Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Wishing Tree

When I started on my Wishing Tree it was simply a tree-to-be. It was not yet a wishing tree. My cousin, a fabulous painter, came to visit, walked in and saw the tree before I had glazed it and said it reminded him of the book about the wishing tree.

After I did a bit of research, looking for the book, I realized that the tale he told me was for The Giving Tree. Knowing the way my brain works, he may have said giving instead of wishing. However it happened, as I layered the glazes onto the bisqued clay it I thought of it as a wishing tree.

There is a book titled "The Wishing Tree" by Marybeth Whalen about divorce, reconciliation and such. That is not what MY tree is about!

And there's an older children's book titled "The Wish Tree" by John Ciardi (1960s). The Wish Tree, children's version, is about the responsibility of wishes and taking care of gifts. The words carved on the tree are "Take Care of Your Wish". I may have to do another tree in honor of that book!

I found the poem I posted below on a poetry site and it seemed perfect for my wishing tree. I tried to find a way to contact the author but couldn't. I did post a link below that was on the page so you could read more of Reshika Ramprsad's poetry. He is from South Africa and writes some nice poetry.

The Wishing Tree (mine) stands roughly 7 inches tall and will hold water so you can start your own wishing tree (or just put a nice floral arrangement inside). As always with my pieces, the inside is just as important to me as the outside thus the roots travel into the interior of the pot. It will work just fine with absolutely nothing in it.

The piece was glaze fired multiple times with sand, matte and gloss glazes, glass additions and at least 12 or so contrasting glaze colors to attempt to give the appearance that Mother Nature does in her glorious works!

The Wishing Tree

Be fore warned and
Do not be mistaken
For many have
For this is no ordinary tree
It is but the wishing tree

Listen and pay heed
For this tree is the bearer of hopes
Dreams, wishes and desires
Give to it a little
And you will receive exponentially

For it has been bound together
With the strength and hard work of
Mother Nature herself
This tree listens and listens
Only to your heart desires
So wish upon this wishing tree

For its time too will approach for it to wither and pass
But know this much
That the wishing tree existence
Is beyond its physical state

For once you have wished upon the tree
It has been heard, registered and now nurtured
So wish upon your wishing tree

~ Reshika

Click here to visit to read the poem called "The Wishing Tree" by Reshika Ramprsad, South Africa

Monday, October 28, 2013

Playing those head games...

A few years back I decided I was going to do some faces, some figures, some people. I did two. This is one of the two.

I sold the other one --- it actually won some awards before I sold it. I was rather impressed with myself.

This one, I'm not so sure about.

I made it with a white clay, something I've discovered I do NOT like to work with.

I played a lot with the features but never quite felt like I captured the look I wanted.

After I made it I let it sit, unglazed. I didn't want a flesh colored piece. I didn't want to have the face one color and the hair another. I wasn't sure what I wanted.

I would pull it out on occasion, take a look, pull out my glazes and spend time trying to get just the right look for my girl.

Finally, I opted for a very translucent flesh-toned color. Almost a tan I guess.

I still wasn't happy.

It sat for months again.

Ultimately I got tired of looking at the face. She stared at me saying with much exasperation, "finish me, do something, anything!".

I was digging around in some old glazes and found a rainbow clear finishing glaze. It was so old I wasn't even sure if it would work. They no longer make the glaze and I didn't have instructions so I had to do some digging around on the Internet to find the right cone temp.

So, here she is in all her glory.

She's empty headed. I intend to fill the head with things. Not sure what kind of things yet, I'm still waiting on inspiration. Then again, maybe I'll just call it a day and pop her out at a show to see how she's received. She's waited a long time.

On my list of things to do someday is to take a few pottery classes that focus on the human form. My list of to-dos is a very, very, very long list. Usually the way I get to something on the list is a class or opportunity will drop in my lap, get in my face or I'll trip over it.

Due to the type glaze I used it's almost impossible for ME to get a good shot. In the last picture you can even see my old light box. I've moved on since that box. Yes, she's been sitting again for a while!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Searching for Atlantis

Waiting on the first glaze firing.
Making my sculpted sea pieces is a fairly long process. Searching for Atlantis is a rather tall "bowl" of's not functional, definitely decorative.

