Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Standing on the corner

    Here I am , standing on the corner of Winslow, AZ on a cold December day. It has been about 50 years since my sister and I were travelling on Route 66 from California heading east. Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey had yet to publish the iconic song "Take it Easy". I think we were heading  to the Petrified Forest , so you  gotta' go through Winslow, AZ. I remembered it as a small western town with not too many people and not much to see. Id like to say a lot has changed but...                                                                                       It was a railroad town, headquarters for the Santa Fe RR.; Hubell trading post had its warehouse there, and Fred Harvey  built his luxurious hotel, La Posada in 1929 for travelers to eat and perhaps spend the night. Harvey, an Englishman, was the original entrepreneur. He hired single women of "good moral character  who had to have an 8th grade education. The designer of the hotel was Mary Jane Colter , who also did buildings at the Grand Canyon.               But everything did not stay the same.People stopped taking the RR; Route 66 was replace by interstate 40 in 1965.  My sis and I travelled route 66 where we could. This lovely sculpture was not there yet, and La Posada was a deserted building. In 1994, Allen Affelt and artist wife  Tina Mion started its transformation. It is now fairly close to what it looked like in the beginning: Southwest design with real Navajo rugs in the rooms; the delicious Turquoise room for dining  and for us art aficianados , Mion's large surrealistic paintings in an upstairs gallery.  So Winslow Arizona is back on the maps and it was such a fun sight to see. Comments?                                                                     

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Art of the Large

Here is the latest and greatest of my turquoise bowl series. It measures eleven inches across and @ six inches high. It is Large. Actually, it is as big  as can fit into my kiln and still have enough space around it to high fire. High fire is 2300F. Most ceramic artists use a gas kiln to go that temperature, but living in Sedona, AZ. as I do, I now fire in an electric kiln.
 This is the second firing where I add the final colors, using the white porcelain clay that I like. It starts out larger than this by at least fifteen percent and as the moisture dissipates in the initial bisque firing, the clay body shrinks. Then it does its real disappearing act when you go to the high temperature, and it has a mind of its own as well. There is always uncertainty depending upon so may unscientific factors. This makes the clay strong enough to use and even put in the oven. However, this  is Not Pyrex; you must go slowly. 
 I add texture when I am first making the bowl and then I decorate the indentations with iron oxide, that great color that we see here in our red rocks. So copper and iron, a very southwest combination. Comments?

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Art of Firing

Here is my small  kiln in all its glory, red hot and raring to make my fragile clay into solid vessels. Bowls and mugs in this load.I bought this  small used kiln last year, and use it to fire my green ware, (i.e. unfired pottery ) Then it becomes hard enough to take a glaze at a much higher temperature. Those glazed pieces go into my Bigger kiln to fire at a higher temp, @ 2300 F.But the process is similar. You can see the glow of the temperature inside. It is firing as I write. In the front are the peepholes, with an open one in the top to vent both  heat and moisture. Measuring  about 20 inches tall by 20 inches wide on the inside space. It is lined with firebrick  all around the edges. 
I fire this to about 1900 degrees F. There is a little " cone" that   that sits on a rod which drops at the desired temp and turns off the kiln. The newer kilns are run by computers. Not this one. I control the firing, so I must take it up  in incremental degrees so the clay does not explode from rapid changes. Slow and easy is the best way to go. See those little knobs? I adjust them hourly to move up the temperature. It takes hours to fire this porcelain clay . 
Since it is now August, I get up Very early to start this baby and hope it finishes before the midday heat hits. I will wait until tomorrow to unload. No rude shocks permitted.Since my studio is smallish, it suits my needs to get the pieces fired as I make them. Easier to store and much less chance of breaking. So here's a little tale of firing my kiln, here in Sedona, Arizona 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

