A Surfeit of Shows!

NCECA is coming to Seattle! NCECA, the National Council for Education on the Ceramic Arts, is the largest ceramics conference in States and every year is in a different city. This year, Seattle is playing host to this grand event. I’m extremely excited about it. The conference consists of three days of panels, lectures, and discussions and draws in about five thousand people every year. However, even more exciting to me is the fact that there will be approximately 190 ceramic art shows going on in the Puget Sound area. (A pdf of all the exhibitions can be found here.) My artwork will proudly be displayed in five of these shows. This should be a month of fun, a month of opening receptions, and a month of eating small cubes of cheese and pita chips.

The first of these shows to go up is “Through the Clouds”, a multi-piece installation featuring my largest beast yet. It’s in the front window of Gallery 110 in the Pioneer square area of Seattle. While the opening reception has already occurred, there’s going to be an additional reception during NCECA, on March 17th from 6 to 8pm. I’m also sharing the gallery with Becky Frehse, Jane Kelsey- Mapel, and Monika Dalkin. I’m very excited to be showing off this piece, which has been in progress since December. Also, this part of Pioneer Square is a positive warren of art galleries, many of which share the same building at Gallery 110. I’d recommended taking some extra time to explore the area, if you can!

Beast, completed

Next up on my schedule of shows is Chimeras, a show I curated up at my old stomping ground, Twilight Artist Collective in West Seattle. This show is pretty exciting, since it’s given me a chance to collect some of my favorite sculptors in one place. It’s going to be featuring Rachel Van Wagoner, Sandra Farmer, Simone Clunie, and Cheryl Robinson. It will also be a chance to show off some of my best work from my most recent firing. The opening reception is this Thursday, March 8th, from 6 to 9pm. There’s also going to be an extra reception during NCECA, on March 30th from 6 to 9pm, so we can celebrate with all the out of town ceramics folks.



In addition to that, this week I have a second opening, this one for a show that isn’t related to NCECA at all. I’ve been invited by Ryan Henry Ward, better known simply as “Henry” due to his mural fame, to take part in his show “Who’s Hoo” at the Urban Lights Studio in the Greenwood neighborhood.  This show is pulling together a wide and non-conventional selection of the hippest part of the Seattle art world, all on the theme of owls! It’s hard to think of a better show set up than that. We’ll be living it up at Urban Light Studio, this Friday, March 9th, from 6 to 9pm

Switching from North Seattle to South Puget Sound, I’m also in a show in Tacoma. This year, the Washington Clay Arts Association’s annual show was juried by Josh DeWeese and Beth Cavener Stichter, of whom I’m a very big fan. This makes it even more of an honor that three of my sculptures were selected to be included in the show. The show is at The Art Stop on 940 Broadway and will have an opening reception on Thursday, March 15th from 5 to 8pm. It’s also going to have a NCECA reception on the evening of the 27th.

The final show that I’m going to be in during NCECA is a shorter affair and is only open the week of the conference, from Monday, March 26th through Saturday, March 31st. It’s called “12 Wood Fire Kilns of the Northwest”. I’m extremely excited about it, and while I realize I’ve been saying that about all my shows, it’s the truth. In this case, the show will feature wood kilns from around the Pacific Northwest, with each group of wood firers having their own little area to show of the style of work and results from the kiln. I’ll be there, helping to represent the two anagama-style kilns “Santatsugama” (Three Dragon Kiln) and “Ochawangama” (Teabowl Kiln). These two kilns basically siblings, being built and fired by mostly the same group of people. I’ve been firing with this group of compatriots since 2006, and it’s a wonderful group of friends and artists.  It will also be fun to compare and to contrast the work from the different kilns in the area. The show will be at 3509 Fremont ave N, Seattle WA, and will have an opening reception from 6 to 9pm on the 29th.

