Friday, June 25, 2010

More Pizza Stones

The last pizza stone I made recently broke in half. Oh NO! I thought mine were better than those production stones found at Bed Bath and Beyond... those broke in half too.

I made 2 more pizza stones this week. And decided to use paper clay this time. Paper clay is special because it is easier to sculpt with. The paper helps hold the shape of the clay and it also burns out during firing, which results in a lighter weight for the final product. Ryan, my husband, requested 2 stones this time, so he can make more pizzas at a time.

So I started the same way as last time, weighing out about 13 pounds of clay. I wedge it into a circle, and start throwing it into a slab. There is a bit of technique to learn in throwing slabs. I don't own a slab roller so this is my only option. Luckily, I learned the technique from an old college professor so it's no big deal to do.

I throw the slab as large as I can and then use the rolling pin to finish up. I made the slab as large as my kiln interior, about 17". Then made a compass with a couple of pencils and a string, and cut out the shape. It's not perfect. At first this bothered me, but I have to remind myself that I am human, and handmade things are never perfect. They shouldn't be. It can be a little uneven, or not perfectly round. It's just a pizza stone. It's not being sold at Bed Bath and Beyond. Just being used in my kitchen for Friday night pizzas. It's fine. It's important to move the stone as little as possible during dry time. So I carefully place it onto a wall board and place another weighted board on top. And leave it alone! No feet this time. Just a plain slab. The feet from the last stone weren't attached well and busted off. Ryan says there is no need for the feet if the stone is just sitting on the oven rack. So we'll see how this one goes. Hopefully better than the last.

Who Eats Beets?

I have never yet in my life had a beet... not that I can recall anyway. Who eats these things? But for some reason I found myself sketching one out a few weeks ago. I must have had a vision. So after my sketch I made my way to the market and bought a real one and then sculpted one out of clay. A large one of course. Why is it so hard for me to work small? Anyhow, I can't wait to paint it, with purple swirls coming from the root. The great thing about this sculpture, it could easily be a radish. I am excited to see these vegetables come to life! They look rather dull in the gray clay when sculpted. But once I get to the point where I can glaze them... the color will bring them alive! Ha. I sound like Dr. Frankenstein.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pepper Progress

I am happy to say that I have successfully cast three peppers to fire. We will see how things progress as the project goes on... if there are issues with where the lids were cut, or with glazing. I am also on my way to sculpting some new peppers so that I can make some new molds. I trashed the #2 mold this week. After a second attempt at casting it, and it falling apart, I came to the conclusion that it is a faulty design. Why beat a dead horse? It's just not working. So I'm moving on. I would like to cast a few more samples of the two existing molds, but again I am out of slip. So before I drive out to Smalltown America to get more, I'll use up the 50 pounds of plaster for my new designs. I really hate driving out to my supplier! I'll just have to spend more money next time so I don't have to make so many trips.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Making More Messes

If anyone can make a mess, it's me. Just ask my husband. He'll tell you how he picks up after me all the time, though it seems like I'm the one doing most of the cleaning. Hmmm.
I guess I've always loved ceramics because it's messy. It gets everywhere! The clay, the dust, the slip, and I don't care. I love it! One reason I had such a hard time as a graphic designer was because I had to be clean and neat. How can I be creative if I'm neat? I can be orderly without being neat.

This week I'm back at slip casting. Four attempts: 1 failure, 2 successes, and 1 partial success. I feel happy that I am seeing some progress with this project. That it hasn't been a total waste of time. The partial failure from today resulted with draining the mold into a bucket and the mold falling apart into the bucket. Thank God I had the sense to drain into the slip bucket, otherwise it would have been bad. The slip feels like really thick cake batter and doesn't wash off easily. But it is fun and really messy. And I have learned from this: Band the #2 Mold from all angles. Set up the draining bucket with ledges or boards to hold the mold. That way I don't have to stand there holding a really heavy thing. Duh!