Tag Archives: figurines

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending July 6

 

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

And we are off on another Art week…

Note: Since we’ll be setting up for the Tinicum Arts Festival on Friday, I’m posting this entry in the Diary a day early. I’ll include show info from Friday, July 6, in next week’s post.

Friday, June 29 – I know it was part of last week, but I’ll show you the first attempt at clay sgraffito (look at last week’s post if you wonder what I’m talking about).

The underglaze dried on the tiles I had laid out – no longer shiny but instead dry to the touch.  (Note – this photo is from Saturday, but, you get the idea).

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I did not have the tool the You Tube video recommended so I made do with these small loop tools.

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Then I set to work. I realized fairly soon that the process is a lot like doing linoleum block print carving – it’s a subtractive rather than an additive process. I also learned that there is no need to dig hard into the clay. A light touch is better. I ended up with these tiles. Not great, but then, let’s face it, I never did this before, in this manner!

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Saturday, June 30 – We stopped by the Ceramic Shop in Norristown, PA, to get the tool that was recommended by the video. You may remember this store from the Art Diary of a few weeks ago. Here’s what I got – I’ve already forgotten its name, but it has a curved end and a straight one.

I went through the process of putting five coats of underglaze on tiles and letting it dry. Then I set to work. I had decided to make figures sort of like ones I had done in ink from the figure drawing book I mentioned earlier this year in the Diary.

The new tool really made a difference. I was better able to control the cutting process. As I said, all that’s needed is to remove the underglaze and the slightest bit of clay, so that the white clay is exposed. There is no need to strip away deep into the tile. In the end I had these figures:

It’s also recommended to use a clay with no grog (larger clay particles that make it hold together better, used for sculpture or tiles), but – I have clay with grog, and since I use it for a sculpture or tiles much more than sgraffito, I worked with it. I can see it would be a little easier to make clean lines with a more plastic clay, but…I’m happy with this direction I’m going, for now.

I also spent time in the studio today. I have a long-term project that I am embarking on, and I cannot reveal it until after I have completed it – it is a commission. I will show you hints of it, though, so you know that I am doing…something…

Sunday, July 1 – More sgraffito tiles in process.

Monday, July 2 – This week is shaping up to be another choppy one for art, I think. My computer fell ill on Sunday and so it’s off being fixed; shouldn’t be long but I was confused by not having it. My mental flurry was compounded by the need to deal with state bureaucracy involving my sales tax license (which I’ve had since the 90’s, do not owe money on, and yet is tangled in a snafu that the people at the state say they can’t figure out who should help me. We have now enlisted the aid of our elected state rep’s office to maneuver through the red tape after submitting paperwork and hours on the phone. Ugh. Nothing major, but taking a LOT of time. And not done yet.)

Paperwork is part of being an artist, too – that must be the lesson here?

Anyway. I decided to load the kiln. I won’t be running it for about ten days. I will not have many days at home over the next couple of weeks, and it is also not good for the kiln to be working in 95 F temperatures. But – the warm weather means that I can put items in the kiln that are not totally dry – they will be plenty ready by the time I get to firing.

I’ve got a different set-up this time. The tall woman figure has to stand on the bottom shelf. I had calculated her height, when making the figure, for this situation.

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This means I can use only half-shelves to stack up. I have just two – you can see that if I had more I’d have room to put more work in, but – I also estimated the number of items I could fit in pretty well – I’ve got everything in here that I’ve made since the last big firings a couple of months ago.

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You can also see that I put in some terracotta clay “rocks” on the top shelf – they are darker because they have not dried at all. I will make sure they are ok before I fire the kiln, but ten days out here in the garage and I think they will be…DRY.

I also worked on my secret project a little…

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Tuesday, July 3 – I had just enough time to work on these little paintings/drawings/whatevers. I’m heading them in the direction of the small images with text that you might remember from earlier. (Think Ogre Babies.) They are 6″ x 6″ and good for picking up when I have a little time.

