House of Rain by Craig Childs

I read this book last summer when I first started getting into pottery.  It was by far one of the best books I've read.  Craig Childs traverses through the American Southwest, many times on his own, studying pottery shards of the ancient people in old ruins. 

His travels take him to Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Northern Mexico, and of course Arizona.  I felt like I had taken a glimpse into the past and learned far more about the ancient native peoples than I did about the ins and outs of clay vessels; some of it disturbing, some of it intriguing, and all interesting and thought provoking.

Imagine being in a kyak by yourself when you stumble across an ancient dwelling along side the river.  Craig pulls his kyak onto the shore to investigate.  Inside there is a compartment that most likely houses a seed jar and other artifacts.  Rather than open up the stone compartment he leaves it.  He realized he may have been the first man to stumble across these dwellings since its inhabitants left many many years ago.  This is where his journey starts.  I, as the reader, am still wondering what he would have found had he pried open the stone compartment.

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More Pottery Creations…(take 3)

Unfortunately the few items I made awhile back including a coffee mug and a bowl, were placed into the wrong kiln and are no more.  Luckily they were just practice pieces and I hadn't placed as much work into them as the following items.

 

 

 

This is my first attempt at a sugar bowl.  I haven't quite mastered how to make the lids yet. 😉

 

 

Here is the matching creamer.

 

 

What looks like brown was supposed to be blue.  Sometimes you don't know what you get until it comes out of the kiln.

 

 

This one will most likely be brought out to the camper where it will hold salsa or sour cream, and it will double as a paper weight to keep the table cloth from flying off the picnic table.

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Pottery – Before & After

A few weeks ago I had posted about how I had my first pottery lesson.  I finally got around to getting up to the studio today to pick up the items I had created then.  Here is what the before picture looked like:

 

This is what they look like today:

 

I'm really amazed at how the glaze turned out.  They of course looked nothing like this when painted.  Unfortunately the last piece in the lower right hand corner stuck to the kiln and cracked when removed.  Nothing a little super glue couldn't fix.

Below is my favorite piece.  It reminds me of a Japanese tea cup.  I did this by dipping it into a bucket of green glaze at an angle, and then after that dried, dipping the other side in red glaze.  The red didn't really come out but it looks interesting to me regardless.

 

Here is the inside of one other I created.  What I like about this type of glaze is that you'll never know what you're going to get.  One the pieces are fired in the kiln they create such a unique design that can't be duplicated.

 

 

In a few weeks I'll have the results of my second pottery lesson fresh out of the kiln.  I did some experimenting today with low-fire and high-fire glazes so it should be interesting.

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A Day At The Pottery Studio

Yesterday I had my second lesson in pottery.  It was a cloudy gray day and perfect for creating pottery.  I also got to paint the pieces I had created last week.

 

There is something to be said about creating something new from the earth with nothing but a wheel and your own two hands.  I'm really enjoying this.  It's very therapeutic.  And on a cloudy day with Kate Bush music playing in the background, not much could get better.

 

The bowl shape on the left will actually become a coffee cup.  The other item was a coffee cup gone awry.  My instructor said it looked like modern art.  I don't know.  I kind of like it.  We'll see what it looks like when painted and glazed.

 

It's not perfect but it's a start.  I'm always complaining when camping that I don't have a heavy duty mug to use.  This may be it. 

 

Isn't this beautiful?  I hope to make things this nice in the future.  This plate was created by a Navajo Indian and then painted by a teenage student.  Yesterday a group of teenagers from Canada had come down to study their Navajo ancestry.  Part of this is pottery. 

 

This is the outdoor brick kiln; one of many at the studio.  There are still some pieces inside left to cool.  Temperatures range from 1900 degrees F (low fire) to 2400 degrees F (high fire).  Yesterday I painted the pieces I created last week.  Even though the paints look nothing like what one would think (what will eventually be blue had a milky color), after these pieces are fired, the minerals in them will turn colors from the intense heat.  Much the same way gemstones do while heated in the earth.

 

Above are the pieces the Canadian students had made.  They are being fired over charcoal and dried cow manure. (I hope my pieces make it into the brick kiln instead!)

Next week I'll get to see the finished product of my pieces.  I'll be very curious to see what they look like.  And by the way, I'm still trying to find a home for that spitoon.  Any takers?  😉

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