Rainbow Gold

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https://www.etsy.com/listing/520621048/drippy-rainbow-gold-tea-bowl-matcha?ref=shop_home_active_9

Wow, it’s been almost six months since I’ve posted anything here, and I’ve completely changed gears again. I went through a directionless dry spell after the pseuda-firing idea until a few weeks ago. Now I’m working on something I feel truly passionate about and playing with color in new ways that I never have before. I’m calling it my “rainbow gold” pottery. There are a lot of different color combinations with different base colors to play with.

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https://www.etsy.com/listing/520764074/drippy-gold-dark-rainbow-mug?ref=listing-shop-header-1

I make pinch pots of different kinds, let them dry out, then spray them with layers of different underglazes. It’s kind of a gamble to see how the colors actually turn out in the glaze firing. The purple almost burns out if I don’t do about three good layers of it before the other colors, the green colors make the bottom get too glossy if they are too thick and the pots stick to the shelf, and some colors get totally lost in other colors. It has been a learning curve, but the biggest advance in my studio lately has been the use of gold luster. I avoided it for years, calling it “tacky” and so on. I am definitely gaining a new appreciation for artists who get perfect gold results on their work. It’s so easy to make it too thin, over fire it, or make it too thick to where the lines run after I set the pieces down. I am slowly learning.

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https://www.etsy.com/listing/534576441/drippy-gold-and-blue-green-coffee-mug?ref=listing-shop-header-3

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Pseuda Firing

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So, if you follow me on Instagram (@kiracall) then you have probably seen my posts about “pseuda-firing”. I’ve had the idea for a while, but haven’t had a lot of time to get into it in depth until I finished making and photographing work for my grad school application portfolio. I just started really playing around with it a couple of weeks ago. The idea is to see how well I can mimic the visual effects of flashing and carbon trapping like what happens in a soda kiln. The above photo is of the mugs after I applied different layers of colored underglaze but before they were fired (I do all of my decorating in the greenware stage). At first, I was using a yellow base, then red, and then made black meet up with the red and sprayed a little bit of white underglaze over the black part. After bisque firing them, I applied gerstley borate by spray bottle to the surface, but left it thin on the red ‘flashing’ part and tried to apply it thicker on the black part. They turned out alright, but the white was hardly visible and after going back and looking at some of my older pots that I actually did fire in a soda kiln, I realized that the yellow was between the red and black.

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For the next round of pots, I kept the yellow-meets-black rule in mind and applied the white thicker than before. They don’t look as stunning for a photo while they are raw, but they turned out a lot more successful for what I want.

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I applied the gerstley borate a lot thicker over the black/white part, too. Here’s a photo of some stellar plates from the second round:

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I am figuring out how to use materials in a whole new way that I’ve been using for years now. Taking on this challenge has really helped me to learn the dynamics of my materials and how to overcome obstacles with my tools. I think that my next challenge will be to create something that looks like the glassy carbon-trapped soda fired stuff. I found a way to get the orange peel texture with the gerstley borate– it actually came from a glaze mishap while I was in Massachusetts. One time, I tried glazing a plate by using glaze from a spray bottle because I thought it would be a smoother coating than I could get by dipping it and having the glaze overlap. It came out of the kiln with an awful bumpy texture. I am using that quality of spray bottles to get exactly what I want on these soda fired experiments.

Find some of my “pseuda-fired” work in my Etsy shop here:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KiraCallCeramics

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Light through the Trees

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I feel like I’m almost done working on my applications for graduate school. I’ve just got to make a few phone calls about transcripts and send off my application packets today, but I can see the light through the trees!

I use that metaphor instead of a tunnel because my ceramic work obsesses over trees, and I think back to walking through the dense eastern forests and the Appalachian trail. In a lot of places, the oak or white pine trees were so dense that it was dark below, like at dusk. Sometimes I would wonder what the weather was like above, but I had to wait to reach a clearing before I could see the sky.

As I start to think about where I might get into graduate school, I am also excited about what I will be able to research there. I really want to get my hands back into salt and soda firing. If I was a younger student people might laugh at me and tell me how soda firing is a weird trend that started in the 70’s and I should do wood firing instead. I fired most of my work in a salt or soda kiln during undergrad for a couple of years or so. I remember in 2012 when we had Bede Clarke come for a workshop, I was asked to be in charge of firing the salt kiln because I was experienced. Even though I had a little less experience doing soda firing, there was an emergency for the guy in charge of firing the soda kiln and he asked me to take over and to put the kiln into body reduction. I was happy to, and when he came back, he was impressed at how well I could reduce a leaky kiln. Anyway, I really want to get back into it because I love how it looks, and also how hands-on the firing method is. I miss firing kilns manually. There is something too comfortable about programming a glaze firing in an electric kiln, and it kind of makes me lose touch with the firing process. Here’s a photo of one of the pieces from that soda firing that I overtook:

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https://www.etsy.com/listing/498170897/handmade-ceramic-butter-dish-with-ginkgo?ref=shop_home_active_6

https://www.etsy.com/listing/457419320/handmade-atmospheric-soda-fired-ceramic?ref=shop_home_active_7

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Posed and Poised

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(Above) Willow Vases, 2016. Porcelain clay and underglaze.

My photos seem to get better every day that I sit down to take more. I know, I know, “practice makes perfect!” but it seems like there is some magic on my side. I am not a photographer by trade… I just get a few lucky shots that aren’t blurry here and there, then I balance the color and exposure later on my computer. The real trick for these photos was getting the backdrop just right.

