big hit at the event! After drinking enough wine, I figured some people may not remember where they down their glasses! A color, a shape or their name…any one of these could be remembered and connect someone up with their wayward wine glass (lol)!

A special thank you to Lucca Winery & John Griswold, Jesse Christian Hendricks (Spanish Guitar Musician) and East Bay Soul – (Greg Adam’s – Tower of Power).

Loved the interaction with “wine tasting music enthusiasts…who also appreciated art!” …I could do another venue like this…it was really fun! ~ Tammy Jo

 

Art Pieces for Stanislaus Family Justice Center

Art Pieces for Stanislaus Family Justice Center

175071_424301417632175_1095707403_oFor the last 4 years I’ve participated in a wonderful fundraising event with the Stanislaus Family Justice Center. This organization helps children and families living in crisis situations by providing counseling and resources. To help the children heal, they have a program called “Art Restores Kids”, where they help them use art to express themselves.

Each year they gather local artists to select from the artwork through this program for inspiration and to create a donated piece to their annual
“Art of Justice Celebration & Fundraiser” event.
This years event will be held on March 23, 2016, 5:30-8:30

Here is a link to the event specifics

My daughter Becca (also an artist), and I went to the January Artist Choosing Night where we selected our inspiration pieces!

This year I chose 2 pieces! Before I share the before and afters I wanted to preface it with some “behind the scenes” insight in my studio that affected the outcome!

Time, Weather & Challenges! These factors made creating new pieces difficult and I must say, and still feel, that everything turned out as it should have. At the end of this blog I’ll share “what should have been”!

THE ARTWORK!

Workshop: Shadow/Dark Bright/Good
The purpose of this workshop is to help children understand that even dark moments can turn into something more beautiful.

Inspiration Artist: Francisco Age 10
“White is for Calm and Black is For Sadness”  
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“Color In The Shadows”
Approx size: 21″ x 4″

Contrasts! Dark and bright, shadows and light…without one there is no other! Sometimes the most challenging, shadowy, moments in our lives are springboards to fully appreciating, the bright and brilliant moments that’s come our way.

I selected Francisco’s artwork without hesitation! My mind kept flashing back to a piece I had already created a few months prior, but thought I needed to design a new one specific for this event. As I began making the new piece I experienced one disaster after another, then to finally discover it cracked in the kiln. Being that it was too late to start again, I joyfully brought the original piece I had in mind from the beginning!  

The young artists happy white and dark snowman along with the brilliant colors added in his hat and scarf, are exactly the contrasting elements that were used in my piece!  The black valleys and white raised areas signifying those times in life we move in and out of the “shadowy places”. Without these texturing moments to life (and in this piece),the colorful leaves and chrome surfaces would not shine as bright. It’s a happy piece combining dark, light and beautiful brightness!

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Workshop: Feelings Faces
This workshop allows children to learn about feelings identify them and express them as art.

Inspiration Artist: Khalia – Age 10
“I named My Feeling Face “Jiggles”. Get your Jiggles On.”

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“Get Your Jiggles On!”
 Approximate size: 5″ x 6″

“Our face” is not necessarily the expression on our physical face, but the outward projection of our inner self through certain actions. Khalia’s “Jiggles” monster is in motion, it’s moving. To me I felt it describes what you feel like when you are blissfully happy as you can see her little creature is experiencing.

This bowl is a whimsical word expression of inner feelings and actions. By engaging in these character traits, moments or experiences, we can develop our own personal “jiggly face”. Once you have it, you can’t help by take action and share it with others. So “Get Your Jiggles On!” 

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THE ONES THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT! 

Maybe it’s because I’ve been away from the studio too long and didn’t have my head straight, but the creation of pieces for this project didn’t go as planned. In fact, the pieces that were actual made specific to this project didn’t even make it to the show. Here’s what happened.

Time: A full schedule (along with indecisiveness on the direction I wanted to take with each piece) had me starting 3 weeks before the deadline. It should have been enough time, but there was a little thing called….

Weather: Once I finally got started it was cold, rainy and in a studio with no insulation, it created some….

