Monday, September 22, 2008

And so it begins...

My class at Northern Clay finally started last week! Hurray! I've been in the studio a fair bit taking advantage of the open work times. I'm ready to be learning more about glazes, that's for sure... For some reason, I've had the urge to handbuild rather than work on the wheel this past week, so I've embraced the feeling and am building away. It's funny to think that as a college student I *thought* I had no interest in handbuilding. I still love the wheel, don't get me wrong, but I'm enjoying the looseness of working by hand. Although, I spent the weekend between the two World Ceramics: Transforming Women's Traditions exhibits and I can't believe the skill of some of those women handbuilders. While I completely appreciate (and am in awe of) the possibiltiy for handbuilding to be this exact, for me it encourages a more organic and relaxed approach. We'll see how long it is before I'm pulling my hair out because I just can't get something round... I'm currently working on a series of small plates to test out some ideas with underglazes and paper resist. Still no camera yet, but I'll post pictures as soon as I have a way to take some! For now you'll have to settle for one of the exquisit (handbulit!) pieces from the NCC women in clay exhibition:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Writing Continued...

To continue on my writing theme, Mel loaned me an excellent book called Writing the Artist Statement. I burned through the first section and have just come up against my first timed writing assignment... I'm looking forward to working through these exercises and the process of thinking carefully about what I create and why - who knows what will surface!

And a little non-ceramic related side note: Aaron teaches his first Intro to Microeconomics course at Carleton today - go Aaron, go!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thoughts on Writing

One of the many long-term benefits I can see to keeping a regular blog is the frequent opportunity to practice writing. I spend a great deal of time expressing myself visually but I know written words can play a powerful role for me, my peers and my customers, if used effectively. I immediately think of my artist statement (which I sorely need to update), but also the world of magazine articles. I'm slowly developing an understanding that success in the arts hinges largely on promotion - an article is a great way to explain to the community what inspires you, where you've come from and where you're going.

I found a thoughtful post (and blog in general called Two For Joy) focused on choosing and using words. I certainly rely on a safe cache of language and could benefit from critically thinking about how I express myself verbally. I think in the end taking time and care in writing (and making it a regular habit) will solidify my ideas about my work and help to spur new directions.

New Camera?

A few weeks ago my trusty cannon point and shoot digital camera finally decided to die. I've had it for five years now, so I knew the end was coming, but I was hoping it could hang in there for a little longer... Over the past few weeks Aaron and I have tried to flesh out exactly what we want to use our camera for, and how we would improve on our last one. Given that I purchased an ez cube earlier this year, I certainly want to be taking digital images of my work. I'm hearing more and more about how shooting in raw format is helpful for digital slides, and I'd also like a decent macro feature. On the fun side of things, we're both suckers for the video function, and would love playing with a bigger zoom. So, after some poking around and reading lots of reviews, we're down to two cameras: the Cannon Powershot S5 IS and the Olympus SP-560. I'm leaning toward the Olympus, given the ability of that model to shoot in raw format (and that out-of-control 18x zoom!), but the Cannon has a larger sensor size and faster shutter speed. Hmmm.... hard to decide! I think we just need to find a store where we can go try them both out and see what we like up close and personal.

And when it comes to actually getting good shots of my work, I've found a few great sources of information recently. One being Fresh Plums by John Glick and the other a post on a blog I read called the Mudpot. Both have some good info and a few book suggestions which I will definitely have to check out as I have more work to photograph!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Clay Weekend

I spent a good portion of my weekend up at the Northern Clay Center checking out all of the amazing potters on display for the annual American Pottery Festival. The quality of the work was just spectacular. The thing I love about going to ceramic shows is that not only do you get to see work that you've often only seen in slides or on the internet, but you get to pick it up and touch it! Such fun... I also caught a glimpse of some of my new favorite pottery stars - Naomi Cleary and Liz Zlot Summerfeld. This morning I took a short (but info-packed) workshop with Gail Kendal, which gave me some great insights into working with low fire clay.

I'm all signed up to take a class with Margaret Bohls at NCC this coming fall -- I can't wait for it to get started so I can get back into the studio and start making pots. The topic is just what I need, too - low fire glaze chemistry. Yea! Hopefully I can clear up some of my pesky glazing problems and get to a place where I have a few glazes I enjoy using and understand well. I am looking forward to the day when I can think clearly about how I am going to glaze a pot before I even begin to throw...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Home

I have neglected this poor blog for far too long now. It's time to get myself back in the habit of updating regularly. Although, even with my sporadic posting habits, it's still an excellent reminder of change and growth. I'm amazed by how easy it is to forget where we start from - this is an ideal place to collect and document ideas, progress and new directions. So even though I've been away for seven months now (geez!) I'm going to jump back into the blogging world as I enter into a new chapter of my ceramic work and my life.

A big part of my blogging absence has to do with Aaron and my relocation from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis. It's scary to say this, but the last time I touched clay was back in March, right before NCECA (double geez!). In all honesty, it's been great to have an extensive break - I think I'm a person who needs time to digest and regroup/recharge away from my medium. But, I'm to the point now where I am itching to get my hands back into clay. Since I still don't quite have a studio lined up, I've been working to coalesce some of the ideas I've been mulling over surrounding food and energy in my sketchbook. Realizing these ideas in clay will probably be an entirely different story all together...

I went down to Carleton (my alma mater) with Aaron last week for the first time since I graduated in 2001. It was amazing to be back on campus and exciting to realize that I will be able to visit on a more regular basis than every seven years! On the way down we stopped to snap some photos of cornfields for me to use in my work. I'd like to get a few good shots of soy and wheat as well so I can work on some commodity themed pots....

While we were in Northfield we also hit up the Steam and Engine show, where we saw our good friend Anne Sawyer sing AND I got to get my fill of tractor pictures. Some of these will definitely be finding their way into my work...