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Wednesday, July 4 – I spent the afternoon in the basement (the cool refreshing basement – it’s about 95 F outside) working on some more sgraffito tiles. This time I rolled out terracotta clay (actually yesterday, but you’ve seen enough shots of rolled out clay, I think…)

I put black glaze on most of them but I also decided to try some white.

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I am wondering how the white will show up against the orange of the terracotta. Here’s how the tiles in white looked at the end of the session.

And here are the black ones. I have full confidence in this color scheme – I’ve made lots of black on terracotta clay and the results are strong and very striking, I think.

I wish I could fit these into the next kiln load but there is just no more room. I am sure they will be included soon, though – glaze loads are less tightly packed, because the items cannot be stacked, so that means the current bisque load in process will take 2-3 loads to work through with color, and these red tiles will slip in there.

I like how these turned out. I am getting more sure of myself in working in this way. I did do one thing wrong in this group – I forgot to keep the tiles under covers while I was working, and over the hours that passed, well, some dried out more than I should have let them. It was noticeable in the white ones – I left them until last.

It was harder to carve with precision and I found the tool scraping and bouncing at times. Also, the terracotta clay has a lot of grog (grit) in it, and that causes swerves when the tool hits.

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Well, that’s all part of learning. I’m very happy with these results and I’ll be very interested to see how they and their white clay companions fire.

OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.

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Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending June 29

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Here we go with another week of Art!

Saturday, June 23 – I did a little work in the studio – first I did some more illustrations for my Minuscule story book.

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I always have some extras, some experiments, or some “use up the scrap paper” to save for some other project later on.

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I put some colors down on these 6″ x 6″ boards. I think eventually they will become some more of those sort of cartoon/painting things I’ve done a few of recently – think Ogre Babies.

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Monday, June 25 – I had a little time today to get to the basement and work on some clay. Here’s a tray of dried tiles from last week, ready to be fired.

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Here are some more plain puff people. Now I will have enough of them to experiment with color applications and see what I think looks best. Once they are fired, of course!

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I had some extra slabs, so I made some cats.

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And then the ever-popular clay rocks – these are formed from bits of clay that I feel are drying out too much to do anything with – I just form the clay into a rough shape and then tap it (hard) with a paddle. These items have to be very well-dried before they go into the kiln or they will explode, being solid. But since they are not very big, I don’t anticipate trouble.

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Tuesday, June 26 – this week is shaping up to be busy and choppy-scheduled. I grabbed a little time late in the afternoon to work on some more Minuscule illustrations.

I’m falling into a rhythm with these pictures. It seems to work best if I think of what I want, then just go right to trying to depict it, with the idea I’ll make a couple of tries (at least). So I’m ending up with alternates. Well, I’ll pick the one that I think works best for the book and the others will find their way into some other format – keep your eyes peeled in the future and see if you notice them showing up.

Thursday, June 28 – This art week is being fitted into nooks and crannies of time. I was out all afternoon and most of the morning I continued catching up on a lot of long-put-off computer-oriented things and paperwork (including entering a couple of fall shows). I did squeeze in a couple of small things.

I want to do some clay tiles incorporating the technique of sgraffito. All this means is, I want to scratch into the clay to make images. There are different ways of doing this. I looked at a couple of You Tube offerings to see what I could pick up. I’ve done sgraffito before but I thought I’d just check and see if I could improve previous results.

I rolled out some tiles in white clay.

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Pretty ordinary looking. Well, what I need to do is let them dry to a leather-hard state (leather-hard being clay talk for dried enough not to bend but still moist). Then I need to put 4-5 coats of Jet Black Velvet underglaze on them (I could use any color, and maybe I’ll switch around, but I am thinking a black/white finished look).

Then I’ll carve into them, removing black and leaving white behind, until I’m done. I’ll check these tonight before bedtime – they might be at leather-hard, or not, but no matter what, I’ll put them under plastic to stop the drying process and resume things at my next session.

Here’s an art-drop-off project getting ready – My husband spray-painted the lids of these pimiento jars black and then…

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I’m filling the jars with little wooden people I made about three years ago, I think. I will also add a little note telling the person who picks up the jar that it’s ok to take it home.

I bought the wooden people blanks from Dick Blick and decorated them into tiny women figures with acrylics and markers. I gave some away, and now I want to finish things off by leaving these out in the world. Maybe this weekend or next week.

Finally, I think I’ve completed my last group of edge-repainting. Good. I’m glad that is all done.

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Friday, June 29 – A short little session (I was at Poetry Marathon today).

I got out my notes I took on sgraffito work in clay.

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My tiles are at a good stage for a trial. I took out four of them and started on the coats of underglaze. It takes time – there needs to be drying in between coats and at the last, it must be dry to touch.

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These are not. I got out a fan to blow on them. Drying will take time, here in the basement. That’s ok, I can do other things while I wait. I sprayed the remaining tiles with a little water to keep them from continuing to dry (they will do it even under the plastic).

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I’ll save the revelation of my first attempts at this technique for next week. So, until then…

See you next week! Thanks for following along with me.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending June 22

 

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Another Art week begins, hello!

Friday, June 15 (additional) – After I closed out last week’s Diary I did a little work on the clay figure I was working on – the tall cylinder. It had dried enough to stand up on its own.

I gave it a bottom – I set the cylinder on a circle of clay and used my serrated rib tool to scrape up the fresh clay. I left some of the marks.

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I added a strut across the top to hold up the head, and then I added a top, same as I did for the bottom.

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Then I gave her a neck and head and bosom. Here she is, with her shelf-mate looking at her, askance. Already life has become interesting for her, I guess…

Saturday, June 16 – We spent the day at Art-in-the-Park in West Park, Allentown, PA. I’ll start right off by saying there is no sadness to report about this show. I had a good day in all sorts of ways – reception of my work, sales, and I won 3rd prize in my category, Acrylics and Oils. So you can look forward to a pleasant account. I just wanted to warn you!

We stopped at our usual Wawa for gas and coffee. Shout out to my friend Diane here, she has moved to North Carolina, but we did shows together for years, and several times we met (by chance) at this location on the way to events up PA Route 309. Coffee calls out to all of us.

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We arrived and the park was still quiet. The weather was just perfect, ten of ten. And, we got a parking spot right next to the park, not only for unloading, but we could keep the car there all day. This is a real advantage – parking around the park is pretty much non-existent.

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We did our usual set-up thing. Space sizes are generous and I was able to use the outside of the display for artwork.

Then the show got into action.

Did you see the giant trunk of that sycamore tree to the right side of the first photo? That tree is magnificent, right across from our booth. Remember, this park is an arboretum and trees matter here.

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I took a few minutes to go over to the bandstand and watch some of the ballet performances. These two girls were doing a jazz version of a dance from the Nutcracker. Yes, they were.

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Water fountain, original fixture of this 100+ year old park. It still works.

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I have participated in this show for 20+ years and it has always been a good one for me. Contemporary art is appreciated here, in fact is more popular than traditional and more realistic pieces, and in my experience it always has been, so for me, the crowd is interested and involved. I had many good conversations about my work and I was very happy that a couple of my more abstract pieces were especially noticed – I had wondered if there was anything to them or had I just had a nice time painting! I am glad others were attracted to them.

I also saw many people here that I know – and remember, I live about an hour away, so normally I would not expect so much personal attention. However, I have exhibited in Allentown for 20 years and many people have been very good to me in all kinds of ways here.

I want to say thank you to everyone, and I’ll mention a few – Ann, Hannah,and Adam; Adrian, Missy, Carol, Jodi, Olga and her daughter, Rob, Kris from the Baum School, Mickey and Sandy, and I’m pretty sure I’m leaving someone out. Do I sound like I’m auditioning for an Academy Award? Anyway, you can see, my art and I felt very appreciated.

Back to the show. In the afternoon I saw herds of people wandering the park, eyes glued to phones.

Guess what, it was a Pokemon Go event.

So the day wound down and we packed up to go home. I was grateful for how nicely this show went this year.

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Monday, June 18 – I decided to work in the pleasantly cool basement today and do some clay. I rolled out some slabs of white low-fire clay.

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This clay is part of my recently-acquired stash. When I went to work with it, I realized that I needed to make some slip to match it – my previous white clay was from a different manufacturer and was browner in tone. You say, what is slip? And I’ll tell you – it is a more liquid version of the clay – I put some bits in a jar, add some water, and shake it up to get it to break down into a gloppy consistency (which can take some time).

Slip is used as “glue” when two pieces of clay are joined. The mantra is, slip and score – make grooves in the joining areas and then smear some slip over it. Or vice versa, doesn’t really matter, just that you do it! In this way the pieces will intermesh. Just sticking a couple of pieces of clay together is not enough for a bond that will survive a firing.

All right, back to work. I made this little guy:

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We call him a puff person. I’ve made hundreds of them in the past, and they looked like this:

puffs await the kiln #3 4-13

Puff Creature #2 3-26-12 small

You can see I finished them with underglaze washed over a heavily-textured surface. With this new creature, I want to try a smooth surface and color him all over as I’ve been doing with figurines. I’ll make some more and see how it goes.

I also made these small women figures from slabs @ 2″ x 4″ or so (not counting their heads, I made those separately):

I plan to give them colored outfits too. I left their bottoms open, with no covering base. I might use these for art giveaways and if I do, I want to put a message inside them instructing the finder to go ahead and take it, it’s ok. That’s what I did with the earlier small figurines I gave away, who looked like this:

small clay figurines - group of three 7-14

Inquisitive ladies. 2014.

 

I also made some tiles, which I didn’t photo, as I think you’ve seen plenty of freshly-cut tiles!

Tuesday, June 19 – Do you remember the Ogre Baby paintings?

Yes, me too. I have never quite felt they were finished. Well, when I was going through items for the last show I did, I set them aside.

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Today I started to remodel them. Here we are so far:

All right, we’ll see how it goes. So far I’ve used India ink, acrylic inks, crayons, and oil pastels. A free-for-all, all right.

Friday, June 22 – This week has been busier than I thought when it started out. Not as much art time as I had thought. Well, it goes along as it goes.

This morning I went down to the basement and cleaned up the edges of  tiles I did earlier in the week – by rubbing the edges with a wet sponge I smooth the edges and get rid of ugly transitions and sharp edges. While I was there I photographed the white clay slips I mentioned earlier in the week – the old one is on the left, the new one on the right. You can see the difference in the raw clay color and yet they both fire white.

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Here’s a photo of those little women figures, now almost dry. Notice how the color of the clay has changed as it dries.

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I also spent some time painting edges on acrylic paintings, back upstairs in the studio. I am getting close to the end of this task. Good. I also sprayed the ogre babies with a fixative spray out in the garage (very strong odor, yes) and repainted their edges – you can see them in the background.

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And I did three more illustrations for my Minuscule book.

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Then I figured I’d done enough. I’m going to go into the studio and clean things up to the background accompaniment of my favorite radio show, Funky Friday on WXPN Philadelphia. See you later!

OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending June 15

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Happy Art Week to all.

Saturday, June 9 – After a walk in Norristown Farm Park, my husband and I stopped by the Ceramic Shop in Norristown to pick up an order I had placed earlier in the week.

I am very lucky to have this resource so close to my house – clay supply outlets are not plentiful and shipping is very expensive for clay (for example, I only bought 100 pounds, and shipping of $60 was more than the clay itself cost). Even better for me, this store used to be located in Philadelphia in a warehouse-type spot on one of those smallish city streets, and no parking. They moved here about a year or so ago and I was thrilled.

We parked in the lot:

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and went inside.

