Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Open Studios

The Wasps Open Studios was held this past weekend.

My proposal for a large piece to attract attention was accepted by the organisers. This followed on from my reaction to a series of TV programmes called "Who Do You Think You Are?". In this various "celebrities" are invited to find out about their ancestors. Normally, the line is traced through the male line. This began to irritate me.

So I made the proposal to establish an eight-foot high pyramid called Woman Tree instead of a family tree.

This view shows the view from the entrance of a number of body casts which show the female figure at various ages and states. Three of the sides show a variety of forms.

The fourth side begins at the bottom with a male figure and continues with marked and damaged figures attempting to show a contrast between the growth of the three female sides and the conflict of the "male" side.

Unfortunately I was so busy during the weekend, I was unable gather/overhear comments (if any) on the concept and display.

Fortunately though, I was busy in the studio. There was lots of conversation ranging from how do you do that? does glass flow? to more involved discussions. One of these was about the use of glass as a decoration fused to ceramics. The person accepted that the glass would be crazed as in her current experiments. She was really pleased to find my studio as a source of cullet that she could obtain to break down into small particles.

Another discussion was with a student at one of the local colleges on the Saturday. On Sunday, she brought another student with her to show the studio and its resources. Me being one of those resources. (I really should start a consultancy!). Students from the other college didn't make themselves known to me or didn't come.

One of the most rewarding things though, was that four artists whose work I admire and respect purchased some of my bowls and platters.

So it was a rewarding weekend (from which I am still recovering) in terms of discussions, contacts and sales. It was much better than the three or four previous open studio weekends.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Small Colour Trials

These are two smaller pieces I have slumped in the little kiln. The first is a pretty standard colour combination for me.

The second is a bit of an experiment in combining colours that are not normal for me and adding a bit of darkness for the centre.

I am pleased with effect of the unusual colour combination and the asymmetrical appearance of the opalescent and the transparent. The dark centre gives a bit of depth.

Now for a few days preparing for the WASPS Open Studios weekend.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Fingers Crossed

My big kiln has had a number of difficulties in the last month or so.

First I began blowing bubbles in and through a lot of pieces. I had not changed any of my practices (however unscientific they may be) and could not see what was happening. I tried a number of tests: firing slower, firing lower, venting the kiln, firing on batts instead of the sand, testing the temperature distribution round the kiln.

The last showed that I had hot perimeters in the kiln, very unusual. I checked with the manufacturer who suggested I take the elements out of the ceramic tubes and space them out at the ends. They forgot to mention that they are wired in a single run of 6 metre long length, through 6 tubes. I got the heating of the elements OK on the first one's ends so they were evened out with the rest of the element. Then the problem was to heat the bend of the element and straighten it so it would pass through the second tube. Well, I wasn't up to it. The element broke.

Now the question was whether to try to buy the appropriate amount of wire and wind it myself and then insert it into the tubes, or hire someone else to do it. I decided on the latter. After some consultation we decided to establish the elements in three pairs for each phase. This means the element tails are at the back and I only need to replace one pair instead of a complete run of 6. Much cheaper to repair if needed.

Fired away confident that all was well. And it was. Until the third firing when things seemed a little odd, as the kiln seemed cooler at one end than in the centre and other end. On the fourth firing it was clear that one phase of the kiln was not working. So another large piece lost.

The people came and repaired a broken element, since there was a loose connection that caused the element wire to overheat and then break. Fixed. Not quite. fifth firing was fine, but sixth firing showed only one phase was firing. Now not only the original problem phase but the centre too.

Well, the company has a couple of people who are knowledgeable about glass kilns and they were away in Inverness, and of course, there is a holiday too. So the kiln sat idle for just over a week waiting for repair.

Today the man came and found two other wires leading from the main connections to each of the phases had corroded and failed. Well, they hadn't replaced them when doing all the other work on the elements and wiring. Certified as working as of 11:30 this morning.

Now it has somebody else's tests in it so at least if there are problems, it will not be mine. Then, of course, the first firing after repair has been fine. It has only been later when problems arise. I wonder when I will trust the kiln again.

Oh yes. The bubble problem was an accumulation of dust from sieved thinfire over four years. The sand bed becomes less porous with lots of dust and so does not let the air from under the glass as well as a mix with less dust.

Red or Is It Orange?

Among the other pieces I have retrieved from the big kiln is this one. I have slumped it into a bowl and like the way it changes from predominantly orange to mainly red, depending on how first seen.