Challenges: I’m giggling as I think of it now, but the bisque fire had me right in a place where I would finish the morning of the deadline! BUT… the earthenware piece received a hairline crack …so that made it dead in the water. Luckily I had a piece already in mind for a replacement! Since I wanted to see the end result I fired it to completion. The hairline crack grew and cracked all the way through. It turned out great (to me) but unusable!

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The second challenge happened when I realized I made the pieces of two different clay types . Earthenware (cone 04) and Stoneware (cone 6) could not be not be glaze fired at the same temperatures. With only one day to go and time NOT on my side, I glazed the stoneware bowl with all the “jiggles” and “wiggles”…but was unable to fire it in time.

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With alternations made on two other pieces already completed, I was able to submit something for the show, but not without a little disappointment that the original concepts would not be represented.

Lesson Learned: BE PREPARED & START EARLY…you just never know what can happen!

What are you doing, writing a book?

What are you doing, writing a book?

As a matter of fact…YES! The last time I worked inside my studio was November 9th 2015, but my mind has been on clay and more specifically “cups” ever since!

One of my 50th birthday goals was to put the 365 Day Cup project into a printed book…for posterity sake.  If I’m honest,  I’ve been putting it off for a long time. Since it’s now been 5 years it just seemed like an appropriate time to revisit the journey.

I went back and took all my original journal notes with 700+ photos, supporting people and resources, and yes, I even scanned through every single video! 300 pages and 4 months later, I finally finished the book! It was a long, but lovely, process reliving the roller coaster ride of events with so many life lessons I’ve retained from that experience!

February 16, 2016 it was released to Amazon.com…
My first pottery book!!

“365 Days of Clay Cups, A Cup – A Day – A Year”
A Hobby Potters “Excellent Adventure”
Learning the Art of Pottery”

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365cover 2-2-2016

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Do real authors ever feel like this?

I’ll tell it to you straight!  You’ll probably laugh at me for this, but just go with me for a second! I’m excited it’s finally complete, but the other part of me isn’t.

The book has only been available online for 2 days, which means no one but me has read it yet (except the couple people looking it over). The simple fact that someone will actually be reading it has me all wound up! It’s like someone finding my diary and reading it to the class! What if I’m the only one that loves it? What if people think it’s ridiculous and a waste of money?  What if there are still typos for goodness sake? I honestly feel like George McFly from the movie Back to the Future…“I don’t think I can take that kind of rejection” LOL!  I know I can’t change my mind and just delete it (like a video) if I decide later to keep these memories to myself. Once it’s printed, it’s permanent, there’s no going back…it’s a done deal! Breathe Tammy Jo, b r e a t h e … you just need to get out there and get back to your clay work!  AND AWAY I GO!

What’s Next?

Photo_2015-03-13_11-21-46_AMThe Stanislaus Family Justice Centers annual “Art of Justice” event to benefit children that have been through crisis. I’ve selected 2 children’s art pieces this year. This is one of my favorite events as I love seeing what local artists create using the recovering children’s art and words as inspiration.

 

365 Cups…in 1 month! For the 5 year anniversary of the project I thought 365 was an appropriate number! I’ve never done consecutive throwing (for fear of boredom setting in). To do this wheel throwing thing like a proper potter, I should do this repetitive throwing thing at least once in my life! There is also another reason….my beautiful daughter Bethany is getting married in October and I need to create 160 “like” cups for her wedding! I’ve never done more than 3 that match, so this should be a true adventure!

10007541_10203324950661889_5699788003374643145_n – Stanislaus Artist Open Studio Tour – April 23-24th! – Last 2 years I’ve so much enjoyed this event! People actually come to my studio where I give them a little tour and we talk about clay. Last year I had every visitor make a ceramic name plate and created a wall piece from them. Turned out great!

 

 March / April issue of Stanislaus Magazine – The fun photo’s I took back in November are going to be in a magazine! Sitting in the doctors office the other day I noticed this month’s issue sitting next to me. So next months visit is going to be so weird LOL!

– Looking for some exciting events to enter pieces in…something new and exciting, something to strive for I think.

Keep life fun I say!

Bless you all until next time! ~ Tammy Jo

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