I start by rolling out the clay, then tearing it into strips. Usually I shoot for a triangular shape if I'm making a bowl shape.

Each of the "flukes" (not sure that's an accurate term, but it's what I call them) is torn, textured, then rolled to form the funnel.

The "bubbles" are each individually hand-formed. Sometimes they take forever! Good music playing in the background makes the time zip by...

I usually use a form to semi-hold the bottom shape as I begin. Sometimes I just use clay to prop the pieces up for a bit. After I've been working for a while the clay holds up by itself to some degree.

I have gotten ahead of myself before and had the piece collapse! Not fun.

Atop the kiln, after first glaze firing.
The inside of my creations is just as important at the exterior. Even if I'm not making a sculpted piece I try to make sure the inside is interesting.

With these sea pieces the interior is often more important than the exterior. I want the eye to travel into the piece. I want to mimic the idea of looking down into the sea. Thus I leave spaces where you can look into the bowl from the sides.

When I've finished forming the bowl I start placing my bubbles. Again my goal is to leave the viewer thinking about the ocean, the sea. The bubbles need to float upward. It's not possible (without using wire or other mechanisms) to have the bubbles truly float, so I attach them on the sides of the walls in various positions, hopefully giving the idea of motion.

Side view after first glaze firing.
I want the piece to undulate like the water is moving it, hence the wavy motion of the flukes & sides. Sometimes I'll add extruded strings to further give the impression of movement.

After I complete the piece I let it dry for a week or so. Then it is bisque fired. The bisque firing takes roughly 12 hours. The kiln then has to sit for about three times that long to cool. I'm sometimes a bit impatient and can't wait... that doesn't matter much with the bisque firing as long as I don't open too soon. Open a glaze load too fast and the cold air can crack the glaze or even crack the entire pot.

After I finally unload the kiln, I rinse the bisque fired pieces, let them dry thoroughly, then begin the glaze firing process.

I glaze fire each of my sea pieces multiple times.

Searching for Atlantis has at least 10 - 12 shades of layered blues, greens, turquoise glazes. I fired the piece, then did it all again adding some glass on the second go-around, popping certain colors that I wanted to be predominate. As you can see in the various stages, the red color of the clay shines through. I wasn't quite satisfied so I did it again.

Below is the finished piece. You can still see some of the clay tones but the turquoise tones and the glass are stronger. The interior has even more glass to give the appearance of water.

I named the piece Searching for Atlantis as it something that people have dreamed about, believed in (or not), searched for and sung about. It's a place of mystery and, if legends are true, beauty. I truly hope you'll think that Searching for Atlantis is worthy of the name.

Though Gods they were
And as the elders of our time
   choose to remain blind
Let us rejoice and let us sing
And dance and ring in the new
Hail Atlantis
Way down below the ocean
where I wanna be, she may be
- Atlantis Lyrics, Donovan

Friday, October 25, 2013

Birth of the Blues

Birth of the Blues has been sung by greats such as Nellie Lutcher, Louis Armstrong, Keely Smith, Shirley Bassey, & my favorite: the trio of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr & Dean Martin.

If you haven’t listened to the Rat Pack with Johnny Carson (subbing for Joey Bishop at the time) go search it out on YouTube.

This trio of pieces shouted out the name they wanted! The Rat Pack was larger than life and the blues speak of the ups and downs of life. Hopefully my three pieces pay worthy tribute to both.

Multiple blues, hints of green and some tan tones on the patchwork of majolica clay. The tallest piece is roughly 10 in. high.

I hope you'll come see them in person at one of my upcoming shows or studio tours. - Janet

Oh, they say some people long ago
Were searching for a different tune
One that they could croon
As only they can
They only had the rhythm
So they started swaying to and fro
They didn’t know just what to use
That is how the blues really began
They heard the breeze in the trees
Singing weird melodies
And they made that the start of the blues
And from a jail came the wail
Of a down-hearted frail
And they played that
As part of the blues
From a whippoorwill
Out on a hill
They took a new note
Pushed it through a horn
Til it was worn
Into a blue note
And then they nursed it, rehearsed it
And gave out the news
That the southland gave birth to the blues!