White Bowl with Turquoise

"How can I add some pizzazz to my lovely, white porcelain bowls?" I  asked myself while unloading my last kiln load of ceramics, here in my Sedona, AZ.  studio. My solution was to add real turquoise nuggets  in the crevasses that come with my delicately coiled decoration on the edge of this bowl, and others.
 This is a serving size bowl, measuring  nine inches across by @ four and a half inches tall. Perfect for food or decoration, but requiring hand washing.This is a high fired piece of ceramics so it is very strong and long lasting. Heck, they find ceramics that last much longer than do  we mere mortals.You are actually looking at the color of the clay here, with a simple white glaze on top. The outside I leave rough, and stain with iron oxide, which you see when looking at the red rocks of Sedona. The finished and the unfinished. Just like the nature i see when I look outside my studio window. 
Which style of these bowls do you the viewer prefer: the plain white, or with the turquoise?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Magic of the Kiln

This is how am I am dealing with the stay at home venue that Covid 19 has presented us all. I am working in my studio here in Sedona, AZ. What else does one do? My galleries have closed but we all hope things will reopen....eventually.
These are newly glazed, porcelain pieces being loaded into the kiln. You can see how low the first shelf actually is. This is the biggest, most powerful electric kiln I could purchase. It stands about three and a half feet tall, so it is a reach down for me. I got it many years ago and have rewired it often.On the inside you can see  the electric " elements" that heat up, as I gradually make adjustments. Nope, No computer here. I am the master of the firing . 
I always need more mountain mugs, so they fit nicely around the large bowl. These items are dipped in what will turn out to be a nice turquoise color.I also have some lovely white bowls in this load. What exactly they will turn out like will be up to the kiln gods. I will not see the results until about 20 hours later . When it gets over 2000 degrees it is best to cool slowly, so nothing cracks from rapid temperature changes.Next step...the magic.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Art of Film

Here I am at the Sedona Film Festival, 2020. I must confess I am a total movie  fan and always have been. My Mom would drop me off at the Saturday matinee. (probably respite for her, also) 
I often wonder if it was the movies that subliminally  influenced  my decision to move here after just one week?
Once again, back when I was a young girl, I would stay up for the  " late show". I think I saw every movie ever made here. Jeff Chandler as the noble Indian; Debra Paget as the lovely captive. All very politically incorrect , but boy did that influence my desire to ride horses, and go out to the wild west. 
I did have a long  stop over in Los Angeles to go to university and live at the beach and start to be a working artist, both in Clay and Calligraphy. Once again, a movie town.We were too " cool" in Venice beach to pay attention to the movie people, which is why they liked it there, I think.That and the movie called Life that seemed run every day there with all the unusual "assortment" of humanity. 
So here I am some 35 years later , going into the wonderful world of of every film festival; Learning new things and being transformed into new dimensions. The art of film.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Turquoise and Porcelain Bead Necklace

Here is a sweet choker I made using my own porcelain beads along with real Arizona turquoise and small crystal chips.
I guess you could say this is a necklace that comes from the earth.
Using a white porcelain clay body, I am able to roll it out to a very thin consistency. 
  I work with very basic tools, the rolling pin among my favorite. Many lucky ceramicists have fancy slab rollers. I don't. After working with clay so long I seem to feel when I have arrived where I want to be. If not, I do it over.  
 Next I add the texture.The "how" is a bit of a professional secret. Choosing several lengths of a "somewhat" consistent nature, I cut them off with a very sharp edge and let them dry out somewhat.It is best to clean them up when they are in this "leather hard" stage. I smooth off each end with care, but  sometimes they break. Tedious work. 
As you can imagine it takes a Lot of beads to make any necklace,  bracelet or earrings. And I do all three so there are sets, as well as individual pieces.When dry, they enter the kiln for the first " bisque" stage. After that, there are not so porous and I can add the iron oxide stain.There is a final, high fire stage to make everything totally hard. I think these beads will survive longer than we do.
 These are  colors of the red rocks of Sedona, AZ. , where I live and have my studio. No two beads are ever exactly the same, and  the small differences make each piece a unique creation  by yours truly, V. Norton