Friday, May 25, 2012

Fresh Out of the Kiln

I popped over to the college this afternoon to see if the latest kiln firing was done, cooled and unloaded.  It was!  Yay!  I was able to pick up the last of my projects.  I'm really excited about some of them and can't wait to share...

One of my goals for the semester was to make a large bowl.  I definitely made progress toward that.  This is the biggest bowl I've made so far and it's quite an accomplishment.  The larger a piece is, the harder it is to throw on the wheel...and to get it to be round and not lop-sided.   It shrunk a bit in the kiln (which always happens) but it's still pretty big. If I take ceramics again, my goal will be to make one even bigger! 

This clay must have had a lot of iron it because the bowl developed lots of freckles when it was fired.

I love the yellow and rust color in Winokur Yellow glaze.

It's not as big as I'd wanted but will be plenty big enough to make something in it to serve my family.

It's 8" tall and 4" wide.  I placed a regular sized garlic head next to it to give an idea of it's size and scale.

Before the semester was over, I had to try throwing on a kick wheel.  It's powered by my foot only.  No electricity.  It worked better than I'd expected.  To get better at it I'll have to remember to let go of my clay whenever I kick to get the speed back up.  I learned that the hard way.  If I kick while my hands are working with the clay, it immediately sends it off center and I end up with wonkey, lop sided pots.  They're also a bit thick on the bottoms because I wasn't able to lift them up much more after they lost center.  But, I'm pretty proud of them for my first try.  And, what fun!  I love that I made them with human power.  It was a quiet and peaceful, creative experience. 

This one resembles my honey pot vases.  It looks great with the other two and gives me a perfect set of three in various sizes.  I plan to put some flowers in them very soon and try it out as a little grouping.

I took a picture holding it to give an idea of the size these two kick wheel pots are. 

My third attempt at a goblet went much better than the first two.  But, it still wasn't all that great...until I picked it up today.  The glazes I used transformed it into something pretty cool!

I used Teadust glaze on the outside. It's usually black in color with green speckles. Turns out it also red in it.  There are even some tiny blue flecks.  It's interesting and lovely.  I really like it.  The tiny greenish/yellow flecks remind me of lichen we see on rocks when we hike. 

I used a green glaze on the inside that I thought would tie in with the specks on the outside.  Turns out it would have been pretty light.  Luckily, I was inspired by another student and how she had experimented with mixing different glazes.  She had some fantastic results.  So, I grabbed my goblet and headed back to the glaze room and put a little splattering action into the project.  It turned out to be just what it needed to tie the outside and inside together.  I love it!

The stem fits and feels very nice in my hand.  It's very comfortable.  The goblet is almost 8" tall and holds exactly eight ounces of liquid.  I think that will make for nice sized serving of start with.  I plan on trying it out tonight.  Cheers!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lovely Lizards and a Bevy of Bowls

I've just finished 18 weeks that I will cherish for the rest of my life!  My daughter and I took another ceramics class together and had a blast!   This is the second semester we've done this.  I feel so lucky to have a daughter that loves to hang out with her mom.  I treasure every moment of it!  She'll be transferring to a university in a few months.  So, this will be the last time we'll get to do this for a while.  That chokes me up a bit but I know we have lots of new adventures ahead of us.

If you're a regular visitor to my blog, you may recall a blog post I did a few months ago about a lizard I had sculpted in class.  I had a lot of fun making it and was pretty pleased with the results.  Since then, he's undergone a bit of a change...glazing.  It didn't turn out quite like I'd planned.  He was supposed to be sort of a greenish color and the cup was supposed to be a deep chocolate brown.  Being the beginner that I am and that the glazes aren't always reliable, I ended up with this...

It's not what I had envisioned but it's kinda cool.  I made it for hubby and he really likes it.  So, that means it's a success.

That lizard inspired others in my class and other classes that saw it.  Someone even called me the "lizard master" one evening during class.  That was fun!   

I enjoyed sculpting the first one so much that I was anxious to make another one and I did.  This time it adorned my very first teapot.  The spout was challenging but I did it.  The lid was challenging too and it came out a bit large.  That made it the perfect place for a lizard to sit!

I chose the same glaze, Winokur Yellow, that I used on my Acorn Mugs last semester.  I usually like the yellow color with bits of rusty orange.  And, it's usually a reliable glaze.  However, it seems that the bag of clay I used on this and a few other projects had a lot of iron in it.  So, they came out of the kiln with lots of freckles!

I'm really happy with the shape of the teapot, the lizard, and the yellow and orange colors. 
But, I'm still trying to fall in love with all those freckles.

The yellow parts are satiny smooth and make the lizard fun to pet!

I'm planning to make a pot of tea tonight.  I can't wait to try out my new teapot!

I love his shape.  So cute!

One of the freckles could be an eye!

I practiced a LOT on the wheel to learn and improve my skills.  The teacher was very encouraging about not worrying about assignments but to just keep working because it's the best way to improve.  I appreciated that.  It made the semester very productive.  I made close to 40 projects!
One of my goals for the semester was to make a large bowl that was big enough to make a salad for the family.  That's not as easy as it sounds.  The bigger the project, the harder it is to make on the wheel.  So, I practiced a lot and made a lot of bowls!

I tried to make a set to go with my Acorn Mugs and Lizard Teapot.  I ended up with three that are almost exactly the same size. I made them with the same bag of clay I used on the teapot and they ended up with a lot of spots.

