Sunday, May 31, 2015

Last Raku at Palmer Hall

Yesterday was officially the last raku firings at our "old" building. The art program is moving to the new Palmer-Martin building over the summer and all our classes will be on the south side of the street next year. 

raku pieces cooling off after firing

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house this coming Tuesday at YVCC.  I will not be able to attend, since it is scheduled during one of my class critiques, but I believe the studios will be open. I hope to get over there later in the day or later in the week.

hot pieces being removed from the raku kiln

My students and I fired the kiln for about five hours yesterday and got through at least five rounds of work in the super heat. The morning was actually fairly nice, but the heat, sun, and smoke started to be exhausting by the middle of the day. One thing I'm looking forward to in the new space is air conditioning in the building that actually cools the building.

spraying water on a piece before dropping it in the reduction bucket

It might not be fair to blame the air conditioner, since our gas kiln was cooling down from about 600-700 degrees in the morning, but the studio has been unbearable most of the last two weeks. In the new building, kilns will be in a separate room from the rest of the studio, so hopefully we can keep cool in the warmer months.

taking work from the hot kiln

Yesterday's firing went well, we only lost two pieces, one was dropped, the other was too fragile to raku safely. The glaze results were pretty good all around and we had a lot of variety. We horse-haired a few things and several students tried resist techniques and layered glazes in new and innovative ways.

cooling work with resist, layered glazes, and burnt paper

The day was pretty warm in general. The high according to the NWS was only 90, but I think the forecast was higher than that. I know we felt warm because of the heat inside the building and because we were adding to the heat in our space with heat from the kiln. The smoke from the reduction buckets made it unpleasant to be outside in the shade much of the time.

a hot pot with horse hair burnt onto the surface (the shelf is on top to contain the smoke inside the pot)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Watering Cups for Planters

The other things I built last weekend at the Gallery were some pots to put in my planters. I read about this method to keep potted plants watered correctly. I tried in in three of our planters.

Strawberry planter with watering cup inside the top opening

You're supposed to fill the planter with soil, but leave a space in the middle for a smaller terra-cotta planter. Then the plants go around the exterior. You pour the water in the small planter. The terra-cotta holds the water, but it seeps through the porous ceramic into the soil and waters the plants slowly. it seems to be working pretty well for our hanging tomato plants and our strawberries this year.

hanging planter (tomatoes) with inset watering cup

I decided to make a few extras to go in other planters and the porch box, where our flowers and basil are very sad indeed, despite regular watering. I made some small cups at the gallery and boxed them up for the drive home. The simple, small shape was easy to transport, wet, in a narrow box.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Making Work in CORE Gallery

This weekend was my shift at CORE Gallery. It is a nice show, featuring bright shiny and paintings by Kalindi Thompson and a large installation by Aaliyah Gupta. The work of both artists benefits from an up-close look. The show is open through the end of May. I walked around the neighborhood before my shift and I think the highlights were a print show by Jacob Lawrence at Davidson Galleries and a ceramic show, but I've forgotten where the ceramic work was.

my work in Seattle (very temporarily)

In the past I've brought reading for my six hour shift in Seattle. This time I brought reading and some clay so I could get a head start on my summer studio time. It's the end of spring quarter, the time when, every year, I get anxious to get in the clay studio at home and I also start to worry about getting enough work done in the too-short summer.

reading material and my work in the gallery

Last weekend I brought some clay to the Tour of Artists' Homes and Studios and finished building one small sculpture and a planter. This week I built a second small sculpture and some small planter pieces.