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You can buy just about any clay-related item here, from kilns to wheels to clay to tools to glazes. I have learned it is better to order on the internet and then go in a few days later to pick up – your order is all ready for you to take right away. I will show you some of the things clay people find in this store:

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Tools galore.

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This is the Velvet underglaze display, these being the products I use. Notice the sample board above the jars. It shows each color, fired at the correct range for the product, and how it will look with or without glaze. This type of display is found with each coloring product so that you can get an idea of what it will look like when fired. It’s especially necessary with glazes, as how they look in the jar is not how they will look when fired. At all.

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Underglaze pencils. They “write” on the clay like a colored pencil (you can see the samples on the mugs holding the pencils). I have used a similar thing, underglaze pastels, in my work, and I like the crayony look they offer.

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Whisks – Or you could just get the one out of your kitchen…

These  whisks can be used for stirring large buckets of glaze mixture. In large production studios, glazes are often mixed from powders and chemicals with water added. Production work requires large quantities of glaze so it’s more economical to do this, plus it ensures color matching for all items glazed from a particular session.

A bucket-load of glaze is literally what is needed – production work is usually dipped in the glaze rather than brushed on. Saves time and ensures a very even coat of glaze.

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Kiln furniture. These items are all used for glazed items that have a glaze coat on the bottom or otherwise can’t be set on the kiln shelf. Remember, a glazed piece will glue itself permanently to a kiln shelf if any glaze is on its bottom, ruining the piece and the shelf. These furnitures are set on the shelf with the nails up – the glazed piece rests on the little pinpoints of the nails and does not stick.

I wandered around for a while and treated myself to a couple of small jars of underglaze – new colors to try. I never can resist. When I had paid for them, we drove around to the street side of the building and they brought out our clay to us.

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I had chosen a couple of tile-cutting tools I carried out separately on my own. I’ll show them later on when I try them out in a new session of clay work.

Sunday, June 10 – Calendar note – I graduated from high school 42 years ago today. Just saying.

Last night and today I spent some time working on a project I mentioned some weeks back – I want to make a print book of my Minuscule story/poem combinations (read an example here) and illustrate it. The writing part of the endeavor moves along apace. I think I need about 100 entries to make a nice book and I’m maybe halfway there.

Illustrating a book is not new to me, but – I’ve always done the pictures first and fit the words to them later. This is a different slant – words first, pictures second. I have been wondering if I can do it. I decided to take the plunge right now and start to find out.

I printed out the writing done so far. I bought paper. I bought India ink (my idea is to do  B/W pictures, very simple, using the ink and my Chinese brushes).

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I got to work. Now, I am a newborn baby as far as this kind of thing goes. I have no idea how to illustrate anything. Be literal? Allude to some element of the story? Sketch something out first? Remember, these stories are only 2 sentences long. Imagine if I had a full-length work to illustrate!

All right. I decided to read over each entry and whatever came to me, that is what I would do.

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All right, after some false starts, in fact, many false starts, I got more of an idea of how to proceed. For me, it’s best to just read – close my eyes and imagine -draw. That’s it.

OK. I made a good start.

I feel sure I will be replacing or amending some of these images. Well, that is fine. I can see that by the end of this project I will be much more proficient and confident in my drawing skills as well as my ability to illustrate something. Plus, it was fun to work in this manner.

Some of the failures, well, I cut out parts that I liked. I am sure they will come in handy for some other project down the line.

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Monday, June 11 – I spent a lot of the day doing poetry work, so I had just about an hour to fit in some art time. I had this half-hearted attempt at a tree painting (6″ x 6″) that was really more of an excuse to use up paint from earlier projects.

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Suddenly I saw a man in my tree.

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And another one in that ATC. OK, now I’m going somewhere. To be continued…

I also did a couple of drawings for my Minuscule book project. I’ll say one thing – I anticipate using up a lot of paper. I try to remember – relax, and just work quickly and without thought. Secondly, not to try to be realistic in my depictions – it’s not in my nature. And last, the brush has its way of doing things, don’t fight it.

I did a couple of new images (one with two different versions; I’ll pick one later on) and re-did one from the other day I was not satisfied with. I have the feeling there will be many re-dos but you know, I don’t mind it. I’m in no hurry. And setting myself this kind of assignment, to illustrate this book, well, it will build my skills.

Wednesday, June 13 – Today I thought I’d get into some clay – just sort of play around with it. I got out my 25 pounds of terracotta:

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It’s very fresh and wet. I rolled out a couple of slabs.

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I had only a short time before I was going to leave the house, so I made a few cylinders, wrapping a slab around and joining the edges.

I worked on a figurine or two.

Then I loosely covered the works with plastic (dry-cleaning plastic, the workhouse material of clay artists everywhere) and went off to the gym. In the summer, my basement is very cool and while not damp, it dries items slowly (in winter, the heater and the drier air make a difference in this room). I probably did not need the plastic but it is better to be safe. You cannot un-dry clay.

In the afternoon, I refined my earlier pieces and added some more. Individual shots:

and a group shot.

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Notice in the background of the previous photo the clay cylinder with a dowel running through it supported at each end. I have set this contraption up so that the cylinder can semi-hang from the dowel (it just touches the table) and maintain a more rounded shape until it stiffens a little. I can’t make anything with it until it can stand up on its own.

OK. I left these guys to their own devices and I got out new tools I bought on Saturday.

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What are they? They are tile cutters. You roll them through the slab, then cross the slab, to make the tiles. I read up on their use before I tried them. Interesting thing – you can use them on the clay, straight, to make tiles with sharp angled sides, or you can roll over plastic to make rounded edges. I thought I’d try the plastic option.

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I got some nice results right off the bat. I learned a couple of things. One, things work better when the clay is just not so fresh – let it dry a little and firm up. This reduces the distortion that can happen when the criss-crossing is done.

Two, move slowly and make sure you follow the previous track carefully so as not to double-cut an edge. Three, make sure you take off at a 90-degree angle when you criss-cross, to make certain of square tiles.

I’ll let these firm up a little and tap their edges to re-square them, but I really like the look of them.

Interesting note – if you roll the rollers directly on the clay, it sticks. The recommended treatment is cooking spray on the roller. I will try that next time.

Once I finished up with clay, I went back to painting black edges on paintings…

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Friday, June 15 – This morning I set out all my paintings for review, for two reasons. One, I’ll be at a show this weekend, and I needed to decide which ones to take.

The show will be held in a park and my booth will have all sides available for display, but the car can only fit so much work. So, I had to make some decisions.

Second, I needed to make an inventory of paintings that I will take to my upcoming gallery exhibit in July so that the organizers can make price cards and so on. Not all my work will be hanging but this way, they can make choices what to display without saying – Oh no, we have no information for this piece so it sits out the game!

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My clay work is drying very slowly in the basement. I plan to work on it a little, if time permits. In that case I will show what happens in next week’s Diary. I thought I’d get this one done early today because I have a variety of non-art things to get out of the way. So that’s it for this week!

See you next week! Thanks for following along with me.

Recent Clay Work #5 From May 2018

More clay work from May 2018. These are animals. Done in white clay, colored with Velvet underglaze, and fired at cone 06.

Clay figurines animals group 5-18

I will arrange the photos in groups by each animal. Click on the photos if you want more detail.

Yellow spot animal.

Round animal.

Potato-shaped animal.

Pink spot animal.

Goat ear animal.

Long-necked animal.

Recent Clay Work #4 From May 2018

More clay work from May 2018. These are rectangle people. Done in white clay, colored with Velvet underglaze, and fired at cone 06.

These people were constructed by rolling out slabs, cutting them to size, building a rectangular box, and adding a head.

In this group the two on the left were made in the same way as the previous figurines. The one on the right was formed by rolling a cylinder and then using a paddle to form it into a rectangle. You can see the curved end of the original slab as a curve across its body front (if this explanation is confusing, take a look at the cylinder people here).

And here are some details of the color work.