Studio Notes

Progress Notes - February 2018 to August 2019

This is the second try at "Six Geese A-Merging". The first developed too many cracks. This is a Klein bottle with six lobes. The glaze shows a strange effect. A small addition of some crystal palace commercial glaze brought out the soft nickel green streaks. Otherwise the glaze should have been all complex browns.
six geese a merging

Six Geese A-Merging

The following work was done by Howard to show that he has been keeping out of the bars and off the streets. The left example is a Azul Carbon Trap Shino glaze that developed the colors typical of a Shino glaze but did not trap carbon in this firing. The right example is a true oil spot glaze that was developed using readily available glaze components. It should be noted that the Shino glaze was formulated using known high purity (>97%) titanium dioxide. There has been some Chinese titanium dioxide, in the ceramics market, that does not meet specifications and causes glaze problems. Upon x-ray fluorescence analysis only 53.8% titanium dioxide was found along with 21.6% magnesium oxide, 18.0% silicon dioxide, 2.1% sodium oxide, 2.1% calcium oxide, 1.1% ferric oxide and 0.6% vanadium pentoxide. A comparative example of "good" titanium dioxide and "bad" titanium dioxide is shown with the test tiles to the right of the ceramic tree images.
Chun glaze tree OilSpot glaze tree  testtiles

Carbon Trap Shino Glaze (left) Oil Spot (center) Test Tiles (right)

As mentioned on the home page; this is the third and last goose sculpture. It isn't a Klein bottle but the inside is even more complex. Each of the six geese has a tube from beak to bottom but two of the tubes are criss-crossed. Two geese receive dropped pellets from their opposite neighbor. The project needs a base to catch the pellets yet. I subtitle this "Breaking up is hard to do" with apologies to the old song.
Six Geese Un-Merging

Six Geese Un-Merging

The urge to experiment with rougher clay happened to me. This garden gazing ball support sculpture is a bit of a departure from my usual style. The glaze didn't cooperate in the gas kiln.
rough edged crystal ball support sculpture

The Ugly Pots

A multipart sculpture - the crazy house. It was done in super sculpt clay as a trial of some glaze ideas.
Crazy House sculpture

The Crazy House

Aside from fighting with substandard glaze ingredients this year we also built an 8 ft by 18 ft greenhouse out of plastic pipe and film. Why? Because at 6700 ft and 50 deg. nights, you can't grow some of the vegetables we fell in love with when back in Oklahoma such as peppers and okra. Here is a photo of our first okra blossum. Our tomatoes and squash are also much happier. We had a garden plot that only got afternoon sun. But the local weather pattern in mid and late summer is called 'the monsoons'. That means it clouds up and maybe drizzles a bit. But that ruins the afternoon sun. Our new greenhouse takes up half of our courtyard but gets full sun. We have a happy tall plants, with lots of fruit set.
okra blossum

A happy greenhouse okra blossum

Progress Notes - September 2016 to January 2018

There are three semesters of class here. Not as much as usual was done but there are some things to brag about. I continued doing the Klein bottles. Here is one that made it past firing. Its title is "The Devil is in the Details". It is a standard two lobed Klein with the three odd devil horns poking up the middle and the infernally bright glaze.
Devil in Detail 1st view Devil in Detail 2nd view

The Devil is in the Details -two views

This sculpture is based on the cute little wind-up hopping toy who has gone over to the dark side.
cute little toy transformed cute little top view 1 transformed cute little toy view 2

Wind-Up Toy Went to the Dark Side

The monterey cypress seed pod is a fascinating little object. I have played with it in two pieces here. The left black and red object is closer to the real thing. The real pod as the tiny thing next to the big black Klein bottle object with holes and texture. The concept of 7 trumpets coming from a center made into a Klein bottle was irresistible.
Monterey cypress seed pod impression #1 Monterey cypress seed pod and impression #2

(LEFT)Simplified Monterey cypress seed pod__(RIGHT)Klein bottle seed pod and real seed pod

