Monday, July 30, 2012

Experimenting with glass

I've been incorporating glass in some of my ceramic pieces for a while. I add various types of glass to the glaze or place atop the glaze prior to firing. Most of the time I've been pleased with the way they turned out. Each time I've learned a bit more about the process.

Pieces in the kiln, glazed but not fired.
I've always loved stained glass. A friend of mine does stained glass and offered to teach me. I jumped at the opportunity (albeit slowly, it took me about six months to set aside the time!). I made a couple of small pieces and was OK with them, but not thrilled. She said I'm a natural, picked things up quickly, and all that good stuff. It wasn't the process I wasn't thrilled with, it was the design of the pieces I made that didn't excite me.

My intention was and is to do a line of ceramic pieces that have spaces or voids I can fill with stained glass.

The new "glass corner" in the studio. Picked up the glass holder under
the table at a thrift store for only $10... it was meant to be mine!
I decided to go for it in my usual manner... I bought all the stuff to do stained glass, cleared out a corner of my studio and got started making ceramic pieces to marry up with stained glass.

After being fired, waiting for glass to be added
I wrote a bit about the difference in the processes recently --- stained glass is almost instant gratification, ceramic art takes weeks. I mentioned that to my stained glass friend, Cathy, and she showed me a piece that she had already spent roughly 30 hours on and it wasn't soldered yet... However long the time, she still doesn't need to stare at wet pieces and wait for them to dry not knowing the outcome!

Anywaze, back to my travels in stained glass and clay.

The piece I took to Cathy's for a refresher. Note the larger soldering
lines where the glass meets the clay.
I made a bunch of pieces and they're sitting on a table awaiting the glass. I got nervous about the process for some reason. I kept starting, then finding a reason to go back to what I knew and was comfortable with --- my clay.

The piece I made on my own when I got home. Much happier.
Finally I kicked myself in the rear, talked with Cathy, grabbed a few pieces and went for a refresher. We both experimented as she had not tried marrying up a ceramic piece to glass either. I learned what I will be doing in the future and what I probably won't be doing. I didn't like the big soldering lines where the clay met up with the glass. Nice little lines between the glass pieces, chunky lines where the glass meets the clay. 

I brought the piece home and played a bit more with it. I decided to make another small piece of stained glass to add (the pink triangle on the left in the photo above) and to add some aqua beads to pick up the aqua on the right side. I haven't attached the aqua beads yet, still playing with the layout. I also made a small clear glass triangle to use in the cord or chain that will go through the hole at the top so it will dangle.

The piece to the right is one I made on my own in the studio. I'm much happier with it! I am now ready to tackle all the rest of those pieces laying on the table! In a few days I'll be making a trek to the not-so-local glass store (45 minute drive, one way) to pick up some more glass. I'm hooked.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cheating on my clay...

I just put on my old stuff so I could go out and play in the clay, was heading out and decided to stop, share the thoughts that were rambling through my brain as I changed...

I started out thinking about the things I was planning to create. Pinterest has been a dangerous place for me as it just keeps my mind bubbling with ideas, many stemming from jewelry pieces surprisingly. I was flipping all over the place with various ideas for my day in the studio.

During the semi-planning my lips wrinkled and my nose crinkled at the thought of the clay I was using. I am cheating on "my" clay. Over the years I've settled into using majolica clay, love the feel, the way it does what I want it to do, the versatility, the way it interacts with my glazes... but off and on I get adventurous, or maybe just decide to expand my horizons a bit, and I'll grab a white or black or brown clay of some sort. I do love the look of a brown or black clay!

However, I end up disliking every one I try because it just doesn't work the way I want. It's too wet (yes, I do let it sit so it'll dry a bit), it cracks when bending or forming, it doesn't "take" my glazes very well or it simply doesn't feel right. Yet I do want to find the perfect brown or black clay, or even white clay, to break up the red run... And, to get some of the pure colors I'd like on some pieces, only on white clay will work. Unless I glaze white first, then use colors, a process that seems silly for my purposes when I could just use white clay. Some of you may be snickering at that one --- I am after all using majolica clay!

I'm determined that I'll finish up the clays I bought before going back to that stack of majolica sitting in the corner. I have even pulled out a bag before disciplining myself to walk over and grab a white or brown bag that's already open!

Don't get me wrong, I'm liking what I'm creating, but I can't do some of the things I'm aching to do from my idea book. I had great plans for the clays I bought when I grabbed them... but my fickle mind has moved on to my next batch of ideas and I'm ready to move on.

I don't think I'll be cheating on my red clay for a while after I finish up these batches!