Low Temperature Soda Firing

Over the weekend, I fired my first glaze load in EUP's Soda Kiln. The firing wasn't absent of the usual anxieties of firing an atmosphere kiln, but I was firing tall figures that were made of earthenware. For the soda ash to collect on the pieces as a glaze the kiln must be fired to at least cone 01 ( I have been told Cone 1 too). I was feeling like the temperature would put too much stress on the figures, and my worry was somewhat right.
As I was peering into the kiln, I was keeping an eye on a 34" standing figure and made mental marks of the inside of the kiln in relation to the profile of said figure. The mental mark and the profile seemed to be getting closer together, but I kept firing. The piece was indeed starting to lean, and in fact the figure was leaning a couple of inches past the mark I had chosen inside the kiln. The kiln wasn't hot enough to melt the soda ash at that time. Was I to turn the kiln off or keep ramping up until it reached temperature? Well, I noticed that the tall figure stopped leaning because it came into contact with a support post that held another figure up. That gave me a bit more time, but I didn't want to chance affecting anything else in the kiln. At this point the cones showed that the temperature was a couple cones behind, but I was skeptical of the reading and figured that deeper in the kiln was hotter than where the cone packs were next to the door. I started spraying in the soda solution. I put some in the two front ports and peered in. Suprisingly, the work had a slight sheen to it, which meant that the soda was volotizing.
I kept spraying in soda for the next half hour and shut the kiln down 5 minutes after the last spray. here are images of the results. The work was pretty dry where the Terra Sig was but pretty juicy on raw clay. 
All loaded. Just need to brick up the door

Close up of bracing. I needed to put more stilts on the taller figure since it leaned forward about 12 degrees.

After the firing

A lot of Sig flaked off. Probably because of the colorants underneath it

I'm happy with the results of the Lumberjack

The fisherman leaning on the lumberjack support

More flaking sig on the fisherman

Slow Prog

I have begun to finish some work that I have started here at Edinboro. Glaze tests have been interesting, but there is a lot more digging to do. Here are a couple of images of finished fish. Four sculptures are in the soda kiln getting ready for some low temperature atmosphere, and i'll post images is the results are up to par.

Lake Erie Specimen


Tom Waits Show-and-Tell

Tom Waits  Show-and-tells an 1800's stoneware rat-trap on the Letterman Show!! This is where two of my favorite things meet.

The progression of Paul and "George"

It has been slow progress on the lumberjack figure, but he has taken some good turns. I have been editing the alignment of his structure, repositioning his arms and neck, and broadening his torso... and also giving him legs and arms. His trusty blue ox, Babe, has taken the form of a skull that he will be transporting in some manner. There are still some important decisions that I need to make about the final existence of the piece and the relationship between Paul and Babe.

Paul and George side by side


Campbells Pottery

Today Marge Gormley, Austin Weiland and I went to visit Bill Campbell's studio in Cambridge Springs, PA. We learned about his computer controlled kilns. His envelope kiln was especially great!
He also brought us through his slipcasting, slip and clay processing/recycling system, mold making, and product/shipping warehouse. He was very generous, and shared a true wealth of information with us. Thank you Bill.
The Arrival

The slip and clay processing/conditioning area

Clay compressor/ It looks kinda like a concertina from the side. It makes recycled clay into dense, square slabs.
Marge, looking up at the envelope kiln. This beast is a completely sealed, gas-fired kiln. Notice the empty shelves ready to be loaded, and for the kiln shell to slide over it.

A glimpse of the mold room, where Bills prototypes are realized in large quantities.


After a conversation with Linda Cordell today,  she brought to my attention that a lot of my sculptures have a folk-like, Carved out-of-wood look. That immediately made me want to look at the work of Thaddeus Erdahl.  His ceramic sculptures consist of realistic figurative busts that are textured to look like aged wood.  I have been digging on his work for quite a while and am glad to be reminded of it. His work is quite exquisite. enjoy

In the name of science

We were looking at images in history class last Thursday and a Jason Briggs image came up.
 He displays his work like a specimen on thin rods. It didn't occur to me that this method had creeped into my head until I started looking up images of fish specimens, and in doing so found a puffer fish displayed on two small rods secured to a wooden base.  I have not been able to re-find that puffer fish but I did find a great old photo of a Grouper being colored. 

I have also found that it is easier to work on these fish when they are propped up by skewers. you can fill in any unwanted holes after you are done modeling, and balance the piece on a clay pad.

Propped up with skewers secured into 2 holes drilled into mdf

Finished modeling. supported on clay pad wrapped in plastic to prevent from drying out

Thank you Jason Briggs for using awesome display methods
Grouper being hand colored


Just a shout out a good friend and mentor Jonathan Mess. He has figured out a way to make the art he wants, teach art, sell, show, and live in a beautiful home in Mid-coast Maine.  Its possible folks.

Check out his most recent review also

One of Jon's "landfills" made of 50% recycled/unlabeled materials.

I'm working on a Paul Bunyon-like figure right now and am trying to figure out how to incorporate Babe the Blue Ox. I'm leaning towards the idea of incorporating a blue ox skull...perhaps on his back pack.

I looked up Paul's legend, and it was interesting to find out that there are many towns, including Oscoda Michigan, Brainerd Minnesota, Bangor Maine, Portland Oregon..., that have claimed to be the place of Pauls birth.  Even earlier accounts of a giant-like skilled woodsman come from Quebec.
I favor the latter, because my Grandfather worked in the North Maine Woods as a cookee after emigrating from Canada.

 I have also been making and repairing fish.

Modeled after a dead bass I found on the Lake Erie shore

The tail just recently got repaired

Fish Mort

On Sunday September 9th, My Fiance' and I visited Erie Bluffs State Park with just 20 minutes north of here. While exploring the shoreline we found a number of dead fish that had washed up. There were perch, bass, sheepshead, carp and some other fish I'm not sure of. 
So today I was trying to look up the fish that I wasn't familiar with and I found This News Article about "Tens of Thousands of fish" that had washed up onto the shores of Lake Erie in Ontario.

This is one fish that Jodi and I found. I think that this is a whitefish, but I'm not sure. It was about 14" long 

Another fish found that I'm unsure about. Maybe it's a bass? it was at least 16" long

Something Fowl Speaks

I'm nearing completion of this sculpture. Yellow rain hat, ducky inner tube and all. Small details and the addition of a gaff is all that needs to be done with firings and glazing aside.

Kiln Demo!

"The Ferg"

"The Ferg"

Setting up for Arch Jacking

Jacked arch with car jack
Back wall of "The Ferg" with arch removed
Jon and Lauren Cleaning Angle Iron

Removing the door
The walls are gone

Austin and Cody taking down the Chimney
all that is left is the frame

My new home at Edinboro U.

So here I am in Edinboro PA, Three weeks after Jodi and I moved here from Maine. We have begun to find out the local hot spots and look forward to exploring the wilds of Western Pennsylvania.

Classes and GA work has begun and I have started two new sculptures. One is a Hawk of a Street light entitled "Light Hawk at The Diner"(Thank you Jodi) its a shout out to Tom Waits and a commencement to my move here as I saw many hawks along the highway on my way out here.
Light Hawk moments before being bisqued

The other one will be a fisherman with a gaff, inner tube, and rain hat.  The idea is expanded from a maquette I made of a head with fish for lungs.

The beginnings of a standing figure.
 on his own legs