These bowls were thrown by Carolyn and are glazed with her chemist husband's oil spot glaze. The two tea bowels are glazed with a true oil spot glaze which was developed over a two year period. The glaze is based on naturally occurring basalt and rhyolite and is reminiscent of the ancient Chinese Jian (tenmoku) wares. Two glaze firings are necessary to develop the spots and a glossy glaze surface.
two oil spot glaze pots

Howard Efner's Oil Spot Glaze

This fall as I began to feel more human; I did some more work on the holy grail of glazedom-white crystals on black. I found many more ways to not have success. Yet some were closer. This combination of a mineral slip and a crystal glaze produced a nice tan on dark brown.
joke vase with new glaze

Closest yet to white crystals on black

Here is a collection of new glazes with labels as follows (1)(2)(3) mineral underglaze which are lovely in bright light and don't photograph nicely(4),(5),(6)new combinations of older ideas
streaky vase small ax crystal vase different steaky vase nickle with secondarys  mug complex blues and greys vase mug striped  tumbler

Mineral underglazes (first three) standard glazes (last three)

For those of you old enough to remember the panic "the end of the world as we know it" before the millennium change--here is a very "old" can of salsa.
mislabeled can of salsa

This can of salsa expired a long time ago?

Progress Notes-January 2016 to August 2016

This last semester's class was Integrative Projects. We were to concentrate on building a body of work and write up artist's statements and that sort of professional looking stuff. I made four big Klein bottles and three fancy slab built projects. WHAT IS A KLEIN BOTTLE? It is a mathematical surface, discovered by Felix Klein in 1882, which is similar to a Mobius strip in three dimensions. Look it up in Wikipedia. Basically it can be described as a 3-D object that has only one side. There is an exterior hole that connects back into itself so it is a sort of cup that has no lip. I have taken a few pictures during construction to help show what is involved. They make fun shapes. The slab building pieces concentrated on a building shape I saw in Tucson Arizona, the UniSys Building. This building had the effect of the upper stories being bigger than the lower.
diagram of swan bottle insides

Introspective Swan Klein Bottle Interior Diagram

The swan's neck is looking through itself and out the backside. The bottom post inside is merely a support for the tube going through the swan.
swan under construction

Introspective Swan Klein Bottle under construction

The tube is from where the 'neck' is going through the body.
swan Klein bottle view swan Klein bottle 2nd view

Introspective Swan Klein Bottle two views

A beautiful rutile glaze pulls this together. This piece was accepted to show at SFCC's school gallery on Canyon Road this summer.
four lobed Klein view four lobed Klein bottle 2nd view four lobed Klein construction view four lobed Klein 2nd construction view

Four lobed Klein bottle with two construction views and two final views

This piece creates four lobes to carry the paths from inside to outside. It has been fired twice to produce this very complex glaze.
Klein stein another Klein stein

These are Klein steins.

There is an interior space that will fill if they are filled too full. As a kindness I added a hole to drain the inner space in the handle. These are somewhat like the puzzle drinking vessels of greater complexity were made in the past. They usually had a series of holes that had to be covered or the drinker got dribbled upon.
slab  built tower slab built tower 2nd view

UniSys tower building in Tucson, AZ inspired this piece

The UniSys building has alternating levels that either get larger or smaller as they rise. This riff on the concept has 5", 8" and 13" levels(from the Fibonacci series, of course). This needs more work.
Puzzle box Child quote Puzzle box 2nd view Puzzle box 3rd view Puzzle box 4th view

Weighted puzzle box with Julia Child quote

This construct on the UniSys theme is weighted to balance unexpectely. The quote is also unexpected.
Puzzle box Lucille Ball quote Puzzle box 2nd view Puzzle box 3rd view

Weighted puzzle box with Lucille Ball quote

This construct on the UniSys theme is weighted to balance unexpectely. The quote has a twist.
twisted tumbler with barra quote twisted tumbler 2nd side twisted tumbler 3rd side

Tumbler with twisted sides and a quote from Yogi Barra

The back story on this quote emphasizes that the Yogi wasn't that dumb. This was part of his directions to get to his house. He was playing with the fact that his road split and curved back around so both forks of the road took you by his house.
three more tesseracts

Three more tesseract models in gold

I am still playing with tesseracts.
Klein bottle with elbows elbow Klein 2nd side elbow Klein 3rd side

Klein bottle with elbows

The idea for this bottle came from a scribble. This is another technique from my modern art class. The elbows were very difficult to translate from two dimensions to three. I am pleased with the results.