I named the set, "Funny Freckles".

These bowls were made with a different bag of clay and the color turned out great...more like what I'd hoped for the above projects.  I like it when I can get a perfect little spiral in the bottom and get it to show up. 

I had a lot of fun making these.  I call them, "Honey Pot Vases". 
As you can see, these were made with clay from two different bags!
I think they'll look really cute with flowers in them.

Here's another "Honey Pot Vase" glazed in "Woo blue".  I love the blue/green drips.  So pretty!

Woo Blue glaze seems to be a bit unpredictable.  It turned out mostly brown in the vase above.  But, in this bowl, it turned out more blue.  I love that color!  The toasty brown edge is a nice touch.  The inside is solid white.

I named this one, "Zen".

This bowl turned out pretty big.  It'll work for a nice personal salad.  I can't wait to try it!  The glaze I used was supposed to be green but I think i got it a little too thin.  I love the tan color and the simple, natural look of it though.

I have LOTS more projects but I figured this was enough for now.
It seems to have been a very productive semester for a lot of students and the kilns are so backed up that they're still working on firing everything.  So, I don't have my biggest bowl and some other projects back yet. 
I can't wait to see how they turn out!  It still amazes me what can be made with mud and heat!  And, how great it feels to use a ceramic piece that I made with my own two hands.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

When You Can't Find It...Make It!

My purse is wearing out and I've been on the lookout for a new one.  I just can't bring myself to spend money on another poorly constructed purse made out of faux leather. They just don't last very long and they're bad for the earth when they fall apart. How many hundreds of years will those things sit in a landfill?!  There are leather ones that should last longer. I spent more money on one a few years ago but it lasted less time than the faux ones. There are fabric purses but I haven't found one I like.  So, I decided to start experimenting with making a purse for myself.

I sorted through my fabric stash and found some great possibilities. One was this wonderful cotton upholstery fabric. It's a sample left over from my designer days.  Actually, I think it was from when I was in school for design. I think I used it for a class project.  Anyway, it was worth keeping. I'd always hoped to find a good use for it.  I love the leaves and that it looks like needlepoint.

I wanted to use as much of the piece as I could.  So, I squared it up, stitched the edges to keep it from raveling out, folded it in half and sewed up two sides.  Next, I folded in the bottom corners and stitched them to give it a box-like bottom.  I made a lining the same way with some leftover black fabric, leaving an opening in one side to turn it all after the next step.  I turned one inside out and put them together with the right sides together and stitched around the top.  Next, I pulled the outside and lining out through the opening in the lining and then hand stitched it closed.  I added a line of stitching close to the top edge to make it a little more stiff to stand up and give it a nice finished look.

I used some lining fabric to make tubes that I turned right-side-out, pressed, slipped through the wood handles, and stitched into place.  The finishing touch was a small bit of Velcro to gently tack it closed.

I've never had a purse quite like this and it's not exactly what I've been looking for but I was able to use most of the fabric and I love how it turned out.  I think it's really cute.  And, it's one of a kind.  I also like that it cost practically nothing to make.  The only thing I purchased was the handles and I had a coupon for that.  So, the grand total for this project was only $3.50. 

This is fun!  I can't wait to see what I come up with on my next purse project.  I have some ideas whirling around in my head.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

No Saddlebags!

I did it! I finally found the time to finish sewing a skirt I started weeks ago. And, it's just in time for the warm spring weather we're having. I just need to un-whiten my legs a bit and I'll be good to go!

My desire to sew clothes has lead to the purchase of lots of patterns and fabric over this past year.
One of the patterns I bought was Simplicity 2224. 
 I like the look of the skirt and the pockets put it over the top for me.  I love pockets!  
I love this fabric too.  The colors and pattern are so pretty.  It seemed perfect for a skirt.

After sewing the skirt, I realized why the model has her hands in her pockets....
it was to conceal the giant saddlebags!  I wondered if I had just sewn it wrong
but I saw that other people had the same results and complaint that I did when I Googled it.  Ugh! 
The pockets were one of the main reasons for choosing the pattern but they HAD to go!

One gone and one to go.

MUCH better!

I bought a new shirt a couple of months ago that just happens to match the greens in the skirt.  I think it looks ok.

What do you think?  Would you wear this shirt with this skirt?

I bought this cute pair of flip flops recently and I think they might look kind of cute with this too. 
This outfit is looking quite festive and summery.

I just realized that this outfit was pretty inexpensive too.  The skirt and pattern cost less than $10. 
The top was about $10.  And, the shoes were only $6.  That's $26 for everything.  Not bad.

I better get working on my tan so I can wear it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Salsa's New Toy

Salsa has a new toy. It's a squishy, rubber, yellow, doggie frisbee.
She was so excited to get it...even before she knew what we could do with it.
She even carried it on her walks when we were camping last weekend.

She caught on really fast with how it worked.

She was very focused.

She caught it!

She loves running around in the great outdoors! 

I love how she prances.

Her ears flopped around while she ran and they blew in the breeze.  Whee!

Time for another frisbee toss.  She decided to use her paws a bit this time to help her catch it.

Uh she gonna catch it?

Yay!  She got it!

Frisbee is so much fun!  She even learned to bring it back to us to throw it again...and again!

Yup...I think she likes her new toy!