Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sploppy. Squashy. Soggy. Saturated.

Sploppy. I like the sound of that word I just made up to describe how the ground felt yesterday when it was done raining on us. Maybe you know what I’m talking about here. You put your foot down on what you think is terra firma but it sinks into standing water first with a plopping kind of sound. Water splashes everywhere. Splop!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

This was the scene around my house yesterday. It rained. It poured. The wind howled around the house and shook it. The trees waved their branches frantically to and fro trying to go with the gusts, and thankfully all my trees stayed standing although we have quite a few branches and a few largish limbs littering the ground. It was downright nasty out there!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

On Rick’s way to work a tree branch fell right in front of the car out of nowhere and he had no choice but to drive right on over it. Better that than landing on top of the car! Another man and his wife were not so lucky yesterday here in our little town. A tree came down on their car as they were driving on a road I was just on the day before. He did not survive and his wife is in critical condition. The helicopter that was called in to airlift her to the hospital remained grounded due to the violent weather.

Trees are a funny thing here in the East. I don’t know if it’s because they have a shallow root system due to growing in solid rock or what, but they are forever tumbling over in wind and soaking rains. They are something to be looked out for. They have a life all their own! It’s creepy. I stay out of wooded areas when the wind blows.

Power lines were downed, trains weren’t running, the airport had four hour delays, and the list goes on and on. A day for staying at home for sure!

We had 2.33 inches of rain in about an eight hour period. My driveway was a river! The poor birds were grounded. When we had a lull in the deluge they would show up at the suet feeder with their feathers all sticking out and soaking wet looking completely miserable. I felt badly for them. If it had been snow it would surely have been a blizzard.

And speaking of snow, we’ve not had any yet. Over the weekend we saw a few flurries but that’s been it. Nothing in the forecast either. Yet. Johnny won’t have his snowblower gear on for another week or so and I’ll be happy if it holds off until then.

And Christmas. Yikes. No decorating happening around here yet. Maybe this weekend. Somehow it doesn’t seem like it’s time for all that yet. Why oh why can’t they insert another month in-between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Can we move Thanksgiving to October? Please?

I will leave you with a sneak peek at my completed pottery project, the hand-built bowl. I picked it up on Tuesday and it came out gorgeous if I do say so myself! Follow-up blog with more pics coming tomorrow!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Reading over this post before I hit the “submit” button I realized that I was all over the place. One of those posts where when I sat down I didn’t know what I was going to say so you got whatever came into my early morning brain!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pottery Class: Day 4; The unlovely apple and a work in progress

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I have to say I was not totally happy with the unlovely apple. The glazes did not blend like I had thought they would and I needed to touch up the edges with acrylic paint where colors collided. I glazed it in a hurry because we didn’t have much time to complete two projects in one session. (More griping about that a little further on.) So, the apple is what it is. Bless Rick’s heart: he said he would take it to work and put it on his desk. All I could think of was his gesture was that of a proud parent of what his child had done in art class! It’s sweet though. I think I’ll let him take it out of my sight!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I finished the third and final coat of glaze on the pot I showed you last week. Hopefully I can pick that up next week. I am anxious to see what the glaze looks like after firing. Another unlovely object? We shall see. I have hopes for that one.

We worked on the third project again (finally) of the extruded pots. The clay was still moist but not pliable enough to do the impression that I had wanted to do. So my original idea was not going to work. Last week at Michael’s I bought myself some more or less “real” clay instead of Play-Doh and an impression wheel with four interchangeable discs. I decided to use one of the discs since my first idea was out. I also wanted to still incorporate the “button” but it wasn’t working. We finally put our heads together and Kathy gathered some plant matter from her yard to impress the button with since I had chosen a leafy design.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

A close-up of the “button.”

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The back.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I’m still not quite sure if the addition of the button is really me, but since everyone else approved I kept it on. The next time I see the piece it will have been fired (in 2 weeks maybe?) and ready for glazing.

Now here comes the griping part. I signed up for and paid for 4 lessons, which technically ended this week. We started three projects and finished two of those. When I asked this week what happens next since we didn’t finish our projects, Kathy told me that I would now have to pay another $35 to glaze my pot the next time I come. Huh? To me this just doesn’t seem right somehow. She started us on these projects and in my head she should let us finish them out without charging more. I’m kind of disgusted about it. Am I wrong to feel this way?

I was going to continue taking classes from her for another round of classes, but now I am thinking not. She is not really a very good teacher. True, she introduced me to and showed me several different and interesting styles of pottery, but she was not helpful at all in the glazing aspect of things. I had lots of questions that she simply did not, or could not, answer. I need a teacher. Someone who is going to tell me what is going to work or not work. Being a beginner and not having someone give you some kind of direction is daunting and doesn’t lead to a good outcome of the final product.

I am going back to finish what I started and pay out more bucks, but I am going to be looking for a different style of learning after the holidays.

By the way, I am thinking of some kind of greenish glaze for the above yet unfinished project. Either that or an earthy brown.

I’ll keep you posted how it all turns out.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pottery Class: Day 3

Today we held our breath as we came in to the studio and asked Kathy how the firing of our two pieces had gone. She shook her head and frowned. “I’m afraid we didn’t have a very successful firing.” Uh oh. Visions of shards of pottery flashed through my head. “Let me show you. I can’t remember which pieces were yours.” Monica and I saw our bowls on the table—mostly intact. Whew! Mine had two pieces broken out of it on opposite sides and Monica’s did too. Kathy’s bowl, on the other hand, was in bits and pieces and unsalvageable. Too bad! We sorted through the shards looking for our missing pieces and found most of them.