Progress Notes-August 2015 to December 2015

This last semester was Modern Art. We critiqued Baudelaire who was critiquing the "new modern artist' in 1860. Enough said. I did find some of the uses of color interesting. The Fauves were not afraid of using bright colors together. Here is my version of their color schemes. The minor detail that this vase was kicked over, resmoothed, and then refired--will be ignored. In its first incarnation it had bigger crystals but this form also pleases me. Technically speaking, the ridges allow putting different colors on the same vase without having them run together much.
twisted fauve vase

Modern Art class inspired colors

This is a continuation of building large slab-built vases. It used a stoneware clay and some non crystal glaze on the bottom to keep dripping to a minimum. The blending of crystal and non crystal glazes can be nice. This was selected to be in a SFCC hall display area over the summer. I now have it returned to photograph and show you two views of it.
slab vase slab vase view 2

Slab built vase with two glazes

I have a new glaze Holy Grail project since we got the red glaze working. It is to create a black glaze with white crystals. Black glazes with blue crystals are easy enough to formulate but oh-- the white crystals are not! Some people have published photos of this but they are not telling their secrets. So far this is the only published recipe that works, somewhat. Size and whiteness are not there; it is worth further experiments. The glaze was titled "black and blue with silvery spots".
grey on black microcrystals  view 2

twist vase with experimental black glaze

My husband Howard, the chemist, has also been doing some glaze experiments. This one created gold crystals on a warm tan ground. My other gold recipe did gold on cream ground.
gold crystals on tan ground

Experimental gold glaze

Progress Notes- September 2014 to July 2015

Because Santa Fe Community College is under intense pressure from the state legislature to produce graduates, several of us retirees have signed up to work on Certificates or other degree programs to help preserve our wonderful clay department. So I ended up taking Drawing and Extreme Pottery these last two semesters. Drawing was useful. It helped in an assignment for Extreme Pottery called Inside Out. It can be taken as insincerity or early dementia. This symbolic stuff is not really my thing. The two things I learned from this project were (1) doing a large piece in our very forgiving sculptural clay, WES and (2) learning how hard it was to paint a careful image on the inside of a curved surface
large inside out face back of head

Inside Out project for Extreme Pottery

This was from our first class project in Extreme Pottery. We split into two groups and each group did a huge weird clay mess. Half way through the class we traded messes and reworked them again. Finally we threw the messes together and each person took a lump off the big mess. This is mine, I reworked it into what I had done on the first go around. It was kind of liberating until the second group tore all of my wonderful stuff apart. The name of this project was Exquisite Corpse.
back of head

Exquisite Corpse Class assignment

One of the less exciting projects for Extreme Pottery was this one: The Voice of the Earth. I interpreted it literally,there is a suggestion of lava with the plant life over riding it in good time. The addition of the beer bottles was just a hint of the pollution issues. My retired chemist husband, Howard, created the dark glaze on the lava from steel mill slag. The small modern test kiln he bought for his work also had a glass slumping cycle. It took several tries to get the right half melted look I wanted for the bottles.

Voice of the Earth project

This class project called "the aliens among us" was more fun and a whole lot of work. I was inspired by the prehistoric cave artists in Europe, especially, the Chauvet Cave which has a bear skull on a rock that may have been an altar. With a little bit of artistic license I redid another cave painting showing a man fallen in front of a bison. So here we have the drama of the alien, who looks a lot like our famous Roswell alien, first playing in the cave, making his four fingered hand into wall art and then being killed by the bull and having his skull enshrined in the cave.
cave skull shrine hand prints

Aliens among us project

For my final class project I went back to my science and math roots. This is a clay'representation' of a video of a tesseract(the four dimensional cube) rotating about one of its axis. The first photo is of some small trial tesseracts. The next three show (somewhat, kind of) the center square as it slides out of the big square. To show in steps, the rest of the video as the small square slides over and back into the center of the big square is not physically possible in our three dimension world. It was great fun using a few simple geometric rules to calculate out the shapes of the pieces of clay . Unfortunately, more work needs to be done on avoiding warping in firing.
 trail tesseracts square in middle square rising square above middle