This time I stopped by Seattle Pottery on the way to the gallery to replenish my clay stocks, but somehow I managed to forget most of my tools, including my cup of slip. I ended up roughing in my form fairly loosely with the tools I did bring. It worked just fine, especially since I then put the wet sculpture in the car and drove over the pass to get home.

sprigs added to my sculpture

I did remember some sprigs. When I got home I needed to repair a few parts of the sculpture, but not too bad. I also worked on the texture behind the sprigs.

adding texture at home with this broken tool

My home studio is pretty messy right now, and when school is over in 3 weeks, I'll have to clean it before I can get much work done, but at least I've got a head start on some building before then.

mostly finished piece (at home)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Experience at the Tour of Artist's Homes and Studios

This weekend I was at Michelle Wyles' studio with the Yakima Pottery Club. The weather was nice and quite a few people visited. 

half of my work for the show, happily set up in the shade

My daughter was with me the entire time and she managed to stay patient and mostly enjoy the 6 hours of the show, though I had to bribe her with the promise of a book to get her to help me pack up at then end. She brought her own work and set it up on the end of one of my "tables."

my daughter's plate seemed to have been designed for containing roll-y grapes

My daughter's patience started to wane at the end of the the show. Earlier she had taken over the money purse and declared herself in charge of sales and making change for purchases. She also kept a runny tally in her head of sales to that point. Unfortunately, sales were slow enough that she had no trouble with this task. 

the pea hens/guinea fowl were SO noisy (and right across from us)

My studio is getting fairly full and I had made some functional work earlier in the year as an experiment, so I priced everything very low with the intent to sell well, make some money without a commission and clear out the studio. I was a little surprised that $10 and $12 bowls didn't sell, though people admired them, and I only sold a handful of $5 handheld sculptures, though people expressed how much they liked the work. My daughter, too, was surprised. She expressed her reaction with this question "Why do people say they like the work but they don't buy it even though it's really cheap?"

I did get some work done on a planter

This was a reminder to myself to say "no" to events like this and June's Art Fest. I decided about a decade ago that I liked making my own work and teaching, but I've never much liked making work that will sell. And I've never been a big fan of the effort it takes to sell the work at a fair or similar setting.

and I started a small sculpture during the show

I used to assume that if the work is well made and interesting, and people say they like it, they must not be buying because it is too expensive. Saturday was an experiment, I lowered the prices to the ground, and I did not see a jump in number of sales or total money taken in from sales, though the complements continued fairly regularly. If I were spending the entire day (about 9 hours total, though I haven't unpacked the car yet) doing a show like this to get a verbal boost to my ego, maybe it'd be worth it, but that's not why I make the work. I'm looking forward to the start of my summer studio hibernation (next month).

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tour of Artists' Homes and Studios

Tomorrow, 10am -4pm, Larson Gallery's Tour of Artists' Homes and Studios.

I'll be with the Yakima Potter's Club at Michelle Wyles' Home. Come see us. I'll probably bring some small work and maybe a few bike pieces.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mural Project, Yakima/Morelia Sister Cities, Latin Music Festival

Monday is the Latin Music Festival at Yakima Valley Community College. For the festival, the Yakima Morelia Sister Cities organization brings in musicians from Morelia, Mexico. For the past few years, they have also brought in a visual artist from Morelia to demonstrate for or work with our students. 
the mural in the early afternoon, a lot of paint was already applied after just an hour and a half

This year the artist is Jóse Luis Soto, a mural artist who works with groups of people in Mexico and other places to paint or create mosaic murals. Soto met with some YVCC students and faculty on Wednesday, did a presentation on the history of Mexican murals on Thursday, and spent Saturday afternoon with a group of students and community members at YVCC to begin painting a mural based on a Dada poem the students had written on Wednesday.

one of many sketches used to plan the mural

The students brought in sketches of imagery based on Yakima, the sister cities relationship and the poem. The painting incorporated these sketches and other imagery that developed during the day. 

painting on the mural

There was a lot of progress made during the four hours on Saturday and students painted alongside several children who enjoyed being involved in the process. Monday the YVCC students will continue painting the mural and may even make some adjustments to some of the children's contributions.

several kids got involved in the painting process (and were happy to be included)

I came to watch the process and to report on it for my blog but our other two full-time faculty were involved in painting and photographing the mural process. The finished mural will become part of the Larson Gallery's permanent collection and may eventually be on display in the YVCC library in Grandview.

the mural at the end of the day Saturday

If you would like to see the mural in person and see the mural painting process, visit Palmer Hall on YVCC's campus Monday, May 4 starting at 9am. The painting is up now, but the painting process will begin around 9am and continue through midday.