Back in school, there was this perfect photo booth setup consisting of a giant sheet of thin and flexible masonite board flawlessly spray painted a solid light gray color that stretched back into shadows for ages when the light box was hanging above and the other lights in the room were all turned off. It made the pots seem to glow, and like they were sitting on a horizon that disappeared into space in the background. I used to mess around with hanging light setups and solid gray colored paper, including an experiment where I set it up on top of the deep freezer in the basement to get the total darkness 24/7. The light I used was too warm, and the paper was never long enough to totally get the fading into oblivion look to it. This time, I think I’ve figured out how to mostly trick the system to get some awesome photos.

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Willow Pitcher and Cups, 2016. Porcelain clay and underglaze.

 

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Big Willow Coffee Mugs, 2016. Porcelain and underglaze.

 

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Tea Time in the Willows

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I went for over a year without making any teapots, but I thought it would be a good addition to my portfolio to make some willow teapots and matching cups. I still plan on making a teapot with ginkgo leaves on it as well, but I am focusing on the willow work first.

I played around with stacking the tea cups for a few photos, and it makes a pretty fun image. I don’t know if I will use the stacked photo in my official portfolio, but it is worth keeping 🙂

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Once I start making teapots, it feels hard to stop. I’ve made four willow teapots so far out of a compulsive obsession to get the perfect teapots for my portfolio. This time last year, I was selling quite a few teapots on Etsy. Who knows if it will happen again this year or not…

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I do have a willow teapot listed on Etsy, just in case you are starting on holiday shopping:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/473679904/handmade-ceramic-teapot-in-gray-with?ref=shop_home_feat_2

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New portfolio in the making

I am trying to scrape together all of my materials for graduate school applications. I should have had the photos done ages ago, but I had a long dry spell before coming up with the willow designed work. I think I started making willow work in late July or early August. Before that point, I was panicking over what I would even take photos of. Now I am getting a handle on it, but I am trying to make good progress in a sped-up way because I feel like I am already behind. January 15th will be here before I know it.

Here are a few photos of new work using a new photography experiment I’m working on:

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Above: Willow Plate. Glaze and under glaze on white porcelain, 2016.

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Willow Mugs. Glaze and under glaze on white porcelain, 2016.

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Ginkgo Sushi Plate. Glaze and under glaze on white porcelain, 2016.

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Willow Butter Dish. Glaze and under glaze on white porcelain, 2016.

 

After my applications are complete or when I get time to make doubles of these pieces, they will be available for sale in my Etsy shop:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KiraCallCeramics?ref=hdr_shop_menu

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Moose on the Mind

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The moose designs are involving to include these cute kitchen sponge holders. If you’ve never owned a sponge holder, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. They keep sponges dry and out of trouble, and best of all, they just look like a decorative addition to your clean kitchen 🙂

I’ve got one in country green listed on Etsy:

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https://www.etsy.com/listing/487148825/ceramic-sponge-holder-with-moose-in?ref=shop_home_active_11

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Wyoming Moose Madness

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Back in March, I remember looking out the window one day in between painting projects to see a great big moose right outside the living room window. It wasn’t intimidated when it noticed us watching it through the window. It just kept on grazing on the crab apple trees and sand cherry bushes as it pleased. Eventually, it bedded down under the aspen trees and spent the night in our yard. I had pointed it out to my dad, and he called the local newspaper. Soon enough, a photographer stopped by to steal a few pictures. The photo above is one that I took with my cell phone while it was fairly close to the window.

It is incredible just how easy it is to spot magnificent wildlife here in Wyoming. The moose incident inspired me to start using it as a decorative motif in my work. These days, it is hard to keep up with the demand for moose-influenced soap dishes and spoon rests. Below are a couple of photos of my most recent “moose pottery”.

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Autumn Leaves

 

I’ve decided that my favorite thing to illustrate on my pots is different kinds of leaves.

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This willow branch teapot is made with a built-in strainer for easy enjoyment of loose leaf tea. Sometimes loose leaf tea can seem cumbersome, but for this teapot all you have to do is put a tablespoon or so of your favorite loose leaf tea and pour boiling water over it. When the tea is gone, simply scoop the leaves out with your hand and compost them, then rinse out the rest. This teapot is also available in my Etsy shop:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/473679904/handmade-ceramic-teapot-in-gray-with?ref=related-6

 

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Lost in the Willows

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As it always goes with me, I am pursuing a new direction with my ceramic work. Actually, it branched off of something I was doing in the fall of 2014 in Massachusetts, but I’ve improved on the idea. I make a smokey gray background, then carve designs of willow leaves and branches through to the clay. The result is dramatic yet quiet, and they always come out of the kiln looking great!

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It’s almost time to start working on graduate school applications again. I think that I mentioned in a previous post about how I didn’t get into any of the schools that I applied to. At first, I was devastated. Then, I made a plan to grow my ceramic business (and grow a garden 🙂 and focus on positive things until I could apply for grad schools again. Lately, I’ve been feeling really self conscious and intimidated by the thought of going through all of the applications and asking for letters of recommendation again.

I have a list of steps in my head for what to do this time around, and step #1 is to build an AWESOME portfolio! I’ve been making sets of things instead of just pairs, thinking big picture instead of trying to show off every plant that I can draw, and focusing on branching out with making different forms.

If you like the pottery shown in the photos above, you can find it on Etsy at:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KiraCallCeramics?ref=hdr_shop_menu

 

 

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