Tesseracts in motion

We hosted another airstream club rally this June and I made some hot plates for souvenirs. They were an excuse to try a new idea. The square tiles had a grooved circle so I could do crystal glaze and painted figures without the crystal glaze running into the painting. It worked and the guests were pleased.
hot plate with crystals and painting hot plate with crystals and painting hot plate with crystals and painting hot plate with crystals and painting

Crystal glaze separated by groove from painted flamingo(airstream mascot)

A minor technical note. This vase was fired with a non crystal glaze. After looking at it for several months I decided it should have crystals. Normally, it is very hard to get crystals to form over non-crystalline glazes. However, I have noticed that many of my glazes are time sensitive, older being over crystallized, and brand new, not enough crystals. So as an experiment, I put two coats of a very old clear glaze on this pot and did get some crystals and some nice streaking.
plain glaze plain glaze

Refired to improve

Progress Notes- July 2013 to September 2014

The year has gone by so rapidly. I have taken two courses at Santa Fe Community College. Each has given me some new ideas. The first course was Handbuilding and we did some hard slab work. There is a whole new way to get cracks in your final work. Using clay with grog helps
Sayings vase sayings vase sayings vase sayings vase

Hard Slab Sayings Vase

The lopsided house with the saying had very few crystals. One of my teachers hated it, but it sold like a shot at the Christmas sale. The lesson to be learned here is that a crystal glaze over underglaze probably will under crystalize, here each side has zero to three tiny crystals. The complexity of the glaze is, however, pleasant. The bottom of the non-text sides was a commercial glaze so there wouldn't be drips. I didn't have a catcher sized for this pot, nor do I have a big enough grinder to clean up after firing drips. The poop fairy quote refers to people who walk their dogs but don't pick up.
class coiled big pot

Big red crayon

This pot is a tale of cracks and bubbles. It was a class exercise in coil building a big pot of a classical shape. I put the red underglaze slip on perhaps a bit too heavy, anyway, it bubbled. So I ground off the bubbles, painted a favorite tree growth ring pattern of mine inside the bare spots and refired. Also had some bottom cracks so I didn't try to get fancy and do a crystal glaze in the gas kiln. A much younger classmate said this reminded her of the oversized crayons of her youth. It was modeled after a chinese vase form.
divided dish in bright engobes hard slab crystal glazed pieces

Hard slab build pottery

The divided dish has some of the wonderful engobes that we made in my second class, Color on Form. The cubes are made of CK mix clay, a local made B-mix clone. They have a tendency to develop cracks in the joints. I was surprised to find the sharp edges did not develop projecting crystals such as I found on rounded decorative sprigs. A happy find, I added tin oxide to this 2% copper glaze (supposed to improve reduction reds-haven't had time for a reduction run)--the tin pushed the copper green a bit towards blue especially where thick.
soft slab free form vase with spectacular crystals

Soft slab pottery with wonderful crystals

This is the last of a set of four soft slab examples done for the handbuilding class. This group took to a combination of five different crystal glazes done in overlapping stripes and bands. The first one sold in a flash at the school's sale. The next two were excepted into the school's juried exhibit last fall.
ant moats

Ant moats for hummingbird feeders, original design and improved crystal glazed moat

For the third year in a row, I have done a bunch of little pots to be given away as souvenirs at the airstream rally we co-host here in Santa Fe. This year I picked a project that actually went fairly easily because it was not crystal glazed. I made ant moats for hummingbird feeders. If you do feed hummingbirds and hang your feeders outside, you know what a disgusting thing it is to clean a feeder full of drowned ants. I copied the idea from a plastic thing that they sold in the Birds Unlimited store in town. The moat works well but you have to keep the water refilled often when it's hot and windy. After the rally I figured out how to do them in crystal glaze without have to make catchers, glue them to catchers, and grinding afterwards which are the time killers. The one on the right with the blue interior has a tall enough central pedestal to balance on a short post for firing. I have sold two leftovers in the Madrid gallery.
big  butt bird brains pots big butt bird brains pots back end

