September 2009

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common ground

Biennial Juried Ceramics Exhibition

Biennial Juried Ceramics Exhibition

The Biennial Juried Ceramics Exhibition closed last week, which provided an opportunity to take a mental health day.  Thursday we traveled to Flagstaff to pick up my art work.  Approaching the errand as a chance to escape the heat (it’s still hot here), see some fall color and do a little shopping.

This national exhibition was installed at the art museum on the campus of Northern Arizona University.  The exhibit included an impressive collection of work, making use of the museum’s large spaces.  Flagstaff Live, a local weekly arts publication printed a favorable article about the exhibition.  A successful show!

Flagstaff’s highs were in the 70’s that day.  The leaves were just starting to turn – in a week or so the trees will be awash in rich, warm hues.  Our shopping venture amounted to poking our noses into some of the local galleries in the historic downtown area along Route 66.


We stopped by the Shane Knight Gallery – the gallery of photographer Shane Knight.  Mr. Knight creates large format photography.  His images are of the southwestern/cowboy genre – not unheard of in the tourist stomps along this famous highway.

The artist’s large format images were impressive, his composition sound and his personality engaging.  We talked a bit about photo processes – a lopsided conversation; him a photographer and me, not so much.  Searching for a bit of common ground, I mentioned the work of my friend Neal Winter.  Neal’s images are beautiful.  Some of my favorites the product of a pin hole camera or his beloved Holga.  As much about the process as they are about the image.

Mr. Knight shared that he had a similar plastic camera – light leaks and all.  The excitement in his expression spilled over as he talked about the challenges of the tool and the beauty of the images created through the

There is where we found the shared experience of every artist.

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Saturday, September 12th was the second day of a two day glaze application workshop I was conducting at a local community college.  The first day was held two weeks previous.  For the most part, this was intended to be a quick application refresher for students who felt a little stuck in a rut; a vehicle to step out of old habits.  One sign that your students are stuck in a rut: the zombie-like gaze when in close proximity to the studio glaze area; holding tight to their bisque ware only to thoughtlessly baptize the piece in the closest bucket of blue glaze.  Yeah…stuck.  This workshop included a mixture of experienced and intermediate students looking for motivation or inspiration to begin to see the glaze process as part of the design process.

The second day our intent was to look at student work as they applied what they had learned two weeks before.  However, our “design meets glaze application” quickly deconstructed.  The design process was halted by recent glaze mysteries.

The mystery was two-fold.  First, the tried and true glaze that suddenly gave unreliable results.  Assuming the firing process is consistent – as consistent as firing can be – usually the mystery is finding out which raw material is contaminated.  Or, discovering that one of your ingredients is newly supplied by a different manufacturer or being mined in a new location.  Some mysteries are solved while others we live with.

The second mystery concerned a ^9-10 rutile blue glaze that blistered.  Not always.  But, often enough to dedicate a good deal of creative energy to the shard heap.  As mysteries go, some are true mysteries, like the ones you live with.  This one just qualified as fussy.

Students said this glaze worked 50% of the time.  Really?  Why continue?  I assured them that they could create a new, more reliable glaze of similar character (minus the blisters, of course) in less time than it would take to do the detective work to ‘fix’ this one.  Yes…but the fussy glazes are always so alluring.  It does seem to work that way.  After suggesting the abandonment of this glaze, I was met with resolute expressions; persuading me to follow-up with a few options to begin their detective work.  Fussy glaze.

test: transparent green glaze

test: transparent green glaze

Just as the students were instructed, I also ran a few tests.  One transparent glaze. Two glazes that broke with the surface texture and one that should have mimicked the surface with it’s fluid nature.  The transparent test was by far the most successful in conjunction with  the intent…the design of the piece.  From here I’ll develop a color palette with this glaze and while I’m at it I’ll address the crazing…more fussing over a fussy glaze.

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This is the beginning of…well, it’s not quite obvious yet.  In an effort to create a more interactive site this blog was born.  The process has been nothing short of frustrating…this is the easy part.  There was the shuffling of files and the granting of permissions and a few unsupportive support staff at a previous hosting site…then a little syntax situation (the culprit was an ellusive comma).  But, I’m finally back on-line.  The site as a whole has much time yet to be invested.  Yes, much to do!

I’m an artist…it’s what I do.  For the most part, posts will be art related…with exception to a occasional rabbit chase.  Here you will find resources, information and perhaps a little inspiration.  I intend to post every week.  In the days/weeks following, as I create pages and expand the site, I may post more frequently.  

I look forward to the art, the interaction, the words!