One of the “holes” I decided to leave because it looked pretty artistic and kind of like a seashell which is where I was kind of going with the bowl: an earthy beach-y look. The other side I glued three pieces back in which still left three spaces where other pieces had broken off, but it looked three-dimensional and not too bad so I went with it. Here you can see the “artistic” hole.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And here is a different view of the bowl.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And who could forget my apple?

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Today I managed to get two coats of glaze on the bowl, both inside and out but I still have to apply a third coat which I didn’t have time to do. Too bad, otherwise it could have been fired this week. Now I will have to wait one more week to see results!

I glazed the apple and used three different shades of red applied rather randomly. I have no idea how it’s going to come out but I’ll find out next week! I’m not too confident it will look good!

Here is the bowl after glazing. Keep in mind that this will not be the final color. The outside glaze is not food friendly and has lots of sandy bits in it that will explode and melt on firing. Since I don’t have a clue what I am going to do with it afterwards, I kept it food friendly just in case and used a different glaze inside. In the first photo you can see the side where I glued three pieces back in. You can see two of the three holes I left near the bottom. See them?

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We ran out of time so I didn’t get to work on my other project at all, so next week I’ll finish it up so it can be fired along with the hand-built bowl once the other coats of glaze go on. I can’t wait to see what I get!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Play-Doh Pottery

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

When I opened the can, the scent wafting up from the lump of bright turqouise Play-Doh sent my brain spinning back to childhood. Who can forget the scent of Play-Doh? It smells so good.

The question begs: why is Lynne playing with Play-Doh?

The answer is simple my friends. I wanted to try out some different textures for my pot that’s in the works, and what better cheap medium to try with?

Play-Doh doesn’t quite have the consistency of real clay and I was making things tiny since I was using only one can of dough per each object d’art. So, bear with me, okay?

This was my first attempt at replicating something like I did in class. I didn’t take a photo of this one before I added the texture to it, but you’ll see it in the next one.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

It really needed to be taller to see the texture better.

Here is the state the pot I am working on in class is in. Coils of clay stacked on each other. I pinched the ends for something different and staggered the beginning and ends. My real pot is much more uniform and a lot less lumpy looking than this one is, but I think you get the idea of what it looks like without any kind of texture added, right?

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

So, same Play-Doh pot with Texture 1:

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

After the first texture I needed to re-roll the coils so the pot is a slightly different height, but here it is with Texture 2 with an added little button adorned with Texture 1:

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Which do you like better? Texture 1 or Texture 2? No texture at all? The bright pink one is also shown in Texture 2 since I forgot to take a photo of it in Texture 1. Doh ...

(That was intended as a cute pun for those of you that didn’t get it and have never seen the Simpsons.) Anyway, I’d appreciate it if you’d vote and tell me which one you prefer.

Next I am going to mix all four cans of Play-Doh together to get more “doh” to work with. What color do you think I will end up with mixing hot turquoise, neon pink, dark lilac and not-so-neon-pink? We didn’t have these colors when I was a kid!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Pottery Class: Day 2

Yesterday was pottery class day. I have to say that in a way I was not looking too forward to it. Which was silly, really.

We walked into the studio and there was my apple sitting on the table all nice and dry. Unfortunately it still looked the same as it did last week. I said as much to Kathy (the instructor) and she said “don’t be dissing your apple so much, everybody in the other class loved it.” I felt immediately better after that and even better yet when I saw what one woman in the other class had made last week. Yes, I felt much much better about my apple.

I took my cue from my other classmate and this week brought an old shirt to put on over my clothes. I was glad I did because today was sanding day for the two pieces we created last week. I was able to sculpt the apple just a tad but left some little dents since after all, no apple has a perfectly smooth skin. It will be fun to do the glazes next week.

As we worked we could see it starting to snow outside! The flakes didn’t last long before we heard the sound of sleet pelting against the studio windows.

I also got to see what my bowl looked like after it was turned out of its forming bowl. Not bad. Not bad at all! As I was sanding down the edges to make them smoother, some small pieces broke off from the rim. I wasn’t too worried as it made it look all that more artistic. Everyone else had done a different texture on each of their clay slabs that went into forming their bowl, kind of like a patchwork quilt. I guess I am a not a “busy” person because I used the same textures on each of my slabs. The look turned out very cohesive and because I varied the pattern it didn’t look too matchy-matchy. Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that it holds together in the firing process. I wish now I had taken the camera to get a shot of it just in case. At least if it doesn’t make it through the firing process I’d have something to show for it!

Today’s project was making an extruded vase/bowl. We formed a base by tracing around an upside down bowl, then rolled out different lengths of coils of clay which we then wound around the base to whatever height we desired. I tried to stagger the beginning and endings of the coils so it would be more interesting. I am still debating how to finish mine off: whether to use a ravioli wheel cutter to introduce some texture like I did with a pot I made before (way back when), or to leave it in its natural form. So, since I was undecided I wrapped it in plastic to keep it moist until next week. I was kind of liking how it was looking in its natural state, so we’ll see how I feel about it next week.

I think I’m going to be sad when it’s over. Maybe I’ll take another round of lessons ...


Welcome, I'm Lynne. You know me better as a 'new' Jersey Girl. But now I've moved once again, this time to North Carolina. Here I write about my thoughts, good food, and of course, dogs.

© 2006-2023 Lynne Robinson All photography and text on this blog is copyright. For use or reproduction please ask me first.

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