January 29, 2011

Let the Sun Shine In

It's Saturday and the girls are in school today!! It's a gorgeous day and I've been meaning to do a blog about this cup! It's a cup that I made in MM (that's 2000 in Roman). It's made with a grolleg porcelain, Helios, from Highwater Clays in Asheville, NC. It claims to be one of the world's best clays, maybe second only to my red dirt home clay! heheh...

I wanted to show it here as a reference to the hydro-abrasion (a Michael Sherrill term) that I mentioned the other day (see video). I can't remember if I have talked about this particular phase of my making career, but it all happened back in 1999 when my studio mate at the Barns at Penland, Shawn Ireland was moving out and was passing off stuff he didn't need or want as he was packing up. He came in and held out a quart can of Shellac and asked me if I wanted it. I didn't know, at the time, what the hell I would do with a can of shellac. I didn't know the work of Jim Gottuso yet, after all! I said yes just to help the guy out, you know how it is for hoarders, it was like a small intervention. ;-) Actually Shawn was very neat.
So, I went to the list serve (clay-arts?) and looked up some possible reasons Shawn would have a can of shellac in his studio. I knew shellac was used for woodworking projects. Shawn was also painting on canvas towards the end of his residency, and still makes wonderful paintings, so that was possibility. But lo and behold, there was a thread on the list serve that very day on using shellac as a resist! And so began hours of painting and sponging away the porcelain to get these translucent effects on the porcelain. As you can see the edges stressed out from all the handling and cracked in the firing. This was common.

The process was extremely time consuming, but I didn't mind that. But my wrists were suffering from all of the very careful handling of the constantly thinning pots, not to mention a chronic stiff neck. Then there was the frustration of actually going through the clay wall. And then there was the almost impossible way to photograph these pieces for the record. So this chapter in my career was closed about a year later. But like all good stories, it's worth telling again. I have a new can of shellac and I'm preparing to use it on some of the pots I've been making in the last few weeks. I'm even going to try it on some swirl ware!

For those of you keeping score, this piece was fired in the salt kiln at the Barns at Penland and it is lined with my 1% Copper glaze. Fired to cone 10.

OK, back to this wonderful Saturday afternoon of porcelain pottery making. I've just getting around to using my Matt and Dave porcelain that they were so kind to send me last summer! I'll let you know what I make with that! So far it's been really nice! Thanks M & D!

Hope you have a great weekend, too! Did you make your 12 today?