The Four B figurines

One project in the handbuilding class was a backwards success. We were supposed to carve a block of clay into some shape, cut it in half, hollow it our and put it back together. In our dry climate it didn't work very well. One of my two tries was this simple shape that I called the four B figurine(big butt and bird brain). I fell in love with the shape and did a whole bunch of them by throwing and altering. The two light colored ones are separate stories. The one with smears is an aluminum foil saggar firing of a piece that was covered in terra sigilatta. This process can do lovely markings if all goes well. The one with the vine design is merely a repeat of a design I made years ago.
red crystal test tile another red crystal test tile a black crystal test tile

Testing crystal procedures for red and black

In my second class, Color on Form I did a bunch of testing to refine processes. This set of tests showed that a bisque run between the red slip and the crystal glaze improved the number of crystals. The black test tiles showed that the process for getting white crystals on black ground is not going to be easy to find.
refired crsytal tumbler refired crsytal tumbler

Refiring comments

This tumbler and the vase are examples of a happy discovery. Uusually when you refire crystal glazes you get massive, ugly over crystallization. I tried as a wild ass guess, refiring some pots with one coat of a glaze that is supposed to crystalize but doesn't. Amazingly enough it usually produced a decent batch of crystals on refiring ordinary crystal glazes. The red glazes are a law unto themselves and often refuse to improve crystals on refiring. The engobes, which are a more complex recipe than the red slip are also very leery of allowing crystals.

Final comments

The annual pre-Christmas clay club sale at the community college was a great success-the first day. The second day was snowed out. This is a quick shot of one of my pots that sold. The cat graphic dates way back. When working as a computer programmer and given a chance to try out one of the early graphic drawing programs (over 30 years ago) I created it with a few swoops of the mouse and found that duplicating it made a nice pattern. So many people stopped and complimented it, I shall have to do some more with the design. Also sold another lot of crystal glazed tumblers to Worthington Gallery in Springdale, Utah.

Progress Notes- February 2013 to August 2013

I have been selling mostly smaller pots at Lisa Conley's gallery in Madrid, NM since last December. I sent samples to Worthington Gallery in Utah but they wanted bigger lots than I felt ready to gear up for. I also got enthusiastic to try for a couple of shows. The end result is that if I'm going to have some stock to sell for the SFCC sale, I need to get busy making more pots. I am signed up for a handbuilding class this fall at SFCC. The following images show some of 'learning experiences' I've had this year.
table with beakers

A Chemist's 4th of July

Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos had a show with the theme, the Periodic Table. Since I had a good red with encapsulated cadmium, a good blue with cobalt and of course, plain old zinc silicate white; I made up this piece. It was accepted into the show. The beakers on the lab table were relatively easy but the big table was a bitch. That was the third try, which had a mended crack. The table that went into the show (not pictured) was whole. A learning experience.
armless lady looking in mirror

Through a Glass Darkly

This is the saddest story. But another real learning experience. Silver City had a show featuring tiles. So I created this entry, which didn't judge in. But it didn't do exactly what I wanted either. The idea was my mithral glaze can be a very shiny glaze with mysterious dark blue crystals. If it wants to. This time it didn't. Making the set of lady vases with a victorian profile and with a hat lid was good throwing and handbuilding practice. However, by the time I had a lady and a mirror, there wasn't time left before the deadline for the entry to make sure the glaze would cooperate on this tall a vase. Main lesson learned: don't trust your glaze too far.
refired red vase red vase-good crystals red vase-few crystals

Cadmium red larger pieces are touchy!!

On the left-small crystals, the middle-thin red on bottom, the right-not enough crystals We are in the process of ironing out the details on larger red glazed pieces. It is a journey.
flamingo pot other side of flamingo pot

Flamingos and happy hour flags, a labor of love for the Airstream crew

Last year we hosted an Airstream rally here in Santa Fe and I had the brilliant idea that it would be fairly easy to make a few tumblers in crystal glazes as souvenirs for the group. That worked out fairly well but was a lot more effort that I liked. This year I got smart and decided I would do one pot per trailer rather than one tumbler per guest. The only problem was we got twice as many trailers this year. Since my idea for partial crystal glaze and partial painting worked (sort of) I got back into painting on pots. The Airstream community is real big on cheesy 50's type images - especially flamingos. Anyway, production work is useful training too.

