This week was pretty hectic and cold and I did my sales tax for the last quarter of 2012 and some prep for my federal taxes, checked in with some of my stores, and did not get up into the studio. So the first pitcher of this year is the last pitcher of last year. That's ok, right?
I worked really hard last year in finding a new clay body after my old favorite began consistently popping off every aqua or turquoise glaze and underglaze I used. I finally settled on Standard's 536, a white smooth porcelain-like stoneware, and Standard 365, a bright white English Porcelain. I really like both bodies, but the porcelain is my favorite because of its brightness. Right now I'm using the stoneware more for throwing, but I would like to transition to using the porcelain exclusively. That will take time and more skill than I currently have. It is something to work towards.
This is one of my favorite pitcher shapes because it is modeled after one of my silver hollow-ware pitchers. I love silver serving pieces and have a small collection of teapots, coffee pots, pitchers, and creamers. I really love how the pouring lip rises up out of the body of the pitcher, so I learned how to duplicate that in my pottery by rolling a slab, cutting and shaping it, then attaching it to the thrown and trimmed body once they're leather hard. The handle echoes the lift of the lip.
At some point last year I saw an article on Ceramic Arts Daily about underglaze transfer paper. I had been playing around with mishima since the spring and wondered if this would be an easier, faster way to make multiples of the same image. Well, yes and no. This paper works a lot like carbon paper, but it is stickier. It has to be applied to a bisqued piece, because any residual dampness in green clay pulls the underglaze layer off more than you might intend. You're supposed to fire the image to "set" it, but I don't because I like how the clear glaze makes the image flow a bit. So some of the image is very crisp, some of it is slightly smudgy, and some of it will simply flow down the side of the piece like a chalk drawing in the rain. That is my favorite part of this process, when the image starts to slide down the side of the piece.
These flowers are zinnias modeled after drawings of zinnias by Mississippi artist Walter Inglis Anderson, one of my favorite artists. His work has really influenced me (beyond my zinnia homage) over the years: in subject matter, a very tiny bit in loosening up my drawing, in his keen observation of the natural world around him. I gave my bridesmaids watercolored copies of his block prints, my son's nursery was inspired by his work, and I've even taken vacations to the city where he lived solely because of the museum there. The fact that his family's pottery, Shearwater is there, too, didn't hurt. His personal life was a mess, but oh, his eye. And the way he drew his zinnias were a revelation to me.
So: Pitcher 1. Next week I'll have drawings, process photos, and I hope a green (unfired) pitcher 2.
Have a lovely week, everyone.