GG week 2

I realized that I missed my week 2 update, but there were two reasons for that. The first is that a power surge killed my laptop’s power supply. The laptop is fine, but out of juice. A new power brick is on it’s way, but until it gets here, I’m stuck with just my iPhone. I’ll probably be skimpy on blog updates until the replacement power supply gets here.
The other and more exciting reason is that I’m going to be firing a wood soda kiln tomorrow!! I’ve been working incredibly hard to finish every single piece I possibly can. The past 4 days or so I’ve spent most of 10am to 12am in the studio. (Not counting delicious suppers and fascinating slide presentations by the other artists). How ever, I’ve managed to finish exactly 90 fliers, in addition to some other forms playing with shape and texture! Not bad for a bit more than two weeks.
The only downside is having the firing in the middle of my time here, instead of the end. However, I could never fire the kiln by myself, and the girl I’m firing it with leaves on October 6th. We’re firing now so there will be time to cool and unload everything before she leaves. I’ll also have plenty of time to hang all of my flying beasts in their installation.
I’ve been considering a number of different things to work on in my remaining time here, after the soda firing. I keep changing my mind every 5 minutes. I’d like to play with color on white porcelain some, and see where that goes. Or I could spend some time making quick rough monsters, brainstorming with new forms on a larger scale. I’d use the cheapest clay, and scrap them all at the end, just making as many new forms as fast as I could. There’s just so many possibilities!!

Pit firing

I recently had a chance to do a pit firing with Hilary Chan. He’s a great guy with a fairly fascinating ceramics blog. One of the most exciting things about doing the pit firing with him is the way he approaches it so scientifically. He’s from a tech background, and has made a scientific approach a key part of his artist process. While I try and take the occasional note (seldom referring back to them), this man is as thorough and as consistent as I could ever dream to be . He photographs every piece during ever stage of preparation and firing. He works to build theories from his notes, striving to prove or disprove them every firing. As someone from a scientific background myself, I found it awesome and inspiring. The whole experience has impressed in me the idea of pit firing as a petri dish, a small scale arena to experiment and explore, as I wait for the fall wood firing. Anyway, scientific musing aside, I figured it would be fun to explain exactly what a pit firing entails.

Pit firing is a very primative firing method. By primitive, I don’t mean unsophisticated, but rather ancient. Basically, as most cultures developed ceramics, some sort of pit firing was first way that folks figured out how fire their pots. It’s pretty low temperature, which means the finished pieces aren’t super sturdy and can’t be covered in glaze, like you can with higher temperature firings. However, it’s hot enough the pot isn’t going to dissolve back into mud if you put water in it, which is pretty darn useful for an emerging civilization. While most cultures figure out how to build kilns, and to heat their pottery to higher temperatures, some stuck with pit firing, developing the method to create incredibly beautiful work. The example that always comes to my mind is the pueblo potters of the southwest united states, including the beautiful black on black work by Maria Martinez.

There seems to be nearly infinite ways of setting up and doing a pit firing, so I’m going to stick to describing the pit firing I did with Hilary. We did the largest bit of preparation before hand. Each piece was wrapped in copped wire (specifically, a choreboy, those copper things made for scrubbing pans.), followed by steel wool, followed by salt water soaked burlap or straw. All of the salt, the copper, and the iron all fume at high temperature, leaving an assortment of colors on the clay. Once that initial prep was done, we placed each one in a labeled brown paper bag, ready for the fire pit. For my pieces, we had to experiment some, putting protective grills above the pieces, to avoid snapping of wings and beaks. I feel like figuring out how to protect my delicate beasts is going to be the biggest issue  for my exploration of pit firing. As we loaded the pit itself, we put down layers of sawdust, copper carbonate, horse manure,  paper, and wood. I actually made a timelapse of the whole loading process that sums up the set up pretty well.

The whole firing, once we lit it up, took maybe an hour. We had campfire sized flames for even far less than that.  The only time issue was the cooling of the pieces. We let everything cool for an hour or two, before my impatience got the better of me and I started digging out pieces. The results were great, but the rapid cooling just proved too much for pieces, leaving several with cracks. Apparently, the number one way to avoid this is to let the pieces cool in the ashes over night, which brings me back to the idea of my very own mini-firepit, in my very own backyard.  I have some plans as far as that, but that’s for another time.

Smooth Back Beast, 2010

Etsy shop!

I just got around to setting up an Etsy shop. I’d been playing with the idea for a while, and finally took the plunge! Here it is. I’ll be tweaking it and incorporating it more into my site over the next few weeks.

Off to the wood firing!

As folks who have been following my twitter might have guessed, I’m about to head out for a woodfiring! I’ve just finished packing up several months worth of critters, who will loaded into the kiln this Saturday and Sunday. They’ll be unloaded in two weeks on Saturday, November 28th.
Most of these guys will then be going directly to the Island Gallery on Bainbridge Island, for their December show, “Beauty and the Beasts”. I’ll be featured along side their annual fashion show. Some will be coming to my studio’s annual holiday sale and party. Stay tuned to my twitter for updates on the firing!