Progress Notes July 2012 to January 2013

mithril glaze unflashed mithril glaze flashed

Mithril glaze from Fara Shimpo, with changes

These two pots show the difference between Fara Shimpo's mithril glaze colorants (at 3%) before and after flashing. Before; in the ghost pot you have dark blue crystals on a shiny black. After flashing in the narrow topped vase, you have a gunmetal grey ground with the dark blue crystals.
mithral tumblers using sun mithral tumblers with flash

Comparison of lighting by sun (top) and flash(bottom) !

mithral tumblers using sun mithral tumblers with flash

Comparison of lighting by sun(left) and flash(right) !

The flashed glaze is terribly difficult to photograph. (as you may have noticed in the gallery pots: 6B, 7B, 8B and 2 B)The blue crystals are not correctly shown in the right hand photo. To get anything close to the correct ground, which is very shiny; a trick is needed. Get the sun caught inside a crystal and let the automatic focusing take care of it. Then you photoshop out the sun glare in the crystal and it works-maybe. Afterwards you get to create an artificial gradient background which is a lot of work. The left hand photo is with slaved flashes and a background as is all of the gallery photos. All credit for the photo set-up goes to my retired chemist husband who is also a skilled photographer.
orange and green on B mix clay orange and green on babu clay

What a difference low titanium clay makes!

This is a clay story. I have a glaze that produces nickel green crystals on an orange ground after flashing. It produces larger crystals and shows more ground on low titanium clays like Babu(right) than on Bmix(left).
bright dark red pot

Best red so far

Getting a good dark red was a journey! After many failures (see vases 9B and 10B in the gallery); we got there. Hopefully we can find more of the mason stain and reproduce this. I will give you hints: (1) coat with clay and mason stain mix -very heavily (2)Then bisque (3) get darkest cadmium encapsulated mason stain you can find.(4) for my glaze a tiny bit of cobalt brightened the crystals. Denis Carety used nickel and iron in his crystal glaze cover coat.

Progress Notes December 2011 to June 2012

collection 1 of tumblers collection 1 of tumblers collection 1 of tumblers

June's tumbler extravaganza About a month of elapsed time.

Here are photographs of an insane idea I had at 3 am in the morning. The results are 30 tumblers that I gave away as favors at a RV rally that we sponsored in Santa Fe. It was a useful extension of a class assignment to make tall thin tumblers out of 1 and 1/4 lb clay. I tried a new trick to avoid lots of drips to grind on the bottoms of the pieces. Make the catchers smaller than the bottoms. It also showcased a lot of my favorite glazes.......................I kept track at the rally and ---no surprise-- the first to be picked were the brighter colors of blue and green.
 true blue vase  gunmetal blue vase

Rhapsody in Blue pots

I was honored to be invited to send some entries to the Rhapsody in Blue show at the Fuller Lodge Art Center in Los Alamos. These two pots were accepted. If I may brag a bit; both sold! The Fuller Lodge Art Center is a very nice venue and well worth a visit if you can get there. Additionally, Los Alamos is lovely and green like Michigan.
Tall vase with pale crystals  Refired tall vase

Fire, fire, and fire again!

I still wasn't satisfied with this dull colored vase with large crystals and a brown blotch so I covered it with a layer of my brown toned nickel glaze and got denim blue small crystals. "Nickel is fickle."
another reduced pot  broken gourd reduced  broken gourd unreduced

Starting to Play with Reduction

Here are two reduced copper glazed pots, we're getting more copper brown than copper red but we will continue to experiment. Below is one of them before reduction. For all of you whose chemistry is rusty-reduction of a green copper crystal glaze is reheating the glaze slightly in a oxygen starved atmosphere which pulls oxygen out of the glaze and changes the color from green to red (maybe if all goes well) or reddish brown.