Fall 2015: Personal Series 3- Seven Stages of a Fight

After several sketches and a bit of floundering, and then heavy despair, just after midterms… This happened.

We had just started throwing in my beginning ceramics classes at Hesston College, and all the varying degrees of success with beginning throwers were in full steam. Everybody was doing great work, getting thrown around by one pound of clay, or getting back in practice with 2 or 3. In a moment of curiosity and remembering a vow I made to myself several years ago, “if it’s new, or isn’t easy, or if it’s scary, definitely do it at least once”, I hauled out 25 pounds of Conrad Snider sculpture clay, plopped it down on a wheel, and went to work.

I was sweaty and exhausted by the end, and got well flung around in the process, standing with one knee on the wheel and the wheel braced against my other leg. I am sure it was entertaining for those still present from class.

In any case, this experience changed everything.  All I can think about is platters.  I wake up thinking about that hard, heavy work, and the textures and forms that are possible.  There is not enough time in the world.

So, the third personal series for this semester is an image based story on platters, with decals made from my own drawings, titled The Seven Stages of a Fight.  The image aesthetic is based upon Depression Era wordless novels and protest literature, drawn from Wordless Books by David A Berona.

Shouting. Anger. Chagrin. Acceptance. Isolation. Apology. Resolution.

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Fall 2015: Personal Series 2- The Four Cardinal Directions

For the second series of work this semester, I chose to return to coil building and figurative forms for a moment, regrouping, in a way, from a very difficult initial portion of the semester.

These four pieces, based upon profoundly transformative travel experiences that I knew were shaping who I am as they were happening, were meant to unite varying degrees of abstraction with carved imagery in the graphic-novel-esque style I have been working with for some time.

Just as the stories associated with these pieces transformed me, these pieces began the transformation of this semester from being a wrestling match into a huge open door. Success!

They are made of stoneware clay and finished with Rusty Matte Blue, Green, Yellow, and Brown glaze, and Iron Oxide. Bases are oiled Walnut.

Stories:

Canoeing in Alaska- I think I was twelve years old, maybe 11, and I remember all of us paddling through the fjords south of Juneau, and realizing how powerfully strong I felt, but also how tiny we were, above such very deep water, and knowing there were likely much larger creatures somewhere below us. I based the images on this piece off of Inuit bone carvings.

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Subway Navigation in Paris- While I was a Senior in college, I was part of a study abroad program where we traveled to French cultures on this continent, as well spending six weeks in France.  There were substantially more women on this trip than there were men, and because I was able to read maps, I was selected to lead my group around Paris.  This meant making sure were all stayed together and didn’t get lost, but also were able to make it to and from various assigned locations on a schedule. This was my first true experience with leadership, was reasonably successful as I recall, and I came back home with a level of confidence and self-trust that I had not experienced to that point in my life.ParisCardinalDirections

Engagement in Sweden- There once was a wonderful young man who I traveled to Sweden with, to visit his childhood stomping grounds. We waded in the sea and caught small fish in our hands, drove through misty woods listening to music that gave us shivers, and saw windmills on rock outcroppings off the shore.  While we were there, we exchanged rings on top of a stone mountain, and began to plan a future.  While this didn’t work out in the end, we had a wonderful time, and it was the beginning of a series of events where I learned the value of deep honesty.

SwedenCardinalDirections

Sitting on a Sunny Rock After Driving Two Full Days Alone in Yosemite- My best friend from college passed away a few years ago. Several of us from college met to say goodbye to her and build new memories in her favorite places in Yosemite National Park. I drove close to 18 hours the first day, then about 9 the next, and at one point looked up at my rear-view mirror and saw that the road was stretching straight as far as I could see in front of me, and as far as I could see behind me, as well. I have never felt so full and so alone at the same time, and I was screaming at Kate “OH MY GOD HAVE YOU EVER SEEN SUCH AMAZING THINGS!!!” and felt her there laughing with me. I arrived exhausted and cleared, and the next morning, chilly and dewy, sat on a sunny rock in my favorite hoodie, and felt things settle into peace.

YosemiteCardinalDirections

Fall Semester 2015- Line Blend Material Testing

For the materials research portion of this semester, I chose to do a line blend of Kona F-4 Feldspar and Georgia Kaolin, two of my favorite dry materials. I love the slightly crispy feeling of scooping Kona F-4, and the fluffiness and color of Georgia Kaolin.

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Kona F-4 (Na2O.Al2O3.6SiO2) is a soda feldspar, used as a flux in many glazes. The soda portion of this feldspar is the dominant flux in this material.  Kona F-4 is a source of Insoluable Sodium and Potassium

Georgia Kaolin ( Al2O3.2SiO2.2H2O) is the source of Silica in this blend, so that this combination will have a glass former and a flux, hopefully resulting in a surface varying from dry to semi-gloss, anticipating a relatively smooth surface.

Each test cup contains a total of 100 grams of material and 1/2 cup of water. There are nine test cups total, with the following proportions:

90g Kona to 10g Kaolin

80g Kona to 20g Kaolin

70g Kona to 30g Kaolin

60g Kona to 40g Kaolin

50g Kona to 50g Kaolin

40g Kona to 60g Kaolin

30g Kona to 70g Kaolin

20g Kona to 80g Kaolin

10g Kona to 90g Kaolin

While weighing out these materials, the Georgia Kaolin quantities were nearly double that of the same gram amount of Kona F-4.  Upon adding water to the tests, the more Kona F-4 heavy tests settled firmly to the bottom of the cup while the Georgia Kaolin heavy tests remained well suspended.

Results!

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So, I didn’t really lay these out super well, but in any case, the Kona starts 9/1 on top, and Georgia Kaolin is 9/1 on the bottom. The right test tile was fired to Cone 06, the left to Cone 10 in reduction.

At Cone 06, all tests were somewhat fused while a bit powdery, but the Kona heavy tests came completely detached- the 9/1, 8/2, 7/3, and 6/4 dots all were loose upon unloading, crispy, but totally detached from the clay. The Kaolin dots were still well attached, but dusty feeling enough to set my teeth on edge.

At Cone 10, the top two Kona heavy tests were well melted and fused to the clay, but clearly had crawled inward from their initial width- would indicate a tendency to crawl if used over a large surface. The next three tests were fairly melted to each other, but beginning to peel up at the edges. The last four test dots, starting with 4/6, Kaolin heavy, ranged from lightly creamy, but scaling off of the clay, to crusty and popping off the surface, to well fused but downright crusty.  Interestingly, there is a gray/purple tint in 3/7 and 2/8.