Tuesday, August 3, 2010

VESSELS: Carpe Diem I (glazed)

Carpe Diem I
hand-built stoneware (ceramic) platter
1 in H x 11.5 in W x 18 in L

Carpe Diem I was glazed and fired back in May. I'm just now catching up on labeling and organizing a backlog of digital photos of my recent work.

The front of this platter is glazed with Cone 6 slate blue--painted on, not dipped--the back is olive light. Because slate blue tends to run we only use it on insides, flat or highly textured surfaces of vessels. A perfect choice for this application.

I'm very please with the way this glaze accentuates the textures and designs. Because it tends to run, it flows into crevices, darker where it pools, lighter and mottled where thinner over raised surfaces. This color variation gives the feeling of a shimmering fish just pulled from the ocean.

The body of Carpe Diem I is only 1/4 inch thick, much too thin for its size and the weight of the decorations. When I first rolled the slab for this piece back in April my intention was to make a platter using only the texture of hand crocheted laced for decoration. Then the clay began drying too quickly, cracking along the edges as I shaped it. It was clearly calling for fins and a tail.

As it dried, I struggled to keep it from warping and the cracks from reappearing. This battle was only partially won by the artist through hidden reinforcement and patience, allowing it to dry slowly, misted and covered, over several weeks.

It did warp some when the fins and tail drooped during bisque and glaze firing, but not so much as to ruin the piece. I just won't mention the small cracks near the tail, a defect that is more cosmetic than structural.

Carpe Diem II will be better.

I'm looking forward to playing with this design again.

Future fish, if made in any quantity, will have to be slightly smaller. This first one was 20 inches long when the clay was still wet, 18 inches end-to-end after firing and shinkage. It had to be fired at the community center because it was too large to fit in my 18 inch diameter kiln. They're willing to accommodate a large piece or two occasionally, but would frown on an entire school of fish platters swimming through at the same time.

Still, I'm glad I didn't let the proportions of this first Carpe Diem get in the way of experimentation on that day back in April.

I've heard it said that we learn more from our failures than from our successes. I would call this a successful failure. Or a failure turned success. Or just a success.

Lessons learned. Good results. That's a success.

(c)2010 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing