Friday, January 29, 2010

And Today, tea bowls.

It is a cold and blustery day here in Cape Breton. The windows are rattling, and the trees are bending over in a rather beautiful dance. And it is Fricken cold in my studio! so today, I build tea bowls at the dining room table.I am experimenting with some slipwork, and teabowls give me just the right size to experiment a bit with different methods.
The school where I am teaching has a new facility, only two years young, and as such, there is little in the way of samples, and glaze recipes, for the students to study or experiment with. And by little I mean zero. zilch. nada. I am finding it quite a challenge to encourage experimentation with the students when there are no examples to show them. Last term I cleaned out my cupboards and brought in some of my collection to show them. For the past couple of years they have had a selection of slips, that are ok, but not spectacular, and a few glazes which are again, ok, but not spectacular. So in a way we are starting with a clean slate, which is good, but also, it is hard to not just teach them what I do to my pots. Sooo, I am breaking outside of my little comfort zone and making experimental teabowls for my students. Wish me luck!
Many long hours later.........
These are the first two slipware teabowls. The one on the left is a sgraffito technique, and the one on the right is paper stencilled. The slips are simply the same clay body I used with the addition of Mason stain. I am not thrilled with the texture, but may re sieve it and add some more water, it is fairly thick, like pudding at the moment. I am fairly certain that this slip will work out fine but would happily take suggestions for a nice black slip...... I am tempted to just order commercial black underglaze but it is so expensive.
I found the sgraffito very easy, and could get into doing some more. The paper resist gave me some trouble, but I think maybe my clay was a bit dry, and I had trouble getting the newsprint to stay put. I may give it another whirl tomorrow. Next on the agenda will be inlaying slip, and then possibly doing monoprints on the clay. if there is enough time I will paint freehand as well. I'd like to get at least six different designs done for bisque fire on Monday,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mad About Tea, a Tribute to My Nan

Growing up, I spent a great deal of time hanging out with my maternal grandmother. My nanny had one of those houses where the floor was so polished it was down right dangerous. If you got a good run on in the front sunporch,  you could slide straight through to the back door in one go. It was awesome. (And not encouraged.) There were all kinds of wonderful things at my Nan's house to keep a kid busy. I used to spend hours playing with the little china animal figures that came in the box of tea. and lay on my back looking at my mom's old viewmaster reels.
There were reels of the Queen's coronation, of the sites of London, and I believe there were reels of Snow White-but those were pretty creepy so I didn't look at those often. But the coolest thing about my Nanny visits had to be the tea.
At Nan's house you didn't throw a teabag in a cup and drink it while you did chores. At Nan's house tea was serious business.
Nan's tea involved plates of cookies arranged on the table, boiled eggs didn't come in a bowl, but were served in egg cups and  tea cups were warmed with boiling water before ever seeing a drop of tea. We sat round the table, and ate the best cookies in the world, drank Nanny's magic tea,and it was good.
My Nan had a glass teapot, it was nothing special, just a pyrex commercial teapot and she used regular tea, but she made the best tea in the world from those simple things.
Nan instilled a love of tea in most of her grandchildren. I think of her often when I am designing teapots. There is a little bit of my Nanny in each and every one of them.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Taste of Home

Lately I have had a few homesick moments. I have been in Cape Breton for more than a year, and I love it. It is rural, and relaxed, and there is real community. I have really blossomed here, and so have the kids. But lately there has been a little bit of longing for the treats we used to have at home.
We all miss the Saturday farmers market in Fredericton, with its delicious samosas and pastries. The Coffee from Whitney's, and the many wonderful vendors selling everything from handmade craft, to homemade cookies, and imported cheeses, to Birkenstock shoes.  The Boyce Farmers Market is definitely the social/shopping epicentre for my hometown.
The other thing I miss is a good microbrew beer. Don't get me wrong Nova Scotia does its Garrison quite well. But Cape Breton has no microbrewery of its own. And I have been missing my weekly Picaroons. So when I saw this today, well I had to do a little jig and pick up a six pack. Yup, its true, a good, microbrewed import from the land of plenty Moncton ,NB, I bring you Pumphouse Brewery's Fire Chief's Red Ale. Perfect for testing out my new celtic stamped beer mug.

Too Yummy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

praise Today

My daughter is quite the artist. It should really come as no surprise to me really as both her dad and I are artists. But this kid just blows me away sometimes. She's a pretty decent potter,  and took to silversmithing like a duck to water, but her paintings are what really impress me.
I spent a good deal of yesterday haunting India with a camera in her studio. She is a trooper, and let me get away with it! Here is the result of a sunday visit to the studio of painter/mixed media artist India Haines. Her latest painting is mixed media peice on canvas board 9"x12" entitled praise Today. This is unusually small for miss India. This kid likes to work BIG. But she received Canvas board as a Christmas present and is diligently using it up.
I received one of India's collage on canvas peices for Christmas and feel pretty excited about getting it framed and hung before next Christmas.
In the meantime I have been diligently photographing pots, and posting them for sale on etsy, compiling lesson plans for my classes on Wednesday and preparing for a big experiment in woodblock printing with clay. Its time for more art peices in my practice. Less with the production, on with the wilder side of clay!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Warm Thoughts, for a Cold Day

January in Eastern Canada is COLD. It is a time for curling up with a hot cup of coffee, and a good book or for having tea and a chat with  friends. In my house it is a time for playing board games, drinking cocoa and doing puzzles with the family. It is also a time when I do my most thinking about pots. These past weeks I have been musing on the relationship between the pot and its user. The conversation between the person, and the vessel intrigue me.
I have a very diverse collection of pottery drinking vessels in my cupboard. Some were made by me, and others were made by potters from around the Atlantic Provinces. Each cup, tumbler or teabowl has a story, a purpose and  a special meaning to each one of us. And they are all different.