Author Archives: Claudia McGill

About Claudia McGill

A person who does art and writes poetry. That's me!

More Stories in Clay

Every clay tile I make tells a story, though I don’t have one in mind when I start out. I just make the tiles. What they say is up to them. And to you.

Yes, sounds very airy, but it’s true. No matter what I am thinking as I make the image, once it gets out into the world, it has its own reality. Each viewer decides what to see in it. I like that.

Here are some more tiles made in fall 2018. Commercially made terracotta tiles, colored with Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 06.

Bird lady.
Lingering fingers.
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I Said I Would Renovate and I Did

Remember those bowls a few days ago that I told you I had decided to glaze? All right, they have all come from the kiln and I will show them to you.

I am reasonably happy with the results. Now, this look is not my first choice, but as you may also remember, I made bowls, and without glaze, they cannot really do their job as bowls. They need glaze to be food-safe. I have decided I want to sell them, and so, I glazed them.

If I don’t want to use glaze, I need to remember to make items that are non-functional. I may want to write that down.

All right. You remember the bowls in the stage of having had glaze applied but not fired:

I fired them at Cone 06, the recommended temperature for the glaze. I had applied the glaze in 2 thin coats – I have a tendency to overdo the glaze and that causes problems with pooling and clouding. After the first firing, some of them looked great but some had areas where more glaze was needed. I applied more to those bowls and put them through again. My goodness, what some of these poor bowls have gone through!

Now we are done. Let me show you the previous versions with the new versions:

As you can see, some bowls look very similar and others are greatly changed. I noticed that the bright orange color in a couple of bowls had been completely altered by the addition of the glaze. The overall color scheme in all of the items is darkened and fine details are less visible. Now, I am not very skilled or familiar with glazing, so I think with future items, I would need to think more about the colors I use and in what combinations.

And no matter what, I never like the shiny reflectiveness of glaze. My eyes just do not take in the details of a shiny item as well.

I will also show you the outside surface of a couple of bowls. As you might remember, I spatter painted over a color on the white clay bowls and I spatter painted over the natural color of the terracotta clay on the others. These photos show you the before:

Here is a bit of the after – and please excuse the blurriness – I hope you can get the idea:

I do like the look. I’ve done lots of spattering with glaze in the past and it has never failed me. I need to write this down, too – spattering is a pleasing look with glaze.

All right. That’s the end of the renovation. I will say these bowls do look better in person than in a photo. I think they will find new homes and go on to happy times. And they will do their jobs properly and safely. That is what is important, after all.

Creatures Caught in the Act

I made a lot of clay tiles back in the fall of 2018. Now I’m getting around to showing them to you, a few at a time. Here are a couple of creatures.

Commercially-made terracotta tiles, colored with Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 06.

Eating lunch.
Snarling. Though without a lot of enthusiasm for it.

Practice Drawing, I Asked Myself to

The title of this post is how today’s activity might be listed on a folder in my mental filing cabinet. Last year, I had an entry on my list of things to do in 2018 that concerned making a regular time for drawing. Sort of like the Marathon idea for my writing, the regular practice I have been doing weekly since the beginning of 2017.

Didn’t happen. I did do a lot of drawing during the year – you may remember the illustrations for Fictive Dream’s September Slam?

Or the illustrations for my two-line short story book, Minuscule?

Different things for a different year in 2019, I resolved! I want to spend some time, even an hour, in a designated drawing time each week. Though I’m not going to the same level of formality as for my Marathons right now, I want to make an appointment and meet it.

Today was the day I started to make good on this promise to myself. I dug out my pens and my sketch book. I wanted to go away from my house to do this drawing but the outside temperature was about 28 degrees F and blustery. Too cold for outdoors. So – I went to the Glenside Library and after picking up my books, I settled at a table in the reading area.

I will show you the results. But – I want to say – this is practice. I just want to pick up the pen and draw. This sketchbook is for scrawling away at the pages and for putting some miles on my pens.

I enjoyed myself, I will say that. How relaxing it was to focus on just…drawing. As a note, today I drew in the blind contour manner. I love how it feels to draw this way and I also like the results a lot.

Legs under a table.
This man was at the checkout desk.
This man was reading near me.
This guy was working on his computer. Until later, when he got into a conversation with an acquaintance about recent car troubles. Oh dear.
This is the view of the library I had from where I was sitting. You can see the effects of the blind contour method here very clearly. Those chairs are the same size in real life.
A man reading. When he left, I noticed the binder he had been studying was entitled “What to Say to Sellers”. No idea what that could mean, but it brings up a lot of ideas…
Shelves of large-print fiction very near to my location.

The Landscape I See and Repeat

Here is some TV time art.

I’ve been repeating these little landscapes for some time, drawing them on scrap paper or register receipts or even in a tiny sketchbook that I bought for some purpose I no longer remember.

They are doodles, or maybe they are rehearsals for some larger work that will emerge someday, or maybe they are just themselves.

In any case, my rules for these little guys seem to be limited to only a couple of guidelines:

Portrait orientation. Kind of funny, isn’t it, because I’m drawing landscapes...

Landscape as the subject. Kind of funny because I’m drawing in portrait orientation…

All right, thanks for letting me have my little joke. Take a look at the art and forget the commentary.

And I wonder how many more of these little drawings I have in me?

Renovate It, I Say

Some time ago, back in spring of 2017, in fact, I made a whole group of largish handbuilt clay bowls. I colored them according to my usual techniques of using Velvet underglazes and scratching into the layers. They were quite nice, but – you know, they are bowls, and yet they are not functional. Here are a couple of the bowls:

Bowl #3
Bowl #7

Since I didn’t glaze them, they were not food-safe. They could not be cleaned well enough to prevent bacteria from growing in the porous surfaces. Now you know why foodware is glazed, as are tiles for walls and floors. They need to be washable.

Well, the bowls sat around for a long while; some I gave away, and finally, I’ve come to the end of the road with the ones that are left – I’d like to sell them and move on. But I can’t do that because, even if I warn the purchaser they can’t be used, well, who’s gong to remember that kind of thing for any length of time, or – if the bowl changes owners…Because a bowl is meant to be used – it’s not a sculpture.

Bowl #2

So I decided to glaze them. Now, I am pretty sure I will not like the look of them as well as I do now, but – they are stuck in limbo and I like that even less. I got out my glaze and coated the whole group of them.

Then I loaded the kiln.

The lovely green color will turn clear in the firing. Wait and see!

You may notice I also have a large vase in there. It’s this item, below. Once again, it won’t hold water unless it is glazed.

I had a little bit more room so I added a tile, and I will re-fire a dish that didn’t do well in its first glaze firing.

I’m not great at glazing and I don’t love the look, as I said – it changes the colors and I also don’t like the reflectiveness of the surfaces. Well, if things don’t go so well, I won’t be heartbroken, will I? I’ll get that kiln going in the next day or so and see what happens.