Moment of Truth

Opening the kiln is both fun and nerve-wracking, especially when the clay is really too damp still to be safely fired, which is what I did yesterday. I need to have some new pieces for the Nueva Street Gallery this morning, so I pushed it, loaded the kiln and crossed my fingers.
Hooray, the Kiln Gods were looking out for me – it was a perfect firing. I took a photo before I opened it early this morning and then just as I lifted the lid. It looks like a smaller firing that it actually was because there are pieces stacked under the shelf on the right. But nothing broke! And, even better, two of the new pieces sold at the gallery this afternoon.

Body Art

Change of pace – went to Jones’ Autowerks in north San Antonio with a friend yesterday morning. It was like visiting a sculpture gallery. The contrast between the finished Porsches and those being restored and rebuilt was striking. I loved photographing the tangle of tools and cables and seeing the fine automobiles as few people get to see them. There were engine noises and garage smells and craftsmen quietly going about their business in a confident, expert manner. Great place, hope to go back.

Talisman Shard Necklace

I made this yesterday and wore it to lunch with a friend. The waiter loved it and almost forgot to take our order! I like it too – I scented it with a bit of peppermint oil and it helped me feel cooler in the heat (103F yesterday).
The little shards take as much time to make as the larger ones, interestingly enough, but I like the delicacy of the small faces. I wish I were a better jewelry craftsman. Maybe I can learn patience if I sit quietly and string beads for a little while every day.
I’m going to put together another one of these today with some African trade beads and heishi.

“Cielo” Firing Kiln Notes

Unloaded the Cielo firing of my kiln this morning with a couple of test pieces, as well as more than a dozen new Shards. I was anxious to see the results and they were great. Fingers crossed that this consistency keeps up.

The best news was the oxide finish that I applied to the leather hard pieces worked perfectly. If I had know how well it would turn out, all the pieces would have gotten that oxide wash. It’s a 50/50 suspension wash of red and black oxide in water, brushed on the leather-hard clay, then wiped off carefully. The dark patina in the crevices of the little sculptures then become part of the clay instead of an after-firing surface finish.

Here are the results on the two pieces I tested, Cielo #11 and #12, straight out of the kiln:

Compare these to two others from the same firing without the oxide wash and you can see why I’m excited – these will need some surface treatment to enhance the contours:

San Fernando Kiln Firing

These are the first sculpture shards from the San Fernando Cemetery trip – I opened the kiln yesterday afternoon while it was still pretty hot, but I was anxious to see them. Beautiful – so happy with the results. Some of these will be up on my Etsy site for a new showcase on August 9th.
I found a new book on surface treatment with clay while in Bethesda and it has so many great ideas for embellishment.
Got to remember to keep it simple and let the faces tell the story.

Pinching Art

To paraphrase Picasso, mediocre artists borrow, great artists steal. I love this quite from British writer Lawrence Durrell when asked in a 1960 Paris Review interview to name writers who had “influenced” him:
“But I read not only for pleasure, but as a journeyman, and where I see a good effect I study it, and try to reproduce it. So I am probably the biggest thief imaginable. I steal from people—my seniors, I mean. And in fact, Panic Spring, which you said was a respectable book, seemed to me dreadful, because it was an anthology, you see, with five pages of Huxley, three pages of Aldington, two pages of Robert Graves, and so on—in fact all the writers I admire. But they didn’t influence me. I pinched effects, I was learning the game.”