it isn't particularly about pottery, but this is the question I've been circling the last few months

Basic assumptions

 

Human civilization is completely dependent on this one planet, this one complex, beloved, and tiny dot in the vast universe.  

 

We, the people gathered and scattered all over this globe, are all connected by this fundamental dependency. 

 

The food and water that keep each of our bodies breathing come from forests and fields and oceans and aquifers and valleys and rivers and orchards in particular places on this one complex, beloved and finite planet. 

 

The economy that built our farms and schools and houses and dreams and brings water and food to keep our bodies breathing doesn’t know that this complex and beloved planet is actually finite.

 

The technology made possible by this very same economy is saying very loudly in measurements and maps that we have found the clear and actual edges of this complex and beloved planet.  

 

And the fuel for the strength and power of technology and the economy that always grows has all along been quietly adding to our atmosphere.

 

The added atmosphere collects more light from the sun, and more of the energy remains on this globe, changing the movement of water and heat around our one beloved and complex planet, changing our weather patterns. 

 

The more fuel we use, the more substantial the change, and the atmosphere already circulating around us can absorb enough energy to shift the rhythm and features of our seasons still further from the pattern we were born into.  

 

We, the people alive in this moment, did not choose the starting conditions for the economies, societies, and ecosystems we were born into. 

 

Our particular starting points have shaped who we each are in this moment, and as we live and breathe and work and love, we each shape our shared future. 

 

The children we love, the children gathered and scattered all over this planet, and all the people born the tomorrow after tomorrow will inherit the sticky physical and emotional imprint of our actions and decisions.

 

 

 

What do our dreams look like, when we stop and wonder? 

wilderness sketches

Being part of the Portland Urban Sketchers group has really helped me loosen up my drawing. Although I've often brought my watercolor set and a sketchbook while hiking, this week's trip to Jefferson Park Wilderness was the first time I've really used them, and the first time I've attempted anything more than a small sketch of a single flower. 

tree line along the whitewater trail

tree line along the whitewater trail

I of course still did sketch wildflowers (how could I resist?).

mountain aster near Russell Lake

mountain aster near Russell Lake

indian paintbrush

indian paintbrush

But the big difference is that I also tried to capture my favorite mountain. 

Mt Jefferson and Russell Lake

Mt Jefferson and Russell Lake

Here's how it turned out.

watercolor sketch of Mt Jefferson and Russell Lake

watercolor sketch of Mt Jefferson and Russell Lake

getting a handle on a mug

pulled handles, ready to be attached

pulledhandles.jpg

 

scoring the mug body where the top part of the handle will be attached

scoring

 

deciding how big the handle will be

handleattachment

 

lower attachment site scored and slipped

handleattachement2

 

adding extra clay to sculpt a more substantial connection between the handle and mug body

addingextraclay

 

it takes a bit more time, but I like the finished look and it lets me get a sturdy connection for a thin handle

handlecomparison

 

new mugs, ready to dry out and get crows painted on them

newmugs

the glory of springtime

It was the spring flowers that finally got me to add some color to my work, even though I've had a whole box of underglaze colors for months. There is something so joyful, and so fleeting, in the earliest spring blossoms that I knew I wanted to capture something of that. What better way than sketching directly on clay? 

greenwarepearblossoms

The pencil marks burn out in the firing, and it's always a bit of a surprise to see how the underglazes turn out.  

finishedpearblossoms.jpg

And just so you know, all the pear blossoms were collected from this broken branch.

peartrees

painting crows on clay

I love the shapes crows make as they fly, but finding a way to recreate their inky silhouettes on clay has been a challenge. I think I'm finally coming up with a strategy that's fairly straightforward. 

crowstamps

It starts with a set of custom rubber stamps that I ordered from Atlas Stamps (so much easier than the handmade option). After the pot is trimmed and dried, but before it's been bisque fired, I gently stamp the images onto the clay, curving the rubber stamp to match the shape of the fragile greenware.  

twoinkcolors

Pretty much any kind of stamp pad with do. These two were given to me and my sisters sometime in elementary school, and somehow (amazingly) still have enough ink and moisture to be usable. I start with a light color, which gives me the option of redoing the stamp if I don't like the placement. The organic dyes in the stamp pad will all burn out in the firing, so I don't worry about any extra marks I've made on the clay.

paintingimage

I then use a very fine brush to paint black underglaze over the stamped outlines, using the original set of photos as a reference. 

photo 4.JPG

Once the underglaze is on, they're ready to be bisque fired. It also works to do this stamping and painting on bisqued ware, but the raw underglaze sometimes resists the glaze, leaving an uneven surface on the finished piece.  

sketchcrawl Saturday

The weather the last few days has been beautiful, and what better way to celebrate it than spend the morning outside sketching the first flush of cherry blossoms along the waterfront in downtown Portland? I joined Portland's Urban Sketchers and tried my hand at sketching cherry trees against the backdrop of the Steel Bridge.  

steelbridgesketch.JPG

I'm still learning how to pick out the relevant details from a landscape scene for the sketch, but being around so many talented artists was incredibly inspiring. I finished up with some close up sketches of cherry blossoms, which was so much easier. 

cherryblossomsketch.JPG

Afterwards, a group of us went to see TIm's Vermeer (a very entertaining documentary about an inventor recreating a Vermeer painting), then tried out a neolucida that one of the sketchers had brought along. It felt a little like cheating to trace a sketch from life, but I think I'm going to have to get one. And if Vermeer wasn't above optical assistance, why should I be? Here's a really quick sketch I made using the device. 

neolucidasketch

As I biked home, I started wondering what it would look like to use it for sketching on a curved clay surface....

the first year

This month marks a full year that I have been filling my days with clay. I began provisionally – giving myself permission to take six months away from the job search to do the one thing I still felt inspired to do. The studio where I'd been taking classes offered a monthly partnership with unlimited access at a very reasonable rate, and I was just getting to the point where I needed practice more than instruction, so in March 2013 I became a regular at the studio. And somehow, here I am, still at it. 

greenware pitchers