Monday, January 4, 2010

Nothing to Lose

It was Everyone I Hate Day at the studio today, but I was brave. Fortified with noise-canceling headphones backed up with Ozomatli and Los Lobos, I decided to get on with things.

Albus helped.

I was painting my little calavera, a total experiment as this piece was still green (hadn't been fired yet). It is perfectly fine to underglaze greenware, of course, but it is not the normal pathway for my work. Normally I carve, bisque fire, iron oxide, paint or glaze (or both), then high fire.

Why do it that way? Because the iron oxide is heavy furniture color-wise. Iron oxide is nothing more than rust powder mixed with water and it makes everything rust colored. Which I like. Which is why I use it.

So why did I subvert the normal order today? For one, I was all carved out. Yesterday I carved three plates and a retablo. (Plates take from two to four hours (or more). Retablos take from one to six hours (or more). That's a lot. Even a simple design like this takes an hour plus--though this was not carved yesterday. Yesterday I carved for about eight hours.)

So today I picked up my carving tools and The Brain just rebelled; nothing doing.

When that happens, I usually can kick The Brain into gear by looking through the reference materials I have on my shelves at the studio. I started with my old biology textbook. Then I looked at Albinus on anatomy. Then I got desperate and read some Shakespeare. (Yes, I have always always always had my Complete Works of Shakespeare on my shelf at the studio. Sometimes The Brain needs a little Titus Andronicus jump start.)

pencil marks, which burn out in the firing, as guidelines

No dice.

This was a throwaway piece, this little calavera, (throw away because I carved it out of a slab of clay that had gone far too dry to carve without wrecking my tools in the pursuit of failure, so I cut away the dryest bits and wetted the rest down over the course of several hours until it could hold a simple design like this).

I could concentrate on painting simple mendhi-ish designs in black and white (with a red border added hours later), and that's what I did.

I'm not fond of the border. I may paint it out with black...

The rest of the time I made a few small plates to paint with what I hope are going to be some fairly interesting old-school tattoo designs. I also used a cookie cutter to cut out a bunch of random hearts. Then I reorganized my shelves. And I fed Albus. And I hung out at the studio.

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